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Why the DV format still matters to filmmakers

Panasonic-DVX100BE

DV filming is not dead despite HD advances

HD is the standard but we can’t forget about DV just yet. There are many good reasons why DV still has it’s place in independent filmmaking, and for young people who are learning the craft of making films.

First of all, DV is a standard definition format that doesn’t require such a powerful editing suite to tap its potential. You don’t need 8GB of RAM, Final Cut pro X and the latest apple processor to render effects and color changes with a DV editing timeline.

SD (Standard definition) is still a widely viewed format on the web, and a majority of videos on Youtube are running in low-res modes. Not everyone can stream HD 720p or 1080p for that matter, so SD is still very much relevant. Even for those of us with 15mb connections, we don’t necessarily need 720p to enjoy the contents of the video. So if you’ve got an old school Panasonic DVX100 , or Sony’s classic PD150 , it’s still cool! The bonus on top of that is, all DV cameras are much cheaper than their professional counterparts. There’s a bargain to be had, especially if you are learning how to make films and want 3 CCD cameras (semi-pro standards).

Ok, the downside to DV is that it doesn’t have as much color depth, resolution, or the qualities of a HD workflow, but if you’re making a documentary, a behind-the-scenes video or TV/web report, it’s a solid solution. Even for low budget short filmmaking it still has it’s place. The biggest disadvantage about DV in my view is the fact that you have to import the tape. You can’t download all the clips in minutes. But, the positive side is that it helps your review the footage and understand more about your shoot, and shot structure. Doesn’t Spielberg still prefer the Steenbeck? There’s a good reason for it. With HD, we are in actual fact getting lazier, because it’s easier to shoot more footage, and then just dump it in a timeline. With DV, you tend to be a bit more conservative because you know you’re going to have to look at all those damn tapes as they capture on your sequence.

DV is still a valuable format in my view, and although it doesn’t provide us with the glamor of HD, it certainly delivers a good solution for a lot of us who don’t need a Hollywood action movie to start shooting.

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