May 30, 2007

hdv and gaping abdomen wounds

During the birth of my first child it became readily apparent to the doctors that the genetic disposition of myself and my wife to produce kids with large craniums was going to make natural child birth a no go. My daughter has a whopper of a head on her. Plan B was to go with a Cesarean. My wife, having no forewarning that this was going to happen, quite naturally became a little jittery once she was in the operating room.

While both my wife and I thought I was probably going to pass out from the sight of this operation, the opposite turned out to be true. I couldn't take my eyes of it. It was utterly fascinating. However, my wife's apprehension required quite a lot of hand holding and calming talk. My new camera sat idle on a table until the gore was being mopped up. I told my wife later that during the second birth I was going to be videotaping the entire thing. Handholding would be limited. I kept my word.

This post however is not about my second child's birth but rather the piece of equipment used to capture it. Actually it would have been about my child's birth but my wife has nixed the idea of using any media of the childbirth online. Especially her gaping abdomen wounds. Your loss. She has excellent looking gaping abdomen wounds. Instead, I know that quite a few friends are in for some births in the next few years and this post is a suggestion to step up to the plate and buy an HDV camcorder. The best one I've found on the market is the Canon HV20. Camcorderinfo loves it. And surprisingly it is one of the cheaper HDV camcorders out there; about $1,000. I almost popped for the Canon XH-A1 which is a pricey but excellent performer. It is unfortunately the Hummer of camcorders. It is huge!

It's big for good reason. If you've used a standard def camcorder before, most suffer in low light. The picture gets very grainy, the color loss is generally pretty dramatic, and the overall viewing experience sucks. HDV makes this problem worse. Without a much larger lens the amount of light coming in is similar to an SD camcorder but you are trying to record many more pixels. Sure you are going to get hi-def. But hi-def what? Hi-def noise and grays is what. Bad combo. The lens on the XH-A1 is monstrous to allow lots of light in and it does low light very very well.

The HV20 is a reasonable size. It doesn't do low light nearly as well as the XH-A1 but it does an admirable job with typical indoor lighting. A dimly lit room will still suffer. But an operating room or a family room with 3 lights on looks great. In fact I would go as far as to say the pictures from the operating room were INSANELY good. There are shots where my wife and I just stared at each other. It is incredibly impressive on a 50" hi-def screen. Gaping abdomen wounds have never looked this good. My wife was kind of in shock. Both from the quality of the video and the amount of blood. Go figure.

Sure there are questions of what to eventually do with this media besides playing it straight off the camcorder. But 5 years from now I'm sure we'll have those questions answered.

Anyway. For those who plan on doing some videotaping of important events in the near future, I would suggest stepping up to the plate on this one.

No comments: