The third option is to record the feed off of the projector, or from the mixing board. This is the ideal scenario – and the one that we took on the Planisware project – but it’s not as easy as you might think.
The Right Equipment
First, you need a hardware encoder that can convert the stream from the laptop to your recorder. This means you also need a recorder that can handle the conversion.
Luckily, we’ve got the technology to keep up. Our Atomos Samurai Blade with an HDMI-to-SDI converter and Decimator MDS provide the perfect configuration to get an SDI connection off the back of the projector from the output. From there, we can upscale the signal, and record a 1080p60 signal to 1080p30.
The Right Frame Rate
Here’s where we’re going to get a bit technical, but this piece is important. One of the things that we try to do in these situations is to record 24 frames per second, which creates a filmic look. This is an aesthetic that we prefer, and something that causes so many clients to gravitate towards us.
Some may choose to film 30 frames per second, which makes a more TV look, while others choose 60 frames per second to get that very familiar “soap opera look” that you have probably seen many times before.
These different frame rates have other advantages, and we don’t want to discredit them for fulfilling their needs. For example, if you record something in 60 frames per second, and reinterpret it at 24, you can create a truly beautiful slow motion image, which we love to do. But if you’re doing a live recording of something, we find we get the best footage at 24 frames per second.
However, a problem arises when recording a synchronized source from the projector. The computer generates the image at 1080p60 (or at 720 if you’re using an older computer.) This means that, if you’re trying to record something at 24 frames per second, you’re missing key information and winding up with blurry images. That forces you to record at 30 frames per second on the other cameras in order for everything to remain synchronized and to make your post-production process actually work.
If you’ve been paying close attention to all of this technical talk, you’ll notice an inconsistency when we say the signal comes out at 1080p60, but we record at 1080p30. While it may seem a bit confusing to some, you can rest assured that everything balances out. At the end of the day, the ratio is the same, and all you’re left to deal with is the frame drop where every other frame is not recorded and you’re left with the 30 frames per second that you actually need. This allows cameras to record at 30 frames per second, which is a more realistic motion and creates a more preferred aesthetic.