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Old November 11th, 2003, 07:28 PM   #1
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Shooting a low light concert

Hello all. I will try to be as brief as possible. I got my GL2 about 3 weeks ago and I have been messing with the Camera like crazy so I can learn what all of the features can do. I have to say though, I am not as impressed with the low-light shooting as everyone else seems to be. I had an Elura about 5 yrs. ago and to be really honest the overall picture seems a little bit clearer on that camera. Where I need help is this...just by complete luck (in the right place at the right time) I was asked to help out on a DV shoot of a concert indoors in a Los Angeles venue. It is a very well known artist and they want many camera's going as to get many different angles, etc., etc. I want to know from those of you who KNOW. Please help me to set the camera up in manual or even just auto mode for shooting a concert indoors under not very bright lighting. I want my footage to look good because I want them to use my stuff but I don't know the best way to shoot a concert. Thanks for help.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 09:13 PM   #2
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The stage will be lit. Spot light mode is easy and should produce a good result. You could always change the frame rate to 30 if needed but that will mean a lot less resolution and choppy effect but they may like a bit of that for effect.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 10:22 PM   #3
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thanks for the advice. only thing is I will most likely be walking around shooting the crowd as well as the stage.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 10:26 PM   #4
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also a related question is...
does it make a difference if the DV tape that I am shooting on has been filmed on a number of times? In other words, if you reuse DV tapes (filming over previous stuff) alot, does it affect the quality of the footage?
thanks
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Old November 11th, 2003, 10:56 PM   #5
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Use new tape, particularly if the event is important and non-repeatable. Tape eventually wears out. Many, if not most, serious shooters only use a tape once. It's a good policy. Tape is cheap.
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Old November 12th, 2003, 02:59 AM   #6
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ken, thanks for your response to my question. could you address the main issue in my first post? I trust your opinion on this matter. Thanks.
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Old November 12th, 2003, 05:15 AM   #7
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Try do a practice shoot in a similar environment, especiallt with regard to lighting, if you can to determine whether or not you get satisfactory results. Also, it lets you try different settings.

A small (few watt) on camera light may help for crowd shots by providing fil light.

The GL2 does a good job in poor light for its price point, but low light performance is a trade between getting any sort of image and getting an image with good color and low noise. To do better overall you probably will spend more money.
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Old November 12th, 2003, 04:49 PM   #8
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I'll take your used tapes!

" Many, if not most, serious shooters only use a tape once. It's a good policy. Tape is cheap."

If any of you out there do this please let me know I'd be more than happy to take your once used tapes off of your hand, I'll pay shipping, I use them sometimes 10 times before I notice any dropouts or problems with them.
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Old November 12th, 2003, 05:18 PM   #9
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Eddie,
Just getting back to this thread. I am not highly experienced at shooting stage events such as concerts or plays so take my remarks with that caveat.

It sounds like you will basically be shooting as part of the audience rather than the crew, yes? As such, you have no opportunity to to adjust your exposure and white balance ahead of the event? I'm also assuming that the action on the stage, rather than the audience, will be your primary subject.

This will be hard conditions to get good results from frame 1. First, use Manual mode. Not knowing the exact lighting conditions I would start from the tunsten preset white balance and then watch closely to see of the white-lit shots look too blue. If so, switch over to daylight preset. Try to keep you shutter at 1/60, and certainly do not go below 1/30. From that point your challenges are confined to your iris and focus, as they should be. Use your iris to basically expose for the highlights; that's about all you can do. Yes, you may have some dark fall-off in the background but it will be preferable to haging the highlights (ie. the main stage subjects) blowing-out.

If it's a rock-type concert where the color and directionality of the lights are all over the map you will have quite a time keeping up. Just don't let your thumb overreact on that exposure wheel from moment to moment. Let your eye-brain determine an average exposure direction and adjust the iris very sparingly. The only thing more distracting than watching a badly exposed piece of footage is watching one in which the operator keeps hunting with the iris.

Good luck and let us know how it goes. It should be, at least, a good learning experience. Be sure to get some practice with Manual mode before you walk in to the concert!
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Old November 12th, 2003, 08:02 PM   #10
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Thanks Ken. I will follow your hints and see what results I can get. I enjoy messing around with all of the features on the new GL2 but it sometimes seems a bit overwhelming. Everything I have shot (for some strange reason) looks very noisy and grainy. Maybe it's my Sony 57 in. rear projection television but I am in sort of a quagmire. This camera HAS TO produce better images than I have been able to get. Anyone with an opinion please help with advice.
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Old November 12th, 2003, 08:25 PM   #11
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When you see grain, it means you have gain - plain and simple. The operator is, generally unskillfully, allowing the camera to auto-gain.

Comparable Sony's are a small step ahead with respect to low-light shots. But it's a small step.

Short answer: Learn to manually manage your exposure and, indeed, the whole camera. Dial-in MANUAL mode and then break the dial. Yes, it takes time and practice to develop these skills.

An astonishing number of prosumer camera owners with whom I correspond never take the time to learn to use their camera properly, become frustrated that they can't reproduce The Matrix with it, stick it in the closet and then come to discussion boards to gripe. Eventually they may buy another camera that's "better in low light" and nearly always repeat that cycle. It's very tiresome to see.

Don't fall into this cycle. It's far more satisfying to learn to use the tool properly and well.

Addendum
Eddie, it's only fair to add, in response to your upcoming event, that there are limits to what the GL2 (or any video camera) can capture without employing gain. I wouldn't imagine the stage show would fall into this category if you get the hang of properly managing your exposure. But the audience shots might. A 1/4" 3-CCD camera is simply no match for professional 1/2" or 2/3" cameras in such situations. Let the band hire pro shooters if they want pro results.
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Old November 13th, 2003, 12:34 AM   #12
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thanks Ken. I don't want to sound like I am complaining. I am trying to get familiar with the manual settings, etc., etc. Question: Would I be better off (in manual mode of course) using NO gain at all? If I set the speed to 1/30 and the aperture to around 1.8 or so, will this be adequate in lower lighting situations. The gain being kept at zero with the sharpness turned down a notch or two. How does that sound? What is the deal with the Gain anyway? What does it mean? What does it do? Do I need to use it if I can get adequate shots without it? Thanks for the help as usual.
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Old November 13th, 2003, 12:56 AM   #13
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Gain is analogous to "gain" in radio technology. If you've ever worked with radio gain you may recall that increasing gain makes the sound lounder but eventually also introduces more noise. The same is true with video gain in all cameras.

For the smoothest shots always try to shoot with 0dB gain. If absolutely necessary bump it up one notch. But in all cases make sure you're making those decisions, not the camera.

I wouldn't recommend messing with sharpness right now. You can always soften in post if necessary.
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Old November 13th, 2003, 03:55 AM   #14
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Ken please . . .

"Dial-in MANUAL mode and then break the dial. " - Ken, I've been wondering what you meant here. Please explain? I relaise it is nothing violent . .

Sometimes I think I'm getting there . . and other times I think I'm not. Please help.

Grazie
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Old November 13th, 2003, 04:04 AM   #15
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For camcorders, is this generally an analog gain preceding the A/D or is it just a digital multiply on the data ?
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