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Canon GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old October 30th, 2004, 11:41 PM   #1
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What is the secret to making Gl2 footage look really good?

I've had my GL2 for a while now and I really love the thing, does what I need it to, it's great.

Only thing is pretty much all the footage looks mostly the same. I've seen some DV footage that just blows me away, so I know there's some way to improve/stylize image quality - I'm wondering what are the best/easiest methods to use to make it look really good.

Thanks.
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Old October 31st, 2004, 12:02 AM   #2
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Welcome Nick,
It's not really a "secret' and it's not specific to the the GL2. The 'trick' is basically to apply good photography techniques and skills. Understand the fundamentals of framing, composition, lighting, and work within the latitude of your camera. Then work on careful, deliberate camera movement skills. Most important, master your camera. Very, very few people ever really do.

What so many people do not seem to realize, and what causes them endless frustration and premature abandonment, is that videography (and filmmaking) is built upon photography. If you're weak in photography you'll be weak 24-30 times per second in videography.

So the "...best/easiest way to make it look really good" is to work diligently to improve your photographic skills. Grab still frames of your footage and look at them as if they were taken with a still camera. Take notes on what's wrong with them. Do they look like shots take with deliberation or do they look like uncomposed, random snapshots?

There's no easy path to acquiring such skill. It just takes work and development of a critical eye.
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Old October 31st, 2004, 01:24 AM   #3
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Thanks.

Do you know of any good books or other places to learn lighting techniques? They tried to teach me here at school, but they failed miserably (lot of cussing by the prof that day)
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Old October 31st, 2004, 01:52 AM   #4
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Browse through our "Read About It" section. There are several good book recommendations there.

But basically you cannot learn much about lighting from books. At most, you can learn basic principles and a bit about common instruments. Lighting is very much a hands-on/eyes-on skill. Take every opportunity to observe those who are experienced with it. Don't overlook learning from still photographers. Then just spend time (alot of time) experimenting. You don't need $10,000 of lighting gear to do so. A few inexpensive lights will help get you started. Set up your GL2 on a tripod, connect it to a decent television and then set up small scenes and observe the results in the television. Shoot some footage of each and take notes on your set-ups (or take still shots of the set-ups) for later review.
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Old October 31st, 2004, 03:53 AM   #5
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Well done! You've arrived with your single paragraph below:

"Only thing is pretty much all the footage looks mostly the same. I've seen some DV footage that just blows me away, so I know there's some way to improve/stylize image quality - I'm wondering what are the best/easiest methods to use to make it look really good."

. .you are asking the right question of yourself. Without asking this question everything else would NOT happen for you. You could read books and listen to us here . . and it would go straight over your head . . . BUT you've asked THE question!

What I would say is to really REALLY listen to your observations about other's work. Start to really "analyse" why you think what you are watching is great. PLUS analyse why you think others - and your own - is less than satisfying.

It's a tough road to travel . . it does get easier . .I did say easier NOT easy . . AND it is the road we all travel and curse and often enjoy . . however it is a road . . I'll let you into another secret . .You/I and others here never never arrive . . we sometimes/often come close, but we never arrive. Point being, as we reach one destination, we see the distant outline of the next destination beckoning in the distance . .

Apologies for the ramblings, it was meant as support for a fellow traveller . . . and yes, I've got 2 XM2s now, been shooting digital and analogue for about 5 years now . . I'm still learning and still making mistakes. Difference now is that I think I know what I'm doing wrong . . that's gotta be an improvement!

Best regards,

Graham
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Old October 31st, 2004, 08:30 AM   #6
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This is funny to me because I've had a GL2 since the fall of 2003, and I felt the same way you did. I could make good-looking video, but nothing that really blew me away. This past summer, I started using my GL2 for photography, and for some reason I am much much more talented visually at taking pictures than I am at video...Or rather, I was better able to take one good frame than 300 frames consecutively. At the end of this summer, I bought a Canon 10D (Digital SLR still camera) and have improved my photography skills ten fold....THEN I found that when I picked up the GL2 - my photography skills transferred over! I shot a small montage for a trip me and some of my swim team went on and the results were ridiculous! WORLDS better than anything I had ever produced before....

My advice? Pick up an old SLR camera at a pawnshop and start taking pictures....


To see what I mean, go to Http://woffester.deviantart.com/gallery/

You can really see the general progression, my older pictures were shot with the GL2, and they got better and better until I got the 10D and you can see a progression there too...If I had webspace I could upload the small short, and some clips from some of my older movies to show the difference.
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Old October 31st, 2004, 02:08 PM   #7
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good advice

Hi I am also a GL2 user. I started out pretty late in the game and I have only been doing DV films for about 3 years now. But the start that I had was with a digital8, that was the best I could afford at the time. As I progressed and my skill grew I got myself the GL2 which is my baby :) Alhtough I didn't buy it until I was 100% sure that I could make my images look good. It was this website that carried me in a lot of ways I did research on 35mm adapters and spoke to a lot of people that have used them, for example check out the marla movie, that blew me away.

It was years and years of learning and putting things together by diagrams and today I make clips and movies that people can't even believe was done on DV. :) (not trying to brag)

I recently got into photography with my newly bought 300D and I love it and I really do agree that photography helps you set up those shots and have the whole entire composition flow smoothly.

The advice I would give you is: when you are done choosing the optimal for you way to shoot those flicks (mine was the mini35 adapter, check www.anotherstateofmind.be for refference) and you have everything set up don't just look through the viewfinder and try to find the perfect result right away, but rather visualise it as it would look once it's been color corrected and tweaked and trust your instinct. :)

Best of luck.

you can check out some of my GL2 footage and my 300D pics here http://users.starpower.net/kikosneako

I'll put it up right now.
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Old October 31st, 2004, 06:50 PM   #8
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HI dimitri,

I watched yoru movie. That looked likea real profesional gl2 movie. That was amazing! Very original en smooht en relaxed. The letters on top were on the small size and maybe you used too much white light in it (too bright), but maybe that was just the idea behind it. The blacks are beautifull in there . The transitions are cool as well. Great job. A gl2 ....wow.

What lights did you use? did you use a hair light? What gel walls/bronze walls did you use?
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Old October 31st, 2004, 07:03 PM   #9
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experiment

I bought a GL1 in 1999, I experimented a lot. To agree with above posts, and as a former large-format film photographer, lighting makes all the difference.

What is and isn't lit. (your subject against a dark background, or your subject in front of a colorful, but dimly lit background, etc)

Direction of light. Directional to create strong shadows expresses one emotion, the same with some fill or reflected light to soften the shadows creates a different feeling. Having something lit evenly all the way around creates flat lighting with little emotion, but might be suited for a particular mood.

Strong light or diffused light. (I use a lot of photoflex silver dome and white dome)

Color of light. White balance manually, then try adding a warming filter, like a tiffen 812, or putting a warm gel on your lights. when shooting people, I try to use hairlights whenever possible and those usually have a warm gel on them, this way their hair comes to life instead of being a dark blob. Or you can try using alternative white balance techniques such as warm cards or cool cards. Outdoors, the light changes color at different times of day, its usually less hazy in the AM than the PM, visibility and air quality is better after a good rain, etc...

I like the ProLighting series of lighting books (intended for still photography, but great pictures with charts and setups and lots of great ideas)

Outdoors, try with the GL2 ND filter and possibly add glass ND, or polarizers to keep your color saturated and within exposure latitude and keep your shutter from getting too fast or your aperture from closing up too small.

Video quality
The GL2 has a nice frame mode that will help the footage look less like video, I like using a light pro-mist filter, the lighter ones help soften the light quality and soften the video / pixel artifacts without making the image look too soft, but they carry warm pro-mists, and black pro-mists (which help reduce contrast, gives it a different look) they come in different strengths, so they are pretty cheap to get a selection and try them.

Keep a good log so you will know what makes the footage look more like you appreciate, and then go back and experiment further with those methods.

Watch good TV shows and movies and when you see something you like, try to determine how it was lit/shot, everything from coloring, lighting, composition etc..

Search the web for lighting for video, cinematography, etc...
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Old October 31st, 2004, 07:44 PM   #10
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Cool

Hey Jose thanks for your complements about my little clip I wish I could show the whole entire movie but I don't have a host right now :( About the lighting I used a smiple 600watt lighting kitt and a few round reflectors for my lighting I didn't bother using hair lights because it seemed like I could pull it of without, it was all by instinct and I was really visualising the final image in my head :)

I thinks Brian has a point about lighting being vital and I wish I had more experience. I am trying to do my reading and figure my way around but with school it's just impossible :(
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Old November 1st, 2004, 01:05 AM   #11
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Dmitry ! Astounding production values and WITH our XM2/GL2. Excellent sample of what we can do with this remarkable camera. I like your intelligent approach to filters and editing. Fabulous!

Graham
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Old November 1st, 2004, 12:36 PM   #12
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Thank you

Thank you for the complement Graham, I tried my best to get a film like image with the GL2 and thus the result :) I hope I get to grow to a professional level with more work. I see your from the UK, that is awesome that's exactly where all of my inspiration lies, people like Danny Boyle and Chris Cunningham are giants in my book and I have so much to grow to get to their level.

Dmitry
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Old November 1st, 2004, 01:17 PM   #13
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Blimey! At least you KNOW their names! . .. . Superb work!
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Old November 7th, 2004, 01:04 PM   #14
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Dmitry,
Very impressive and the beach scene looks like it was "filmed" for a TV commercial. Did you use some kind of stabilizer in the moving car and did you setup lighting in the subway scenes?
Bob
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Old November 7th, 2004, 06:54 PM   #15
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Thanks

Hey thanks man :) "filmed" (hehe) I didin't use any lighting in the metro but it was during the magic hour :) I used a tripod inside a big van for the moving shot. Thanks for the complement about the beach scene took us the whole entire day to shoot a 1min scene :)

Thanks again
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