Documentary Recommendations for GL-2? at DVinfo.net

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Canon GL Series DV Camcorders
Canon GL2, GL1 and PAL versions XM2, XM1.


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Old September 2nd, 2002, 10:20 PM   #1
Kathy Garneau
 
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Hello Everyone

I am wondering what type of package you would suggest for shooting a documentary with a Gl2?

Should I buy a Sennheiser?

What type of steady cam?

I have seen the battery recommendation, thanks.

Kathy
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Old September 2nd, 2002, 11:22 PM   #2
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Kathy,
Tell us more about the type of shooting you anticipate for this project.
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Old September 3rd, 2002, 03:52 AM   #3
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I agree with Ken - we kinda need more info on what you want to achieve.

A Sennheiser ME66 is always a great shotgun mic to keep close by, especially considering the price at around $400. You may want to consider getting the Sennheiser ME64 which is a little more low profile, not as far reaching as the ME66 with a bit more "room tone/ ambience" gathering capability. Will you have a sound man??? I hope so, but if not, make sure you use a windscreen - at least a foam windscreen but better yet the Lightwave Windscreen for the ME66 is excellent for around $120. While I do not generally recommend using a camera-mounted shotgun to capture dialogue, you may not have any choice if you are solo. You will also need at least a "hot shoe" mounted mic shock mount, as well as an XLR adaptor for the GL2. Canon now offers the MA300 which will do the trick here very nicely. However, if you decide to use the WD58 wide angle adaptor at the same time as the MA300/ ME66, the GL2 will become a bit too front heavy and fatigue will set in quickly trying to balance it all the time. In this case, I would recommend using a bottom-mounted BeachTek adaptor over the MA300 [ http://beachtek.com/dxa4p.html ] and using a shock mount such as the Audio Technica mic shockmount which you can purchase from places such as Coffey Sound at [ http://www.coffeysound.com ] for around $60. Think about getting a pistol grip for your mic shock mount, should you be able to recruit somoone to hold the shotgun mic closer to the subject's mouth as you shoot with your GL2.

For wireless mics, I recommend the AKG PR81/PT81/ C417L package, which you can purchase from B&H for around $450 [ http://www02.bhphotovideo.com/default.sph/FrameWork.class?FNC=ProductActivator__Aproductlist_html___219451___AKPR81L41754___REG___CatID=0___SI D=F045846CCB0 ].

Again, do you have a soundman? Soundmen are invaluable, they allow you to just focus on the frame and not worry about sound.

Not sure if you need a SteadyCam - not quite something people use on documentaries - unless you don't need to worry about remaining "low-profile". It will attract a lot of attention to you, not really the mode of operandi for documentary shooting, especially in places where they have never experinced a TV crew before. Focus on "telling the story" and avoid becoming too complicated with your setup. You MAY want to consider a TIFFEN SteadyStick [ http://www.tiffen.com/SteadyStick.htm ], it can be used in a low profile fashion and allow you to stand further away from your subjects and minimize shaky cam while you zoom in. Overall, this is not a bad idea, it will help you to "blend in" as you shoot your B-roll/ people shots. If you must use a camera stabilization device for your GL2, check out the SteadiCam JR [ http://www.tiffen.com/Steadicam.htm ], which I think works well with the GL2 as it is a very lightweight camera, much more so than other cameras. I have tried all of the stabilization devices out there and I still prefer the JR for lightweight handycams for its' shorter "learning curve" and overall performance. Remember, however, that using any type of device such as this will add setup time to tweak it just right, and will draw attention to you.

Please write back and give us some more info on your upcoming project. Am looking forward to hearing from you,

- don
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Old September 4th, 2002, 07:15 AM   #4
Kathy Garneau
 
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Thanks for the quick replies!

The documentary will be about a new fangled elementary school. There will be interviews with parents, teachers and students. B-roll of kids in classroom doing activities and on location for field trips.

I would like to have a boom person but will probably be going solo a lot.

I agree that the steadicam would be quite intrusive! I love the effect though...

Everyone says that the Gl2 has a better "film look". Is this when it is in frame mode?

I am still a bit uncertain about whether I should go for the PD150...
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Old September 4th, 2002, 11:23 AM   #5
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Forget about a motion stabilizer rig for this project, Kathy. You're already going to have way too much on your hands (shooting, lighting, sound, interviewing...amidst children?!).

The "film look" probably refers to Canon's prosumer cameras having a "Frame Mode" which simulates shooting 30 frames per second non-interlaced (sometimes called 30p). Look on Canon's site (canondv.com) or do a search here for more details.

Read through other threads in this GL2 section to get a perspective on how the GL2 compares with the PD150. Others, particularly Barry Goyette, have worked on this topic.
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Old September 6th, 2002, 01:09 AM   #6
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solid gear

The things i can't do without are my phat battery and wide angle lens.
I use interstate battery's 4500mah batteries, you can get them for about half the cost of bp-945 and very trusty so far.
also rarely take my .5x wide angle lens off- else i find i have to stand about 6 feet away from my subject to get a medium shot, this will also help your audio cause if you have a hot shoe mounted shotgun.
the battery helps balance the weight added by the mic and the lens.
i always keep a uv filter on the wide angle, it doesn't darken your shot, but sky will be bluer and mainly protects my lens from my greasy paws.
but i also always carry a lens pen, nothing spoils a good shot like fuzz on the lens.
with these you can do anything.
except maybe go underwater.
if you are shooting an underwater documentary then i recommend an underwater housing.
if you are looking for stability then the steady stick or maybe mighty wondercam by videosmith, but the latter gives you a pretty eng view of the world.
a monopod is a good way to get a steady shot unobtrusively too.
lastly, the mic selection would definitely be dictated by what you are shooting.
if you were shooting someone like a fireman working then a wireless lapel would keep you closer to the audio,
if you are doing music or performance, an omni directional or pzm,
but most likely mvp would be the shotgun.
steer clear of azden if you can afford a decent sennheiser or an audio technica.
jason.
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Old September 6th, 2002, 01:16 AM   #7
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oh yeah

the pd 150 is a great camera. the advantages i see over the gl2 are tiny tho.
tapes load and eject more quickly in the pd 150, and it has a manual zoom ring, but its not sharp and accurate like on a real lens. i dig the magnesium body because there are a lot less creaks and groans when i hold it using the hand strap (very seldom) compared to the plastic canon body.
what i don't like is the image. the pd150 seems to mute colors that aren't heavily saturated, like grey and tan and black and woodgrain and olive. . . basically anything that isn't red blue or green.
i would buy the gl2 and save the difference for your accessories.
j
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Old September 6th, 2002, 10:53 AM   #8
Kathy Garneau
 
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thanks for the tips!

I would love to compare the 2 cameras side by side but the stores in my area are out of Gl2's.

I like the idea that the Gl2 produces good colour.

Before I buy the Gl2 I have a couple of concerns.

1. Is it a disadvantage having to buy the audio adapter to make it XLR? Does this make it a less robust rig?

2. Is it alot worse than a pd150 in low light situations? Or are there ways.

3. Could I shoot stuff with the Gl2 so it has a "film look" without having it in frame mode. As I understand shooting it in frame mode makes it harder to transfer to film.

Thanks again!
Kathy
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Old September 6th, 2002, 12:39 PM   #9
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Kathy,

Are you planning to transfer to filM? Have you ever struck a film print before on any of your past projects? There are many, many seperate issues involved in striking a film print from a piece of video. Some houses prefer Frame Mode, some houses would rather see interlace video. Do you have any particular transfer house in mind that you have worked with before or have seen their portfolio and are content with their work?

If you are concerned about the MA300, you may want to consider using a BeachTek adaptor instead. Actually, I think this makes a lot of sense, since it adds just the right amount of weight to the bottom "sweetspot" of the GL2 - I prefer adding a bit of weight to the bottom rather than above the lens as found on the PD-150 also. This is important to keep oin mind if you are planning on using a wide-angle adaptor, which will add weight to the front of the camera.

Is it a lot worse than the PD-150? No. Is it equivalent to the PD-150? No, it is not as light sensitive as the PD-150, but not far off. Don't forget that the GL2 has extremely clean electronics with a high signal-to-noise ratio, offering a very clean +6 video gain setting and a +12 gain setting which is also useable, with minimal grain. I would not judge a camera by its' low light performance, this is a mistake. There are so many other important things to keep in mind when considering a camera - such as image setup control, memory pressets, exposure modes, overall look and how many different looks the camera can create, ease of use, 30fps versus 15fps "progressive scan", 20x optical zoom versus 16x, more effective image stabilization over the Sony, etc. Cost is an important consideration too, especially when the more affordable of the two cameras potentially offers you more value. Track record in customer service is key as well. Canon is usually much quicker, cheaper and proactive than Sony as far as service issues go.

Again, I'm wondering what your plans are as far as creating a film print. Please clarify, would love to hear more about your project goals.

- don
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Old September 6th, 2002, 12:41 PM   #10
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kathy

The PD150 and gl2 are certainly formidable contenders, and their image quality is certainly in the same ballpark.

The advantages of the gl2 are the frame mode, a better zoom, slightly lower contrast, and a more neutral overall image tone, even in difficult to correct low light situations..as well as a few control features not available on the pd150.

The PD150 is more sensitive, making it marginally better in "no light" situations, has a manual zoom, and some very well placed controls on the camera body. The on board xlr connectors are nice, but a little awkward in their placement...like an attachment that does come off. Also I like the 2 step ND filter.

The value of the xlr connectors must be balanced by how often you expect to be running long wiring to your camera. For me, I prefer a wireless system when booming, and otherwise I use a shotgun mounted on the camera...neither of which require balanced xlr connection.

As to the gl2's film look...there's a lot of discussion around this site as to what that really means. I think the frame mode as implemented on the gl2 is a very close approximation of the "look" of film. In normal mode, the gl2 and PD150 look alot alike, althought the gl2's more delicate handling of highlights may make it look more film-like. There are differing theories as to transferring to film...and while many transfer houses recommend using interlaced video, there are several that recommend the frame mode.

If film transfer is a definite option for you, you may want to consider Panasonic's new 24p camcorder, the ag-dvx100, as it is the only camera in this category that is designed specifically to transfer to film. There is a lot of discussion going on about it on 2-pop.com.

Barry
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Old September 7th, 2002, 01:20 AM   #11
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just close this thread, cuz its all been said!

"a more neutral overall image tone"!!
brilliantly stated Barry! that's exactly what i dislike about the pd150.
Kathy, Mr. Berube and Mr. Barry are very smart! i can't think of anything else to say, nor could i state it so clearly.
all i would say is that video and low light just don't mix! actually, video is pretty picky about any type of light now that i think about it.
but the point is if you are anticipating low light shooting you might think about getting a little fresnel for your hot shoe.
a compact adjustable light can save your arse.
yeah! more money to spend!
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Old September 7th, 2002, 02:40 PM   #12
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Hi Kathy,

You might be interested in my post under "Exposure Issues." After the same decision making process you are in, I decided on the GL2, mainly for the promise of clean audio. In summary, I've been happy with the low light (though figuring out the exposure system is important), and the audio is really good. I use a Studio 1 box. It has some good options (will do line level, different size jacks, etc). I hang it on my tripod strap, but it's designed for a belt clip. I like that it gets the heavy XLR cables off the camera, and that it has independent fader controls, so I can set the mic level at the camera, but cut the level on a mic not in use without disturbing the gain setting on the camera. More details on the other post.

Linc Kesler
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Old September 7th, 2002, 04:26 PM   #13
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yes the Studio One adaptors are good quality too, I used to own an XLR-PRO, was very happy with it except I wish the pots had "detents" like the BeachTek does - sometimes it is easy to turn up or down the volume pots on the XLR-PRO by mistake, which doesn't really happen on the BeachTek pots. I did like the extra ground removal switches on the XLR-PRO too.

- don
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Old October 18th, 2004, 04:03 PM   #14
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Frame Mode and Film Transfer

the lack of new posts sent me to the archives, where i found this two year old response to a Q about documentary production.

my question: are there really transfer houses that prefer frame mode to 60i, and if so, who are they?

i've done some preliminary exploration, and everybody seems to warn against canon's version of 30p if planning to transfer to film.

don? anyone?

thanks,
phb


<<<-- Originally posted by Don Berube :

Are you planning to transfer to filM? Have you ever struck a film print before on any of your past projects? There are many, many seperate issues involved in striking a film print from a piece of video. Some houses prefer Frame Mode, some houses would rather see interlace video.

- don -->>>
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Old October 18th, 2004, 09:16 PM   #15
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I am currently shooting a documentary like film to promote a local high school on an international scale.
We are shooting it with quite a few cameras including a GL-2, VX2000, PD-100A, and a TRV-950. The PD-100A and TRV-950 are mainly for B roll with the VX-2000 and GL-2 doing the majority of the workload. The only time the GL-2 is lacking (in comparison to the VX) is in low light situations which are rare around a school. Every were ells itís a few steps above.
Some of the accessories that we are using on this project that are lending a strong had are: a Jib arm, dolly, Stedy Cam JR, tripod (s), Lowel Light kits (3 different kits), ME66 w/ K6 power module, and a Sony wireless system.
Now, not all of these items may be necessary for your production and some that are not listed may be. It all really depends on what you are after although the must haves in my opinion are a good sound kit and a tripod. I would like to add a light kit to the short list although I guess it may not be justifiable buy all.

Best of Luck
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