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Canon Optura Junior Watchdog
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Old August 16th, 2004, 02:06 PM   #1
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Amazing Fun With Color Curves

Here's a tip for getting the most out of your Optura (or any other camcorder) :

I love the resolution and lack of edge enhancement in the Xi, but sometimes its color response, especially outside can leave a little to be desired.

I've been spending a lot of time lately learning about tweaking its color curve in Vegas Video. The difference is amazing! Just a few subtle changes, and instead of home camcorder footage, it almost looks like a movie shot with an expensive camera.

The color corrector wheels are powerful tools, but I think I've found a faster way that gets me closer to a desired "look." Just add a solid color to the timeline above your video. It's like using a filter on the camera lens, except you don't lose any stops, and you can change your mind about it later. In the color generator you can change the transparency; usually less than 10% is all it takes. My favorite is the Tobacco colored one I made. I designed it to look like the Tiffen 812 filter I had for my older camera, but this is so much more useful! Just the slightest tweak gives your footage a different "feeling." I didn't really notice how much the Xi has a penchant for kind of cold saturated greens, in bright sunlight before. A-B'ing it with the filters, lets you see what a difference the colors come out like in your footage.

I've designed several looks that get me close to "The Sopranos" (that expensive, sunny-afternoon, everything's meaningful look), and a saturated blue-ish tint that looks like "The Terminator 2," or "The Titanic." Also I got some very neat looking results of some land-and sky footage by making a gradient and slightly tinting the top blue, and the bottom tobacco. It's really eye-popping, but you can't quite tell how it was done.

Also using the HSL Adjust for saturation, and the Color Curves to gently soften the shadow areas and bring out the detail in them, makes a huge difference in making your video look more expensive. You can get very close to the DVX100 Cine-Gamma look this way. Also, its tons of fun just experimenting with watching your footage change into something that looks so much better on-screen. I think after doing this, that I can now tell just how much everything you see on TV and in the movies has been color corrected. The right curve actually brings out your subject matter, and helps to tell the story. I noticed that in Lord Of The Rings, every different storyline had a different color mix.

Keep in mind that it's essential to have your computer hooked up to a calibrated TV monitor. I use my HD set. Computer screens work in a different color-space, and the results will look completely off when you see them on TV.

Try this stuff... Any thoughts?
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Old October 9th, 2004, 06:54 PM   #2
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How do you connect a external TV to your comp?

Great post btw
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Old October 11th, 2004, 02:34 AM   #3
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You need a video card with an analog output port.
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Old October 11th, 2004, 02:37 AM   #4
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I use my XL1S for that. Firewire out and then onto a monitor so
I can see the actual image instead of a resampled computer
output (through the video card). This is the preferred method.
If your camera cannot do this (not sure) you can also use a DV
deck or a analog to digital DV converter, but that will cost money
again, ofcourse.

Better any output than no output at all, but I'm not trusting the
video card output (resolution and color space conversions etc.)
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Old October 11th, 2004, 10:09 AM   #5
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To view the footage in real time on my HDTV, I just keep the Optura Xi connected to the firewire cable. In Vegas, you can select the DV camera as your monitor. Then I just SVideo out to the TV. You have to be careful to keep all your settings at neutral on the monitor.

The HD set is great for this. The SLIGHTEST change to your footage shows up like you're watching it through a microscope :)

Sorry about all the glitchy typos in my post above. I wasn't drunk when I typed that. It turns out you can't export directly out of Word into this forum...
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Old October 11th, 2004, 10:33 AM   #6
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I cleaned it up a bit for you Kevin -- thanks,
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Old October 12th, 2004, 02:26 PM   #7
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Thanks Chris!
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Old November 9th, 2004, 09:49 PM   #8
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I have a Canon Optura 300

I have a Canon Optura 300. I also have Adobe Premiere Pro and Vegas 5. I just built a nice PC. I have an AMD Athlon 64 3500 and two 512 Kingston Hyper x Ram modules. I just started to learn Vegas 5. I did not render anything in Adobe Premiere yet. I am looking foward to experimenting with projects. I have captured some video already and rendered in both DV and DVD format. I notice that the DVD conversion plays on my DVD player with a noticable loss in quality. I set vegas to capture and then render in the best quality DVD render. Is there a way to capture the DV from the camera and convert to DVD with no loss in quality? The image from the camera to the TV from the DV tape is better than the image from the DVD from the completed and converted DVD project. Sound confusing? I know a MAC probably does better rendering as I hear, but I am stuck with this new PC instead of a Mac.
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Old November 10th, 2004, 04:24 AM   #9
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What you heard was a myth. A Mac does not do "better" rendering
than a PC. It all depends on the software. Now it might be that
the Mac has some better software perhaps, but that all depends
on what you need etc.

First: you will always loose quality when going from DV to DVD
since they are both lossy compression forms. But you can minimize
the effect and usually even to such a degree that you don't see
it actually.

What most people do not know is that DVD production is a highly
complex craft. The reason most people do not know this is that
all those nifty new NLE's and MPEG2 encoders have just a few
drop dows with a "low, medium, best" quality slider (kind of).

In reality it doesn't work that easy. Making a good MPEG2 encode
for DVD is a craft that takes practice and good tools. You can
produce some very good MPEG2/DVD files with the builtin encoder
in Vegas, but it is certainly not the best encoders out there.

Keep in mind that profiles are almost always JUST A STARTING
point. There is a reason there is advanced button. Go into your
MPEG2 settings and fiddle with those (especially VBR [variable
bitrate] encoding with settings like min: 2000, average: 7000,
max: 9000).

Two better encoders that are affordable are:

TMPGEnc
Canopus ProCoder

Don't expect a few clicks and some waiting to produce results
that are as good as the original or as good as professional discs!
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Old November 10th, 2004, 01:55 PM   #10
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Thanks

Thanks for the reply. I hope that in about 3 months, I laugh at how much I did not know about video editing and rendering. I looked at the links you included. It looks like there alternative programs out there instead of the top 2 or 3 we newbies know of. I'm going to search Google right now for some tutorials on Premiere and Vegas right now. Maybe some projects that go step by step in explaining how to do certain things.
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Old November 10th, 2004, 03:26 PM   #11
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That's interesting that you noticed there is a difference in quality between your original DV tape and the final DVD quality. I always set everything in Vegas to "best quality" , but I have noticed a slight loss in resolution as well after converting my projects to MPEG2 for DVD authoring.

It's a small difference, but it's there. On busy scenes with lots of motion ( like shots of leafy trees or water ) you start to see jagged pixelisation around the edges of things. Granted I am watching my footage on a HD Tv monitor, but I really thought there would be NO loss watching a DVD from a progressive scan player into the componant inputs of my TV compared the the Svideo outs of the camera.

I think most people wouldn't notice the MPEG artifacts, but I do....aaaaarrrgh. On the other hand Vegas Video is miles better than the "Best" quality I got out of converting my footage directly in Ulead's DVD Workshop. That was so bad - I couldn't believe it. It looked like a bad VCD MPEG 1 file. I will have to try some of the other programs you suggested.
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Old November 11th, 2004, 12:32 AM   #12
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Artifacts

I am glad someone else notices this issue as well. Since I am still learning, I have no idea what the exact adjective would be to describe the issue with DVD rendering. It does happen with motion though more than anything else. As a side note, I use the slide show program ProshowGold. It crashes a lot when you inport then render video files. Especially when I tried to pull off importing hundreds of 30 second clips from my Canon A-70 digital camera, add transitions, then burn them. It will freeze and ruin the project. If you start up the project again, it needs to locate and import the saved project files. Takes too long. The other day, it froze again after about 85% of rendering was complete. I was surprised to find a file in MPEG2 in the folder the next day. I included it in a DVD project. It actually ran. I laughed when I saw that it worked. The motion is what made me mention it. These clips are originally AVI 15FPS, 640x480. The rendered MPEG2 had a weird motion effect to it. It is very watchable though. I had a Canon S1IS too. I will take some of the 30FPS video I captured and see how that renders to MPEG2.
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Old November 11th, 2004, 08:20 AM   #13
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Hello Michael,

Thanks for your thoughts here. I don't think it's fair to compare the motion video output of any Digital Still camera that I know of with the output from any DV camcorder. They are just two different devices, and still cams are not optimised for video output.

But, the issue of DV footage being visibly degraded when when converted to MPEG2 still stands. Especially with the wide range of quality difference between different programs.

I think this is something most consumers aren't aware of, and probobly don't say anything about the issue, because they think it's something they did "wrong".

This would be a great starter topic for a new thread. "What software does the best job of MPEG2 conversion"?
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Old November 11th, 2004, 12:38 PM   #14
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DVD rendering

So very true. I could not wait to build a computer that allowed me to capture all of my old video and convert them to DVD. I soon realized that I may just store most of them as data on DVD discs in the captured DV format. That makes for the ability to transfer them back to the HD for editing and rendering in the best format as I learn more about the best DVD rendering program. I forget which thread responded to my question, but I did get some good advice on some promising programs. I'll include the following advice from another member below.

"What you heard was a myth. A Mac does not do "better" rendering than a PC. It all depends on the software. Now it might be that the Mac has some better software perhaps, but that all depends on what you need etc.

First: you will always loose quality when going from DV to DVD
since they are both lossy compression forms. But you can minimize
the effect and usually even to such a degree that you don't see
it actually.

What most people do not know is that DVD production is a highly
complex craft. The reason most people do not know this is that
all those nifty new NLE's and MPEG2 encoders have just a few
drop dows with a "low, medium, best" quality slider (kind of).

In reality it doesn't work that easy. Making a good MPEG2 encode
for DVD is a craft that takes practice and good tools. You can
produce some very good MPEG2/DVD files with the builtin encoder
in Vegas, but it is certainly not the best encoders out there.

Keep in mind that profiles are almost always JUST A STARTING
point. There is a reason there is advanced button. Go into your
MPEG2 settings and fiddle with those (especially VBR [variable
bitrate] encoding with settings like min: 2000, average: 7000,
max: 9000).

Two better encoders that are affordable are:

TMPGEnc
Canopus ProCoder

Don't expect a few clicks and some waiting to produce results
that are as good as the original or as good as professional discs!"


There was another post that one member mentions the three top DVD rendering programs in order. None of them are Vegas or Adobe Premiere. The three listed were as follows

"The current list of best MPEG2 encoders goes like:

1. Canopus ProCoder (mid price)
2. CinemaCraft Encoder = CCE (expensive)
3. TMPGEnc (cheap / free)"

Hopefully, I will be able to figure out how to use the three above so I can get that acceptable quality conversion from DV to DVD. The advice on here is invaluable so I thankk anyone who responded so far to my questions.
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Old November 11th, 2004, 04:46 PM   #15
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MPEG PQ

If I don't have to fit very long material on a single DVD, I follow Columbia's Superbit DVD collection rule: I set in VV target bandwitdth to 9.8Mbps and 2-pass VBR. Difference in resulting PQ between this setting and default one is very significant.
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