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Old November 22nd, 2004, 01:41 PM   #1
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Diffusion Filter On Optura Xi

I guess this would fit in with the "Tips" catagory started earlier:

Tommy Haupfear wrote me last week, and told me about a special Ritz camera is having right now on a 46mm Cokin Diffusion Filter for $1.25! That's right, they are blowing these out for a buck and a quarter (plus $6.50 shipping :) ).

Wow, what an incredible difference for shooting interviews with people. I've always wanted to try one of these.

It took some experimention to get it right. The diffusion makes the camera react very differently. I used my HDTV as a monitor while I did a bunch of the shots. All I can say is, when used properly, it makes it look like I spent several thousand dollars more on my equipment! I thought the Xi looked pretty smooth before, but this TOTALLY takes all the video edge off of things, without sacrifising the details. For me it's actually an amazing jump in quality. They should just supply these with camcorders in the box! It nails the Cinema-Gamma effect.

You guys have got to try one of these. Some of the shots I took looked like they could have been used in a Hollywood movie. You can get instant great results by throwing up a Halogen worklight in front of your subject, and putting the camera in Spotlight Mode. Looks like you spent forever on the lighting.

Black and white mode looks amazing with it too. Very classy "artistic film" effect.

After ton's of experimenting this weekend, I found a way to make the camera work a lot better with it: Typically under expose by several stops. The blooming effect on highlights sometime fools the camera and washes out the picture. Stepping it down a little bit, removes much of the flaring, and makes it look not so evident that you are using a filter.

Also, you may want to boost some of the color levels back up in your editor. This puts back in a little more contrast, and sharpens things up again, with still leaving the beautiful creamy effect. Skin tones look amazing. I'm thinking of the way the shots and some of the commercials look on the Weather Channell. Not bad for a buck and a quarter....

The filter is a little bit overkill for some things, but basically I like it so much, I don't want to shoot anything filterless now. I'd like to experiment with some other brands that add the slight creamy softness, and smooth out the contrast (something the Xi really needs), but without so much blooming on the highlights. Send some advice this way please. I'd like to find something I can just leave on the camera all the time.

Thanks again Tommy for the tip.
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Old November 24th, 2004, 02:45 PM   #2
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Hey nobody had anything to say. LOL

Well, I just orderd a Tiffen Soft FX/3 today. It's supposed to be the "one used most often in the movies"...

I'll post my thoughts about it after it gets here next week.
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Old December 2nd, 2004, 10:13 AM   #3
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Yup, The Tiffen SoftFX/3 does exactly what I wanted. It takes the electronic video edge off of things, while still leaving the details, and has very little white haze compared to the Cokin Diffusion 2. This one is just right. This, combined with Magic Bullet, makes it look like I spent thousands of dollars more on my Xi footage. I'm lovin' it!

Has anyone else tried these things?
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Old December 2nd, 2004, 08:14 PM   #4
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Kevin,

I use a diffision filter in post on my XI footage, Joe's Filters for Final Cut Pro. I love the way it looks and it is adjustable for any given scene. Granted I have to render the footage, but I also have the option to use the un-diffused footage if I want.

I shoot with my XI in TV mode at 1/30th sec which gives a psuedo-progressive look.
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Old December 3rd, 2004, 08:38 AM   #5
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I think post-production is as interesting as shooting video. Yes, I shoot almost everything in the TV 30 mode for the prog look. I like the way motion takes on that dreamy “film-motion” quality with it.

Since I got Magic Bullet last week, there’s no going back. I was totally stunned by how much it improved my shots. I am currently editing family videos from this last year, for a DVD Christmas present for everyone. I was lucky enough to get some of the best footage I’ve ever taken, with my Optura Xi this summer. At the last stage, I bought Magic Bullet Editors for Vegas Video. Wow! The footage that I thought looked so great before, just looked like cold, flat video, compared to the rich, creamy warm results after going through the MB process. On the DVD, it actually looks cleaner than the original raw footage.

It took about 24 hours to render 30 minutes in my kinda slow computer. But the results were totally worth it. I had my own recipes in Vegas for getting the “film” look, but this nails it perfectly. It’s nice to have the finishing tools all in one place, and have them work intuitively together. On my HDTV, my Xi footage now looks pretty close to watching a professional movie on a DVD. Fun stuff!
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Old December 3rd, 2004, 08:48 AM   #6
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Dave, what kind of projects are you shooting with your Xi?
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Old December 3rd, 2004, 11:24 AM   #7
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Kevin,

What I shoot on my own and what I shoot at work are different. I use the Xi for freelance stuff, documentaries, music video, sports video and family stuff. At work we shoot Beta SP. The Xi does pretty good for my use. In addition to shooting 1/30, I also shoot exclusively in 16:9. That was one of the reasons I bought the camera, because it's only native 16:9 format single chip camera in its price range.

My boss has actually had me bring the Xi in to work to use on some shoots.
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Old December 3rd, 2004, 12:14 PM   #8
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That's very cool. Yes, I bought the camera too, for it's 16/9 chip. I shoot exclusively in that mode for my HDTV. Mostly hobby things. Occasional business stuff when I can find it.

Sounds like you do some very interesting things, and you're lucky that you get to work with video cams for a living. I sell video and graphics cards, so at least it's kind of related.

I'm suprised how many people sell the Xi short, becuase it's considered a "consumer" camcorder. I think it's a real breakthrough in price versus performance, and I love it's output for SD work.

Best of luck to you with all your projects.
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Old December 22nd, 2004, 10:09 AM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Kevin Sturges : Yup, The Tiffen SoftFX/3 does exactly what I wanted. It takes the electronic video edge off of things, while still leaving the details, and has very little white haze compared to the Cokin Diffusion 2. This one is just right. This, combined with Magic Bullet, makes it look like I spent thousands of dollars more on my Xi footage. I'm lovin' it!

Has anyone else tried these things? -->>>

Hi Kevin,
How much did you pay for your Tiffen SoftFX/3? What ring size did you get and can it be used with the wide angle lens?

I noticed that BH has an illustration comparing the same grab with SoftFX/3 and without.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?A=details&Q=&is=REG&O=productlist&sku=59926

Very obvious that the filter is amazing.
Thanks,
Earon
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Old December 22nd, 2004, 12:29 PM   #10
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<<<-- Originally posted by Kevin Sturges : That's very cool. Yes, I bought the camera too, for it's 16/9 chip. I shoot exclusively in that mode for my HDTV. Mostly hobby things. Occasional business stuff when I can find it.

Sounds like you do some very interesting things, and you're lucky that you get to work with video cams for a living. I sell video and graphics cards, so at least it's kind of related.

I'm suprised how many people sell the Xi short, becuase it's considered a "consumer" camcorder. I think it's a real breakthrough in price versus performance, and I love it's output for SD work.

Best of luck to you with all your projects. -->>>

Kevin:

Please answer a newbie question. I shoot video quite decently, since I've done the whole road from 8mm (film) to 16 mm (film), VHS, 8 mm video and now Mini DV. For a trek in a couple of weeks to a place I probably I won't go again for at least a couple of years, should I shoot 16:9 and then at the editing level reduce to 4:3 (not too many HDTV's in Chile in fact), or simply shoot 4:3?

Reviewing my old tapes I'm very sorry not to have shot everything in SP. In the early 80's a good tape was very expensive (for us) and I often used a slower speed (LP or *even* EP) to "save" on tape. Today, I'm very sorry I did so. I'm just in the process to convert these old tapes (still in excellent shape) to digital form, and they would have been a *lot* better if I had shot them in SP.

I *know* that the Xi captures in native 16:9 then compresses the info into the standard mini DV format. *That's* why I want your opinion as if there's any discernible improvement *or* the option to better view the tapes (or DVD's made from them) when HDTV becomes more prevalent.

Thanks for your thoughts,

R. Román L.
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Old December 22nd, 2004, 07:33 PM   #11
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Roberto,

I would suggest you shoot 16:9. The DVD software you use, if you author a DVD, will enable you to letter box it. This way when it is palyed on a standard 4:3 TV it will letterbox properly and you will see the true 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. Also, when it's palyed on a widescreen TV, whether it's High Def or standar Definition, it will fill the whole screenwith the proper 16:9 apect ration BUT since the TV will be 16:9 as well, you won't have the black letterboxing strips at the top and bottom.

As for HD sets viewing standard definition material, I think it looks worse on the Hi Def sets than it does on standard def. The HD sets have to take a low res image and blow it up to fill the screen and the result is pixelated video. I've seen many peopl rush out to buy a new HD set thinking that they will get "awesome" video when they watch it and are disapointed to see that it is not the case unless they have HD programming.

When HDTV becomes more prevalent, it will make sense to get an HD camera. MiniDV is 720x480 period, whether it's shot in true or fake 16:9 or using an anamorphic lens. The same goes for film. 35mm film shot in widescreen is the same 35mm film shot for 4:3. The anamorphic lens has a wider field of view horizontally but not vertically and it's able to put that in the 35mm frame. when it's projected on a screen, the projector widens the image so that you see it widescreen rather than squished up vertically.
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Old December 26th, 2004, 07:49 PM   #12
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Earon, sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. I bought the Tiffen Soft/FX3 from Adorama on the web for about $30. Had no problems with their service. They were one of the only companies I called that had it in stock. It's 46mm, which is native for the Xi - no step up adaptor required. I imagine it would work fine with a wide angle lens. I've used up to three filters stacked together, and was surprised that there wasn't any visible vigneting on the Xi, even when using the zoom.

Roberto, I own an HDTV, so I shoot all my stuff in 16:9 mode. It's just my opinion, but I would feel I was kind of wasting the potential of the camera ( as in throwing away about a third of it's resolution ) if I used it in 4:3 mode.

When I make DVD's for people with SD format TV's, I convert the video to letterbox first. It actually looks pretty neat on a regular TV - it gives the effect of watching a "movie" compared to a home "video" ;)
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Old January 8th, 2005, 10:37 PM   #13
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<<<-- Originally posted by Kevin Sturges : Earon, sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. I bought the Tiffen Soft/FX3 from Adorama on the web for about $30. Had no problems with their service. They were one of the only companies I called that had it in stock. It's 46mm, which is native for the Xi - no step up adaptor required. I imagine it would work fine with a wide angle lens. I've used up to three filters stacked together, and was surprised that there wasn't any visible vigneting on the Xi, even when using the zoom.

-->>>

Thanks Chris,
I found it at adorama and have ordered it.
earon
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Old January 8th, 2005, 10:39 PM   #14
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<<<-- Originally posted by Earon Kavanagh :
Thanks Chris,
I found it at adorama and have ordered it.
earon -->>>

Opps,
Sorry about the name misprint, Kevin.
I was rushing and made a mistake.
Cheers,
earon
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