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Old November 1st, 2010, 10:38 PM   #1
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Advice for shooting fast ballet - dark w/ stage lighting

I've done a lot of adult ballet (dark stage w/ high contrast stage lighting) in the past, but this will be the first time with the XF300.

Any suggestions for frame rate settings? I'm filming from a balcony (but in very small theater so only ablut 30 ft. away and 15 feet above).

Ideally, I'd like to have both good HD and SD delivery options down the road.

60p? (giving up the 1080, though) 30p?

Likely other settings will be Iris wide open and shutter anywhere from 30-90fps depending on the light brightness of the given number.

Any help much appreciated!

p.s. with the XL2 in the past, I used to have trouble with chromatic abberation (jaggedness of lines where there was high contrast/ reds). Are there ways to avoid this with the XF300 ?
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Old November 2nd, 2010, 05:13 AM   #2
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This past Saturday I shot a charity event in a not-dissimilar environment. It was a talent show run by university students in a hall with high contrast stage lighting. I was 20-50ft from talent depending on what the performers were doing.

One thing I love about having the vectorscope on the XF is that you can tweak custom profiles against the vectorscope - before the show I tweaked settings to crush anything approaching black. Meanwhile, I used a video gamma setting (I think it was "video 3") which lifts the mid tones, creating a more punchy image. More typically (ie: when I can light/control the shoot) I would use a cine setting for more subtle rendering, but in this case I really wanted to work with the spotlights, clamp down the dark areas outside their domain and kill noise: it worked really effectively, but may be a bit punchy for ballet, depending on what look you want to achieve.

I'm not sure that varying the shutter throughout the performance is a good idea; the dancers will look very different at 1/30 to 1/90. I would shoot 1080/24p and dial something in at around 1/40 (allowing a little more light than the standard 180 degree shutter without motion becoming too blurry) but you may have a good reason to do otherwise.

While I don't normally use auto anything, for this event lighting/action was changing very quickly and I needed to capture everything. By activating auto-iris and auto-gain, locking my shutter at 1/40th, I could concentrate on framing. This is a pretty safe bet with the XF, because:

* unless things light up dramatically, the camera keeps the aperture open (where you want it)
* in the menus there is a "shockless" auto iris function, so that when the camera must close down the aperture to correct exposure, it will do so smoothly as a gradual transition
* you can dial in the maximum gain allowable (in my case I chose +9db) and trust the XF never to exceed this, and to at all times keep the gain as low as possible

And of course at any time you can take full control at the flick of a switch, but the intelligently augmented auto aspects of the camera worked really well for me in an unpredictable shooting environment.

I was also pleasantly surprised at how clean the images came out, especially the blacks. It was also great to shoot a three hour event on one battery (I only used half the standard battery) without changing media. Zooming was really nice, the camera performed like a charm.

I'm not sure about ways to avoid CA, but it's less pronounced on the XF than the XL2.
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Old November 2nd, 2010, 07:34 AM   #3
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Thank you for that detailed advice, Josh. Yeah -- the iris ring is a fantastic feature, as is the gradual auto-iris. That makes sense about keeping a constant shutter.

It makes me look forward to seeing how the camera will perform in this setting

Thanks again.
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Old November 7th, 2010, 02:02 PM   #4
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Before any framerate advice I would decide how you want the footage to look. 24p if you want a more "captured in time" look and you will not be moving the camera very much or 60p if you want a "be there" look and you will be panning the camera a lot.

Shooting 24p during a fluid dance with a decent amount of panning would not be my choice as you will get a lot of judder. For live shows I always shoot 720p60 as it has a more appealing look than interlaced and translates to DVD well.

Shutter I would keep at 1/60th no matter what. Faster is not as smooth and slower will have too much motion blur for my tastes.

In the end it is your choice with your footage and what your clients expect..
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