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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old September 6th, 2007, 01:57 PM   #1
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Music Video Help Needed

Hi,

This is a great forum and although I am fairly new to pro video recording I have picked up some great tips. I am shooting a music video in a few days and had some questions that hopefully some experts will be able to comment on. I am using an XH-A1 and for most of the shots will have the camera mounted on a 12 foot ProAm DVC250 crane with a MP-101 motorized remote pan/tilt head. The band will be set up in a big barn (135 foot long, 60 feet wide and 35 feet high). For lights I have a Softbox with 1 x 1000 watt (22000 lumen / 3200 bulb). I also have 4 x 1000 watt Par64 (hard) lights and 6 x 300 watt Par38 lights and umbrellas. I plan on bouncing some of the Pars lights off the umbrellas to defuse plus there is an assortment of overhead fluorescents that could potentially be used if absolutely required. I also have a 7 inch LCD monitor to monitor at the end of the crane and was planning on outputting also to a standard def TV set via BNC / RF for monitoring. There is some natural light that comes into the barn but for the time we are filming it will be dark. A lot of my questions are regarding the light and how to set up the camera, the best way of setting a clean warm, flattering look, with hopefully some nice layers of light and perhaps some color gels being used in the back of the barn. I am not sure if I should have the camera in full manual mode or in TV mode and locking the exposure at 1/48th.

For many of the shots and with testing the A1 it seems to take great shots at about 10 - 12 feet in front of the band or subject, especially while panning and moving the crane at the same time. I was also hoping to have a fairly shallow dept of field in at least some of the shots of the lead singer and will move the crane back and zoom for this.

Here is how I was planning to set up the A1.

* Full manual mode
* 24P HDV
* Image stabilization - OFF
* Auto focus ON (A1 will be on crane so I would imagine that I would need to have AF on otherwise moving and panning shots will lose focus from the subject, although I worry about it hunting and fluctuations with this given the light.
* Iris as open as possible (F1.6 or F2.0)
* AGC off ( -3 db or 0db depending on light levels)
* Shutter speed set to 1/48
* Manual white balanced
* Presets (I have been fooling around with some of the presets that were posted as stickys and quite like the PANALOOK preset)
* Skin detail (does anyone have any ideas or presets for how to set this up, from what I understand this is better that shooting with make up, if it's set up right)
* Zebras 70

Here is the kicker, I am in the band myself so I am going to have to try and direct this and set up the shots in between takes and I have been training someone else for use of the crane and how to frame a shot. Any help here would be appreciated, particular if I should set auto focus or set it manual and skin detail and lighting tips.
Thanks!

Rich
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Old September 6th, 2007, 07:08 PM   #2
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Hi Rich, sounds like you have most of this pretty well thought out, except that it will be quite a challenge to direct and perform at the same time (Orson Welles did it successfully in Citizen Kane, as did Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade, to name a few examples.

In my opinion, the Skin Detail menu is no substitute for a good makeup artist.
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Old September 6th, 2007, 07:28 PM   #3
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I would make sure your power was up to snuff in the Barn before shooting,
as you are running around 7K watts of light, plus what ever else.
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Old September 6th, 2007, 07:50 PM   #4
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Thanks Guys,
Just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything with this, it will be a tough shoot for sure. We have 2 x 100 amp circuit breakers so there is a lot of power so by my calcs we only need around 70 or 80 amps, good advice on the skin detail, I was playing around with it today and I couldn't really tell what it was really effecting, will leave that off.
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Old September 6th, 2007, 08:42 PM   #5
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I have found the autofocus very good in the XH-A1 if staying on a subject.

Results from panning from subject to subject may vary. For shots where everything is the same distance from the camera, you can use manual, even if moving the camera from subject to subject.... in fact for these shots it may be better than auto.

If you are going to be moving from one subject to another and they are different distances from the camera, and you are going to edit the shots to take out the inbetween stuff and/or bad stuff, I think autofocus will be perfect.

Flourescent lights could be a problem with a 1/48 shutter (or anything different than a 1/60 or 1/20. They may well strobe.

Lighting and recording faces with HD video can be trecherous. It's a combination of the right make-up, lighting, camera detail setting and possibly skin detail setting.

Light makeup to take out skin discolorations and colorations can be very, very helpful. Low detail setting can smooth out skin. I for one do not like closeups of people with a lot of detail... it is unpleasant to watch and scary to see for the people in the shots.

If you can, use your lighting to add some layers of depth to the video (as you say you will), in addition to the soft light you're using to get a nice general illumination.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 01:15 AM   #6
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It sounds like you have the whole thing planned out. What I would say about directing and being in the video, is that you should write out a detailed storyboard so whoever is operating the camera doesn't screw it up. lol.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 08:40 AM   #7
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Good to know the auto focus can handle the job, In testing it seems fine and on a crane too. Although the subjects are relatively inline with the camera, because of the sweeping motion of the crane and panning of the head, the distance change could be several feet at full pan, so manual focus I think I should rule out. I plan on getting some static tripod shots (will use manual focus) just in case the novice crane operator screw up a lot of stuff. I think we will be looking at a lot of takes and a bit messey in post / editing.

- Jack, good advice on close up's you are right I have already experienced some of the harsh look, it seems the best place for the softbox is about 12 or 13 feet direct in front (7 feet off ground). It seems to give the most flattering light, but then I run into shadow issues from the crane, so my guess is I will have to move the lighting for closeups, will also try and kep the floresents off. with 7 K of lights I am hoping thats enough.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 12:47 PM   #8
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Seems like you have a lot of the bases covered. If I were doing this I would have a B and C camera (rent them) one fixed and one handheld and something storyboarded so the camera guys know what to do. Autofocus seems to screw-up at just the wrong time but it seldom happens on multiple camera simultaneously.

Good luck with it,

Art
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Old September 7th, 2007, 02:02 PM   #9
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Shoot a bunch of Inserts

I suggest getting a bunch of closeup shots of knees, feets, heads, instruments, etc. etc. etc. that can be used without synced sound.

These can be used to cover little goofs, whether they be focus, camera jiggles, or whatever, and as well they will ad some interest, variety and can be useful in developing a rhythm in a series of shots or to add quick visual accents to bits of music, etc.

Regarding the soft lights and the distance, you can move them closer and add increased diffusion, including shooting through white cloth, such as on those collapsible reflectors/diffusers. For closeups you also might get good light easily by using a shining a light into a soft reflector and lighting the face off the reflector.

It is rare for lighting that looks good overall to also look good in closeups, especially if you are shooting closeups on different parts of the stage and from different angles. You can have a couple of extra lights standing by, a couple of reflectors, tree branches (for shadows) patterns, etc. to help with the closeups. When you're doing closeups it's likely somebody from the band will not be in the shot and will be available to help hold a relector or something for a few moments to get the closeup.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 02:36 PM   #10
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Sound Sync

I'm not sure how you are syncing the sound to the picture.

In general, if you are doing it by hand it post, it is very much advised to shoot complete takes, including the music from the beginning to the end, even if you are only going to use part of the take.

It will be much, much easier editing later.

Do each person once or twice for the full song, for example.

Do a wide shot of the complete song.

Play the song and move the camera from person to person, not intending to use the in between stuff, but playing the music completely through.

If you do a take for slow motion (with the sound sped up) do the whole song, so when it's slowed down in the editor, it will match up with everything. else.

Anyway, how you are going to have everything in sync for editing is something to consider.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 10:12 PM   #11
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Jack great advice! - the sync issue is going to be a bit challenging, I am using abobe premier pro cs3 for the NLE, they have a multi-cam feature 4 cams that I have used before and it's quite effective but also more on the fly. I do plan to shoot all the way through the song for each take without stopping and also use a couple of claps at the intro to set an audio que for each tape. I had considered speeding up the audio and the slowing the whole thing in post for a cool slow mo effect for a few shots, is 30% too much do you think? - Definetly a must for the in between shot. We also have a bunch of acting scenes that are going to be played out throughout the song. I am thinking of taking a few risks and attempt breaking from the norm. I find a lot of music videos to be quite to formula so hopefully the creativity will flow and we we be able to shoot something that doesn't look like a high school project :) this actually has a lot of comedy to it - (foo foo fighters style) - either way it's a good learning experience for me. Thanks for the advice on the lighting also, I wonder if I could shoot through a white sheet or a custom made diffuser I only have the softbox and umbrellas. I will move the lighting in closer for the closeup's thats something I noticed changes quite a bit in tests.

Arthur thanks for the advice, due to the low budget of this we are skimping on the additional cams, but with the multi cam feature in photoshop and multiple takes it can be simulated I think, especially with complete takes of each song.
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Old September 8th, 2007, 02:49 AM   #12
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A sheet might be a little heavy. A fabric store might have something thinner. I don't recall the name of the material now. With anything you use you have to be careful about heat.

You can also stop down when you move the light in, if it doesn't throw anything out of whack in the background.

(If you move the light 1/2 the distance closer, it will give you twice the light.)

At this point you I think you will learn more from doing the job than from much more advice.

Regarding the 30%, I think that speed would give you a nice effect but won't make it too hard to sing to ad the increased speed.
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Old September 8th, 2007, 08:10 PM   #13
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The shoots tomorrow, so all advice is well taken - Thanks Guys! - I will post it after I finish editing in a few weeks -
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Old September 8th, 2007, 08:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Walker View Post
A sheet might be a little heavy. A fabric store might have something thinner. I don't recall the name of the material now. With anything you use you have to be careful about heat.
pantyhose... works like a charm. you can stretch it to get the desired amount of softness/dreamy/soap opera look.
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Old September 8th, 2007, 10:06 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Andrew Waite View Post
pantyhose... works like a charm. you can stretch it to get the desired amount of softness/dreamy/soap opera look.
You mean panty hose over the lens, right?

I was talking about in front of a light to diffuse it. Or are you talking about putting panty hose in front of a light?
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