Preset help for small theater. at

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Old February 23rd, 2008, 08:24 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: La Porte, IN
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Preset help for small theater.

Hi, I had my AH A1 for a week now and been learning the basics well. (inside my home) This is an amazing camera. Using the GL2 for 3 years my new A1 is a huge upgrade for me.

I was hoping I could get some advice on a recommended preset to use for videotaping a play at a small theater this Sunday Afternoon. I won't have any chance to try out my A1 at the theater before the play so I was hoping for some advise.

They have decent theater lighting with some darker scenes.
I'll be taping from about 40 feet from the stage.
I planned on going manual mode and controlling the fstop, manual focus, gain at 0,3,6 and zebras at 75. I planned on using 30f at 60fps.
I've been playing with the presents from the forums down load library and really thought about using VIVIDRGB, but will this look good in the darker scenes? I taped this same play a few monthes ago with my GL2 and I was very pleased with the results.
This video is just for the cast members, which one of them happens to be my daughter, and for me to get some field work with the camera. The play is of The Fantasticks, and is an encore presentation by this young theater group.

Any comments or help about the settings or preset I'm planning on using would be great. I'm really excited to see what the A1 is capable of and I hope I don't mess up the shoot.

Thanks for any replies.
This forum has been a great help and inspiration to me.
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 08:56 AM   #2
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Location: Ocean Springs, MS
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Small Theatre


I would not go with the VIVIDRGB settting. It looks great outside and in good light but is not meant for low light settings. The best advice I can give you is to set your camera for the darkest light you will film. It is much easier to make the image darker than it is to make it brighter. You might try the LOWLT12 setting. I have used the JCDVLOW1 (Jerome CLonningner) and the -12 setting (Wolfgang) with success. The problem with the VIVIDRGB is that if it gets too dark, you have to stop the tape the change the settings, which does not fly in live productions. I would stay with the "lightbulb" white balance and then adjust the white balance levels to give it a warmer look.

Good luck!

Jonathan Schwartz
Owner, CA Video Productions
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 09:26 AM   #3
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Also keep in mind that Custom Presets are *not* location specific. They are image specific. In other words they do not relate to particular a venue. Presets define the custom look of an image; the location or venue really doesn't have anything to do with setting up a preset.

Lighting varies so much from one location to the next that you can't expect another person's venue-specific preset to be a good match for your own shooting environment. Outdoors this is less of an issue (but still an issue). The best presets such as Dempsey's VIVIDRGB are all about creating a particular look, not the current light you're shooting in.

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Old February 23rd, 2008, 10:25 AM   #4
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Would it be good advise the tell Rich that if he's not sure, to shoot in HDV and without any preset and do it in post?
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Old February 25th, 2008, 09:40 AM   #5
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Thanks guys for your help and advice.
I ended up using Wolfgang's -12 preset. It definately popped out the colors a little bit and kept the black areas from looking grainy when viewed on my SD TV as I don't have an HD TV yet.
For the most part the video looks Amazing. The challenge was adjusting the white balance when there was a drastic lighting change. The picture could go from beautiful to ugly with a change of lighting being used. Not sure on the termanology here but when there was colorred lights and spot lights together, which was used mostly, I set the white balance using the light bulb setting and Pre tweaking this slightly. It looks great. But when lighting changed to spot lights and white lighting the actors looked pale and blueish.
So I changed to the B manual white balance setting and pushed the white balance button and this corrected the color to a natural skin tone. One of the actors was wearing a bright white shirt so I guess thats what the camera was white balancing to. When the lighting would go back to colored lights the actors turned very red. So I'd switch back to the Pre setting and all looked great again. Knowing this now I think I'll do a much better job with this type of lighting conditions.
I'm wondering if I should have just used the AWB. To bad I won't get another chance until their next theater production.
Using the preset I used, when colors go bad because of white balance, it would be more to the extreme than if I had not used this preset, I think.
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Old February 25th, 2008, 05:00 PM   #6
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The WB issue is tough. The primary lights are most likely tungsten based with colored gels on them to produce the look desired. Newer follow spots are typically Halogen or Xeon based (for maximum brightness) and are very white. You set your white balance for Tungsten (which shifts the warmer stage lights to blue) and then when the bright white follow spots hit they were shifted further blue as well.

Try setting your WB manually to 3200 and then ride the iris so as not to over expose when those follow spots hit (especally on white shirts!). Then you can color correct in post. Also, plead with the lighting director to throw some warming gels (CTO) on the follow spot, at least when you're taping. This can help too.
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