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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 May 8th, 2008, 09:29 PM   #1
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Holy Guacamole!

I have had my XH-A1 for only 3 days now. I just finished a short shoot, just for fun. I was using Panalook2 and as I imported and reviewed the footage, I was blown away by the quality, sharpness, crispyness and color. But, when I applied a little color-correction... Holy Guacamole! It just bursts with deep rich color and beautiful shadows/highlights! I know this isn't much of a question, but here goes: Do you guys prefer to liven up the color in the camera or do you prefer to shoot with muted color and then tweak in post. (I'm a newbie, so go easy on me if the answer is obvious.) :)
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Old May 8th, 2008, 11:33 PM   #2
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If you shoot with very neutral settings then you may have the most latitude to work with in post. For instance, if you don't crush the blacks then you will still have detail there if you want it and can always crush them in post. etc. This might be a good strategy if you just want to experiment.

If you have an idea of what type of image you want and you don't think you will want to change your mind later then it might be better to try and capture that type of image in camera. HDV doesn't have a lot of color depth so the more color manipulation you do - technically - the less color fidelity and more chance of artifacting etc. you'll have, and though i don't have much experience in this area i would suspect this would only become an issue if your doing a bunch of chroma keying or cg. Maybe a better reason to do it this way though is because it will force you to learn about the camera quicker and help you to visualize and understand how different conditions will read on tape.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:03 AM   #3
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Steve,
I just concentrate on getting a good 'clean' image, with correct white balance, correct focus, correct exposure and good framing. As you say little tweaks can be done in post and the neutral image will give to a great base to work from.
That is of course if you have time to tweak in post, in that case you may want to shoot with the exact look that you want to save time or just deliver the footage to an editor.

Congrats on getting a great camera!

Jon
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:32 AM   #4
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There are a couple of very good reasons for wanting to get at least fairly close to the ultimate "look" in the camera:

1) We're talking about a highly compressed format. If you tweak visual parameters in the camera, the tweaks will be applied to your footage before any compression ever takes place. Depending on what it is you're doing exactly, footage shot this way can look vastly superior to "flat" footage that is then CC'ed and tweaked in post. This wouldn't apply if you were shooting RAW footage on a RED camera, for example, but we're talking about HDV here.

2) If you're shooting "flat," low-contrast, toned-down colors, etc., you really don't have to think about what you want until after you're done shooting. That may sound like an asset, but in my experience it can lead to sloppiness and a lackadaisical attitude about how your images look. It can tend to encourage that whole "we'll fix it in post" attitude. Committing to in-camera image tweaks forces you to think about what it is you want, how to get it, why you want it, etc. It makes you more focused on doing things right when you're on location. It forces you to think very deeply about things you'd just flip on and off in post without really spending any time considering them. In a subtle kind of way, you find yourself coming to have very strong opinions about certain characteristics of your images, and begin to develop your own style very quickly. Sure, it's risky until you know what you're doing--that's why you'd better figure out lots of things very fast. That's the point. You can get so much better so much faster.

These things probably don't apply to all shooters, and probably don't apply to all kinds of work (point #2 is more of a filmmaker thing than a wedding videographer thing, and maybe doing your tweaks in post is the best way for you to work even if it sacrifices image quality).

At the end of the day, just like with anything else, you have to decide which method is the best fit for you.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 01:23 AM   #5
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Thanks guys,
I think that advice to shoot clean (muted) raw clips and having the luxury of deciding later what I want my artistic "look" to entail is very good. I will try both methods and compare what I think gives the most efficiency as well as freedom from being locked in to any specific "look."

Here's that footage I was talking about:
vimeo.com/992284

-Steve
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Old May 9th, 2008, 01:44 AM   #6
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I like shooting with "correct" presets, as in my experience, HDV does not give me that much flexibility when it comes to color in post..
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Old May 9th, 2008, 09:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Lewis View Post
I have had my XH-A1 for only 3 days now. I just finished a short shoot, just for fun. I was using Panalook2 and as I imported and reviewed the footage, I was blown away by the quality, sharpness, crispyness and color. But, when I applied a little color-correction... Holy Guacamole! It just bursts with deep rich color and beautiful shadows/highlights! I know this isn't much of a question, but here goes: Do you guys prefer to liven up the color in the camera or do you prefer to shoot with muted color and then tweak in post. (I'm a newbie, so go easy on me if the answer is obvious.) :)
Steve,
What frame rate were you shooting in ?
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Old May 9th, 2008, 10:09 AM   #8
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I have a few pennies for this discussion...

For a recent trip to the Cleveland Auto-Rama I used my A1 and Stephen Dempsey's VIVIDRGB preset. Keep in mind that this is an indoors event. The colors were rich and vibrant and wonderful. However, I did notice that the garrish paint jobs on some of the custom rides really gave me some oversaturated colors. You know what? That's fine. These are bright, custom rides and a little color pop never hurt anyone. Especially when the end result of my video work is basically just a music video.

For most shots I actually ended up boosting saturation and contrast, then dropping the brightness a bit. I was/am happy with the results. http://exposureroom.com/members/Will...6c163f580bcd5/

Ok, fast forward two or three months and I have another car show to video tape. My employers were so happy with the Auto-Rama video that they decided to send me to Chicago to video our sister company's spring car show. (I work for Stylin' Trucks, and our sister company is JC Whitney Automotive.)

So, wanting to expand my horizons and learn a little more about my camera, and shooting video overall, I switched the camera from VIVIDRGB to the PANALOOK preset. I was under the impression that the colors were a little more subdued and that the image would have plenty of "play room" in post.

So now that I'm checking my footage everything looks "washed out." The colors are bland and don't "pop." You know what it looks like, old-time home movies from the 50's. All of the colors are desaturated and bland.

The Sun
I am pretty unhappy with the results, though I'm not blaming the preset. I think that the Sun is at fault. It was ridiculously sunny out. All day I had my aperture at the most closed position (going for "deep focus," read on), which if memory serves is 9.5 and I still had to flip on one of the in-cam ND filters. Otherwise the image was just a blown-out white screen.

What the hell am I supposed to do? I've been trying to color-correct the footage but I'm working on Premier Elements 3.0 and the tools are very limited. I want more color overall so I keep boosting saturation, but it just oversaturates the "opaque maroon" car that should be a "screaming red" hot rod.

Ok, I'm thinking that I want things brighter so I up the brightness. Bad move. This just takes all of the too-bright, washed-out vehicles and washes them out more, giving me lots of noise in the dark areas of the picture. And believe me, there were super dark areas. I never thought that going from bright sunlight to the barely-shaded engine compartment of a car would be such a big problem. But if I'm directing the camera to point at the car's door, or some other external detail (which is way too bright) and swing over to see under the hood it's like I'm looking into a black, bottomless pit. I can't see anything under the hood.

Now I see why people like overcast days. Not only did the bright sun give me a wicked sun burn, but all of my footage is garbage. Ok, not all of it. But a lot. Here's my first sample video from the JC Whitney Spring Show. http://exposureroom.com/members/Will...1eef7ca78d0f9/

Shooting Style
Also a factor is my style of shooting this time. For my last video, I painstakingly (as I should) focused each shot. However, I've been doing some reading and have read about a technique known as Deep Focus. They way I understood it was basically, if you have a wide-angle lens (as I do, the WD-H72) and keep the aperture as closed as possible (which I did, it was very, very sunny out) that you would have very deep focus, meaning that objects close to the camera would be in focus and objects further away would also be in focus. I was trying to add depth to the images so we see a great cruiser close to the camera but we can also see some other lovely auto in the background.

Well, this "Deep Focus" technique that I was trying is apparently a bit more advanced than me because a lot of my shots have soft focus. Not entirely out of focus, but soft nonetheless. And in all actuality anyone outside of "the industry" probably wouldn't notice. But I notice and it is annoying. Let's chalk this up to being "over educated." If I hadn't read about Deep Focus I never would have tried it and my stuff would be in focus. But you live and you learn, and I am learning.

Any suggestions for next time?
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Old May 9th, 2008, 10:31 AM   #9
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that last post is very informative, btw.

I'm still ingesting most of your comments - but I was wondering if you turned on the -3 gain on the camera. I shot an outdoor pony best in show event last summer and it was screaming bright - but I never thought to go down to -3 gain on the camera to give me more room to move. Or at least that was suggested to me after the fact.

I have since bought a polarizer as well but haven't tried it out yet on a big sun day.

Haven't heard of the deep focus tech.

Trish
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Old May 9th, 2008, 10:35 AM   #10
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Will, the softness you're talking about is probably not focus at all, but due to diffraction from stopping down too far. It's usually a bad idea to use that small an aperture for this reason.

As for your color problems, it sounds like you simply need some more flexible color-correction tools. Be aware that even if you are able to fix your problem in post, your footage would have looked better if it had been originally shot with saturated colors to begin with.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 11:06 AM   #11
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I agree with Jarrod - small apertures = large depth of field (deep focus) = softening due to diffraction.

You need to look at how much depth of field you really need - using a wide angle gives you more depth than a telephoto anyway. And then use extra neutral density filters to keep the exposure correct.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:21 PM   #12
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Trish,
Yes, I had the camera set to -3 gain. And I do have a polarizer, but it doesn't work with the wide-angle lens. The deep focus technique is something I just recently read about. I'm new to this and trying to learn all of the time. I read about it in a book called "Understanding Movies" by Louis Gianetti, a Film and Literature Professor. Apparently the technique is used extensively in "Citizen Kane" and other classic-type films, not so much today.

Jarrod and Annie,
Thanks for the note on light diffraction. I didn't realize that having the aperture closed so much would do this. But you live and you learn. So I'll use this knowledge and flip on both in-cam ND filters next time and keep the iris opened up a bit. What fun it is to figure stuff out and learn!!

Oh, a note on the colors. Yeah, I'm totally switching back to VIVIDRGB. Most of my shooting involves vehicles and/or vehicle parts and I need that color to POP!

And as far as fixing the current problem...I'm experimenting with duplicating the clips on top of one another and tweaking individual parameters (and opacities) until the mix looks good. It's not working too well, yet, but I'm just starting and it may take some experimenting. :)

Thanks for the kind words!
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:44 PM   #13
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The defraction problem only applies to cameras with digital sensors, not with film cameras. Not everything that applied to film applies to digital! However, because the digital sensor is smaller than a frame of (35mm) film, you get a greater depth of field for the same magnification. You don't need to use such a small aperture to get the same effect.

I've been using VIVIDRGB but I'm looking for another option to use when there is already a lot of red in the scene. It can look OTT in some cases.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 01:14 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will Mahoney View Post
And as far as fixing the current problem...I'm experimenting with duplicating the clips on top of one another and tweaking individual parameters (and opacities) until the mix looks good. It's not working too well, yet, but I'm just starting and it may take some experimenting. :)

Thanks for the kind words!
Depending on your editor and computer, you might try converting your footage to something like the lossleess SheerVideo codec in 4:2:2 (8 bit or 10 bit, again depending on your NLE and computer -- if you have After Effects, you can use that).

Then color correct the SheerVideo version. All of the color information you have will be available and you will have more information when making changes.

The SheerVideo codec has a trial and a student/educator price. Here is the SheerVideo website:
http://www.bitjazz.com/en/products/sheervideo/
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Old May 9th, 2008, 01:23 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Jack Walker View Post
Depending on your editor and computer, you might try converting your footage to something like the lossleess SheerVideo codec in 4:2:2 (8 bit or 10 bit, again depending on your NLE and computer -- if you have After Effects, you can use that).

Then color correct the SheerVideo version. All of the color information you have will be available and you will have more information when making changes.

The SheerVideo codec has a trial and a student/educator price. Here is the SheerVideo website:
http://www.bitjazz.com/en/products/sheervideo/
I'm not sure that I understand. So SheerVideo will convert my footage to some other format? What benefit does this have for me?

I'm working with HDV, and editing it on my computer. So I have no problem with HD. What benefit do I get from converting the footage? Does SheerVideo have color correcting tools built-in? Or do I still have to use my software, and weak color tools, to edit?
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