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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 12th, 2008, 11:06 PM   #1
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A1 shoot at night on a boat

Hi fellow A1 users (and those who are less fortunate),
I just secured a job to shoot a documentary about an ocean swim that will take place almost entirely at nighttime, on a boat on the middle of the ocean. My question is, what are the ideal settings to use when shooting in a practically no-light environment. I'm afraid to just let the camera go all Auto on me (in large part because of grain/noise). Any tips would be greatly appreciated!
-Steve
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Old May 13th, 2008, 12:44 AM   #2
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Hey Stephen,

There's a few low light presets listed here:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=81071

I haven't used them myself but they might be worth a go.

Cheers,

Matthew.
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Old May 14th, 2008, 12:18 AM   #3
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Thanks Matt,
I'll do some testing with those presets! Have you had any grain problems at 12db gain?
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Old May 14th, 2008, 12:31 AM   #4
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Hey Stephen,

I haven't tested my A1 out with 12db gain yet so can't tell you how it performs.

From my experience with the XL2 I've had to use it a few times ... it's not ideal but if you have no other choice then you just have to live with the grain that comes with it.

Cheers,

Matthew.
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Old May 14th, 2008, 05:20 PM   #5
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12db gain looks pretty bad in my opinion.

I would avoid using auto as the camera will bump up the gain and also the camera will hunt a fair bit.

Do you have any lights? How close can you get to the swimmers?

J
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Old May 14th, 2008, 06:04 PM   #6
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I will be on the boat, so I think I'll be about 15-20 feet from the swimmer in the water. I think there will be bright flood lights on the boat that hopefully illuminate much of the back of the boat and the water on either side. I don't think I have any light that would work from that distance however.
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Old May 14th, 2008, 10:56 PM   #7
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I used both 12 & 16 gain and they both looked like garbage. I was shooting a night auto race. I'll try keeping the gain down and working the levels in post and see how that works next time.
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Old May 14th, 2008, 11:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tripp Woelfel View Post
I used both 12 & 16 gain and they both looked like garbage. I was shooting a night auto race. I'll try keeping the gain down and working the levels in post and see how that works next time.
That's not what I wanted to hear :) But thanks for the heads up! I'll be doing some tests in 6db and 12db. I wouldn't dare hit 16 or higher!
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Old May 15th, 2008, 08:50 AM   #9
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The only way you are going to get anything decent is to add light. You can change your shutter speed, but don't go below your frame rate unless you are looking for a "ghosting effect". Avoid gain at all cost as you will introduce noise.

Get a dedicated light that you control for filming.

My nickel.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 09:06 AM   #10
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I was also going to mention shutter speed. I believe the general rule of thumb is to keep the shutter at twice the speed of the frame rate? correct me if I'm wrong.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 10:51 AM   #11
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Not necessarily. It depends upon the look you're going for. I normally shoot (nature) at 1/60 for 30i capture (twice frame rate) but I was thinking that you could go 1/30 in the lower light and see how it works for you. It might help you get around the low light issue.

A camera light might work but it could kill night vision for the swimmers and the boat crews. As a former ocean racer I know that preserving night vision is a very high priority.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 10:53 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Stakes View Post
I was also going to mention shutter speed. I believe the general rule of thumb is to keep the shutter at twice the speed of the frame rate? correct me if I'm wrong.
Normally that would be the case, 180" shutter, but you can get away with a 360" shutter or a shutter equal to your frame rate. This would equal one stop of extra light.
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