Showtime series "I Can't Believe I'm Still Single" shot with XH-A1 at DVinfo.net

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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 July 11th, 2008, 01:15 AM   #1
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Showtime series "I Can't Believe I'm Still Single" shot with XH-A1

Hi everyone,

just wanted to let you know that a doc/comedy series I shot with the XH-A1 is currently airing Sundays at 11:30pm (and also 8:30 if you're on the west coast and get Showtime East) on Showtime, so check it out if you're interested and have a chance. It's called "I Can't Believe I'm Still Single," and is also available "On Demand."

I shot in 24f mode, with mostly available lighting, though we had a lite panel mini for night shooting and a flex-fill for exterior interviews. Used the stock lens for most of the shoot, but had the Canon wide angle adapter along for cramped car interiors. Shot unfiltered (save for the camera's built-in ND's), with most image parameters set to zero to yield a flatter image that could be manipulated in post if needed. Can't recall which of the cine gammas I used.

1/48 shutter except for especially dim night interiors and exteriors, when I switched to 1/24. Tried to limit use of gain, but obviously in run-and-gun available light situations, it's sometimes a necessary evil. I don't think I went above +6 db. I'd guess 90-95% of the show was shot handheld; sticks were used only for some sit-down interviews and some b-roll.

Because of the fast-paced nature of the shoot -- we were almost always on the go -- the overall look of the series is verite, more function than form. Of course, I tried to make the prettiest pictures and frames I could in every given situation, but in a documentary scenario, this obviously isn't always possible, and you often have to scramble to get something on camera, even if your position, framing, or lighting isn't ideal.

Audio was usually two Sennheiser wireless lavs or a lav and boom recorded directly to camera. Crew was minimal -- me, the director/star, and a field producer, traveling the country for three weeks.

The A1 performed admirably for the entire hectic shoot, and with the exception of a few operational quirks -- the inability to pull focus while zooming, the inability to use the camera mic at the same time as one input through the XLRs -- was a joy to shoot with. At the time the show was shot, there were only a few serious choices of HD/HDV cameras to use for the show. Briefly considered the HDX900, but decided against it for both budgetary and practical concerns; since much of the show was shot in a car, I needed a smaller-form factor camera in order to more easily get the coverage I wanted (plus, given the nature of the shoot, a smaller, less-obtrusive camera was ideal when interviewing the many random interesting people we met across the country).

Also considered the HVX200, but we knew we'd be shooting a lot of footage and given our small crew (no AC/data wrangler), a P2 workflow wasn't feasible. So that left the A1 and the Sony V1u. After briefly testing both, opted for the A1 for a number of reasons; functionality (overall, I preferred the Canon's control layout and more extensive customizability both in terms of image and control), chip size (1/3" vs. 1/4"), greater light sensitivity (the A1 is about a stop faster than the V1), and the wider lens.

I have since shot several other projects with XH-A1 and I think it's a terrific camera. IMHO, it's only real drawback is that material shot in the 24f mode will only play back in Canon cameras. If I were selecting an HDV camera now, I'd probably go with the Z7u, because I love having a true manual lens.

Well, that's all the tech detail I can think of at the moment. Check out the show if you can, and let me know what you think.

Stas

Last edited by Stas Tagios; July 11th, 2008 at 04:21 AM.
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Old July 11th, 2008, 01:02 PM   #2
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Thanks for the write up, nice to hear about projects shot with the XH-A1. I don't have showtime, so unfortunately won't be able to see your work :(

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stas Tagios View Post
IMHO, it's only real drawback is that material shot in the 24f mode will only play back in Canon cameras.
Just an FYI, but that situation has improved since Sony began using progressive 24P on their new cams. Canon's 24F tapes should play back from these cams and will work in Sony's newest deck as well (I don't remember the model number).
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