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Old August 23rd, 2008, 03:50 PM   #1
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XH A1 Need Suggestions For Shooting HS Football at Night

I've spent a few years shooting high school football games (non-pro) with GL2 and just bought the XH A1. The football seaon begins here in two weeks.

After rolling up my sleeves for about a week on this site, and testing on daytime practices I have many questions answered but still have a few...

I plan to shoot in HD and use 30P because the files/DVD will often be viewed in slowed or stills by coaching staff. I campared it with 60i and SD and 30P was so much better for this type of usage. It also works well for online and TV viewing, convers well to DVD.

Is there any obvious changes I should make to either white balance, color, or gain settings based on the shooting under lights at night? Is there a filter that would be obvious to try?

Many people have mentioned the problems with the autofocus on this camera.. Should I use the instant focus or the slower focus? (I'm guesing Instant). Are there any adjustments to lighting, exposures or shutter speeds that will make the autofocus work better?

Based on what I've read, I'm planning on trying to shoot with a shutter speed of about 1/125 .. I'm hoping to capture the movement and get a decent depth of field to make up for a limited auto focus capability. Does this make sense?

Does it make any sense to try to shoot a football game at night in manual focus?

What is the quickest, inexpensive way to deliver a post game DVD? I'm planning to record to a laptop during the game and then burn a DVD immediately after the game? Is there a way to go direct to DVD?

This site has been awesome.. look out ESPN..
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Old August 24th, 2008, 07:00 PM   #2
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Mark... I shoot motor races at night and I think some of what I've learned might help you.

Since you're going to DVD, I assume you'll record SD.

I shoot 60i so I can slow footage down in post when needed. If you think 30p is better for your needs. Do it.

WB/Color/etc... This is where it gets a bit dodgy. WB as you normally would. Make sure that the white surface you balance on is lit by the field lighting. If you WB on something near your shooting location that is not bathed in the same light as the field the colors could end up a little cockeyed. If you use a custom preset (which I don't as I have to match an HV10 & HV30) I'd recommend a mild one. Stay away from ones that crush blacks as spotty field lighting will do that for you.

Filter... clear glass for protection. Unless the field is lit like Fenway Park, you can little afford to give away even one stop.

Shutter speed... 125 would be great in daylight. 250 or more would be better but under the lights you might not be able go that fast. DOF is great but you'll have enough on your hands. Don't worry about that at the start.

Gain... +6 max. No exceptions or you'll hate being you.

Focus... Manual absolutely. Dodgy light could cause Otto to occasionally lose his mind. If you're shooting from up in the stands and shooting at 1/60 you can almost set for a mid point and forget it unless someone breaks for 80 yards or so.

Direct to DVD... Don't know about that. But if you cannot, and you use Encore, you can dump the raw files directly into a timeline and burn without menus. You could speed things up by capturing from your A1 to a laptop using On Location. It offers some nice image control features too. The time consuming part will be transcoding the files for DVD. It will also let you go HDV to tape and SD to On Location. Very flexible.

Remember every bit of advice offered here is worth about half what you paid for it.

Good luck
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Old August 24th, 2008, 07:48 PM   #3
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Hi Mark,

Can't speak to your Cam, but what Tripp sounds good. I've done this with a TRV 950 and a 730. Now have a HV20 also.

As to getting a DVD made, are you able to be on electric ?? (If not, you can also do this by battery or Generator as I do)

You could use a stand-a-lone DVD recorder, or a DVR HDD unit, and either burn to DVD direct or to the HDD, and then to DVD. (on site) You could even use 2 or 3 units in tandum. I've done both, but you need to practice the "pausing" issue if doing direct to DVD. I've come down to using the DVR HDD units as the best option. I've got 2 Pana's and 3 Phillips units. You can also record to your Cam as back-up.

I also suggest using a seperate Monitor to view what the Cam is seeing. Watch the screen and track the action. I've found it much easier to do this kind of Video with this set-up. I never use the Cam's viewfinder or side mounted LCD for this, at least not since the first nite I tried it. I use either a 15'' or 26" LCD Monitor for this kind of Video - so I can see the ball - along with my "computer" glasses. For most other stuff, my 5", 8" or 10" LCD units do just fine.

Just a thought.

Harold
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Old August 24th, 2008, 09:43 PM   #4
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Harold's right about DVD recorders. I've had three of the Panasonic units and they are bulletproof. I don't want to pull my kit apart to look, but I think they'll take component input. That will give you a higher quality. They also let you record to DVD-RAM disks. That will let you do some basic cuts editing before you finalize. You can then use that as the master.

Should allow you a quick turnaround.
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Old August 24th, 2008, 10:30 PM   #5
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Hey Mark & Tripp,

All my units take the FireWire input, in addition the S-VHS and Composit Video.

The Pana's do RAM-Disk and the Phillips do DVD-RW in addition to DVD's. You can do basic editing either on the HDD's or on the Ram-Disk or DVD-RW. The Phillips will also copy from the DVD's that you make - but not comercial ones. The Phillips are found at WalMarts at about $300, and maybe Circuit City.

Harold
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Old August 25th, 2008, 09:30 AM   #6
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Thanks guys this is all helpful. We got about two feet of rain in last few days and driving has not been much of an option so I've been researching your suggestions.

Regarding me shooting in SD because I'm delivering a product in DVD format.. I'm actually shooting in HD at 30p. It seems to work great for a few quick delivery solutions and a year end high qulity highlight film. The quick post game DVD is something that I need to deliver to home team and visiting team coach (one each) but not the quality I ultimately am using. The DVD trade is sort of the norm now between coaches and time to market trumps quality.

I also need to deliver an edited version uploaded to coaches and players within about 12-18 hours and have played around with SD and HD 60i , 30p, etc. I found that I can get an image that blows away SD by shooting in HD 30p, exporting to 720x400 size Divx /avi ? at 15fps. It renders very fast, and the file size is actually about 20% smaller than the lower quality SD NTSC .wmv files I had been uploading last year. It looks better than SD at regular speed, but the plays are much clearer in Slow Mo and in stop frames than what I have been able to do with SD or 60i. Hopefully the quality will hold up with the nighttime footage. I would suggest anyone filming for coaching purposes should look into this option.

I started looking into HDD DVD (DVR's) yesterday as per Harold's comments. I think that may work for what I'm trying to do. I don't know know enough about how an HDD/DVD recorder works or how it might deal with the HD signal out of the A1 to know whether I can split a Firewire signal and record the event direct to a DVD or if I will need to go first to HDD then render it to a different format for DVD and user friendliness.

I downloaded "On Location" and the Canon "Console" program to my existing laptop and am looking into the laptop option. Whichever solution I go with , it looks like a good time to get an HD capable DVD burner that I can use back at the house as well.

Thanks for all the other comments regarding lighting, gain, white balance and focus, I will use them.

Mark
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Old August 27th, 2008, 06:03 AM   #7
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I've been using a Toshiba D-KR10 DVD recorder (over a year old now, so it might be discontinued) to do transfer from the camcorder to SD DVD via firewire. I record HDV at 60i 1/60 shutter and in camcorder down convert to SD 16x9 for the recorder.

I do this back in the school to avoid the added clutter on the press-box roof, but do what works for you. This method also nicely edits out dead time between plays.

Be sure to test results before you shoot a serious game.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 01:23 PM   #8
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[QUOTE=Don Palomaki;925502]I've been using a Toshiba D-KR10 DVD recorder (over a year old now, so it might be discontinued) to do transfer from the camcorder to SD DVD via firewire. I record HDV at 60i 1/60 shutter and in camcorder down convert to SD 16x9 for the recorder.

I'm testing tomorrow night at a Jamboree game.

I still cant find a really quick way to get to SD DVD. I really would be happy just streaming SD data out to a PC or disk but cant find a way to do that.

I have been looking at systems like the Toshiba and yes it is still available. Is what you are talking about different from me downloading to my PC with with the project format set to 1280x720 30p format,16:9, Progressive setting and then burning a DVD? Or does your option burn straight from the tape to the DVD?

I spent quite a while figuring out how to use XHA1 Downconvert today... found out that you can not change the downconvert setting with the Firewire in the camera. Other people have mentioned the issue but with no great explanation on how to fix it. Here it is:

Take the Firewire out of the camera, set it the way you want , (On or Off), save it, turn the camera off, close your software, plug Firewire in, turn camera on, turn software on....



Thanks

Last edited by Mark Scott; August 27th, 2008 at 03:54 PM.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 05:00 PM   #9
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Hi Mark,

Don seems to be downloading from his tape at a later time, and then editing and DVD making.

I simply do both tape and DVR's HDD Recording at the same time (Via the Firewire from the Cam to the DVR), thus you can edit the Video on the DVR's HDD and then put directly to DVD(s) at faster than real-time speed. This is much quicker than off loading from a tape to a Computer, editing, rendering, and then putting to DVD(s). Just Record on the DVR's HDD at 2hr speed, unless you normally end up with under 60 mins of Video, then record at HQ. You'll need to practice the simple editing on the DVR's HDD, but it is easy and rather fast to do.

Harold
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Old August 27th, 2008, 05:52 PM   #10
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Harold,

Thanks again. Most games can be captured in just under an hour. The HDD DVR solution looks like it will be perfect if I was sure that the Firewire out will work. I am having trouble getting any programs like On Location to recognize my XH A1 device when it is in any of the record modes including the External Control mode. The Ext Cont mode is a record setting that Canon console software uses to allow a PC to record to tape and Laptop hard drive through via Firewire.

I'd buy an HDD DVD solution tomorrow if I knew it would recognize the XHA1 signal while in the record modes. Anyone else can help me with this? First game is tomorrow.... I was able to get a fewp rograms to recognize the camera with everything set to SD not HD. The Downconvert function only seems to affect the camera in Playback\VCR mode.

Thanks

Last edited by Mark Scott; August 27th, 2008 at 09:40 PM.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 10:55 PM   #11
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Hi Mark,

Check with your friends to see if any have a DVR to try it out. Check on this Forum for any folks close to you that will let you try it with their DVR. I'm not up for a trip to Florida right now - or you could try one of my units.

Or take your Cam and Firewire cable to a local Walmart, Ciruit City, or any other store in your area that has DVR's (call them all first to find out who carries) and try it out. From the spec sheet I read on your Cam, it should work. (I think ??)

Harold
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