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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 August 27th, 2008, 08:50 AM   #1
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Safe Settings for Post-production Film Look

Does anyone know of some "safe" settings to use when recording on the XH-A1 if you want to apply a filmic look in post?

By "safe" I mean minimising the possibility of clipping or colour aberrations. And recording the video data in such a way that all the data needed for generating the filmic look in post is recorded. I will be applying the filmic look in Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 and Adobe After Effects CS3, if I can work out how to!
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Old August 27th, 2008, 09:03 AM   #2
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Film-look-for-video is kind of a can of worms and you might get some conflicting opinions on how to do this- but if you want safety and want to preserve as much of the dynamic range as possible, shooting pretty flat- even the stock camera setting- as well as underexposing by a half-stop or so, might serve you well. You might check out the XH presets and see if someone has already designed a custom preset for this purpose.

As an alternative, if you really know the look you want ("filmic" can mean many different things) you might try to get that look in-camera because you can sometimes get better results there than in post.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 11:55 AM   #3
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Thanks Benjamin. I'm sure the filmic look is a can of worms. I've been directed to post 78 here:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/canon-xh-...ry-copy-6.html

If anyone is interested. The settings called vivid RGB in the above post look pretty safe and neutral.

I want "safe" settings because I'm paranoid I will get a problematic image quality after many, many hours of shooting my new feature. I certainly won't be able to go back and do it all again!

Last edited by Stuart Graham; August 28th, 2008 at 09:37 AM. Reason: extra info
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Old August 27th, 2008, 01:20 PM   #4
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Sure that's understandable, let your priorities make the call. The video signal, especially compressed to DV or HDV, is a pretty fragile thing so any care you take will be worth it.
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Old August 28th, 2008, 11:37 AM   #5
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Stuart,
You directed us to the Presets threat, post #78, which referrs to VIVIDRGB.

Be careful with this one. This preset grabs gobs of color out of the image but crushes the blacks a bit. Not bad, just letting you know.

I used it for this car show and the wild paint jobs were almost jumping off of the screen:
2008 Cleveland Auto-Rama By Will Mahoney On ExposureRoom

You can do what you like, but I'm thinking you might want to check out the preset called PANALOOK. You're talking about recording an image and leaving a lot of room for tweaking in post, this might be the preset for you. I used it for a different auto show and was initially unhappy with the results. I thought that the footage looked "washed out."

But after lots of reading and tweaking, the footage was fine, it just needed to be worked in post to really liven it up.

Here's a blog post (there are more) talking about my attempts (and success) at color correcting and tweaking the footage shot with the PANALOOK preset:
Will Mahoney's Blogs - Color Correcting, Deep Focus, Bright Sunlight and Classic Cruisers - Part Two.

Also, here's the video I ended up with for that show:
Classical Cruisers By Will Mahoney On ExposureRoom

So I guess that my suggestion is PANALOOK. Good luck!
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Old August 28th, 2008, 11:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stuart Graham View Post
Thanks Benjamin. I'm sure the filmic look is a can of worms. I've been directed to post 78 here:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/canon-xh-...ry-copy-6.html

If anyone is interested. The settings called vivid RGB in the above post look pretty safe and neutral.

I want "safe" settings because I'm paranoid I will get a problematic image quality after many, many hours of shooting my new feature. I certainly won't be able to go back and do it all again!
The Vivid RGB preset is popular, I know, but I wouldn't call it "neutral". Far from it! The default factory settings are neutral. To make the colours a little richer, try Cine Gamma 1. For anything more extreme, experiment first and check the results after conversion to DVD or your target delivery format.
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Old August 28th, 2008, 03:19 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice Will and Mark.

It describes the vivid RGB settings as neutral in post 68:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/canon-xh-...ry-copy-5.html

And the picture looks neutral to me.

I'm tired and confused :(

I liked the Panalook footage you shot at the classical cruiser convention Will.

I think that when my XH A1 arrives I will just try all the different settings files, including vivid RGB and panalook, and see what looks best to my untrained eye after export to DVD or viewed on the PC as you suggest Mark.

The various settings are in the first post here:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/canon-xh-...rary-copy.html

Thanks again!

Last edited by Stuart Graham; August 28th, 2008 at 03:35 PM. Reason: extra stuff
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Old August 29th, 2008, 05:16 AM   #8
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Hi Stuart. Sorry to give you conflicting advice, but I would highly recommend you shoot with a neutral setting on the cam and then adjust in post. Even switching off the custom presets will give you better results than some of the more "committed" presets around. Make sure you expose the scene properly so that highlights are not clipping except maybe on really hot spots. The appearance out of the cam will be relatively bland, but all the detail should be captured. You can then tweak the image in post until you get the look you want.

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Old August 29th, 2008, 07:31 AM   #9
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Thanks for the advice Richard.

Perhaps I should use the XH A1's default settings but in 25p mode and with cine-like gamma?

That must be pretty safe?

Cheers

Stuart
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Old August 29th, 2008, 07:48 AM   #10
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The *safest* way to shoot is with Custom Presets turned OFF.

If you want a "particular flavor" of video done in-camera, that's what Custom Presets are for.
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Old August 29th, 2008, 09:10 AM   #11
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Thanks Chris.

Should I even have the matrix set to normal, rather than cine-like? Considering I want to achieve a filmic look later on.

Cheers!
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Old August 29th, 2008, 09:11 AM   #12
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"Perhaps I should use the XH A1's default settings but in 25p mode and with cine-like gamma?"

Cine gamma will give you a generally darker image compared with Normal gamma. If you are in control of the scene lighting this may be the best setting, but if not, it basically means you are running a couple of stops darker and you will often find that you have to open up the iris to make the scene look bright enough. If you shoot with Normal gamma you will have more flexibility with the aperture and you can always pull the levels down in post to match the Cine gamma settings.

25p is fine if you are trying for film look, but you also need to shoot accordingly. This, among other things, means be careful while panning, no fast pans unless you are following a moving subject. Also, if you have a locked down camera and a fast moving subject crossing the field of view, the motion will appear juddery. Try to angle the camera so the motion is not directly across the frame but coming at an angle. And set the shutter speed to 1/50s unless you are trying to get a particular effect.

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Old August 29th, 2008, 09:17 AM   #13
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Thanks Richard, that's very informative. I will omit the cine-like gamma as well then and use the normal setting.

I heard that a good rule for panning is for an object to take 5 seconds to cross the entire width of the screen, when shooting in 25P mode. Does that sound reasonable?

Last edited by Stuart Graham; August 29th, 2008 at 09:18 AM. Reason: extra info
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Old August 29th, 2008, 11:24 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Hunter View Post
Cine gamma will give you a generally darker image compared with Normal gamma. If you are in control of the scene lighting this may be the best setting, but if not, it basically means you are running a couple of stops darker and you will often find that you have to open up the iris to make the scene look bright enough. If you shoot with Normal gamma you will have more flexibility with the aperture and you can always pull the levels down in post to match the Cine gamma settings.
I've found that Cine gamma doesn't in fact darken the picture, but because the gamma curve is different, the image appears darker on the camera lcd. You'll notice the zebras change, but the exposure meter doesn't. What I've learned to do is to expose turning the preset off, then turn it on and trust that the image when it's captured will be fine. And it is.

An example attached. This was shot in an office building with no extra lighting. There's lots of windows, but the subject himself appeared much darker on the lcd with the preset on. This was with Cine 2 Gamma and Blacks Stretched.
Attached Thumbnails
Safe Settings for Post-production Film Look-cine-2.jpg  
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Old August 29th, 2008, 01:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon Freeman View Post
I've found that Cine gamma doesn't in fact darken the picture, but because the gamma curve is different, the image appears darker on the camera lcd. You'll notice the zebras change, but the exposure meter doesn't. What I've learned to do is to expose turning the preset off, then turn it on and trust that the image when it's captured will be fine. And it is.
But if the image isn't really darker, it only appears darker on the screen, surely you don't have to adjust the exposure?
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