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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 November 4th, 2009, 09:32 AM   #1
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Why does my video looked washed out and low quality?

I am new to filming. My work owns a Canon XH A1 and recently started having me record videos in front of a blue screen. I have done tons of research on how to use the camera and proper settings to use.

I will start by telling you what settings i recorded on:
Signal: HD
Frame Rate: 30F
Comp. Out: 1080i/480i

I am using a Panasonic miniDv tape.

I found a forum on this site that recommended these next settings which i also followed:
• I "pressed" the blacks
• Set NR2 to medium
• I shot in full manual mode
• I set the white balance
• I set the zebras to 80
• Shutter speed: 1/60
• Aperature: F 4.0
• Gain: -3db


I captured the footage with these settings using Final Cut Studio:
• Sequence Preset: Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) 1920x1080 30p 48 kHz
• Capture Preset: HDV-Apple ProRes 422 (HQ)
• Device control Preset: HDV Firewire basic

I exported the footage from Final Cut with these settings:
• Compression: Apple ProRes 422 (HQ)
• Dimensions: HD 1920x1080 16:9

Here is a link to some of the footage:http://www.itworks-shop.com/_access/...upplements.flv

If you look closely there seems to be quite a bit of noise to the footage. The colors don't look crisp and and it doesn't feel like it's hd quality.

I had the subject lit with a 3 point lighting system(1x500watt light with an umbrela for fill light, 1x500watt light for key light, 1x200watt light for back light) and the screen lit (2x500watt lights with soft boxes).

I really have no idea what i am doing so any help would be great. My initial guess is that there may not be enough light, but if this is the case i have no idea how to correct it? I have read that if this is the case to open the iris wide and lower the shutter? PLEASE try to help me out, i am going crazy with this. As i stated i am new to this so i have no idea if i am using the best settings in every step of the way.

Thanks!
Joe
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Old November 4th, 2009, 10:23 AM   #2
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Hi Joe,

It does look dark and noisy. I know you've checked these settings but make sure your neutral density filter isn't on and that the settings dial on the side isn't set to the green box setting (automatic). It should be on M. I've seen people set every switch to manual (AGC, AWB etc.) and then think that that can override the Automatic setting.
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Old November 4th, 2009, 10:36 AM   #3
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Joel,

Thanks for the quick reply. I did have the ND filter set to off and the settings dial set on the M.

Any other ideas?
Thanks again
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Old November 4th, 2009, 10:40 AM   #4
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You can't just go by a settings someone post, every scenes is different and required different settings, the basic rules are:
1 Keep the gain at minimum, the lower the better.
2.shutter speed at 60th/sec
3.use your apperture to adjust for proper exposure and using the zebra as a guide.
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Old November 4th, 2009, 10:58 AM   #5
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I think your initial guess of not enough light (I'd phrase it underexposure) is the main issue. I agree with Joel that it looks dark. If you set zebras at 80 and then shot to have little or no zebra visible, then you'll underexpose. I'll bet if you look at the scopes in your NLE, there's almost no signal in the upper 1/4 of the scope. In general, the video grain should be less noticeable with a brighter image.

Separate issue...others may well disagree, but I find the hard shadowing such as from the lav mic and wire distracting. My preference would be to shoot with softer light for a static talking shot such as this.
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Old November 4th, 2009, 11:34 AM   #6
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Ok so from the last two posts i am seeing that i should keep the gain at a minimum? how do i know what the minimum is? Is that 0 or in the negatives?

I also see i should use my aperature to adjust for the proper exposure using the zebra as a guide. What should i have the zebra set to if 80 isn't enough?

Also, "I'll bet if you look at the scopes in your NLE, there's almost no signal in the upper 1/4 of the scope." What is the NLE? How do i find it? And what should it be at?

Pete, I agree that the wire and heavy shadows are distracting. You suggested using softer lighting. I have 1x500 watt light with an umbrella reflecting the light onto the subject for the fill light. For the key light i have the same 500 watt light only without the umbrella to reflect the light (it is pointed right at the subject). Do you think it may help to use the umbrella on both lights and just move the key light closer to subject so there is still a slight shading? Or do you think it would be best to light the face as evenly as possible and try to not leave any shadows on either side of the face?

I really appreciate all of the help so far! Please keep the suggestions coming, they have all been very helpful!
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Old November 4th, 2009, 11:48 AM   #7
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-3 is where I shoot but based on the lighting in that scene you may need to go up to +6.

just setting the zebra to 80 doesnt effect the image at all. zebras are the stripped lines that show up on the lcd. they are used to show where you either have proper exposure or are over-exposed. this depends on what you have your zebras set to.

The NLE refers to the "Non Linear Editor" otherwise know as an editing application. In your case Final Cut Studio.

Where are the lights positioned relative to the camera and the subject?

Also, can I ask why you are recording infront of a blue screen? Key out the blue screen you are going to have to light it quite a bit.
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Old November 4th, 2009, 12:26 PM   #8
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Thanks Rob!

I will try the gain around 6.

As for the positioning of the lights the key and fill are at a 45 angle to the subject from the camera. The back light is around the same as the key and fill also.

The lights i have lighting the blue screen are at about a 10-15 angle.

We use the blue screen because one of our company colors is very close to the green screen color so our subjects tend to want to wear "our" green and also when they hold up our products it creates conflicts since there is green on the box.
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Old November 4th, 2009, 12:54 PM   #9
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Any other suggestions?
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Old November 4th, 2009, 01:10 PM   #10
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I couldn't open your video, but if you have 1000watts light up your subject, you don't need no 6db, it is very simple, you are making it harder than it is, do like I said,
set the gain at -3db
set shutter at 60th
now, if you got zebra all over the place, close down your apperture until only the zebra is on the face, if you have no zebra then you are underexposed ,open your apperture until you see zebra on the face, if you open it all the way to F1.6 and you still don't see zebra, the next step is to gain up, now go to 0db, if you still don't see zebra go to 3db.
Gain is electronic brightness, and is the last thing you want to bring up, the more gain the more noise.
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Old November 4th, 2009, 01:26 PM   #11
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Thanks Khoi and everyone.

I am filming tomorrow and i will definitely implement all of this and all try the great suggestions i got.


I really appreciate it. And if you think of anything else please keep the suggestions coming!
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Old November 4th, 2009, 05:05 PM   #12
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No, I wasnt saying that you should use +6db gain. I agree with Khoi, in that you should have plenty of light to get a properly exposed image. I know it has been said before but Just make sure that you dont have a ND filter on and also just open up the iris. I always check my exposure through the eypiece. the LCD can/will give you a false impression of the brightness/colors.

A little off topic, but if your shooting on a tripod be sure to turn off the image stabilizer. I didnt really notice anything that would say that its on, but its just a good practice to get into.
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Old November 4th, 2009, 10:18 PM   #13
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I was'nt able to open the video so here are my suggestions without seeing it. First are you sure the problem is a setting in your editing staystme? perhaps you have it set to low quality? Also, you should try the green box setting if your scence is well lit., this way you can make sure that its not a settign on the camera. Grain will not be an issuie if the scence is well lit. Make sure that your not using any pre-sets so that you can make surethat its not a bad setting. Until you get more famlier with the camera I wouldnt even bother with the presets. Alwso try using the "A" setting shotting 60I with the AGC turned off. This should give you a very clean picture especialy if you using a 3 point lighting system.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 09:43 AM   #14
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While adding gain can cause a grainier image, there is absolutely nothing wrong with opening your aperture.

You mentioned that you set your f stop to F 4.0. If it is set at F 4.0 and your image is too dark, open it up!

When zoomed out all the way, the lens on the XHA1 can get to F 1.6, which lets in MUCH more light than F 4.0.

Hope this helps :)
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Old November 5th, 2009, 11:45 PM   #15
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Khoi, I don't think you want to open up your iris until you see zebras on your subject's face. Depending on where you have your zebra set, that could mean your subject will be overexposed (pure white, losing all detail). You want to set exposure so that zebras are almost appearing, or just starting to appear on parts of the image.

Of course, this is a subjective thing. Some people like crispy, blown out highlights, others like everything to be in safe exposure zones. All depends on the project ... or the scene ... or the shot ... or even only a part of the shot!

I find keeping my zebras at 85 prevents me from overexposing while allowing me to get creative with exposure.
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