New XHA1 Owner Here. A couple of questions... at

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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 February 13th, 2010, 09:48 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Orlando, FL
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New XHA1 Owner Here. A couple of questions...

Hi guys, my name is Patrick, and I'm getting into videography. What I'm looking to do is put together a couple of YouTube channels, one for a sketch comedy series, and another as a guitar instruction series (and possibly bass and drums later). I want to upload everything in 1080HD. I'm also looking to get into freelance videography. I've been scanning craigslist and it seems there is quite a bit of work for people who just own an HD cam to show up and record, lol. I'd like to get into weddings eventually, too. My sister is getting married in a few months, and she's asking the potential videographers to have me shadow them so I can learn some tricks from the pros. I have a friend who owns a gym and is going to let me film a commercial for him, as well. I'd like to get a decent promo reel to help expand my business.

Previous to this cam I had a Sony TRV-22 MiniDV camcorder. I got the camera used on eBay and it came with a killer backpack that stores everything, plus a UV Haze Filter/Lens Protector, extra battery, and an 8 pack of Maxell miniDV tapes.

In addition to the canon I bought a muslin green screen that I pinned to my wall, a Davis & Sanford Provista 75XB tripod, a Rode NTG-2 shot gun mic, two Sony UWP-V1 wireless lapel mics, a Canon VL-10Li II on camera light, and this 5 point fluorescent lighting kit: Steve Kaeser Backgrounds & Accessories

My next step is to build a dolly using this tutorial:
YouTube - DIY Camera Dolly and Death Comes for Ryan - Film Riot

A steady cam using this tutorial: $14 Steadycam The Poor Mans Steadicam

A boom pole using this tutorial: Build Plans: $15 Telescoping Boom Pole | Backyard FX

Lastly, I need to get a good shoulder mount. Are there any you recommend?

What do you think of all my purchases and ideas so far?


Okay, on to my main questions. White balance. The temperature of my fluorescent lights is 5100k. On my camera, do I just set it to "pre" and "k" and set to 5100? Does this mean I no longer need to do a manual white balance? What I mean is it one or the other, or does it factor both? Do I do a white balance and then switch over to "k"? When I'm not using my fluorescent kit is there ever a reason to use the "pre" on the inside or outside lights? There is a big range of settings, but how would anyone know which one to use? Isn't it better just to go to "A" or "B" and focus on a white balance card?

In what situations would you say it's better to manually focus? I sort of don't trust my judgment that things are in focus on the tiny LCD, especially when I'm outside shooting in the sun. I feel dumb in having spent all this money on a camera that offers manual focus only to use the auto focus.

I read that the zoom ring is a servo. Does that mean it makes no difference whether I use the zoom ring or the little toggle zoom on the top of the camera? Also, I read a lot that only amateurs use zoom. When is it appropriate and tasteful to use the zoom?

I mentioned earlier that I'd like to get into wedding videography. Is it a problem that you can't record audio from both the xlr's and the built-in mic? I would think the ideal situation would be to capture the bride and groom on the lav mics and then the ambiance of the wedding with the external. I know they solved this with the XHA1s, but I didn't want to spend all the extra money. What's the best way around this? Will the wireless mic pic up the priest well enough? Should I take some extra audio footage at a different time with the built-in mic to overlay in post? I'd rather not buy a field mixer, especially since I plan on working alone mostly.

I am primarily a musician, so I'm using a pair of Extreme Isolation headphones I bought for using with my drum kit and for recording. They're closed-back and noise canceling. These should be fine with the camera, correct? EX-29 Headphones

I'm using Sony Vegas 9 Pro, and I'm having a hard time fully keying out my subject. This is a quick video I made of my friend: YouTube - Heineken Light Commercial I accidentally left the ND filter on from shooting outside earlier, and cranked the iris. It still came out fine, but if you'll notice on the right side of him there is green in the skin from light bouncing off of him. Also, his ears look jagged when looking at the camera straight on. I have him as far away from the green screen as I possibly can. I have two 6 bank fluorescent softboxes pointed 45 degrees at the screen, another softbox as a key light, a single fluorescent as a fill, and a single fluorescent on a boom as a hair light. In Vegas I first use the green screen chroma keyer and work with the mask on, and adjust the parameters, including hue/saturation/luminance to get the picture so it's pure black and white. Then I add the chroma blur effect on maximum. What am I missing?

If I shoot a section of footage in 24p, then a section in 60i, how do I render this in one file? In Vegas you're supposed to specify what frame rate you're rendering the file. Would I just say 24p for the whole thing?

As far as color correction I'm clueless. I want to get different cool looks. Is this best achieved in post, using gels, custom color presets, or all of the above?

I think that's all for now. Thanks!!
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Old February 14th, 2010, 04:55 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Berlin, Germany
Posts: 89
Hi Patrick,

first of all: All the best for your plans. Before coming to at least some of your questions, one general answer: Many points that you mention (how to focus, how to use white balance...) really come down to practical experience or in other words: Take yourself some time - to read some good books about cinematography, to experiment with your camera (for example: try out some of the settings, you'll find here) and last but not least: To help out an experienced videographer from your area. In a couple of weeks, carrying the tripod, watching him or her operating his sound and camera gear and listening carefully to what he's going to tell you during the coffee breaks, you gonna learn much more than any forum (even a decent one like this) could ever teach you.

White Balance: The K. function may be fine, if you want to adopt your camera to a predefined color temperature for whatever reason, that is not covered by pre/tungsten or pre/daylight setup. I hardly ever use the k function. 'Pre' in general is a nice thing, when you don't have time for manual white balancing, for example when shooting a reportage: The guy you're filming is walking down the street (daylight) and then he spontaneously decides to enter a bar (probably tungsten). Given that you don't have time to fiddle around with you cam and a piece of paper - you just switch to pre/tungsten. But whenever possible, make a manual white balance.

Zoom/Servo/different bottoms. Just try them, you'll easily spot the difference.
Zoom is only 'amateur', if you use it without reason and concept. The same goes true for pans, dolly, crane shots, effect filters, etc. Merely seen as a technical device, it is indispensable for getting the focus right.

Focus: Professionals prefer manual focus. Get accustomed to the following procedure before any take: Zoom in as close as possible (regarding a talent: to his eyes). Get the correct focus by moving the ring carefully backward and foward. Zoom back to the frame you desire. If the person is going to move, press the tiny 'Push AF' button on the left side of the cam. There are situations, when it is better to rely on auto focus. For example in a reportage situation, when cam and lens are completely covered by a rain cover. Or when there's just no time for manual focus.

Sound. You're right, with the A1 you can't use the built in mic and an external mic at the same time. Fix your Rode shotgun at the cam, connect it with one channel - and just let it be there as your 'camera mic'. The second channel is 'available' for the lavalier or whatever. If you have to record more than two sound sources, get youself a sound mixer like SQN 3 or 4 (just to mention two good ones - they are expensive!).

Headphones: I don't know yours, but too much isolation might be a problem. You'll like to hear
at least a little bit of what is going on in your surrounding. There's also an aspect of personal safety in it (when doing current affairs / filming a violent demonstration). ENG professionals in my country often use the Sennheiser HD 25 CII. But there are also decent products from SONY and other manufacturers.

Shoulder mounts: Tried out a couple of these with my A1. Nothing convinced me. The best shoulder mounts for this type of cam seem to be your back, hands and arms, which means: Go to you friend's gym once or twice a week ;-)

Color Correction: Quite a philosophical question. Some prefer to generate a certain look during production. Some prefer to generate quite a 'neutral image' and do the rest in the post. Some do mix both ways. First of all, you should probably care for the technical specs of the networks, you'd like to target (if so). Basic questions like chroma-, luminance and sound levels, as well as delivery formats.

I really wouldn't waste time on building special gear like dollys, cranes, steady cams, etc. The guys from, say, ARRI or PANTHER do much better than you probably ever could, and it is not THAT expensive to rent this stuff, if you really need it once or twice a year. Better care for what you really need at this point: Know How, contacts - and clients.

Good luck!

Last edited by Jan Luethje; February 14th, 2010 at 05:48 PM.
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