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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 March 10th, 2010, 08:46 PM   #1
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Shooting photo shoot!

hi guys,

im helping a friend of mine by making a promo video for her hair/makeup company - i'll be shooting the video during her photography shoot. her photographer will be setting up his own lights - so i dont exactly know how it will be set up.

anyways, i only recently got the xh-a1 and have not fully grasp the numerous modes and settings. in fact this will be the first real project i have with it. wanted to know if anybody has any advice about shooting at a photo shoot and what settings i should use.

one question in particular i have is, i dont know whether i should shoot in 24p, 30p, or 60i. what are the pros and cons with the various settings. my understanding is 24p or 30p will typically have a nicer "film" quality to it? vs. 60i which would be better with any type of motion? please correct me if im wrong.....

also upon further research, i will be editing on FCE, which does not support 24p? so would it just make sense to just shoot in 30p or 60i?
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Old March 11th, 2010, 12:37 AM   #2
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Regarding frame rate, you may want to test the camera out in a similar setting as to the photoshoot you will film. Always helps to see similar results before you go to work...

For sure you will want to custom white balance so bring a white card or similar.

As far as modes go - if you are unfamiliar with camera operation you may want to stick to Av (Aperture Priority) or Tv (Shutter Priority) modes. But if you have a good feel for manual camera operation go for the M (Manual mode) and work the iris to maintain proper exposure.

If you shoot 24p set the shutter to 1/50. 24p is good for normal motion and is progressive which is a good start. Depends on the amount of movement in the shoot.

30p and 60i set shutter to 1/60. 60i is interlaced so be aware of that. It's great for faster motion but interlaced fields can be bothersome. If your NLE does not support 24p then 30p is a good compromise.

Also be sure to turn off Auto Gain - this is crucial. And set your gain settings to -3db, 0db, and 3db. Try and shoot at -3b whenever you can to receive the cleanest picture.

Use your Zebra's and make sure to compensate for over exposed areas...especially if there are hot spots from the artificial lighting the photographer sets up.

Shoot flat or try a preset like the Truecolor preset.

Hope some of that helps.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 10:37 AM   #3
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Hi Josh,

The answer to your question about frame rate pros and cons is very subjective. With that in mind I'll let you know what they mean to me.

60i = very clean crisp movements. Not very film-like and more like a soap-opera look. It's not bad, but a little too "plastic" looking to me. I like some depth and warmth in the feel of my footage. Also, 60i is good in more light and when you want to start really slowing some footage down for slo-mo.

30p = film-like look, but not as much as 24p. I like a film look and I choose 30p because I can still do slo-mo with it and it won't look bad. 30p also povides some depth to the footage I can't get with 60i. In a way, you can think about 30p as right in the middle of 60i and 24p. For me, it's the right balance between warmth and usability.

24p = film look when paired with other camera settings or post-production work including saturation, gamma, etc. 24p can be beautiful to use and give you a nice "human" look and feel but can be problematic with quick pans, and with slo-mo.

Keep in mind that the lower frame rates of 30p and 24p work better in lower light than 60i. Something to keep in mind.

Go shoot the same settings in each of the modes, move the camera around while doing it, look at the footage and do some test work with it. In the end, we can give you all sorts of suggestions and advice for which is best for you, but you need to make the final choice.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 10:58 AM   #4
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thanks sylus and mike! this was very helpful. i will definitely be doing some test footage today.

another questions, i've noticed many people saying this "shoot flat". im assuming its so i can do color correction in post? what is the reason for this? would i not want to shoot in a preset closes to what i want it to look like in the final project?
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Old March 11th, 2010, 11:56 AM   #5
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It probably comes down to personal preference and what your workflow is like. Shoot flat to have the most control in post. Shoot with a preset, you will lose some control, but probably save time in post. You probably hear a lot about shooting flat because the camera op wants to have the creative control in post.

Just keep in mind if you shoot with a preset that really locks in color - you are pretty much stuck with that for life. So you really want to be sure the presets you use are the right settings for your project. Some presets are really good for a flat look but also aid in picture definition and clarity like Truecolor or Panavision.
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Old March 12th, 2010, 08:17 AM   #6
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I'm about to do the same as the OP (film a band shoot to help promote the photographer) on a borrowed XH A1s (no instructions!)

Can you tell me how to set it to "flat"?
also, how do I turn "zebra" on?

cheers
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Old March 12th, 2010, 10:44 AM   #7
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The default settings for the A1 are pretty flat. You can setup a preset (check the sticky thread in this forum) that also uses flat settings but brings up details and such.

Turn on Zebras in the camera menu - i think it's under Display.
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Old March 12th, 2010, 04:36 PM   #8
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I no longer shoot with the XH A1 but it is a very good camera to use for this. First thing to do is find out what type of lighting the photog will be using. Will they be using strobes? Once you know the lighting, dial in the color temp accordingly. You should be able to set the gain to 0 or -3 to minimize noise.

I usually expose for skin tones to be about 70 on the zebras. One issue with the Canon's is the screen makes it impossible to focus. I'd use a lot of rack focus shots and maybe a few quick zooms to give the video a fast pace feel. Since this is for a hair and makeup business, I'd imagine that you would want the colors to to be very vivid and pop.

I'd most likely shoot it 30p, especially if they're using strobes. and set the shutter to 1/60th or 1/120th depending on the light available. I preferred the PANALOK2 or VIVIDRGB presets but again that's a matter of taste.

Watch out for lens flare too since you'll likely be shooting at odd angles for lighting.

These shoots can be fun and full of high energy especially if the photog is good with their direction to the talent.

Garrett
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Old March 12th, 2010, 05:48 PM   #9
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thanks so much guys for all the great advice! and thanks Garrett for all the detail

i have my camera currently set at 70 on the zebra, have read up on it, but still a tad bit confused with how to use the zebra. seems like its up for debates but avg skin tone ranges from 70-80? and to clarify, when using 70 zebra you should see slight amounts on zebras on highlighted parts of the face (cheekbones, jaw line, etc.) or do you want zebra lines all over the face?

and in terms of dialing in color temperature, would it just be ok to use a white piece of paper and white balance? im new to this and just not sure the color temperature of various lights - this in case the photographer doesnt know either.

also, in terms of preset, i was thinking about either "noname" or just using "truecolor" and color correcting in post like others have suggested. the only things that worries me is FCE does not have 3-way color correctors like FCP or Premiere
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Old March 12th, 2010, 06:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Chan View Post
thanks so much guys for all the great advice! and thanks Garrett for all the detail

i have my camera currently set at 70 on the zebra, have read up on it, but still a tad bit confused with how to use the zebra. seems like its up for debates but avg skin tone ranges from 70-80? and to clarify, when using 70 zebra you should see slight amounts on zebras on highlighted parts of the face (cheekbones, jaw line, etc.) or do you want zebra lines all over the face?
For fair skinned people I usually let just a little bit of zebra show (when set to 70) on maybe their forehead, Generally I set exposure so that I see the zebras then just back off a bit until I just clear all of them. That's of course if you want the face to be the feature that stands out. If there's something else that should be the focus then use that as the exposure set point, i.e. a very reflective brush or something. You'd want to make sure you don't blow out the brush and possibly have to live with something else being slightly underexposed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Chan View Post
and in terms of dialing in color temperature, would it just be ok to use a white piece of paper and white balance? im new to this and just not sure the color temperature of various lights - this in case the photographer doesnt know either.
White balancing on a piece of white paper can work. Just make sure you set exposure correct before taking the WB reading. The difficulty comes if they are using strobes, sometimes the strobes will throw a slightly different color and you find yourself with blue footage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Chan View Post
also, in terms of preset, i was thinking about either "noname" or just using "truecolor" and color correcting in post like others have suggested. the only things that worries me is FCE does not have 3-way color correctors like FCP or Premiere
The only thing about doing a lot of post color correction with HDV footage is that it can fall apart pretty easily. In general I try to get the color as close to the final as I'd want out of the camera. Also, render times go up when you have a lot of CC or FX.

Garrett
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