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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 30th, 2010, 11:23 PM   #1
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Filming in the African Jungle

I have a Canon XHA1S

We will be filming in the African Jungle for about 30 days starting April 6th. Scenery, Elephants, lions and tigers. (Oh my)

We will not have the ability to do any editing until we get back so we need all the help we can get before we get there.

Any camera settings you would recommend 24 30 or 60?

Presets?

Audio, any way to hook up the wireless and have both the camera mic and the wireless come out both stereo? Or does it already? Our first test say no.

Any other advice.

Thanks in advance, Eric
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Old March 31st, 2010, 01:14 AM   #2
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Er, Eric...............

Could you be a little more specific on what, where and when and durations thereof?

Travel mode, comfort stops, civilization breaks?

Power sources, accomodation on the move and all the other boring stuff that actually makes it happen?

BTW, there are NO, ZERO, NADA tigers in Africa. If you find some, do let us know as the scientific community will be aghast!


CS

PS: It's more likely to be Savanna if you're looking at big game, not jungle (or more correctly "Rain Forest"). Different kettle of fish altogeter.

Last edited by Chris Soucy; March 31st, 2010 at 01:30 AM. Reason: +
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Old March 31st, 2010, 01:43 AM   #3
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Speaking as someone who actually lives in the... ahem... African jungle, I second Chris's post.
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Old March 31st, 2010, 02:25 AM   #4
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As of March 2010 there are less than 3300 tigers left on the planet. None will be found on your trip to Africa.

Bengal Tiger: 1411
Indochinese Tiger: 600 - 800 or less
South Chinese Tiger: Less than 15
Siberian Tiger: Around 400
Sumatran Tiger: 300 - 350
Malayan Tiger: Less than 400
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Old March 31st, 2010, 03:23 AM   #5
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I guess by "jungle", you mean "rainforest". In which case, the main issue is keeping the gear dry and powered.

Whilst it really depends on where you are going - there's a big difference between staying at Treetops in Kenya or camping in a bivwack deep in the Congo rainforest - my advice: take a rain jacket for the cam and a variety of chargers for the batteries - car charger, solar charger etc. Also, take an airtight/waterproof box to store your dailies.

Finally, take an African watch, it's very useful in certain countries as it has an hour hand, a minute hand and a backhand...


Edit: There's not many elephants in the rainforest either. If you tell us what type of trip you are going on, we can give better advice.
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Old March 31st, 2010, 08:59 AM   #6
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OK, no tigers! For some reason I just couldn't stop after lions!

Savanna it is!

It is not the rain forest, more open flat country. I will have a vehicle and inverter for charging my batteries and about 60 hours of film.

The main thing I am looking for camera settings. For more of a documentary type settings would you use 24f, 30f, or 60f?

At this time of year there is suppose to be lots of sunshine, it is just after the rainy season.

What preset would be best for lots of outdoors in the sun.

Audio, any way to hook up the wireless and have both the camera mic and the wireless come out both stereo? Or does it already? Our first test says no.

Any other advice.

Does this help?
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Old March 31st, 2010, 11:04 AM   #7
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actually there are probably as many elephants in the rainforests in central africa as there are in the savanna. michael fays study...and my experience in gabon, congo brazzaville, and central africa republic. ...and there is open like sections of savanna in this large sector of forest...

humidity is a large factor in preserving your camera gear...especially after the rainy season. in kenya or tanzania you will have drier days to air out the equipment and dry out the accessories...bill
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Old March 31st, 2010, 12:46 PM   #8
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I'll refrain from commenting on Tigers...

Most everything you asked is really personal preference, so I'll give you what I would use:

- I would use 24p. I like the look so much that it's all I record in anymore. Granted, 60i will give smoother footage, of say a wild animal chasing after your vehicle, but for "cinematic feel" 24p all the way. If you want slow motion for parts, use 60i, but I would use separate tapes if you're going to do that.

- Presets I like: panalook(PANALOOK) and panafilm vision (PFVISION), for everyday and nighttime situations respectively.

- Your camera has 2 mono channels of audio to work with. That means the wireless (which is already a mono signal) records to one channel, while the camera mic (a stereo mic) records to the other. Not sure if it's taking one side of the on-camera mic, or creating a mixdown, but ultimately you're only going to be able to record mono signals when using two audio sources.
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Old March 31st, 2010, 04:03 PM   #9
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Eric generously calculate how much DV tape you need to take then double it .. if you run out you've had it.

Unwrap and number each days tapes before you go out. I shot from under a howdah on an African model Range Rover with a monopod braced against the side. In most areas you can't get out of the vehicle.

Roll tape and leave it run else by the time the lion yawns you'll miss it.

Take 2 extra batteries, one on the cam, one in the bag and one back on the charger. I'd shoot 60i use VIVIDRGB preset for the colours and a RODE NTG-3 shotgun mic to try and keep off screen (human) sound to a minimum. Take a B+W 502 (2 stops) ND filter for the bright sun.

Keep a large plastic garbage bag handy to cover the gear in dust storms. Wipe the A1s thoroughly clean before you pop the transport open, the dust is like talcum powder. If you get it in the tpt you'll have tape dropouts. Each night log the days footage while reviewing your shooting style.

It's called the African Experience I'd go back in a flash .. have a great trip :)

Cheers.
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Old March 31st, 2010, 04:54 PM   #10
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OK, Eric................

Now that we're past the Tigers issue.................

I'm going to buck the 24f trend and suggest, as this is a documetary type thing, you go with 60i and stick with it.

It (60i) is far better for motion and unless you're exceedingly well versed with 24 fps shooting, it can look awefull.

Also, I'd shoot it as flat as a pancake, stick the cherry on top of the sundae in post.

And take an extra ND filter or three, sounds like you may need them.

Beware shooting a couple of hours either side of noon, everything will be totally featureless and have more contrast than you can poke a stick at (that's if you even want to venure outdoors at that time of the day, there is some truth in the "mad dogs and Englishmen..............." line.).


CS
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Old March 31st, 2010, 06:32 PM   #11
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... and while you're there get MGM a new lion, all the other outfits have got new logos and MGM could do with updating theirs.

It's either very young or old and losing its mane. Cheers.
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Old March 31st, 2010, 11:10 PM   #12
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Appreciate all the feedback
Thanks everyone.

The Canon has a built in ND filter 1/6 and 1/32. Do you ever use this or would you recommend not? and why?

Eric
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Old March 31st, 2010, 11:45 PM   #13
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There'll be times when you need both those NDs together with the external one I mentioned.

On a sunny day screw the external one on before you start out but take it off indoors.

You should also have a UV filter as permanent lens protection but don't install both together.

Cheers.
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Old March 31st, 2010, 11:58 PM   #14
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Use 'em by all means............

no harm in that, in fact you can't do without them, I just don't think they'll be enough.

The latitude on video generally and HDV in particular is so small that the midday sun in Africa will just blow it away - no "white and fluffies" (clouds) to disperse the intensity.

That 1/32 sounds a lot but in intense direct sunlight it will probably get swamped.

Get at least one extra, maybe two.

Better still, if you have the weather option, always go for "the white and fluffies", so much better lighting all 'round.

BTW, "white and fluffies" is practically one of my trademarks. I've hammered it into the skulls of anyone I have ever taught to shoot anything photographic, they are pretty well any photographers/ videographers best friend.

I'm talking about the random clumps of cumulo nimbus that skud across otherwise featureless skies of blue in the summer months in many corners of the planet, NOT the dreaded grey blanket that can make shooting in many other corners look like it was shot in a graveyard.


CS
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