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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
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Old January 23rd, 2013, 06:12 AM   #31
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Olson View Post
For lattitude in post I'm surprised people haven't suggested PED=0, GAM=CINE1, KNE=LOW, BLK=STRETCH as in the factory default CINE.V custom preset. Simply take any existing preset, change these four parameters and you end up with a much flatter transfer function that gives more lattitude in post.
I'll definitely give that a go - thank you!
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Old January 23rd, 2013, 08:11 AM   #32
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

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Originally Posted by Allan Black View Post
Roger, dust and airborne microgrit getting into tape transports are major causes of tape dropouts.
Before you open the tape carriage, always wipe the top of the camera down with a clean damp rag and change tapes in a dust free area.

As an example, run a damp cotton bud down that groove on the top of your HV30.

And always use the same brand cleaner tape as the DV recording tape you use.

Cheers.
Hey Allan. Dust is a big bugaboo with not only electronics in general, but especially with moving parts like the tape mechanisms in the cameras. I'm very careful about keeping the gear clean, thirty years of working in clinical laboratories. Both of the HV-30s that I use for capture decks are older than the XH's, and the tape mechanisms have had much more wear and tear from rewinding etc.

Always use the same brand of tape, either Sony 60 minute or 80 minute.

Some of what I've loosely described as dropouts may actually be little glitches occurring during capture to the PC. When I recapture the same footage, sometimes the glitch disappears, sometimes not. Usually not worth all the time for extensive troubleshooting for a small nuisance. However, the nuisance does seem to be growing. Hope to move away from tape entirely when I can afford to, or can't afford not to.
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Old January 23rd, 2013, 01:34 PM   #33
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

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Originally Posted by Roger Van Duyn View Post
Both of the HV-30s that I use for capture decks are older than the XH's, and the tape mechanisms have had much more wear and tear from rewinding etc.
The hardware on the HV30 isn't as sophisticated as a real deck and as a result doesn't adjust the tracking to read tapes recorded on different cameras the same way. With wear the tracking on each camera changes. If there are dropouts, I recapture using the same camera that recorded the tape.
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Old January 23rd, 2013, 05:26 PM   #34
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Having worked in the pro magnetic tape industry for over 50 years, I've never heard that one especially with regard to DV tape transports.

I agree there's head guide and pinchroller wear on all tape transports, and I have a HV20 and HV40. They're 'real' transports proved and improved
over many years by Canon, it wouldn't make sense to use anything less.

But I'm not saying that playing a tape on the original camera won't cure its dropouts. If the problem was very serious try it.

Roger, once grit gets on your DV tape surface and causes dropouts, it's almost impossible to remove. Sometimes you can remove it by continually
fast forward and rewinding over the exact timecode spot where the dropout is .. we've done it and by playing the tape, seen the dropout
move along the tape surface by timecode reading. That means we were moving the 'dry grit.'

But if it's what's called 'wet grit' it's sticky, and doing this can grind it into the tape surface. We've done this too and it's permanent.
Heat with high humidity can contribute to this.

This wet microgrit is prevalent in cities where lots of construction is taking place, it's usually hard as diamonds and gets blown by the wind.

The best tape dropout preventative, is to not let ANY grit or dust get in the transport in the first place. Even after cleaning the top of the camera,
opening the carriage and removing the tape, I upend the camera and give it a light shake to let any loose microgrit drop out.

For the same reasons, never leave DV tapes lying around out of their cases, to pick up dust.
And only run cleaner tapes through once, you don't want to put any crap back in the camera. ppl baulk at paying for a tape
they can only use once through, that's why the instructions say use it twice, then discard it.

I was involved with Greencorp in Sydney when they made all widths of mag tape, and if it wasn't for the gigantic third world market today,
we'd have seen the end of mag tape years ago.

Cheers.
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Old January 24th, 2013, 06:20 AM   #35
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Olson View Post
For lattitude in post I'm surprised people haven't suggested PED=0, GAM=CINE1, KNE=LOW, BLK=STRETCH as in the factory default CINE.V custom preset. Simply take any existing preset, change these four parameters and you end up with a much flatter transfer function that gives more lattitude in post.
Eric, just to come back to you - I tried this out and it works really well with my workflow in Sony Vegas, which is to import the footage, noise-reduce the m2t using Neat NR, then do the work on the image (and this is where your settings do work remarkably well) and then give it a final gentle sharpen. It's not footage you'd particularly want to use without any treatment, but it can take quite a lot of manipulation and comes out looking really good! By using Neat NR first, you don't seem to run into any significant noise issues as you manipulate the curves or levels. Thank you so much for this suggestion.
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Old January 24th, 2013, 09:16 AM   #36
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

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Originally Posted by Mark Harmer View Post
Eric, just to come back to you - I tried this out and it works really well with my workflow in Sony Vegas, which is to import the footage, noise-reduce the m2t using Neat NR, then do the work on the image (and this is where your settings do work remarkably well) and then give it a final gentle sharpen. It's not footage you'd particularly want to use without any treatment, but it can take quite a lot of manipulation and comes out looking really good! By using Neat NR first, you don't seem to run into any significant noise issues as you manipulate the curves or levels. Thank you so much for this suggestion.
I'll also toss in a thanks to Eric for the suggestion. I have long used a mildly tweaked version of the TruColor preset, but always found the blacks to be a touch crushed when grading in post. Last night I discovered to my horror, despite precautions that I thought I had taken, that a recent servicing had wiped out my TruColor preset. So this thread gave a me good reason to program TruColor and TruColor-S, the latter so-named for the stretched black.

Mark, I'm curious about 2 things.

1. What sharpening do you use in camera and if it is none to minimal, how well does it look when added in post (I also use Vegas, BTW)?

EDIT: I just saw your post #24 with footage. Did you use the original TruColor sharpening of -9?

2. Do you use Neat Video on ALL footage? I used to, but in my hands even a gentle application of NV resulted in 'plastic' looking footage. (Yes, it performs wonderful miracles on low-light footage where the A1 is a horrific performer.)
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Old January 24th, 2013, 11:12 AM   #37
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Hey Allan,

Thanks for all the tips regarding "grit." I've been doing my best to avoid those problems. However, the job a few days ago made me think of "True Grit" because John Wayne audio was used, three nights of covering the Rodeo. Lots of dust and grit there. Previous job was a four day mostly outdoor trade show of heavy construction equipment. While I was careful to keep the cameras and tapes as clean as possible, it was windy and some grit may in fact have gotten in during tape changes.

I wiped the cameras down with a soft damp cloth, as usual. Also ran head cleaner for ten seconds on the HV-30 being used as the capture deck.

Both jobs were multicam shoots, so no critical footage was lost. Didn't bother to recapture. When I get a little more caught up, I'll experiment to see how the dropouts behave using the original cameras for each of the problematic tapes. Tapes are always labeled with which camera A,B,C, or D they were shot with so it will be easy to match tape with original camera.

It's a pretty standard system I use for labeling tapes, for example:
20130118A2 means it was the 2nd tape of a series shot on the A cam on January 18th. Then files captured have appropriate names. The construction trade show had 25 tapes.
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Old January 24th, 2013, 05:02 PM   #38
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

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Originally Posted by Steven Reid View Post
Mark, I'm curious about 2 things.

1. What sharpening do you use in camera and if it is none to minimal, how well does it look when added in post (I also use Vegas, BTW)?

EDIT: I just saw your post #24 with footage. Did you use the original TruColor sharpening of -9?

2. Do you use Neat Video on ALL footage? I used to, but in my hands even a gentle application of NV resulted in 'plastic' looking footage. (Yes, it performs wonderful miracles on low-light footage where the A1 is a horrific performer.)
Hi Steven,

Take this with the pinch of salt it deserves, as I originally put the vividRGB preset in my camera years ago and just never changed it, so I've only started playing around again in the last two days with the various presets to get more latitude in editing. So to your questions:

1: Yes - the first video in post #24 was with the original TruColor sharpening of -9. I was surprised that it looks OK once you sharpen it (see 2nd video, same post). However, I did the "treated" versions (2nd video in post #24) in Speedgrade and Speedgrade seems to make footage a bit soft for some reason I can't quite get my head around yet so I think I'll stick to doing it all in Vegas.

2: I've been using the hacked GH2 for a couple of years and the results are incredibly sharp and wonderful - so I've rather neglected my XHA1 cameras. But I have rediscovered them for "run and gun" type stuff where the form-factor works so well and for a project where I want clean-looking shots rather than shallow DOF "art". And yes, I've been using neat (this is v3) on all footage from the XHA1 just to get the last bit of noise out. I've literally just used the default with "adaptive filtration" checked, then "configure" -> "auto profile" - then select "auto fine tune" then "noise filter settings" then "apply".

Notes - which might help:

In Neat, with very low light, yes you need to tweak it manually. If you go to the noise filter settings tab, you can view the pictures as YCrCb and the sliders then allow you to work on each of those and you can monitor the appropriate image to see the effect so you can minimise the "plastic" look.

Then after doing Neat, I usually have levels and curves set up (in that order).

To finish with, I do a bit of sharpening and rather than use unsharp mask, I use Convolution Kernel, which is very quick to process. For XHA1 sharpening in HD I typically use:

Row 1 | Col 1 | -1.000
Row 1 | Col 2 | -2.000
Row 1 | Col 3 | -1.000

Row 2 | Col 1 | -2.000
Row 2 | Col 2 | 33.000
Row 2 | Col 3 | -2.000

Row 3 | Col 1 | -1.000
Row 3 | Col 2 | -2.000
Row 3 | Col 3 | -1.000

I'm using a modified version of the "BBC" preset mentioned elsewhere - but with the stretch as recommended by Eric Olson. Sharpness was on +3 on this preset.

Here's some random handheld footage using all of the above, in my living room today. All natural window light. The original footage looked pretty "flat". In particular, even the shot at 0:35 would have looked very contrasty normally, almost a silhouette, but with this setup, was very un-contrasty out of the camera, and with curves I was able to keep some window detail as well as keep the detail in my clothes. So quite a lot of flexibility to play with levels etc. Excuse the squeaky piano stool and the tilted shot at that point!


Last edited by Mark Harmer; January 25th, 2013 at 03:40 AM. Reason: Removed video password as video now public
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Old January 24th, 2013, 08:18 PM   #39
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Mark, thank you so much for the detailed and thoughtful reply. Many moons ago I played with the convolution kernel and, not knowing what I was doing, I dismissed the FX. This evening I gave it a whirl on some A1 footage and, whoa!, it does look great, and so much better than even a very conservative application of Sharpen or Unsharpen Mask.

Your 'art supply and piano' footage looked great to me and probably is among the best that I've seen wrung from the A1. (Nice piece of music, too!)

I am a habitual user of Magic Bullet Looks for grading, a one-stop shop, if you will. I am curious, however, to know why you apply both Levels and Color Curves. In the past, I've used one or the other, not both.

Cheers to you.
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Old January 25th, 2013, 03:25 AM   #40
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Hi Steven,

Thanks so much! By the way, the piano piece is an accompaniment for a choir - a bit of a pig to learn and involves much swearing. That was a curse-free section.

I agree convolution kernel seems to do the best job, and it's very quick to process. The middle slider of row 2 adjusts the sharpening, and unless I want different sharpening on each clip, I put convolution kernel at track or output level so I know I just have one instance of it.

Just had a play with the Curves in Magic Bullet Looks. You're absolutely right - they're really great and you may not need levels as well. For my video I was just using the regular Vegas FX chain - which was

Neat -> Sony Levels -> Sony Color Curves

The reason for using levels first and then curves: I use levels to to take the input level down to black where I want things to be solid blacks. You can then manipulate the curves without worrying about the black lifting. Another useful trick is to create extra "nodes" in the curve which will isolate a portion of the curve if, for example, you want to manipulate the mid-range values without affecting other parts of the curve. The curve in MB already has isolated points.

Apologies if you know these, but I find the following tricks really useful in Vegas:

- To save time you can save any FX chain as a filter package. With the Plugin chooser window open, and with your FX chain of choice already in the clip (keep to default values), click "save as..." and that chain (with its values) will be saved for recall into any clip from the Filter Packages window, ready to tweak.
- If you want to compare the look of each clip quickly, one after the other, put one marker ("m") in each clip, then use the numbers on the top row of your keyboard to go straight to that marker. Works in fullscreen mode too. You can also play from any of those points using the space bar - very useful in fullscreen mode.

Camera presets were:

GAM 1 | KNE L | BLK S | PED 0 | SET 0 |
SHP 3 | HDF H | DHV 0 | COR 0 | NR1 0 | NR2 0 |
CMX N | GHN 0 | CPH 0 | RGN 0 | CGN 0 | BGN 0 |
RGM -6 | RBM -4 | GRM 0 | GBM 0 | BRM -17 | BGM 2 |

...the SHP 3 value was just what was suggested but I'm sure that or anything lower would be fine too.

Last edited by Mark Harmer; January 25th, 2013 at 04:50 AM. Reason: Tidied up the text
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Old January 26th, 2013, 08:47 AM   #41
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Re my above - some footage taken at night - garden and in my kitchen with domestic lighting. Seems to hold up well with a lot of movement and low(ish) light and still yields a nice clean image.

I love the latitude this preset (above) gives me. Thanks to Eric Olson for getting me all fired up and using my XHA1 again and to Steven Reid for the encouragement. Now I'm looking forward to getting the lights out and trying some proper stuff with it!

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Old January 26th, 2013, 09:12 AM   #42
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

Mark, thanks for the additional examples. This weekend will give me a chance to properly shoot some test footage. (BTW, I love the guitar in the fruit bowl.)
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Old January 26th, 2013, 09:28 AM   #43
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

It's to play while I'm waiting for the chemistry set stuff to finish reacting!
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Old January 26th, 2013, 09:57 AM   #44
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

The videos look really good Mark. Skill using what you have, both the camera and the software, trumps having the latest and greatest equipment without the skill.
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Old January 28th, 2013, 09:15 PM   #45
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Re: Best preset on XH A1 for biggest latitude in editing

I spent the past few evenings doing tests with in-camera presets and post effects. (No footage posted here, so skip if that's what you're looking for.)

1. I made 4 versions of TruColor: 'regular' and with stretched blacks, each with SHP set to -9 and +3.

2. Post filter chain (in Sony Vegas) = Neat Video 3 --> Magic Bullets (curves only) --> Convolution Kernel.

3. In all instances using zebras, I shot some well-lit stuff around my house at about F 4.0 - 4.4, which is what I've found to be the lower limit of the A1's lens sweet spot. I have the Canon wide angle adapter on my A1, so I could get pretty close to my subjects.

4. SHP = -9: gads, this looked awful in post. I tried hard, but I couldn't rescue it even with Convolution Kernel. It just looked soft no matter what. I like 'organic' and 'film-like', but my footage (properly focused) still left hard edges pretty soft.

5. SHP = +3: POW! Now we're talking. No halos on sharp edges.

6. OK, Mark, you revived my interest in Neat Video: in my well-lit scenes, I had background objects in deep shadows. As expected, the grain was just awful. Man, that is probably my worst gripe with the A1. After a very conservative treatment with Neat Video, the grain all but disappeared, and the properly exposed areas looked great without taking on a plastic effect.

7. Overall, I like TruColor-S, so named because of the stretched blacks, with SHP = +3.

8. I really DON'T like clicking through representative clips from each scene for NeatVideo to sample, but the end result is SO worth it.

Thanks specially to Mark and Eric for motivating me to play and tweak my presets to better excellence. I'm happy to squeeze some extra life out of my beloved A1.
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