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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 January 4th, 2007, 06:33 AM   #1
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New XH A1 Owner Workflow

Hi Guys (first post here)
Thanks for a wonderful resource, I have learnt just about everything I needed to shoot recently here.
I had been lurking over at DVXuser for a while before I found that Canon were bringing out this camera (I got to pick it up at IBC2006 and decided then and there). Though to be honest if Sony had got the V1 out first I might have gone the other way. (I have a HC3 for fun days out, and poss 2nd camera)

Just thought I would jot down some things that I have gleaned that might be useful to other new purchasers. I live in PAL land and am very happy that 25F is a viable option on this machine. Plus the only way I used to get 16x9 was by cropping deliberately wide things for the web using tools in Premiere (shooting on an old VX1000).
I have Premiere Pro2 so with the patch at Adobe, I could start straight away editing in this format(25F). After I had captured of course.
To do this I tried out the Aspect HD Intermediate Codec Free Trial (which is a standalone capture utility & presets for Premiere Capture too). I was suitably impressed, I bought it before the time ran out. It just takes the worry out of editing and the scare stories of MPEG2 editing. Not sure how it works, but on my machine, not a glitch. I needed to shoot something the weekend that I got the camera (I wonder how often purchase decisions are governed by how desperately we want/need things?). I live in the sticks - so rental isn't really an option for me. It was a little music video - no budget. So 2x500w work lights from Homebase, tripod, makeshift case (didn't want to carry it in the box!), standard miniDV tapes (TDK ME) and I was ready to go. Takes were almost guaranteed to be 4 mins 20secs as that is a bit of top/tail, essentially the length of the song. That was good as I didn't want to go over the 4(ish)GB limit of a standard DVD. (Might want to archive or supply another compositor with certain takes).
Wanted to get the highest possible quality to test system, I opted to capture into a computer on the day as well as to tape.
Time was tight, so I didn't get a chance to test it thoroughly, but went with my laptop and a Freecom USB2 400Gb external drive hanging off it (brand new, so expecting peak performance). Now this is some 'laptop' - it has a 20" screen, it is infact a movable desktop really - Dell XPS 2010. It's a Duo Processor (not the latest, but recent) a 5400 100Gb (System
Drive) 1Gb Ram etc...XP Media operating system. Mini Firewire socket. Looked into the DV Rack monitoring and scope things, but in the end just went with the Zebras and built in monitor on camera. No decent sound needed as it was just miming to the pre-recorded track. Firewire to firewire cable attached, computer on, camera on (Preset Library loaded from here), Project settings in Premiere adjusted, and away we went. No problems at all.... Was hoping that I would be recording uncompressed (am still not sure if this is the case...) White room, white furniture, tiny movement in 30% of screen - 5-6mb per sec (55563kbps)? in CineForm 10-bit Visually Perfect HD (source Gspot
v2.60)
Can this be right?
Maybe with camera pans etc it would get up to 25mb (which is what I was
expecting...) though in 5mins that is 2gb.
Took the Manual with me, but didn't really want to get it out in front of the already nervous 'talent'. So AGC was on(opps), and I think I dialed in the colour temp in K rather than the AWB (thank goodness) set the f-stop at 2.8 (but was Aperture Priority, rather than Manual, so the shutter might have wandered round the 25-50-75-100 sort of range.. You only make mistakes once eh?) Set the Camera recording to tape - then start the capture in Premiere. Playback on computer screen elicits 'ohhs' from helper and singer, comments about it not looking like 'video' abound.

Great - rough edit some of the clips together (at the shoot itself) Just line up the peaks in the sound files to the *.wav talent has been miming to For a quick, very rough edit, I used Multicam feature in Premiere Pro. Stack the files you want to use. Drag this sequence into another sequence, right click and select enable Multicam... Cut it by sense of smell (no audio to be heard... for some reason). Decide 'we got it'. Everyone happy. Wait for lights to cool down. The next bit was back at home (it takes a few hours - some of this) Render an *.AVI/AspectHD uncompressed of that timeline, apply Magic Bullet 'Look' to that one - render it and output to another uncompressed AVI, drop it into Vegas - output to Tape from there (it creates a m2T file for you before starting your deck/camera) out it goes to archive. Delete the huge files you just made....

A simpler way is to use Canopus Procoder 2 - you have quite a few controls over the look - though not as generic or wide as Magic Bullet. Plus it will render a higher quality m2T (I think) and deliver a whole host of web sizes/bit rates at the same time. I have found that it is quicker to make an AVI to work from rather than working directly from the timeline (which seems to take forever) Make a H.264 Quicktime of a four minute song = 30mb and post it up at Youtube.com - send the talent a link and get comments.
Ignore comments. Plug away at it so the song benefits the visuals not the other way round! :)
Do the component outs going through a BlackMagic card deliver better
(larger) files than the HDV socket? My laptop has a PCI Express slot and this looks like a way to go. Is it worth it from this source? (Is it straight, no compression 1920-1080?)

Thanks again for a great community
James Cumpsty is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 4th, 2007, 07:21 AM   #2
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Hi James, thanks for posting your story. It sounds like a lot of fun and a fast production, next time all manual in camera is best.

@" The next bit was back at home (it takes a few hours - some of this) Render an *.AVI/AspectHD uncompressed of that timeline, apply Magic Bullet 'Look' to that one - render it and output to another uncompressed AVI, drop it into Vegas - output to Tape from there (it creates a m2T file for you before starting your deck/camera) out it goes to archive. Delete the huge files you just made...."

You always have a compressed MPEG file on tape and by recording it with the DVRack computer. There is no difference. As soon you transform that to the AspectHD you end up with a -I think- 4:2:2 uncompressed file (made from the originally compressed file!)

You worked with the AspectHD file in CC fase, and as long you stay there is remains uncompressed. Going out by component with a BlackMagic or Kona card to a hired DigiBeta is best. As soon you write a m2T to tape, you go back to MPEG compression again. The original huge Color Corrected AVI file is best in quallity.

Make that file the one you create the H.264 mov with, so have the highest output. Dump it on a external drive and store that also in the archive.
Raymond Toussaint is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 4th, 2007, 07:42 AM   #3
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Hi Raymond, Thanks for your reply.

I was wondering if I could go 'live' out of the camera at acquisition and get uncompressed footage. I realise that anything coming off tape is compressed, but is there a way of getting the equivilent XH G1 HD-SDI quality, even if it is a round-about way. Would using a Hard Drive recorder through the HDV socket also be compressed?
James Cumpsty is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 4th, 2007, 10:29 AM   #4
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Hi
You can go uncompressed 'live' component out and 'tether' that signal to a fast raid/computer if you have a component card in the computer. It is analog out, but with a short cable you wan't see the difference with the SDI G1. If I have time, I will try it with my Media100 component card, that is a component high quality 4:3 SD card...

@Do the component outs going through a BlackMagic card deliver better
(larger) files than the HDV socket? My laptop has a PCI Express slot and this looks like a way to go. Is it worth it from this source? (Is it straight, no compression 1920-1080?)

I wonder though if its straight 1920-1080, you need to try that, if you 'tether' it is uncompressed but isn't the A1 analog component out 1440x1080?

Yes the firewire out is also compressed.

Last edited by Raymond Toussaint; January 4th, 2007 at 07:16 PM.
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