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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 April 4th, 2007, 03:28 AM   #1
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Custom Preset for Theatre Work

I finally made the upgrade from a PD150 to an XH A1 and an HV20. My A1 is still in transit (arrives on April 5) and I have a ballet production to shoot on April 6-7. (Nothing quite like watching your package on the 'Net with tracking, except a kid with a basketball watching the concrete cure.)

Anyone have a custom preset I can use for the high contrast and dynamic range of theatre lights on ballet costumes? I am used to the saturation produced by the PD150, but that isn't a requirement just a guideline. Final output will be DVD.

Just to make life tricky, I am hoping to use the HV20 for a wide shot of the stage (protection) and A1 for everything else. Should I skip a custom preset and just get the HV20 as close a possible or use a custom preset on the A1 and fix the HV20 footage in post?
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Old April 5th, 2007, 03:55 PM   #2
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Preset would be no help

I think I found the best preset for the constantly changing lighting conditions on stage. B&W.

Nothing ruins good video as fast as a creative lighting designer.
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Old April 5th, 2007, 04:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Lange View Post
Nothing ruins good video as fast as a creative lighting designer.
Well as a theatrical lighting designer myself I'd have to say "nothing ruins good lighting design as fast as a creative videographer." ;-)

Seriously, I also shoot archive video of our performances and unfortunately you just can't reconcile theatrical lighting design with the needs of video. On the stage we are generally trying to create looks which have an extreme amount of contrast. And that's exactly what you *don't* want for video.

Have you seen our "sticky" about shooting live performances? http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=60275
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Old April 5th, 2007, 07:53 PM   #4
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I recently completed working a project similar to what you are going to be doing. Maybe I'm just lazy, but I often use the Spotlight mode under these conditions.

Just my recommendation.

Chad
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Old April 5th, 2007, 11:01 PM   #5
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Dude, listen to me. Whatever you do, do NOT shoot above 3db gain.
I just shot a play tonight, and scenes that appear dark in the viewfinder,
are not as dark as they appear. I mad ethe mistake of going to 12db, and now I have to go reshoot a 2hr play. this play was DARK. the video
is absolutely unuseable. This camera freakin stinks in low light. It looks
like a single chip camera.
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Old April 5th, 2007, 11:51 PM   #6
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Dude, listen to me. Whatever you do, do NOT shoot above 3db gain.
I seriously beg to differ. I recently shot my daughters HS Shakespeareian play (studio lighting) & with an optimum preset tweak, 6dB gain, Tv exposure mode with Exposure Lock, it looked great. Regarding the LCD, I agree, don't trust it. Use Zebras!

Bill
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Old April 6th, 2007, 12:06 AM   #7
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my experience was different: i shot footage in a dark theater with the panalook preset, and it came out looking shockingly noise free and clean for the light level. but i never went above 6db gain.

sorry to hear that you have to reshoot that!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Hayes View Post
Dude, listen to me. Whatever you do, do NOT shoot above 3db gain.
I just shot a play tonight, and scenes that appear dark in the viewfinder,
are not as dark as they appear. I mad ethe mistake of going to 12db, and now I have to go reshoot a 2hr play. this play was DARK. the video
is absolutely unuseable. This camera freakin stinks in low light. It looks
like a single chip camera.
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Old April 7th, 2007, 01:28 PM   #8
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I got my XH A1 and HV20 on thursday, shot the full dress thursday night and discovered the spotlight mode worked well. Reading a little, I found that the gain is automatically set to 0db. The HV20 on spotlight also keeps the gain at 0bd. I used the HV20 locked down wide stage shot and the A1 for mid shots and pans.

This ballet had some interesting lighting. With the plays I've shot, the lighting is usually set for the scene and only moderate changes are made during the scene or are predictable. The ballet had rapid changes and hot spots of bright lights on trees in the wings. As dancers passed by the lights, their silver unitard costumes would almost "pop" from the bright light.

My recommendation is to use the spotlight mode when you have a light show on stage.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 10:24 PM   #9
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I just shot two different stage setups

One where lighting was set to try and be even across a stage for Show Choir Performances (singing and dancing).

The second a HS performance where they used two spotlights to light up the stage along with moderate stage lighting. Very rapid and uneven lighting as spotlights had to move between actors.

We set the camcorders to 6 DB and used an AE shift of -1.0 (wish now it had been -1.5) on my wifes. I set the same but mostly hit exp lock which essentially puts you into manual mode. So I adjusted the shutter speed up to about 120 or 250 and then used the Iris to control the light. Her video was mostly good, but sometimes when two strong spots were on a person, it got a bit white.

Takes a little time to get used to doing the iris, but worked well (except when I screwed up). All in all try setting an AE shift to reduce the exposure a little, then be ready to hit exp lock and adjust for extreme conditions.

Bill in Ohio
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Old April 10th, 2007, 02:39 AM   #10
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Ballet lighting

The ballet performance was everything but an even flood across the stage. Here is one extreme, hence why I shot in spotlight mode with its automatic features. Much of the light came from the wings with just a little from above. The dark background stays dark with little noise. The background scrim actually had a faint blue cast, which the camera didn't pick up very well except at the very top. This ballet depicts the aurora, so the background being basically black is ok.

Of course, the light changes shortly after this shot. The spotlight mode kept up very well, though! None of my shots looked bad.
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Old April 10th, 2008, 10:24 AM   #11
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spotlight mode

Rehearing an opera recording at a theatre
with an XH A1 yesterday I was amazed at how
well the spotlight mode responded.

It was much quicker that me at accurate focus and exposure
leaving me to pan/tilt/zoom - getting every shot.

Even the extreme lighting ranges were handled so well
that colour and exposure had plenty of latitude
for post-production tweaks if needed.
It was so close to the theatre lighting on capture.
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Old April 10th, 2008, 11:50 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Lange View Post
The ballet performance was everything but an even flood across the stage. Here is one extreme, hence why I shot in spotlight mode with its automatic features. Much of the light came from the wings with just a little from above. The dark background stays dark with little noise. The background scrim actually had a faint blue cast, which the camera didn't pick up very well except at the very top. This ballet depicts the aurora, so the background being basically black is ok.

Of course, the light changes shortly after this shot. The spotlight mode kept up very well, though! None of my shots looked bad.
So, in spotlight mode, did you use any custom tweaks or just plain default? How about white balance?

BR, Erik
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Old May 12th, 2008, 05:25 AM   #13
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Spolight Mode

The spotlight mode rarely burns out so all adjustments can be made post-production (including some gain in extremely dark scenes).
The blacks stay clean presumably crushed.
The white balance seems to be correct for theatre lighting
but you can set it manually.

We used 2 cameras from the corner of the orchestra pit and shot very tight compositions (work best for TV)
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Old May 12th, 2008, 11:56 AM   #14
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What exactly is the spotlight mode basing exposure on? Is it center weighted or just center or what?

With spotlight mode do you get good exposure with both wide shots and close-ups?

I just shot a dance performance using exp. lock manual iris. This time I set the zebras at 95% and keep what I knew to be white at this level when lit by brighter lights.

I shot in 24F and found this gave excellent results. I set the shutter at 1/48 and I also tried 1/60. I'm not sure, but I think 1/60 might be a better option sometimes with 24F, depending on the subject.

Did you use autofocus? If so, how did it work in this situation?
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Old May 12th, 2008, 10:50 PM   #15
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I shot a variety of settings like spotlight, custom WB, AWB, TV, and manual over the course of 4 rehearsals. I settled on AWB, TV/Exposure Lock (but 99% manual) and zebras on 95%. I exposed using the zebras on white knowing those were about to blow out and let everything else fall into place. I found that while Spotlight was brainless, it was too dark and I didn't want to color correct 3 hours of footage.
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