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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 10th, 2007, 11:18 PM   #1
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exposure

I'm learning..pls. don't beat the daylights out of me..this question is probably not specificaly an A1 question but since this cam let's me do these things, I'll cheat a little and pose it here..if I should go off and get a good book (the one I bought doesn't seem to be) and not post the forum just say so..

I'm trying to learn to manage exposure and can practice next on monday..indoor shoot ..choir followed by podium readings..

I'd like to try using Tv to manage shutter speed, and getting a little help on exposure or tweek w/ exposure lock..have been reading all your posts..

- What is a good assumption / start point for shutter speed in this situation (I will not add light and assume this won't be brightly lit but not contrasty either)? I'll be using 60i (HDV). Is there a good range I should expect to use here? What would be too fast / slow?

- If I hit exp. lock to manage aperature manually, and I have the aperature open as wide as possible, but am still pegged on the left side of the light meter, would I want to slow the shutter a little mid shoot, or add gain, or other? If I switched out of exp. lock and let the camera take over, what would it do in this situation if the iris was already full open and the meter showed not enough light?

am I thinking of this correctly? should I use a different approach on learning to manage exposure?

feel free to post as patience allows..maybe this will help others too...don't worry, your jobs are safe :-) .. thanks in advance..
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Old April 11th, 2007, 07:14 AM   #2
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I would practice shooting full manual mode. I think it’s easier that dealing with auto settings that give you no control or partial control over particular settings.

Ultimately YOU want to have control over how the final image will be recorded. Why leave critical decisions up to the camera? And actually, a basic setup is quite simple:

Make sure the camera is in full manual mode – shut off all auto gain, focus, white balance, etc.

Set the camera to HDV 60i – shutter 1/60

Adjust the iris to let in enough light to expose the scene properly (add + 6 gain if need be - more than that may add unwanted grain/artifacts)

Set white balance

Adjust audio levels

Focus on subject

Press record!

Note – the only item you *might* want to leave to an ‘auto’ setting is white balance. Again, I don’t recommend it – but if the daylight setting looks fine outdoors or the indoor setting looks good indoors, then use it. I would only do this if I was working quickly and for some reason could not do a proper white balance.

Last edited by James Binder; April 11th, 2007 at 07:54 AM.
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Old April 11th, 2007, 10:10 AM   #3
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James is right. Learn "manual" as best as you can.
If you get stuck, "A" is the second best option with Exp. Lock
to adjust your exposure. Never green box it.

Sadly, "low light" is just simply low light. Adding gain will add noise in the darker areas and increasing the shutter will give you that "dramatization / flashback / 80's Metal video" look.

The A1 is pretty good in low light though. You'll just need to impove your shooting skills. Focus on the best lit subjects, seek out areas of available light, and properly frame your shots.

If you are handheld, zoom is NOT your friend. If you expect lowlight situations, use a tripod. You will be all over the place trying to crop out noisy areas.
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Old April 11th, 2007, 11:19 AM   #4
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guys - thanks so far - greatly appreciate it.. yes, I will use manual or Tv + exposure lock, which as I understand essentially translates to manual. manual white balance using the tungston preset, but will use auto focus for now. I am ok on audio, and have a separate thread for some questions I did have on composing the shots, which I am getting some good ideas on.

question here is on expsoure - shutter speed and reading of the light meter and then adjusting using either gain (maybe +3db) or shutter speed.

questions are is with 60i (HDV fwiw):
- is 1/60th the right starting point for shutter,
- if I am finding I need more light, should my first move be to slow the shutter (and if so, to what, or what range for this type of low action event), or should I not adjust the shutter mid shot, and if not, I assume my only other options are adding a little gain. (addtl lighting is out b/c of the nature of this event).

fwiw, at this point, I am planning to use a little NR2, but perhaps not the NR1 b/c of what I've read of it's ghosting potential. I may try to stretch the blacks a little, but not yet sure if I will need. will not plan to fool with gamma or color matrix on this one, would first like to get comfortable with NR and will do color correction / gamma in post if needed (vegas).

auto is not for me, nor is green box. if I find myself in a spotlight situation, I may try to lean on that a little as I don't yet know the differences in light metering between the other modes and spotlight, so would not yet be comfortable making those changes quickly on the fly via menus. but, I assume that if I need spotlight in an emergency, I could hit exposure lock and then manage my shutter and iris that way.

if I'm thinking of this wrong, pls say so!! and any thoughts on the specifics on shutter speed and best next tool would be greatly appreciated!!!!

you guys rock!!
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Old April 11th, 2007, 12:02 PM   #5
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you may be over-thinking this. with these cams, what you see is what you get.

for what you are doing, the only light meter you need is right on the lcd.

imo, set the cam to gain 0, 3, and 6. 12 is going to add noise.
if you need 12, you should move on to another shot.

as soon as you start adding light via the shutter, you will get flicker, then stutter, then full throttle Dokken video.

spotlight mode is really easy. shut off your lights and point the camera at your TV. you'll see what i mean.

get there early and take test shots. find the best angles.
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Old April 11th, 2007, 12:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Weiss View Post
you may be over-thinking this. with these cams, what you see is what you get.

for what you are doing, the only light meter you need is right on the lcd.

imo, set the cam to gain 0, 3, and 6. 12 is going to add noise.
if you need 12, you should move on to another shot.

as soon as you start adding light via the shutter, you will get flicker, then stutter, then full throttle Dokken video.

spotlight mode is really easy. shut off your lights and point the camera at your TV. you'll see what i mean.

get there early and take test shots. find the best angles.
so should I not stray from 1/60th?

not trying to over think, just trying to learn where the right levers are ..

thanks again
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Old April 11th, 2007, 12:13 PM   #7
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well, it's all relative to artistic pref. and the available lighting at hand.

1/60 is a natural and ideal starting point.

at 1/30 you will get that "run and gun" reality/mtv look.

at 1/15 you will end up in a bad flashback of a Lifetime "docudrama"

and god help you..

at 1/8 Whitesnake will just show up and rock the hell out of that place.
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Old April 11th, 2007, 01:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Weiss View Post
well, it's all relative to artistic pref. and the available lighting at hand.

1/60 is a natural and ideal starting point.

at 1/30 you will get that "run and gun" reality/mtv look.

at 1/15 you will end up in a bad flashback of a Lifetime "docudrama"

and god help you..

at 1/8 Whitesnake will just show up and rock the hell out of that place.
LOL .. thanks ... don't need help with bad flashbacks and if whitesnake shows up, then we're in a different thing alltogether.. maybe I should try some at 1/60th and some at 1/30th and see the difference... my audience won't be to sensitive to this so will be my call as to what tools I have and what I think I should deliver.. thanks again, and I'll let you know if whitesnake or dokken should come into play!
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Old April 12th, 2007, 06:40 PM   #9
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Here's a dumb question

Given a choice between 1/60th of a second and tyring to pull the levels up in your favourite editing program or 1/30th of a second. Which would yo prefer to do?

:)Dave
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Old April 12th, 2007, 08:09 PM   #10
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Well, it's all very subjective to the shots and the look that your are trying to achieve.

To answer your question...
Personally, I stay at 1/60 in 60i as much as possible.
I bring lights and reflectors with me almost everywhere.

Pushing levels in post on already dark shots will make them look even worse.

If I do find myself in a low-light massacre..I just shoot where the available light is. If I can't get an acceptable shot at 1/60 with a limit of 6+ gain, I would move on. But that's me. I'd work from a tripod and zoom to tight shots
and take a more "creative" approach then just "documenting."

In a "do or die" situation, I'd hit that shutter with no regrets. 1/30 will just look like 30f. I'm fairly certain that "f" really stands for "Flicker."

Everything has it's time and place and you as the artist must make those decisions to tell your story and present your vision.

There will be times where you will have to make choices and sacrifice quality for content. Sometimes hitting the shutter will create even better shots.

You must also think about your final delivery. Who is your audience and how will they view your content. Most people could care less about grain or shutter speed if you are entertaining them.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 11:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Weiss View Post
at 1/8 Whitesnake will just show up and rock the hell out of that place.
LOL!

Dave –

1/60 is very much the standard if you are going for a ‘video’ look. I would not let decisions in regard to setting proper exposure fall to shutter speed adjustments. Shutter speed is really is more of an aesthetic thing.

And – if you are going to be mixing slower shutter speed footage with footage shot at 1/60 – you will end up with some very strange results indeed.

Again, if it helps, think of shutter speed as being an aspect of the ‘look’ or aesthetic you are trying to achieve rather than a function of exposure.

Try a coupe of tests. Yes, shooting at 1/30 or 1/24 allows shooting under lower lighting conditions, but it is a very different aesthetic from shooting at 1/60. 1/30, 1/24 have a very particular look that is usually applied when trying to create a more filmic or cinemagraphic look.
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Old April 13th, 2007, 12:09 AM   #12
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Stage work just won't lend itself well to auto exposure. The lights most places use have too much contrast between what they're illuminating and everything else for the cam to "know" what you're wanting to do.

Setting your LCD and EVF up properly with the color bars and brightness/ contrast will be pretty WYSIWYG exposure-wise when you finally get to see your footage later. However, there's a tendency to under-expose a bit by using the LCD/EVF, from what I've shot so far.

I like to set my zebras at 95% and avoid clipping off too much of the frame. If the stage is bright, sometimes you have to expose the talent and let everything else fall back into black. Or let some reflections and white elements clip to properly expose the rest of the frame. If anyone is wearing white/ light-colored clothing under stage lights, though... that'll be bad.

Focusing the A1 on those little screens is pretty tough, at least for me. There's a setting in the display that lets peaking and magnification go to B&W, and sometimes I use that. AutoFocus can do OK, just watch for anything in the foreground or background that has more contrast than the talent, and esp. people walking by the cam, throwing it out of focus. It's best to manually focus, but it takes some time to learn how to do. And you'll kick yourself later if you find you've shot soft.

HTH,
Brian Brown
BrownCow Productions

Last edited by Brian Brown; April 13th, 2007 at 12:11 AM. Reason: typo
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Old April 15th, 2007, 03:25 AM   #13
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guys thanks. this has been incredibly helpful.

I did a walkthrough of the program at the venue with the director and the audio guy on friday (my request) and I think I'm all set. Since this is less of a stage production than it is a program with readings, etc. they were even amenable to raising up the lights a little bit, but in general the lighting looked pretty good to me (I brought my cam and with shutter at 1/60 was watching the light meter in the cam as I varied the aperature).

Eric - thanks..in fact, I changed the gain settings to be 0, +3, +6, so will use a little +3 if I need but would even like to stay away from +6. I'll be working from a tripod, and with that 20x, even from the back, still think I can get some nice tight shots. F=flicker..that's pretty funny!

James - I think I'll try to stick with 1/60th. Filmic would not be right for this one..same reason I am using the 60i rather than 30 or 24. (I guess I'll have to give some thought to that..if shutter speed for video is really more about aesthetics, seemingly then there would be good way to match or pair the shutter speed and frame rate of the video? not sure, will have to think about it).

Brian - thanks - I have my zebras set at 95% from the last stage show so will plan to go with that..will work the exposure based on the talent as there is no set, and will try to get them right. And the screen on the A1 is small, last time I found even just focusing my eyes on the screen took a little work (handheld, and the LCD was close to my eyes... tripod is less of a problem with my eyes, with the LCD a little further away from me). I think I'll go for a little more practice before I start manual focus as I definitely would kick myself (hard) if the focus were soft and I did it, and last stage show the auto focus actually worked pretty well, although that was in SD and this one I am planning to do in HDV. Since I'll be behined all seats, it will be a real test of the autofocus..probably 100'-150' from the stage..during setup, I'll check that it looks focused and could potentially manual focus in an emergency but will hope to stick with auto for now.

Intersting, that for audio, I was prepared to mike the audio myself, but the audio guy offered to mike the stage with some PZMs and run those back to his board for me so that I don't have to use my own mikes up there (they didn't need to mike the stage for the music portion, violins and piano, because they like the acuostics as is, but were very open to doing it to help the video).

We went into the sound booth and it blew me away - was incredible how nice and how stocked that thing is. That, together with the sound guy being very open to giving me a nice mix of the podium mikes, stage mikes, etc. was very good news (their latest addition to the booth is a sony dvcam half rack HD recorder with built in monitor...really nice..they sound guy offered to let me record on that as well...I'll have to check the sony inputs for next time..I'm not sure I have the right cable right now (type or length)). Alas, for the A1 (not G1), I think my output will be limited to component out, which I'm not sure the sony has in, or the firewire. I need the a1's BNC out for my tascam recorder to keep the clocks in sync, but when I skimmed the manual, I don't think I get HD out on that anyway, so may be limited to 1440x1080 firewire out, but I'll have to read more..didn't think I'd ever have the opportunity to use HD outputs, thus the A1 and it saved me $3k).

Anyway, they are going to put a riser for me in the back, behind the seating, under the sound booth. again, really nice of them (although I am doing this free and will make a DVD for them!).

Right now I am thinking to record a stereo (or mono, will see what I get) feed from the board into the tascam, and then set up an ambiance mike for myself near my camera, also as backup, runing that into the A1. Choices are doing a stero pair in the back, although I'm not sure how well that would work, probably ~150' from the stage, or the other choice would be the NT3, although now that I think of it, perhaps I should put the NT3 up in the front of the seats pointing a bit back into the audience (would go wireles in that case), or maybe even put one each of my 3031's on each side of the front of the audience. Again, ambiance, and also as backup as they would get the stage, speakers and audience (not a good stereo technique, I think, but a backup to be sure). Will have to give this some thought.

Any thoughts on the mikes would be great (if anyone's still reading at this point :-) ), and I'll also post back after the event.

thanks again, you guys are great.

edit: btw, I think I've hijacked my own thread..hope this doesn't get me in too much trouble!

Last edited by Dave Stern; April 15th, 2007 at 03:50 AM. Reason: disclaimer
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Old April 20th, 2007, 10:10 PM   #14
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guys - just wanted to say thanks .. the shoot worked out well, although the only problem (I know of) was a little trouble on the tape changes.. it was 3 hours running, and as I got to near the end of each tape, I didn't seem to find quite the right break point in the ceremony to changes tapes... first tape change I also got the dreaded remove (reinsert?) tape message, costing me another ~4-5 seconds...although the audio was running the entire time into a separate recorder, so I'll just have to think about how to be creative to cover that gap in video.. second tape change was a little better..not perfect..

I had been thinking about downloading the demo console software and recording to my laptop as well, but didn't bother... spent too much $ on other things right now for a hard disk recorder, so I guess it's just live & learn

lighting seems to have woked out ok... ended up using +6db gain on 1/60th and just managing the aperature to keep the light good ... (tried with 0 and +3db gain but was not quite enough..didn't want to go past 6db .. I had my coring turned up and also NR2 on medium.. HDV .. we'll see how it looks)

I think it worked out fine with 1 camera.. I could have been a little closer to the stage to get a bit of a tighter shot, but zoomed in all the way, I was still able to fill the frame with the top half of the speaker only (would have liked tighter a few times .. at least now I have a better feel for what 20x gets me).

anyway, thanks again, really appreciate it.
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