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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 27th, 2007, 04:37 PM   #1
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Help - shooting with the A1 with no "testing time"

Help. I will be shooting a documentary next week using the A1. Unfortunately, I will have almost no time to play around with settings, test presets, go through the menus, etc. The producer is basically buying the camera on Monday, we will take it out of the box, charge the battery and start shooting.

I apologize in advance because I just found this forum and have yet to go through the info here. Maybe sufficient info has already been provided. But, I wanted to post before the weekend when presumably fewer people would read this. I also just downloaded the 170 page manual and will go through that this weekend as well.

Any advice or suggestions regarding settings which will affect the aesthetics would be greatly appreciated. In a perfect world, I would have much more time to "play around" with and get to know this camera, but unfortunately, time does not allow that, and I don't want to change "the look" of the footage halfway through shooting.

I have shot pretty extensively with the DVX and the Sony Z1U, and feel pretty comfortable with those cameras. But, this camera is totally new to me. I've only seen photos. I have no idea what sort of color, gamma, "cine-look" settings, etc. may be available and what I may or may not want to use.

Like I said, this will be used for a documentary with NYC as it's backdrop, consisting of both day and night outdoor footage combined with more "formal" lit indoor interviews. I am also not exactly sure where the producer is aiming for this to end up, but most likely television/dvd. I'm assuming we will want to shoot in HDV at 24 frames.

Again, I apologize if the answers/advice I am looking for has already been provided on this forum. I may find what I am looking for as I begin to go through the site this weekend. And, thanks in advance for any help anyone can provide.
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Old April 27th, 2007, 05:00 PM   #2
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If you still can, rent one for the weekend, that should give you a bit more time and won't lose you time when you start shooting. So it pays itself back...
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Old April 27th, 2007, 05:06 PM   #3
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I'm pretty newbie here but the preset thread in this section has a great set of presets people have contributed here and is worth loading on the camera if you have time. There is even a setting that tries to emulate the dvx I think.
link to the thread:
http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=81071

You have to download it onto the little SD card the camera comes with so you might not have time to do that unfortunately. I'd check the settings that people posted (I think there is an excel spreadsheet that lists each setting and the specs)

Somebody also posted a little video showing the various presets that would be worth a look - in the same thread

I'd turn off the auto gain (it comes with it on) as it gets grainy in lowlight if you let the camera handle it, AWB as well since you know what you are doing.

Watch the LOCK/STANDBY switch as if you mistakenly put it on LOCK when you are using the standby function you will think the camera died as it won't turn on except for the VCR mode. (page 28 of the manual)

The standby is great for holding the settings you are working with inbetween shots - instead of turning off the camera completely it pauses the recording and turns off all displays.

If you are using the onboard mics - turn on the ATT if you think it might get loud. The camera is sensitive to distortion with loud music/crowds etc.

onboard ATT for the mic is 12, 20 for the XLRs. Both XLR inputs operate as one with the ATT, you can't set them separate.

Some people say shoot 60i and convert down to 24 after, but that is up for debate.

this thread is probably too beginner for you but I'll include it:

http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.ph...+white+balance

Good luck with the shoot
trish
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Old April 27th, 2007, 05:23 PM   #4
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Todd,

Seach the Forum for Brooklyn / NY / NYC / View members public profile
to determine gear / drop mail to member to establish tel. contact and
possible assistance.

In meantime study the custom preset thread etc.

Wish i could help / Too far away.

Herman.
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Old April 27th, 2007, 05:30 PM   #5
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Why does it have to be the XH-A1 and not for example a Z1U, which you are more comfortable with?
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Old April 28th, 2007, 05:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
The producer is basically buying the camera on Monday, we will take it out of the box, charge the battery and start shooting.
Are all producers that stupid?
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Old April 28th, 2007, 08:10 AM   #7
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I'm sorry, but that is very stupid of your producer... why not use what you know??? Good grief.... I feel for you and hope all goes well for you!

I love the A1, but OTB is not good and you will not like it esp. for a documentary.

Just use a Z1...
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Old April 28th, 2007, 11:25 AM   #8
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well...

The producer is not a filmmaker. She is someone who is involved in the subject and wants to make a documentary about it. Basically, she went to several retail locations (B&H, etc.) and discussed what would be the best camera for her to use considering her budget, etc., and the consensus was the A1, which I don't think is a bad call. I just wish I had more time to play with it. I was exaggerating a little when I said we were going to take it out of the box and start shooting, but certain people want to see a demo reel very quickly for funding and we definitely dont have the time I would like under perfect conditions (but when do you ever?)
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Old April 28th, 2007, 12:34 PM   #9
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If the demo is just a sample of what you intend to produce, then be sure you have good lighting, and stick with safe shots. And read all you can in this forum about optimizations to gt a feeling for what to avoid.
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Old April 28th, 2007, 01:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Sheridan View Post
and the consensus was the A1, which I don't think is a bad call.
Probably not, but we can't tell from the information given to us.

I still have to re-ask my question: Why not RENT a Z1U (or XHA1) if it's only meant to serve as demo or preview? That way, you don't need extra time to check and sort everything out, and you both can concentrate on the content. And if the funding would fall through, you wouldn't have to swallow the huge cost that is a new HDV camcorder.
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Old April 28th, 2007, 04:29 PM   #11
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Todd don't worry it will take several hours to charge the battery
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Old April 28th, 2007, 10:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Lashmana View Post
Probably not, but we can't tell from the information given to us.

I still have to re-ask my question: Why not RENT a Z1U (or XHA1) if it's only meant to serve as demo or preview? That way, you don't need extra time to check and sort everything out, and you both can concentrate on the content. And if the funding would fall through, you wouldn't have to swallow the huge cost that is a new HDV camcorder.

these are all valid questions, but alas, i am just the DP. the camera is bought and paid for now and is in the back of a UPS truck somewhere as I type this, so it's kind of a moot point.

we are shooting the entire movie starting this week, and will probably shoot throughout june at least. but the producer wants to start shooting asap because people are looking for a demo asap. but we will continue shooting the entire movie regardless of what funding comes through (the difference will be when i end up getting paid). and, she has intentions to shoot other projects when we are done, so it made sense for her to buy the camera.
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Old April 29th, 2007, 10:23 AM   #13
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Hey Todd,
Go to B+H and try and play with one at the demo stand. The camera isn't too different from what you are used to but there are a couple of things you should know. You can't zoom and focus in manual at the same time. You should try and set up a custom preset and switch the knee to Low for better highlight control. Learn how to use TV mode with exposure lock. HTH
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