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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 May 15th, 2007, 04:48 PM   #1
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Professional Zooming

Let me start out by saying I am very new to video, so please forgive the basic question. I have been shooting stills with Canon film and digital cameras for many years, and am finding the transition to video very exciting, if not a little frustrating at times!

One thing I have noticed with my XH-A1, is that when zooming in or out, the zoom begins and ends rather drastically. On TV and in professional movies, the zoom's start/end is almost imperceptible. I find the result somewhat jarring on the A1.

I have used both the variable and constant zoom rates, but have not yet really found something that's a good as I would like. How do you make your zoom shots smooth?
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Old May 15th, 2007, 05:04 PM   #2
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You need a lanc remote to consistantly control the speed of the zoom.
look into the Canon ZR-2000 and the Canon ZR-1000. i've used the 1000 for years.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 05:08 PM   #3
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Julian, the A1's hand grip zoom rocker is a bit sensitive, but I haven't really had the problems you mention using variable mode. Perhaps you're using the zoom rocker on the handle, which is always constant.

Bill
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Old May 15th, 2007, 06:09 PM   #4
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A trick I have used is to use a constant speed zoom and the rocker control. The dial that can adjust constant speeds comes into play here. Start with the dial at 1 and start your zoom with the rocker, then start to turn up the dial to desired speed and turn it back down to 1 when near completion of the zoom. Assuming that the camera is locked down on a tripod and you use a light touch there is no camera shake.

The resulting zoom starts and ends very smoothly with this method.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 06:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Julian Frost View Post
in professional movies, the zoom's start/end is almost imperceptible. I find the result somewhat jarring on the A1.
That's because 99% of the Zooms you see in movies, are not Zooms.
They are dolly moves.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 06:27 PM   #6
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I think you are asking how to take the edge off the start or finish when using the zoom. In post cut into the zoom after the start and out before the end (with a nice linear light blend (dissolve)) and you will have a smooth clip with no "jarring" at the start or finish. This will allow the clip to appear to seamlessly transition from one image to the other in a fluid motion.
And also since you state you are new to video production my advice is unless this is an effect you are using in your production the less zoom the better.
Nothing gives a novice away more than over using the zoom effect.

good luck and enjoy this digital artform
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Old May 15th, 2007, 07:26 PM   #7
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Eric... hmmm, more equipment to buy! Let's see, Christmas is in December, my birthday in November... :) I'll take a look at the lanc remotes and see what they have to offer.

Bill, yes, I'm using the rocker on the hand-grip, though I haven't tried the technique James mentions, that of changing the speed as I zoom. I think I'll give that a shot before buying a lanc.

David, yes, you're probably exactly right, they're using dolly moves. I rather doubt most of the forum members use dollies, though, or am I wrong?

Dan, yes you're right, it is the sudden start and stop at the beginning and end of the zoom that bothers me. It looks too, "mechanical". You give a good suggestion about editing the zoom in post. I'll definitely give that a try. Oh, and don't worry, over-use of the zoom annoys the heck out of me too!

Thanks everyone for your suggestions.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 05:44 AM   #8
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Nothing gives a novice away more than over using the zoom effect.

Sound advice Dan.
I find zooming, tilting and panning simultaneously can sometimes work quite well if you've got a decent head on your tripod, but broadly speaking avoid the temptation to touch the zoom. I'm frequently tempted to do the odd Zoom but very rarely do they make it into my FCP timeline. I usually keep mine on high speed so i can fram the shot more quickly.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 06:27 AM   #9
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Hi there

Some good advice there... zooming and shaky video points to amateur style so less is more here...

However to keep audio continuity, assuming lip sync is not an issue, I often zoom to reframe and cut it out in post to make it a clean cut, shifting the audio in the time line where necessary...

With the Z1 you can get fantastic slow zooms using the shot transistion function... these are far more contriolled and progressive than I could do...

Finally a zoom i use is the snap or crash zoom... this can be done and is not too intrusive if the action merits it...

There are rules but these are made to be broken so experiment an see what looks cool..

Regards
Gareth
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Old May 16th, 2007, 06:37 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by David W. Jones View Post
That's because 99% of the Zooms you see in movies, are not Zooms.
They are dolly moves.
What is the advantage of a dollying, over zooming?

Also, how do you identify a dolly shot from a zoom? I believe I rad something once, but can't remember.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 07:19 AM   #11
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the dolly shot is very different than the zoom.

The dolly shot means the camera physically moves in relation to the subject you are shooting - the expensive sets have tracks set up and the camera and operator move along those tracks to keep the motion smooth.

They are much more natural as they move as we might, towards something, or travelling beside an object, ie following alongside the subject

you will be able to identify a dolly over a zoom by the perspective behind the subject - do a simple test with your camera - walk towards a subject, then go back and zoom towards the same place - and you'll see a very different view in the frame

you can use cheats for this, cheapman's version of expensive tracking - shopping cart, wheelchair, rollerblades, warehouse dollys (can't think of the real name) but i've seen pics of filmmakers holding the camera, leaning back on one of these, while the person behind pushes them - anything on wheels basically and usually 2 people to pull it off

I just picked up a wheelchair at a garage sale this weekend for this exact purpose

below is a quick link explanation
http://www.peachpit.com/articles/art...&seqNum=5&rl=1

another that covers all the lingo on shots/angles

http://www.mediaknowall.com/camangles.html

another interesting resource on camera angles when i was googling

http://www.tvcrit.com/Illustrations/Ch06/index.htm
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Old May 16th, 2007, 07:36 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Paul Cascio View Post
What is the advantage of a dollying, over zooming?

Also, how do you identify a dolly shot from a zoom? I believe I rad something once, but can't remember.
The human eye doesn't zoom, so the "look" of a zoom is much less natural than a dolly shot. It therefore calls attention to the camera work, instead of letting the viewer concentrate on the subject.

Zooms should, in general, be avoided.

The lenses of pro video cameras have much better zoom controls than our handheld prosumer types. The zoom rocker is a true servo zoom, with infinitely variable speed, and the zoom drive can be disengaged entirely to allow manual zoom control.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 07:50 AM   #13
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Just to add on zooms. I have been paying more attention to docs shot in HD for pbs etc. And the one zoom that seems to be used quite a bit is the zoom out. They start in close on something, then pull back and reveal. For some reason that look isn't as bad.

But a pbs documentary approach is very different from a film treatment. So it depends on your final product. Run and gun, in your face news style documentaries also use quick zoom-in effects, and seem to get away with it. I just watched 'Control Room' (doc shot during the first few months of the Iraq war from the Arab news control room set up with all the visiting news groups) and the camera work was at times very bad, blown out whites, focusing on the fly, quick unsteady pans, zooms, etc but for that format, it was acceptable and almost lended to the stressy immediacy of the situation.

So as unnatural as they can be, in context, zooms do have their place.

trish
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Old May 16th, 2007, 09:38 AM   #14
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You can make smooth zooms with the Canon if you adjust the zoom control. It even has an auto feathering feature so you don't have to do it yourself.

However, there's nothing that shouts "Industrial in-house video!" like a zoom. I agree with the above comment that you can get by with some in some instances, but the best rule-of-thumb is to use the zoom for the purpose of changing focal length and shoot plenty of head and tail on every zoom so the editor can cut out the zoom part.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 10:14 AM   #15
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I love this place

I learn so much here. Thanks to all.
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