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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 June 9th, 2007, 04:06 AM   #1
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a simple question

I have posted this question on the Presets forum, but have not as yet had a reply that convinces me.

I have just been experimenting with various presets that have been posted on these forums and some that I have created and as yet I have not found the advantage of shooting with a preset. It just seems to complicate a shooting process. For example if I set the camera up with a preset to add more contrast on a dull day, and the sun pops out then that footage will end up looking over contrasty - unless of course I remember to select preset No. XX which has been set up to reduce contrast etc. This way of working would seem to get in the way of a smooth shooting session.

Here are my original postings and a reply from Chris Hurd.


1st post

I have just been experimenting with some of the custom presets posted here, and some are very good - others can be safely left out.

My question is, what advantage do the presets offer?. Surely wouldn't it be better to make any adjustments in your NLE app. Using Premiere and a Matrox RTX2 card I can save any permutation and apply it to any clip. In stills photography we shoot in RAW and apply post production to the images, shouldn't we do the same with SD/HD video?

Or am I missing some vital point.




Reply from Chris Hurd

It's basically a time-saver, to avoid having to do this process in post... for example, same-day edits in wedding videography.
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Thanks Chris,

The point I was trying to bring to the fore is, once you have made your corrections to the actual video, would it affect any future post production work.

As I mentioned in my post, for stills photography we shoot in RAW format, this means nothing has been added to the file (sharpening, colour boost, jpeg compression etc.) so we have a open file on which we can apply all the corrections.

Going back to the video question, if we apply any custom presets to the video, have we in effect taken the quality off track should we want to apply any other adjustment in post. For example, if I sharpen the movie in a preset, then surely that has been applied to the file (video) and my options in post are therefore limited as far as sharpening are concerned.

From your answer, it would seem that a custom preset is a handy quick fix solution, but may limit future post production tweaks. Or have I got this wrong.

Thanks
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Old June 9th, 2007, 05:34 AM   #2
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My take is some of the possible adjustments may not work as well using the capability of a NLE as they do in the camcorder, some may add significant rendering time if done in an NLE, and depending on the specific NLE and its filters/effects some may not be available in a meaningful way. Also some effects, especially gain-based effects, may work better if applied prior to A/D conversion.

Keep in mind the image read off tape is already compressed (no such thing as a RAW image possible), so you want to have the image as close to the final product as is practicable as you take it compression. This can help reduce artifacts in the final product. And as Chris noted, it can be a significant time saver. With stills, you work one image at a time, with video you work a stream of images.

Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so a preset one person finds valuable for their work may prove of no interest to another due to different shooting environments, and/or artistic intent. Part of this is knowing, for your circumstances, which filters and effects you can achieve better in post than in camera.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 10:09 AM   #3
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One thing I do that works well with that contrast issue is have two presets that are the same, but one has the blacks pressed. I use that for normal conditions, then switch quickly to the one with blacks normal for more contrasty situations.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 10:13 AM   #4
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Bill,

That's a smart solution.
I'm going to use youe tip immediately.

Thanks,

David
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Old June 9th, 2007, 01:25 PM   #5
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Really depends on what you're doing with the footage. If you're shooting a quick interview for a corporate client, etc. and do not want to do a lot of color correction work then use a preset you like.

If you're doing a film style project then typically speaking you would want to avoid using any preset that added too much contrast, color, etc. (shoot "flat" as it is often called) - just like you mention shooting RAW in still work - you do all your correction and grading in post.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 03:34 PM   #6
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Thank you for your replies. I have never heard the phrase "shoot Flat" before and this makes a lot of sense to me. I use the Matrox RTX2 card and have a set of predefined corrections which are applied to the footage in my NLE, but I can tweak the predefined settings to suit the subject matter in my shoot. This happens in real time so I don't have to wait for rendering etc.

I guess my gut feeling about using camera presets is correct, leave them off unless you need to do a quick overall correction for some short news or interview footage.

Thank you
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Old June 9th, 2007, 04:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent Oliver View Post
I guess my gut feeling about using camera presets is correct, leave them off unless you need to do a quick overall correction for some short news or interview footage.
Don made a pretty good argument in favor of the other point of view, I think.

I'd argue for more or less the opposite position from what some others have suggested here. I'd say that if anything, the image adjustments in the custom presets are more useful in planned shooting situations than they can be under more impromptu conditions. If you're shooting a scripted narrative piece, for example, then you should have a pretty good idea of what you want your footage to look like before you ever shoot it--you have the luxury of pre-production planning in this case. If you already know what you want, I think it's better to do it in the camera before the compression takes place--for the reasons that Don discussed earlier, and because it will force you to think ahead. Planning and forward thinking are the cheapest and simplest ways to ensure quality, in my experience.

If you're shooting something you can't plan as well for, then you'll end up wanting as much flexibility as you can get when you go to edit (even if the flexibility comes with the cost of added compression artifacts in some cases), so "shooting flat" makes much more sense to me in these kinds of cases.

It just depends on what makes sense to you; I'm simply pointing out that not everyone sees this kind of thing in the same way.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 07:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
If you're shooting something you can't plan as well for, ...
However, if shooting something you have done many time before (weddings, receptions, and similar events) you have a pretty good idea what the situation will be, and can use presets to great advantage; e.g., noise reduction for low light situation is a significant help. And event work is one where there is a very tight time budget for work in post, so to the extent you can edit in camera while shooting, you save time later.

Lots of options with the XH models. You gotta do what works for you.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 09:57 AM   #9
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Hi

I agree, that the XH's preset options are a useful feature - not more and not less. I'm doing 'bread and butter' ENG Stuff most of the time. It took me one session with a good monitor and the advice of an experienced cinematographer to develop ONE preset that covers 80-90% of all shooting situations in a satisfying way. Fortunately, it never happened to me, that a network tech said something like: "Uh... Nice pic, but why didn't you use preset nr. 125xyz?"
At the end of the day, other aspects are more imortant for the total quality of a film.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 11:07 AM   #10
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i use 4 different presets regularly for different situations. i find them useful. saves me a lot of time. i also feel that, by playing with the presets and the customization features, you learn the parameters and nuances of your camera more intimately, ergo you learn to be a better shooter. so at the very least, it's a teaching tool, at best it is a time-saver. and fun to play with. during those times when i am just having fun and fussing with my camera and not shooting for a client, it's just plain fun to mess around with different looks and different settings. personally, i don't see a big boundary between "useful" and "fun." it's fun to push the limits of the camera, and this camera has some pretty large limits....

usually, if it is a client shoot, we are using more than one camera. if we shoot more than one camera, then we shoot the factory settings and adjust in the editor.

there's a ton of different workflows and different tools for both shooting and editing. if you've found one that works flawlessly for you, that's excellent. we have our biz workflow, and that's one thing, but then there are my mad scientist experiments, some of which get integrated into the workflow and some of which get scrapped. i am far from exhausting the possibilities of this camera. i'm just getting started with it.

if i ever get bored with the mad scientist experiments, i'll find another line of work.
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