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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old November 7th, 2007, 08:59 AM   #1
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RULE of THUMB for an newbie??

OK folks,
here is the deal.
I bought an XL2 2weeks ago mainly to shoot family events. Youth sports, outdoor activities etc..

They day after I purchased the camera, I visited this site and read all I could read. ( I am camera Illiterate, but love it!!)

The next day I shot a 6/7 year old flag football game. I downloaded the "sports" presetting and decided to roll with it. I set the whitebalance, and adjusted the Fstop and shutter speed as bright as I could and to where I just had a little zebra in some bright areas (Sky mainly) The day was extremely, I mean extremely overcast with some drizzle here and there. I have NO idea where the AE or gain was set.

I captured it on my PC with IEEE1394 firewire. The .avi file that played back was outstanding.... It gave me outstanding clarity, the 35 yard Zoomed close ups were terrific very clear and what I like showed good depth. Looked very 3D.

I got lucky..

Game 2 and after reading much more here and there and realising that I did not log my data from game 1 I decided again to go with the sports pre-set but this time I went to "Auto" mode. ( Iam not sure what I did in game 1?)
This time the day was sunny with slight coud cover.) The camera data on my display shows

Gain: +-0db
Aperature: F11
Shutter: 1/300

This clip was not near as good as the first. Most shots are a about 30 yard distance and it seemed that the depth of field was not near as good.

My questions:

1) Since I have erased the tape of game 1 can I dubb it back over and have the camera display the data so I can see were we were? Curretnly it is an .avi file

2) I have read that a small Aperature setting will provide a better depth of field. Could that have been why gm 2 was not as good?. However, my game 2 had the iris at 11 and a slow shutter? This seems backwards?

What are the rules of thumb? as it pertains to aperature and gain?
a.) If I want to really focus on a single focal point with little depth?
b.) If I want to focus on a broad shot to emphasize depth?

Any other suggestions or simple directions for a complete beginer?
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Old November 7th, 2007, 10:08 AM   #2
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I don't understand all your questions, but I'll try to answer them as good as I can:

1. It's better to not re-use tapes or erase them. Just use them, capture your footage, and put them in a closet. They are cheap, so it's not worth the risk.

2. Yes, you can put your file back from the avi file to DV-tape. You connect the camera via firewire (always put in the firewire cable BEFORE you power up the camera) and in your editing program (NLE) you somewhere put it on your timeline and choose Export: Export to Tape.
You should be able to find something like that.

3. Always keep your shutter speed at a certain speed. If you shoot 24p, put it on 1/48. If you shoot normal interlaced (60i), shoot 1/60.
Don't lower this, or you'll get like a cheap slow motion effect (better to do this in postproduction via your computer program).
You can make the shutter speed higher, but you'll get jerky movement, like a bit of the effect in Saving Private Ryan.

4. If you aperture is 11, just put on a ND filter (it's a switch on your lens) and put the iris back at like 5.6 or something. Going for such a high iris number introduces some imaging problems (little ones, I don't know them exactly either).

5. Hold your gain at 0db or -3db, but (if you don't have to) not higher then that. You'll create noise. Only use a higher gain number if you are in a very dark room and you HAVE to get footage (for example, if you see a UFO ;-)) and the iris of 1.6 doesn't give you enough light.

6. An iris of 1.6 will give you a shallow Depth of Field (so backfround will be for example out of focus, foreground will be in focus). This is nice if you want to create cinematic close-ups.
An iris of for example 8, or 11 will give you lots of Depth of Field, so then pretty much everything will be in focus.

7. Tip: shoot manually and try all the settings you can. Don't use Automatic or Automatic Gain. Seems like you're doing good in learning the camera.
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Old November 7th, 2007, 10:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mathieu Ghekiere View Post
3. Always keep your shutter speed at a certain speed. If you shoot 24p, put it on 1/48. If you shoot normal interlaced (60i), shoot 1/60.
Don't lower this, or you'll get like a cheap slow motion effect (better to do this in postproduction via your computer program).
You can make the shutter speed higher, but you'll get jerky movement, like a bit of the effect in Saving Private Ryan.
In terms of "the available scale" those values/setting's seem to be very low. It what type conditions would I need to use the faster setting's. I am guessing a setting that is very well litghted and objected that are moving fast? Sunny day at Nascar race or something??

I have not yet ventured into the interlase type setting's. I really have NO idea what they mean/stand for. Because I have not clue, I just left it on the middle 30.

Quote:
4. If you aperture is 11, just put on a ND filter (it's a switch on your lens) and put the iris back at like 5.6 or something. Going for such a high iris number introduces some imaging problems (little ones, I don't know them exactly either).
I am not sure I follow this? What exactly does the filter do?

Based on what you told me I have been able to reproduce some looks that I was not able to before.

Thanks for all the help.

Instead of the .avi file do you know if I can do the same with a dvd and dvd player?
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Old November 8th, 2007, 03:33 AM   #4
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What do you mean with the dvd and dvd player? From dvd back to DV tape?
Then you'll first have to put it from dvd in your computer editing program (which sometimes involves work arounds) and then via the editing program, export it back to tape.

an ND filter shuts off some incoming light. So you'll image will look darker without you having to put you're iris at 11 or something. Handy if you are on a bright day outside or if you want to shoot with less Depth of Field, so you want to shoot with a iris number of 1.6 or something, and it's over exposed. You click the ND filter on (it's just a switch on the lens, you can try it out) and the image will be some stops lower without altering the iris.

You CAN use a high speed shutter for sports, but the shutter speeds I mentioned will look the most natural to the human eye afterwards.
Try for yourself and look how the movement looks with different shutter speeds.
Maybe you like the fast-shutter speed, I prefer personally to keep it more natural. Athough maybe it can work for certain scenes/sports.

If you shoot sports, it would shoot at 60i (interlaced) and if want the motion to look film-like and have a cinematic flair to it, use 24p.
But for sports, you'll probably prefer 60i interlaced.
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Old November 8th, 2007, 07:39 AM   #5
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Based on your description it sounds like 60i and the slower shutter iswhatI want am looking for.

Saturday, I will be shooting game 3 and the forecast is bright sun. We start at 10:00 am so there may be plenty of light.
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Old November 8th, 2007, 09:07 AM   #6
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60i and a shutter of 1/60 go well together, if I'm not mistaken.
If you have to dial your iris to very high numbers to get a decent exposure, try the ND filter first. Good luck.
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Old November 8th, 2007, 07:28 PM   #7
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Generally speaking, on bright days you will want to use the ND filter, either the 1/6 or 1/32 setting. The XL2 is very efficient with the amount of light it needs, so on bright days the problem is usually TOO MUCH light. On sunny days, I've had both a polarizing filter AND the ND filters in play at the same time.

Second the opinion that the tapes are best considered single-use. I buy them from Sam's Club for less than $3 each in a pack of eight. You can't buy a 24-exposure roll of 35mm film for that cheap.

Because you describe yourself as "camera illiterate," that complicates giving advice. The good news is that DV is cheap, so you can afford to make a few mistakes on non-critical subjects. Play with the camera A LOT, and see what works.

First off, there's nothing wrong with shooting in Auto (the "A" setting). I confess to using it in situations where I have a lot of other things to consider, like when I'm chest-deep in water, trying to keep my footing while stalking frogs, snakes, and dragonflies. In calmer situations, I tend to shoot full manual (the "M" setting).

One thing I have learned to dislike is the automatic gain setting (the "A" position on the Gain knob), especially when shooting manual. It tends to fight me for what I think is the correct "look" for the scene, plus in low light, it cranks up the gain so much that there is pink "snow" in the image. I usually set the gain to 0 or -3, and only go to the +3 through +18 db settings when working in low light. Keep the gain as low as possible: added gain means more image noise, which is usually a bad thing.

If you want to try the manual settings, check out the Zebra Bar function in the manual. What this does is cause a set of diagonal bars to appear in the viewfinder image in the areas that are overexposed. The zebra bars are a lot easier to help you determine the correct aperature and shutter speed in manual than using the built-in exposure meter (also in the viewfinder). Just remember that SOME areas of the image WILL be overexposed in normal use. Setting the exposure so no areas show up as overexposed will just give you a dark image.

I haven't had much use for the spotlight and low-light settings on the function dial. I guess they work, but I usually just switch to manual and adjust the settings to get the image I want in the viewfinder.

Martin
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Old November 20th, 2007, 07:29 AM   #8
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A few other things on shooting sports. I shoot cyclists for training. I shoot outdoors, (in Phoenix....lots of sun) and typically use 1/2000 shutter speed with a frame rate of 30p NOT 60i. The reason for this, is the use of this footage almost always entails single frame stepping so the coach can show the student particular things about his/her technique. Using 30p you get nice clean single frames and at 1/2000 I can even stop their spokes. 60i on the other hand will produce single frames that have interlace artifacts that make them unusable.

I often need to use the autofocus, although I'd rather not. When you are trying to zoom and pan a cyclist going by at 20mph I don't have a 3rd hand to work the focus. For me, because I shoot at 30p, it is double hard because the XL2's autofocus responds slower at 30p vs 60i. I can make it work, but it takes a fair amount of practice.

The real point is there is lots of great info and advice here but your unique situation may take you to different solutions. Explore your camera so you understand what it can/cannot do and couple that with the advice you find here and other places.
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Old November 20th, 2007, 08:58 AM   #9
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That is excellent advice Phil! I agree, the best way to set up the camera in particular unique situations is to test, and then test some more. While the information found here can be extremely helpful, the ultimate decision on whether or not your footage is how you want it must come from within yourself.
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Old November 25th, 2007, 11:16 PM   #10
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UPDATE:

Well I must say that I am finally getting used to this camera and the basic setting's and knowing in advance the "cause and affect" of what I am seeing.

I have been mainly learing the f-stop, shutter speed, ND Filter and gain.

Understanding the angle to the ground level has allowed me to get my initial set up closer at the start. In otherwords if I am looking down on the action I have NO depth of field or skyline so It seems I can open the Iris more. But when I am shooting parallel to the ground I am needing to use the ND filter.

One that I have noticed that I have not figured out yet. Mid day versus early morning. I have read that Mid day is tougher to shoot (for what ever reason with shadows???) However, for me I am shooting around 10:00 am est and in the fall. I am getting what appears to be overexposure on grass blades where the grass is wet from the dew. Because of this I think I am using too much filter. (But not sure??) I can eliminate it, but I lose light. Would a PL filter eliminate this effect?

^^^ above has been project #1 (Outside in sunlight sports shots)

Project #2
I have a neighbor whose son has just made the Highschool Basketball team. (being a better than usual player myself, I have helped the kid the past couple years)

The family has put some serious money down on a personal coach to teach him the "right" way to do thing's. The coach offered the player some "still" photos of the "right" way's just to keep. His parents (close friends of mine) asked me if I could take some "stills" and "video" of him so he can see what he looks like compared to how he has been coached. As it turns out, some of the techniques the coach is teaching are similar to what I was teaching him. So we want to save some money on coaches and give me a trial basketball indoor (Gym) shoot and hopefully improve both of our games.

Later in the season, I am going to shoot some current High School kids that are going to Big time colleges in a couple years (UK 2010) and want to get the setting's down now.

Because this will be used for instructional purpose, I will try Phils recommendation above. However, I am wondering what the shutter of 1/2000 will do to my lighting. I will be indoor's and shooting eye level. So, I expect alot of background (Rather than looking down on the floor). I have not yet seen the background I will have, But I expect it to be "cold" looking. Flouresent lights with white walls that are not getting direct light. Since getting the camera it seems all indoor shots I have taken have been darker than what I want, I can't expect this to be any different? I assume a short focal point and little zoom will be best to maximize this so I am planning to stand just "out of bounds and put my player somewhere inside the free throw line which will make him about 15' from me.

Now later in the year when I shoot the other players. I will need to zoom from one end to another. I expect that will require me to change some thing's.

Any idea's how to pull in enough light and still get some good frames?

Also - What exactly happens in 60i vs 30p or 24p. I understand this is the "frame rate", but what is interlaced?
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Old November 26th, 2007, 12:52 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Godwin View Post
what is interlaced?
See http://www.adamwilt.com/TechDiffs/FieldsAndFrames.html

and http://www.sparkysworld.co.uk/interlacing.htm
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Old December 4th, 2007, 09:00 AM   #12
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Right, that all works in the NTSC camera's.
But now in my PAL camera:
At what shutter-speed do I shoot 25p best
And in 50i? 1/50?
NTSC 24p = 1/48
NTSC 60i = 1/60
The PAL camera does not have a 30-mode, or something else between 25 and 50...

Thijo
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Old December 4th, 2007, 08:02 PM   #13
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You will not be able to shoot 1/2000 indoors. I used that setting outside, at 2pm in Phoenix Az. LOTS and LOTS of sunlight. Indoors is a completely different animal. You will have a much different WB setting. If you want to use Tv setting I would not go much more than 1/60 but indoors I might go with an Av setting and let the camera pick the speed or probably just auto. Depending upon where you position yourself and how much zoom you plan on using depth may or may not be an issue. How close to the action do you plan on shooting?
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Old December 7th, 2007, 10:17 PM   #14
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I am setting up in the corner of a basketball court and will be zooming to the far end and backing out as the action gets close to me.

Last week, I found a basketball tourney in Cincinnati and walked as and asked if I could tape it. They loved me and other than making several DVD's it was a valuable experience.

I was using the Auto Focus and realy struggled at times as I zoomed closer to the action the camera wanted to focus on walls in the background. I assume this is why most experts are in manual focus.

The above mentioned experience is completely opposite from my other basketball games I will be doing. That one was an old gym with windows letting in sun light, yellow tinted walls. My other location is brand new and I visited this week. It is extremely white looking with major lights. I will also have a balcony to shoot from so I think I can limit my depth of field and focal depths by shooting at a downward angle.

I was planning on shooting from the corner, but was wondering how getting a 3x wideangle lens would do if I moved to mid court and panned the horizontals. This would make help my focus problem I believe.

With it being so bright, what would increasing my shutter speed do for me? I am not real sure on how this impacts the output on the screan?
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