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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old February 6th, 2008, 10:33 PM   #1
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filming golf balls trajectory / hits

I've been asked to video the trajectory and landing of golf balls as they "hit" in a particular area - this is related to legal case between a owner of a multimillion dollar home on the leg of a golf course and the association of the course... the problem is the balls are being hit over the house but many are not making it so the homeowner is looking for video evidence to use in conjunction with pictures of damage to show his plight..

My question is - is the XL2 capable of this kind of high speed shooting given proper daylight / keeping the sun behind us, using the stock 20x lens or maybe a wide angle lens, using high shutter speeds, and doing some post in AFX to slow that footage down enough to show the ball hitting / landing?

Having little experience shooting high speed I wonder how the pros do it for the golf shows - probably using much different cameras I assume... I do plan on doing a test but any tips would be great unless i am completely barking up the wrong tree with this camera...
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Old February 8th, 2008, 02:29 AM   #2
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Fore!

Hi Rob,

Hmm, while we don't have enough information to answer your question, I'd be surprised if even the Canon XL-2 with a 20X lens would provide anything close to the video you'd see on a golf sports channel. Variables you haven't discussed are the weather conditions, length of the golf shot, distance from the camera to the golf ball, and factors influencing light reaching the camera's CCD (shutter speed, iris aperture, ND filter, etc).

But I think we can safely say that using a wide-angle lens, you won't see anything longer than a putt or chip shot traversing the green.

Good luck, Michael
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Old February 8th, 2008, 03:57 AM   #3
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Hi Rob...........

I agree with Michael, you're chances of getting this with an XL 2 are about the same as winning the lottery.

I've watched some golf on telly (out of sheer unadulterated boredom) and wondered how, in the name of &*^%, they can get that ball in mid flight at the ranges they do, and, guess what?

I still haven't got a clue. Couldn't get 'em with my A1 HDV camera in a fit.

What cameras and what lenses they use I can only guess at, but not something you're likely to have access to in the next month or two at the local camera store.

Worse - the shots the channels get are set up, ready to go and well timed - the ones you're hoping to get are random, out of the blue and totally unpredictable.

Sorry, I think you're on a hiding to nothing unless you think laterally around this problem.

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Old February 8th, 2008, 05:52 AM   #4
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Just as a matter of interest, and nothing to do with video techniques, was the golf course there when the guy moved into his house?
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Old February 8th, 2008, 08:51 AM   #5
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Actually if your talking about following the golf ball from the tee to the green and zooming in and showing it during flight and then zooming out as it lands on (or near) the green, like you see on the network broadcasts, then the answer is yes the xl-2 can do this. I shot golf with mine a month or so ago, honestly not everyone can follow a golf ball. I have been shooting sports for 20+ years and can do this, as well as follow a baseball, hockey pucks and so on. It takes a lot of practice.

Simply put the xl-2 can do this, then it's up to it's operator.
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Old February 8th, 2008, 08:54 AM   #6
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why does he need a camera, he just grabs the ball fallen in his garden and if there are some hit on wall or elsewhere, a close picture with a simple digital camera should be ok...
but if he is so rich , you can propose him to associate US army and use a satellite to get the ball tracked from space. That looks very more serious...
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Old February 8th, 2008, 08:59 AM   #7
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Hi all - ...I do not have a high level of confidence with this particular equipment to get what the customer wants as confirmed by everybodies replies. To carry this thread a little bit further, the course was there when he moved in - its about ten times a million dollar home - one bay window to replace is $45,000 so he is very interested in fixing the problem.

There's is way too much background info to go into beyond that since it would seem obvious to pursue other solutions rather than this route - Currently the customers are living under nets and after five years of attempts at simpler solutions (landscaping with trees, changing some features of that particular hole with the course architect, etc, they are entering a new stage of the dispute.

The objective really is to film someone hitting that ball and to show it hitting the house somewhere (they are not interested in the hitter either). Really, I think that if we captured the ball hitting the house somehow, then the high speed, tracking shot of the ball going through the air is not important either (I think the hitting of th house is the most important part)

...According to the customer, this happens at every tournament... So I was thinking of setting up several cameras at key locations: one facing the hitter with the 20x lens from down the fareway (with my hardhat on) to grab the initial shot and several facing the house at key landing zones using a wide field of view (wide angle lens) since we dont know exactly where it may hit.

So let's assume that it will hit this house within a given day as the customer asserts and let's assume that a camera is rolling at that time as the ball enters the field of view (using a wide angle 3x lens or something else on the cams facing the house to maximize the field of view since we don't know where the hit will occur). Lets say it hits the roof and then bounces down into their courtyard into the pool or something. The sun is at a 45 degree angle to the cams that are facing the house and the timefram is somewhere between 9-11 a.m...

I am wondering before even trying a test run, would we even see this ball coming through the frame or bouncing off the house? Common sense tells me that this is really a job for high speed cameras and most eveybody here seems to agree....

Aside from the serious question, this is rather unusal job for us ... I have visions of hardhats on my cameras!
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Old February 8th, 2008, 09:08 AM   #8
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Mark - thanks for your input - I was hoping to hear from someone who has shot golf with the XL2. Of course the skill of the operator has lots to do with the job too. As everyone mentions, I also think there are better solutions to this problem but this is what his law firm suggests, so he is asking the questions and therefore I am doing the same before I get in too deep. I am NOT a practiced sports or fast action shooter and therefore I would have trouble tracking a ball through the air i am sure. But as I think about this, I think again that the real score would be to see the ball hitting the house somehow. So assuming that it will hit the house on a given day, how to best use this equipment, if it's even possible, to catch that moment.

I am asking really to see if anyone with experience has used these cameras to "see" a landing shot. Obviously, if it just looks like a blur and can't even be slowed down in post enough to make out the hit then it's a waste of time for all...
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Old February 8th, 2008, 09:24 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Giroud Francois View Post
why does he need a camera, he just grabs the ball fallen in his garden and if there are some hit on wall or elsewhere, a close picture with a simple digital camera should be ok...
but if he is so rich , you can propose him to associate US army and use a satellite to get the ball tracked from space. That looks very more serious...
Giroud, in all seriousness, he mentioned getting more info on setting up high speed tracking cameras like those used to track weapons hitting targets but would rather start simple(er) first before adding various camera pods and retrofitting his roofline with these cameras. He would rather put the money toward the solution than toward the case (in his words)... I tend to agree on trying the simpler, cheaper approach first but in good form, I would not feel comfortable sitting on a site all day without a resasonable feeling that I could get the shot needed. I think a simple test would be in order just to see what some landing shots would look like in a video from the XL2s. I read somewhere else that HDV cameras would offer better resolution but possibly more artifacting in post due to the compression schemes used to put that extra info on miniDV tape...
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Old February 8th, 2008, 09:50 AM   #10
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To help increase the chances of seeing the ball, you could use fluorescent orange ones - they will contrast very well against a grey/white/blue sky.

I would expect that if you use multiple camera angles that you'd need some way of proving that the composite sequence is unadulterated. Same with collecting balls from within the house's boundaries.

(Personally, though, I think this is a case of caveat emptor. Bullet-proof glass might be a way forward for our rich friend. I wonder if he plays golf on that course?)

Oh - a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the ball will be travelling at about 1 meter per frame prior to landing.
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Old February 8th, 2008, 12:34 PM   #11
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Rob, if you turn up the shutter speed say 1/500 when you slow it down you will see the golf ball in flight and hit the hose with certainity that it is a ctually a golf ball.

Also since you are using this for legal purposes make sure you burn in the date and time on the video.

Also for legal purposes it's better to shoot from 1 camera following the ball as this happens instead of editing.

it's less convincing if there is editing involved, ask any of the legal videographers on this site and they'll tell you for sure on the editing process.
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Old February 8th, 2008, 01:08 PM   #12
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Good point, Mark. I understand that legal videograpers use analog video in the courtroom so it's clear the video wasn't edited.
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Old February 8th, 2008, 02:31 PM   #13
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you could ask the people in Tennis world. They have now some systems to track the high speed ball and reconstruct trajectory. Since the place the shot is issued is probably always the same or in the same angle, it should be possible to set some detection system.
the all this seems silly. if really some ball hit the house or fall in the private zone, counting them should be enough to prove the disturbance. (each month you bring back the bucket of balls and ask 1000$ per ball).
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Old February 8th, 2008, 03:15 PM   #14
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With a blue sky, I can follow a golf ball from a couple hundred yards away with my Z1. Of course, the ball will be pretty tiny in the frame but it is definitely visible. The reason PGA cameraguys are able to follow the ball so well is because they know the line the ball will follow - it's when a ball gets shanked that they sometimes lose the shot for a moment. Their monitors are also far better resolution and I don't know exactly how to describe this but they apparently have a monitor chroma setting that helps the ball pop out from the background.

I don't know if this is particularly relevant to the topic but I just wanted to say that yes, you can follow a golf ball with an XL2 (just not zoomed in as far as on TV).
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Old February 8th, 2008, 03:44 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Mark Utley View Post
With a blue sky, I can follow a golf ball from a couple hundred yards away with my Z1. Of course, the ball will be pretty tiny in the frame but it is definitely visible. The reason PGA cameraguys are able to follow the ball so well is because they know the line the ball will follow - it's when a ball gets shanked that they sometimes lose the shot for a moment. Their monitors are also far better resolution and I don't know exactly how to describe this but they apparently have a monitor chroma setting that helps the ball pop out from the background.

I don't know if this is particularly relevant to the topic but I just wanted to say that yes, you can follow a golf ball with an XL2 (just not zoomed in as far as on TV).
I watch the camera operators every year when the PGA tour is here in Dallas. They will have a mini (on course handheld) on the sticks about 320 yards down the fairway off to one side. I've watched the operator track the tee shot all the way to landing. The optimal launch angle is around 13 degrees for a ball off the tee and that seems to be about how far up I see the tilt.

The stationary cameras have much longer zoom ratios and larger monitors such as you'd see in a studio application.

The 20x on the XL2 would get you nice and close from 340 yards away.

-gb-
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