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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old May 13th, 2008, 05:10 AM   #1
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XL2 vs DVX100 series: "the look"

I have an XL2, and have used the DVX100 series a fair amount.

So, over time, having used the XL2 a fair amount, I notice there is a certain something I am not getting visually that was always easy with the DVX when I used it. It's a subtle something, can't really put my finger on it, but most apparent when dealing with skin tones.

I did some talking head interviews for a documentary several years ago with the DVX, and even though the background on one of them is pretty crap, they still look magnificent, to me. There is something very high-end, elegant, "cinematic", blah blah, about the look. I lit them nice as well, of course, but still, there is something specific to the way the cam renders colors/saturation/etc. that I can't quite pinpoint that I haven't been achieving with the XL2.

Sometimes I am blown away by my footage, but when I do something with people being the primary subject, there is a quality to skin tones that is not quite pleasing. Someone in another thread described it as a "mushy pink quality" and they are absolutely right. . .the camera tends to do this in a lot of situations.

I believe that you can match the XL2 to that DVX-y look (within reason, since the DVX can push contrast, color saturation, and color balance/white balance to more extreme degrees than the XL2), I just don't know exactly how to do it.

I did some tests (I have something else I need to work on, but if I'll upload footage when I can), footage of just me, with a chimera keying me and a edgy/fill/kicker light, didn't care about the background, just trying different settings. It seems like the key lies in the way the XL2 handles reds, and possibly in color saturation. Moving the color phase toward green seemed to help the most. Using the cine color matrix appeared more pleasing at the time.

Just wondering if anyone shares this frustration or has any tips/solutions/etc. I don't usually have too much time do mess with this stuff on set, where it counts, as I'm usually pressed for time when I actually have a shoot with the camera, so it'd be neat if next time I had some things to try on a shoot.

I can't believe I was able to find this. I used the settings (within small variations) on the DVFilm site. DVFilm is a company out of Austin that specializes in DV to Film transfers (or did back in 2004 and 2005). So I used the settings from their site on the DVX, when we did this documentary:

# DETAIL LEVEL = -3 (see note 1)
# CHROMA LEVEL = 0
# CHROMA PHASE = 0
# COLOR TEMP = 0
# MASTER PED = -6 (see note 2)
# A. IRIS LEVEL = -1
# GAMMA = CINE-LIKE (for DVX100A use CINE-LIKE-V)
# SKIN TONE DTL = OFF
# MATRIX = NORMAL
# V DETAIL FREQ = THIN
# PROGRESSIVE = 24P(ADV) for NTSC / 25P for PAL models

Thanks.
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Old May 14th, 2008, 02:38 AM   #2
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Yeah, every DP I know is crazy about Panasonic. To me the DVX looks way over saturated. The picture is prettier, sure, but to me the XL2 looks closer to what the subject actually looked like. Apparently most people don't want that.
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Old May 14th, 2008, 03:55 AM   #3
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You think it's oversaturated? To me, that cam always made very naturalistic tones, if your chroma gain (or whatever it's called on there) was set to neutral. I did notice that if you push it, your reds bleed much faster than other colors. Shooting outside on a rainy, nasty day, I boosted the color saturation just to put some punch back into the image, and noticed upon reviewing it that anywhere a real saturated red was present, super bleed-y.
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Old May 14th, 2008, 12:44 PM   #4
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I don't mean to say that the colors are oversaturated to the point of being a problem. I just don't think the picture looks like real life. When I look at XL2 footage in a monitor it's looks like the subject really looks. With the DVX and HVX it looks prettier than the real thing, and okay, maybe you could figure that saves you time in post, but me, I want to start with the neutral image.
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Old May 14th, 2008, 02:14 PM   #5
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interesting. Do you mean with the DVX with its color gain at 0 (neutral), it's already over-saturated, to you taste?
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Old May 14th, 2008, 03:50 PM   #6
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Yup. To me anyway.
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Old July 8th, 2008, 01:39 PM   #7
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If I can continue this thread...I'm shooting a music concert with an XL2 and a DVX100B (don't ask) shooting 16:9 and 60i. Anway, I know the XL2 (and miniDV for that matter) doesn't like the reds, so I bring the Red Gain down a bit and crush the blacks a bit...will that match up well with the DVX?

Thanks,

Jonathan
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Old July 8th, 2008, 01:47 PM   #8
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The DVX100b doesn't shoot real 16:9. . .or are you letterboxing a 4:3 image from the XL2 to match it? Otherwise you'll have one image that originated at 960x480 (though it'll end up 720x480) an another that originated at 720 by 480. Even if they're both 16:9 in the final product, one should look a little softer/lower res.


I found I was getting much better tones on the XL2 (i.e. less "mushy pink") by using cine color matrix, and moving the color phase toward green a few notches. I also found a pleasant look by setting the blacks to press, but leaving the gamma on video instead of cine. So you get a rich, contrasty look without it being too contrasty. I shot a recital in a church, using just their lighting, and it came out pretty nice.
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Old July 8th, 2008, 02:12 PM   #9
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I don't know I can get some pretty surreal saturated looking tones on my XL2. This is a pretty good example I think. I haven't even messed with this in post, but it has a strange look to it.

http://photos-h.ak.facebook.com/phot...38767_2670.jpg
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Old July 8th, 2008, 02:31 PM   #10
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That is nice! Yes, it handles some things very well, like greenery. My issue was basically with skin tones.
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Old July 8th, 2008, 05:37 PM   #11
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Thanks for the quick reply, Josh...

I've shot a few concerts with the XL2 at different venues with different settings/outcomes.

Following links I shot 24p w/o any changes to the settings. The band's lighting was REALLY low and muted. Wasn't too happy about the 24p, though:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=NpVWoF57sZg
http://youtube.com/watch?v=XGmnDoAHaoI

Next link is same band, different venue. This was a 2 camera shoot, the XL2 (with pressed blacks and lowered red value) 16:9 30p...and the 2nd camera is a Sony Betacam (don't remember which model) shooting 16:9 60i. Starting with the first shot, every other shot is the XL2 (3rd shot, 5th shot, 7th shot, etc).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXqIxzeS460

As for the DVX100B, I knew it doesn't shoot native 16:9, but isn't there a setting on it that is like an Anamorphic or something (I've only shot with it a couple times a few years ago). For editing purposes (in Final Cut Pro), since the XL2 is actually the 960x480, do I use the standard 4:3 timeline and change the distort value (but it'll have black bars on the left/right sides on a 16:9 TV) or the Anamorphic timeline?

I want the whole shoot to be 16:9 (using the same XL2 and Betacam as before, but adding the DVX100B. Is it possible?

Thanks,

Jonathan
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Old July 8th, 2008, 08:06 PM   #12
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Seems like if you shoot in anamorphic mode, you'll use a real 16:9 timeline. The issue though, is that you'll still have two different resolution images. If that's okay with you then go for it.
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Old July 8th, 2008, 09:31 PM   #13
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Thanks again for the info, Josh.

How bad is the difference going to be? Is there any way to compare it to anything? Is it something that we, as professionals, are obviously going to notice, but not the untrained eye? Unfortunately, I don't have time between now and Thursday to test it out.

Jonathan
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Old July 8th, 2008, 10:03 PM   #14
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That I couldn't tell you, I've never a/b'd it before. I do know that when I shot my short film in widescreen on the XL2, I had a lot of shots of a particular actor that I zoomed in in post (by quite a bit), and because of the higher resolution, you could barely tell, even on a large screen. On the other hand, when doing the same with a 4:3 originated signal, you see it soften pretty quickly. I don't know if that helps you at all.
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Old July 9th, 2008, 09:36 AM   #15
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A little bit, although I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be doing any scaling in post. I think I'll try the Squeeze mode and see how that turns out. Thanks for your help.

Jonathan
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