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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old November 8th, 2004, 12:55 AM   #1
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Slow motion of birds in flight?

I have tried several settings filming small birds like titmouse, sparrow etc. Playing back in slow motion I would like to see the wing as sharp as possible.
The stroke of the wings are very fast and I find it hard to figure out the right settings for shutter speed, aparture etc., what record mode to use: TV, AV, Manual..., frame rate 50i or 25p (PAL), to get the best result with XL2 and 20x lens.

Have anybody tried this and what settings did you use? I know that light conditions are of importance!

Apreciate any recommondation!

- Per Johan
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Old November 8th, 2004, 10:40 AM   #2
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I am wondering if what you are trying to achieve is even possible for the XL2. Typically high speed cameras would be employed to capture something of this nature. At the end of the day the most you will ever capture with the XL2 is 60 temporal images a second and that would be field based. I don't know the facts for sure but a hummingbird, for example, probably flaps its wings at that speed if not faster. In essence you probably can't get real good slow motion of something that fast without shooting at several hundred frames per second.
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Old November 8th, 2004, 11:07 AM   #3
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Adding to what Marty wrote, if there are adequate -- that is to say, bright -- lighting conditions, you can open your aperture and speed up the shutter to get sharp images on each field / frame. But you won't get smooth, sequential, flowing slow motion because there are too few frames compared to the movement of the wings.

The best you might hope for is an effect something on the order of the wheels of a forward-moving car seeming to stop or rotate backwards on film/video. Maybe if you shoot enough takes, you'll get lucky and the timing of the wingbeats and the video fields will line up adequately. But that would be a combination of patience, luck, and very bright lighting to allow the very fast shutter speeds needed.

You can shoot something that moves more or less linearly, eg a pan left-to-right, but unless someone has a real trick up their sleeve, rapidly rotating or oscillating objects can't really be done in true super-slow motion on any equipment that most of us can afford.
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Old November 8th, 2004, 11:33 AM   #4
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Here's a thought. Don't know if it will work but you could perhaps use the 'clear scan' mode used for shooting computer screens. It says it's adjustable from 60hz to 202.5hz. Maybe the 202.5 coupled with a fast shutter speed would get more of the motion.

I may have to test this out.

=gb=
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Old November 8th, 2004, 12:24 PM   #5
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<<<-- Originally posted by Greg Boston : Here's a thought. Don't know if it will work but you could perhaps use the 'clear scan' mode used for shooting computer screens. It says it's adjustable from 60hz to 202.5hz. Maybe the 202.5 coupled with a fast shutter speed would get more of the motion.

I may have to test this out.

=gb= -->>>

I think clearscan is the shutter speed! IN other word it is essentially matching the shutterspeed to a monitor or tv. I don't think this will help out much. Especially since the actual shutter settings go way faster.....1/1000 and up? You still will only end up with 60 1/2 res images that are really tight with little motion blur because of the high shutter speed.
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Old November 8th, 2004, 12:27 PM   #6
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Per, In my view your question makes sense although as Marty already says the Xl2 is not an optimal tool for this. Anyhow, this is what to do: Set your camera into progressive mode (50p) and select as short shutter speed as you ever can.

To minimize the shutter speed add gain, and if you do not mind about noise, put gain to maximum, and in addition, you may want to try the Noise reduction from the menu setting.

I've been filming hawks, and it's amazing how much the wing moves in a 1/300s.
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Old November 9th, 2004, 04:34 AM   #7
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Thanks everybody for your response!
Lauri: I gonna try your suggestion

- Per Johan
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Old November 9th, 2004, 04:36 AM   #8
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I would shoot at interlaced with a high as shutter speed as you
can (given the light), this should give you the least amount of
motion blur and the highest resolution both temporal (ie 50
samples per second instead of 25).

Lauri: the camera does not have a 50p (progessive mode), but
25p or 50i (interlaced). I would not go with 25p in this case since
the chip will sample 50% times less in a second. Yes, in interlaced
the spatial resolution is also reduced in half, but the XL2 has a
lot of this (and sharpness), so in my guess slowing the footage
down by 50% and converting it to progressive at the same time
should yield excellent results (for the lack of a real high speed
camera).
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Old November 9th, 2004, 05:28 AM   #9
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<<<-the camera does not have a 50p (progessive mode), but
25p or 50i (interlaced). I would not go with 25p in this case since
the chip will sample 50% times less in a second. Yes, in interlaced
the spatial resolution is also reduced in half, but the XL2 has a
lot of this (and sharpness), -->>>

Rob, thanks, a mistake, I meant of course 25p.

What comes to progressive/interlaced mode, Per wants to view birds in slow motion. In my experience, if the camera is set to interlaced mode, you do not have a single sharp picture of a bird (unless the bird is staying steady). Instead, you get one half of the image on the first half frame and the other on the latter half frame. If the shutter speed is 1/50s, the motion is blurred, and if the shutter speed is short, then, say in every second line the wing appears in the upper part of the image, and every other line has the wing in the bottom part. The composition (i.e., the frame) makes no reasonable image, and playing it slower does not improve the situation.

The progressive mode is closer to taking photos with a high speed SLR camera --say 10 frames per second-- and I think this is what Per wants to do. And indeed, one can easily make beautiful animations of SLR pictures representing flying birds. So, if you have 25 frames per second in the Xl2, all the better.

Amount of light is obviously a problem in getting fully stopped images of birds.
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Old November 9th, 2004, 05:36 AM   #10
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Lauri: that's true, but depends on your viewing media. If the
output is TV or broadcast then you will not have this. Since Per
indicated he wants to do slowmotion you can do this better with
interlaced material since you have 50 (half) frames per second to
work with instead of 25.

So if you are going to slow your footage by 50% then you will
convert it to progressive and you will not have the problem you
have described and you should have a clearer picture of the
action. Ofcourse keep the shutter high with such shoots!

Converting interlaced to progressive with slow motion has been
discussed a lot of times on this board already. If you do not want
to do slow motion and you need still frames then by all means
use progressive.
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Old November 9th, 2004, 06:43 AM   #11
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Per,

I have shot Hummingbirds at 1/15,000 down to 1/4,000 of a second with excellent results, using my XL-1s. They were done in bright sun conditions. I would suggest that it would be dubious footage, in any other light condition.

I shoot in movie mode.

Depth of Field is catch as catch can, since you are dealing with subjects of just some several inches (centimeters) in breth and width. Therefore, I don't worry much about what f-stop is necessary. The shutter speed mandates that.

I white ballance for the scene, and, than, await my subject(s).

I find that shooting cross light as best, since it tends to dispay the irridesence of bird feathers to their fullest. I carry a small white window shade to use as a fill light.

I am not computer literate enough to send you a minute or so. But at the top, center, and bottom of the birds wing motion, feathers are almost stilled.

I repeat the term: almost. (I would guestimate that 1/60k or better would be needed to do the job). The hummer's wing motion are hundreds of times faster than the birds that you are shooting. And they fly foreward, backward, instant up/down & sidways!

With a slower wing motion such as you are shooting, I can't understand why you have not achived your goal.

On the other hand, if you are only having your subject fill 1/3 or less of the frame, you will not have enought image detail, captured by ANY mode that you use, to satisfy your needs. It just isn't there. Off hand, it's about the only case where film does beat out video.

How about sending me some of your shoot settings? Maybe I can help out.
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Old November 9th, 2004, 07:52 AM   #12
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<<<-- Converting interlaced to progressive with slow motion has been discussed a lot of times on this board already. If you do not want to do slow motion and you need still frames then by all means use progressive. -->>>

Rob, got your point now. Indeed, I was implicitly thinking of creating the slow motion with cross dissolve not by slowing down the progressive mode. In this particular case, I think, cross dissolve creates a better outcome.
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Old November 9th, 2004, 08:57 AM   #13
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Cross dissolve? How are you creating slow motion with a cross
dissolve?
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Old November 9th, 2004, 10:29 AM   #14
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Even though slow motion is best acheived with interlaced footage, for shooting fast paced movement that would not only be seen on regular TVs, I would still use the progressive mode, in order to get sharp picture like frames without interlacing artifacts. Just shoot in TV (shutter priority) mode and increase the shutter speed number to a value that is optimal for continuity of movement and definition. Great slow motions can be acheived out of such footage with plugins like Twixtor.

Of course, ideally, you'd want to shoot with a high speed camera that does 50p / 60p or more, but since it is not possible here, I think this is your best solution.

BTW, if you find the shutter speed needed is bellow 1/200, I would try Greg's idea. Using the Clear Scan feature will let you tweak the shutter speed much more precisely than you normally could with the regular manual shutter speed setting.
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Old November 9th, 2004, 11:07 AM   #15
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Lohman : Cross dissolve? How are you creating slow motion with a cross
dissolve? -->>>

Rob, Just think you had a sequence of still photos. How would you create an animation of them? Just make a cross dissolve transition from one still photo to another and you'll end up with an animation (with slow motion).
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