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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old May 4th, 2005, 09:40 AM   #1
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New to XL-2 world and need setup advice

I am a new user of and XL-2 and have a stage production to shoot in 2 weeks. The stage will be fairly well lit, but I will be shooting from pretty far back (back of the audience). I want to keep a fairly large depth of field because these are dancers and there is no way I can track focus and zoom, pan all at the same time -- Can you advise on what the most logical setup of the camera would be and what adjustments I can fiddle with at the shoot for optimum quality?
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Old May 4th, 2005, 10:39 AM   #2
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I have filmed stage productions with my XL2 before and the results were a bit dissapointing. The trouble was because I wasnt filming it for the company, the lighting guys wouldn't give me a minute of white lights so that I could white balance so the colours were all out (everybody has a healthy red glow). So make sure you get a minute to white balance. Crank the colour gains up to full too, otherwise all of the bright lights seem to be the same colour. It may be an idea also to press the black too as well as having a play with the master pedestal and colour phase, play about with the digital menu and see what happens. It will vary from production to production.

The trouble with stage productions are that stage lights are sooo bright and makes it hard to judge how much the actors/dancers will glow unless they're there on stage.

In an ideal world you would need to be able to take a white balance and then be able to open the aperture as wide as you can with the performers on stage and with the lighting as it will be for the show, without making it too dark and so the actors dont glow and so you dont have to keep focusing and refocusing and refocusing. You may get away with locking the aperture, but you may have to adjust it during the performance if there is huge differences in the lighting.

Being far away isn't a problem with the XL2 as the zoom on the generic lens seems to go on forever and ever, so just zoom in and frame the stage. I assume you are only using one camera so I suggest you lock it off and don't move it for the whole production unless you are familiar enough with the play to know where people will be entering and when, I have seen so many videos of camera-persons trying to pre-empt where the actors will enter and getting it totally wrong and then having to quickly throw the camera to the other side of the stage. Ideally you'd film with multiple cameras, one locked off as said and the rest for more close ups etc.

I am far from an expert on these matters, I am just going off what I have experienced myself. If all else fails, use the spotlight mode the XL2 offers, I havent used it myself, but I can't see why it wouldn't work.

You have 2 weeks, so I suggest you attend rehersals and especially the tech runs so that you can see, what works and what doesnt.

Hope this helps

Owen
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Old May 4th, 2005, 10:46 AM   #3
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also, regarding sound: Get yourself a minidisc player and ask mr. soundguy nicely if he'll let you plug it into the desk. That of course is providing the actors are all using mics. Still run the sound off the XL2 though, its nice to pick up audience noise otherwise the desk sound can seem a bit isolated and empty.
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Old May 4th, 2005, 11:01 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen Hughes
also, regarding sound: Get yourself a minidisc player and ask mr. soundguy nicely if he'll let you plug it into the desk. That of course is providing the actors are all using mics. Still run the sound off the XL2 though, its nice to pick up audience noise otherwise the desk sound can seem a bit isolated and empty.
Thanks - a mini disk recorder might by just the thing. I'll be nice to Mr. soundguy.
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Old May 4th, 2005, 12:58 PM   #5
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Kathryn,

Hello and welcome to the forum! Glad you found us. Since most of the colored stage lights are gelled tungsten, go ahead and set w/b to tungsten (the lightbulb icon) if you can't get a moment of white from the lighting guy. You should still end up with what your eye sees in that a blue wash of light will make people's flesh tones look blue to you and the camera. I've done a couple shows this way and haven't had any problems. To help you with operating the camera, you might want to pick one of the 'semi-auto' modes known as Av and Tv. Since you want to maintain a good DOF, then Av might be your best bet. Set the aperture to a higher value and let the camera adjust the shutter speed as necessary to maintain explosure. You can also skew the camera's algorithim by tweaking the AE adjust wheel + or - to suit your tastes or the environment. Good luck and enjoy your new camera.

-gb-

Last edited by Greg Boston; May 4th, 2005 at 01:05 PM. Reason: Added more information.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 02:29 PM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen Hughes
also, regarding sound: Get yourself a minidisc player and ask mr. soundguy nicely if he'll let you plug it into the desk. That of course is providing the actors are all using mics. Still run the sound off the XL2 though, its nice to pick up audience noise otherwise the desk sound can seem a bit isolated and empty.
Be aware, just because both are digital, both will not remain in sync throughout an evening of recording. I did a test recording just 30 minutes of video on the camera while recording the audio on a digital recorder. After 30 minutes, the picture and audio were out of sync by a few seconds an several frames.

Keep this in mind!

Jay

Last edited by Jay Gladwell; May 5th, 2005 at 03:20 PM.
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