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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
Canon XL2 / XL1S / XL1 and GL2 / XM2 / GL1 / XM1.


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Old May 17th, 2005, 01:53 PM   #1
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Nervous about assignment

Ok, so Friday evening I have to film two concerts for Local High School. I am a bit nervouse because I can not have anything go wrong. I just want to get some feedback on just exactly what should I have the XL2 set to correctly film in doors in an auditorium, with only lights on the stage, albeit they will be par 64's but still it will be reasonably subdued in light from where I have to film.
So, I want to film in 16x9, 60i but I am not sure what other controls I need to watch carefully. What about the gain? Where should it be set for this indoor event? I will be on a tripod only, I believe.
I have to take tapes and burn a DVD for the school officials within two days. I am using Pinnacle and I believe it requires that I simply play tape through software to DVD.

Should I be careful about anything else? What can be a problem for this type of shoot? I am using Panasomic Mq(master quality) series tape.
Any help would be appreciative.
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Old May 18th, 2005, 12:29 PM   #2
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Hi Ed,

On the video side of things, if you're not entirely sure about the lighting situation, get set up early enough to determine what combination of gain, shutter, and aperture you're going to need. You can gain up to +6 or perhaps even +12 if necessary, but don't leave it on Auto because it could gain way up as the camera decides necessary, giving you variable "gain grain" that you won't notice until you see the footage in post.

Just about any autofocus will hunt a little, which is especially noticeable at the telephoto end. So assuming you're using a tripod, and at more or less an even distance from all areas of the stage, I'd use manual focus with as small an aperture as lighting allows (to deepen depth of field) -- unless, of course, you're going to deliberately work depth of field. But I figure better to ensure sharp focus than get too artsy if the pressure is on!

Especially for concerts, you may want to start a new thread in the NOW HEAR THIS forum about the audio set up you'll be working with and how to optimize the sound recording. Even shooting my brother's wedding (just for practice, not profit, fortunately), I am spending far more time and effort cleaning up the audio than the video. After all, and I quote from NOW HEAR THIS, "Audio production -- it's 70% of everything you see." ;-)

Best o' luck...I don't envy you this project!
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Old May 19th, 2005, 07:47 AM   #3
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Hello Pete,
Ok, so what shutter speed do you think I should set on the XL2 if I am at the back of the auditorium and the house lights are very low and only the stage lights are on? I agree, I will set to Manual focus, but should I set shutter speed on 1/60th or is this to high?

ALso. there is a low light setting on the XL2. Is this a perfect case were I should use the "Low Light" setting. I presume I will set to Tv and then set to 1/60th but this low light setting is a little confusing. Tv means shutter priority, therefore, the aperature will be adjusted automatically, correct?

You say to increase the gain to , perhaps +6...When I do a tight close up of their face, will this overexpose the image?

Your right, what I do not want is this "grainy" appearence when the camera finds a dark subject and the grain goes way up and then you pan to light area and it looks good....This is bad...
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Old May 19th, 2005, 08:43 AM   #4
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If you have access to one take a second camera and set it up from another angle. This can be a life saver if you wind up needing to cover a section or if anything should happen with your camera.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 11:15 AM   #5
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Just to clarify, I don't advocate using gain...to be avoided if possible, but it is there if you need it to get adequate exposure. Chances are that even if the audience is in the dark, the stage area will actually be lit sufficiently to avoid using much, if any gain...but that's something you'll have to check out before hitting "record" for the big event.

As best I understand it, gain boosts the electronic signal from the CCD before it is further processed to create the DV stream, so once it is set to a fixed value, you handle scene exposure no differently than any other situation. So if you're shooting a face that is brighter than the previous scene, you'll have to adjust the exposure -- using aperture most likely, but perhaps shutter speed as well. Probably wouldn't mess with the gain in the midst of a (semi) controlled shooting situation. If you expect a lot of rapid changes in lighting, you may want to consider Tv mode (in which shutter is constant and aperture varies automatically) rather than full manual in order to avoid gross over/under exposures during rapid lighting changes. But full manual avoids intra-scene auto exposure adjustments that can sometimes be noticed in post.

As far as shutter speed for this situation, my hobbyist opinion wouldn't probably be the most expert -- maybe someone with experience in this particular setting can comment. But I'd probably try to leave the shutter at 1/60. If you need less motion blur and the stage is bright enough, you could go to a little faster, maybe 1/100. If the light is really poor, you could try slower than 1/60 but of course motion blur could be excessive.

By low light setting, do you mean the "spotlight mode?" If so, that's an automated mode designed to correctly expose a bright subject against a dark background. Probably not what you want for shooting a concert on a stage, I'd think.

I'll echo the value of having a second camera, and also add, "keep the tape running." Sure enough, you'll pause for a moment and then miss something before being able to hit the record button...even if you miss framing something in the viewfinder, the uninterrupted sound will probably prove valuable.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 12:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Bicker
Ok, so Friday evening I have to film two concerts for Local High School. I am a bit nervouse because I can not have anything go wrong. I just want to get some feedback on just exactly what should I have the XL2 set to correctly film in doors in an auditorium, with only lights on the stage, albeit they will be par 64's but still it will be reasonably subdued in light from where I have to film.
So, I want to film in 16x9, 60i but I am not sure what other controls I need to watch carefully. What about the gain? Where should it be set for this indoor event? I will be on a tripod only, I believe.
...snip ...
Can you attend a dress rehearsal armed with camera etc and shoot some test footage before doing it for real? If it's possible and a true dress rehearsal where the performers are costumed the same as they will be in the real concert you not only would get to test lighting, focal length, camera positions etc but you might even pick up some insurance closeups and inserts to cut into the footage you'll shoot in the real concert to cover awkward edits, etc. You might also be able to get shots during the rehearsal from camera positions that would be impossible when the audience is there, for instance closeups from within the performers or other onstage positions). Tape is cheap.

Steve
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Old May 19th, 2005, 12:32 PM   #7
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Usually stage lighting is enough to get a good exposure on a video camera like the XLx. A few weeks ago, I shooted a concert very badly lit in a night club. ( the place usually have stage light on the celling, but were removed to do some fixes after water infiltration). So we fixed some lights on the speakers stands, but that was really poor.

I shooted with my XL1, +6 db gain, 1/30 shutter speed at about f2.4 all the time. The results was pretty good in these circonstances. The XL2 is more light sensitive than the XL1 so you should be able to avoid the gain and keep your shutter at 1/60th.

Regarding the sound, I usually feed my XL1 directly from the mixer using XLR to 1/4 cable. You will have to do some sound check before the event to set your sound level. Auto level could also work not so bad. Always monitor your sound using the meter on the camera and a good pair of earphone to avoid clipping.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 02:52 PM   #8
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Hello Steve,
The dress rehersals are over and I missed them. However, I am going to show up early enough to try and get as much testing as possible, but the problem is that I do not believe what I see in the viewfinder of the XL2 is what I necessarily see during edit. Is this correct? So, if this is so, then I will not really be able to test much. If the film only reveals the truth, then what good is the view Finder for expermentation?

I am hoping to try the Tv mode, but what does the "Low Light mode" on the XL2 really do? In other words, how low of light do you really have to be to film in "Low Light" mode?
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Old May 19th, 2005, 02:56 PM   #9
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You aren't taking a NTSC monitor? Not a good idea.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 05:08 PM   #10
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Ed,

The Low Light mode is full-auto. Takes the thinking out of it...the camera does its best to get a picture under low lighting conditions; it uses Auto-Gain, and controls the aperture and -- importantly -- shutter speed. The price is that it may make choices that you wouldn't agree with...and change them on the fly, which could give your video very different appearance, as I alluded to with the comment about Tv mode. I doubt this will be what you want to do for shooting a stage.
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Old May 20th, 2005, 08:47 AM   #11
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Hello Kevin,
Are you suggesting that the NTSC monitor, while filming would reveal what will be on tape? Or is there another reason for using the NTSC monitor?
Forgive my naivete on this, I am just not sure how NTSC monitor will help me.
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Old May 20th, 2005, 12:04 PM   #12
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Ed,

An NTSC monitor, properly calibrated (instructions can be found elsewhere on this site), will give you a reference for proper luminance and chroma values. Just feed the camera's color bars out to the monitor and calibrate it. Then you will have a known reference to go by. I would also try to adjust the vf to match the monitor as closely as possible.

-gb-
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Old May 20th, 2005, 01:47 PM   #13
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No worries Ed. Greg just gave the correct answer. I would just like to add a few things. I know that one can not always lug around a monitor with them but if you only have one shot at this (like it sounds) then it would be worth its weight in gold. Anyone who makes a living shooting video should have one. You can hunt on ebay, beware, or find a good used one elsewhere. And like Greg said, a properly calibrated NTSC monitor will give the most accurate preview of what you will be working with in post.
One other question... Are you recording audio as well? If so how? How important is it? I only ask b/c I know it is important that you capture great video but the best video in the world is worthless without good audio. Good Luck.
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Old May 21st, 2005, 10:51 AM   #14
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Ok, well the shoot is over and I had no major problems. The biggest problem I had was with my Tripod. Funny thing, I never expected this. I have a bogen 3021 with a super fluid head (400 dollars), also a bogen/manfrototo) and I just could not get the lateral movement to be smooth at the distance I was working. I have used cheaper tripods which did far better. I was told by B&H that this head would really deliver. I forget the exact model number and I am not close to it now, but as far as I can tell, it was not up to par.
THe XL2 performed flawlesly. I used the 120 v adapter so that I was not running on bateries. Since I was filming two showings of the same concert I took advantge of this and filmed in both 4:3 and 16:9 because I do not know if they have a widescreen to view this on or not.
I used Tv mode and shutter speed of 1/60th. Also, I used the advice on this thread to adjust the gain to +6 and wow, what a help. THe stage lights were very bright, but I did not want to go to 1/100 becuase of too much loss of light and then I remember a word of caution here that I should NOT turn the gain up too much, so I wanted XL2 gain to be set at no higher then +6....
SO, I am going to transfer to Editing software tonight and the work now really begins....
Thanks for the help!! I will try and post a sample of it if anyone wants to see it.
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Old May 21st, 2005, 01:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Bicker
Ok, well the shoot is over and I had no major problems. ...THe XL2 performed flawlesly. I used the 120 v adapter so that I was not running on bateries. Since I was filming two showings of the same concert I took advantge of this and filmed in both 4:3 and 16:9 because I do not know if they have a widescreen to view this on or not.
...
Had an idea when you said you shot two runs of the performance, one in 4:3 and the other 16:9. Instead of producing two versions of the finished show, one for each format, either do "pan and scan" to convert the 16:9 to 4:3 or letterbox the 4:3 to 16:9 - most editing software can do either one - and edit them together. Unless you had your camera locked down in the same position and focal length setting for both performances, you likely have two entirely different sets of shots in the two versions, giving you twice the coverage and far more possiblities in editing. Instead of thinking of it as shooting two different versions of the show, think of it as shooting A roll and B roll destined to be edited together into one final product, almost as good as having shot it multicamera in the first place. Next time you do something similar you might consider shooting both performances in 16:9 - you can always pan & scan in post should you need a 4:3 version.
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