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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old June 6th, 2005, 06:37 AM   #1
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Filming blues and frustrastions

So I went to film some friends two weeks ago. They were going kayaking and I decided to follow them down the river in a canoe, (don't worry, I have a Pelican box for my camera), anyways, it was a overcast day, no rain, some drizzle. I shot about two tapes of footage witha mono pod. When I got home I was amazed at the clearity and the resolution of the video. NEVER before have I seen this from my XL2, It was as good or better than watching the HD channels!
Fast forward to this past weekend:
Some friends asked me to grab some footage of an ultimate frisbee game they were playing. I went out for a couple of hours and shoot the game, I also stopped by at another friends house to grab some footage of their new born.
Once I got home I logged and captured in FCP, and much to my amazment everything I shot that day looked like it came from a $200 still camera with video ability. It was a clear sunny day for the game, and the house was well lite. All movement in both videos was very pixelated and there were no smooth edges. The game was just very pixelated around the edges of those playing. the background seemed fine. The stuff I shot of the baby seemed to have a lag, as if there wasn't enough light.
I don't know what I am doing wrong.
The stuff from the river was a fluke, I can't reproduce it!!
I feel that I should have bought a $400 palm cam, because I am getting the same picture quality.
I know the camera can shot good video, and that it is user error, but that stupid 2" screen doesn't allow for much of an idea of what is going on.
Any ideas on how to start getting a good picture, or otherwise this thing is going to the highest bidder.
Are ther any good video tutorials, I learn better from watching than reading?
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Old June 6th, 2005, 09:12 AM   #2
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"My" XL2 is in the future so don't have any direct experience to help you with but one of the things that might account in part for what you're seeing is the lighting contrast difference between the river footage and the frisbee game scenes. Video is less able to handle high contrast lighting ratios than can film or the human eye. Because the weather was cloudy overcast on the river, the light would have been be broad and diffuse with a narrow brightness range and few if any shadows. This is a low contrast situation and in fact is one that is ideal for colour photography on either film or video. The camera could easily set itself for an optimum exposure for the entire frame. But outdoors on a bright sunny day, there will be an extreme contrast range in the scene, one that can easily exceeed the range a video signal can capture. If you're on auto exposure it will try to hit a compromise and the result will be less than optimal for both the brightest and the darkest parts of the scene. The solution is to add artifical light or reflectors to fill the shadows or arrange your composition so the light is behind you and flat from the camera's view.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 10:37 AM   #3
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So how would you set your camera, (XL2), to shot action movement on a bright sunny day, what setting would your use? Maybe this would give me a good starting place, also is there a good video or tutorial on how to use the zebra pattern to detremine the best lighting conditions and field adjustments
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Old June 6th, 2005, 10:41 AM   #4
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What was your aperature when shooting the poor quality vs the kayaking trip. That can affect your picture quality. Did you use any filtration? What settings were you shooting at 24p, 60i? Did you make any in camera adjustments? What mode were you shooting in? It is hard to tell what you could have done without more details. Don't worry though, you came to the right place for help.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 10:56 AM   #5
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Things being pixellated implies head clog. Also, it could be that you were shooting inside with your ND filter on, and the camera was on auto shutter. Something was definitely wrong.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 11:12 AM   #6
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I will check the ND filter thing, however I was shooting in Automatic mode all three times. I am not good with manual yet, becouse when I take the zebra down to remove the bright whites I make the video to dark, so I shoot on automatic. Soory I don't have better settings to tell you. I am going to try the same shot tonight on different settings and see what happens, but it does appear that low light, (overcast) days produce a better picture.
Oh I was on 60i, 16:9

Last edited by Chris Fritsche; June 6th, 2005 at 11:30 AM.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 03:07 PM   #7
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If it is truly pixelated, then there is an issue with the camera. If it is "jittery" or "crispy" then the camera when into a high shutter mode somehow. I exclusively use manual mode (except for time lapse stuff).



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Old June 6th, 2005, 03:58 PM   #8
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I would venture a guess that the automatic mode is to blame. There's no telling what kind of adjustments the camera was making for you. Plus an overcast day always means nice, even, soft lighting so footage will probably look better on an overcast day than in harsh sunlight. Just my 2 cents.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 04:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Fritsche
I will check the ND filter thing, however I was shooting in Automatic mode all three times. I am not good with manual yet, becouse when I take the zebra down to remove the bright whites I make the video to dark, so I shoot on automatic. Soory I don't have better settings to tell you. I am going to try the same shot tonight on different settings and see what happens, but it does appear that low light, (overcast) days produce a better picture.
Oh I was on 60i, 16:9
It's not that the overcast days necessarily have low light levels, sometimes an overcast day is really quite bright. The issue is that they are low contrast, with the light smoothly enveloping the subject and reducing the overall range of tones so that the lightest and the darkest values of the scene both fit comfortably within the brightness range the camera can comfortably capture. If you have a high contrast scene with a wide range of brightnesses between the bright areas and the shadows, adjusting for the brights plunges the shadows into black while adjusting for the shadows lets the high values flare into overexposure. If it's really high - imagine a cloudless day in the high mountains, bright sun searing down from a sky so blue it's almost black - adjusting for the middle values or the average - which is what cameras do on automatic - sends *both* ends out of whack.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 04:43 PM   #10
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I agree with Chris...Pixellating implies something wrong either with the heads or the camera circuitry. If it's head clog, that could easily be caused by either some dampness or other moisture getting to the heads (Kayak trip...hmmmmm), or by perhaps using different brands of tapes.

Question: Do you see the pixellating thru the viewfinder, or is it only on replay on tape? If on tape, then it is likely a head problem, and I'd go there first.

First thing I'd do is clean the heads, then run the camera in a controlled environment and see how it is performing...
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Old June 6th, 2005, 06:09 PM   #11
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Yeah, sorry for the wrong word, pixelating, what I meant was when I view it on the computer the edges of people or anything moving seemed to be ("not smooth") rasterized instead of a vector image, does that help explain. I will keep in mind the cloudy vs. sunny and try to learn the manual controls faster, thanks for all the imput.
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Old June 7th, 2005, 08:18 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Fritsche
Any ideas on how to start getting a good picture, or otherwise this thing is going to the highest bidder.
The best way to learn is to do it. Find a book about basic lighting, and camera techniques and so forth. You just need a very basic knowledge about aperature, depth of field, etc. Once you have a grasp of it start shooting. As long as its not a paying gig then its more valuable to experiment and learn. Leave the camera in manual and see what happens with different settings. And make sure to take notes. It will be a great quick reference guide.
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Old June 7th, 2005, 10:49 AM   #13
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would the purchase of one of those 7" lcd screens help in seeing correct lighting and color balance, or, are those screens just so you get a bigger picture to look at?
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Old June 7th, 2005, 12:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Fritsche
Yeah, sorry for the wrong word, pixelating, what I meant was when I view it on the computer the edges of people or anything moving seemed to be ("not smooth") rasterized instead of a vector image, does that help explain. I will keep in mind the cloudy vs. sunny and try to learn the manual controls faster, thanks for all the imput.
That is the result of viewing interlaced footage on a non-interlaced monitor. Having a higher shutter speed to reduce the exposure on a bright day would exaggerate the effect because there is more motion offset from even to odd lines. De-interlace the 16:9 60i footage and see if you like it better.

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Old June 10th, 2005, 06:42 AM   #15
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how do you deinterlace the video in FCP? And also, does the use of a 7" on camera monitor help with viewing color and setting shutter/exposure?
I am backing up someone in 3 weeks at a shot, (just for experence), and there will be indoor and outdoor shots, and I don't want to wait until I get home to find out I shoudl have changed this or that, so again, do the monitors give a good feel of what the camera is actually recording?
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