How to shoot a long steadycam take w/XL2 at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Canon EOS / MXF / AVCHD / HDV / DV Camera Systems > Canon HDV and DV Camera Systems > Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders

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


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old July 22nd, 2005, 11:15 AM   #1
Tourist
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 4
How to shoot a long steadycam take w/XL2

Hi!

I'm very new to film making and I need some basic suggestions about how to set up my XL2 to shoot a long take with a steadycam.

The light conditions can vary during the shot, but not extremely (it's all shot in open air).

I'm worried about focus and over/underexposures.

Should I use the "green" setting of the camera and concentrate on the picture or is there any simple tweaking that even a novice could handle in real time in the semi-automatic modes?

P.S. I've already tried a long shot following my grandson running in a park, I've used the green setting and all was Ok, there were no focus/light changes problems. Only, I don't know if this is the best picture I can get from the XL2.
Gabriele Cerlini is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 22nd, 2005, 11:35 AM   #2
Obstreperous Rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: San Marcos, TX
Posts: 26,900
Images: 513
Hi Gabriele,

I wouldn't use the Green Box (easy recording) mode if I were you... instead, try the "A" Automatic program mode. The XL2 provides a very good balance of exposure and shutter speed in this mode and I think you'll be pleased with the results.
__________________
CH

Search DV Info Net | DV Info Net Sponsors | A Decade (+5) of DVi | ...Tuesday is Soylent Green Day!
Chris Hurd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 22nd, 2005, 02:56 PM   #3
Built the VanceCam
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Prescott Valley, AZ
Posts: 109
For someone who is new to filmmaking, this is an opportunity to learn good technique from the get-go. That means avoiding anything 'auto' whenever and wherever possible.
Since it's a Steadicam shot, you will want your lens at it's widest setting (5.4mm). At this lens setting, if this is an outdoor, daylight shot, focus will not be an issue, unless there is an extreme closeup involved somewhere in the shot. Determine the nearest and farthest objects in the shot that you want in focus, then lock the lens focus at 2/3rds of that distance.
Walk through the shot and find the points where the light is brightest and darkest. Again, if it's an all daylight shot, there won't be that much variation. Lock your f-stop at the average. Nothing gives away an amateur like an f-stop or shutter change when a shadow passes.
Be sure to turn the image stabilizer OFF--you'll never learn good Steadicam with it on.
And you might try a polarizing filter and see if you like the effect.
That's my 2-cents worth.
Dan Vance is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 22nd, 2005, 07:56 PM   #4
Tourist
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 4
Thanx for your replies!
Very different ones, though... Dan, do you mean to set the camera to full manual? I'm going to use the Canon 3x Wide Angle.
Gabriele Cerlini is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 22nd, 2005, 08:31 PM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 326
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Vance
Be sure to turn the image stabilizer OFF--you'll never learn good Steadicam with it on.
I'd agree that for learning it should be off, but when you're doing a shot for real, I'd say anything you can turn on without degrading the image that pulls off the look is all for the better.

In terms of learning, OIS is definetly evil, especially at Canon's levels, but in the end it's the quality of the shot that counts.
Tom Wills is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 22nd, 2005, 08:42 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Sherman Oaks CA
Posts: 255
Dan's advice was absolutely perfect. Way to go, man.

Thanks for the post,

Stephanie
Stephanie Wilson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 22nd, 2005, 09:20 PM   #7
Built the VanceCam
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Prescott Valley, AZ
Posts: 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabriele Cerlini
Thanx for your replies!
Very different ones, though... Dan, do you mean to set the camera to full manual? I'm going to use the Canon 3x Wide Angle.
Yes, I recommend shooting full manual, always. But that's just me.

Whatever you feel comfortable with. If you learn to shoot well in full manual mode, you can still use auto settings whenever you like, but the reverse is not true: if you rely on auto settings, you'll never be able to wean yourself off them.

Also, if you learn to shoot well in full manual mode, you'll never WANT to use auto settings!

Tom:
I don't know the Canon optical stabilization method exactly, but stabilizers often DO degrade the image--it's necessary in order to obtain the needed error information to correct the image. Maybe it's very slight, but I don't think the trade-off is worth it. It's really not that hard to get a smooth shot without the built-in stabilizer. Just takes practice and patience.
Dan Vance is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 22nd, 2005, 10:30 PM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Sherman Oaks CA
Posts: 255
Hi all,

When I got my first network camera job, my partner, who was assigned to teach me the ways of network shooting was absolutely horrified when he got to the camera before me and found the iris setting to be in AUTO.

It was hard to convince him that I was only using AUTO iris to try and learn the iris setting that THE CAMERA thought was correct. I would always then take that setting and make my individual adjustments. But once I put the cam back in the locker with the iris setting accidently set in the AUTO mode. I will NEVER forget the "lecture" I received as a result. Whew!!!!

Best to you all,

Stephanie
Stephanie Wilson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 22nd, 2005, 11:33 PM   #9
Obstreperous Rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: San Marcos, TX
Posts: 26,900
Images: 513
It's always easy for a pro to recommend full manual to a newbie. I think some professionals do this because they may have forgotten what it's like to be a newbie. A professional shooter who knows what he or she is doing can get a great looking image all the time with full manual control. Hand the same camera to me, however, and I'll show you how to get an awful image in full manual. Advising a student to learn by shooting in full manual is fine, because a student learns a lot from mistakes. But we're not talking about a student here.

Instead, we're talking about a newcomer to video who wants to attempt a kind of shot that's relatively difficult for an inexperienced shooter, and that type of shot is a long take on a stabilizer. The obvious goal is to produce watchable video. If this person has to face the challenges already presented by this type of shot *plus* operate the camera in full manual mode, then as a beginner he is probably not going to get watchable video. I stand by my assertion that in his particular case, Program AE is the better way to go. Most of his attention will be rightfully consumed by composing the shot while moving. He has to frame the shot while he's in motion, without bumping into anything. That's not easy for a beginner... it certainly isn't easy for me. To complicate this shot by asking me to also adjust exposure and focus manually on the fly would most likely to cause me to (at best) blow the take, or (at worst) take a tumble, or both. A pro could probably do it in his or her sleep, but I sure couldn't.

The various program modes are on the camera for a reason. I always advise beginners to concentrate first on proper shot composition. To me, learning how to frame the shot is a much more immediate priority over manual camera control. Program AE does a fine job with the image while a beginner is learning how to put the shot together. I also disagree with the notion that newbies are never weaned off of Auto. If they're curious about videography and want to learn more, then they'll wean themselves when the time is right.

Regarding image stabilisation, the electronic flavor has had a reputation for taking a hit in image quality. However, the Canon XL series IS lenses employ Optical Image Stabilisation technology, a big feature of which is that Optical IS does not degrade the image. That's one of the key selling points of OIS.
__________________
CH

Search DV Info Net | DV Info Net Sponsors | A Decade (+5) of DVi | ...Tuesday is Soylent Green Day!
Chris Hurd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 23rd, 2005, 01:00 AM   #10
Built the VanceCam
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Prescott Valley, AZ
Posts: 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd
To complicate this shot by asking me to also adjust exposure and focus manually on the fly would most likely to cause me to (at best) blow the take, or (at worst) take a tumble, or both. A pro could probably do it in his or her sleep, but I sure couldn't.
Chris,
As I said, this shot probably does *not* require adjustment of focus or exposure during the shot. The operator only has to frame and walk. If it's a daytime shot (f16+) with the wide angle lens, you could rack the focus nearly stop to stop anyhow and not see it in the image. And you don't want to start out entertaining the notion that you can (or would want to) adjust f-stop (manually or automatically) during a shot. Not something a filmmaker (especially a newbie) should be doing.
I'm an advocate of diving right into the deep end and taking the challenge. If Gabriele nails the first take--what an accomplishment! If not, hey, it's video--review the take--if it's no good and seems overwhelming, then start turning auto features on.

P.S. Thanks for implying that I'm a pro! Cool.
Dan Vance is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 23rd, 2005, 09:10 AM   #11
Obstreperous Rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: San Marcos, TX
Posts: 26,900
Images: 513
Well heck, Dan, you built your own camera... you're not exactly a newbie!
__________________
CH

Search DV Info Net | DV Info Net Sponsors | A Decade (+5) of DVi | ...Tuesday is Soylent Green Day!
Chris Hurd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 23rd, 2005, 02:59 PM   #12
Built the VanceCam
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Prescott Valley, AZ
Posts: 109
Yeah but unless I find a distributor, it could all be judged a vanity project...

Gabriele,
Please let us know what you decide to do, and how it turns out.
Dan Vance is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 23rd, 2005, 03:57 PM   #13
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
Gabriele, would you share with us a bit about the shot you are planning and what Steadicam type rig you are using?
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 24th, 2005, 11:43 PM   #14
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Sherman Oaks CA
Posts: 255
"And you don't want to start out entertaining the notion that you can (or would want to) adjust f-stop (manually or automatically) during a shot. Not something a filmmaker (especially a newbie) should be doing."

This may or not get me thrown off, but are we here to coodle newbies, or actually teach them something. I would think they MIGHT actually be interested in acquiring the knowledge they are requesting.

Sincerely,

Stephanie Wilson
Stephanie Wilson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 25th, 2005, 12:55 AM   #15
Obstreperous Rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: San Marcos, TX
Posts: 26,900
Images: 513
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephanie Wilson
This may or not get me thrown off, but are we here to coodle newbies, or actually teach them something. I would think they MIGHT actually be interested in acquiring the knowledge they are requesting.
Oh, it won't get you thrown off, but please answer this sincerely... which of the following methods will most likely result in a newbie producing watchable video while attempting the walking shot described above?

A.) Juggle all of the camera controls, focus, exposure, etc. while simultaneously composing a dynamic shot with a moving subject *and* a moving camera.

B.) Let the camera handle AF and AE, and let the shooter concentrate instead on proper shot composition.

My money is on option B. I'll bet that method will be the one most likely to produce watchable results. People of all backgrounds come here to learn, but this isn't about your fondly remembered college days at film school. It's all about producing watchable video. And it's also about priorities and the order in which things should be learned.

Let's say for the sake of argument that this *is* an online film school. What would you teach first. Would it be more important to start the curriculum off with the basics of manual exposure and shutter speed selection, or would you begin with teaching how to put a shot together and the proper elements of framing and composition?

I earned my degree at one of the best film schools in the country, UT Austin, and the order in which things were taught was that composition and framing come first, *then* you learn how a camera works.

When it comes to newbies and cameras, the camera can't help a beginner with shot composition and framing. The camera can't decide what to point at (yet). However the camera does a decent job of evaluating what it is pointed at, and the camera knows how to handle the basics of exposure and shutter speed while the newbie learns how to put a shot together. This process doesn't work in reverse. A camera can help what it sees, but it can't help where it's pointed. Framing is a more important priority over manual camera control. A beginner who puts the camera in Auto and concentrates on learning proper framing and composition *first* will be a beginner producing watchable video. This person will most likely want to learn more. This person will go on to graduate to full manual camera control.

The person who tries to learn everything all at once is most likely not going to produce watchable video, and worse, will most likely give up in disgust. This isn't school and you can't make 'em come to class. However you can help them produce watchable video and induce the beginners to want to learn more by having them focus on the more important priorities of how to properly put together a shot and how to create the frame. During this critical learning phase, let the camera handle the grunt work. The beginner who first achieves the fundamentals of composition will go on from there to take over manual exposure and shutter speed control when they're ready for it. You stand a much better chance of keeping a person interested in their camera if you show them first how to create watchable video with it. Program AE and AF modes allow that to happen while the first step of learning how to properly frame a shot takes place.
__________________
CH

Search DV Info Net | DV Info Net Sponsors | A Decade (+5) of DVi | ...Tuesday is Soylent Green Day!
Chris Hurd is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Canon EOS / MXF / AVCHD / HDV / DV Camera Systems > Canon HDV and DV Camera Systems > Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:30 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network