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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old September 9th, 2011, 08:57 PM   #1
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How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

Greetings - It's been a while since I've visited and I have just acquired an XL2 to use for a volunteer organization. They want to capture video for later use - some of it will be for training, some for public access TV broadcast, some for eventual web content. Primary capture will be of various speakers - solo/groups of 3-4 people - during talks and presentations. I'm required to be "out of the way", typically toward the rear of the hall - 40/70+ feet from the podium. I'll pick up sound from their mixing board - I won't have direct access to the board or its settings.

My job is to capture the footage in 16x9 format and to eventually use a NLE to prepare it as they want. I have an iMac (base model 21.5" screen, 2 generations old - running 10.6/3.06 i3 processor) and an older version of Final Cut Studio (2). I also have an original Intel Core Duo Intel MacBook Pro with a dedicated 256MB video card, 2GB RAM and a small HDD that I upgraded to 7200 RPM. It has a Firewire 400 port; the iMac has a FW 800. I have a few external HDD - OWC, eSata and Firewire capable.

The head of this group uses 3 XH-A1 cameras running through a NewTek Tricaster He captures video on the Tricaster and uses lots of green screen effects. He also incorporates lots of cuts using the Tricaster to store the targeted video clips.

I'll be expected to integrate my video with his (he'll down-rez to SD). He uses an Adobe NLE, also on a Mac, along with the Tricaster editor.

My questions: (1) I don't have a MiniDV deck or any other equipment, just he XL2 and the gear I outlined. Is there any way to bypass the MiniDV tape and record to digital media? That will make it a lot faster for me to get the video into the NLE, and may make it easier to get the footage to him. If I go this route, any specific suggestions about equipment/workflow/etc. are welcome; (2) Is it worth ditching the XL2 and moving to either a XH-A1 to be compatible with his gear, or is there a better camera option (Xh-A1s has a SDI port I understand which will allow me to possibly record to an external digital recorder; (3) will the video "blend" between the different camera formats, or will it be obviously different; (4) I have no experience with Adobe NLE, and frankly not much experience with Final Cut - do you have a thought about which would work better in my situation.

Finally, is it worth putting the time and expense into the XL2, or is it time to move to an all digital camera (XF100/XF305)? I have no experience with Panasonic cameras but I've seen video from a HPX170 as well as a Sony PWM-1 (not sure of the model, I just glanced at it while he was shooting). Both of them were very impressive - made me jealous.

Thanks in advance for the help.
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Old September 11th, 2011, 04:48 AM   #2
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Re: How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

You can record directly to a firestore or hard disc recorder
DN-200 DV/ HDV/ANALOG Hard Drive Recorder - Datavideo

That will allow you to drag and drop files onto another system for editing. If the final delivery is always going to be in DV, then there's no 'need' to upgrade to an HD Camera.

But there's no 'harm' in upgrading either. It's a budgetary question only you can answer. The cost of a recording device like a firestore or Datavideo device can prolong the viability of the camera in a given setting. Perhaps you've got a contract to do this for XX months, and it will more than pay for the upgrade. Fine you can do that, the image will be just fine for SD delivery. Meanwhile you can save up for the HD camera at a later date - OR buy now.

My position on equipment upgrades has been this. If it's NEEDED for the work now - buy it. The work will pay for it. IF I can 'wait' a while, I do that - because the 'latest/greatest' version available NOW, will be 'old' later when I need it - and will either be cheaper to acquire, or obsolete.... and something better will be available. But that's just my philosophy.
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Old September 22nd, 2011, 09:36 AM   #3
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Re: How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

I love my XL2. I couldn't give a crap about HD because SD still looks quite good. I've used a fair few newer cameras and while the image they produce is crisp and great, none of them (anywhere near the <$2000 price bracket) offer the control you have of the XL2. Even now if I felt I needed to go new I'd only move to an XL-H1

As before mentioned a DTE recorder is a great start.
Possibly look into the XL extender or XF to EF adapter if you need the zoom power.

Other than that the XL2 really does it all.

To directly answer your questions:
1- A DTE recorder like the Firestore FS-CV
2- If you have the money and don't need/want the control. SDI is one way to connect to a DTE, composite and firewire are the others. Both of which the XL2 has.
3- It really shouldn't be much different if it's all done SD, I doubt it would be noticable as they are both 1/3" 3CCD sensors, one is capable of HD though.
4- It's all preference. I use Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 but even after editing for a few years on budget programs it really took some adjusting to use Premiere well. It's a steep learning curve but an awesome NLE. I haven't had the pleasure of using Final Cut in any form (PC user) but I hear it's pretty easy to pick up and learn. If you already have Final Cut, stick to it.
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Old February 27th, 2012, 06:35 PM   #4
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Re: How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

Here is something I shot today. Upscaled to 1280x720p
FCtraffic01.divx - YouTube

Camera: XL2 with tiffen circular polarizer filter
24P 2:3:3:2 pulldown
Custom Preset:
GAMMA CINE
KNEE LOW
BLACK LEVEL PRESS
COLOR MATRIX NORMAL
GAIN 0
COLOR PHASE 0
VERTICAL DETAIL NRM
SHARPNESS 0
CORRING -3
SETUP -4
MASTER PED -4
NOISE REDUCTION HIGH

I adjusted the levels in the timeline. It varies 74-90

Personally, I don't think the XL2 is obsolete at all. The only problem is just having to compete with the marketing hype about HD. This video looks great on a large screen HD tv as well.
No pixelization or other artifacts, although the bright reds and yellows are more aliased on the edges online, they don't show up as much on my tv.

OOPS. I just found out that adding a color smoother filter does the trick:
CANON XL2 upscaled to 720p HD with color smoothing filter - YouTube
Michael

Last edited by Michael Hamilton; February 28th, 2012 at 03:25 PM. Reason: add detail
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Old February 28th, 2012, 07:40 AM   #5
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Re: How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

SD material (i.e., DVD) can look good on a HD sytem, significant factors include the quality of the player usedm, how it communicates with the display/TV set, and the TV internals.

A good upscaling player can do wonders. But dumping a so-so analog 720x480 playback signal to a HD set can also look very disappointing as well. Many people tend to blame the source material or the authoring/encoding when the fault is with the playback system itself.
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Old February 28th, 2012, 08:16 AM   #6
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Re: How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

Yes, I can't wait to see what happens when I use an hdmi connection with a new player. Right now I'm just using an old player and component connection.
I see you are in Northern Va.

Here are some samples of my past work:
HAMILTONPROVIDEO's Channel - YouTube
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Old February 28th, 2012, 10:27 PM   #7
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Re: How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

Quote:
Originally Posted by Len Capristo View Post
My questions: (1) I don't have a MiniDV deck or any other equipment, just he XL2 and the gear I outlined. Is there any way to bypass the MiniDV tape and record to digital media? That will make it a lot faster for me to get the video into the NLE, and may make it easier to get the footage to him.
The quickest way to get to footage to him is to send him the miniDV tapes. The tapes will play back fine on his XH-A1s directly into the Tricaster. After that, it should be possible to cut the XL2 and the XH-A1 video together without trouble.
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Old March 2nd, 2012, 09:52 AM   #8
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Re: How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

Does anyone know what I should do to get rid of the judder when the Coke truck goes by in my video mentioned above?
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Old March 2nd, 2012, 01:45 PM   #9
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Re: How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Hamilton View Post
Does anyone know what I should do to get rid of the judder when the Coke truck goes by in my video mentioned above?
There isn't any judder. The truck is moving at a uniform rate of about 55 pixels per frame. If you are seeing judder it probably comes from playing the video back on 60hz equipment. Try using a 120hz television.

There appears to be about 9 to 12 pixels of motion blur, which translates to shutter speeds around 1/100 to 1/120 sec. As a result there is also some motion stutter. To reduce the stutter, film with a 1/48 sec shutter to create more blur and don't film such fast moving objects. Alternatively, run the existing footage through a motion interpolating frame-rate doubler and slow it down for 1/2 speed slow motion.
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Old March 2nd, 2012, 03:04 PM   #10
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Re: How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

I think I used 1/60 shutter on this one and I guess I got the definition of judder and motion blur mixed up.
I use FCP 5.0.4 and Motion 2.0.1.
I'm not getting the best results trying slow mo in FCP. (not blaming it, just me)
And I can't find any kind of slow motion function in Motion 2.0.1
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Old March 4th, 2012, 03:11 PM   #11
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Re: How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

Hi, all! I've been "off the grid" for quite a while...2011 was a beast of a year for a number of reasons. Heck I didn't even shoot much all last year! But I was surfing the forum today and ran across this article. It was reassuring to read this thread as I have an XL2 myself--along with an XH-A1--and really didn't feel like getting rid of my "older friend." As it was pointed out, if you don't need to upgrade, don't. Sage advice for all of us that are tempted by the desire to own the latest and greatest, and if you fall for that marketing trap, you may always be broke!
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Old March 4th, 2012, 07:56 PM   #12
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Re: How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

Quote:
As it was pointed out, if you don't need to upgrade, don't.
Let your business be your driver. Do what make good business sense for YOU, which may not be what makes sense for someone else.

If it is a hobby, then do what you can within your budget that makes you happy - and that need not make business sense to anyone.
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 02:08 PM   #13
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Re: How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

Anyone,

In your opinion, which hd dvd players are best at helping enhanced definition 720x480p look good? Since I learned that players today can upscale I thought I'd try to see if I could get descent results through the player, and not have to spend hours converting 480 to 720.
I just bought a VIZIO player from Radio Shack. I tried it out, used hdmi cable and it doesn't look any better than my old standard player does ( I use component with it ).
Also, I can't find any references to "upscaling" on the box. I didn't know that dvd players today did that.
Maybe it doesn't upscale or something.

Michael Hamilton

Last edited by Michael Hamilton; March 22nd, 2012 at 03:17 PM. Reason: details
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Old March 22nd, 2012, 03:41 PM   #14
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Re: How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Hamilton View Post
In your opinion, which hd dvd players are best at helping enhanced definition 720x480p look good?
The upscaling done by a $80 blu-ray player generally will not look any better than the upscaling done internally by a $800 HDTV. Therefore, it is not surprising that you didn't see any difference.
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Old March 23rd, 2012, 02:50 PM   #15
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Re: How To Maximize XL2 in today's HD world

Quote:
...which hd dvd players ...
A minor point perhaps HD DVD died years ago leaving Blu-Ray.

My observation is that it is hard to predict. Your best bet is to read reviews.
All of the BD playes I have used to a nice job with good DVD-material material connected via HDMI to HD TV sets. On the otehr hand the composite and s-video connections are often not so good.

Not sure what you mean by "enhanced definition 720x480p" given that DVD-video is a 60i media in the US.

Authorting/encoding tools will have a significant impact on final quality.
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