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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old October 3rd, 2005, 11:57 AM   #1
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Shooting a 2 hour stage production

For everyone here that uses their camera to shoot stage productions, I need help.
I'm going to be shooting a 2 hour production this Christmas using at least 3 XL2s and possibly an XL1 and a VX2000. I have a production meeting tomorrow, but as of now, the plan is to go 1:15 then have intermission then continue for 0:45 (this may change though) My main area of concern is the first part since it's over an hour long. I'm thinking of using 80 minute tapes, but it's cutting it really close. Is there a better way of shooting for over an hour? My other idea is to use Firestores, but I don't know of a place in Toronto that rents them (if anyone does, please let me know). As a last resort, I suppose I could use 80 minute tapes and switch tapes if required, but I would rather record each part straight through.
My other question is regarding the free-run timecode on the XL2s which I intend to use, but I'm curious as to how this will work after I shoot in Final Cut Pro - will FCP recognize this or do I have to do something to use it and how will it affect capturing?

Sorry for the long post, but I appreciate your help
Thanks
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Old October 4th, 2005, 09:38 PM   #2
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If you shoot with 3 to 5 cameras (assuming they're all human operated), I really don't see what the problem is. Just have your camera operators not change at the exact same time. Your choice as to how to do that is as good as mine. I personally like using walkie-talkies so that my partner(s) and I know what the other(s) is(are) doing (usually, one operator goes to a "safe" framing, usually wide, while the other changes tapes). It'll be seemless during editing. After all changing a tape takes about 30 sec. It's a bit of an organisational challenge with two cameras (and a nightmare with one) but with the number of cameras you have, there is nothing to worry about.

Now, if you're not recording the sound to a separate device, maybe you could have one camera (the one with the main sound maybe, if it's such a setup) use an 80 minute tape, and all the others 60min. BTW, I wouldn't recommend it, but I've done things where I was shooting on a 60min tape in LP. Extends the time to 1h30. Didn't get a single dropped frame (XL2 + Pana MQs), but this isn't a valid option in critical shooting situations.

Of course, the Firestore is a very legit solution too if you insist on having each part without cuts on any of the cams (I could see why that would be better, but I don't see it as a huge deal).
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Old October 4th, 2005, 10:25 PM   #3
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Thanks for your tips.
I'll go with 80 min tapes in each camera unless I can rent 5 firestores. We will be using clear coms, so if the first half of the production runs long, we can co-ordinate a tape switch.
Audio will be recorded to a multi-track recorder that someone else will be taking care of, so I'll just use the on camera mics.
I'm still curious about using Free-run timecode - I know how to enable it and everything, but how will it all fit together when I edit? Will the timecodes all just match up in FCP if I create a multiclip? Also, what if I begin capturing a few seconds later in the clip, will the timecode be affected in any way? I'm just confused as to how it will all come together when editing.
Thanks for your help
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Old October 4th, 2005, 10:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Khalil
Thanks for your tips.
I'll go with 80 min tapes in each camera unless I can rent 5 firestores. We will be using clear coms, so if the first half of the production runs long, we can co-ordinate a tape switch.
Audio will be recorded to a multi-track recorder that someone else will be taking care of, so I'll just use the on camera mics.
I'm still curious about using Free-run timecode - I know how to enable it and everything, but how will it all fit together when I edit? Will the timecodes all just match up in FCP if I create a multiclip? Also, what if I begin capturing a few seconds later in the clip, will the timecode be affected in any way? I'm just confused as to how it will all come together when editing.
Thanks for your help
You also have the option of using a laptop with the Canon DVPC Recorder software. That will give you lots of time for recording and FCP will accept the AVI files. It will warn you that they aren't optimised but it will read them just fine. I would do that on at least one camera (a lockdown wide cover shot from the rear of the theater hall). That way, you have video to cover all the other camera tape changes.

BTW, one great thing about the XL2. I was in a multi-camera shoot last year and if you have the next tape in hand, ready to insert, the XL2 can go to standby, tape change, to rolling new tape in about 10 seconds.

Good luck,

=gb=
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Old October 4th, 2005, 11:22 PM   #5
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I've actually considered recording to a PC. One of our cameras will be up in a balcany near a PowerMac, so I can record to the Mac.
But can someone please explain how the free-run timecode works - I'm so curious to know how to use it.
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Old October 5th, 2005, 12:13 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Khalil
I've actually considered recording to a PC. One of our cameras will be up in a balcany near a PowerMac, so I can record to the Mac.
But can someone please explain how the free-run timecode works - I'm so curious to know how to use it.
Free run timecode is a continuous running counter that doesn't reset when you insert a new tape. So, even if you pause recording, the time code is still incrementing. You can preset it to a desired start value if you want. Some folks start one camera at 01:00:00, the other at 02:00:00, etc. This helps in post to know what tape came from which camera.

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Old October 5th, 2005, 06:34 AM   #7
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Of course I don't know what your experience with this kind of event is, but I would strongly urge that you reherse the shoot and shoot test footage during as many of the technical or dress rehersals of the production as you can. The main reasons are to allow your crew the anticipate the action and to get a handle on exposure. Stage lighting is rather different in concept and execution than video lighting and can present significant challenges; it is best to be well prepared for them. Depending on the production levels can vary greatly from scene to scene or within scenes.

A typical kind of problem. You want to have a nice pan over the orchestra during the overture. Orchestras are often only half lit with music stand lights lighting the music. The result is dimly lit players and brightly lit music. The contrast problem is not easy. To get it right you have to largely ignore the XL2's exposure meter based on tests in the space under real conditions. Auto focus, if you are using it, just does not work as well under low-light conditions.

The best situation is getting your operators patched into the theatre's comm system so that they can hear cues called by the stage manager or lighting crew so that they can adjust exposure according to your own cue sheet developed in rehersal.
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Old October 5th, 2005, 12:34 PM   #8
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I am planning to rent the cameras for two days in order for the crew to get familiar with it.
I actually did a few productions of this sort last year with excellent results, but they were only 45-1 hour long, so a few of the concerns weren't there, but the result was excellent.
Yesterday I was told that Vistek in Toronto only had one Canon XL2 available for us which has brught up another problem for me - does anyone know of another place in Toronto to get them? I wanted to use XL2s as my main cameras because of the widescreen mode, but now, I may end up going with XL1s's which means I may abandon my plan of shooting widescreen.
Thanks for all the great advice everyone has provided I can't wait to get these minor issues ironed out and start shooting!
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Old October 5th, 2005, 01:30 PM   #9
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Andrew,
I might be wrong but I think the DV-PC program only works on PC's, not on MAC's. You mentioned you were going to use a MAC to record your wide shot.
Dave M.
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Old October 5th, 2005, 01:58 PM   #10
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Yes, yes. I have done this many times and you should definitely use 80 minute loads and as others suggested, stagger the cameras or at least stagger a simul-roll firewired to another camera, deck or DTE but preferrably the master shot. There's no need to use any other devices such as DTEs for the other cameras. I pulled this same situation off last month with a 1.5 hour project (no intermission) with 80 minute loads and the master shot being firewired to a fourth camera (used as a deck) staggered 45 minutes in to overlap at least 15 minutes past the definite end. It worked great. By the time we rolled out, the master shot had already started its overlap 45 minutes into the program so we just reloaded and tail slated all cameras at the end and it worked great. I was using XL-1 systems with fixed code though. The way I sync is with a time code slate in freerun by getting a head and tail slate so that when the other operators change tapes during the event I am covered on both ends because of the cut. Anything can be used for sync such as your hands, a flash, etc.. In the second half, you will be just fine firewiring from the master shot to another device (camera, deck, or DTE), with a staggered roll on that device, while the other operators change tapes IF they roll out which they shouldn't with 80 minute loads. Be sure to note the warning below. I experienced this and it will just cause you a headache if it happens. I don't know if this occurs with the XL-1s/2/H1 models. Can someone test this on the other models?

Warning to XL-1 Users!!
www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=50228

Last edited by James Emory; October 5th, 2005 at 09:49 PM.
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Old October 5th, 2005, 09:12 PM   #11
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I'm planning to use the G5 with Final Cut Pro since I am aware of the unfortunate fact that Canon doesn't have that program for Mac (yet?).
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Old October 5th, 2005, 10:28 PM   #12
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Andrew. Something doesn't jive with your response. The last time I checked, a G5 was an Apple product, not a PC. Consequently, the DV-PC program will not work on your G5. Am I missing something here?
Thanks,
Dave M.
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Old October 5th, 2005, 10:40 PM   #13
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I said I'd use the G5 with Final Cut Pro editing software which I believe can capture live as long as device control is disabled.
Sorry if I wasn't clear.
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Old October 5th, 2005, 11:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Khalil
I said I'd use the G5 with Final Cut Pro editing software which I believe can capture live as long as device control is disabled.
Sorry if I wasn't clear.
If you buy Quicktime 7 Pro, it can also do direct capture similar to the way the Canon software does on the pc. Much easier than doing it through FCP I would think. If you are running FCP Studio, you already have QT7 Pro.

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Old October 6th, 2005, 07:46 AM   #15
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BTW Andrew, the Canon manual has a suggested way of synchronsiing the timecode between multiple XL2s when running free-run code. Set them all to the same starting code, perhaps with the user bit set to a camera number so you can sort out the tapes in post, and line them up so they'll all be visible to a remote control. Trigger the clock to start counting using the remote and they'll all start together.
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