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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old November 28th, 2005, 01:29 PM   #1
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Shooting a ballet recital

Hello, Comrades!

a couple days ago, I shot a ballet recital. I wasn't too pleased with the results. But luckily I've another day to shoot it. I experimented with Spotlight mode and to be honest, it looked terrible. Prior to shooting, I white balanced, stretched the blacks, opened up the iris, set the shudder speed to 24, and set the gain at 0. Anytime the lights were to brighten, I'd either up my shudder speed, or lower my iris. I shot in 24 FPS and in 6:19. I'd rather new to using the XL2, and I'm still learning how to tap into its full potential. Also, I was using the 3x wide lens, and I found it very difficult to put everyone in focus on stage. So I switched over to the 20x optical zoom lens, and had a much easier time keep everyone in focus. Can anyone please explain why this?

Thank you so much.
D.C. Joseph
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Old November 29th, 2005, 11:25 PM   #2
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Shooting ballet etc.

Douglas,

I shoot professionally for the Department of Dance at the University of Iowa, and it has been a lot of experimentation to find what works. I use an XL1s, which is terrific for color, detail and low-light sensitivity (so important!!). That Canon 20X lens is great, though I prefer a manual aperture. I also use an older Sony analog studio cam with a great 16x manual Canon lens; but the XL1S blows it away, image-wise.

You are shooting with the XL2? One possible reason why you have focus issues with 3X wide lens might be depth of field; if you are zoomed all the way out (wide) everything should be in focus. However, if you are zooming in, and you said you had your shutter slowed down to 24, I think that will make your field of focus extremely shallow. Does that sound right? I say stay with the 20X if space allows, and bring the shutter to 1/48 if you are in 24P. That is just my advice...I bet the 16:9 is nice for the horizontal composition of ballet.

I shoot manual focus and manual iris, in regular 60i. No spotlight mode, straight manual because dance lighting is just too dynamic for built-in settings. I used to shoot in "frame" mode (basically 30P) and I have filmed some dance with 24P, but it doesn't seem to please dancers and choreographers; nothing feels as "live" as interlaced I guess. Hope you can use any of this info. Good luck with your shoot
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Old November 30th, 2005, 09:18 AM   #3
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No experience with the XL2, but I shoot a lot of performances on Sony cameras. Benjamin has good advice; most importantly you need to learn how to use the manual controls. None of the automatic modes are going to "understand" what's important in a scene and expose it properly.

I also think it's a bad idea to mess with the shutter speed as you shoot. It's going to produce an odd effect with the movement. No real experience with 24p, but regardless of what format you use stick with one shutter speed and adjust the iris as needed to obtain proper exposure on the important part of the scene.
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Old November 30th, 2005, 09:27 AM   #4
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Yeah, I plan on setting the shudder speed to 1/48,a and shooting in 24 FPS, possibly 60i. I'm not whether I like the "live" look. But I'm sure the dancers, and their parents would appreciate it.

Thanks, guys.
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Old November 30th, 2005, 09:53 AM   #5
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If you shoot 60i then be sure to set the shutter to 1/60 sec...
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Old November 30th, 2005, 10:30 AM   #6
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Forget the 3x. It's just too soft for the low light. The dancer's faces will turn to mush. The only time you would use the 3x might be on a crane by the third operator.

The only way to shoot a recital is with 2 cameras. Unless it's all solo lyrical dance.

Your safety cam is always wide, while the rov cam is in tight following movement and the story if it's classical ballet.

Always full manual settings. White balance for some kind of 20% grey and let the light wash do it's thing.
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Old November 30th, 2005, 12:07 PM   #7
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Dancers like fluid, detailed focus motion, they want the full live look as if they were sitting in the best seat in the audience, stay with 60i, 1/60th shutter. Two cameras are a must( a third is often very useful to avoid jump cuts), one full stage ( choreographer will want this) and the other follow the story or main action. Dancers mainly want to see the patterns and precision of the dance, only go in close for solo or small groups. Typical settings for my FX1 now are F4 at 9db gain, gives good stage depth of field and removes the need to continually focus when shooting from the back of the auditorium.

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