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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old December 10th, 2005, 11:22 PM   #1
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Tips for Shooting in Black and White

I know this has been covered to some extent in the past, but I still want feedback about shooting in black and white, which I know I can't do, but I can take the gain down so that it basically does the trick.

I'm looking for strong contrast and a grainy quality. I will be experimenting, just wanted to see if others have done anything in this regard and what settings you've used.

Thanks so much for any assistance you can give me!


Lucinda
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Old December 11th, 2005, 04:10 AM   #2
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Lucinda,

Some specifics would be helpful about the look your trying to acheive, but here are some suggestions:

1) If you can reduce the color saturaton (or gain i guess) then your shooting black and white. play with some of the XL2 settings to get the look you want.

2) pay attention to your art direction, if your looking for strong contrast keep mostly light and dark colors in the frame and avoid colors that will look grey

3) pay very close attention to your lighting, if your going for a strong contrast look, flat, even lighting wont cut it (duh). Get your hands on some type of kit and/or strategically place your household lights to create shadow areas. (something you should do anyway). you might want to go with a more drastic contrast ratio depending on the tolerance of the camera.

Hope i helped a little!
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Old December 11th, 2005, 09:40 AM   #3
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In regards to the settings on the downloadable b/w preset at the top of this page, you might notice that it has the sharpness turned all the way down... it's one thing that I definately didn't agree with -- actually, if anything I thought it should be sharper.
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Old December 11th, 2005, 12:30 PM   #4
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Thanks guys, I knew much of this already....does anyone know how to get a grainy look other than in post?
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Old December 11th, 2005, 02:02 PM   #5
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Lucinda,

why do you want to do it "in camera" instead of "in post"?

The channel mixer in AE (and perhaps in your favorite editing program) gives you so much more control over the look of your footage that, personally, I would never shoot in b/w (at leat when shooting DV or HDV or whatever video format). I'd always do it in post. The same goes for the grainy look you want. Better start with "clean" full color footage and experiment with the settings later.

Just my 2 or 3 cents (hey, since we got the Euro over here, we can say that too!)
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Old December 11th, 2005, 07:55 PM   #6
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I have a pre-setting for B&W grainy... I think it is somewhere in the forum and maybe even a Blue-barn file. These are raw grabs from an XL1s but you can get a similar look (not AS grainy) from the XL2...

http://members.aol.com/ashvid/Grabs/studio18.jpg

http://members.aol.com/ashvid/Grabs/studio19.jpg

http://members.aol.com/ashvid/Grabs/studio20.jpg

http://members.aol.com/ashvid/Grabs/studio24.jpg

http://members.aol.com/ashvid/Grabs/studio3.jpg

http://members.aol.com/ashvid/Grabs/studio4.jpg

http://members.aol.com/ashvid/Grabs/studio7.jpg

http://members.aol.com/ashvid/Grabs/joe16.jpg

http://members.aol.com/ashvid/Grabs/studio46.jpg




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Old December 12th, 2005, 02:14 AM   #7
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I do agree that it may be best to NOT try and get noise in camera. If you want a super-great B&W image to manipulate in post, just turn the Knee to low, the Blacks to stretch, the chroma all the way down and leave everything else flat. It will look a little flat but you will have CLEAN highly detailed images to tweak in post. n my experience footage shot in B&W looks better than footage desaturated in post. Not sure why, something to do with the noise that DV color saturation can add...



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Old December 12th, 2005, 06:36 AM   #8
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Ash,

I don't recommend to just desaturate the footage! In the After Effects channel mixer you can tick the "grayscale" box and then tweak the red, green and blue channels until your b/w image looks exactly as you want it. You can even simulate different filters, e.g. a red filter to darken blue sky etc.

I do the same with my digital stills in Photoshop to get b/w prints. It works extremely well.
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Old December 12th, 2005, 05:21 PM   #9
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i pretty much always shoot black and white in camera since the lighting techniques differ, I also tend to crush the blacks and stretch the knee to get it closer to an old school contrasty stock. and have been very happy with that, I shot an entire feature in black and white like that last year. as for grain, that i would probably leave for post

some folks are mroe prone to getting a look on a computer and some in camera, personally i'm in the latter group and actually do a lot less color correction in post when i shoot digital than i do when i shoot film because with digital i can always get it just right on set but with film i'm going to have to sit in a telecine lab anyway somewhere down the line.
-Jon
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Old December 12th, 2005, 07:04 PM   #10
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Anyone use an Ultracontrast filter when shooting black and white? Since you wouldn'thave to worry about the color shift, it seems like they would really help with the exposure.
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Old December 12th, 2005, 08:53 PM   #11
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Boy! this is all such a big help. Thanks so much. I'm going to try it all. You see, I really wanted to get the look I'm after while shooting....I realize I could do this in post too. But, I need the experimentation with lighting, etc., and thought this would be a great opportunity to try. I don't really understand what you mean by "crush" the blacks, do you mean take them down on the slider? I'll try all of these suggestions. Ash, I tried you settings a number of months ago and assumed they must work better with the XL1 because they weren't that great with the XL2.... at least not what I'm looking for. And, the filter, I'm interested in that and will research it as well.

Thanks all of you for your help! this forum is the best!
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Old December 12th, 2005, 09:06 PM   #12
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Ash,

When you take the gain down on the Xl2 isn't that similar to desaturation?...the XL2 doesn't have a black and white setting, so you have to take down the color saturation, right? that's what I did with your settings before.
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Old December 12th, 2005, 10:18 PM   #13
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When I say gain, I mean VIDEO gain which adds grain. It is digital grain and is NOT removable. I do agree that lighting for B&W is different. One option would be to shoot in color with a B&W monitor.

As you can see, there are a multitude of options. Do you have a frame grab of what you want it to look like? I can make a setting for you on my XL2 and email it to you.

Crushing the blacks means that you are essentially taking the shadowy areas and making them pure black. This can be done by turning down the master pedestal and the set-up level in combination with setting the blacks to PRESS.



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Old December 13th, 2005, 12:03 AM   #14
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I don't have anything yet Ash. I'm filming next week and I'll see and then send a grab to you. I really appreciate your help.

I haven't worked in b&w before. I just feel that this script/story really would lend itself to black and white. It is a very unsettling story and I want to play with the shading and tonal values so that it has the same mood as the written narrative. I have to say at this point that I'm not clear yet about what exactly I'm looking for, but I will be soon.

Mostly, I wanted some advice about whether to shoot in color or black and white...and the things you're all saying are helping.

I'm going to check the AE function that Ash mentioned now. I'm not sure whether the standard edition has that or not. We'll see.
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Old December 13th, 2005, 09:14 AM   #15
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by "Crush" i mean press, press the blacks, and sometimes put the knee on high, often middle.

i've used ultra contrast filters for still black and white film and they work pretty well, definetely softer but not horrible so, but i think we're looking for a more contrasty look for the black and white, more similar to old school black and white film

really i would just run it with cine gamma and the color gain at 0 then work from there to fine tune the image according to what i could/could not do with the lighting. I have a 7 minute black and white xl2 clip from a feature i could compress down and e-mail i guess

-Jon
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