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


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Old March 12th, 2006, 08:54 PM   #1
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basics for supernewbie

I'll be recording a dance recital from a balcony. Need to be sure that I can catch the dancers without blur and zoom in on them. any info?

also, I need a remote mic - any suggestions?
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Old March 12th, 2006, 09:10 PM   #2
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Dianne,

You will need a tripod (if you don't use one, about a half-hour after you start you'll want a tripod). For a dance recital, I would use the 60i setting and if you are looking straight down the center aisle, you might catch more in 16:9 wide-screen than in regular 4:3 format.

I am not a pro and they might advise differently, but I would use the Tv (Shutter Priority) setting and make the shutter at least 1/60. Then adjust the aperature as necessary to ensure you have enough light. Look up the Zebras function and use it. You might need to Gain up, but I wouldn't recommend Auto Gain, just dial it up to +6, look at your image to see if it is lit enough and if not go to +12.

If the ambient sound in the auditorium is adequate, you'll catch it well with the onboard mic. It will not sound professional, it will sound like you caught it really well with a video cam from where you were sitting. For good audio, you'll need a feed off of the sound board or the actual music from CD to sync. But that gets into the whole Rights issue.

If you are intimidated by the options available, we had a guy use the Spotlight setting to record an evening service at our church and we were all presently surprised by the results. Not as good as Manual settings, but not wasted tape either. Good luck.
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Old March 13th, 2006, 01:38 PM   #3
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Gain no gain

Hi

The XL2 struggles in low light. I would use 25p and keep shutter slow
1/25th, with lens aperture wide. Gain can be a pain if its overdone, but necessary sometimes. Auto values are sometimes right, but I must recall when I did a rock band a week after I got the XL2 and I discovered the beauty of slow shutter speeds and the surreal blurs of dancers movement - I've never failed to use it since, combined with normal footage of course.

A shoulder pod is useful. Don't have image stabiliser on when using tripod - you will be sorry if you do.

Rod C
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Old March 13th, 2006, 02:09 PM   #4
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Dianne,

You didn't list your editing equipment (or anything else) in your profile so I don't know if you are a PC or Mac folk.

If you are a PC folk, you owe it to yourself to go to the top of the XL2 Watchdog forum and review the sticky thread about the Blue Barn Pictures Preset Manager. If you download the Presets available, the Routine, Documentary, or Wedding presets might be a good start for setting up your camera. Remember though, if you tweak the settings and find something that works, post your modified "Dance Recital" preset for others to use.
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Old March 13th, 2006, 02:34 PM   #5
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The XL2 DOES NOT struggle in low light. Like others said, the best way to shoot is using a tripod and if possible, connecting the camera to the audio mixer to get audio. Use the 60i mode in full manual and use a shutter speed of 1/60 and open the iris all the way. If needed, don't be afraid to raise the gain - I use +6 on a rgular basis and it looks great, with 12 looking a little bit grainy, but still very good.
If you'd like to experiment with blurs and looks, you may want to try different frame rates and lower shutter speeds like Rodney mentioned, but you mention you don't want blur at the moment and I would keep things simple for now.
Lastly, use manual focus, not auto since it may not work very well in lower light.
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Old March 13th, 2006, 03:23 PM   #6
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Andrew,

I'm glad you mentioned using Manual Focus. I failed to mention that and have suffered significant hunting in low light conditions.

Dianne, you would have switched off Auto Focus in low light after the first 30 seconds, but Andrew just saved you 30 seconds of tape and maybe caught that first pirouette you really wanted to capture.
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Old March 13th, 2006, 03:47 PM   #7
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yeah, I learned about manual focus pretty early on from the original XL1 - great camera, but completly useless autofocus anywhere but outside in bright sun.
In low light, when your iris is wide open, you also need to remember that (depending on how close you are the stage) the person can walk (or in this case, dance) out of the area in focus and that needs to be anticipated and compensated for using manual focus. Even if autofocus is good, the problem is it will never know what you want in focus and may focus, but focus on the wrong thing (background instead of dancer). I'm still waiting for video cameras to have selectable autofocus points like slrs do.
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Old March 15th, 2006, 07:53 AM   #8
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We shoot dance for a living and the settings we use, depending on lighting are,

(this is for a PAL camera)

Mode: Manual
Shutter: 1/50 progressive
Aspect: 16:9 (does anybody shoot 4:3 anymore?)
Aperture: keep your finger on the trigger and adjust as lighting demands, use the zebra.
Focus: Manual
Gain: off, depending on light or Auto if light levels are poor.

The XL2 does not struggle in low light and the auto gain, like the auto sound level, is superb.

Also, flip the viewfinder up to screen mode for a long shoot, easier on your eyes and neck that way.

;op
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Old March 15th, 2006, 05:55 PM   #9
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I am not sure if you said whether or not you are on a tripod, but if so, be sure to turn your IS function off as well.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 07:52 PM   #10
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Many Thanks

Many thanks to the folks that took the time to reply to my question. The info is greatly appreciated.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 08:35 PM   #11
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The number one thing everyone forgot...

In the absence of the entire picture, lighting design, backdrop and sound we cannot make a qualified judgement.

#1! You need to attend the rehearsal and make the needed adjustments to your settings and test with a monitor. The XL2 does not need extra gain and your exposure meter does not need to be in the middle. The theatre technicians will work with you to acheive proper lighting design. They know video and it's limitations.

If this is for a compilation dvd of the recital that will be sold to the parents, you owe it to them to do a complete job. That means getting the setup right and well in advance. If you are one of the parents with an expensive camera doing this pro-bono, then drop the cam on a set of sticks, choose green box and let 'er rip. The result will be a muddy out of focus mess that will resemble bad vacation video.

Avoid the gain knob and balance the light to suit. After that it's all about the camera point of view as the various tap, jazz, lyrical and ballet pieces are interpreted by the performers. For that you will need raw experience.
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