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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old July 11th, 2006, 12:14 AM   #1
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Low Light or Night settings with little noise

Ok, I've been doing some experimenting and reading every post Ash (and others) has made on low light/night settings and thought I would post my findings.

First, my goal was to create a setting that captures blacks as just that, black. I sometimes shoot in dark settings where only my subject is lit and I absolutely hate the noise or “mosquito noise” in the background black areas. Now, for this test and for this situation I wasn’t worried about the detail in the shadows, or black areas. In fact, that’s exactly what I wanted…nothing but clean, smooth black.

I shot a girl in a fairly dark room and only lit her face with candles. I’ve posted the screen grab and Windows Media clip at www.lyonfilms.com/test.html. The media clip is good because the first part of the clip is what I call my Night preset (see settings below) and the second half of the clip is the “Routine” camera setting as posted here on other threads.

I have watched the footage on my HD monitor, on Windows Media and burned at very high quality settings to DVD and played on my Sony Trinitron TV. I am very happy with the results. Very low noise, very dark clean blacks.

One last thing: I shot the subject at 16:9, 30p and had the gain set at 0.

Here are my settings anything not listed is at default. Sorry if things are out of order, I’m going off my handwritten notes.

Gamma = cine
Color Matrix = cine
Noise reduction = middle
Sharpness –3
Color Gain +2
Color Phase + 1
Red Gain = 0
Green Gain = 0
Blue Gain = 0
Blacks = Press
Coring +3
Set Up –3
Master Pedistal –3
Knee = middle
V. Detail = Normal
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Old July 11th, 2006, 02:10 AM   #2
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Looks good

The image Looks good. You should also try experimenting with just one candle. And please let us know what the image looks like with one candle. Did you White Balance. Please let us know what white balance you use. What was your IRIS and SHUTTER settings.
Good Job and thanks for sharing your settings.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 10:32 AM   #3
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Ed,

Unfortunately, I forgot to white balance (which I normally always do) and just left the white balance on auto. I believe the picture would have looked better had it been better balanced.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 11:37 AM   #4
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To me the normal preset looks brighter, and would probably be fine if it was white balanced.

For what it's worth, I have sample clips from several video cameras which end with a scene lit by a single candle, as shown at the following URL:

http://www.videomem.com/camera_compa...-15/index.html
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Old July 11th, 2006, 01:09 PM   #5
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Yes, the normal preset is brighter. The settings changes I made darken the image, but also reduce video noise. This setting certainly isn't for every appilcation, only for what I wanted which was very dark, clean noise free blacks.

When viewed on a big screen the Night preset looks much more cinematic and clean. The normal setting is lighter, shows much more in the shadows but has a totally different look, a look I wasn't going for.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 01:14 PM   #6
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Ed, you asked about other settings: the clip was shot at f2.0 and 1/30 shutter. The settings, other than the presets, were the same for both the Night preset and the Routine preset.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 09:20 PM   #7
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Devon: out of curiosity, have you tried darkening standard footage in post to make shadows blacker and eliminate the noise that way? If so, what adjustments helped that way?
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Old July 11th, 2006, 11:56 PM   #8
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Honestly, I have not had much luck darkening standard images in post when all I want to do is remove noise in the dark areas. I am no expert, but I think it is because to darken the blacks I would darken the entire image. Now, obviously, I could create a mask and only darken the background, or the blacks, but that could get way too complicatied really quickly. I would rather capture a clean night shot or a clean low light shot in camera if at all possible.

I would love other people's input on their experience in low light or night settings. Thanks!
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Old July 12th, 2006, 02:07 AM   #9
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Devon,
I like the look especially the soft look.

Why didn't you shoot 24p?
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Old July 12th, 2006, 11:10 AM   #10
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Eniola:

OK, I'm almost embarrased to say this as I've been a XL2 owner for 2 years and have been using PPro for that long as well. Ever since I upgraded to PPro 2.0 and shoot in 24P Normal, every time I import the footage I get weird interlace lines or "mouse teeth" when there is movement. It happens like every third or fourth frame. I never had the problem before and have run a number of tests and still can't figure out why it is happening. So, I've been shooting 30P just to be safe.

If anyone has any thoughts, please let me know. Thanks.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 12:48 PM   #11
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You aren't alone. I find that if I shoot in 16:9 and use the 25p frame rate (Pal) Some of the effects in my " Casablanca" editing system that I use, don't work! So after years using Frame mode, with the XL1'S, if I want widescreen, it has to be done at 50i Mode.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 04:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Devon Lyon
Eniola:

OK, I'm almost embarrased to say this as I've been a XL2 owner for 2 years and have been using PPro for that long as well. Ever since I upgraded to PPro 2.0 and shoot in 24P Normal, every time I import the footage I get weird interlace lines or "mouse teeth" when there is movement. It happens like every third or fourth frame. I never had the problem before and have run a number of tests and still can't figure out why it is happening. So, I've been shooting 30P just to be safe.

If anyone has any thoughts, please let me know. Thanks.
Hmmm, no wonder the edges looks really clean with the 30p.
Did you try converting that footage to 24p in post with some CC, etc added?

I would love to see the final result. I believe you are trying these tests for a future project, right? Could we see what it will look like if you try to do all the neccesary things to make that particular clip look filmic.

Anyways, I tried your presets using the BlurBarn software and I did get some noise but I think the preset did not work because when I changed the control knob all the way to manual, and then changed the settings control to the preset you gave above, it seems not work, whereas, when the knob was at the Ext. Control, I could see the colors, crushed blacks etc. Does anyone knows what I am not clicking, changing etc?
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Old July 13th, 2006, 09:04 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Devon Lyon
Eniola:

OK, I'm almost embarrased to say this as I've been a XL2 owner for 2 years and have been using PPro for that long as well. Ever since I upgraded to PPro 2.0 and shoot in 24P Normal, every time I import the footage I get weird interlace lines or "mouse teeth" when there is movement. It happens like every third or fourth frame. I never had the problem before and have run a number of tests and still can't figure out why it is happening. So, I've been shooting 30P just to be safe.

If anyone has any thoughts, please let me know. Thanks.
Devon, I'm pretty sure that your problem you are encountering is how you are importing your video. I'm guessing you are recording 24p 2:3:3:2. You need to import your footage into your NLE so it will remove advanced pulldown. The import framerate should be 29.97 interlaced (yes interlaced). Your sequence timeline should be set to 24 progressive. There are several threads here with a link to another site that shows the exact settigns for importing 24p advanced into final cut. I had the EXACT same issue. Like every 4th frame would be sawtoothed, until I fixed the import, now it's smooth as butter (24 frames a second butter, which is not exactly that smooth).... later.
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Old July 13th, 2006, 09:38 AM   #14
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If your NLE has a color curves function, you should be able to darken JUST the black areas, without affecting the rest of the picture, and without using a mask.
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Old July 13th, 2006, 10:25 AM   #15
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I am trying to import 24p (3:2) or Normal, not advanced and I am importing into Premier Pro 2.0, not to Final Cut. Any thoughts?
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