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Canon XL H Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XL H1S (with SDI), Canon XL H1A (without SDI). Also XL H1.


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Old June 5th, 2008, 10:19 AM   #1
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Using XL H1 for effects heavy scenes

First off... Hello, this is my first of probably many posts to come. Even though I have browsed this forum many times, I never posted till now.

Anywho, on to my question. I remember earlier there was a post about a film called, I think, Blackout. And I do recall that they said they had started on 200+ effects needed in post.

I guess my question is, for those with experience, Is the XL-H1 capable of handeling what's going to be effects heavy sequences in post (via After Effects and what not), using the stock lense.

By effects heavy I'm talking Green/blue screen, compositing in 3d objects (that hopefull look real when textured correctly) and so on.

I'm possibly looking to purchase the XL-H1a when it drops next month.

Thanks in advance,

-Sean
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Old June 6th, 2008, 10:05 AM   #2
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Sean;
I shot a sci-fi feature last year with my XL-H1, 24f mode. We shot a lot of green screen material and there are a lot of effect shot being composited with 3d elements. It will be released in August this year and it is looking fantastic. The producers and the director are all very happy with the footage and the effects matching in. I don't have any frames I can show you, but the XL-H1 performed fantastically. In 24f mode it does require an AC to pull focus since the camera responds rather slowly in auto focus mode.
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Old June 6th, 2008, 10:06 AM   #3
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This question is a little difficult to answer without knowing your background. To some amateur and budding film-makers (As well as pros) the quality of the HDV footage from the H1 is stunning and you can do some great effects work with it and get good results. I personally think it will blow you away if you have no extensive effects experience.

However if you are used to shooting and doing post work on 35mm film footage, DVCpro HD or a RED ONE for example, you will likely feel very limited and notice the lower color depth and compression artifacts that limit how far you can push an image.

Sorry I didn't answer you question directly but I am trying to get some perspective on where your background is.

To add a little extra, many users capture video from HDV cameras using the SDI output which bypasses the mpg compression and color-downsampling and delivers a more robust video stream (if youhave the hardware to capture it), which is particularly helpful if you plan to do a lot of visual effects processing. You mentioned the XL-H1a which actually doesn't have this feature. If your line of work calls for heavy effects you might want to consider a camera that has this or some kind of uncompressed digital feed.

Thanks.
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Old June 6th, 2008, 10:09 AM   #4
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Barry posted this while I was typing my response but is a great example how happy professionals are with the H1. Barry, can you comment on the methods used for acquisition? HDV or did you tap into the SDI Spigot for a less bit-starved master?



Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Gregg View Post
Sean;
I shot a sci-fi feature last year with my XL-H1, 24f mode. We shot a lot of green screen material and there are a lot of effect shot being composited with 3d elements. It will be released in August this year and it is looking fantastic. The producers and the director are all very happy with the footage and the effects matching in. I don't have any frames I can show you, but the XL-H1 performed fantastically. In 24f mode it does require an AC to pull focus since the camera responds rather slowly in auto focus mode.
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Old June 6th, 2008, 10:10 AM   #5
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Record tethered to some type of uncompressed or ProRes format.
It will produce much better keys. We have done so numerous
times with great success.

Canon HDV is by no means terrible to key, but your edges
will look MUCH better by avoiding it.

Attached is an example.
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Using XL H1 for effects heavy scenes-stairstepping.jpg  
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Old June 6th, 2008, 10:22 AM   #6
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Nice example. Any chance you can post the same shot acquired via ProRez or some other superior format? If not any other images we can do an A/B comparison on?


Also.....the HDV compression really blurs the small text on his shirt huh? :)

Last edited by Marty Hudzik; June 6th, 2008 at 10:23 AM. Reason: added sarcastic humor...
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Old June 6th, 2008, 10:26 AM   #7
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Sorry. This was from a quick and dirty HDV project.

I went through some old stuff and it looks like
we've converted all our raw capture to DVCPROHD,
so I don't have any samples on hand.

There are other examples out there on the web though.
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Old June 6th, 2008, 10:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty Hudzik View Post
Also.....the HDV compression really blurs the small text on his shirt huh? :)
uh... ya, another drawback of HDV. :)
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Old June 6th, 2008, 01:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Love View Post
First off... Hello, this is my first of probably many posts to come. Even though I have browsed this forum many times, I never posted till now.

Anywho, on to my question. I remember earlier there was a post about a film called, I think, Blackout. And I do recall that they said they had started on 200+ effects needed in post.

I guess my question is, for those with experience, Is the XL-H1 capable of handeling what's going to be effects heavy sequences in post (via After Effects and what not), using the stock lense.

By effects heavy I'm talking Green/blue screen, compositing in 3d objects (that hopefull look real when textured correctly) and so on.

I'm possibly looking to purchase the XL-H1a when it drops next month.

Thanks in advance,

-Sean
Hey Sean. We're currently in post-production on The Blackout. We've been working mainly on visual effects right now.

We didn't really shoot any green/blue screen material. We did have green panels sticking off the left and right side of the sets (for set extensions later). But we haven't needed to key any of the material. All extractions are being hand roto'd.

The noise floor of the H1 is the only thing you need to worry about. And if you make sure your green screen is evenly lit to 60 IRE (assuming you have a scope on set) you'll be able to pull some very nice keys with very little noise. And as we all know noise and compression artifacts can create some nasty edge chatter.

One of the nice things about the H1 is that it's one of the sharpest and highest resolution of the 1/3" cameras. So rotoscoping footage has been pretty straight forward without issue.

I will admit that I'm only working with footage that was captured HD-SDI and bypassed HDV compression. So I'm working with footage that has very clean blacks and tight noise characteristics. However, it should be noted that the cleaner ProRes footage does contain some high-frequency aliasing at the highlight clip point. The good news is that the Nattress de-interlace plugin (using blend mode) smoothes it out nicely without adding any blur or softening to the image. We run the footage through the plugin before sending it to AE for FX work.

We're doing everything almost exclusively in AE CS3 (supported with Photoshop, particle emitters from Particle Illusions). Set extensions. Matte painting work. And some creature animation using the new puppeteering tool in AE (I can't speak highly enough about the puppeteering tool). If you look at the last shot of the teaser trailer the creature, boy's body, and set are all real. But the creature's tail was hand animated using the puppeteer tool. Very effective.

In conclusion, I'd say that the uncompressed H1 footage (or ProRes) is very similar to footage from an F900.

Rob
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Old June 6th, 2008, 02:59 PM   #10
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Marty;
We could not afford a deck to record to uncompressed. We shot with HDV tape and it was not a problem. The project is so effects heavy that the post is taking a full year. I wish it were finished and I could share some frame grabs.
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