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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 May 10th, 2009, 02:53 PM   #1
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Newbie questions for three XLH1A shooting

I知 looking to put together a studio system that I can use to shoot educational videos. My first target area is wood turning, so I知 going to be shooting in a fairly hostile environment, with a high ambient amount of noise.

I致e managed to glean a lot of information about the Canon XLH1S and A from this forum (so many thanks to all of you who have posted so much useful information over the years!)

Right now I知 thinking that I will use three XLH1A痴 and record to miniDV, therefore there does not seem to be any point in getting XLH1S as, based on my research, there is little need for the SDI output or genlock unless I was to be recording SDI in real time. My research indicates that once the video signal is written to miniDV in the camera, there is no way to recover the information lost in compression. Playback through the SDI ports is just using a wide data port to play a narrow data stream.

However, there are some questions that I have not been able to answer by researching what the knowledgeable folks on this forum have written and I知 hoping that the folks on the forum both know the answer and would be kind enough to respond.

By way of background, I plan to produce productions that will have a total run time of about six hours (e.g. three DVDs). I知 planning on a three camera shoot. One will be a general view of the talent in the workshop context. One will an overhead camera looking straight down, and one will be on the shoulder and mobile for close up shots of the work area. I am not particularly bothered if one camera appears in the field of view of another.

I will be using either ambient light, or hot lights with umbrellas if the ambient light level is too low.

There will be one or two people in the shots, and I plan to use Sennheiser ENG wireless lavalier mics for the talent, with on-camera receivers feeding into the XLR inputs of the fixed position general view XLH1A.

Question 1: With the price of the XLH1A around the same as a DVD-1500A VTR, would you recommend purchasing a separate VTR to save the heads on the cameras, or just use the cameras to ingest the footage into FCP 6? My typical modus operandi is to ingest an entire miniDV at a time, then create multiclips and switch between camera 殿ngles.

The point being that I really don稚 plan on hammering the cameras by doing individual scene captures using device control. I値l just be rewinding the tape, and playing it back once as FCP does the ingest.

The overhead camera poses some interesting problems. Specifically, which boom to use, whether to have it fully remotely controlled (or just jockey it to the correct position and then use the XLH1A痴 remote control to zoom in/out, focus, and stop/start). The type of shoot suggests that I can just set the position of the camera up once and not mess with it other than to change tapes.

Question 2: However, I壇 very much appreciate any advice you folks have as to whose boom/jib would be good for a 都traight down look? The boom/jib should preferably be castor mounted so I can better nudge into the right place.

I also need a remote EVF for the overhead camera. It would seem that the ZR-2000 Remote Control and the FU-2000 would solve that, but I have not been able to find out how long a cord the ZR-2000 has? Also there is a worrisome thread at http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/remote-le...-opinions.html where the ZR-2000 is described as 殿 cheap hunk of plastic. The ZR-2000 also doesn稚 appear to give full access to some of the more useful controls such as Peaking.

So I guess my questions here are:

Question 3: Any know how long the cable is on the ZR-2000 please?

Question 4: Would I be better off another vendor痴 remote control and EVF? Any recommendations? The VariZoom VZ PG-L would appear to be a good candidate even though it doesn稚 give access to such things as the Peaking control of the XLH1. The VZ Stealth LX apparently allows tape time display so might be a better choice, but I知 kinda stuck for a remote EVF (I壇 need to see EVF details rather than just an external monitor).

Question 5: Any recommendations for how to get a long power cord up the overhead jib the Canon supply is obviously too short and has the charger 斗ump in it? Or should I just rely on batteries?

Question 6: I知 also in the market for a 途emote control for use on the pan bars of a Bogen 3066. Again the VZ-PG-L or VZ Stealth LX appear ideal, but no access to Peaking. Any other recommendations?

Question 7: With Canon DSLR, one can change the speed or 鍍witchiness of the auto-focus. Is there any way of doing that with the XLH1A? It seems quite, er, relaxed in how quickly it changes? (I致e been evaluating a loaner XLH1S over this weekend but could not find any hint of a way to do that in the manual.)

Question 8: Ok, this one痴 going to reveal my higgerance In the EVF, with the audio set to manual, there are two horizontal VU meters with a green dot at what appears to be -12 dB. Isn稚 it more normal to set the audio to -6 dB?

Sorry about the Spanish Inquisition above, and thanks in advance to anyone who can help with some answers and/or recommendations.

Regards
Andy
Forensic Software Analyst, Portland, OR

Digital Photographer (H3DII-39, 1Ds Mk III, D2x)
Videographer (perhaps with XLH1A, but very ignorant, MacPro, eight core, OS X with 2.7TB SoftRaid, 32GB RAM, FCP Studio 2)
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Old May 10th, 2009, 11:50 PM   #2
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Hi Andy.........

Hmm, don't want much, do you? I jest.

Q1. You have not mentioned different lenses, so I'm assuming you'll be using the stock lens. If so, why not shoot with XHA1's instead? Same camera, just can't change the lens. Or two A1's and one H1. Or an A1, H1 and a HV30/40? Save a shed load of money. Use the HV as a deck and thrash the living daylights out of it - they're a pittance compared to a "real" deck and do exactly the same job (even has a handy lens for actually shooting footage!).

Q2. Can't recommend a specific manufacturer but whatever it is must have both tilt and pan locks that work. Yes, dolley/ castor mounted would be fine. It's the head that needs carefull selection - it needs to be underslung and to mount the camera at it's centre of gravity. Remote controlled via cable to boot. Mounting a HV3/40 is a damn sight cheaper than a model large enough for either an A1/ H1.

Q3. The cable length on the ZR - 2000 is only about a foot. However, it can be extended by the cheapest of cheap 3 core cables and stereo phono plugs each end to anything up to 500 feet.

Q4. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the ZR 2000. No Lancs give access to Peaking. Unless the H1 is radically different to the XHA1, the Composite video O/P gives access to all displays that appear on the EVF, tho' you'd probably want to use the Component O/P also to connect a HD 24" screen for focussing (it seems the EVF displays don't go out on Component).

Q5. Batteries are good and relatively cheap. Alternatively you could modify the existing power cord from the charger to camera to extend it considerably. Batteries seem a lot simpler.

Q6. ZR 2000. No Lancs give access..............

Q7. Certainly can on the A1 so must assume you can on the H1.

Q8. Anywhere between the two should be fine. Use cans (headphones) and test your audio to destruct point BEFORE you start shooting live.


CS

Last edited by Chris Soucy; May 10th, 2009 at 11:52 PM. Reason: Forgot the "CS". Gotta be alzheimers, er, what were we talking about......
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Old May 11th, 2009, 06:31 AM   #3
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I much prefer the superb Manfrotto 523 Pro (and other lancs in the Manfrotto/Bogen series) than the basic ZR 2000.

It might also be worth considering buying the older XL-H1 bodies because you can sometimes pick them up brand new for cheaper prices from dealers than the latest H1s and H1a models.

Just of note...why do you say that it is not important to have the other cameras in the field of view during the wood turning shoot?
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Old May 11th, 2009, 01:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Hmm, don't want much, do you? I jest.
Yeah...(hangs head in shame...) I realize that this was a bit of a demanding post after I'd posted it, but when you are ignorant as I am about some topics, and being a newbie to the forum, I crossed my fingers and hope that someone might take pity on me.

Did I mention that recently there has been an alarming increase in the number of topics about which I know nothing? Just getting back to into DV after a decade away (back when S-VHS was the Hot Thing), so much has changed. Even changing over from a Mac-based Media 100 to a Mac-based FCP is quite a change in scenery. My brain is full.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Q1. You have not mentioned different lenses, so I'm assuming you'll be using the stock lens. If so, why not shoot with XHA1's instead? Same camera, just can't change the lens. Or two A1's and one H1. Or an A1, H1 and a HV30/40? Save a shed load of money. Use the HV as a deck and thrash the living daylights out of it - they're a pittance compared to a "real" deck and do exactly the same job (even has a handy lens for actually shooting footage!).
That's a very good idea. The only wimpy argument I can come up with for getting three XLH1's is that they would act as a backup for each other and the XLH1 is cool. Did I mention it was a bit of a wimpy argument?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Q2. Can't recommend a specific manufacturer but whatever it is must have both tilt and pan locks that work. Yes, dolley/ castor mounted would be fine. It's the head that needs carefull selection - it needs to be underslung and to mount the camera at it's centre of gravity. Remote controlled via cable to boot. Mounting a HV3/40 is a damn sight cheaper than a model large enough for either an A1/ H1.
That's very true. I'm still worrying/researching that problem. The camera will be looking straight down, so the C of G is going to be an interesting issue -- I may have to rig up some custom mount (think L-bracket) so that the weight of the camera can be distributed between the 1/4"-20 bolt and the front of the camera -- and have a safety steel cable so that the 1/4"-20 bolt isn't the only thing keeping the camera airborne.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Q3. The cable length on the ZR - 2000 is only about a foot. However, it can be extended by the cheapest of cheap 3 core cables and stereo phono plugs each end to anything up to 500 feet.
Aha! Thanks for the information.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Q4. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the ZR 2000. No Lancs give access to Peaking. Unless the H1 is radically different to the XHA1, the Composite video O/P gives access to all displays that appear on the EVF, tho' you'd probably want to use the Component O/P also to connect a HD 24" screen for focussing (it seems the EVF displays don't go out on Component).
Again, thanks for the info. The loaner XLH1 I evaluated over the weekend didn't come with the Component O/P cable adapter. Can you get EVF data to show up on the Component O/P or is it just available on the Composite?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Q5. Batteries are good and relatively cheap. Alternatively you could modify the existing power cord from the charger to camera to extend it considerably. Batteries seem a lot simpler.
Yeah. I think batteries might be more reliable and less hassle than a radical cablectomy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Q6. ZR 2000. No Lancs give access..............
I thought that might be the case. Sigh.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Q7. Certainly can on the A1 so must assume you can on the H1.
OK. I'll RTFM in more detail and see if the Canon Rep can shed some light on how to do that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Q8. Anywhere between the two should be fine. Use cans (headphones) and test your audio to destruct point BEFORE you start shooting live.
Good idea.

I should have also mentioned that I evaluated an EF Adapter XL and ran through my set of Canon Lenses. Too bad that AF is not available. Kinda neat to hang the XLH1 on the back of a 600mm IS lens, though. Atmospheric haze/shimmer becomes a limiting factor when you have a 4,200mm lens. I think I'm not going to get the adapter but will hang a 5D Mark II on the tail of the lenses when I need HDV with that kind of long glass at the pointy end.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond, CS!

Regards
Andy
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Old May 11th, 2009, 01:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick View Post
I much prefer the superb Manfrotto 523 Pro (and other lancs in the Manfrotto/Bogen series) than the basic ZR 2000.
Thanks for the response, Tony. I appreciate your suggestion. I'll see if I can eval both of them and report back. I did see info on-line for the 523 Pro so I was wondering about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick View Post
It might also be worth considering buying the older XL-H1 bodies because you can sometimes pick them up brand new for cheaper prices from dealers than the latest H1s and H1a models.
CS had a similar kind of idea in his posting. Point taken.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick View Post
Just of note...why do you say that it is not important to have the other cameras in the field of view during the wood turning shoot?
Well, what I was trying to say was that the production values for this market don't have to be too terribly high. Right now, the average DVD generally consists of a guy setting up his camcorder with an on-camera mic and letting it run for an hour or so -- no script, not much editing.

Don't get me wrong, there are some few folks who have increased the production values (e.g. using lav or on-ear mics, HDV, editing), but the market is, I suspect, quite tolerant of "down home" production vals. For starters most cannot use a real set -- the lathes weigh about 1,200 lbs, so moving them into a set is a bit of a non-starter -- so the videos are shot in an actual workshop.

That said, if I can avoid having the cameras in the FOV, I'll, of course, do it, but the challenge is getting simultaneous wide shots, maybe some OTS, and then macro shots of the tip of a steel gouge on a tool rest making contacting with wood spinning at several thousand RPM.

It's also tough to do a re-take as you cannot glue the shavings back on too well. <grin>

Anyway, right or wrong, that was my initial thinking. As I mentioned I'm a newbie. My only defence will be that I think I have a valid reason for being wrong! <grin>

Regards
Andy
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Old May 12th, 2009, 06:24 AM   #6
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...Well, what I was trying to say was that the production values for this market don't have to be too terribly high. Right now, the average DVD generally consists of a guy setting up his camcorder with an on-camera mic and letting it run for an hour or so -- no script, not much editing.
Regards
Andy
You can down-rez the HDV footage or shoot straight SD with the H1s, but if the end results are going to be shown as SD-TV or normal DVD instead of HD-TV or Blue-Ray etc, then it would be a lot cheaper and easier to use Canon XL2 cameras.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 04:44 PM   #7
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You can down-rez the HDV footage or shoot straight SD with the H1s, but if the end results are going to be shown as SD-TV or normal DVD instead of HD-TV or Blue-Ray etc, then it would be a lot cheaper and easier to use Canon XL2 cameras.
Good point. I'll ponder that further.

By the way, Tony, the image of the sleeping bear in the water on your web site is brilliant! How close to the beast were you?

Regards
Andy
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Old May 13th, 2009, 08:49 AM   #8
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I used a 500mm lens for that photo. It was taking during a rare summer heatwave in Canada, so the bear was more intent on taking a cool dip than how close the photographer was to him. :)
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Old May 13th, 2009, 08:12 PM   #9
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I used a 500mm lens for that photo. It was taking during a rare summer heatwave in Canada, so the bear was more intent on taking a cool dip than how close the photographer was to him. :)

I suspect the photographer was acutely aware of the shortness of the distance, though.

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Old May 14th, 2009, 09:23 AM   #10
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The cable length on the ZR - 2000 is only about a foot.
Sorry, incorrect -- the cable length of the ZR-2000 is about twelve feet (see attached pics in my post at http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/615620-post15.html).

You're probably thinking of the ZR-1000; it's the Canon LANC controller that has a one-foot cable. Hope this helps,
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Old May 14th, 2009, 10:03 AM   #11
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There is another way to get the 'overhead' shots.

A mirror.

This is often used in studio set-ups, especially cooking and 'craft' shows. Much would depend on the location and space and such, but it IS worth considering.

Think about mounting a 'full length mirror' like you get for the back of a door, on a sheet of plywood. Then mount the plywood on a pivoting rack, or just use 'grip heads on C-Stands and get it up above the talent. You can mount it at 45 degrees, instead of 'straight down' then shoot 'up' into it at 45' from a regular camera - the result is a 'straight down' shot like you see on cooking shows. Sure, the image is reversed, but you can always flip it back in post if you feel that's necessary.

Just another way to approach the problem. With wood chips flying, and elbows bumping, it may or may not be a better solution than trying to fly a crane over the worker.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 06:17 PM   #12
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There is another way to get the 'overhead' shots.

A mirror.
Sorry for the delay in responding, Richard...but I just wanted to say thanks for the idea. I'd not thought of that -- and it does make a lot of sense. I particularly like the idea of putting a mirror in harm's way instead of an XLH1.

Regards
Andy
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