"The Signal" an XL-H1 mini 35 Feature at DVinfo.net

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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 January 11th, 2006, 10:14 AM   #1
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"The Signal" an XL-H1 mini 35 Feature

Well folks yesterday we wrapped on the first four days of the feature i'm working on called the signal. We're sort of beta testing a work flow for this system so I figure I'd let everyone know how things are working.

First and foremost the image is beautiful. Some of the stuff we're seeing is just mind blowing. Now my criticisms.

The viewfinder is the weakest part so far, not high res enough to resolve critical focus on a mini 35, the image ghosts, alot, and on my particular viewfinder there is a loose connection or some sort of grounding issue at the base of the camera. I think switching to a higher res viewfinder (fu-1000?) would really help, and now looks like it will be a requirenment for me if I'm renting a mini 35. I've switched to B+W mode and turned on peaking, but it's still very difficult to resolve though camera (and sometimes even through monitor). We're using a LANC connector on the mini 35 so the glass is always rolling during takes, but when focus you need the glass rolling as well.

I have a lit pixel and on set we've named the camera "pixely" but there's a whole thread on that so I won't get into it.

We listened to a couple of takes (yelling and stuff) and the sound really held up. We are running through a mixer and line in directly to the camera so I'm sure that helps, but right now it appeasrs the compression really isn't hurting us, yet.

Battery life with the new batteries is really good, the new smaller batteries as long as the old big batteries from the XL series.

So far the HDV codec is holding up really well for what I've seen. I had some worry about it, and there does seem to be a little (very little) break up however for the way this movie works It's pretty good.

The groundglass is really pronounced we can see it pretty readily anytime we shoot, we have a little bit of noise in our low light shots as well, which may or may not be because of the codec and the mini 35 but it's nothing that shouldn't work in post.

The light loss is still pretty bad on the camera with the adapter, the gaffer is estimating us at a film speed of something like 60 asa. The camera EATS up direct light, we probably should have had another couple of days prep for the camera, but well, low budget and you know how it goes. The first few days we were lighting with diffusion and such, but now I think it's going to be primarily direct light.

For this movie, all of the "problems" aren't such a big deal, the gritty, grainyness and even the difficult focus works for this hand held feel. It gives it a little bit of a documentry feel and hard lighting doesnt' hurt us much at all. So for those thinking of making an awesome horror movie this setup may really work for you, but for those thinking of making a romantic comedy, make sure you do a LOT of tests first.
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Old January 11th, 2006, 10:34 AM   #2
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The clip looks great! (saw the pixel but had to really look for it) Get us some more clips when you get a chance.

Thanks,
Rick
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Old January 11th, 2006, 10:58 AM   #3
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Rick, thanks, I should be able to let you know about thursday or friday later on today.
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Old January 16th, 2006, 04:15 PM   #4
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I'm going to continue posting my results about the mini35 and xl-h1 here as everything that I've found has been on this show.

I wish that I had taken a look at coring, and also had been able to shoot in -3db the entire time. I think there are a few sections that would definitely lend themselves to having the NR 2 section turned on, but that's how it goes.

I think it's also really important that when monitoring these cameras you have something larger then a 9" monitor, the very least should be a 14, perhaps even a 20" there's just so much information, and focus can be so critical that using such a small monitor could cause a problem.

We also had a small mishap with accidentally switching to 4:3 mode which reset the custom preset (I wasn't on set so I'm not sure exactly what happened, but it's an interesting problem if that does happen whenever the switch occurs)

I think a really interesting thing is the color space on the camera. When we sent an SD out to the sound guy and an HD out to the production monitor they looked very different. The SD was MUCH brighter and more vibrant then the HD conterpart. I attribute this to SMPTE color standards being different, but I'm really curious as to how this will work out in post. I'm also beginning to think that the viewfinder out put is the standard Def smpte color space but there is no way for me to confirm that yet.

We also had a few shots where we put the included lens back on, which really looks good, and i think for these short insert shots will turn out really great.
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I have a dream that one day canon will release a 35mm ef to xl adapter and I'll have iris control and a 35mm dof of all my ef lenses, and it will be awesome...

Last edited by Nick Hiltgen; January 16th, 2006 at 06:00 PM.
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Old January 16th, 2006, 06:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Hiltgen
When we sent an SD out to the sound guy and an HD out to the production monitor they looked very different. The SD was MUCH brighter and more vibrant then the HD conterpart.
Same on HD100. Same when you take HDV in post and downconvert to SD using FCP or Compressor.

Guess it's a product of the math going from one format to another.
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Old January 16th, 2006, 07:18 PM   #6
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This is up on the other post as well but here's what I think the ideal set-up is for a mini 35 and XL-H1.

stop down to -3 gain.
drop sharpness to -9
raise coring to 9
turn NR2 on (as needed)

light for 50asa
use some fast lenses
and have the ground glass spinning at 8 and the iris of the unit open to 1

Anyone else have suggestions?
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