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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 March 8th, 2007, 03:17 PM   #1
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Lighting Issue - Shiny Faces

I have had extreme difficulty with this camera with stage shooting where spotlights are used. One example is where the conditions are that I am about 40 feet away, in a mildly lit auditorium, that has additional (not real narrow) spotlights on the stage and key subjects (about 20). Before you jump, don't imaging this broadway show with a gigantic spotlight...this is not the case. They are mounted on the ceiling (30 feet up) with various colors and probably have 8 inch bases I am guessing; we do use a nice lighting controller. Note that I am using presets, not full blown custom settings. I usually end up settling with spotlight mode and shiny washed faces at times. Not good. Can't correct in post. As a note, it all works much better when the lights are out and just the spots are on. Anyway, I am shooting in 60i SD, and generally use the manual iris as to try to keep up with the changes, but the steps are not very graduated and are very noticable during live filming. Sometimes I have adjusted frame rate but I really dont want to. What happens is that I adjust the iris down to remove the shine in the face and it goes to grainy by the time I remove the glow. Gain and ND really don't help, it just moves the grain pointon the dial. I am embarrassed to say that my HDR-FX1 outperforms the XLH1 in this environmental setting (at least with this dummy behind it). Note that the XLH1 comes alive outdoors.

Questions:
* White Balance - Should I pick (guess) at the brightest spot on the stage and set the white balance there? Or anywhere in the room as some have told me?
* Is this problem common without using a fully customized setting? Can you recommend one?
* Any recommended procedures, tips, articles?

Thank you.
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Old March 8th, 2007, 03:38 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Walding View Post
* Any recommended procedures, tips, articles?
Have a look at this collection of threads about shooting live performances: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=60275
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Old March 8th, 2007, 04:15 PM   #3
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To white balance you need to have the entire lens filled with the white surface. I doubt you are doing that by pointing to "brightest spot on the stage." Try using the auto setting and see what happens.

If you don't know the presets, I don't understand just using a couple of adjustments. Have you tried just sticking the camera on auto and seeing what that gives you? What settings did you use with your HDR-FX1 or GL2 that you had listed? Did you adjust the FX1, or did you let it do its own thing on auto?

Shiny faces need make-up, that will help much.

Mike
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Old March 8th, 2007, 04:55 PM   #4
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Use make up for shiny faces, just having some foundation really helps. Make up artists are worth having on anything larger than a documentary.

Expose for the faces, use manual exposure to set your exposure - you can use the zebras. Let the shadows fall off into darkness.

Auto exposure is a total waste of time under these lighting conditions.
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Old March 8th, 2007, 05:19 PM   #5
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I sympathize with your problems. Try using the gamma in Cine 1 or 2 and the knee setting on Low in custom preset. The camera in standard mode doesn't handle highlights as well as some other manufacturers.
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Old March 8th, 2007, 06:45 PM   #6
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i was gonna say, with any jvc, pana or canon camera, this can be fixed with the correct gamma configuration.

Id recomend a curve which is as emphasises dynamic range and flattens out the broader base of colour, in post you can always boost this back up as required, however as noted, u wont be able to fix a blown out face..
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Old March 9th, 2007, 11:11 AM   #7
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Mike -- I am using a white card. What I meant was...putting the white card in the shiniest spot and filling the screen, then holding the WB button. Concerning presets...I mean AV, TV, MAN, Etc., not the full blown settings that you can download from this site...although I need to just buckle down and start using them. On my HDR-FX1, I have been using spotlight mode and adjusting the iris...but once set, I don't have to adjust it hardly at all.

ALL - Amen on the makeup...but I am expected to make quality without that luxury. What is discouraging is that at church I have semi-bragged that since I have the expensive cameras, that I can produce better quality. Then, in comes this production company with this shoulder mounted tank...dont know what it was but it used DVC-Pro tapes, and they shot super quality without makeup...but they did raise the lights a bit though. I watched them and they never seemed to ever adjust the camera...like you or I would. But who can afford their probably $20,000 (or more) monster.

ALL - thanks on the tips and the gamma settings. I know I should look this up and take my camera operating up a step, and I will... but I am assuming that when you go to full manual mode where you can adjust the gamma, that it begins with somewhat a standard state? Correct?
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Old March 9th, 2007, 06:33 PM   #8
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Custom Presets can be used in any mode of the camera. The standard gamma and knee settings are not as effective dealing with highlights as the custom ones. Manual mode just means iris, gain and shutter are set by the user not what gamma or knee the camera uses. That is set turning off or on custom preset and what the custom preset is set to. HTH
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Old March 10th, 2007, 06:09 PM   #9
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stretch the blacks and low on the knee, see if you can put a 1/4 diffusion opn a couple of those lights to soften things up a little bit as well. other than that, powder the subject's faces but in live events people tend to sweat a lot so that can be iffy
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Old March 11th, 2007, 08:17 AM   #10
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"What happens is that I adjust the iris down to remove the shine in the face and it goes to grainy by the time I remove the glow. Gain and ND really don't help, it just moves the grain pointon the dial."

If you reduce exposure, grain should become less apparent. It sounds like you have your gain on automatic and it is increasing while you reduce your iris. Make sure you have the gain set to zero and that it stays there. You should only use gain if you are in a low-light environment and you can not get sufficient exposure without.
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Old March 11th, 2007, 10:59 AM   #11
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Good Catch. He could be operating in Manual but still be in Auto Gain.
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Old March 12th, 2007, 10:37 AM   #12
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Jon- Stretch the blacks?....Do you mean raise the level??
Also, do any of you mess with the skin detail setting? What is a good setting for it? I envision it being something you just set and leave, but maybe I am wrong.
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Old March 21st, 2007, 02:47 PM   #13
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I use the skin detail at medium quite often.

the problem you're having is caused by a combination of 2 things, the camera lacks in the area of latitude: the difference between the maximum readable highs and lows, and as a result, the light reflecting off of moist skin, which is VERY reflective is blown out, you can increase the latitude a little by stretching the blacks and owering the knee but it's still a problem.

this is made even uglier because of the emminent sharpness of high definition. the blown out areas are sharply edged and very ugly.

quite often I will use a filter on the camera, something like a 1/4 black promist from tiffen. you still have the over exposure but the edges of the over exposed area are softened considerably giving it a more natural, "Film like" feel.
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