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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old February 4th, 2006, 09:40 PM   #1756
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canon the XL1s be programmed with no cassette

Can the XL1S be programmed with no mini dv cassette in the camera?? I'm awaiting the Canon head cleaner to use for cleaning the heads before I run a new tape in it - I just want to make sure it's safe to program and set up all of the settings before I put a tape in it. It doesn't say anything in the manual about it.
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Old February 5th, 2006, 12:44 AM   #1757
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there is no problem at all. all settings are saved regardless of whether or not a tape is in the camera.
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Old February 5th, 2006, 08:13 AM   #1758
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thanks Henry !
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Old February 5th, 2006, 11:13 PM   #1759
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Sound Level check with XL1S

Okay, I've decided to shoot in 16 bit audio mode....
and then use the two channel - a friend of mine said I can drop other
channels in with post production - so the manual is saying that I either use the mini jacks for an external mic or the RCA line-in for the external mic...what about the levels?? It states something that anything over 12 should have the headphone plugged in (is this a MINIMUM audio level that will record on tape??) When I'm doing my sound check with the button, how to I determine where to set my level controls at?? I'm confused with this....would I test my loudest dialogue or ambient sound to make sure it's not going over a certain level?? Any suggestions?
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Old February 6th, 2006, 04:32 AM   #1760
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What ever audio signal reaches the active audio input will record to tape, but too low a signal can be lost in the nosie floor. For best results I believe that when doing manual audio levels they suggest that the audio level average around the -12 setting. (This is a compromise between signal to noise ratio and avoiding clipping on audio peaks. It works OK with "average" sound sources in consumer/prosumer environments, but may be too high for program material with a wide dynamic range.) Specific types of program material may call for a different setting, and using headphones can help making the judgement inthe field.

In general, the loudest sound you want to capture without distortion should cause the meter to peak just below zero. Anything above this may be distorted due to clipping. Practice until you get a feel for the equipment capability and how best to meet your audio needs.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 11:14 AM   #1761
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If you are recording a single mono source, split the signal L/R and record both, but balance the stereo image to one side...that way if your dominant recording side clips, you can use the secondary as back up as it will not have clipped...I have mine dialled about half way between left and center. This should cover just about any difficulties I have. I also make sure to always record room tone if not for noise removal, then for covering cuts. Gain gets dialled to whatever comes near but not peaking the dominant meter. I don't ever use the auto setting at all.

I've also just switched to using the inputs at the back of the unit. I was using the mic input on the side of the unit, but the signals didn't match and I had to turn the gain up too high giving lots of noise. a $5 1/8" Mono to RCA Y-splitter and couple of RCA extenders have me happy. Turn the switch to audio 1 and you're in business. Mic in questions was an Audio-Technica ATR55.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 05:08 PM   #1762
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XL1S questions again from a video newbie

A few questions. I actually read the manual, but sometimes I just don't get it...I just want to clear up a few things with the pros out there.

1. I'm using the 16:9 guides - WITHOUT putting it in the 16:9 mode - Is this the way to go...I want a "film look" but I don't want the compromise in quality...can I just give it 16:9 look in post production?

2. What percentage level does the videographer of the XL1S put for the zebra stripes??

3. If I have it in the Frame Mode and I'm shooting in TV or AV, will the shutter speed increase above 30 frames automatically even though I have it in the "cinematic frame mode?"

4. If i'm shooting in MANUAL, and i'm setting my f-stop - where is the guide at that shows i'm at proper exposure?? Do you adjust it just so it looks "properly" exposed in the viewfinder?? It's not like a digital or film camera where there is a normal exposure and a + and - guide??

5. What's the lowest I can go with shutter speed to not get a blur effect?? On people walking, running, and vehicles??

I guess that is enough for now...
Thanks for any help out there.
Dean
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Old February 6th, 2006, 05:23 PM   #1763
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1. I'm using the 16:9 guides - WITHOUT putting it in the 16:9 mode - Is this the way to go...I want a "film look" but I don't want the compromise in quality...can I just give it 16:9 look in post production?

This is what the guides are for. You SHOULD be in 4:3 with the guides on. In anamorphic mode, you just frame normally, as if you were shooting 4:3, and when it's squished back in post to 16:9, it'll look right. I use a mask to letterbox the 4:3 in post. HOWEVER, this is not "real" anamorphic, meaning that if you play this on a 16:9 TV or whatever, it won't conform.

2. What percentage level does the videographer of the XL1S put for the zebra stripes??

Not sure what this means, exactly. I always have mine at 100, though if you go by that, most things'll still be overexposed. My strategy is to get the 100% zebras to go away, and then eyeball it from there (for some reason, having the zebras at 100 helps guide me). On broadcast cameras, there's usually (maybe always) a 70% option (the XL1s only goes down to 80%) that's supposed to be ideal for caucasian skin tones. So the lowest you can set your zebras on the XL1s is 80, but if you do that, then everything over 80'll be zebra-ing, dig?

3. If I have it in the Frame Mode and I'm shooting in TV or AV, will the shutter speed increase above 30 frames automatically even though I have it in the "cinematic frame mode?"

TV = shutter priority, meaning you choose your shutter speed (standard video shutter speed for 30fps (the ONLY framerate the XL1s shoots) is 1/60)), and that stays locked (til you manually change it, that is), while the iris changes to compensate for different light levels.

AV= aperature priority, the exact opposite, you set the iris (example: f4.0), and that stays locked (til you change it), and the shutter speed will change according to the light level.

So if you want your shutter to stay constant, use TV.

4. If i'm shooting in MANUAL, and i'm setting my f-stop - where is the guide at that shows i'm at proper exposure?? Do you adjust it just so it looks "properly" exposed in the viewfinder?? It's not like a digital or film camera where there is a normal exposure and a + and - guide??

Isn't there an icon in the upper left of the viewfinder, a little line with a triangle that will move left and right? This also functions as a zoom indicator, but it's also an exposure guide. I never knew what it was for a long time, trusting experience and zebras to guide me. "correct" exposure can be subjective--it all depends what you're exposing for (example--you're shooting a movie, and the scene is supposed to be at night. You might intentionally underexpose some to help convey that. Another example: you're shooting ENG/documentary footage, outdoors in blasting daylight. You're shooting people with the sky behind them. You would probably expose for the people, unless your shot was super wide. So the correct exposure for the people will be different from that of the sky. Your camera will probably try to expose for the sky, 'cause it's a bastard like that, and the sky will probably take up more of the frame, which is how the camera judges)

5. What's the lowest I can go with shutter speed to not get a blur effect?? On people walking, running, and vehicles??

You'll get a frame mode-like effect at 1/30 (progressive scan type motion), and it just doesn't look right for anything normal at 1/15 and 1/8.

Hope all this makes sense.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 08:57 PM   #1764
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Thanks Josh !!

I appreciate your time and patience in answering my questions - the information is very helpful. Tonight, I just calibrated my hand held light meter to the camera - we'll run some tests when I get my head cleaner and start shooting some tape and play it back on screen....I found the scale for the manual metering...I didn't see it before - I must have had it turned off.
Thanks again and have a great week.
Dean
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Old February 7th, 2006, 02:56 PM   #1765
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Exposure in AUTO modes

I understand what "proper" exposure is with the XL1S in the MANUAL mode because there is an index mark that you center to get proper or 18% reflectance...but when you are in an AV, TV mode, how do you know what is the "correct" exposure?? Say, in AV mode, I am opening and closing the iris (aperture) and the picture is getting lighter or darker depending on how much open or close I go with the aperture - but what is considered the "correct" exposure - whatever looks good in the viewfinder density-wise (if it looks the correct brightness, it's the right exposure??)....this is confusing to me....I have a light meter I have recently calibrated and I'll try using it...I guess if the picture looks good on playback, I guess that is the correct exposure....but you see, I'm a digital stills photographer and we expose digital like slide film - go a little on the darker side (about a stop) and then lighten it in PhotoShop.....but video isn't like this is it?? I could lighten in post, but wouldn't it be better to light when you're shooting tape??...and then balance the light so there is detail in the shadows and highlights??
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Old February 7th, 2006, 05:51 PM   #1766
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Proper exposure is that which looks best, considering your artistic intent with the shot, on a good monitor. Unlike film (that has to be souped), video gives immediate feedback on a monitor, so there is no need for a light meter to set exposure. (Although it can help when lighting a set before the video camera and monitor arrives.)

Zebra in the EVF helps because you can use it to identify the point at which important highlights in the image are about to lose detail and adjust exposure accordingly

In general, video does not have the latitude of film, so it is best to get the proper exposure when shooting rather than rely on correction in post.

Just as with film cameras, auto expsoure modes can work OK for "average" image content, but may not yield the image effect you are trying to achieve.
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Old February 7th, 2006, 09:07 PM   #1767
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thank you again

Everybody has been MOST helpful - including yourself. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Hopefully I can do the same someday.
Have a great one.
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Old February 9th, 2006, 08:42 AM   #1768
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XL1s and Slow-Mo

I was hoping somebody would be able inform me as to what are the best settings to have on the XL1s for obtaining good slow motion video.

I will mainly be shooting moving water (e.g - a running shower, rain drops, waterfalls etc) and am enquiring about what would be the best way to obtain the smoothest, cleanest slow motion images.

I edit in Vegas 6, so need to setup the camera which will give me the best results. Am I better off using I higher shutter speed or should I keep it at 1/50 (I am using the PAL version). I know slow motion is usually associated with frame rates as opposed to shutter speed.

Also, if anybody has any Vegas post production tips in relation, that would be most appreciated

Thanks

Sunny
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Old February 10th, 2006, 01:03 PM   #1769
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WARNINGS FROM CANON USA about XL cameras

I talked to a very knowledgeable Canon XL representative today and I thought I would pass on this information. Many of the top guns managing this fantastic site already know this info, but many of the rookies may not..

Here is what she told me:

1.Canon does not recommend ANY particular brand of mini dv tape
but recommends a brand that uses DRY lubricant. NO WET LUBRICANT TAPES!

2. Before recording onto a NEW mini dv tape. First fast forward the tape all the way in the VCR mode....and then rewind - then begin your recording. If you are planning on editing from the playback or downloading onto the computer, do the same procedure again. This stretches the tape out to the maximum, and then also distributes any lubricant (dry) or oxide deposits off of the head.

3. When using the DV cord to download into the computer via firewire connection, first make sure power if off of camera. Connect the DV cable to the computer FIRSTLY and then to the camera SECONDLY - and then power up your camera. WARNING: If you have your camera turned on when you are inserting the DV cable, a possiblity of blowing the expensive circuit board of the camera is possible. She also noted that make sure you are connecting the cable to the computer in the correct way...not upside down..It is is resisting, there is a reason it is doing so.

4. She said to use the head cleaner BEFORE any important taping and only for 10 seconds. Also, when you are finished recording the important event, run the tape one more time for 10 seconds. USE A DRY HEAD CLEANER ONLY!

IMPORTANT NOTE: The people out there who are having head problems are people who are not controlling the temperature of their tapes. They are shooting, and exposing their tapes to horribly hot conditions - she said, "no wonder shooters are having problems." Treat your tapes like a baby and you will reduce many problems. She also stated that use PRO tapes ONLY....because they are controlled better. She stated: Don't fudge out on good tapes. They are higher in pricing for a reason.

Okay, that is what she told me...thought this info may be useful to everybody out there in XL Land.

Thanks
Dean Orewiler

I'm trying to give back to you, a fraction the great folks have given to me information wise in getting me started in the video world. I appreciate Chris Hurd and his gang for doing a FABULOUS job.
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Old February 10th, 2006, 04:47 PM   #1770
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Keep it?

Hey just had a question to whether or not to keep my XL1 or not. Everything works great with the camera and i use it frequently. I'm involved with film festivals so my camera gets use. The thing I'm wondering is should i keep it and fix it up, or upgrade to another camera? I'm looking at matteboxes and things like that to purchase for it, but I also dont want to spend all this money then end up selling it soon after. I dont really care to go HD yet unless I see something extremly impressive, and so far i havent. I really like the XL2 quality and would like to stay within canon, because the xl1 has been a great camera. However, I'm just wondering if i should pack her up or fix her up? any info would be great. thanks!
-Alfonso
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