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Old July 11th, 2002, 01:11 PM   #1
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from GL1 to XL1 -- any tips?

Hi --

first I've stepped in here into the XL1 big league forum (having been a GL junior till now). This weekend I'm ipso facto DPing a 2-camera XL1 shoot (running one myself, and giving directions to somebody to run the other one). I have a couple years' experience with a GL1 and feel comfortable with it, but have never handled an XL1 at all.

I have (which I bought on a lark) what looks to be a perhaps boring but poss. instructive little XL1 demo video (Elite Video's) that I'll give a look/see at. And actually we'll have one of the cameras a day in advance of the shoot (both are being rented), so should have time to figure things out.

But still. Anyone care to kindly offer a few techno tips on similarities & differences between GL1 & XL1 (in terms useful for an operator)?

The shoot will be in a black box theatre with fixed (but prob. good) lighting; actors doing scenes.

Some basic notions / questions:

1. it's been my custom (w/ GL1) to use the "lightbulb" [indoor] setting (in lieu of manual white-balancing). Does this setting exist also on XL1?

2. When in manual mode in GL!, there's a side-turn wheel which toggles between three variable parameters:
a) shutter speed (from 1/60 and on up)
b) iris - f-stop (from 1.8 and on up)
c) gain (0 dB, then 3, 6, 9 or 12)

I know the XL1 has a wider range of shutter speed. But othrewise, is the interface basically the same? -- you see onscreen a readout of those 3 parameters, and can shift any of them w/ some sort of wheel?

3. Lens focus. Hmm, not sure what kind of lenses we're getting w/ these cameras -- presumably the basic/standard lens. Care to say anything abt. manual focus. These lenses don't have what's known as "back focus" do they? (Happily, I just read [via DV.com forum] some instructions to deal with such, if so.)

At least one of the cameras (poss. both) will be on tripod(s). Object of doing as 2-camera is the obvious: get 2 angles, cut between views of 2 actors (most scenes will be 2 actors), etc.

For audio, I'll hook up my XLR-PRO to one of the cameras and run a couple of Azden mics -- well, prob. mount a shotgun (hot shoe fits on atop, same as on GL1, I assume?) on camera, and run the other via XLR cable to dangle above-stage area. For 2nd camera, will prob. just go w/ the onboard mic. Is it any good at all? -- hmm, maybe will add this guy's Seinheisser along w/ the deal ...

okay, there's a handful of things. What you see here is a slightly nervous would-be DP who don't know squat abt. an XL1 at the moment, hoping to be a cool & quick study.

thx,
d.i.
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Old July 11th, 2002, 08:40 PM   #2
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David

Having made the transition myself earlier this year, my reccomendation is to get some practice with the xl1 before your shoot, as it can feel a bit foreign when you are used to the gl1, and it doesn't get any easier finding the AE lock menu (its a wheel on the xl1) when you've got a bunch of actors breathing down your neck..
My experience is with the xl1s...so some of my advice might be bogus if you are using the older xl1.

I use the "tungsten"...bulb setting for theatrical work, and I get very good results...it does a pretty good job of setting a good white balance...and then the gels used on the lighting will look relatively accurate.

Shutter, aperture, and gain are all operated by separate controls on the camera body...they are all located near each other (along with the white balance) near the bottom of the camera on the left side- so it is different than the push and scroll method of the gl1.

Most likely the lens will be the standard autofocus. Avoid using the autofocus setting on the lens, as it will most likely want to constantly hunt(more than the gl1)...especially in lower light. Set it to manual...zoom the lens out to focus and then zoom wider to set your framing.

Try to keep your f-stop around 5.6...and the gain set to the minimum you can get away with. Its better to have your lighting brighter (even if you want it dark and moody, and then stop down and lower your gain as needed. The footage from the xl1 can be noticably fuzzy below f4.

good luck

Barry
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Old July 11th, 2002, 10:04 PM   #3
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If you use the GL-1 & XL-1 together you may want to look up how to make one remote work for both cameras. I think you can set one remote to a #1 or #2 and both cameras to 1 or 2, it's called remote sensor mode. I looked in the manual and couldn't find it. call canon XL-1 club and ask for advice.

Bruce
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Old July 12th, 2002, 12:08 AM   #4
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I highly second Barry's recommendation to get as much practice time as possible with the XL1 before shooting day comes. Certainly there are many similarlities between the XL1 and GL1. But, at least initially, the XL1 won't "feel" anything like the GL1. It will feel more like you're running a full-size ENG camera at first. Perhaps the most familiar feature will be the mode settings (green box, A-box, Tv, Av, M, etc). Note that the XL1's shutter speed (in manual) is set by thumb buttons near the iris/menu wheel (which is different than the GL1).

Give yourself some practice time, particularly to get the hang of using the XL1's manual focus.
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Old July 12th, 2002, 08:58 PM   #5
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thanks gents

Just got the XL1 and sat down with other camera-guy -- turns out we're using TWO XL1 cameras (the old style). Think we've worked out most ofthe basics (will have to check abt. AE).

Barry, this seems esp. valuable to have read, thanks -

<< Try to keep your f-stop around 5.6...and the gain set to the minimum you can get away with. . . . . The footage from the xl1 can be noticably fuzzy below f4. >>

I was wondring what was up with the focus (which didn't seem at all sharp) -- but the f-stop was quite low; good tip. Much of theother advice (like avoiding manual focus and using tungsten w/balance in theatre setup) follow from my past GL1 experience, but all good to see spelled out.

Hey, I like this camera -- actually not as heavy & bulky as I'd expected.

cheers,
d.i.
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Old July 14th, 2002, 12:31 AM   #6
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thanks again

Due in part to good advice received above -- I'm happy to report the 2-camera XL1 shoot seemed to go pretty well. Haven't yet reviewed footage (will start doing so some hours hence); but as things seemed, there proved to be rather less of a learning curve (for a GL1 guy) in the jump up to XL1 than I'd anticipated.

Largely, it was a case of same functions under a few different buttons. (Though I don't entirely understand the audio options, and thank God we had headphones to confirm we were getting okay audio.) No doubt if we'd used a fancier lens than the default one, there'd be a few more lessons involved in how to work it.

As quasi-DP (overseeing fairly inexperienced DV operator), my job largely concerned teaching how to use manual focus, and trying to make sure both cameras had same settings (mainly: same f-stop on iris).

Fortunately, I'd jotted a check-list -- items: FRAME MODE, 16:9 OFF (both cameras had this mode on, when we rec'd them), 16-bit audio (one of 'em had audio set at 12-bit), tungsten-white-bal; zero dB gain; manual zoom; f-stop [same for 2 cams].

(Once you're there setting up, with actors waiting to proceed, w/o check list, I'd've been lost, meseems.)

We had a 13-inch (or some such) TV monitor on hand to check some shots -- which served to demonstrate (even more fully than I might've expected) the fact that the image in the LCD screen is toned darker than how it will really appear on playback monitor. Had we solely relied on the LCD image, we would've ended up going with lower f-stops (more open iris) and probably over-lighted, chances are. As it was (w/ theatrical lighting, but generally not over-bright), we tended to hover around 4.0.

In "black box" theatre, actors are wonderfully highlighted (with black walls all around; a good framework in which to shoot. These are for -- in essence -- audition tapes.

thanks again you guys! (I no longer feel very intimidated by the XL1.)

Still awaiting info on how people find the GL2 -- alas my next camera will prob. be GL2 (for $ reasons; stupidly, I allowed my GL1 to be stolen recently), though this XL1 shoot gave good taste of poss. advantages of this camera -- & I could end up on the fence, perhaps shelling out for XL1S come January or so.

d.i.
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