please help me fiddle with my own knobs at DVinfo.net

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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
Can't find it on the XL1 Watchdog site? Discuss it here.


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Old February 26th, 2005, 02:04 PM   #1
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please help me fiddle with my own knobs

Ok, so moving on to more retarded XL1 questions (and no not XL1s questions) the next q is:

- Why is everything so friggin dark? It's like I'm shooting an episode of dark city when I look thru the viewfinder. -Like everything is covered in soot.

I put it in M mode, open the iris all the way, turn on two 500W lights and the white walls still look gray/.

Ya know what, there's a higher level dimension to this: is there a sort of resource on the XL1 that get's into all the controls and features?

- I looked on amazon and didn't see a dedicated book on the XL1.
- I looked on the XL1 Watchdog and didn't see an article that sort of runs through all of the most important things you can do in manual mode.
- I downloaded the manual from canonusa.com but the manual I found at least didn't go into great detail about the knobs and menus and so forth.

In short, the immediate problem is that my white walls look like they're covered in soot despite the aforementioned conditions & settings, but the larger issue is that I don't know how to fix my own wagon or roll my own or whatever it is that I'm trying to say
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Old February 26th, 2005, 05:00 PM   #2
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if it looks like "soot" assuming you have the corect apature setting it might be that your viewfinder is terribly calibrated and there is no contrast and whatnot.

http://www.dvinfo.net/canon/articles/article7.php

this tells you how to bring up the color bars

I'm not sure how to adjust the contrast on your viewfinder, on my monocrome the three knobs are on the camera.. well I used this as a guide.. http://www.dvinfo.net/canon/articles/article83.php#calibrating

But I dont know what viewfinder you have
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Old February 26th, 2005, 05:36 PM   #3
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Sounds like you need to can turn up the brightness of the color LCD viewfinder. See page 17 of the operator's manual for details.
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Old February 27th, 2005, 01:07 AM   #4
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That's just it, Chris, I don't have the operator's manual--the original owner lost it. I couldn't find it as a PDF anywhere either--although thanks to you at least I know it exists now. If you know of a place to download it, please share.

& thanks, J, for the priceless color bar tip.

I ran the image through a monitor and got a similarly muddy image. I think it may be possible that I have entirely unreasonable expectations about what to expect fro the image the XL1 produces; I went out and got a bunch of chinese lanterns and stuff, and now have a total of 2000W of light in the room I'm shooting in, and it's light enough.

But the color saturation--woe unto me. Skin tones appear frankenberry pink. The only thing I know how to adjust that has any effect on this is the white balance but I can't get past the pink skin. But then I had a revelation/

(basically the problem is that everything looks very similar to the XL1 sequences in Full Frontal--I'm well aware that Soderbergh supposedly used a special photographic process to get that "color xerox art" look but I am achieving that same look with very little effort)

The revelation is this: by treating the XL1 video image as almost black and white--going for dramatic contrasts between light and shadow/chiaroscuro and whatnot--I'm getting interesting compositions, and this direction seems far less futile than all the quixotic "filmlook" crap I'm always reading about.

But the question remains--is there a way to get more saturated, lifelike colors on the xl1? What buttons can I play with?
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Old February 27th, 2005, 08:33 AM   #5
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You can adjust your white balance manually, and you can go to a menu (I think it's called custom presets or something) where you can get the color saturation up, but you can do that also in post.

PS: I think you can download the manual from the canon website.
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Old February 27th, 2005, 10:48 AM   #6
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Custom Presets are available only on the XL1S. I believe Steve has an XL1?

Steve if you have an XL1 and not an XL1S, if you bought it used and you don't know its history, then it might be in need of a trip to a Canon service center for a check-up to make sure everything is working properly. Contact info for these service centers is on my site at http://www.dvinfo.net/canon/skinny.php#service.
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Old February 27th, 2005, 10:52 AM   #7
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Yo yo yo. . .don't be dissin' my XL1. I shot some interviews for a documentary where we used some cheapish lowel stuff (umbrellas, DP lights, whatever), looked great.

Here's something:

What's your shutter speed at? Should be 1/60 for most things.

And

I don't know if the XL1 has an ND filter built into the lens, but if it does, see if it's switched on. That will account for a ton of light loss. The camera's decently sensitive.

Colors:

If your white balance knob is set to one of the presets, that can screw stuff up (indoors using the daylight setting, vice versa). Look for a knob that has a little pictures of a light bulb and a sun next to it. You need to have the knob set to one of the numbers, not those presets, in order to manually white balance.

Or your cam could just be funky.
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Old February 27th, 2005, 10:54 AM   #8
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The standard 16x auto lens included with the XL1 has an ND filter.
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Old February 27th, 2005, 12:41 PM   #9
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So........

I had definitely considered taking it in for its official checkup. What, do I have to drive it down to the O.C.? Is it an out-patient operation? HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

- it's not clear to me if my cam is funky, or if *the* cam is funky. Is there some objective criteria that can be applied? Without lighting, walls look very similar to skin--there is so little contrast, saturation, textural differentiation.

Here's a question: is there any operator out there who has taken impressive pictures with the XL1 which sort of demonstrate what the camera is capable of?
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Old February 27th, 2005, 12:50 PM   #10
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You can look at the dv for the masses boards, and do a search on XL1. Maybe you'll find something.


http://www.fusionarena.com/ac/

That's a link from someone.
I think it's filmed with the xl1s, not xl1, but I think it's very good.

Than this:

http://www.creavision.com.ar/malvinasingles.htm
Also shot with xl1. You can look at the trailer.

Or you could watch 28 days later on dvd, shot with the original xl1, but with a budget of millions (lightning, post production,...) but the movie really take the maximum out of the xl1.
I saw it in theatres and it still looked good!
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Old February 27th, 2005, 01:05 PM   #11
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OMG Mathieu, those are impressive! Thanks; we want more.

I'm going to go out on a limb and vote my displeasure for 28 days though. I saw the last half on Mexican cable last year and it looked worse than most TV shows. Maybe I need to give it another chance blah blah blah
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Old February 27th, 2005, 01:23 PM   #12
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Creavision

That Creavision link is PRICELESS; but it's really curious--even though the colors are really vibrant, the shots always look duochromatic or something--like the colors of any one shot always occupy the same part of the color spectrum: it's either blue and green, or orange and red, or green and brown, but never red and green or whatever.

There's no question in my mind that that color boosting was done in post, which reinforces my theory: shoot with contrast in mind, cos there's no point in trying to get the colors right//
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Old February 27th, 2005, 02:41 PM   #13
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Steve, the guy of the creavision movie, is here on the boards.
You can ask him question if you have them.

this is the link to his thread:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...threadid=31230

You could always aks a question there, maybe he'll see it and answer, or you could send him an email.

BTW: well, the look of 28 days later had very mixed responses, and offcourse in some scenes you could see it was DV, but at other's I thought it was very good, especcially in the second part I thought (at the dining table and such with the soldiers)

PS: the epilogue from 28 days later (with the SPOILERS airplane SPOILERS) is shot on 35 mm.

Ow, and I have my XL1s since october or something, and I thought colours often were very vibrant on it... (although I came from a 1 CCD, BUT still, I thought the skin tones of the XL1s were some of the best I ever saw, and many people choose the cam for his skin tones, because they are (normally) very natural, and warm. The XL1 has a reputation of very warm colours)

Good luck with your cam!
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Old February 27th, 2005, 05:47 PM   #14
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This is a very interesting response. Of course it is difficult with the web, because maybe it is that my cam is whacky, or maybe it's that I screwing it up by putting it in manual mode, or maybe I have unreasonable expectations.

Obviously, in its day, the XL1 was being used for all kinds of professional, broadcast projects. Obviously it's not a heinous camera. Anyone seen "The Celebration"? I'm living in that world, and I don't like it. Should I just put it into some default state and then judge how pasty the skin tones are?

I guess the question simply boils down to: should I take it to Canon or not?

- Does the Canon check up correct skin tone, etc., probs?
- How much of an emergency is it to get the Canon check-up?

I don't feel like driving to Orange County.

I'll have to watch 28 Days Later from start to finish, then. For what it's worth, the Creavision thing is the best looking bit of photography--in terms of colors and contrast--I have seen using the XL1.
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Old February 27th, 2005, 06:16 PM   #15
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*shrug* if you don't feel like driving down to Irvine, that kind of says it all... you could just FedEx it down there. Everybody else in the U.S. has to ship their cameras, since there are only two service centers in the country. The only way to know if it's working properly is to have Canon bench test it for you.
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