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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old April 28th, 2010, 11:35 AM   #1
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please advise XL1S and 16:9

Yes, I still have a couple of XL1S'... and need to shoot widescreen to go with a xh-a1.
I realize this has been discussed a lot but I can't seem to find anything still up (ie Chris Hurd's XL1S FAQs).
I realize the XL1S does not shoot native 16:9 and the anamorphic looks...well, anamorphic. Can someone point me to suggestions as to the best way to go about this please (no budget for camera rentals)?
I'm hoping I can get a good result just cropping in post (Vegas 8) but not sure the best way to go about it (I've tried a couple of ways but obviously lost some resolution).
If there is no better way than to shoot in "16:9" mode what would be the best way to capture (widescreen, 16:9, 4:3 etc)?
Thanks so very much,
Randy
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Old April 28th, 2010, 12:47 PM   #2
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Canon XL1s and 16:9

Hey Randy,

Beg - borrow - steal (just kidding !) and get a true 16:9 format recording camera. This is obviously the here and now and the future. And try to go at least HDV format - even if just a small "palmcorder" camera like HV20, etc.

Not sure how old you are - but plan for the future NOW - to the highest tech level you can afford - as technology will not slow down for you. Not sure what you are shooting for - but tech will outpace you and I faster than you can say "supercalifragalistic ---, etc. !

Even something like a Sony FX-1 shoots terrific video -- and if you need/want the extra telephoto reach of a Canon XL-H1, etc., do all you can to raise the money to get there ! Good luck !
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Old April 28th, 2010, 01:32 PM   #3
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I know you're right but upgrading prior to this shoot (3 cam concert for a doc) is not an option and there is no budget for renting (I could go $100 each but not $250 each). Upon further research it seems I should use the 16:9 guides in the cam and letterbox in post but I'm sure open to any other suggestions.
Thanks very much,
Randy
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Old April 28th, 2010, 03:17 PM   #4
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Sorry, Randy...............

You're stuffed, mate.

The XL1s is pretty average at the best of times, in 16:9 mode it truly sucks.

Anything you attempt in post will only emulate what the camera does if switched to 16:9 mode, so no escape, I'm afraid.

There is no "get out of jail free" card on this one.

You either shoot and edit the lot in 4:3 or....................


CS
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Old April 30th, 2010, 12:45 PM   #5
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I'm normally not one for self promotion, and I hate to mention this again (it seems it's all I talk about these days), but I've addressed this very issue by way of AviSynth, VirtualDub, and an upscaling script I've written for just this situation.

I've got a tutorial written up that should with any luck be readable by people who know nothing about the software involved: http://www.gyroshot.com/upscale1.htm I'm always available to answer questions about it, but I wrote it with the Avisynth novice in mind, so you should be able to get through it. Basically, my advice is to shoot 4:3, then use my script to deinterlace, crop and upscale in post.

I don't mean to step on anyone's toes with this, as everything posted so far is correct--16:9 HD is the way to go if there's even the remotest possibility that you can afford it, and SD will never look like real HD--but by the technique I use I've been able to achieve DV-to-HD upscales that were better than I expected. Not "wow, it looks like high definition!" but "hey, that's pretty good, I didn't know you could do that". I've actually spent the past three days working on a new version of the script, that takes any size and shape input and produces one of several SD and HD output frame sizes, but until it's finished the current version is designed specifically to work with DV input, and should do what you're after.

All of the necessary software is free, so if you've got a Windows PC and some free time, but no money for HD equipment, it's worth a test or two.

If you want other discussions on the subject, I believe most of them, being related to post production matters, pop up in the Non-Linear Editing on the PC, High Definition Video Editing Solutions, Digital Compositing and Effects and Distribution Center subforums. Digging through those should give you plenty to read on the topic.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 04:20 PM   #6
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Thanks very much Robert....if the sample at that link was originally 4:3 I find it truly amazing.
Is Avisynth and your script hard to do for a knucklehead?
Thanks very much,
Randy
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 05:32 PM   #7
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You are correct, the sample linked on the tutorial page started life as an interlaced, 4:3 DV clip from my VX2000. A portion of the twenty-two minute original source file is available here (twenty seconds of video excised without recompression), if you'd like to take a look. You'll need 7-Zip to open the archive.

As for Avisynth, it's not bad at all. It can be very intimidating at first, and I was put off of learning it for years before I finally took the plunge and gave it a shot, but once you get going it's not too hard to pick up. Thanks to its script-based nature, and the ease of reloading video in VirtualDub, you can try out ideas in mere seconds; most of what I know about the language has come from trial and error (and digging through the docs over and over again).

You can get into very complex operations as you learn more, but basic processing is very simple, and even though deinterlacing, cropping, and upscaling SD to HD involves a series of steps, it's not as difficult as you might think. It's even easier with the use of SimpleSlug, if I may be so bold, and my motivation for developing it in the first place was to simplify the procedure I first detailed in this upscaling thread.

Once you have the necessary software installed (the most difficult part of the whole ordeal, really), your Avisynth script can consist of as little as:

AVISource("testclip.avi")
AssumeBFF()
SimpleSlugUpscale(size="720p")

Open that in VirtualDub, or any other application that can load .avs scripts, and you'll get 720p video from your DV source clip.

The tutorial I linked up above will walk you through the entire thing, from software installation through a primer on Avisynth usage all the way to compressing your video with VirtualDub. If you're interested in trying this out I recommend you get busy reading, because in a few days I should be prepared to release SimpleSlug version 0.8, as I mentioned above. It's finally past the "intractable pain in my backside" phase, and has moved on to testing. Arbitrary frame size (SD, HD, 2K, 4K, and anything in between), shape (4:3, 16:9, 16:10, 9:16, 3:4, 2:1, literally anything), and pixel aspect ratio for both input and output, support for progressive input, automatic pillar or letterboxing, I'm very happy with how it turned out. The "upscale" part of the name isn't even really accurate anymore, to be honest.

I only need to tweak a variable here and there to optimize the script's processing chain, update the documentation, and revise the tutorial (in particular, I'd like to add a troubleshooting section based on feedback I've received thus far). In the meantime the current script should serve you just fine for DV size source material.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 03:01 AM   #8
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All right, "a few days" turned into a week when a family member's computer ran into some not-so-serious-but-still-time-consuming-to-eliminate malware, but I'm finally done! SimpleSlugUpscale 0.8 is finished. Massive list of changes, all of which are detailed at the bottom of the script's page. The big ones are arbitrary frame size and pixel aspect ratio for both input and output and support for progressive processing (bypass the deinterlacer and go straight to cropping, scaling and/or pillar or letterboxing).

The script itself includes full documentation, and the tutorial has been updated to reflect the changes. As far as output quality is concerned, there shouldn't be much difference from the last version for your particular source, except for the fact that I changed my default deinterlacing settings to reinstate some TempGaussMC defaults. Upon reflection I found that the settings I had been using used sharpening that was a bit excessive. With any luck the updated preset should look a bit more natural.

Take the time to go through the tutorial--it's easier than it looks at first, just take it one step at a time--to get all of the software installed properly and get a handle on the basics of AviSynth. Once that's done, assuming you shoot 4:3 with the XL1, and you want to match the clip to the A1 (which if I'm not mistaken is HDV2, 1440x1080i, 1.333333 PAR, top field first), you'd need to open up dvupscale.avs--the template script I provide in the tutorial--and change the call to SimpleSlug to read as follows:

SimpleSlugUpscale(size="1080iana")

Then proceed as normal. As I say, I'm available to answer questions either here on the board, or one-on-one by email. Get in touch if you need a hand with any of this, I'm happy to help!
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