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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old February 23rd, 2003, 09:18 AM   #1
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XL1S and clumsy owner

I have shot with my XL1S for about a year and a half now and I still have a problem I don't seem to be able to resolve. I shoot news and sometimes it's on the fly. I am sure it is me being unprofessional but any help or tips would be appreciated. I occaisionally miss shots because I am working very fast to shoot scenes. I know a "REC" and "PAUSE" appear in the upper right corner but I have a terrible time double hitting the trigger and turning the camera back to pause. On interviews I am not looking through the camera and have had to redo interviews several times. I would almost prefer a big dumb toggle switch to what I have now because I am missing so much. In a school they would probably fail you, pull your pants down and paddle you for such incompetence. I still fail to stop my pace to make sure "REC" is in the corner. I also must have hit the "lock" switch on the top handle and wasn't even filming for a minute or two because the controls were locked out. I know it is me, my problem, my unproffesionalism, I need some kind of a " U.S. Marine and his rifle" style lesson to break me of this or else I truly need a different style of switch added to the camera. I feel stupid having to post this but I can't keep missing shots.
any help appreciated
thanks
Donny
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Old February 23rd, 2003, 11:17 AM   #2
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Donny,

"The mere fact that you realize you need help, indicates that you are not too far gone..." Lucy-to Charlie Brown

What you lack is discipline, and a ROUTINE.

Write down a shooting procedure. Make it simple It might be as simple as

Power ON.
Focus
Squeeze (trigger)
Check(for cue light)
THEN CUE TALENT.

Write it down.

Write it down again.

Write the list on a cheat sheet and tape it to your camera/monitor/battery.

Practice it when you are NOT on set or on call.

Practice it again.


It MUST become second nature to you... like clutching and shifting a standard transmission.

Other people might want to offer their check-list and shot procedures...?

Good Luck,

Bill

(I probably wouldn't paddle you... but I wouldn't call you again on an assignment if it happened more than twice.)
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Old February 23rd, 2003, 01:40 PM   #3
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I think we have all done that at one time or another. I look for the rolling timecode. If the numbers aren't moving, I'm not taping. I've conditioned myself to watch the viewfinder after I start taping. I always hold a shot for at least 10 seconds, never less (so I have handles for editing). Once the timecode has rolled for ten seconds I take my eye away from the VF. Never before. I've done it that way for so long that if I deviate it fells like going outside without my pants on.
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Old February 23rd, 2003, 06:11 PM   #4
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Don't feel too bad. Fox had a big interview that they sent a crew on and when they came back all they had were bars and tone!

Develop a routine and stick to it. Remember when you get excited to pay more attention too.
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Old February 23rd, 2003, 08:03 PM   #5
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Im not sure about XL1s as Im still waiting for mine....but one camera I have that would be great for you if the XL1s has that function is the record button to be changed. You can use it as START/STOP mode, but also as a mode that only records while ur holding down the button. That way when ever your holding it you right thumb holds button it records, soon as you release it stops. so works like the trigger on a gun. Very hand for on the spot shooting where u are starting and stopping a lot, especially as you film then stop to quickly change location. Sure it means ur right hand is tide up on button, but when does your right hand ever let go in handheld shots...so you loose nothing. Just have a camera with a trigger that really shoots...hahaha No need to look at screen....you thumb is instant sensor as to recording or standby.

Ever camera is different. I remember my old VX9000 Hi-8 model was shoulder mounted and had a small speaker on you right ear location. So soon as you held it properly the speaker let you know tape was rolling. On other shoulder cameras without the speaker i would just put right ear to machine, which normally is the case..unless have headphones on.. and could hear tape mecanisms moving or feel slight vibrations.

Another trick...I did was on dark room before you go to bed, just lie down on bed incase you drop camera... and then try to imagine yourself shooting...then you get to feel where the buttons are without seeing them...this then helps you develop your sensors to find them quickly. Or in a technical term it would be: To develop you psychomotor programs....same was a sports person can have lightening reflexes, but in reality its just programmed like auto-pilot for them.

You may think this is all crap....but each person has their own way to get to know the equipment. I learned about the controls on PD150 from just reading manuals and pictures of the camera over and over while I waited for delivery, sad I know, but helped sooth the pain of waiting and help me to learn it...so first day it came I was out shooting best I could.
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Old February 23rd, 2003, 09:22 PM   #6
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I did it on a shoot last week. The worst feeling you get is when you watch the footage, and see the talent taking their positions. Then you hear "wow, that was perfect. That's a wrap!"
:(
Fortunately it was my shoot and I shot every scene at least a few times so I was covered. I can't imagine doing it on a live event. The horror.... The horror....

Anyway, do what Jeff suggests.
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Old February 24th, 2003, 02:33 AM   #7
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Sooo.. did we miss anything on the wedding shoot?
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Old February 24th, 2003, 06:36 AM   #8
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You guys did see the little numbers in the VF moving, right?
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Old February 24th, 2003, 07:22 AM   #9
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Been there, done that - bought the t-shirt. What I found was that I was concentrating so much on the action, which is normally centered in the VF, the superimposed VF information was in my peripheral vision.

Now that was pretty silly for me because as a still photographer the last thing I do, before pressing the shutter, is to check the four corners in case the set needs 'dressed'. So now I have got into the habit of doing the same with the XL1 and can check that the damn thing is running :-)

Regards

Ross
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Old February 24th, 2003, 08:20 AM   #10
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I do have a firm set method coming out of the bag. power, sound switches and meter response, lens cap in left rear pocket, exposure, focus, tape time elapsed etc. My major problem is not the first shot but subsequent start and stops. My trigger is sensitive and I am so use to knowing that my camera is in the pause position that I know the next push will be on. I do catch myself and I overshoot so I haven't missed any action. With action I am in the viewfinder the whole time. When I do my still shots of ten seconds is generally when I do the double bump thing. From there I am trying not to touch the camera. What I really want is a new, more positive switch that tells me with a "click" that I have pushed it. sounds petty, the only other solution is to find out if canon can lengthen the de-bounce timing circuit .

Thanks for the help
Donny
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Old February 25th, 2003, 02:58 AM   #11
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Jeff's got it right. Always check to see that the timecode is rolling.

Trouble can arise when trying to quickly power-up and roll tape -- hitting the record button as the XL1 is powering up may or may not actually start the tape rolling. Takes discipline to wait that eternity of two seconds before hitting the red button.

Of course there's nothing like shooting a photo assignment with no film in the camera. Did that once. And only once. Fortunately it was just a group shot and I was still at the event when I figured out I screwed up.

Dean Sensui
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Old February 25th, 2003, 12:14 PM   #12
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what does the XL-1 say when you are rolling, does a "REC" go on above the timecode. I have a Japanese version, I haven't bothered to memorize the kanji for recording or stopped, I should do that, but I'm always looking at the timecode throughout the shoot.

A nice addition to the XL-2 might be some color added to the "REC" letters, making it go red when you are recording, no color when you are not. Or maybe a little red light in the viewfinder that lights up like on the Sony VX-1000.

Have you tried leaving the tally lamp on and then just use your peripheral vision (right eye) to look for the blinking lamp? Or maybe if you hold your left palm up to the front tally lamp, it will reflect off your palm and you can see it blinking. Even taping a strip of white paper(black on the side facing the subject) in front of the tally lamp so it bounces the red light, all you have to do is briefly look up and you will see the red blinking light.

Might be worth a try, anything to help you know that you are filming. I personally turn off my tally lamp, don't like it blinking at the subject, but you could put some black tape over the front lamp but keep the back lamp on the handle uncovered and use it.
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Old February 25th, 2003, 02:56 PM   #13
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I am like you, I also leave my tally lamp off as some of the people I interview are nervous enough. And it would be nice if the lamp was on the side instead of in front.

What a dummy, you folks are talking about the LCD window timecode on the outside "bada bing". That will be my external indicator. Just when you think you know your camera, something that you have never used shows up. I had until this time never even looked at it even though I knew it was there. My thought was it never presented any useful info.

Thanks All. (and yes, to bad it isn't color coded).

Donny
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Old March 6th, 2003, 06:17 AM   #14
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There is a light on the back of the handle that blinks red when you are recording. That should help you when for whatever reason you aren't looking thru the viewfinder to know wether you are recording or you are paused. Ever XL1S has one, and you can see it even if the camera is riding high atop a tripod.

The tally lamp in front of the B&W viewfinder also let's those in front of the camera know that you are shooting with it's series of red lights. I admit I don't know if the color viewfinder has these lights in the front.

The main way is to watch the viewfinder and make sure that the EVF display is set to show at least the timecode. If you have a external monitor, you can make sure that this display is outputted to the monitor. When the numbers are rolling, you are good.

Also, when you are on the set, if this isnt a run and gun operation, you should always call "Rolling" before you call "Action." This will remind you that the tape must be phsyically rolling before you the action starts and give you time to stop the action from taking place if the camera does't start recording for any number of reasons.

You should go thru the book and practice recording during a non-pressure moment to make yourself familiar with all the ways the camera has for initiating recording, and how it let's you know it's in recording mode.
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Old March 14th, 2003, 07:16 AM   #15
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Don, just remember what Wyatt Earp once said about being in a gunfight....."Take your time, and don't miss"
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