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Old November 28th, 2009, 04:23 PM   #1
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Regaining highlight detail from XL H1(s) using Nano

So has anyone tried a lot of color correction/grading with Nano footage from an XL H1(s)? I'm curious as to how much more detail is salvageable from the highlights that exceed 100% IRE.

Is there noticeably more headroom in being able to pull detail back as opposed to grading from the HDV?
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Old November 28th, 2009, 09:17 PM   #2
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There is no detail beyond sensor saturation. This is why you must always protect the highlights you want detail in, ensure that the sensor is not saturated. I don't have an XL H1 so I don't know if 100 IRE is sensor saturation or not, but I can tell you from experience that grading the Nano/XDR footage is a dream. I've been able to consistently get what I wanted out of the footage, as long as I don't saturate the camera's CCD.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 07:31 AM   #3
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Hmm ... so in high contrast situations, maybe shooting to keep highlights in check and raising the mids/blacks in post using Nanoflash seems like a good way to increase and gain some useable dynamic range.

I assume being very conservative for this is the way to go.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 07:40 AM   #4
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The nanoflash can't make your sensor better. If you were blowing out the sensor, or losing detail in the shadows because of the sensor, the nanoflash isn't going to solve that. If, on the other hand, the sensor was holding it, and you were losing detail in the codec, then the nanoflash will help.

Does the Canon have adjustable knee and slope? If so, I'd try to adjust it to hold on to as much as possble, and use the superior codec to have a better chance in post.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 07:47 AM   #5
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Yeah, I know the Nano can only work with what the sensor gives. Bu that's what my question is... Does anyone know how much more can be saved due to the codec?

It does have adjustable knee and slope, which I use to maximize the range.

I've been pretty happy with the XL H1s sensor. Just trying to see if there is a little more leeway if using the codec the Nano provides.

Thanks!
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Old November 29th, 2009, 08:06 AM   #6
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Dear Michael,

I waited to post my answer until others had a chance to give their expert advice.

Personally, I have been amazed that the detail that I thought would have been lost, was actually there in great detail, when using our 100 Mbps Long-GOP or better codec.

But, I do not mean that if you can get detail back when areas the image are over saturated, at or over 100%.

I have an XL H1 so I am very familiar how this worked in HDV.

One day, I was at a friendís house testing his Canon HV30, his HDMI monitor and the nanoFlash. We shot a sit-down interview setup, with the subject illuminated by a Compact Fluorescent bulb and back-lit by the light coming through some closed blinds.

We were not trying to light this correctly, as we never intended to keep the footage.

I was amazed to find that all of the detail of the Compact Fluorescent bulb was kept. I was expected it to be blown out.

To each his own, but if you set your Zebras to 100% and make certain that zebras are not present, you can be confident that the 100 Mbps Long-GOP or higher codec will hold all of the detail.

I recommend that you run some tests. Recording a Compact Flourescent bulb is very interesting.

I have discussed this with others. The general consensus was that, due to codec limitations, due to the low 25 Mbps bit-rate, HDV, as good as it is, can sometimes leave out detail when the image has a lot of detail. This occurs even when the detail is not at 100%.

Magic occurs when you use a high bit-rate codec such as our 100 Mbps Long-GOP or high bit-rate I-Frame Only codecs.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 04:43 PM   #7
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Dan's advice is spot on. Protect the highlights you'll want to keep and you can apply any curve you like in post to crunch the highlights or to get subtle details.

Obviously you'll have a much better chance to do this with high bitrate MPEG than you could with a bit starved codec like HDV. The data just isn't there in HDV.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 09:50 PM   #8
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Fiddle with the XL H1(s) ? 's presets & You Will Be Amazed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Galvan View Post
So has anyone tried a lot of color correction/grading with Nano footage from an XL H1(s)?
...Yes. I have. I live and breathe this camera, and I have spent two years fiddling, and testing the manual presets. Put the manual preset to Cine 1. Put your Zeebra's to 100 IRE. Blow out the windows slightly if you must, and you WILL get the highlight detail back in CC. However, you must use first amd secondary CC. However, I'm not sure I understand why you would necessatily want to blow out your highlights ?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Galvan View Post
I'm curious as to how much more detail is salvageable from the highlights that exceed 100% IRE.
....The short answer is a surpringly great deal. The long answer is it all depends how far you push the envelope.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Galvan View Post
Is there noticeably more headroom in being able to pull detail back as opposed to grading from the HDV?
....First, allow me to point out just how surprisingly good HDV really is. I know folks refer to it as bit starved and over compressed, etc, but you can get away with amazingly believeable footage from the hardware MPEG 2 HDV encoder that's in the XL H1 and XL H1s.

First, you must tweak the camera, not the codec. The Nano or XDR is no magic wand in this aspect. Garbage in will still be garbage out. Go to manual and fiddle with the skin detail setting, and set it to High. Get an HD-SDI input portable monitor and watch your focus big time. I am NOT a fan of the H1 or H1s's viewfinder by any means- Oh how it does suck - let me count the ways ! I no longer even use the peeking and magnifying feature in the VF to focus. I have setup the auto focus preset on my stock 20 X Zoom lens to push to focus in manual mode and wait until the on board Canon computer focuses the lens. Believe it or not it works incredibly well. I double check it by constant reference in my monitor, but in situations where I'm on the move I use the push to focus while in manual mode.

Now combine this by recording to your Nano or XDR via the uncompressed HD-SDI output of your H1 or H1s and use the Long GOP 50 Mbps if you post in Avid or Long GOP 100 Mbps if you post in FCP, or go to 280 I Frame and use that in either one and you will have images I would happily put up against any 1/2 inch Sony camera or Panasonic.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 09:54 PM   #9
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Yes, I have owned the Canon XL H1 since the day it came out (and then upgraded it to the "s" version when that came out).

I have been more than happy with its image quality, both from its HDV and HD-SDI to my AJA IoHD.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 09:59 PM   #10
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The IoHD

Hi Michael:
You have the IoHD ? Sweet ! I nearly picked up one of those in Montreal a couple of months ago, but backed off when they quoted me more than $3,600.00 Canadian for it !
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