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Documentary Techniques
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Old May 29th, 2003, 01:16 AM   #16
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That's a good review of the book, Greg. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on it.

While I have little experience with docs, I have shot my GL1 for over a year now (mostly sports hightlights - soccer to be exact). I've shot all of that in frame and I love the mode! Also, there is quite a bit of movement in soccer and so far, the highlights have turned out very good.

I have a good tripod, monopod and steadi-tracker, so I'm not worried about the movement aspect of the camera. In fact, I love my monopod and I'm quite comfortable with it.

If camera movement is only reason to shoot 60i, then I would prefer frame as the there should be little movement in the making of a sculpture (though I'll have a better idea on FRI when I visit th artist).

However, if the broadcast of this in either TV or musueum (projection screen of museum theatre) would be better in 60i, then I'll do it. I suppose that is my question between the two modes.

I actually have quite a bit of confidence in my ability to shoot about anything!

Thanks again for the advice.
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Old May 31st, 2003, 03:17 PM   #17
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My brother (who is shooting this with me) and I went to meet the artist on FRI and I'm completely amazed at the complexity of this project (the sculpture AND the doc!). However, I'm very excited about moving forward.

After talking with the artist, we're close to a 'theme/message' for the doc and have determined our targeted audiences (at least some of them). We shot some test footage - all in "auto" mode (and frame). We used a gold disk to bounce the light from the skylights and it gave a very nice look to the shadowed area of the pieces. I seem to remember someone telling me that we should shoot MANUAL, F2.8 - zebra on - and the GAIN set at ???.

Also, in the playback on my camera, the walls of the studio are metal and have vertical lines in them (corragated pieces). When I pan/move the camera, these lines create some odd background movement. Is this because of FRAME mode or just a video nuance? Would I minimize that "noise" by shooting in 60i?

Any ideas on any of this? The studio is big and very well lit (some flourescents, big skylights and six very warm-colored spots). I have some nice test shots and frame grabs of the unfinished pieces, but I can't post anything until we get papers signed next week. After that, I'll post on my site and put a link here.

Any ideas on MANUAL vs AUTO modes? Thanks.
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Old May 31st, 2003, 07:59 PM   #18
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Mark...

The artifacts you see from panning is most likely from shooting in frame mode. Even at 30 fps it'll be apparent. 60i will prevent that from happening. Another cause is high shutter speeds that eliminate the subtle movement blur that occurs with camera or subject movements.

Another way to avoid that sort of "stobing" is to control the pan speeds. The effect will be more apparent at certain pan speeds than others, especially if you're looking at a patterned surface.

I'd avoid Auto on anything. For absolute control manual settings are the way to go.

For documentary structure, I prefer to build a narrative then illustrate the issues or points being discussed. I recently had an argument with a producer regarding that. He wanted me to go get a bunch of images of things that can be shot just about any time. I insisted that we build the narrative first and that the director is still in the process of working on that aspect of the documentary. This producer, we believe, is being leaned on by his boss who is wondering how the money is being spent -- so the producer wants to see lots and lots of activity, never mind how this activity is being directed.

Moral of the story: Be sure you know who intends to be in charge of the project. The people funding the project might not necessarily understand documenary fundamentals.

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Old May 31st, 2003, 08:24 PM   #19
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http://www.pbs.org has lots of useful info concerning what they want, in way of docs., and how to put it together. I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents.
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Old May 31st, 2003, 09:22 PM   #20
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Thanks Dean. Actually, right now - everything is being paid for by me (and my brother!), so no Producer over my shoulder! I have a good idea on the narrative aspect and how to mesh it with the building of the sculpture so that it will be both informative and entertaining. To be honest, just listening to the artist explain this process was much more interesting that I would have ever thought!

That's a shame about the strobing with movement in frame mode. I really like FM. While these were just "test shots" to determine things like this, light, etc., I was also using a steadi-tracker to try some things (360s, crane type shots, etc.), so I wasn't moving very fast at all. I'm not sure I can slow it down much more! I may now opt for 60i. I definitely do not like that pattern effect in the background!

Next week (after papers are signed), I can post a three-minute edited test on my site (along with some stills) and I would love to hear some of your feedback (anyone's!).

Frank - thanks for the link. I also bought a doc-making book that was recommended, so I'm going to be reading that too.

I'll keep the board posted if anyone is interested. Thanks for all the help and suggestions.
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Old May 31st, 2003, 10:14 PM   #21
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Hi Mark,
I've had the same problems with the stair-stepping/strobing effect. I believe this is just a fluke of DV and smaller CCDs, but as one of the previous posts suggested, a slower shutter speed should help.

I've been shooting a lot of tornado damage footage all month for an insurance company and just left the camera on auto for many of the shots. It was just archival footage and I usually go manual. I got some stair-stepping/strobing with the shots that included a lot of roofing shingles or repeated patterns. I use an XL1S and didn't have my ND filter on, so I think the higher shutter speeds might have contributed. I was using 60i also. Usually 99% of the time I keep my shutter speed at 60 and hardly ever see a problem.

I don't think anyone has ever perfected the Canon zebra stripes. Everyone has their own preference. I prefer bright crisp images and in most cases leave my stripes on 100 and adjust the aperture down until just a few of the brightest WHITE spots show stripes. Never had any problems yet. From my experience, if you're getting stripes from any bright object that is NOT white such as corrugated steel, adjust down to be safe.

When doing head shots, some people prefer setting their stripes between 70 and 90 depending on the skin color. Those after the film look also tend to go lower too but the colors can look muddy if you don't color correct them in post.

Keep us updated. I'm doing a few shows for the Discovery Wings Channel myself right now and will try to share some of my results here soon.

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Old May 31st, 2003, 10:24 PM   #22
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Thanks Greg. That's real useful info and I'll definitely use it next week when I go back.

One more question I forgot to ask - there will be welding involved in this project. Anyone there will be required to stand behind a screen or wear protective UV goggles. However, I want to get footage of this process for the doc. Will that bright light hurt my camera/lens/ccds? Will a filter be needed? If so, what type?

Thanks again all. I'll have list the board in the credits!!!
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Old June 1st, 2003, 04:11 AM   #23
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A strong ND or even a polarizer. That light can hurt your CCDs.
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Old June 1st, 2003, 09:49 AM   #24
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Thanks Frank. I'll use one of those. The welding - even a small clip - would be an important part of the process.

I appreciate the input.
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Old June 1st, 2003, 02:38 PM   #25
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I'm sorry to ask so many questions, but it's the only way to learn!

If we were to leave a camera with the artists to shoot anything of importance while we aren't there (we can't be there 24/7!) - would it need to be a 3-chip camera to match with what we are shooting (GL1 and GL2)?

We both have extra cams (Hi-8 and S-VHS). We simply don't know if they shot something on those formats and we ran a cable to import from old cam to GL cam would the quality of footage be VERY noticeable? Would those formats be better or worse than a single-chip mini-DV cam?

Or would it be best to not leave anything there at all.

I think there will be a noticeable difference, but I don't really know or have any data to back up my suspicions!

Thanks.
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Old June 1st, 2003, 09:36 PM   #26
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I think I've answered my own question. I performed a search and read some of the posts and it appears (with a few exceptions) that the consensus is that mini-dv is better than S-VHS/Hi8 and that three chip is a better quality than one-chip.

I don't think I can mix and match the differing formats and have the finished product look very good. If I've assumed wrong, please let me know.
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Old June 9th, 2003, 08:57 PM   #27
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Ok, I've just gotten back from a 12 hour day shooting for the doc. I now have a great deal of welding footage, both of the arc and the arc hidden. I used a 4x ND and a UV filter and it looks real good. I was never closer than 8-10 feet and shot at all angles - including through a red/UV screen that gave me some very interesting footage.

Thanks for all the advice.

My CCD's seem to be fine (as do my eyes!). The process of the artist welding this iron pipe skeleton (so they can then put clay muscle on it) is amazing.

When the National Park Service gives the artist the "ok", I'll post some shots/video of this process.
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