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Old February 8th, 2007, 09:00 PM   #1
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Are you folks using waveform monitors and vectorscopes?

Hi all. . .

I'm interested in learning if you folks shooting great footage are using waveform monitors and/or vectorscopes. If so, exactly what units/programs are you using?

Do they really help getting great images? What is the learning curve?

I have a MacBook Pro (intel) and the HVX. I am using two 8-gig cards.

Thanks much.

Stephen
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Old February 8th, 2007, 10:28 PM   #2
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Moved here from HVX. I think this is a good topic for everybody, not just HVX folks alone.
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Old February 8th, 2007, 11:10 PM   #3
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Actually, Chris, I don't think should have been moved. At least for me. I'm not curious how people are getting great shots with a Sony. . . only the HVX. I doubt if it gets noticed much at all in this new location.

Can you move it back?

Stephen
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Old February 8th, 2007, 11:43 PM   #4
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It really depends on the situation. Vectorscopes & Waveform monitors are good if you're doing a location shoot and have time to set it up or have a live system where brightness / contrast / color correction is not an option at a later time (like in post). One of the main functions is to see where you are at levels wise, so you're not too dark or bright. Usually you see them in installed systems where you're running triax and base units through a switcher. For you, unless light and color are extremely critical, I would just learn to use your zebras effectively and use a white balance card to make sure multiple cameras all are set to the same color temperature. We typically set our zebras at 85 - 95% so we know we're not blowing out the shot. A good white balance usually yeilds good results.
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Old February 9th, 2007, 01:39 AM   #5
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Why would you think it would get less exposure in a "General HD" forum rather one for a specific cam?

I find the software waveform/vectorscope of HDVrack usefull at times.
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Old February 9th, 2007, 04:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kit Hannah
For you, unless light and color are extremely critical, I would just learn to use your zebras effectively and use a white balance card to make sure multiple cameras all are set to the same color temperature. We typically set our zebras at 85 - 95% so we know we're not blowing out the shot. A good white balance usually yeilds good results.
I agree with kit here. Scopes are ussually used in situations with live switching to match picture between cameras, or in a post suite to do very much the same thing. The other point that I would like to make is that physical scopes are very heavy, so they don't really make sense to take along with a hvx. Unless you need extremely acurate color and exposure, just get a good white balance and use your zebras and you should be all set.

Hope this helps.
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Old February 10th, 2007, 07:09 AM   #7
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Stephen,

Although zebras are a great help in keeping things from being blown out it's only a warning to prevent white-clipping, it does not give you an overall "picture" of what your scene looks like from a chroma/color perspective.

I find that using the built-in WFM in my LH900 to be a great help in analyzing the blacks, mids and highs together to make sure not only that I'm not close to white-peaking but not making my blacks deep. It's also a good way to make sure I've got enough contrast to create the film-like chrome-look that I'm so addicted to.

On rare occasion I've used the scopes built into FCP by hooking up the laptop to the camera, but that's usually for a studio scene and that was mostly prior to purchasing the LH900.

Can you get a good looking exposure without using any scopes or WFM's? Absolutely, but to do that you FIRST have to properly setup your LCD by bringing up the BARS in-camera and setting up the PLUGE lines properly. Then you'll know for sure that what you see in the LCD is very close to being an accurate exposure in post.
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Old February 10th, 2007, 08:54 AM   #8
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Stephen, I use the scopes in Final Cut Pro in the acquisition stage when it is practical (like chroma key shoots, or studio scenes as Robert already said), and especially in the color correction stage.

If it is at all practical on a shoot to take out your Mac and look at the scopes in FCP, it is worth the time because you are getting a fairly objective assessment of your image- as several people have already pointed out. Even if you don't intend to use them every time, it may give you a heightened awareness of dynamic range and color timing that will inform the shooting you do in the future and result in better-looking raw footage.
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Old February 10th, 2007, 10:47 AM   #9
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Some monitors like the Panasonic 17 inch have a simple waveform monitor built in so it isn't necessary to have another box hooked up to the camera. For those of us who know how to read a waveform it is a very useful tool to look at the signal we are trying to record. A better scope might be required to actually set up multiple cameras effectively. Auto White balance and zebras don't guarantee the cameras are going to respond the same way and a waveform monitor vectorscope can help you make more precise adjustments than a regular monitor.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 01:17 PM   #10
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How are the scopes in FCP? I never thought to have done this, mostly because I don't have a lap top. I have set up a few reference monitors with FCP, and noticed that it crushed the bottom value in the ntsc colorbars. Is this something that should be taking into consideration and do other NLEs do the same thing?

One more: How does the histogram display in new camcorders compare to using a physical scope?

Thanks
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Old March 2nd, 2007, 12:53 AM   #11
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Vectorscope

I'd like be read some info on how to use these devices to make my video look better. Are there any good online posts on the subject?
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Old March 2nd, 2007, 02:20 PM   #12
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http://glennchan.info/video/exposure/exposure.htm

One test you can do is to play around with the exposure on your camera to see what you like, and grade some of the shots in post. By testing your camera out, you see how it will behave at particular exposures.

2- Where a waveform monitor might come in handy is seeing what detail is being blown out... although IMO, you may be better off using a calibrated field monitor (or just know your camera well enough that you can figure things out with the zebras).

3- Where a waveform monitor may come in handier is if you are shooting greenscreen, since some people say that you need to light a greenscreen evenly. IMO however, uneven lighting is not a big deal with greenscreen. It's pretty easy to fix.

Greenscreens have other problems that are much, much more difficult to fix. Pockets of shadow are very difficult/time-consuming to get rid of. Excessive spill is difficult to get rid of nicely. Hair and reflective objects are difficult to key. Compression (when recording to tape) adds noise and may reduce chroma resolution, which is difficult to deal with. There are some other difficult situations. In practice, you run into these situations a lot. They are much more problematic than uneven lighting.

If you sit around and test, you should figure out the answers you need... including whether or not you need a waveform monitor. Try shooting a scene with multiple exposures, try shooting some uneven greenscreen, etc.

2- If you are interested about the original uses of vectorscopes + waveform monitors, check out the Tektronix website. Search their website with google, there is info about basic vectorscope techniques.

3- Scopes are also used for matching cameras in multi-camera situations (along with color charts). However, most prosumer cameras don't have the necessary matrix adjustments in their menus that let you match cameras. Some cameras have basic matrix adjustments, but they don't let you tweak the underlying matrix.
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Old March 6th, 2007, 10:31 PM   #13
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monitors

I shot myself in a pseudo 5 light interview. I set it up using a Dell 2405 monitor via component inputs. I then dumped the HDV from the tape into my I-mac with I-movie. Then I emailed a frame grab to someone. 3 different looks. Looked best on the Dell while recording, with more contrast than what I saw on the Mac monitor after ingesting it.

What do I look for in terms of setting up the monitor for HDV use? Maybe shoot a test chart and try to match it somehow? I don't have FCP yet.
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