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Old September 13th, 2003, 08:59 PM   #1
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Shooting under stage lighting with the HD10

Hi folks, thought I'd post a little report. I just shot a couple of dance performance shows under fairly typical professional stage lighting conditions. I was shooting with my Ikegami HL-DV7W, which is one of the best DV cams out there for it's low light capabilities, so I set up the HD10 next to it, set the shutter speed to 1/30th and set it running just to see what I would get. The results are decidedly mixed.
There are two main problems, focusing, and the white blow-outs. Wiithout an HD monitor attached I wouldn't even attempt to focus manually on the fly with the HD-10 under stage lighting, it just doesn't have the controls and feedback mechanisms to do this with it's low rez screen and viewfinder. So I did what any sane person would do and while the house lighting was up, I allowed the auto focus to fix on an item at the back of the stage that I zoomed in on, then I locked the focus and zoomed back out wide. This works well with my Ikegami to get an initial fix, but didn't seem to with the HD10, the picture seemed slightly out of focus in the wide the whole time. The autofocus would just hunt the whole time under these conditions, so that's not fesible. As I mentioned, the other problem is that all the highlights were completely blown out and devoid of any detail. Next time I will try an .3 ND filter to see how that works out, hopefully, as in bright daylight, it will fix the problem almost completely, but there's no way that you can know that you are blowing out just by looking at the LCD or viewfinder. I won't try and make any comparisons with the picture I got with the IKE as it was gorgeous and technically pretty much spot on, much of which is due to the professional controls that you absolutely need for this kind of shoot.
Having said that, the things that were good in the HD10 picture in comparison to the Ike picture were:
1) The colour, these were very colourful shoots and the HD10 held up well, though the picture was more grainy in the lower lit areas of the stage surface than the Ike, which was clean, the colors, while not quite as saturated as I have the Ike set up to, were quite acceptable.
2) The 30p motion, I love the filmic quality of the 30p on the HD10 and for me, blows away the 60i on typical DV cams, and to me it is not as strobe-like as the 24p on some cams. It works very well for dance.

I hope and believe these problems can be fixed with some care, the focusing is tougher. If anyone's tried any of this themselves, please post what you found so that we can all learn. I love this little cam, but you can't just go out shooting with it and expect to get professional results from it, without learning how to handle it first. Which is what we're all doing right now. Needless to say I couldn't have charged anyone for what I got on the HD1O, but who knows, next time may be better.
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Old September 14th, 2003, 02:29 AM   #2
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Paul,

On the HD10 manual (which is availabale in the net) it is stated that the cameraman could override the exposure. What really is hapening with this override.?

This is a bit out of the topic. I got your Swan and thr brisdge clips downloadde. Since many were talking about the motion artifacts, are there any footage with camera movement.?

or What is your experience regarding moving Camera shots.?

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Old September 14th, 2003, 11:37 AM   #3
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IT seems that the inner focus behaves like most consumer cams that will not hold backfocus through the zoom. I too do dance shows with a rented Panasonic DVC200 but with the full stage cam either my own TRV50 or PC10 Sony. In both cases the best way to focus is let the auto focus settle at a medium zoom shot then frame out to full stage. This is close enough to stop the auto setting at infinity but not so close that the inner focus will throw off the focus at full wide.
Thanks for your input on the camera.

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Old September 14th, 2003, 11:51 AM   #4
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To do scene shooting with the HD10 you indeed need ND filters and even polarising filter would be good, I did some tests with a polarising filter and a ND3 and it held up pretty well. Got to be careful on saturation losses though. Good report Paul, this camera indeed is difficult to focus in bright light.
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Old September 14th, 2003, 01:53 PM   #5
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Thanks Ron and Eric, yes I think you're right, I think it has the same problem as the XL1, that it won't hold back focus, so focusing on center stage would probably be better, unfortunately they didn't have the centre stage marked with a cross of tape as they usually do so, there was nothing there to get a focus on but bare Marley.
I'm going to try again with another show on wednesday night, so I'll try 2 of the 3 ND filters I have (.3 .6 and .9) to experiment with, changing during the intermission. With the Ike I was manually shutting down to as much as 5.6 at times with 0 gain applied. Not being able to go fully manual makes a live situation like this very difficult with the HD10, and as I have to lock the shutter speed because of the dance motion issues, I have no choice but to allow the auto iris do it's thing. But actually, I think having to go auto iris is saving you a myriad of other problems, as you'd need an HD monitor and much more accurate physical focus and exposure controls to work with this camera manually in a live situation.
My feeling is that the camera is just set up incorrectly at the factory, the auto iris shouldn't allow such blow outs, and this is one way JVC could hugely improve it with a simple software fix. To answer Maheels's point, there is no way that I know of on this camera to both lock the shutter speed AND have manual exposure, that's it's biggest problem, so we're all trying to find good ways to work around it. The question now is, which 2 of the 3 ND filters do I pick?
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Old September 14th, 2003, 02:13 PM   #6
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Oh, regarding moving camera shots, my experience so far is that the camera has no problem with that, so long as you lock the shutter speed to 1/30th or 1/60th (though I go with 1/30th personally) I don't get any motion artifacts when panning, and I get a nice filmic motion blur. I actually see lot more motion artifacts in the high end HD footage from the Varicams and CineAltas than I do from this camera, which suprised me.
It also seems to have no basic problem with Low light (apart from what we're taling about here of course), if by that you mean the high contrast lighting of a typically lit stage show. It's much better than say a GL1 would be under these conditions, which would be very grainy and need tons of gain. If you like shooting with 48db gain in the dark though, this is not the camera for you, but only wedding videographers need to do that right? The HD10 appears very clean in the blacks, thouh I'm not yet sure if that's because it's just clipping the blacks at a certain point, or because it actually has descent lattitude in the blacks, I hope it's the latter. I was experiencing significant noise in the mid to dark blues though during these particular shoots.

Have fun
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Old September 14th, 2003, 03:01 PM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Paul Mogg : My feeling is that the camera is just set up incorrectly at the factory, the auto iris shouldn't allow such blow outs, and this is one way JVC could hugely improve it with a simple software fix. -->>>

The camera does exposure perfectly on its own. BUT, it does not have enough latitude to handle high contrast. That's the nature of all high-density small CCDs. No adjustment is possible or needed.

However, by using an ND filter you can force shutter-speed down to under 1/60th. Then use the Exposure Control to bias down by 1 stop. It will help, but not solve the latitude problem.

It is unsolvable without 1/2-inch CCDs.

You do not focus inner-focus cameras by zooming in. Simply frame the shot, pan so an object "of the target distance" is in the center of the viewfinder, wait for focus, turn-off AF, and pan back.

Avoid trying to manually focus the JVC unless you have an HD monitor.

You've got to work with the camera's electronics.

Polarizing filters only work in polarized light, like from the sun. Contrast filters won't help either as pointed out by someone else.

ND filters do NOT increase the light latitude to avoid blow-out. Only lowering the contrast of the scene--which you can't do in your situation.
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Old September 14th, 2003, 03:05 PM   #8
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on stage lighting

I did several hours of HD video for a local theater group using the HD-1. I shot several nights of the show from the back of the theater, which required the lens to be zoomed quite a bit for most of the show. I used manual focus, letting the autofocus find the focus point at maximum zoom, and then switching to manual focus, with most shots remaining in focus with changes in the degree of zoom, although I occasionally had to tweak the focus a few times with the focus ring. Autofocus will do an annoying hunt in low light situations, so manual is better. Practice makes perfect, even while only using the relatively low resolution LCD as a guide, the entire 79 minutes of the first act was in great focus after a few practice sessions.

To avoid overblown highlights, which is a real problem with the uneven nature of stage lightening, I tried several approachs, the easiest using the exposure control set in the minus 3 to minus 5 range. I did not use a neutral density filter. Shutter speed was in the 1/30 to 1/60 range for most of the show. Colors look great, and faces are visible in spot light, with minimal color noise. I mounted the camera on a viscous head tripoid and kept panning to a slow minimum, to avoid the judder effect.

I was really pleased with the final product, which most of the cast members thought had a film like look, with greater detail than past DV videos, allowing one to see facial detail, etc, even when the whole stage width is in the 16:9 frame.
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Old September 14th, 2003, 03:25 PM   #9
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Re: on stage lighting

<<<-- Originally posted by Larry Witanowski : I tried several approachs, the easiest using the exposure control set in the minus 3 to minus 5 range. -->>>

So you were at minus 1 to almost minus 2 stops under. That's what I thought would be right.
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Old September 14th, 2003, 06:55 PM   #10
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Glad to hear you nailed it Larry. I don't like to let the shutter speed wander around during this kind of shoot as it obviously changes the look of the dance motion, so I think I'll stick to trying the ND filters rather than mess with the exposure control. Thanks for the input Steve, I didn't know that about focusing inner-focus lenses. Unfortunately, as was the case yesterday, if you have an empty stage with no props at the target distance, you've had it! I think a portable monitor would definately help though.
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Old September 14th, 2003, 10:32 PM   #11
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<<<-- Originally posted by Paul Mogg : I don't like to let the shutter speed wander around during this kind of shoot as it obviously changes the look of the dance motion, so I think I'll stick to trying the ND filters rather than mess with the exposure control. -->>>

An ND filter will not help one bit.

I'm not sure where the idea comes from that contrast is reduced by an ND filter. It is not. Especially indoors, the total amount of light is NOT important.

It is the ratio of peak brightness to average brightness that is important. (Average brightness is the AE system's use of max to min intensity.)

The use of ND is only important in two ways:

1. Outdoors to prevent the iris from stopping down too far.

2. Reducing light so the shutter-speed stays slow naturally. You don't need to lock shutter speed. Hence, you are free to bias AE. The Exposure Control really will prevent blown high-lights but at the expense of under-exposing every thing.

You need my Shooting Guide. :)

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Old September 15th, 2003, 06:14 AM   #12
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I'm afraid that I'm a born sceptic as far as this camera goes, and I don't think there's any substitute for real-world experience, which few of us have much of with this cam at this point. You may well be right, but I have to prove it for myself. I also think some controlled studio tests are really in order right now. I'll let you know how the ND filters worked on thursday once I've tried it, nothing lost if I'm wrong.

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Old September 15th, 2003, 10:59 PM   #13
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Don't blame you!

I too prefer to lock shutter-speed since I know that if the contrast is high there is NOTHING that can really be done.

OK--you CAN use the Exposure Control to bias, but lowering overall exposure by 1 to 1.5 stops is not my idea of getting a correct exposure.

I only mention the option because for some, the "dark" look might be very desireable.
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Old September 16th, 2003, 10:19 AM   #14
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The Ideal HD Stage Video

If your shooting one performance only, with one camera only, you have to get that perfect continuous shot, from the beginning to end of each act. Incredibly tedious....and doesn't allow for panning over to the exit sign to focus, or slow adjustments to the exposure to allow you to see what is going on in an area of the stage with so much light that it's blown out. When in doubt, I underexpose, much better than blown out white. I had trouble with the shutter speed fixed at 1/30th, so I let it wander, but it was always pretty low even without a ND filter. Didn't seem to have any annoying judder effects, either, and the exposure seemed to correct more quickly to changes in light without a fixed shutter speed.

Ideally, it would be great to have 5 or 6 of these cameras going at once, some following with tight close ups, different camera angles, the whole stage, etc.

If you can't afford 6 of them, then go back and re-video performance after performance, using the sound from one performance as the guide for the time line, then edit in all the shots from the different nights to make what appears to be a multi-camera ultimate video.
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Old September 18th, 2003, 11:31 PM   #15
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Well I said I'd report back on how using a .6 ND filter under stage lighting conditions went. The show I shot was under extremely high contrast lighting, and the ND filter actually did a very good job of controlling the white blow outs, just as it does in bright sunlight. So when lighting conditions were right for that particular exposure setup, the picture was great, but as lighting conditions change you need to manually adapt, and unfortunately you can't go changing ND filters in mid-performance. As I said before, this camera just doesn't possess the controls for live performance work, just as most low end DV cameras do not. Controlling focus is also a real pain in the ass, you definately need an high quality monitor hooked up. Autofocus won't hack it under stage conditions because of the hunting, and if you didn't get a focus lock when the house lights were up, as I didn't on this occassion, you've had it
My opinion about this camera hasn't changed a bit. Under very controlled lighting circustances it's capable of getting a picture that rivals commercial HD broadcast material, and is way beyond DV in most respects. But if the shooting conditions are not totally controllable, forget it, you need to carefully set up your shots to get professional results. All of this probably makes it capable of shooting movies, but a pain in the brain if you're trying to do anything live, which includes weddings and live events of any sort.

I hope this is of some help.
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