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Old January 20th, 2009, 08:45 AM   #1
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Solutions for exceptionally dark indoor footage

Greetings,

I have a JVC HDGY200u which I love for anything outdoors. But, I have a problem with indoor filming. Specifically, with a room lit by natural lamps etc.

The footage is crazy dark. Like a throw back to the days in early TV. And I'm not sure quite what to do.

I don't think the camera is really this bad in indoor light, I think it might be my settings, though I don't know what I'm doing wrong with it.

Another thing, the dark footage comes as a shock to me, as it isn't nearly this dark in the viewfinder, the lcd, or on the 19inch monitor I have attached to the camera view a VGA to component adapter.

Does anyone have any ideas? Both in how to make it not so dark and in how to accurately preview it as it doesn't look this dark in any of the preview methods I'm currently using?

Thank you for any help with solving this.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 08:53 AM   #2
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First question: is your display monitor calibrated using colour bars, specifically the pluge pattern at the bottom right. Are the viewfinder/lcd and external monitors set up as well? I found that my external monitor can't be trusted for exposure (I find it too bright, compared to recorded footage).

My experience using my setup of choice is that in a darker office lit by ceiling fluoro fixtures, at 0dB gain and the lens wide open, I'm getting highlights at only about 80 IRE. I take all my footage shot with my 200 and run it through FCP's 3 way colour corrector and add highlight gain and find the sweet spot for mid tone gamma. Yeah, it takes time but MAN, what a difference! Colour "grading" has become part of my standard workflow with this camera and, while it takes a bit more time and energy, the results are worth every second.

Keep in mind, I do mostly EFP stuff so I generally have some buffer built in for this, both in terms of time and budget.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 09:23 AM   #3
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Are you using the standard camera settings or one of the scene-files available on this forum?
Using these scene-files makes day-and-night difference.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 09:43 AM   #4
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By display monitor, do you mean the 19inch lcd monitor I have hooked up via component to vga? Yes, to the best of my ability, I did calibrate it with the color bars.

As for the settings, I'm using standard (brighter but really grainy and still dark) and the scene recipe Super Wide, which is super dark.

Is there another one you can recommend?
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Old January 21st, 2009, 06:48 AM   #5
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[QUOTE=Shaun Roemich;997959]I'm getting highlights at only about 80 IRE. I take all my footage shot with my 200 and run it through FCP's 3 way colour corrector and add highlight gain and find the sweet spot for mid tone gamma. Yeah, it takes time but MAN, what a difference! Colour "grading" has become part of my standard workflow with this camera and, while it takes a bit more time and energy, the results are worth every second.

Hi Shaun,
What do you mean "add highlight gain"??
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Old January 21st, 2009, 08:45 AM   #6
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Dennis: in the 3 way colour corrector in FCP, I use the slider under the rightmost colour wheel (highlights) to bring the highlight level up, and then repeat with the middle wheel gain slider to affect gamma. Same as using Photoshop's Levels on photos.
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 09:29 AM   #7
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No offense meant here but lighting the scene is the primary consideration. It's simply not a good choice for available light indoors-
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 09:35 AM   #8
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I understand that lighting the scene properly is by far the best choice. But my issue is that I'm not trusting the camera to show me the actual amount of light I'm really getting. If the LCD and an external monitor attached to the component ports are off, what do I do?
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 04:44 PM   #9
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Jason: The only thing I TRUST implicitly is zebra for exposure. No matter what you do to your monitoring, zebras will never lie. You just need to know what they are set at and how to "place" them accurately for exposure.
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 05:19 PM   #10
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Shaun,

In the bhest, I have only ever used Zebra stripes to show what highlights are blown, not actually to see if the core footage is too dark. If you wouldn't mine, could you explain this a little more to me?
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 06:52 PM   #11
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Sure. If you set zebra to 70 - 75 (70 - 80 on the JVC's), zebra should appear only on the highlights of caucasian skin tone in "normal" exposure. For example, your subject is sitting in a chair by a window: the highlight side (the side closest the window) should indicate zebra on that side of the face only. Outside, I look for zebra on the tops of cheeks and forehead wrinkles or character lines.

For proper exposure of other skin tones, I (a white male) will hold my hand up in the same light and set exposure that way.

For subjects of particularly dark skin tone, you could open the iris up until you get zebra on highlights, and then close iris down until the zebra disappears.

100 IRE zebra will only show you blown out highlights (which has it's purpose). I prefer using the 70 - 80 range.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 01:52 AM   #12
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well the first thing to do is make sure the LCD and VF brightness is set to the middle position. if you have this right, its reasonably honest. the highlights blow out too soon, but I'm used to it. perhaps the dark problem is where you are monitoring.

there is no rule that says if your brightest point is only 80 IRE you're under exposed. depends on the shot and what looks right.

that said, playing with the gamma and black stretch can make a huge difference. even going to 3db of gain if you need it can help
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Old January 25th, 2009, 09:28 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
there is no rule that says if your brightest point is only 80 IRE you're under exposed. depends on the shot and what looks right.
Of course, in theory, you're absolutely right. I was talking about MY footage, which SHOULD have had 100 IRE whites in the frame, based on subject material. I had insufficient light (for the HD200 at least) to get full exposure, based on the scene file I am using for the entire one hour long project I was shooting on, based on the look and feel (and colour grading) I was looking for.

I should have been more specific.
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