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Old July 1st, 2003, 07:31 PM   #1
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Gear Talk Time! Need ya'lls input on XL1s and other stuff

I'll be working under controlled lighting and enviroments for about 90% of all shots.

Occassionally, we'll shoot locations/exteriors.

I've been eyballing the XL1s for its lens ability and its 24p mode. I've seen sample clips of this camera in action and pretty much sold on it.

Here's what I need:

1. Ability to hook up external CRT monitor: I never trust LCD or viewfinders when it comes to videocams. Can the XL1s hook up to a s-video or RCA jacked unit?

2. SMPTE timecoding: syncing up audio and video is a pain I hope to never mess with again. THe pros at the local news station tell me find a camera that supports SMPTE. I don't see much room on a miniDV tape to record that extra data. Is that a DVC Pro only deal?

Are there add-ons that can aid in syncing a/v during post for miniDV?

3. Can the XL1s, or any DV based camera for that matter, record STRAIGHT to a computer harddrive via firewire, skirting the tape drive altogether?

Newtek had a VideoFlyer once (analog based) that used a SCSI drive to store the m-jpeg footage...haven't seen one like it in a long time.

4. Much of our footage will be color tweaked in post and FX added. Is the XL1 suited for this type of application? Would another type of cam be better used for FX shots?

5. Which lens is the weapon of choice for XL1s users? I know one lens can't do everything, but for general purpose, sharp picture, which manual focus lens is rec.?

6. I've been told GREEN is the best color to use for DV cam chromakey. The newsroom uses smurf blue.

7. We'll need some type of motion tracking software. Is Commotion what people mean when they talk about MT? Combustion? After Effects?
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Old July 1st, 2003, 10:12 PM   #2
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Hello Ted,
I'll swing at a few of your questions. First of all, however, I must point out that the XL1S cannot shoot in 24p mode. It shoots standard NTSC (PAL version available) and features a Frame mode which is very close to, but not precisely, the same as true progressive.

1. Yes, you can use an external monitor.

2. No, it does not feature or support SMPTE time code in any way. I know of no "add-ons" that could provide such a facility in post.

3. It's not a function of the camera, but rather the recording device. There are several disk recorders available today. They're in their youth. Some are crap. Some are decent but pricey and have limited capacity. My advice: wait a couple of years if you really need/want this facility.

4. Again, not a function of the camera but rather of your color correction software or FX software. Certainly, XL1s footage can be manipulated just as any DV camera's footage.

5. For manual control the 16x Manual Servo lens is the current lens of choice.

6. Don't know.

7. Commotion features excellent motion tracking and roto facilities, expecially for the price. After Effects is like a Swiss Army Knife for numerous effects. I've not used Combustion but understand it to be excellent for general effects but it carries a commercial-budget price.
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 09:06 AM   #3
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#6: Over the years, a Green chromakey seems to be used if you have a lot of motion from your subject (walking, etc.).

Apparently, there are fewer video artifacts.
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 09:07 AM   #4
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Green is probably better for 8 bit DV video. Blue is used in broadcast etc. because their cameras have a better video signal (higher bit rate, higher S/N ratio, etc.) Blue may show some banding with DV so, green is preferred.

SMPTE TC can be added in post or DV TC can be converted to SMPTE TC. But why? With the advent of NLE's all you need is frame accurate TC and DV supplies that. SMPTE is what broadcasters are used to, but other forms are generally acceptable.
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 10:56 AM   #5
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Jeff.

True enough. But in network shows, such as a childrens show eqment of 23 minutes hosted by A. Brown, a large green CK was used with live props and large amounts of motion. The VO, mentioned to me that he found less chromatic aberation when there was motion with gaudy colors: such as you will find on a childrens show.

As it may, I seem to notice a growing preference for the green.

It is a subject that I would like to hear more about.
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 05:58 PM   #6
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Ted...

The XL1 doesn't have a 24p mode but does feature a frame mode. Perhaps that's what you're referring to?

2. SMPTE timecoding: It does feature DV time code which is drop frame at 29.97 fps. If you record seperate audio then you can always "slate" the shot with a clapper as it's done with any other double-system sound. System timing is now so accurate that both systems can free-run and remain in sync over several minutes.

4. Much of our footage will be color tweaked in post and FX added. Is the XL1 suited for this type of application? Would another type of cam be better used for FX shots?

Check out www.crewoftwo.com for a really good example of matte work.

6. I've been told GREEN is the best color to use for DV cam chromakey. The green channel has the least amount of noise in DV compared to the blue channel, and isn't likely to run into keying problems as using a red background. Because of the level of red in human flesh tones, green and blue are the basic choices. And of the two, green has the least noise.

7. We'll need some type of motion tracking software.

Commotion does a good job. I understand AE's production bundle also has a good tracker. Commotion might be better for rotoscoping, painting and wire removal. It also has good matte extraction software (Primatte) but I've heard that Ultimatte's plug-in is better.

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Old July 11th, 2003, 01:42 PM   #7
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You can hook up a DV camera through firewire and start a capture
program and just capture what the camera is pointing at. Do keep
in mind that the camera thinks it isn't recording in such a setup
and might go in standby etc. after a while
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Old July 13th, 2003, 06:12 PM   #8
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Cameras go into standby when there is a tape inside (and your camera has been idle for 5 minutes). This is to reduce head wear. If you take the tape out the camera may stay on indefinitely.
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