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Old January 26th, 2002, 08:17 AM   #1
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What do you shoot in?

As the proud owner of a new XL-1s I have been trying out all the controls seeing what everything does. But for right now I've been mostly shooting in Auto. What do most of you shoot in? Do you take total control of the camera or do you find that they Auto mode is good enough of most shots?
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Old January 26th, 2002, 09:29 AM   #2
 
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I usually shoot in shutter priority mode, unless I need to closely control depth of field...then it's aperture priority. Occassionally, I shoot in manual mode with an external light meter for difficult lighting conditions. I'm an old 35mm still photographer...got used to the Zone 9 system, which I like to use on my video. Video really has a lot less range than film so overexposure is easy.
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Old January 26th, 2002, 10:09 AM   #3
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Off the subject

Bill,

I know this is off the subject...but I'm going to ask a question that I KNOW other people have been wondering about.

How do you pronounce your company name (chal-chee-whittle, I'm guessing?), and what does it mean?

Sorry for the brief diversion, Zimvg304.
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Old January 26th, 2002, 10:21 AM   #4
 
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OT

Z...

"Chalchihuitl"........ chal-chee-wee'-tul
kinda hard to pronounce....perhaps not the best name for a business...but....it's special for me.

Chalchihuitl is a toltec word for turquoise...it means, literally blue stone. Here in New Mexico, there is a turquoise mine that dates back to pre-history. Turqoise from this site has been found as far south as Mexico City, obviously early peoples travelled this far north to extract the stone and return it to Mexico for religious reasons.

My home and business is within a few miles of this site. Much of my backdrop and location shoots come from this area.

Hope I've answered your question....probably more than you wanted to know...<g>
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Old January 26th, 2002, 10:46 AM   #5
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Not too much at all...I appreciate the explanation.

I think it's an interesting name...every time I visited DVInfo.net and saw your comments I'd look at it and wonder about it. So it's a success in that it definitely sparks curiosity.

Thanks.
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Old January 26th, 2002, 12:36 PM   #6
 
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thanx...I've had people ask...so it seems to work for generating interest, yes.
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Old January 26th, 2002, 02:29 PM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by billravens : I usually shoot in shutter priority mode, unless I need to closely control depth of field...then it's aperture priority. Occassionally, I shoot in manual mode with an external light meter for difficult lighting conditions. I'm an old 35mm still photographer...got used to the Zone 9 system, which I like to use on my video. Video really has a lot less range than film so overexposure is easy. -->>>

Bill,

Now you've really got my attention. I'm an old Zone 9 system still photgrapher also. I haven't done any printing in over twenty years but I still have some of my favorite prints hanging on the wall. I remember "over expose and under develop" as the system in a nutshell. But how do you apply it to the XL-1s? I know Chris has the corresponding ASA speeds of the XL somewhere (where?). Can you elaborate on using the Zone system with the XL-1?
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Old January 26th, 2002, 02:56 PM   #8
 
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ola Ozzie...

rather than take up a bunch of bandwidth, let me defer to Victor Kuong's explanation of DV and Ansel Adams' Zone system:

http://www.geocities.com/hollywood/location/5272/expose01.htm

it's really a way to quantify the way a cam responds to light. long term pro's like yourself probably use some variation of the zone system without realizing it. as for myself, my customers have not been too interested in a broadcast compliant video clip. as my customer base expands, however, I think I owe it to myself to bring my work into NTSC compliance. The Zone system works for my analytical mind. the whole thing is about relating IRE level to the zone system.
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Old January 26th, 2002, 03:14 PM   #9
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The basics of the zone system is to place a tone in a zone.

The advanced version says you also adjust your film processing to aid in the limitation or expansion of what tones will appear in your final print. ie contrast adjustment

I use the zebra setting at 90, which to me means white with just a hint of definition in it.

Generally I will then find some white in my scene and "place" that white on that "zone." I will dial in an exposure where the zebra stripes just begin to occur on just that one white area. I then let the rest of the scene fall where it will.

There are exceptions:

Since you don't want to have to alter your final video in post, you can't really control the medium other than through lighting. Add some light to the shady areas to reduce contrast....etc.

BTW a light meter will "place" an entire picture (or maybe the central metering area) on Zone V (5) = (18%).

Rule of thumb is white people's skin tone looks good at zone VI (6), or in other words... One stop over exposed from the meter. Just make sure you are filling the frame when making that exposure, or you'll be way off.

What I want is to place white where white should be and all else just falls in after that.
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Old January 26th, 2002, 04:26 PM   #10
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Thank you Bill for the URL. Very interesting reading. I'm particularly interested since I'd rather do no tweaking of video in post if I can help it much as Jo is suggesting.
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Old January 26th, 2002, 06:26 PM   #11
 
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I think this is particularly important when shooting DV. My early video is full of washed out whites, and the phenomenon Adam Wilt called "white popping". Washed out whites in DV tend to be these very distracting white blobs...and post proc'ing won't fix it. I've seen some videos at a local film festival that were outstanding in talent and subject matter, unfortunately, the videographer didn't really know his tool...the XL1. Many outdoor scenes had washed out skies...such a shame for an otherwise good story.

BTW, the zone system will also help determine where to set that "black level" on the XL1s.

JoPhoto, can I ask you a q about where you set your zebra? I was working with a setting of 100 since it gives me an absolute indication of what areas of my scene are at IRE 100 or over. If I were to set 95 or 90, as you do, and use your method, that would give me some small margin below 100 IRE, in this case 5 or 10 points. It seems like a margin of 10 points is throwing away valuable latitude(range). Do you feel like that 10 point margin is a necessary safety factor?
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Old January 26th, 2002, 09:53 PM   #12
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Bill,

The "white blobs" are one of the main shortcomings of the XL-1 and most (if not all) other prosumer DV cameras. My first shoot with our XL-1 was with a hired DP to do a short pilot. I lent him the camera for a week (he always shot DigiBeta, SP, or film). He learned how to work with the camera. The pilot was not a disaster but it took us almost twice as long to shoot because of the inability of a $4k camera to hold on to details in the white areas. A $40k camera can easily squeeze details from the whites at IRE 100 but not a our XL-1. At least the $40k camera will keep the blownout whites looking decent and not like blobs. We solved the problem by constantly restaging the problematic scenes against less contrasty backgrounds. We shot the rest of the series with a regular Beta camera.

I've been experiementing with the settings in the XL-1s I just purchased. It seems to handle the whites much better. I do have a question - how do you set the blacks?

BTW - I also settled on 90 for the zebra threshold. Since there's no way of telling how much over 90 you're going (an inline scope is part of my wish list) the margin of 10 seems prudent. The only time I don't care is when I'm shooting indoors and want the exteriors to get completely washed out.

Do you know if the XL-1 electronics clip the whites at 100? I've run the signal through a scope and it doesn't seem to be doing so. I've gotten spikes as high as 110.
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Old January 26th, 2002, 11:33 PM   #13
 
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yeah, as far as I can tell, the XL1s will record up to 110 IRE or so. As far as setting up the black level, you really need an in-line signal analyzer to scope the minimum IRE. Ideally, the black level should be set for 7.5 IRE. The process, as JoPhoto says, is to setup and shoot for the highlights and let shadows fall where they may. Black level adjustment should be set so that the blacks fall at 7.5 IRE. I'm using the signal analyzer in MediaStudio Pro. I understand that all software signal analyzers are limited because they use their own internal reference, but, it's all I've got, for now. Be nice to have a nice tektronics vectorscope and signal analyzer, for sure.
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Old January 27th, 2002, 12:02 AM   #14
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I've read that to have your production aired by networks, you have to follow these general rules:

- No Blacks below 7.5 IRE and no whites above 100 IRE
- Audio peak at 0, some will have channel preference if they are automated

How do you control these factors with the XL-1 or at least adjust settings to get as close to these values as possible? (unfortunately, I don't have the XL1-S) In post-production, is it possible to analyze your values in FCP or perhaps with Cleaner 5 and correct them? If not, any suggestions for Mac software or hardware that will do the job?

(Completely bewildered at this stuff...going through my books right now to find out what IRE means exactly. Exuse my greenness!)
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Old January 27th, 2002, 12:05 AM   #15
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Bill,

We have and use both - a software based scope that comes with the Avid, and we have a Tektronics vectorscope and signal scope. The Avid's is near useless but it gets you in the ball park. We use the Tektronic for batch digitizing at the conforming stage. The drawback with the Tektronic is that it needs an experienced operator to set it up correctly. We used to rely on the assistant editor to do this until we began to catch a lot of bad or illegal video on onlined masters. Now we pay for a more technically proficient operator to do the coforming.

I'll play around with the XL-1s signal through the Tektronics and see how the custom setting affect the black levels. Is the term "pedestal" still used for the bottom of the luminance signal?

By the way, when we needed a signal for on-air keying we created what is called "super black" - that's a black, or pedestal, that's below 0. Since that was just for keying it was legal. A few years ago we began to realize that there is no such thing as "super black" in the digital domain. Zero is it. We discovered this when the TD on the remote truck was having trouble keying the same material we had been using for several years. He was experienced enough to ask if we had switched from analog to digital. We had. We can still get a key but its become a very delicate affair.
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