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Old June 28th, 2013, 12:59 PM   #1
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Your best tips for GH3 "studio" recording shot tomorrow I have to get right?

I worked at a major record label over thirty years through 2011. In the main studio tomorrow afternoon west coast US time 6/29, I, as well as "the" head sound guy for the record group are doing a no cost simple but high A/V quality shoot as a favor for a very good friend of his and an excellent guitar and vocals artist in the main recording studio at this location. To be used by him.

The sound engineer is going to supply XLR line feeds for two channels, and is going to do a simple edit on a decent Mac Mini he has with 8 gigs of memory with only his iMovie software.

Part of me wants to shoot it with my large pro Sony PMW 320 camcorder with 4 channels of XLR inputs right on the camera and it has been dialed in well with multiple scene files. This will be a static shot with a tripod and I'm guessing the artist seated.

However I know it would be much more simple for him as I'm on a Mac Pro and always shoot Quicktime files with my GH3 which he could just work with and not have to worry about any file conversions from my big rig, and the looks from my appropriate lens choices with the GH3 likely will be nicer esthetically. He doesn't want large files so I would shoot 1080 30P rather than 60P.

Questions please below if you'd be so kind..... as I do have a nice little Juiced Link audio mixer with manual level adjustments he wants for the 2 XLR inputs and the mini mic jack cable out to the GH3. And am sure with two LED video lights I have and what they have in the studio the lighting can be made to look nice:

I'm thinking either my Panny/Leica 25mm F/1.4 lens or my Panny 12-35 F/2.8. Which do you think would be the better option for their "looks" possible in this situation? If the zoom, back up to use the 70mm effective focal length? With the F/1.4 prime of course the effective length is 50mm.

What should I be doing with regards to making sure there is enough depth of field that the artist is always in focus, and should it be manual or "one" of the auto focus modes?

From everything I've read it is good to keep the shutter speed in video to twice the frame rate, so that would be me having to set it at 1/60s. Is there a best mode for doing that along with ensuring with aperture setting I have the depth of field covered?

Much appreciated any comments on mainly the visual effect of what I choose to do here with the lens and shutter / aperture / focus / ISO choices.

Thanks

Ron
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Old June 28th, 2013, 04:35 PM   #2
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Re: Your best tips for GH3 "studio" recording shot tomorrow I have to get right?

I would use multiple cameras. Lock down your Sony with a tight shot on his right hand. Then be creative with the GH3 and always have a shot to go to when it's wrong. You'll want to match the two cameras ahead of time.

Are you adding any light?
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Old June 28th, 2013, 06:15 PM   #3
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The Sound Engineer who is doing the free, simple edit on his Mac Mini was adamant he only wants one camera. No cutting back and forth between two to complicate beyond quality of the main take things for him in his limited "post production". I am going to try to make it very well done with the GH3 so he can simply use the "quicktime files".

That said, I pride myself in what I can bring back from on location anywhere with the images from my big Sony and my own high quality audio gear. So for backup, and to add to the footage I get from the GH3 for my own demo purposes, I will be shooting from a slightly different angle of course, the very same "one camera" take or takes with it as well.
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Old June 29th, 2013, 09:53 AM   #4
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Re: Your best tips for GH3 "studio" recording shot tomorrow I have to get right?

No tips or help from anyone for this static shot? I chip in and help in some of the forums here whenever I can if I have useful information to someone's question. I'd really appreciate it. Would hope to not make the wrong choice, for instance, with regard to using manual focus or one of the auto focus modes if anyone has feelings on that, to most importantly keep him sharp with enough depth of field also for his small movements while seated?

Thanks very much
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Old June 29th, 2013, 10:42 AM   #5
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Re: Your best tips for GH3 "studio" recording shot tomorrow I have to get right?

If you're going to be limited to one camera, then I suggest locking it down and taking your hands off it during shooting. No zooming, no panning, no tilting. Let the motion be the artist playing. Set the camera height so the lens is around shoulder high to the artist (experiment a little, see what looks better, but this is a good place to start).

I'd go with a longer focal length myself, as I like that perspective. Back off the performer some so he/she has room to move in your frame, but not too much. It's OK if they lean forward or to the side and get partially out of the frame, as long as they come back. IOW, don't pan with them; let them come and go and move around your frame as the mood moves them.

In this vein, I'd go with very simplified lighting too. Maybe just a single light as backlight and kicker (if the musician is a male, no kicker if female), and use a reflector to bounce some of the spill back into his/her face and body. If female, contrast ratio across face should be small -- soft even lighting usually works best. If male, you can use harder lighting with more contrast from one side of the face to the other.

Manual everything -- focus, iris, iso. Do a manual white balance, then set everything where you want it and keep your hands off it while recording. If you need more DOF, close down the iris. Shoot at 1/60th (in the USA anyway) in case there's any fluorescent lights anywhere around that get some stray light into your shoot, so you won't get flicker from them. If you're underexposed, use more light (not more ISO, or a slower shutter, and opening up the iris just shrinks your DOF which you are already worried about).

Make your takes the entire piece -- record a live performance without any cuts. Makes editing extremely simple, but makes the experience of watching the video that much more "authentic" to the viewer. Similar to, but different from, the old direct-to-disc techniques of the analog era of sound recording.

IOW, if you're required to go minimalist, go really minimalist. When done right it's very effective.

On the sound side, set your GH3 gain one step above mute. This will minimize the GH3's AGC as much as possible. Use the Juiced Link's preamps to get a decent level to the GH3. This will give you decent sound, with no sync issues at all. Again, about as minimalist as you can get.

Given what little I know about what you are doing, that's my take on it. Probably not telling you anything you didn't already know, but you asked.
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Old June 29th, 2013, 11:07 AM   #6
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Re: Your best tips for GH3 "studio" recording shot tomorrow I have to get right?

Thanks very much! Yes had planned just to lock off, no touch during recording. Going to try to keep ISO at no more than 800, lower if possible. 1/60 shutter and leaning toward the long end of the 12-35mm for lens selection rather than the 25mm prime. Would F/4 give enough depth of focus do you think or will need to go lower if he's not giving a lot of movement forward or backward, standing or seated? How do you feel about manual focus vs putting it in CAF or even using the face detect, touched there to start?
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Old June 29th, 2013, 11:20 AM   #7
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Re: Your best tips for GH3 "studio" recording shot tomorrow I have to get right?

I am still trying to understand your questions here but here's my understanding of the situation and my suggestions.

You would like to supply a set of QuickTime files from your static shot GH3 to the engineer for editing on his MacMini. Plus you would like to achieve a good looking image for your reel.

First of all, do not assume that his MacMini can easily playback the higher quality files from the GH3. The 50 and 72 Mbps files can be a strain on better computers so consider limiting yourself to the lower quality files. You might force the engineer to convert the files just to work on them. That said, you can still get amazing images at 19 or 24 Mbps.

If indeed you can only create a static shot your lens options should be based on a number of situations. How close or far can you get from the artist? If the artist is in an insert room there's probably limited space and the 12-35 would be better just for the wide although the DOF is reduced. Indeed the DOF can be an issue if the artist moves around so it might be better to work at a higher f-stop anyway. The auto-focus works well but if you are working in low light it can go on hunting expeditions suddenly. The facial recognition is great as long as the subject presents enough face for the programming to work. It still can go hunting if the artist turns away, especially in low light. I would recommend setting manual focus and keeping the f-stop at 2.8 or higher. This will work well if the subject is not right in front of a wall or other perfromers. Try to keep the ISO below 800 if possible. Setting the shutter speed to twice the frame rate is fine but you can get a nice effect at slower shutter speeds although fast guitar licks may looked blurred.

My experience is that some recording studios look great on video and others are near impossible to get a decent shot. Good luck.
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Old June 29th, 2013, 01:15 PM   #8
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Re: Your best tips for GH3 "studio" recording shot tomorrow I have to get right?

"You would like to supply a set of QuickTime files from your static shot GH3 to the engineer for editing on his MacMini. Plus you would like to achieve a good looking image for your reel.

First of all, do not assume that his MacMini can easily playback the higher quality files from the GH3. The 50 and 72 Mbps files can be a strain on better computers so consider limiting yourself to the lower quality files. You might force the engineer to convert the files just to work on them. That said, you can still get amazing images at 19 or 24 Mbps."



OK thanks! I just called him and got his computer specs. Does his MacMini he just purchased with current iMovie software that came with it, with 8gb memory and 2.5ghz dual core Intel have NO hope with dropping the 50mbs 1080 30P files onto his timeline and doing simple fades to black between 9 one minute tracks we are going to record? I was just trying to save him having to convert files.

My other options, wanting smooth motion...not 24P look, seem to be AVCHD 1920x1080/60i at 17mbs, 1080 30P at 24mbs or MP4 1920x1080 30P at 20mbs.

Which between those would be better quality and easiest for him to work with?

Sounds like very good lighting setup inside this booth with some key lights available. ("can be brighter than living room, not as bright as kitchen") Artist will be seated and I can get back 12-15 feet from him. Wall behind him is attractive squares of dark beige fabric acoustic panels 2-3" thick.
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Old June 29th, 2013, 06:18 PM   #9
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Re: Your best tips for GH3 "studio" recording shot tomorrow I have to get right?

I wish I could tell you for certain how his MacMini will behave. It has a lot to do with the video card installed in the computer. All I can say is that my 2011 MacBookPro plays the 50 mbps files perfectly as well as my 2009 MacPro with a ATI 5870 card. However I sent those files to a client who makes extras for major DVD/BluRay releases and their relatively new iMac couldn't play the files properly until they converted them to ProRes. Unfortunately these GH3 files are not standard AVCHD QuickTime files and while they are recognized and will play, they are not industry standard and nobody has made an effort to include playing the files as a requirement. The other codecs on the GH3 are common and most computers can play them. Now all that being said, if his computer can play the files but not perfectly, that doesn't mean that he can't edit the video. It's just that the computer can't play it live. Any edit will export to DVD, YouTube or whatever, will be OK.

The 30p at 24mbps is good however it will impart a slight film feel. The 1080i60 will give you a video feel. Up to you which is better.
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Old June 30th, 2013, 12:43 AM   #10
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Re: Your best tips for GH3 "studio" recording shot tomorrow I have to get right?

Thanks for all the help Guys. Just got home from a dinner and beers afterwards with the people involved and a couple of wives and a child.

The artist played strictly guitar and was quite skilled. Room in the studio was quite overstated, no room at all for the big rig and I would guess I was roughly around 12 feet back. Decent lighting but nothing special and my shot had to have him dead center on the stool with the guitar neck toward right of frame a bit to miss the two studio mics at low elevation left and right narrow corridor. Camera elevation maybe head height rather than shoulder due to missing the mics. Would liked to have moved slightly to my left with the tripod to put him a tad left center and guitar more pronounced right but the area where I was was angled and did not allow that.

Couple of interesting things to me. First the lighting allowed me to shoot at ISO 400 but the 12-35 at close to 35 needed to be right at F/2.8. But even though he moved his head forward and back about a foot while playing, when checking with the 10x zoomed focus it seemed OK and guitar seemed to be OK. At least on the OLED flip out. Haven't seen footage yet on my big Apple monitor but if it looked OK at the zoomed focus not too worried about it.

But weird stuff with my Juiced Link mixer, granted first time I've used it. Glad it happened here and not in the field somewhere. It "fried" the 1st 3 new 9 volts meaning within less than 10 minutes they were freaking dead. Finally noticed that phantom power was still enabled at standard 48 volts (I was told that was [more] standard rather than the other option of 12 volts) but with both left and right XLR inputs being set for the needed "line" feeds from their cables. So is that a big no no? I will have to call or email Juiced Link and ask them. But once I turned phantom power off it did not happen again.

I feel pretty good about what I was seeing on the OLED flip out, and that I didn't have to go to 800 ISO and what I was hearing on the headphones.

Speaking of audio levels, I just took the camera audio input down to 1 click from what I've read and others' recommendations, rather than choosing "disable AGC" on the GH3 with that option on the mixer, because I read something somewhere else (maybe BS....but it stuck in my head) about once the GH3's AGC is disabled in that fashion you don't get it back. Anyone know anything about that??? I would think it not true but was concerned. Anyway it wound up sounding really damn clean from the camera's files with headphones after the professionals had done their work.

And I did go ahead and shoot at the 24mbs AVCHD at 1080 30P rather than dropping down to interlaced at 17mbs. My instinct is this should be fine for his simple editing once we convert the files for what iMovie needs.
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Old June 30th, 2013, 07:04 PM   #11
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Re: Your best tips for GH3 "studio" recording shot tomorrow I have to get right?

How do you turn AGC off? I am not seeing it in the menus.
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Old July 1st, 2013, 12:47 AM   #12
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Re: Your best tips for GH3 "studio" recording shot tomorrow I have to get right?

Not in the GH3 menu. The Juiced Link mixer has an option to disable a DSLR's internal AGC. I just remember reading someone's comment about I think the GH3 that if that was done that you couldn't undo it. No idea if true. And I think it is more about the mixer feeding some kind of an audio noise or signal that defeats it.

But dropping the mic input level on the camera to 1 click and then properly setting the output on the mixer resulted in a very clean audio recording for this guy's guitar work.
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Old July 1st, 2013, 05:43 AM   #13
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Re: Your best tips for GH3 "studio" recording shot tomorrow I have to get right?

Ah, OK, thanks. I read up on it and found a post by someone who measured the effects of setting the audio level to 1 vs 10 vs 19. Link is below. I have a fire-and-forget shoot this week to test tracking and face recognition using Senny wireless direct into the GH3. Will calibrate for 1 notch on the volume.

GH3 Quick Audio Noise-Floor Test
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Old July 1st, 2013, 12:15 PM   #14
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Re: Your best tips for GH3 "studio" recording shot tomorrow I have to get right?

Good stuff, thanks for that link. Yes 1 click very clean with the juiced link mixer adding the correct level. I just listened with phones some more at a good level and the audio is very clean as far as noise when he's not playing.


OK please, again, I now have a premiere pro CS6 question. How to do this:

I want on the 1080 wide HD frame left side, like a still photo, to vertically crop off about 30% and also a small amount of the head space. And then have that remaining image crop be centered full frame with black bars or something on the sides.

I should have gone with my gut instincts with a bit tighter crop headroom wise but 16x9 with him seated dead center and guitar neck going well to the right of that has way too much dead space on the left and it is just bad composition. I have a wood paneling edge on the back wall left side, I could line up that new edge to. I listened to someone else for the final shooting "crop" missing the low microphones left and right and limited by where I could put my tripod.

Still want to be able to output from his iMovie editing a 1080 30P file and recorded bluray discs. But have a great composition on it as well. At the 400 ISO this image is very clean full frame on my 24" wide Cinema Display and the guitar and strings super sharp and crisp. Nice work Panasonic. Not even the higher bit rate files. This at 24mbs AVCHD.

What "function or functions" do I need to search on to see how to do that kind of cropping and centering in Premiere? Is there also a way if desired to choose a "pattern" of something, let's say, instead of black bars left and right?

Thanks
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Old July 1st, 2013, 03:00 PM   #15
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Re: Your best tips for GH3 "studio" recording shot tomorrow I have to get right?

I don't use Premier but here's a trick I use when I work with unmanned cameras. I edit in 720p instead of 1080p, it's still high-def and the quality is great. By doing this I can zoom into 1080 footage without losing resolution at all. Perhaps this way you can crop the shot without increasing grain or artifacts.
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