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Panasonic P2HD / DVCPRO HD Camcorders
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Old September 15th, 2008, 08:47 AM   #1
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Need quick crash course

I shoot with a Canon XH-A1, and I just got a fill-in job for a VH1 shoot and they told me I'll be using an HVX-900. I couldn't find a camera with that name, but maybe it's the HDX-900?

In any event, I expect to be a bit overwhelmed for a few minutes regardless, but what should I definitely know going into this? I found a manual for the HDX-900 and have been going through it. I don't want to walk in completely unprepared.

I'll be shooting interviews against a green screen.
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Old September 15th, 2008, 02:27 PM   #2
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It's probably the hdx 900, most people freely interchange the words hvx hdx and hpx.

Any way have you ever worked with a full size camera like that. Do you know how to setup White Balance and ND filters on a Black and white viewfinder. the HDX is a high end killer camera so don't mess it up! ;)


Keep reading that manual.
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Old September 15th, 2008, 05:22 PM   #3
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Thanks Andrew.

I have very brief full-size camera experience, so no, not really. Fortunately the lighting environment will be very controlled, but I've always been thrown off a little by BW viewfinders - I was wondering if that would be the case with this one. What are the basics that I really need to know about setting it up?

I used a full-size camera in the field once, but didn't have to set it up, just operate (which may be the case here, not really sure yet). It was hard to judge exposure on, or at least I felt like it was, but that might have been due to the bright sunlight. Focusing and framing is all going to be natural, I'm mostly worried about color temp, exposure, etc. - critical functions that might be hard to find or do if I don't have an idea in my head already of how it works.
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Old September 15th, 2008, 05:55 PM   #4
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if it's like all the other full sized rig I've used, there is a 3 position switch on the left front side which should be WB-Positions a&B can be set by the operator, (use a white card) and there is a PRESET which should be like auto white. BW viewfinders are great. Much sharper than the typical VF on most small form factor cams.Use the zebras to exposure, you can control brightness,contrast and peaking for the VF so seeing a clear, sharp image should be no problem.
If it's a multicam shoot you might be lucky and it would be set with a CCU soyou really don't have to do anything. The video engineer will handle the WB andexposure from the console but if it's not set up like that, then once you set the WB and exposure you should be good to go so long as the lighting doesn't change from 'day to night'.
Double check the back focus just to make sure. Sometimes it'll go out just a hair.
If possible get hands on the rig the day before or at least a few hours anyway so you get a chance to play for a bit before the show.

Don
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Old September 15th, 2008, 09:30 PM   #5
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Thanks Don. How would you check for back-focus? I guess I can probably search around on here for that.

I'm planning to try to be there at least a couple hours early to go over things, but I don't have a solid schedule yet so I don't know what their plans are. They might already have planned some time in for that - not sure.

Using zebras to set exposure makes sense - I already basically do that on my A1, so that makes me feel better. Sounds like it shouldn't be too hard as long as I can find the functions fast enough on the camera.
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Old September 16th, 2008, 06:00 AM   #6
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focus in on a target about 12 to 15 feet away - do a tight zoom in focus and then do a slow zoom out then back in. the subject should remain in focus thru out the entire zoom range. if not then you need to go to the thumbscrew on the back flange of the lens lossen it up an adjust the back focus ring ever so slightly. A tiny move makes a big difference. once you've achieved the proper backfocus (make sure the subject stays in focus thru the zoom range. Wide to tight and back again) then tighten up the thumb screw.
They usually don't move once set but they can and do thats why I mention it.
Don
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Old September 16th, 2008, 11:49 PM   #7
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Philip-
Be sure to have an external monitor to double check your exposure and color.
Also remember to light your subject and green screen separately. Light your subject like any other interview, don't forget the back light, it will help suppress spill from the green screen. Be sure to light the green scene evenly! A good tip- from proper exposure, turn on your zebras, open your iris about 2 stops and the green should be completely in zebra stripes, if not adjust the lights to make for an evenly lit backdrop, then of course stop back down to proper exposure. Good Luck!

Dutch
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Old September 17th, 2008, 12:29 AM   #8
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Often when you rent cameras, the lens comes in a separate case. When a lens has been removed from the body, you must check/set back focus. It is so important to do this, if you don't, you will have bad focus problems.

Dan
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Old September 21st, 2008, 12:52 AM   #9
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Thanks for the help guys - it was invaluable. I mostly did green screen interviews, but last night I got to shoot on sticks for a multi-cam shoot, and that was pretty cool. This morning I had to build my own camera because everyone was asleep - we shot like 20 hours of interviews. Definitely got a chance to look the camera over and asked them a ton of questions. The regular crew was great - very patient (-: I was hoping to do some shooting off the sticks just to see if I could do it but only had a few minutes last night to play.
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