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Old May 12th, 2006, 11:54 AM   #1
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Monitoring the HVX

Yesterday, I went out in the woods with my HVX to do some test shots for an ucoming feature I'm gonna shoot this summer. It was late in the evening, and the whole time I was shooting all I could think was "man this footage is gonna turn out dark and grainy"....

Couple hours later I get home and view the footage on my TV. Surprise, surprise! The footage wasn't dark and grainy. It was the complete opposite. It was actually a little over-exposed.

Hmmm...

And the colors where way off.

Which brings me to my question:

How the hell do you accurately moniter what you are shooting with the HVX? The viewfinder and LCD just don't cut it. In fact, they are so innacurate that it hurts.

I've read about external field monitors, but I thought those were primarily for focusing. I can focus just fine. No problems there. It's the exposure and color that I'm having issues with. Anyone else have this problem?

Are monitors such as the marshal good for color and exposure?

Any suggestions?
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Old May 14th, 2006, 12:05 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Maes
Yesterday, I went out in the woods with my HVX to do some test shots for an ucoming feature I'm gonna shoot this summer. It was late in the evening, and the whole time I was shooting all I could think was "man this footage is gonna turn out dark and grainy"....

Couple hours later I get home and view the footage on my TV. Surprise, surprise! The footage wasn't dark and grainy. It was the complete opposite. It was actually a little over-exposed.

Hmmm...

And the colors where way off.

Which brings me to my question:

How the hell do you accurately moniter what you are shooting with the HVX? The viewfinder and LCD just don't cut it. In fact, they are so innacurate that it hurts.

I've read about external field monitors, but I thought those were primarily for focusing. I can focus just fine. No problems there. It's the exposure and color that I'm having issues with. Anyone else have this problem?

Are monitors such as the marshal good for color and exposure?

Any suggestions?

I would get a properly calibrated HD CRT monitor to have on set. You'll probably need to get an AJA analog to digital convertor as well...this will allow you to go from the HVX to the CRT HD-SDI in.
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Old May 14th, 2006, 10:35 PM   #3
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Monitoring options at least on Mac and FCP:

Component out to HDTV receiver. Least quality of all options.

Kona or Decklink card with SDI out to SDI HD monitor. Best quality. Newest entry into that field is the Panasonic LH1700 and now the LH2600. There are always some older CRT units kicking around. You can go analog component into these if they don't have the pricey SDI board installed.

Kona or Decklink to SDI-> DVI adapter box (such as from Kona or Decklink) to a flatpanel monitor like Apple Cinema Display 23 or Dell 2405 (soon to be 2407). Not as good as dedicated SDI or component HD monitor.

Option to appear this summer: Matrox MXO. Take DVI out of Mac into Apple Cinema Display and produce quality approaching a dedicated HD monitor.

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Old May 15th, 2006, 12:05 AM   #4
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LCD trick

Hi Ryan,

Actually, the HVX LCD flip-out monitor is fairly accurate for both color and exposure, but there's one hidden "trick" to make it more accurate: You need to turn up the LCD backlight to HIGH in the menu. Then you'll be seeing close to accurate LCD info. Not to be confused with BRIGHTNESS or CONTRAST setting, specifically the LCD BACKLIGHT. You either have "normal" or "high" as an option - set it on "HIGH".

When I view footage on my 30" Cinema Display or, the Marshall 7" monitor things look great, and match what the LCD shows - but only on the HIGH backlight setting.

About the EVF: It's useless to me. The resolution is so low and the colors look so unrealistic I never use it/don't trust it.

I almost always have the Marshall V-R70P-HDA connected, even if the HVX is handheld. It's waaay easier to do everything with that than the built-in LCD, including focus.

As far as monitoring during editing, my Cinema Display shows P2 clips with accuracy, and I use my KONA LHe to downconvert to a Sony 27" Wega (trinitron flat-tube) component input letterboxed, since my project output is going to be SD DVD-widescreen. That too, seems to be a near-match in color and exposure - after being properly setup.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 05:50 PM   #5
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Accurate exposure with the HVX200

The best way, in my opinion, to get accurate exposure with the HVX200 is to learn how to use the spot meter (a.k.a. marker) feature. The LCD can be misleading, especially when working in bright sunlight.

You can toggle between Zebra 1, Zebra 2, Marker, and off using the "Zebra" button). The marker is a square that shows up in the middle of the viewfinder, and inside that larger square is a smaller square. That smaller square is a spot meter! You can place this smaller square over an area of interest in the scene and get a direct reading of the IRE values from 0% (black) to 99% (white) and everything in between. This feature rocks for determining excellent, accurate exposure for your scene, you can determine where, exactly, something is in the tonal scale of your scene. If you've ever used the Zone System for photography, you will really like this feature, and even if you have not, give it a try! Knowing whether your shadows are in the mud (7%) or in dark greys (15%) is very useful. Also, you can determine where, exactly, your highlights are, close to losing detail (around 95%) or with reasonable texture and detail (closer to 90%). Give it a try!

You should also set Zebra 1 and Zebra 2 to values that make sense for you. For example, I like to set one at 100% so I know what's seriously over, and the other at 50% so I know what's in the middle range of the scene. But it depends on what I'm shooting, if it's run and gun doc, then I'll set one at 95% and the other at 80% for highlight on light skin faces... the thing to do is experiment and determine what works for you.

The LCD on the camera is ok, but I don't trust it 100%, I prefer to fly "with instruments" using the spot meter and zebras. Ideally, when there's a budget for it, I like to use the Panasonic BT LH900P 8.4 inch LCD HD/SD Monitor, the image is spectacular and it has a built-in waveform monitor (the ultimate video exposure tool showing you exactly what you have), but the thing costs as much as the camera and is expensive to rent.

This feature also exists in the DVX, and it's trickle down technology from the Varicam.
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