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Sony HVR-A1 and HDR-HC Series
Sony's latest single-CMOS additions to their HDV camcorder line.


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Old February 27th, 2007, 11:33 AM   #1
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Optimal Settings for HVR-A1

I've noticed black stretch adds noise to low lux footage... as does increased color.

Therefore I'd like to amend my current feelings on the optimal settings for the HVR-A1, balancing noise and a filmic feel. Personally, I think minimizing noise (in lower lux settings) is more important than just about anything else. No matter how filmic footage appears, if there is excessive noise (especially chroma) the illusion of film is blown.

-Remove ALL in-camera effects, including black stretch, cineframe, gamma, which all add noise.
-Reduce color to lowest setting.
-reduce sharpness to lowest setting
-1/60 sec shutter speed.
-Exposure to ~ 8 tics from max which is close to zero gain and f/1.8 (ie minimize gain, shoot wide open)... up to 3 or 4 tics from right is acceptable.
-shoot w/o wide angle filter, because it causes a further loss of light / more noise.
-Go for shallow depth of field using zoom and wide open aperture.
-In post, deinterlace and convert to 30fps (ie 30-progressive or 30p). 30fps, as others have pointed out is close enough to 24fps, but is easier to achieve from 60i footage. I've been using Nattress G Film. It performs well - modestly fast rendering, minimal added noise, easy to use, and cheap!

We just finished a short with these settings. I'll post ASAP.
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Old February 28th, 2007, 12:56 PM   #2
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Footage with above settings...

http://viroquamainststation.com/podcasts/Unplowed.mov
[4.5-min 7.5MB Quicktime .mov]

or for simplicity's sake, Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENJIPZOsTOQ
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 12:59 PM   #3
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Hvr A1 Settings

Tried your settings, I really like the results
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Old March 4th, 2007, 06:59 PM   #4
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Black stretch isn't meant for low light situations, it's for high contrast scenes. F1.8 is good for dof but bad for sharpness. F4 would be the best for hc1.
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Old March 4th, 2007, 07:12 PM   #5
 
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However, Black stretch in low light shooting into a high contrast, such as from the field of a sports venue with bright lighting in the background, is a very good thing.
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Old March 5th, 2007, 05:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle View Post
However, Black stretch in low light shooting into a high contrast, such as from the field of a sports venue with bright lighting in the background, is a very good thing.
Depends. If the camera is at +18db gain then it will just make the image worse as all the noise will be boosted. But if the light is strong enough to have 0db of gain then it will help.
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Old March 5th, 2007, 09:47 AM   #7
 
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<sigh>....Alright, we'll nitpick this subject to death. I didn't assign a numeric value to where and when you'll need/want blackstretch.
We happen to shoot a LOT of sporting events where it is pitch black outside the stadium. Any shot looking remotely upwards, requires black stretch, and at times, adding up to 6dB gain is equally useful, using the black stretch.
We also shoot a lot of aerial material where in the sky, it's very bright and the ground below is not. Black stretch, particularly when coupled with CineGamma 2, makes for a very nice image, with a great curve to it. Jodi Eldred shoots with these exact settings for a fair amount of the work he does. Maybe we're both incapable of seeing noise or something.
I can't imagine shooting anything for a client at 18dB, so it's not part of my workflow. I would imagine that 18dB probably does create far too much noise with black stretch on (or off).
So yes...it depends. On a lot of variables that no one can assign a specific value to.
There are a lot of tools in the A1/V1/Z1 toolbox, and the best/only way to determine if those tools will work for you is to experiment in a variety of settings. If need be, write them down or store them as picture profiles in the V1/Z1, it's unfortunate that the A1 can't save em' up like the others.
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Old March 8th, 2007, 02:09 PM   #8
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What settings(film look) would you recommend on the A1 for shooting in pitch black? There would be a low 20-40watts on the subject, but other than that everything else is total darkness..
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Old March 8th, 2007, 07:59 PM   #9
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The footage above was shot with near pitch -black ambient light, with Nightshot, then color corrected to grey-scale in post. Also, again, without any in-camera effects, saturation to lowest setting, no added lens, 1/60 (or even 1/30) second shutter speed. Nattress noise reduction in post.

I think the results are a bit grainy, but almost like film grain.

I've been playing with other low light shooting without night shot too... particularly with 1/30 shutter I've been able to get some decent shots with almost no noise.
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