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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old July 6th, 2006, 08:59 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamar Lamb
Mike, I agree with the center camera focus. I do that as well. I think I would have to say be ready to compensate for exposure though. I've never done any "pro" club type work, just local recitals, pageants, plays, etc. Maybe the lighting is more consistent at those places but I've never seen any stage event with consistent enough lighting to just leave the aperture set where it is. That may say something about the lighting equipment or operators. I'd say get familiar with changing it anyway and if you need to you won't be as likely to turn the knob the wrong way......... not that I've ever done that... hehehe :-)

---As you know, the Sony's are the pits when it comes to changing exposure. Every change is apparent as a step-function in the video. I think that pretty much ruins the video. Certainly removes a certain patina of 'Pro' that we all try to deliver. That's why I use a DSR-300 with the all-manual lens setup for these types of events.

BTW, when it comes to proper exposure for people, you have to be very accurate in your metering when it comes to people of color. It is very easy to get it wrong because these cameras are designed by people who don't seem to take that into consideration. I shot a speech by Bubba Paris (retired lineman for the 49r's) a few years ago. Now I knew that he was coming and my partner is black. So we used both of us on-stage before the event to determine the exposure settings for both skin types.

The difficulty isn't so much when lighting is nice and flat but when you get spotlights and persperation, it gets tricky. The difference between a dry caucasian skin and a wet caucasian skin isn't so much. That is not so with darker skin colors. The persperation can really cause a glare and if your exposure isn't right on, you will lose one end or the other of the exposure.

Bubba (he is a very big person and a very nice person) was on-stage and the main lighting was in the orchestra pit and aimed up at him. And it got worse when those lights overloaded the auditorium circuits and they went out. Not only did the lights go out but the house audio system was powered by the same circuit. Good thing a local news crew had clipped a wireless on the podium as a backup and were willing to give me a feed. (Guess who always has an independent podium backup now?)---

On the microphone thing, what do you recommend? This is more of hobby that pays for itself for me so I tried to get enough to do what I needed without breaking the bank. I only wanted to buy one mic that would work for interviews as well as events and a wireless mic system when I purchased. I got a Sennheiser G2 and the AT835B which seemed to be the best performance / dollar buy when I was looking.

---I have the same equipment, Senn wireless and the AT. But since I travel with Police and SWAT teams from time-to-time and also record open-exhaust engines, I found those weren't good choices. I purchased a Shure SM81C which is advertised as a choir and cymbal microphone. It requires phantom power but it is very good sounding and will take incredible SPLs and still deliver reasonable sound. (I'm talking a Barret 50 cal sniper rifle shot or a MP5 on full auto). And it delivers very nice music and speech too. Only my studio microphone sounds better than the Shure. I use it in weddings too. ---

White Balance: This may not be news but I was reading over at Ken Rockwell's site about a new white balance tool called the Expodisc. It's basically a whitish piece of translucent plastic that looks and attaches like a lens filter. Instead of WB from where you have your camera set up you take the camera to where the subject will be, attach the Expodisc aim the camera back in the direction of where your camera will be shooting from and then perform a white balance. Once done remove the Expodisc and set your camera back up where it's supposed to be. The result is a much better white balance. I tried the same method shooting the WB through a piece of milk jug I cut out (the translucent white kind) and through a thin white piece of copier paper. I worked much better than WB by just aiming at grey or white from where you are shooting. The results look much more natural.

---Use the gray card up on stage to set both exposure and white balance. That way, if they bring up colored lights as an effect, you record it correctly.

The expo disk (not a new idea at all) is like using a reflected light meter, it averages the scene. One does not want that in a spotlit environment. You have to go for the most important element on stage and that is almost always the talent. The talent tends to be lit differently than the scenery or even the supporting players. ---
--

Disclaimer: I did this with my D200. I haven't done it with my video cameras yet but I would expect similar results.
I have to place some padding text down here as this bulleting board software doesnt' recognize that I wrote my reply inside the Quote marks..
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Old July 7th, 2006, 02:52 AM   #17
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just got back from shooting at the comedy club tonight

luckily, the auto settings worked really well with the comic I was going there to shoot

but on another comic that asked me to get footage for him: his face was overexposed in much of the shoot...those zebras don't lie. it's kind of tough to get all the settings right when a new person pops on stage and you haven't had time to try white balancing and aperature opening/closing...and like the last poster said, it is very noticable to see that kind of stuff going on mid shot.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 03:15 AM   #18
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I shoot a lot of three camera stage production footage with a Canon GL2, a Sony VX2100 (same basic cam as the PD170) and Panasonic GS200.

I always use "Spotlight" autoexposure mode and the "Indoor' white balance preset on all three cameras. The color and exposure differences between the cams under the varying color lights and varying brightness of stage lighting used to drive me crazy in post. Problem solved. The cameras agree on color and exposure with minimal correction Try it. You'll like it.

The Spotlight mode works even if there is no actual spotlight--it merely adjusts exposure for the central portion of the frame. The "Indoor" white balance preset is good with a wide range of incandescent lighting, including spotlghts.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 10:10 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Leiderman
just got back from shooting at the comedy club tonight

luckily, the auto settings worked really well with the comic I was going there to shoot

but on another comic that asked me to get footage for him: his face was overexposed in much of the shoot...those zebras don't lie. it's kind of tough to get all the settings right when a new person pops on stage and you haven't had time to try white balancing and aperature opening/closing...and like the last poster said, it is very noticable to see that kind of stuff going on mid shot.
White balance won't have changed from person to person. In those situations, the light source is normally constant and the color temp remains the same. Your results with the second person suggest that their clothing was substantially darker, causing the auto circuit to open the aperature and/or increase the gain.

Being able to change camera settings quickly and accurately is a matter of practice. Once you've done this type of shooting a few times, you will be able to change settings as smoothly as possible with the Sony.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 03:36 PM   #20
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I've taped a similar event using my fairly new VX2100. As this camera only has a mini 1/8" input, I was forced into using either the on-camera mic or input an external. I chose the on-camera mic. The On camera mic was pointing directly at a speaker, but apparently the mic is not directional and echo's and room noise could be heard. During the performance, I could not make the live switch to the external without it being way to obvious.

My plan for the next shoot is to purchase a small mixer (i.e. Azden FMX-32) that will allow me mix the best sound sources live. This way I can adjust my audio and select my mic's as the situations change.

Live and Learn.

Asa side note, I had a different white balance frustration. There was daylight filtering onto the stage. I white balanced, but as the show went on and the sun went down, the white balance was shifting. Again, during the show, I could not re-white balance. As it turns out, it wasn't that radical a change, but boy was it frustrating.

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Old July 7th, 2006, 06:12 PM   #21
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That sun going down-white balance thing has happend to me as well. I have keyframed the color balance in Vegas on long wedding media to compensate. Your editing software should have something similar. As a matter of fact I have an outdoor wedding I'm editing now. Everytime a cloud gets in front of the sun............. I wonder if auto WB would have been better.
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Old July 10th, 2006, 08:48 PM   #22
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Unless the wedding is at night, there always seems to be a mix of color temps to handle. My worst was a stage lit by incandescent with a 2 story atrium at the back of the stage. I used the incandescent preset and let everything else go blue. Ya can't win and I tell the bride up front that there will be background color problems but the wedding party faces will look OK

Wait till you get a bride that's wearing a white dress with whitners in the finish. In sunlight or in strobe light, it will turn blue on you. You DON'T want auto white balance to be on in that situation or their faces will do some interesting color shifts.
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Old July 11th, 2006, 01:50 AM   #23
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You raise a good point Mike. Many modern white pieces of clothing have these artificial whiteners added, and they should certainly not be used to white balance your camera. How to tell with the naked eye which are safe whites to balance off? You can't. Out with the square of photographer's grey card once again.

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