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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old February 11th, 2008, 02:21 AM   #1
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How Can You Honestly Monitor what this great Camera is Doing?

The paint adjustments on the EX1 are so numerous and finely tunable it seems to me, that wonderful as all this is, it is of no value without a monitor to review the settings as they are made. Choosing a profile offered by another, or experimenting with weird black gamma settings and waiting to get home and render to a big monitor is an awful waste of time and makes for a long learning curve. I'm beginning to think that I will never get this camera to perform to its full potential unless I can see what happens when I move from a black gamma setting of -58 to -57 in real time.

I don't shoot in a studio - I shoot in hot bright remote deserts, and small but good on camera monitors are horribly expensive ( as much as the camera nearly).

Anyone got any comments or advice?
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Old February 11th, 2008, 02:55 AM   #2
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That's a common problem with ALL Pro cameras, just how tweakable is a HDcam 900R, you have to hire a good HD broadcast monitor and then learn how the camera reacts at various settings in a controlled location - you certainly don't experiment in the field without a decent monitor.

Simple fact is you have to get to know your camera!
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Old February 11th, 2008, 02:58 AM   #3
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I am thinking about getting a Blackmagic Design HDLink and attaching it to a good 1920x1200 computer display to view camera outut from the HD-SDI for setups.

You could also use this to playback clips straight from the camera and maybe even set this up in the back or your truck using an AC power converter. Not sure if you want to lug around a 19" (or bigger) screen though.

George/
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Old February 11th, 2008, 11:17 AM   #4
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Yeah its a professional quality camera at a great price, but its not free.
If you can't spring for a monitor don't expect to be able to know what you are doing with it. That's really given with professional quality video cameras.
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Old February 11th, 2008, 12:25 PM   #5
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Don't forget I'm not in a studio but in the desert doing nature stuff where I must carry everything. Do any of you guys either use or know an on-camera monitor that is good enough to correctly monitor the EX1' HQ paint settings?
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Old February 11th, 2008, 12:32 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Michael H. Stevens View Post
Don't forget I'm not in a studio but in the desert doing nature stuff where I must carry everything. Do any of you guys either use or know an on-camera monitor that is good enough to correctly monitor the EX1' HQ paint settings?
Not cheap, but the TV Logic 7 inch monitor is very nice, having built in waveform/vectorscope displays to boot.

-gb-
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Old February 13th, 2008, 12:13 AM   #7
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Panasonic LTH80 (if the letters are right) about $3000 + batts, but its worth it for your needs. The pansonics are the standard pretty much with a waverform built in.
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Old February 13th, 2008, 12:13 PM   #8
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Panasonic LTH80 (if the letters are right) about $3000 + batts, but its worth it for your needs. The pansonics are the standard pretty much with a waverform built in.
Pana's monitor are usuali BT-LH. BT-LH900 is really good but pricy...
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Old February 13th, 2008, 08:42 PM   #9
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In similar circumstances I would be setting up picture profiles that can be selected for the subject rather than trying to set them on the fly (for which you do really need a calibrated monitor). My aim would be to get takes that can be fine tweaked in post. There are obvious advantages to doing as much as possible in camera, because output is in 8 bit dynamics. However if you get close then post is the best place for getting everything to match and adjusting the look. I'm finding that the LCD provides a quite reasonable guide if you ensure constant viewing conditions (hood etc).
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Old February 13th, 2008, 09:16 PM   #10
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Pana's monitor are usuali BT-LH. BT-LH900 is really good but pricy...

And worth every penny, especially with the focus in red feature.
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Old February 13th, 2008, 09:31 PM   #11
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I find my best workflow is to rely on the in-camera histogram and use the widest dynamic range and -3 gain... along with the correct color balance for the situation. Then I'm left with "raw" footage that can be "processed" to my liking in a controlled environment ( studio ) using the software I'm most comfortable with (FCS).

patients is a virtue

If your shooting for live broadcast it's obviously another story.
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Old February 15th, 2008, 03:35 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Michael H. Stevens View Post
The paint adjustments on the EX1 are so numerous and finely tunable it seems to me, that wonderful as all this is, it is of no value without a monitor to review the settings as they are made. Choosing a profile offered by another, or experimenting with weird black gamma settings and waiting to get home and render to a big monitor is an awful waste of time and makes for a long learning curve. I'm beginning to think that I will never get this camera to perform to its full potential unless I can see what happens when I move from a black gamma setting of -58 to -57 in real time.

I don't shoot in a studio - I shoot in hot bright remote deserts, and small but good on camera monitors are horribly expensive ( as much as the camera nearly).

Anyone got any comments or advice?
Hollywood doesn't do this for a reason.

If you can't afford to bring a well qualified DIT, and a full video village with you on location then you have no business painting in the field.

Even if your name is George Lucas and you can afford all of that it may not be worth it.

So what to do? Test like a madman.

I advise you to hire a real 10 bit monitor (Sony BVM series at least, or maybe Cine-Tal) and the other gear you need for a video village (tents, scopes and a genny it sounds like) and then truck it all out to a location like where you do your shooting. Spend all day at least- if not 2-3 days testing.

Then you should be able to intelligently set up a few picture profiles. Now go back out there and test the heck out of your picture profiles to make sure they actually do what you think they do.

Treat these picture profiles like film stocks and switch between them as your newly garnered experience indicates.

If you have a really difficult shot, then use an outboard recorder and acquire it in 10 bits with your best picture profile for the shot- then color it in the DI suite.

This is exactly the process they follow in Hollywood. Lucas used this process on Star Wars even though he could afford to drag an arbitrary amount of test gear out into the Tunisian desert.

Altering picture profiles like you are suggesting takes a LOT of time.

Sony even invented a controller for the F900 and F950 that made it easy to fiddle with these settings for Lucas to use on Star Wars. Lucas ended up not using it.

It turns out you can do more in DI when the clock isn't ticking quite so mercilessly.

This workflow mimics how DP's work in film- where there is no picture profile, just a selection of stocks. You will get great results if you prepare properly.
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Old February 15th, 2008, 05:08 PM   #13
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Thanks guys. Some really good points. I'm just off to JoAnne Fabrics to get more black cloth for a bigger tent. I realize a dark constant environment to see the LCD in is my best friend while setting up experimental profiles. My Hoodman is useless where I am, even with that bright LCD.

Just a quick ? I've been told for bright scenes CINE1 is better than CINE4, while another well know cameraman said stick with CINE4 and nothing else. I've done test shots and I find CINE4 does give me the most to play with but have any of you go an opinion here?

Thanks again,

Mike
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Old February 15th, 2008, 05:43 PM   #14
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I'm just off to JoAnne Fabrics to get more black cloth for a bigger tent.
Try a military surplus tent. Then use extra black panels to black it out further if needed.

Another thing to do in the desert, is to set up a 4x4 cutter to shade the camera and operator. I like to use a floppy so I can just unfurl it when the sun starts getting low.

As far as the built in profiles Adam Wilt's review of the EX1 (look under gamma) has the best concise rundown on them I've seen.

It isn't the last word, but its a good start. For myself I often use Cine3 or Cine4. I have never had the opportunity to test like I suggest- because I am working with rented cameras. (I haven't bought my own EX1 yet.. waiting patiently for the NAB news. Well that and my jobs are all hired cameras for a while.)
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