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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
Sony PXW-Z280, Z190, X180 etc. (going back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.

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Old August 6th, 2009, 03:37 PM   #16
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Thanks for all of the input. I will give all of the suggestions a try.
One question I cook a new picture profile using the FL setting should I leave the white preset at 3200 or kick it up a bit?
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Old August 6th, 2009, 07:13 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
The FL color matrix can be set by anyone and does not require any expertise or color charts. It's simply a matter of turning it on and it is very effective. It also has a fairly minimal impact on tungsten and daylight sources.

Go into the picture profiles, choose a profile then scroll down to the matrix settings. Turn the matrix on, then scroll down to Matrix. There you will find the option to choose between 4 preset matrices. Standard, HiSat, FL Light and Cinema. Simply select FL Light. You can find more details about white balance and the matrix in my video guide on youtube.

YouTube - XDCAM EX Color Matrix Setup and How To instructional video

It's easy to select the FL Light matrix, it is designed for shooting under flourescent lights and will give a more natural color response than simply tricking the white balance with gels etc. White balancing with gels will effect the white balance of the picture, skewing whites away from white, If you are warming or cooling a picture this can be effective, but removing green adds purple into whites which looks wrong. Using the matrix leaves whites largely alone but instead takes the overall green cast out of mid tones including skin tones etc.

There is far too much emphasis on color charts and 100% one to one, set it up with a scope settings. Very often a 100% accurate one to one response won't look right as the video gamut is smaller and lopsided compared to that of the human eye so a small amount of skewing of the color gamut can often help produce a picture that visually looks more natural. One of the very best ways to set up a camera is to use a high quality color photograph of a known scene. Shoot the photograph and look at the picture on a monitor and adjust until it looks right. This will give a more natural looking image than aligning with charts and scopes and is a technique that has been used since the very beginnings of color television. I have a scene that contains vibrant colored cars, green fields and trees, buildings and blue sky. I have a dozen large copies of this picture and use it whenever I am making camera adjustments to make sure my pictures still look natural.

I don't think the necessity of a controlled process should be discounted.

I think experimentation without control and comprehension is worse than no experimentation. What you desire, do with your camera, cognizant that what is learned from turning it on and playing with Matrix while shooting just anything will likely be of questionable value in actual practice versus employing a controlled process. That is, a chart, a scope and a monitor. At least, a chart and a monitor.

Without having your blacks and whites accurately set, any Matrix adjustments will do nothing but further misalign an already misaligned camera. And Auto WB (pressing the WB button) is never as accurate as manually setting each encoder channel. Since the RGB controls are in the maintenance menu which you're not supposed to play with, it is valid to say that EX Matrix controls are giving you the candy without requiring that you eat your vegetables. This can technically make for a malnourished EX camera. Just like if the PDW-F800 didn't brush its teeth every night after a shoot it would eventually develop cavities and may have to have its teeth pulled. Personally, I like brussles sprouts myself.

Caucasian complexion prints or scenes used for color balance as the first, primary and only step can be wrought with problems. Prints of the quality needed to test a camera's balance are not generally available outside a professional photographic printing house. Resolution, the surfacing of the print medium, dynamic range, printing process, inks can all present errors non-existent in your live scene causing you to correct for creating a nice photograph instead of what you will be shooting. You can observe some rudimentary, broad effects as far as experimentation but I don't suggest it for establishing definitive picture adjustment methods.

It follows that we watch people not test charts on television but the complexion test chart or real life subject you refer to being used since the beginning of color television was never used as a substitute for a test chart but as a final step after the test chart, to fine tune for the human eye.

I will now make a half-baked attempt to be solution not problem oriented. For anyone wanting a real scene chart along these lines I recommend the skintone charts further down in this page. I'm not affiliated with DSC. I just admire their products, the company and the way they do business.

By the way, as I have pointed out before I like your videos and I thank you for making them. They are smashing.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 02:10 PM   #18
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While charts scopes and calibrated monitors are probably the best way to ensure that technically a camera is set up correctly it must be remembered that film maki g is also an art. In many circumstances you may not want an electronicaly perfect image, but instead a visualy pleasing image. You don't need to know whether you are adjusting the phase of G while changing the saturation of R. What matters is that the pictures you are making are the pictures that you or your client desire.
Take a look at any recent blockbuster and the very narrow color pallets used. Normally orange skintones and everything else a teal color. Blacks are rarely black, skies rarely sky blue. Why? Because the modern trend is to use a narrow pallet of a single color plus it's compliment and the various shades in between.
This is a million miles from a correct or technically accurate pallet yet these are the movies making the big bucks.
I doubt most artists care about the chemical makeup of their paints, but the know that if they mix red and blue they get purple. So I say go experiment, work out what the settings do and how they change the image, don't get too hung up on the technicalities, this is supposed to be an art form not an exercise in technical perfection.

Having said all the above, yes you could end up with illegal saturation or peak white levels but these can be easily sorted in post. Your colors could end up very strange, but if you have a monitor you should be able to see that. If you can't then your probably in the wrong business anyway.
Alister Chapman, Film-Maker/Stormchaser My XDCAM site and blog.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 06:37 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
I doubt most artists care about the chemical makeup of their paints, but the know that if they mix red and blue they get purple. So I say go experiment, work out what the settings do and how they change the image, don't get too hung up on the technicalities, this is supposed to be an art form not an exercise in technical perfection.
Well said, and I'd like to add if (I may be so bold) that before there is "art" there is craft - the knowledge and experience of knowing which tube of paint or setting on the menu is going to give you what you want at any given moment. The latest widget or greatest PP is not going to make anyone's next shoot as good as the thousands of shots, shoots, experiments, and tryouts that fail. Probably best to do that on your own time though.
We paint with electrons - they're infinitesimally tiny, operate according to their own physics, shift polarity, fall into quarks and disappear - and all that even before the producer touches the fancy lit up buttons on the monitor that you told him/her not to touch. The mood, whim or outside temperature makes the monitor look better or worse - at any rate different before and after lunch. Is it the eyes or the pixels? Does it matter?
Any camera viewfinder that has been around the block, traveled commercial air (or god forbid anywhere on USAir) cannot be trusted.
Our work is ephemeral, even if they run our best 00:00:30 hour after hour, night after night, or our hard worked prized hour once a year.
If you are looking for perfection, in the world of video you will never be satisfied, let alone happy. My friend and soundman Kevin Trainor's aunt adjusted the TV to match the couch. The couch was green. She was part of the "desirable demographic" at the time.
A personal theory - modern audiences equate familiarity with veracity - pictures can no longer be believed but gut reaction and stored knowledge or history can.
A rosy cheeked charlatan in a green hued "evil" hospital can sell anything (even properly "managed" non government encumbered heath insurance). With a green hue, deep shadowed eye sockets even Dr. Schweitzer would equate the "bad guy doctor of death look".
There was much to be said for really good black and white ("On the Waterfront" or a thousand other examples. It is our great mixed blessing to live in a "carousel of color/colour").
All that said, we have an amazing piece of gear in these EX cameras. As many variations as they are capable of I like to try to satisfy an amalgamation of crusty old chief engineers whose best compliment would be "it don't stink". If it don't stink you can make it smell like perfume in post. Plain vanilla is a good starting point.
The monitor you love may be getting 108 or 212 volts, the client may have a giant magnet in the storeroom next door, or the adult beverage that was a good idea after dinner last night may have given you a blue outlook on life. Maybe 20+ years of looking through a Sony viewfinder have bleached the rods and cones of your right eye to something that looks like Lawrence of Arabia coming out of the desert - backlit but glorious.
Time to trust craft, trust the setup ( and if you are very lucky the soundman with good eyes you've used forever). And shoot. If it don't stink, they can change it in post.

Last edited by Denis OKeefe; August 10th, 2009 at 06:43 PM. Reason: punctuation
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Old August 10th, 2009, 07:17 PM   #20
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Love those responses! I learned about engineering, and am still learning, not to be an engineer but to strengthen my work as an artist if I can call myself that.

In my adventures through the land of the moving picture and art in general personally I found the best work 98% of the time came from the ones who had formal training and this is coming from someone with no formal training.

If they broke the rules it would be something to see because they knew what the rules were and how they functioned to begin with. The ones who made up their own rules on the other hand without understanding the mechanics of the fundamentals were sometimes interesting too but more as a passing fad than something with substance. I would sometimes see the second group lose control over what they were trying to achieve. I think because to manipulate a thing and imbue the result with some lasting value it helps to have a grasp of its nature.
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