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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old December 2nd, 2009, 10:42 PM   #1
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Expert advice needed on action video

I've been shooting some of our company products, which are high-end radio control planes, helicopters, boats and lots of cars. The cars are only a couple of feet long but run at speeds just over 60 mph in some cases. So, they're very fast - almost like trying to shoot a fast moving insect.

The final video will be used for internet distribution and possibly DVD.

I've been shooting at various settings and found out for myself that there's no ideal settings that will serve fast action played back at real time, and footage that can also be used for slow motion (20-25 percent of original speed). So I wanted to see if someone on the forums has more experience shooting fast moving subjects, and the settings you'd recommend for standard playback, and then the settings you would choose for footage that will later be converted to slow motion.

Here's some particulars that I've tried. Set at 720p, 60 fps, shutter speeds ranging from 1/60 to 1/500. I noticed that at the faster shutter speeds, the image starts to becoming more crisp, I'll typically pan with the subject so it stays as sharp as possible. The problem I'm having is that I get an unintended result with the background. It seems unnecessarily blury, and even when I'm sweeping across a scene at walking speed, there's a pronounced blur as well.

I've tried slower shutter speeds (in addition to turning the shutter off) for footage that will be used for standard playback, and it's decent, but still not the quality of image that I feel this camera is capable of shooting.

So, if any video experts with experience shooting high-speed action have any suggestions for settings that will produce the best footage for standard playback, and other settings that would be best suited to slow-motion, I would appreciate your input.

Best regards,

Steve
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Old December 2nd, 2009, 11:56 PM   #2
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Steve, I shoot Motocross and Supercross a lot and When the light is available I usually shoot at 1/1000 shutter speed 1080p 30 and shoot 720p 30 overcranked to 60 for in camera slow mo, Now if you try and pan on a small RC car going 60mph depending on how fast your pan is you are going to see some some amount of blur to the background especially at lower shutter speeds nature of the beast as it goes but it also depends on what the actual background is, trees, concrete, people sometimes blur looks plain bad sometimes a little looks good depending on what type of look your after and how much. Also make sure you are not creating shallow DOF with your Iris and zoom as this would also blur your background unless it is what your intention is. Try 1/1000 if light is available most likley will not need your ND filter, try and keep your Iris in the sweet spot F8 to 2.8. With the 1/1000 shutter try an F4 or actually a F5.6ish if light permits.
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Old December 3rd, 2009, 11:06 AM   #3
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Jason, thanks very much for the advice. I've resisted going above 1/500 with the shutter because I'm getting what I assume is a strobing effect. Here are a couple links to some clips that I put on YouTube, all of which is shot at 720p, 60 fps, and a shutter speed of 1/500. Notice in the first clip when I'm panning across the table of products that are on display at the event. The beginning of the second clip has the same result as I walk down pit lane showing the cars lined up on the wall. Is this because the shutter speed is too high for standard playback? The video is encoded using H.264 codec at 30 fps with variable bit rate between 6 and 9 mbps. I've also tried a fixed bit rate of 12 mbps.

YouTube - 2009 Kyosho Fall Classic - Overview

YouTube - 2009 Kyosho Fall Classic - Pro Buggy A-Main part 1

Just for clarification, when you mention that your shooting at 720p 30 fps overcranked to 60, is this the same as selecting 720p 60 fps?
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Old December 3rd, 2009, 11:52 AM   #4
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Steve,

With progressive, you basically have two choices: either motion blur, or super-sharp images with a lot of strobbing and judder when moved too quickly.

This is a feature of progressive. Hollywood movies show the same on my 50" full HD plasma, both from satellite and BD.
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Old December 3rd, 2009, 06:04 PM   #5
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You may have to look at shooting in an interlaced mode for this style of fast action.
Progressive modes are just great when you are in control of the action or can predict it, but for this kind of stuff where you tend to be moving erratically or fast, the benefits of progressive shooting are soon lost.
Give an interlaced mode a shot and see how you go........

cheers
John
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Old December 3rd, 2009, 06:12 PM   #6
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Steve, several things one is 720p 60 is not the same as actually overcranking to 60 Overcrank in camera runs at much higher data rate. I suggest You should shoot in 1080p 30 for normal video then when you want to shoot slow-mo in camera (no audio is recorded in this mode) you set your camera to 720p 30 then in the SQ menu change overcranking to on at 60fps. This will give you very good in camera slow mo which when reviewed in camera is in slow mo and IMHO looks fantastic! Also the blur and strobing you are seeing is actual much worse than it should really be. As Piotr states you will either get motion blur or some strobing but these videos have too much. Also slow your pans down and try and keep the camera steady.. use a stabilizer if need be some of what I saw especially in video two was due to the camera being unsteady. Also make sure you have steady shot on when using handheld and off when on a tripod. Last but not least If you are using autofocus...Some of the video looks like autofocus trying to well auto focus and it is not your friend...You really want to go full manual. Try what I have shared and see how it works out.
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Old December 4th, 2009, 12:03 AM   #7
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So I'm new to XDcam - just got an EX1R a couple of days ago (haven't yet had time to even mess with it) and am wondering can you shoot in 1080p slow or fast mode or must it be in 720 and why? Why is 720 around anyway? You'd think 1920x1080p would be what everyone would shoot unless making an SD DVD. Just wondering if we can shoot slo mo or fast in true HD...

Thanks
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Old December 4th, 2009, 12:22 AM   #8
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Hello Kent, just to speak to your question, the highest framerate at 1080p resolution is 30 fps.

So "overcranking" is not possible due to the data rate being too high.

720p can shoot up to 60 fps, so one can overcrank up to 60 frames.

720p is around because it and 1080i are the broadcast standard for high definition programming.
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Old December 4th, 2009, 12:27 AM   #9
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Thanks for the helpful reply - so when we want to shoot slo mo or fast motion we have to use 720p on EX1R? Will that 720p then edit in seamlessly if all other shots are 1080p (using FCP 7).
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Old December 4th, 2009, 12:31 AM   #10
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Kent, welcome to the club, Great camera!!! You will enjoy it!! The 1080p format can only support up to 30fps, and the 720p can support up to 60fps maybe overcranking in 1080p 60 will happen some day but right now 720 is the mode to use for over/undercranking at 60 due to the very high data rates. The Cameras design would most likely not allow for a 1080p 60 as it would probably overheat... However having over/undercranking ability in a camera this cheap at all is awsome!!! nothing wrong with 720p it works very well and looks great from this camera...as well.
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Old December 4th, 2009, 12:37 AM   #11
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I appreciate the help on this forum and the decent civility which most posts seem to have...thanks for helpful replies everyone.
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Old December 4th, 2009, 05:03 AM   #12
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Kent - +1! Thanks everyone for the insight. I will try all the recommendations. There are so many different settings on the cameras that it could take many months to try all the different combinations. I've already tried a couple of the settings today, but I didn't know that progressive would be such a handicap.

Jason, I'm working on getting smoother with the camera, but I've yet to purchase a stabilization rig so most of the video I'm shooting right now is purely hand held. As has already been noted, I'm not in control of the action and for events, I'll often have to hold the camera for 30 to 60 consecutive minutes, which can make this 14 lb. camera feel like 700 pounds. I considered a fig rig, but it doesn't do much to relieve the weight for the long shoots. I like the Anton Bauer counterbalance shoulder mount. I have to be moving quickly and switch from interviews and short product videos to long periods of competition footage, so a steadycam rig seems unwieldy with all the buckles and straps. Any preferences for counterbalanced stabilization rigs that don't take 10 minutes to strap on?

Again, thanks for all the help. It's very generous that many of you take the time to provide this information. It's much appreciated.
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Old December 4th, 2009, 08:27 PM   #13
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Steve, I shoot hand held a lot run and gun style as well... I have got use to the weight so couple of hours is nothing anymore but If you are not already, I always hold my camera with the Handgrip rotated so the Record start stop button is on top then I use my left hand to hold the camera in the base of my hand with my thumb and index finger I am able to adjust Iris,zoom, and most important focus. I have always shot this way and find it to be one of the most stable handheld positions you can achieve. As far as actual stablizers, Like I said I get very stable handheld work with my procedure and then of course tripod,and Jib crane But my main stabilizer is my Steadicam Pilot the Vest/Arm and all... I can get it on it less than 5min... :) Amazing, but overkill for this type of shoot, I do not use it for Motocross or anything of a run and gun nature. I have never had the need for one of the other types of stablization devices but there are others out there that I have heard good things about... Try out the shooting position I describe above and see how it works for you, rotating the handgrip is almost a must to shoot more stable shots with the EX1 handheld...also will not feel as heavy... Have Fun!
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Old December 6th, 2009, 09:07 AM   #14
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Thanks for all the tips Jason - I'll give it all a try and see if I can get better results. You're a better man than me if you can hold that camera out in front of you for two hours! LOL I'll have to try rotating the hand grip as you mentioned. When I first got the camera, a tried the hand grip in a few positions and liked it with the buttons facing rear. I'll have to try your method as well. Thanks for taking the time to help answer questions.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 03:24 PM   #15
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No problem Steve, hope it helps...BTW in the handheld position I described, the camera is held in front of you close to chest hieght for normal shooting with elbows down tucked into your sides not extended away from your body. Also not using EVF just use the LCD.
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