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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
Sony PMW-300, PXW-X200, PXW-X180 (back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.


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Old March 9th, 2011, 04:37 PM   #1
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Northern Lights 101

I have just been asked by a friend who has borrowed my EX1 how to shoot the Northern Lights in Norway. Can anyone please give me a simple set of settings I can pass on. Thanks in anticipation.
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Old March 9th, 2011, 05:25 PM   #2
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Re: Northern Lights 101

Our own Allister Chapman has done some beautiful work and has a gift for explaining all things technical:

YouTube - How to use XDCAM EX to shoot the Aurora, S&Q, slow shutter and interval record.
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Old March 9th, 2011, 05:59 PM   #3
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Re: Northern Lights 101

Thanks, had a feeling Alister is the man but found his web site is down. Thanks for the link
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Old March 10th, 2011, 08:02 AM   #4
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Re: Northern Lights 101

Quick forum search:

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-xdc...se-ex-3-a.html

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-xdc...rn-lights.html

And my fave: http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-xdc...what-tlcs.html

Alister C vs Doug J showdown ;-)
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Old March 10th, 2011, 07:08 PM   #5
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Re: Northern Lights 101

The EX1 is one of the best video camera that I've used for the Northern Lights. PMW-350 is a little better as it has less noise. I am hoping to try the F3 at the end of next week in Iceland.

But..... This year I took a couple of Canon 5D MkII's with 24mm f1.4 lenses. By placing them 2 miles apart, I was able to shoot 3D timelapse of the Aurora and the result is really very good. The difference is that with an EX you will be able to capture 1 frame every second, or 1 frame every 2 seconds. With the DSLR your down to 1 frame every 3 to 4 seconds. Given that some of the best parts of an auroral display may only last a few minutes, that can make the difference between getting a 10 second clip or a 3 second clip. However if clear skies, time and the Aurora are on your side, the 5D at ISO1600 or 3200 snapping away with a 2 to 5 second exposure can return some beautiful results with less noise than the EX. If you don't have the super fast f1.4 lens then hire one! When yo drop down a stop to f2.8 you double the required exposure time to 5 to 10 seconds and then it takes all night to get a single decent clip.
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Old March 11th, 2011, 01:13 AM   #6
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Re: Northern Lights 101

Funny to read this today as just last night, I was working in my edit bay and looked out the window,
and OMG it was beautiful. I grabbed my old PD-150 and ran outside to see what I could do. By the
time I got all the settings right, and had found a blank tape, I had missed a good part of the show, but
I got some decent stuff. Unfortunately, compressing the video for online also seems to make it look
a bit worse.....I think it's the silly FCP/Quicktime gamma issue raising it's ugly head again.
Anyways, if you are interested in seeing what an old SD camera can do you can see it
at the top of my facebook business page here:

http://www.facebook.com/GForceProductionsbusinesspage
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Old March 11th, 2011, 01:15 AM   #7
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Re: Northern Lights 101

Two miles apart? You must have a very big screen to view the final image(s)
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Old March 11th, 2011, 04:51 PM   #8
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Re: Northern Lights 101

The Northern lights are between 60 and 100 miles up, very high in the ionosphere. There is a 3D rule of thumb that you place the camera lens centres 1/30th of the distance to the closest object, hence the 2 mile spacing. There is no ground in the 3D aurora images, just the aurora and stars.
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Old March 11th, 2011, 06:04 PM   #9
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Re: Northern Lights 101

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
By placing them 2 miles apart, I was able to shoot 3D timelapse of the Aurora and the result is really very good.
I just wonder what you used as a sync mark....? Send a rocket up? :-)
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Old March 11th, 2011, 06:51 PM   #10
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Re: Northern Lights 101

Each frame was exposed for 5 seconds, so a simple pair of electronic timelapse controllers started together was just fine. Drift was less than 2 seconds every 24 hours, which was perfectly acceptable, as the longest single run was 4 hours. Alignment was done using stars as targets.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 02:21 AM   #11
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Re: Northern Lights 101

Did you get a 3D effect in the final render? Surely when you look at any subject from a distance then the 3D effect will be lost.

I am still baffled by this whole 3D novelty, I have seen several demonstrations at BVE, Focus and press launches etc. I am not convinced with 3D material other than for creating a visual effect with close up subject matter, which in 9 cases out of 10 doesn't add anything to the story line. I also hate the idea of having to wear "Joe 90" glasses which makes everything look underexposed and flat (contrast)

Don't stop shooting 3D Alister, maybe you will prove me wrong.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 09:01 AM   #12
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Re: Northern Lights 101

On this occasion the 3D effect is not particularly strong as the aurora was low on the horizon so we were looking at the curtains of light face on, but you can see layers of curtains beyond the closest one in some shots.

What we really wanted but didn't get was an overhead display where we would have been looking up into the descending auroral curtains, then you would have seen a lot of depth. You increase the depth resolution by increasing the camera separation, but there are limits to what looks natural.
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Old March 12th, 2011, 09:35 AM   #13
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Re: Northern Lights 101

I am sure your images - footage will look spectacular Alister. I was always under the impression that for a 3D effect the distance between lenses had to replicate the distance of your own eye balls. I wonder what sort of a 3D effect you could create with one camera on the A322 and the other on the M4 :-)
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