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Techniques for Independent Production
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Old June 11th, 2004, 02:21 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 4
A Beginnerís Query (XL1S)

I am planning on shooting a short film (10 to 15 minutes in length is what is being planned). It will be a parody of the old 50s hygiene films (check the Prelinger archives for examples).

I am in the process of writing a script, but itís going to be another month or so before I finish it.

I have a few questions. Please be patient with me, as I am still learning. I apologize in advance for my lack of knowledge, but Iím just starting.

I currently have a Canon XL1S, and I have a Tripod (Bogen with Monfrotto 501 Head), I have three filters (Circular Polarizing, Neutral Density, and UV), and thatís it. I am currently saving up some cash to pick up some other equipment (I have a list), but itís going to take me a little time to get enough money to gather up all the equipment I need.

Anyway, with the XL1S basically out of the box, I need to know what settings are best for establishing a filmlook with what I have. I am assuming that I need to record at 1/30 in FRAME mode (I am possibly wrong, though).

What mode should I record in, and why?
What Gain/AE setting should I use?
What other settings (such as the Custom Preset) do I need to adjust?
What other things should I prepare for?

Like I said, I am just a beginner, so bare with me. I want to learn all I can, and have been reading these boards for a while, and I am a little intimidated with all the information there is here. I am sorry that my questions are general, but I just need a basic direction.

Iíve been real nervous about posting, because I really donít know that much (yet) so I hope you all can point me in the right direction. I thank you all in advance for your help.
Chris Murdock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 11th, 2004, 10:24 PM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Princeton, NJ
Posts: 363
The first thing I would do if I were you was search in the XL1 areas for the answers to these technical questions. I've seen the answers to most of these there given by people who know more then I ever will.

IMO: yes, 1/30 Frame will give you the most 'Filmic' look of any footage.

As to the production side of things here are a couple of things that I live by:

Know how you are coming in and going out of every single sequence and shot. Meaning: know what shot or probable shot you are going to edit from or to from what you are about to shoot.

This can mean storyboarding out the entire script (always a good idea) or going through the script sequence by sequence and making notes and a shot list.

Even with the above there will be things that will prevent you from getting the shot you had planed exactly as you planned it because of set restrictions or something--- don't let it kill you, use what you prepared to get the shot.

You do this and when you go to cut the film together it will be easy and your transitions will be smooth and work well.

Since you are using digital video you have the oportunity and the small expense of shooting visualizations of your scenes too.

Just handheld have people act out the stuff and approximate what shots you think you should get and piece it together. sometimes this will really help you get an idea of what works and doesn't work and it's not like you have to pay for processing the film. PLUS since you are starting out it's a good thing to do to learn.

Since you are doing a parody of the health films of the 50's you are pretty locked in on your shots and angles though--- you have to be faithful to what you are trying to copy.

Like I said, do searches in the XL1S areas and the Film Look areas and you will find answers to almost ever single question you have.
Kevin Burnfield is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 12th, 2004, 06:02 AM   #3
RED Code Chef
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Holland
Posts: 12,514
Experiment and try is the key. If this little short is just for fun and
expirementation then just do that. There is no film look setting
for the XL1S. Do a search on filmlook on these boards and you
will get lots of results on people who want(ed) to know the same.

Frame mode does help a lot and I would shoot in that. Personally
I shoot in 1/60 shutter speed, but that is a preference. See what
you like. Gain is at -3 or 0 db here to minimize noise.

I've changed my custom preset to lower the black (setup) level
so that black = black and not grey. You can only do this if your
footage is not going to a TV station (although they can fix it if
needed) per default.

Rob Lohman, visuar@iname.com
DV Info Wrangler & RED Code Chef

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