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Under Water, Over Land
Tools & Techniques for Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife & Underwater Videography.


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Old June 18th, 2007, 07:38 AM   #1
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Extra resolution

On a very interesting thread started by Tom Kaminski, Dan Keaton has written the following ....

"The XL H1 produces an excellent picture, but there are other subtle advantages.

In shooting wildlife, the extra resolution is very desirable, especially if your destination is currently a SD DVD.

For example, framing and following a bird in flight is difficult, especially at the higher zoom ratios.

With HD, you can reframe in post by zooming in to your subject and still keep a great picture. There are many techniques that you can do in post with HD to make an ordinary shot look fabulous. With SD, you do not have enough resolution to pull off these effects in post."

Questions:
When he says "With SD, you do not have enough resolution to pull off these effects in post". ... is Dan talking here about superior dpi or just more dpi of HD or both? How does XLH1 differ from XL-1 or XL-2 in this respect?

When Dan says "There are many techniques that you can do in post with HD to make an ordinary shot look fabulous." does this refer only to stills/frames or can image quality be enhanced within a clip, even a short clip?

What software packages can be worked to this effect on HD footage? If I switch from handheld GL2 (XM2) to XLH1 on tripod will I also have to upgrade from Premiere Pro and learn new software from scratch?

Experienced views and comments from everybody including Dan would be appreciated.

For sample footage of birds in flight see ..

http://206.225.81.12/ibc/videos/Acci...fulvus_17g.mkv

... and "save target as"

The VLC player is free from ... http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
and the video is high quality.

For low quality version see ... http://ibc.hbw.com/ibc/phtml/votacio...?idVideo=15072

Either way, please comment on the potential for "extra resolution" using XLHI or alternative.
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Old June 18th, 2007, 09:08 AM   #2
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Brendan if you do a google search for dv/hdv aspect ratio or resolution you'll find lots of information about this topic.

I found a link who explains this very well:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDV

As you can see the the hdv resolution is approx. 4.75 times of Pal-dv. If you gonna deliver your film on regular dvd you can edit on a pal-dv (sd) timeline wich means that you can do a pan on the hdv-footage cause the extra resolution compared to the pal-dv.
The hdv-footage also have a better colorspace but I'm not sure if you keep this when down-converting to a sd-timeline

I also think that Premiere Pro support hdv, at least the 1080i/50 (interlaced format) not sure about Canon's 24f (progressive format) though?

Hope this helps?
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Old June 18th, 2007, 05:42 PM   #3
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Brendan,

First, thanks for posting this thread!! With hd on the horizon one can't help but think about it. Making the move now is rather expensive when you realize you will be just making dvd's at present!! for this reason I had somewhat dismissed the idea of hd.

However, after reading this post it is now aparent that there are some useful reasons for having an hd camera for creating my dvd productions!!! Now, I have to get back into the re think mode!!

does anybody shoot with jvc 720 p had???
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Old June 18th, 2007, 08:18 PM   #4
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Brendan,

I think your footage is fabulous. I was even more impressed since I knew that you shot it handheld. It is very dramatic.

To answer you questions.

Since the bird is in full flight, it is difficult to anticipate all of the birds movements. If you had a camera, such as the XL H1, you will have more detail to work with, much more.

I would recommend that, when using an XL H1 or similar camera, and the final destination is a SD DVD, zoom out a little. The goal is to ensure that the bird is fully within the frame at all times.

Then, using an editor and HD footage, use the keyframing tools to zoom into the frame so that the bird is where you want it in the (zoomed in) frame. Then set this as your initial keyframe. Then set other keyframes as desired.

Please note that in each keyframe you can zoom in to the degree that you wish and of course you can pan.

When using these techniques, you can reduce the appearance of camera motion. In other words, while you are filming, you are desperately attempting to follow the bird. In post, you have all the time necessary to make it appear that you anticipated every movement.

While shooting with an SD camera, it is best for you to get it right while shooting. With HD, especially going out to an SD DVD, you have an unlimited number of chances to get it right. Just do it again in post. Of course, if you miss the bird entirely, so are out of luck.

When editing, be sure to bring in the footage as HD and then only convert it to SD when burning the DVD.

This technique also works when going from HD to an HD capable DVD (HD DVD or Blu-Ray). However, in order to reduce the resolution loss, the technique needs to be done with more finnese. In other words, if you zoom in too much, and your destination is HD, astute viewers may be able to see the loss in resolution.

Remember, when you go from an XL1 to an XL H1, most everything on the camera is better. The lens is dramatically better, especially if you are using the original XL1 lens. The same applies when going from an XL1s to XL H1.

The resolution of the camera itself is also much better. For example, in the US (NTSC) the SD resolution is 720 x 480. The resolution of an XL H1 is 1440 x 1280 which due to the pixel aspect ratio becomes 1920 x 1280. PAL (in SD) has slightly more resolution, but HD is still much better.

Autofocus is also much better on the XL H1.

Other features are available so as Focus and Zoom Presets which may make your shooting easier.

To answer one of your questions, the XL H1 has much more resolution than the XL2.

Another answer: The above technique applies to both stills and shots of any length. If you only need a still, then you only need to zoom in once to get what you want.

Another advantage of the XL H1 is its photo capabilities. You can create great photos while recording (or not) by just pressing the photo button. If you are recording this does not interfere with the recording in any way, it records to the SD memory chip.


If you need a photo after you have recorded the tape, then this is also possible, but the image quality is not as good, but still nice.

Depending on your version of Premiere Pro, an upgrade is probably in order.

Editing HD footage usually requires more computing horsepower and a recent version of your editor. Personally, I use Vegas as my editor.

I recommend that if you get an HD camera, always record in HD. The XL H1 and others will downconvert in your camera to SD, if you are every in a hurry to edit a project. In this case editing is exactly what you are used to, but you still have HD footage on tape.

A dropout in HD is much more serious than in SD. I recommend that you use good tapes, but they do not have to be real expensive. I have had good luck with Panasonic Master Quality tapes.

If you get an HD camera, stick to one tape brand. It may not be necessary, but it can't hurt.
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Old June 19th, 2007, 01:03 AM   #5
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Dan, thanks for your detailed explanation. I second all of it!
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Old June 19th, 2007, 08:19 AM   #6
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Dan, your advice is as deeply appreciated as it was generously given.

To be able now to visualise much of the XLH1's potential is most encouraging and that's what you have allowed me to do. You've banged the nail on the head ... I suspected that quality video is about extra resolution but you have succeeded in pinpointing HOW it can be better with XLH1, during shooting and in post. You're a teacher alright, and am I glad!.

To have your opinions and words endorsed by Per Johan, a highly esteemed XLH1 exponent, is, in my little world, the equivalent of a Knighthood. No need to blush ... you deserve it. Of course there's a downside; you are now relied upon to articulate every useful observation that comes to your incisive mind about the XLH1, in action and in post. Please, please put me on your mailing list for all further observations on the use of XLH1 for bird flight footage.

For instance, I've been unable to elicit informed observations about what tripod (or tripod combo) would best facilitate the amount of tilt one has to combine with pan and zoom for bird flight footage. I can say from experience that my handheld clips owe a lot to instant but gentle tilt. So it is crucial that I can perform tilt as readily and with the same ease using XLH1 on a tripod ... but which tripod, and the locations are likely to be rough cliff-top? I tried to start a thread on this elsewhere but apparently nobody believed that there was someone out there with his head/agenda at such a tilt!?
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Old June 19th, 2007, 08:47 AM   #7
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Dear Brendan,

Thank you very much for the kind words.

I am a huge fan of the better Sachtler tripods and heads, however, these are expensive. If you are willing to buy used you can save about 50%.

While watching your footage, I was wondering if you had to hike in or if you had access via a road. If you have vehicle access, then weight of the tripod and head combination is not much of a problem.

With the 20x lens, you have the ability to get great shots of birds a long way away (if the air is clear), but you need a stable tripod. The Sachtler's have pointed pegs which can be used in rocky ground or mountains and have round rubber feet which work well in most all conditions.

It is possible to hand hold the XL H1, but only for limited amounts of time. I would not want to hand hold it for an hour. There are shoulder mounts with front mounted hand grips that you could consider.

I have the DV8/100 head (now call the DV12) with the Speed Lock II CF legs. My setup has the mid-level spreader and the rubber feet. I am more than pleased with this setup.

I highly recommend the mid-level spreader as a ground-level spreader is not suitable for your shooting.

The Sachtler are capable of very smooth tilt and pan. The drag is adjustable separately in both tilt and pan. The degree of tilt is enough in my opinion for most any shoot. The Sachtler website can give you specifics for each head.

The entry level Sachtler's are not suited for your purpose. This includes to DV2 and DV4 (in my opinion).

Of course there are other brands to consider, Sachtler is not the only game in town, but they are very well built, very strudy, and very effective.
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Old June 19th, 2007, 11:14 AM   #8
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I'm putting all your comments into a reference leaflet, Dan. Sachtler will go under the spotlight shortly and I'll be back to you, I suspect, about tilt. In the meantime, while I have your valued attention, please revisit the following whenever you have time ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Keaton View Post

.... Remember, when you go from an XL1 to an XL H1, most everything on the camera is better. The lens is dramatically better, especially if you are using the original XL1 lens. The same applies when going from an XL1s to XL H1.

...
How useful for bird flight is the standard lens (if there is one) on XLH1?
As you probably know Per Johan uses a very powerful lens on a rock-steady tripod from a considerable distance for much of his fabulous Arctic footage, but this magnification is not relevant to me. So, what lens do you use and what lens would you like to use for bird flight within 100 metres? After that please add a bit explaining how and why "the lens is dramatically better"? Is this about glass quality or lens technology or cam technology?
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Old June 19th, 2007, 02:23 PM   #9
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The XL1s standard 16x lens was a little soft.

The Canon 14x lens and 16x manual lenses were sharper.

In my opinon, the XL H1 20x lens is much sharper than the standard 16x XL1 or XL1s lenses.

I have an Canon EOS adapter, which was designed for the XL1 and XL1s but is usable with the XL H1. However, I do not have any Canon EOS Lenses.

I have some "L" Canon FD lenses. In order to use these with the EOS Adpater, I use a low cost adapter with a small lens inside.

I mention all of the above to state that the Canon XL H1 standard lens is much better than any other setup that I use. But, this is not a fair comparison since I am using a low cost adapter to make the FD lenses fit the EOS mount. This has to diminish the quality.

I have access to the Canon 14x lens, but I have not tested it with the XL H1 yet.

In any case, I am very pleased with the XL H1 20x lens.

In your case, I feel that you will be pleased with the autofocus. I do not see how you will track a fast bird in full flight and attempt to focus at the same time.

Please note that focus is most important with an HD camera. The autofocus works better than I can.

I assume that you will be using the standard Canon Viewfinder. If so, I recommend autofocus for your setup. Attempting to get critical manual focus using the standard viewfinder is not an easy task (if not impossible), especially with a moving target.

There are other solutions involving camera mounted or external field monitors, but autofocus works well with this camera. Not perfect, but very well. The one problem that you will have is that if you have a significant object between you and your subject, it may focus on the other object.

The autofocus on the XL H1 is dramatically better than the autofocus on an XL1s.

I know that purists will never use an autofocus lens. It is up to you to decide if you can manually focus better than the autofocus. I for one, can not.

In reference to your question as to why this lens is better:

The XL1 and XL1s lenes only needed to resolve to the MiniDV standard, extra resolution was a waste. For HD, an HD lens is what you need. The quality of the glass and the design is just better.

The XL H1 lens, if I remember correctly is a "Flourite" lens, which is a better material than regular glass. This is also true of the XL2 20x lens. Some portion of the lens may be glass but the critical parts are Flourite.

Other improvements in the lens, such as Focus Preset and Zoom Preset may be very useful to you. You can only use one at a time.
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Old June 19th, 2007, 04:57 PM   #10
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This is terrific news, Dan.

I only use manual focus when a vulture is about to land on a predetermined perch or if the bird is already landed. I agree fully that autofocus is the job for flight footage, so I'm greatly enthused to know that autofocus on XLH1 is very good. I have never even tried to use manual focus on flight ... to the horror of a few "Pro's" who have only videod brides in flight, which usually happens at ground level.

Your high opinion of the standard XLH1 lens is most reassuring. I was hoping for this.
What you write about Flourite glass I can relate to what I know about the variable quality of glass in binocs & scopes. Thank you for all your advice but there's always another question ... I find the viewfinder on XM2 (GL2) to be too small & barely adequate for relatively predictable flight. What do you think of the viewfinder on XLH1?
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Old June 19th, 2007, 08:49 PM   #11
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In my opinion, the standard viewfinder is the weakest part of the XL H1.

There is a Monochrome FU-1000 which has much higher resolution available. This is a trade-off as you lose all color reference, which is a little dangerous, but can be overcome under many conditions.

For example, if you are only shooting outside, you can color balance with a white (or off-white) card, or you can use auto white balance which works well in most cases.

But, if the color temperature changes, you will not be able to detect it, if you are using the FU-1000.

On the XM2 (GL2) are you referring to the foldout viewfinder, or the eyepiece viewfinder?

I think you can get by very well with the standard viewfinder, especially if you are willing to use autofocus.

The XL H1's only viewfinder is much larger than the eyepiece viewfinder on the XM2 (GL2).
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Old June 20th, 2007, 02:13 AM   #12
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Dan, Brendan,
I'm using the FU-1000 viewfinder and very pleased with it!
As Dan say; there are no color reference with it and shooting in colorful environments like macro work in the leaf can be a real challenge!

I shoot in auto-whitebalance almost everytime and as you may see the colors in my films is good enough I think? Anyway if you miss some shoots you can colorbalance it well in post.

As stated earlier, good focus is much more critical in Hdv than Dv. The FU-1000 is brilliant for this kind of work. I often switch to peaking on the XLH1 camcorder to help me get a razor sharp focus .
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Last edited by Per Johan Naesje; June 20th, 2007 at 03:34 AM. Reason: edit text
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Old June 20th, 2007, 04:24 AM   #13
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Dan and Per
I'm beginning to get lost now partly because I don't understand some of the terms, but also because I suspect that Per is talking strictly about situations using manual focus.
Monochrome means b & w and variations thereof, fair enough, but what does auto-white-balance (on FU-1000) mean or how does it help?

90% of my shooting is split-second response to an unpredictable opportunity ... always autofocus ... always relying on my hands to guide the focus on to the moving target by tracking it closely (&smoothly, I wish). 95% of my targets are first spotted with the naked eye and demand instant handheld focus/pan/tilt/zoom. I HAVE TO BE ABLE to find the target in the viewfinder instantly. I am therefore depending on the contrast between the target and its background ... obviously the movement/flight of the bird is a big help but the colour contrast helps rapid response too. From all the super footage I've seen from Per I cannot think of one snippet which suggested that he EVER dabbles in my crazy world of instant handheld, known as "run 'n gun". I may be wrong but the wonderful calm of Per's videos is proof that he gets his targets to lie down or stand almost still first ... then he can " often switch to peaking on the XLH1 camcorder to help me get a razor sharp focus" ... am I right in thinking that you are almost always using manual focus Per? Do you think it might be practical (or even possible) to "switch to peaking" during autofocus?

I'm using the basic eyepiece viewfinder on XM2 so I'm happy to hear that the viewfinder on XLH1 is better than that.
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Old June 20th, 2007, 07:32 AM   #14
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I would like to back up what Per has mentioned, my own person bag of tricks for SD shooting, as I currently only have a XL2, is the standard 20x zoom and a Canon 300mm T2.8 lens. This combination together with some diopters can get you remarkable results.

I am currently working on a Wetlands project and attached is a frame grab of a dragonfly

Personally I find it difficult going back to a B/W viewfinder when filming birds, it is very difficult on a long lens picking out a bird in a tree with a b/w finder
Attached Thumbnails
Extra resolution-dragonfly.jpg   Extra resolution-dragonfly2.jpg  

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Old June 20th, 2007, 08:12 AM   #15
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Truly gorgeous images Bob; I wish you could tell me you they were shot using autofocus.
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