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Old May 17th, 2011, 12:37 PM   #76
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Jay-

My thoughts all along have been what you stated about really different angles, but it's not likely that I will have any assistance to monitor even a fixed cam. My wife will indeed be at the recital, but she will be responsible for getting my 5 year old daughter prepped for 4 different performances.

The photo in the following link gives an idea of the venue setup.

Facility

The risers that are behind the floor seats may or may not be there (some years they've used them and others they haven't). Last year's videographer was set up on a platform just behind the left side floor seats and I was thinking that I could probably get the same setup if I wanted. He used two cams right off the same platform at the same angle. I'll have to watch some of his video tonight to see if I can notice what you are talking about with having the cams at the same angle.

Do you think if I could get each cam set up at the extreme outside corner behind the floor seats on each side that it would provide the contrasting angles that you are suggesting? I'm not sure of my chances of being able to set either up right against the right or left walls; those isles are pretty narrow and I'd be concerned about something getting jarred.

I will have a chance to scope out the venue a little better at Thursday night's dress rehearsal. I'm planning to take and set up both cams for the rehearsal and doing some practice shots. I really wish they'd be using the stage lighting for the rehearsal becasue I'd like to play with some various cam settings and see what works best with the lights. I think I'm going to have to go into the main event of Sunday with a best guess at what settings to use based on recommendations here.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 01:28 PM   #77
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Amazing theater space.

You do not need to monitor the second cam. That is one of the advantages to the CX line. I only suggested having a babysitter if your locked-down camera will be in a traveled area of the theater. Or, if you have concerns about somebody maybe walking off with your unattended camera. (This has not been concern in my rural area, but it could be in other places.)

Outside corners of the main floor seating area could work. Alternatively, how much of the balcony wings will be in use for these recitals? You could have your main cam on the platform behind the left side of the floor seating. In the photo, I see a kind of notch at the center aise side of the back left row of seats there -- great place for a platform if you can get it. If you can, and the platform just gets your camera over the audience heads, you might put your second cam in the front of the right balcony wing, back above the right-side doorway seen in the photo. With a CX 160, you would have to zoom in a little bit to fully frame the stage but probably not enough to adversely affect low light situations.

In the photo, it is hard to tell of the balcony wings go all the way up close to the stage (what I would call "opera house style") or if the balcony wings only wrap about halfway to the stage (what I would call "movie house style"). For a movie house style room, I would put the CX 160 on the right front corner of the balcony wing. I've being doing that for years in several of our local venues and used that "elevated locked-down cam" to make the "single cam no zooms" view for the dance' schools private copy of the performance.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 02:33 PM   #78
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Boy, I don't know...

Where are the electrical outlets? Where can you, in a practical sense, actually set up without obstructing the view of others?

Everyone wants to sit "front row center." That is the ideal perspective of your video. Remember, the seats off to the sides in any theatre are always the cheapest seats because they provide the poorest views.

Remember, different "angles" really mean different "perspectives." Your two cams can be standing in the same actual position but if one is tight and the other is wide, they have two very different angles. Conversely they could be on opposite sides of a seating area -- say at the right and left of the center section of the second seating area in the picture of the theatre you've attached -- but if they both have the same field of view, like the width of the proscenium, they are essentially the same angle and won't offer the visual variety you need.

To be honest with you, if you're a one-man band, I'd really recommend what I suggested earlier. Set them both up in the same place, one wide and one tight, with the better cam set wide, using the tight one to pan and zoom if you want, on the better tripod, only panning and zooming when necessary. Near an outlet. In the center. Maybe in that center aisle in the balcony. Someone will knock/tip over/steal your unattended cam. Or it will stop recording because someone sneezes. Or something else will happen if you're not there. Like it will explode.

Believe it or not, there's a regular poster here who does these with one camera only because he shoots HD and delivers in SD. He does all his cropping and zooming in post. I'm not suggesting that I would ever do this or that you should do this, only that a minimalist approach is possible and he reports that his clients are happy.

Below is how we place our cams in our theatre. Note that if we have the same framing on cams 1 and 4, it would be virtually the same shot, so 1 is always very wide and 4 is always medium or close. But 2 and 3 can be zoomed/framed similarly since their placements are so different. 1 is our IdiotCam(tm) and it is the one I operate for safety. It is always locked full wide, full stage. If everything else is screwed up -- and it sometimes is -- we always have this. Unless I have screwed up. And I have.
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Amateur Recital Video Production-cam-placement.jpg  
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Last edited by Adam Gold; May 17th, 2011 at 04:10 PM.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 03:29 PM   #79
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

As Adam says, with a single operator, you don't want the cameras TOO far out of reach, stuff happens. Haven't had one explode YET <VBG>, but sometimes cams will turn off for no apparent reason... better to be close, just resist the urge to adjust too much!

I'd also second a closer to "center" position, preferably with A/C and audio feed (where's the mixer/audio desk?). You typically get the "best" view and audio from the "center" in most venues, don't let someone stick you offsides because "that's what's left". YOU are responsible for capturing the video for the ENTIRE audience, pick your "seat"!!!

You also need a platform high enough to get you over any heads, people stand and walk around, you don't want to have them blocking (why I use 6'+ tall tripods).

IMO if the zoom/framing is different enough, you shouldn't have the issue of "jump cuts", but you'll have to watch it in post to make sure your framing is different enough to add a different "perspective".
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Old May 17th, 2011, 03:48 PM   #80
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Believe it or not, I actually own and have used this device:

Manfrotto 131DDB Tripod Accessory Arm for Four Heads 131DDB B&H


to mount two cams on one tripod so I could have one locked down wide while I used the other up close when I was down one shooter for a show.

Is it a sickness? Oh yeah. Somebody please help me.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 04:13 PM   #81
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

I do not necessarily disagree with Adam and Dave, but my thinking on two widely spaced cameras with different angles of view is that: (a) this will be Brad's first try at this, so it is important to try to keep this simple enough to work reasonably well; (b) placing cameras on opposite sides of the room (if he can do that) with, better yet, one camera high to one side in the balcony and the other low and sort of centered, is the easiest way for him to get differing views; and (c) Brad will probably be framing more tightly with the cam he has than the wide view of the other camera, so there will be differences in view almost as a matter of course.

In Adam's drawing, with the positioning of cameras ## 1 and 4, I think that there is enough space between them that you would not get the sense of a jump zoom when cutting between them provided you have one camera always framed tighter than the other. The difficulty I see for Brad is that he may not always be able to do that.

Adam and Dave are quite correct that a significant framing difference can work for having the cameras next to each other. As long as the framing difference is large enough, you avoid the "jump" effect when cutting between the two views. Personally, however, I had to learn a sense of the difference from experience and still do not always get it right. Since I also work with at least four cameras, I have at least two other very different views to fall back on when (as happens) I do not get the framing difference large enough. Brad does not yet have this experience and is working with only two cameras. My thinking is that "doubling up" from the same location could make the experience more stressful than it needs to be.

Plus, for those times when there are a lot of kids on the stage -- or when you have a cheerleader parent standing up in your camera's line of sight to cheer a child (something I've noticed is happening more often) --- having a different angle may allow capture of things for which there might not otherwise have been clear line of sight from the location where you are standing.

Dave mentions the odd incident where a CX cam may shut down. It is pretty rare, but I have had a couple of them. (Most recently, during a school Christmas concert, a parent in the front row of the bleachers had set her Sony handycam on low tripod in front of her and was running the cam with the camera remote which happened to be aimed right in line with a CX cam that I had hidden under the grand piano at the front of the performance area.) Still, if you can have somebody sitting near the camera, you can can get allerted quickly if something goes wrong. They just need to look over once in a while to see if the red tally light is on. You may even be able to spot the front or rear one on the CX from where you stand with the XR.

By the way, some venues and dance groups may insist that you shut off the little red tally lamp --- the tiny red leds that signal recording is running. On the CX and XR cams it is called the "rec lamp" and is under the camera's tools menu on the touchscreen. Some people think tally lamps are annoying but, if the recital is anything like the ones here, there will be plenty of parents holding up cell phones and other camera devices with illuminated viewscreens and nobody will notice or care about the sub-millimeter sized dot on the front of your cams. (Usually, places that have rules about tally lights came up with those rules when tally lights were significantly larger and much more annoying.)

Another thing to point out -- regardless of whether Brad has both cams in the same or different locations --- is that Brad will be shooting in HD but delivering on DVD. Adam noted that there is a shooter here who works with a single camera and does this. It works equally well (if not better) with two cams. This gives some room in editing to pull framing tighter when you needs to. The after-the-fact artificial zoom in editing on an HD timeline won't be noticeable when the finished video is down-rezzed to SD in the DVD encode. (Okay, it will be noticeable when you zoom-in too much. Judgment is required.)

Again, as Adam and Dave point out, there may be considerations which make it desirable or necessary to have the cameras within arm's reach, equipment security being one of them.

One of the benefits of going to the rehearsal is that Brad will be able to experiment with different positionings to see how things work.

Adam makes a good point about knowing where the power outlets are. Unless Brad has invested in NPFV100 batteries (which will run a CX cam for about 6 hours), he may need to run an extension cord to get power to the cameras. It is always a good idea to tape cords down so people don't catch a cord while walking through to and from their seats. Venues hereabouts have been unenthusiastic about the use of gaffer's tape and duct tape, but I've had good luck with 2" wide blue masking tape. It is visible enough for walkers to see but not so garish as to be distracting and it comes up without residue on floors and carpets.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 07:29 PM   #82
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

One option to consider is that there is a menu setting to shut off the remote sensor function as well (preventing a "stray" IR signal shutting the camera off unexpectedly).

Best answer for a clear line of site is to be on a platform, or have a tall tripod, or both - the tripods Brad has dictate finding a platform if at all possible, perhaps in the audio mixing area? Usually the "sound booth" is raised so they have a clear line of sight to help them catch visual cues for the audio mix.

Adam -
Yeah, the gear addiction thing is an illness, worse yet, I've got a fairly decent fabrication capability, so I go build whatever I can't find or modify... I've got a bar I tooled up that originally was set up to have three cameras... I realized it wasn't stable enough for my tastes, and was going to chuck it, then discovered that I could remove the tripod head and there was plenty of room to put the bar between the legs and head.... so now I have two outboard mounting positions with ball heads (usually set the cams on those to cover stage left and right on a wide stage, crossing them so I get an illusion of different angles), fluid head to track in the center, and a Ultrapod II strapped to the upright shaft with another camera on wide, just below the main assembly. Looks scary, but allows for a "one mand band" to catch everything!
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Old May 17th, 2011, 11:46 PM   #83
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

"One option to consider is that there is a menu setting to shut off the remote sensor function as well (preventing a "stray" IR signal shutting the camera off unexpectedly)."

Of course. I did not think of that until after the Christmas show I mentioned. Another thing to add to Brad's checklist.

Regarding the sound booth: could be an excellent place to put a locked-down full wide camera. Also, if there is an equipment security concern, no problems with folks bumping into a camera or any worry about somebody walking off with it.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 08:31 AM   #84
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

I don't believe the CX160 has a remote option; another reason to consider it as the fixed cam.

I personnally like Jay's idea of one cam fixed wide from potentially the right side balcony and the other on the floor just behind the first set of seats. However, I will need to do some experimenting to see if this is possible. I will also need to determine which cam to put in which location based their individual performances (although true performance may be different once the stage lights are one).

When I first agreed to take on this project, I hadn't even considered two cams. My original intention was to shoot the entire performance with the CX160 that I just bought new. Many of you were skeptical as to the capabilities of the CX160 for this type of project and convinced me to get a second cam that you knew would do better. I purchased a used XR500 with the same intentions of shooting the entire performance with one cam, but now having the CX160 as a backup. I hadn't even considered using footage from both cams until you guys started talking about it here.

I really like the idea of possibly using cuts between cams to provide different views, but I'm still skeptical of the abilities of the CX160 in this environment. With that being said, I'd hate to set the CX160 fixed wide and then use the XR500 for closer framing and zooms and pans (or vice versa) and then have the footage from the CX160 not come out so great.

I would like put to the CX160 at a fixed wide location at a significantly different angle than the XR500. However, I want use the XR500 in a manner that would allow me to use all the footage from this one cam if need be. If I do get really good footage from the CX160, that would be great and I would definately use cuts between both cams. I don't want to use the XR500 strictly for closeups only to find out later that the CX160 didn't perform as well as I thought it might and have no good wide shots.

The reason I am bringing all this up is because in the begginning of this thread, most of the advice leaned toward the CX160 not being a suitable cam for this type of production. These latest posts seem to have forgot about those original concerns with the CX160 and have me thinking I really need to catpure and use footage from both cams. Maybe I am misunderstanding or maybe I am just getting more paranoid as the event gets closer.

BTW... I still haven't received the XR500 I bought on ebay yet - let's hope it arrives today! It's yet another reason for my paranoia! :-)

Please keep the advise coming - specifically on how I should be using each of these cams. Thanks!
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Old May 18th, 2011, 10:56 AM   #85
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Let me try to provide some reassurances.

Some of the concerns about the CX160 came about because lighting conditions were unknown. They seem to be less of a concern than some of us were afraid they could be. Some of the concerns were the result of past bad experience with older model consumer cams and unfamiliarity with the capabilities of the CX line of cameras. Some of the concerns were for doing a more professional kind of job that is possible with a camera as limited and as tiny --- dare I say "teeny" --- as the CX160.

Using the CX with another camera avoids much of the concern and gives you a video that the school and most of the parents could not do for themselves.

Based on what you have figured out and conveyed to us about the shoot, it seems likely that the CX160 can at least give you acceptable video when used as a locked down "b" camera. Running the CX160 at full wide (in my opinion) avoids some of the biggest limitations of that camera. For example, with it on full wide (even using face detection as Dave suggested and spotlight mode), viewers are less likely to notice when some kids are overexposed by variations in the stage lighting. (Now that we have called this to your attention, YOU probably will start noticing things like this.) The CX160 also has such limitations in size and controls that it would be a difficult tool for use as your sole camera when the objective is to capture the recitals on DVDs for sale to the parents. The XR500 cam has enough additional functions to overcome some of the more serious lacks of the CX160, particularly when zoomed in and panning (slowly) from one group of kinds to another (and perhaps differently lit) part of the stage.

When you say "I want to use the XR500 in a manner that would allow me to use all the footage from this one cam if need be" you are saying exactly the right thing for your first multi-cam shoot. That means you try to avoid "snap zooms" and "whip pans." You do not have to limit yourself to 15 or 30 second slow zooms, but you do want to avoid the instant zoom that is all to easy to do with the tiny top button on these cams. (One of the reasons my primary cams are things like the NX5 is that the larger cameras have nice big rings and buttons that my fat fingers can find in the dark and that allow me fine control.)

That Sony tripod & controls will make this far easier for you and thereby make it much more likely you will get a more professional looking video. Even so, you will have a significantly better looking DVD if you can cut away during most zooms and pans.

You will be able to test these things out at the rehearsal. If stuff works at the rehearsal, it will probably work even better for the shows this weekend. If, as seems likely, the rehearsals are done with house lights and minimal stage lights , the stage will probably be dimmer than for the performance. Rehearsal footage could wind up with a greenish cast to it. At this point, I suspect that the biggest concern with stage lighting during performances, in this instance, will be the risk of parts of the stage being overbright. Using the CX cam's spot light setting, and using the XR with a spotlight setting and the AE shift will mitigate much of that. (Of course, with the education you are getting here, you may start noticing all kinds of things that you would not have noticed previously. Careful, that is the road to gear fetishes!)

As for the CX160 not having a hand-held wireless remote (something that my CX550v cams came with), that probably is not a limitation on using it with a tripod controller. The tripod controller uses a wired connection (which is referred to as a "Lan-C" port.) I believe that all of the CX and XR cams have the same D-ring i/o port. As far as I know, that port can can be used for either analog output to a tv (using the analog output cable) or for the the tripod's camera controller when a d-ring Lanc-C cable is plugged into it. I do not know if your Sony tripod comes with the LanC d-ring connector cable or this is something you will need to get separately. I'm not familiar with the tripod and do not know if it would need an adapter cable. Maybe Dave can address this.

I see the point of Adam's suggestion for running the CX160 as your primary cam, but I also think you might have greater peace of mind using the XR cam as the primary one. Peace of mind counts for a lot. Do some experimenting during rehearsal. Try both cameras and see what works best for you.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 02:00 PM   #86
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Jay - I think your last post put me at ease a little. It seems that you are agreeing with my thoughts on how and where to use each cam.

If I receive the XR500 before tomorrow's rehearsal, I'll be able to test out my plan which includes the CX160 fixed on the right side balcony (just far enough back to get a good wide angle on the stage without too much zoom) and the XR500 just behind the floor seats toward the center.

I will have my family sit in the balcony area near the fixed CX160 to make sure it stays recording and that no one dirsturbs it. My wife will be taking care of my daughter throughout the show, but my step-son (14) and sister-in-law (16) will also be there to help keep an eye on it. The ONLY concern I have with the CX160 being up there and me being down on the floor is a media change at some point. Once the 32gb internal memory fills up, I will need to switch over to the 32gb SD card unless the CX160 cam will do the switch automatically (I can't find anything in the documentation that tells me it will do so).

My statement about the CX160 not having a remote was to point out that it shouldn't accidentally get shut down due to a "stray" IR signal. The CX160 does work well with the Sony tripod controller (I tested it out last night). I'm so glad I got the tripod with the controller; it's so much easier to control the zoom from the controller than with the small button on the top of the cam. The controller also has a switch for "slow zoom," but in my opinion the "slow zoom" is TOO slow. My plan is to mount the XR500 on the tripod with controller since the CX160 will be fixed anyway.

I do think the plan I've laid out will give me the best peace of mind (if there is such a thing). Thanks for the reassurances!
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Old May 18th, 2011, 02:01 PM   #87
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

I think there's a bit of confusion about "remote" - there's the WIRELESS remote, triggered with the little "flinker", the IR sensor for that is in the front of the camera, and typically there's a option to turn that IR sensor off, buried deep within the menus... the reason being you don't want a stray IR signal turning the cam off record...

The second "remote" is a WIRED remote, typically a LANC accessed through the "D" shaped A/V port - I believe all the remote tripods CURRENTLY shipping have the A/V plug, older LANC interfaced through a 2.5mm miniplug.

I'd not worry THAT much about the CX160 - think of it as a "monitor", covering your cutaways. I've been experimenting with the Sony P&S (point and shoot!) cameras for this function, similar chip size and "features" (or lack thereof!), and they do just fine, looking quite good in HD, and by the time you go to DVD, shouldn't be a problem.

You want the camera with more controls to be the "manned" camera. Not saying it isn't preferable to be close enough to your second cam to have a look at the screen from time to time (thus operating from a SINGLE location), but if you decide to have the two cams in separate locations... you'll have to set framing, and let 'er roll. Unless you can "visit" the cameras during the event, you just have to set and forget... myself I prefer to be able to at least "check" on a cam if at all possible now and then (if for no other reason than to make sure it's still rolling and "on the mark").

Edit: Just caught your post that you WILL have a second camera "person" (YEA!). Just be sure to instruct that the ONLY concern is to maintain the camera rolling, and framed properly (meaning where you set and lock it!). NO zooming, unless required to tighten up the framing (set to full stage width, but sometimes this isn't always "fixed"!). I think with a second "camera op" you're set! The memory WILL NOT automatically switch media, so instruct your op how to do the changeover. Start with an SD card, go to internal, switch to a second SD card when it's convenient would be my suggestion.

We've all had our experiences with "consumer cam" quality, but the cameras out there now are significantly improved over even a couple years ago - we have HD cell phones now, after all... with a little skill, and some production value, even these little "pocket rockets" can get results that 5 years ago would have knocked most anyone's socks off, and will hold up fine to most viewers today.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 02:04 PM   #88
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

The tripod remote should work with both cams directly just fine.

I think it's time for Brad to stop listening to us and just try this stuff all for himself and see how it comes out. Try the settings we've suggested on both cams (if the XR arrives in time) and play back directly to a good HDTV via HDMI and see how it looks. Only way to know. The only thing he won't be able to tell from the rehearsal, if they don't use the actual stage lights, is how well the SPOTLIGHT and AE SHIFT modes handle the brightness and contrast levels. That's going to be a Hail Mary on the day of show.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 03:05 PM   #89
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Ridgeway View Post
Once the 32gb internal memory fills up, I will need to switch over to the 32gb SD card unless the CX160 cam will do the switch automatically (I can't find anything in the documentation that tells me it will do so).
It will not switch over automatically.

To switch, touch Menu --> show others ---> scroll down to "Manage Media" ---> touch media settings ----> Movie Media Set ---> Memory Card. Exit menu.
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Old May 19th, 2011, 06:55 AM   #90
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

I got my first good trial with the CX160 last night at my step-son's play. They did Alice in Wonderland Jr. in a high school auditorium setting with stage lights, full dress, etc. I found that overall the CX160 did pretty well. I need to go back and watch the whole thing again because I tried changing a few settings throughout the performance. In the beginning I let the cam run on auto mode with only steady shot turned off. After a while I set scene selection to spot light as they were using a spot light on occasion and I wanted to see if there was any noticeable difference.

I hooked up the cam to my HD TV when I got home and the first thing I noticed is that the faces of anyone wearing light (mainly white) colors were overexposed when zoomed out. Faces of those wearing darker colors were great. If I zoomed in closer on those wearing white, the overexposure was gone and I really got a nice shot. Changing scene selection to spotlight did not seem to show any noticeable improvements.

I'm guessing I am going to run into the same scenario with the recital this weekend. Any thoughts?
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