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Old May 26th, 2011, 10:26 AM   #1
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Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

So can anyone provide any suggestions for getting a decent shot of all red lighting during a dance recital ... other than beating the lighting director into submission?

The red lighting does and always has, ripped my videos apart. I've always somewhat assumed that it's just the nature of the beast, but maybe I'm missing something. The room is completely black with the exception of the on-stage lighting. I'm typically shooting in manual and there doesn't seem to be anything I can do from an iris setting to help.

Does anyone have any settings that might be a good starting point? I'm using a Sony Z7 and occasionally the FX-1.

Thanks -
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Old May 26th, 2011, 12:40 PM   #2
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Re: Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

Iris controls will not help much, at least they do not with the NX5 and FX1000 that I use. I'm not sure how well this translates to a Z7 or FX1, but here are the things I have worked with. First, heavily red lighting can throw off auto focus, if you are using it, which contributes a lot to the blooming and smearing of the image. I usually run with a manually set depth of field for focus which helps mitigate some of the adverse effects of totally red lighting. Second, I have switched over to auto white balance when the red scene comes up and catches me unawares. The NX5 has a smooth adjustment function which mitigates the switchover. With both the NX5 and FX1000, the scene will still be red but nowhere near as much. The video may not look the way the lighting people intended, but it is usually viewable, and that is what my customers want. (I make the dance school it's own, separate single-camera/full stage view DVD where nobody cares if the red lighting has blown out the picture.) Third, when I have had advance notice of the red scene (say, from going to a dress rehearsal), I build a WB pre-set using the one-touch function. (I believe the Z7 allows you to store presets, but I am not sure about the FX1). Basically, I stick a white posterboard on the stage under the red lighting and hit the one-touch button and store the setting as WB preset B. When the scene comes around, I switch over to WB "B" for that scene. Fourth, I've also fiddled with the wb temp adjust function on the NX5 (which I think the Z7 may also have.) I've done this on the fly a couple of times and think I dialed down the temp till the image looked better in the viewscreen. (Not as good as the other methods). Finally, what I did most recently --- when I had a couple of hours advance notice and time to play with the stage lighting --- was that I modified a picture profile for the specific scence by playing with the settings for "color shift" and wb shift." When the scene came up, I hit Picture Profile button, selected the modifed profile (I think I used PP4) for the scene, and then reset back to my standard stage profile setting (PP3) after the scene was done.

In editing, I have used Cineform's First Light to dial back the redness. It works in metadata so there is not much load on playback (in contrast to applying filters and effects within the NLE. In Adobe PPro CS5, there is an "auto color" adjustmenteffect which can help but really bogs down rendering.
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Old May 26th, 2011, 01:36 PM   #3
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Re: Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

Scott if you post an example or screen grab it would really help to see what difficulties you are having.

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Old May 26th, 2011, 01:55 PM   #4
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Re: Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

Thank you for the replies. The problem is that the reds come and go VERY fast ... as in it might be all red for 10 to 15 seconds, but when you're behind the camera it seems like an eternity. If I have the time this afternoon I'll try to pull something from the video. It was distributed several weeks ago, so there's nothing to be done in post this time ... just looking to see what (if anything) might help.

BTW ... I do shoot in full manual including focus.
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Old May 26th, 2011, 03:03 PM   #5
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Re: Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

Here's a short clip I just put up. It actually looks much better on youtube than it does on DVD. I've never uploaded a clip so I hope this works properly.

ETA: That didn't work so great ... here's the link http://www.youtube.com/user/mrvideo11248?feature=mhee
Attached Files
File Type: mov RED.mov (22.46 MB, 134 views)
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Old May 26th, 2011, 08:13 PM   #6
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Re: Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

It's supposed to be red. Why fight it?

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Old May 26th, 2011, 08:24 PM   #7
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Re: Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

It isn't the fact that it's red that bothers me ... but it's like someone took a rake across it. If there's nothing that can be done I'll just continue as I have.
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Old May 26th, 2011, 11:03 PM   #8
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Re: Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

"t's like someone took a rake across it. "

That was really what caught my eye more than anything. I downloaded the file and tried to check it out in PPro CS5. What I saw looked like some kind of encoding artifact in the "red" 2/3s of the clip. I was assuming this happened when you downsrezzed the HDV to SD Quickime for the clip you provided. Apparently, you are seeing this "upstream" in the workflow, too? I wonder if you shot in HDV or SD? Do you get the same artifacts when you play directly from the camera to a tv or do you only see this when the footage is converted to Quicktime?
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Old May 26th, 2011, 11:35 PM   #9
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Re: Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

I did record in HDV and the thing is ... I could see it happening as it was being recorded and I knew it was going to look like garbage.

It's been long enough that I don't recall what the exact settings were, but my best guess is that I was shooting pretty much wide open at 2.8, but I have no recollection of the gain settings. Shutter was at 1/60th.

This wasn't a typical dance recital, but rather a very fast paced "Airband" contest at the local university ... Greek Week. (Still a dance recital to me.) Lighting could change every 5 to 10 seconds ... strobes, blown-out, completely dark ... everything you could possibly think of.

This was literally a last second job as their videographer backed out 2 days before the event. I've already been asked back and they do like the overall job, but I really want to figure out how to better shoot with all the quick changes. Perhaps ... "it is what it is."
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Old May 27th, 2011, 08:53 AM   #10
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Re: Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

You know, that "rake" effect makes me think of high-speed strobes fired off in staggered, slightly out of sync sequences. Do you know if the venue was using an LED lighting system? I shot a recital under one of those systems a couple of weeks ago and I was struck by how rapidly the lights could flash, change, strobe and switch. Thankfully, they did not do much red lighting, so I did not notice anything as pronounced as that seen in your clip. But, when I get some time this evening, I'll go through my footage to see if Ifind anything similar to what turned up in your shoot.
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Old May 27th, 2011, 09:40 AM   #11
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Re: Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

"You know, that "rake" effect makes me think of high-speed strobes fired off in staggered, slightly out of sync sequences. Do you know if the venue was using an LED lighting system?"

Oddly enough I do remember them saying that they had added some LEDs to the mix. I'm working with the same sound and lighting people tonight for a graduation. I'll try to ask them if the reds were LEDs. However, it didn't look to me like they were acting as strobes at that time. Heck ... who knows. That could be part of the problem right there.

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Old May 27th, 2011, 11:01 AM   #12
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Re: Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

Hi Scott,

One of the things I noticed in a quick review of your sample was a good a mount of noise. that could contribute to the issue you're having with reds. I'm not sure what you can do about that with your cameras as I'm not very familiar with all of the settings you have available.

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Old May 27th, 2011, 03:14 PM   #13
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Re: Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

Having the gain switch set to "H" or using "AGC" on an NX5 and FX1000 will result in a lot of of noise when shooting high contrast stage lighting. Combining high gain with "condition red" lighting can result in badly blown out, noisy images. (I've capped my gain limits at 12 dB). Given the platform similarlities, the Z7 is probably like the NX5 in this respect. There is a setting for "hyper-gain" which allows one to dial in up to 21dB of gain. (I suspect the Z7 has this, as well.) Since I have my gain setting capped at 12dB, I do not really know what happens when hyper-gain is engaged under conditions like those Scott was facing. However, the "noise" in the clip is what I would call graininess and mosquito flicker. What I understoof Scott to be talking about was what I would call it intra-frame banded flicker. For me, it was particularly noticable with the face of the lead dancer when the lighting came-up in red after the momentary black-out. I have never observed (noticed?) gain settings that caused anything like that "rake" effect.

Still, I suppose it is possible that a too-high gain setting could contribute to if not cause the "raking" that Scott encountered.

Scott, can you still determine what your gain settings were for the clip you posted? (I know the project is mostly long go, but maybe you have something saved somewhere with the metadata?)
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Old May 27th, 2011, 04:42 PM   #14
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Re: Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

OK, Wild A** guess... I see horizontal and vertical banding... those strobes are a PITA, surprised you got as good a result as you did... but is there a progressive option for shooting? Problem with those fast strobes is 24/30p may result in other problems?

Did you experiment in post with de-interlacing options by any chance? Might be worth poking at a bit. Those vertical smears/blocking have me more baffled, I've seen in in older Panasonic SD cameras with reds, but not since I went to HD and using all Sony.

This scenario is a pretty tough case, all you have to have is the camera shutter out of or "off" sync with the lighting, which is well nigh to impossible to avoid from the way that footage looked. One of those times these new 60P cameras start to look intrigueing!
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Old May 28th, 2011, 09:31 PM   #15
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Re: Shooting Reds at Dance Recitals

From what I saw, those were LEDs and you have a saturation problem as, from what I have experienced, LEDs make everything "swim" in color. Now how that translates into making adjustments to the cam to improve the cam's recording quality, have no clue. The issue that first brought me to swearing a streak was a putrid lime green and then in my next experience, smurf blue. If you have Colorista, you can dial back your saturation, but then you are losing the color they wanted for the piece.

I think the best solution you already had in your first post, beat the lighting guy ahead of time. :-)
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