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Old July 11th, 2002, 08:41 PM   #1
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Location: Hong Kong
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XL1S settings for the "Film Look"

Dear all,

I am a beginner looking for advice on how to replicate that "film look" on my newly acquired XL1S. I have the PAL version which I have found that the setting for shutter speed seems to be different to that of the NTSC.

If you don't mind sharing your secrets, I would appreciate if you can post your camera settings for the film look. Settings such as shutter speed, gain, f-Stop, white balance and the image settings including sharpness, color and color gain and also setup levels.

I am a screenwriter who hasn't had much success with studio pitches and finally realised I need to shoot my work myself. I am working in Hong Kong and plan to shoot my script in November in Australia next in the coming month. I was able to gather a fairly large crew (25) actors and actresses, but NO DP, I'll need all the help I can get, because I don't want to have 25 people staring at me on set with my thumb up my ass.

I have spent weeks reading forums and I want to thank anyone who has ever posted here for I have learned so much about DV filmmaking.

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Old July 11th, 2002, 11:24 PM   #2
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May I ask...why are you not using a DP?? Think of it this way: every moment that you are trying to figure out an angle or a setting on the camera or thinking about the lighting, that's time NOT spent with your actors, running lines or giving notes. This doesn't sound like a quickie guerilla shoot with minimal crew...I'm very curious.
Charles Papert
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Old July 11th, 2002, 11:47 PM   #3
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First off, money is an issue, my entire budget revolves around the getting the equipment, hiring a DP may be more than I can afford, I have tried looking for film school students who specialises in operating the camera, but a 2 week committment is out of the question for them as winter holidays finishes this week.

By the way do you have any advice on the camera settings, thing is I want to be able to shoot this myself, for one, it will be a chance for me to learn and secondly allows me to photography extactly the way I envisioned the storyboards would be.

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Old July 12th, 2002, 04:59 AM   #4
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Well... I own a PAL camera too and I shoot with this:

- shutter speed: 1/25th or 1/50th
- frame mode
- auto whitebalance most of the time
- mostly manual focus
- gain ALWAYS at -3 db
- sharpness +1
- f-stop depends on the light and filters i have screwed on
- i didn't change color and color gain i think
- i think i have setup (black level) at the most left (since black
for pal is 0 IRE)... not sure though, that is something i'd have
to check

Don't forget a lot of things that make the film look is not in the
settings but in:

- color, lighting and shadows(!) ....
- framing
- camera and character movement (Get a good tripod and perhaps
a steadicam)
- sound and music

One thing i started noticing a couple of weeks back in movies is
that there usually is some camera movement. Even if it is very
tiny and almost unnoticable. This seems to create a more dynamic

Rob Lohman, visuar@iname.com
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Old July 12th, 2002, 07:58 AM   #5
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Location: Raleigh, NC, USA
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Best of luck with you and your movie. I agree with Rob's "other things that make a film-like look." But be careful when you move the camera. Camera movement is cool, but make sure you calculate how much you intend to move it. Know the shot before, the shot with camera movement, and the shot after. Visualizing this sequence will help you make clean transitions between shots. Keep framing in mind (where's your actor and whats in the background) when you have camera movement. Otherwise, you might end up with a less professional looking film.

Sounds like you've got yourself quite a sizeable cast. Rock and roll, and have a good time.


Kyle "Doc" Mitchell
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Old July 12th, 2002, 10:24 AM   #6
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Your well on your way! I will be in the same boat too in, hopefully, a short period of time. Busy rangling and revising the feature story.

Look forward to hearing more about your experience.


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Old July 14th, 2002, 03:45 AM   #7
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thanks for the advice guys,

I think if nothing else, I have the story part taken care of. I did 12 full rewrites for my script and close to 1200 storyboards (and I can't even draw stick figures). I just hope I can work the camera effective and efficient enough to actually shoot what I have envisaged in my head. Dreaming up sequences requiring cranes and steadicam doesn't help, but I enjoy the process.

Thing about camera movement I found to be difficult with the XL1S is that when handheld or on my "borrowed" steadytracker, the focus is hard to set. I always have the lens on the widest but still, the focus shifts even in manual mode and depth changes with a life of its own. My question is should I lower the depth of field by turning the f-stop up so that I get a more flattened look therefore when I move the camera, it'll look more focused in general? It's not really run and gun friendly camera, even in auto mode. And I guess I don't know the camera well enough to overcome these intricacies.

thanks for the settings. I have been watching a few DV movies and the best looking one thus far was the "Anniversary party", to the eyes of an amateur (myself) it looked like film in every sense of the word. And I listened to the commentary track by Alan Cummings, he said that what they tried to do was use fluid movements (dolly tracks, steadicam) and tripod shots almost all the time so that the movie itself looks more professional avoiding the handheld "shakycam" look that often comes off as distracting to the audience. Spike Lee's "Bamboozled" had that same feel and use of stationary shots, Linklater's "Tape" was the only exception I found, that because they had great performances, the shakes and hand motion were not as noticeable as say Wayne Wang's "center of the world".

it's been very encouraging for me to read experiences of others and I just wished I had stumbled onto this site sooner. Please write back about your production, I would like to hear more about your preparation for the feature. keep me posted.

I basically went to the a few film departments at the local universities, and talked to a lot of people studying acting and they were more than happy to take roles in my script for the experience rather than say "money" and I guess being a first time "filmmaker" myself makes it easier for us to communicate and I was really overwhelmed by the response I got.

Daniel from H.K.
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