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Why is my footage coming out dark? Need Suggestions please!

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Chuck Purnell
Why is my footage coming out dark? Need Suggestions please!
on Jan 22, 2013 at 1:43:58 am

I did a video shoot over the weekend inside the convention center in my city and everything looked good while I was shooting. Once I got the footage ingested in my computer at home and viewed it on my screen, I noticed how dark it was! I can not believe how dark this crap is!

Here were my settings: Nikon D7000, Nikkor 35mm 1.8, ISO set to 800, Shutter 1/50, Aperture wide open at 1.8, Litepanels LED light on camera and on during the shoot. There is no detail in my blacks and anything dark or black just blends into darkness so to speak. I did several interviews where I was standing in front of the talent with a light on them and it still came out dark and looks like the light wasn't even on! I am so frustrated because this shoot was for a business. I will have to go in and try to brighten all my shots from within FCP.

It makes me wonder if I am doing something extremely wrong with my camera settings or something because I see movies and music videos and TV shows being shot with HDSLR camera's all the time and that footage looks awesome. I have a loupe attached to the back of my camera so I can use it as a view finder and everything looked fine while shooting but when looking at the footage on a HD monitor, its way darker than desired.

Any ideas or suggestions? I am getting to the point where I don't even want to use the this camera to shoot video indoors anymore because this has burned me once before but I was using a slow 18-105mm kit lens that time. I just knew by using a fast 35mm 1.8 and a ISO of 800 with a light and wide open aperture, I should have some nice looking footage...boy was I wrong! Now shooting video outside looks awesome....its just the indoor stuff I keep having problems with.

Cre8tive Minds Entertainment, LLC


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Steve Crow
Re: Why is my footage coming out dark? Need Suggestions please!
on Jan 22, 2013 at 6:20:53 am

With those settings the footage shouldn't be dark, have you looked at the RAW video shot by the camera on your computer - I mean before doing any transcoding, does it look better? The only other thing I can think of is that your LCD brightness setting for your HDDSLR is set too high - that would give you a false impression of what you are actually capturing.

The other thing I would investigate is your HD monitor, can you swap it out temporarily with another monitor just to double check that it isn't somehow the cause? Finally, could there be something going on with the ingestion process that you are using? Again, if the RAW video looks okay that would be a big hint. Anyways, that's all I can think of.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Chuck Purnell
Re: Why is my footage coming out dark? Need Suggestions please!
on Jan 24, 2013 at 4:09:37 pm

Thanks for your response Steve. I checked out everything and it all was fine but I will say I put the card I shot the footage on back in the camera to look at the levels on the Histogram and I noticed many of my video clips had levels mostly to the left side of the histogram and nothing from about the middle to the right side. I am confused how this could be based on my settings. I assumed I had more than enough light coming into the camera but I guess I didn't.

Cre8tive Minds Entertainment, LLC


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Chuck Purnell
Re: Why is my footage coming out dark? Need Suggestions please!
on Jan 29, 2013 at 1:16:32 am

Steve,

I did a re-shoot over the weekend and I kept the camera settings the same but this time I manually dialed in the White Balance instead of keeping it on Auto WB and I removed the amber gel from my LED light. My footage was actually overexposed at ISO 800 so I dialed it down to ISO 320 and the footage looked 10 times better and I am very pleased with the look now by making those 3 changes.

Cre8tive Minds Entertainment, LLC


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Sareesh Sudhakaran
Re: Why is my footage coming out dark? Need Suggestions please!
on Jan 22, 2013 at 9:27:24 am

The litepanels are good, but they aren't as powerful as a tungsten or HMI. Did the image look okay on the LCD? If yes, did the histogram show a decent exposure?

If yes, can you show us a sample image of what you mean by dark?

http://www.wolfcrow.com - Workflow information and support for filmmakers, photographers, audiographers and videographers.


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Rob Manning
Re: Why is my footage coming out dark? Need Suggestions please!
on Jan 23, 2013 at 5:38:18 am

D7K has no live view histogram, one must stop, test a still from the video format, then check for that.

The D800 has a live histogram, and can be adjusted on the fly.


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Chuck Purnell
Re: Why is my footage coming out dark? Need Suggestions please!
on Jan 24, 2013 at 4:11:36 pm

I need to get into the habit of taking a still image prior to shooting video to make sure my levels are looking good on the histogram.

Cre8tive Minds Entertainment, LLC


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Rob Manning
Re: Why is my footage coming out dark? Need Suggestions please!
on Jan 23, 2013 at 6:20:47 am

Were you using Manual Controls on, in the movie settings?

I assume this is the G lens. Did you have it (the D7K) on manual focus? I guess you would have, just asking.

The D7K will over ride adjusting for ISO exposure if the ISO Auto setting (Page 100) is active, unless the Manual Controls are set to on, allowing your ISO to remain static.

Otherwise, (one can also use the AF/AE lock buttons) the changing light might or will show up as over or underexposed when you get to edit, not fun, and a giant PITA to fix (frame by frame in some cases). Page 60, last entry in the user guide.

Also, use neutral picture controls for the most latitude in post.

The kit lens, because it uses a variable F/factor. 3.5 to 4.5, when zoomed, will affect the exposure, light/dark.

Otherwise yes, the other suggestions above could be factored in.

If all is correct, try using a flat picture profile, search flat picture profiles for the D7000.

We did a concert shoot last April, it finally was released by the label last month but, one D7K was using the 18-200, and even though we did a run through, the f/8 would be spot on for certain shots, and pulled or pushed would under or over exposed.

The real key (we did not have time for this) is set up your takes, run a short clip in show lighting, venue etc, then load into the the scopes on a lap top and do a visual analysis, much like a sound check.

Short of that, take a test still, and check the histogram, adjust the F/stop and ISO until the spectrum is as even for contrast as possible.

Had we done that, the grading and color correction in post would have been much easier (4 cameras, three different bodies and four different lenses).

HTH's

Rob Manning


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Steve Crow
Re: Why is my footage coming out dark? Need Suggestions please!
on Jan 23, 2013 at 6:32:03 am

Yeah Rob's comments made me think of this: you do realize that the camera settings in effect while shooting stills are completely independent from the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings when you switch over to video mode? When you mentioned how good the image looked on the camera's LCD - the camera was in video live view mode at the time correct?

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Rob Manning
Re: Why is my footage coming out dark? Need Suggestions please!
on Jan 25, 2013 at 6:36:58 am

Steve is correct, in LV take a still but video resolves on every HD enabled DSLR, at around 2MP set everything equally, then review.

Messing with the D7K, a couple of things.

When in LV, push the info button, scroll the rear wheel while holding down the WB button, was that set for something other than conditions you encountered?

Hold down the WB button, check the LV brightness, is it in the middle (use the up/down functions on the main OK button), check the +/- exposure compensation button, is it at zero?

Trying for poor results on the 85 f/1.8, at close range, set ISO to 800, and balance Exposure Compensation (centered) for a still, in manual, I'm at f/6.3.

I'm just guessing, but can you check the stuff and get back to us?

Rob


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