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Please school me...Fuzzy video of gymnastics shot with Canon 70D....why?

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ron cournoyer
Please school me...Fuzzy video of gymnastics shot with Canon 70D....why?
on Mar 23, 2015 at 8:16:48 pm

Hi All,

Just started a video event company and have an issue with the clarity of the videos. Background - I am an enthusiast DSLR photographer for 5 years, just getting into the video side. My typical video rig consists of Canon 70D, Canon 17-55mm f2.8, tripod, Rode microphone, follow focus, external monitor. I shoot mostly sports, with fairly fast action, ie gymnastics floor routines, cheerleaders.

I've tried shooting 1920 @ 30fps IPB, and 1280 @60fps IPB. Thought I'd need the 60fps for the fast motion. I typically shoot in Shutter priority at around 200. I do not have ability to post produce, since the videos are sold at the event, immediately following the event onto USB sticks. As you can see in the attached sample, https://reels.creativecow.net/film/23146 the videos are not "crisp". I've seen better results from a point and shoot for some of them. Please help as I have some jobs booked already. Thank you all.

- Ron


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Steve Crow
Re: Please school me...Fuzzy video of gymnastics shot with Canon 70D....why?
on Mar 24, 2015 at 12:19:43 pm
Last Edited By Steve Crow on Mar 24, 2015 at 12:27:44 pm

If I understand your desires what you want is actually more of a DV "video" look versus a more cinematic and "softer" look to the image. So if you want a "sharper" look you could set up a custom picture style or profile and move the sharpness up or you could modify one of the standard ones for that matter and increase it's sharpness as well. (see page 126 of your manual) I think the built in standard picture style is meant to be the sharpest at is default settings


Actually the first thing that struck me about your sample clip was the color balance, it was very "warm" to my eye. You might try working with your white balance.

Another thing worth trying is switching to All-I mode which produces larger files so more data.

Steve Crow


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ron cournoyer
Re: Please school me...Fuzzy video of gymnastics shot with Canon 70D....why?
on Mar 24, 2015 at 1:16:19 pm

Thank you so much for the advice Steve. I never thought to adjust the custom picture style, hopefully that will help. As far as using All-I mode, I originally used that mode, but the bitrate was so high, over 89,000 kbps vs 30,000 for IPB, that it was stuttering when we broadcast it over the servers.

We have a server at the events that we load the original video clip to, and then it is accessed through 8 networked computers for people to view.

Given the fast motion, could I stick with 30 fps, or should I be at 60?

Thanks again.

- Ron


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JP Pelc
Re: Please school me...Fuzzy video of gymnastics shot with Canon 70D....why?
on Apr 8, 2015 at 5:38:30 pm

The quality difference between All-l and IPB is virtually none. I would definitely keep it with IPB if you're system is having issues handling the higher bitrate. What lens are you using? DSLR's generally are not that sharp, and that includes Canons. Increasing sharpness will help, as well as quality glass, other than that you will not see much improvement over what you already have.


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ron cournoyer
Re: Please school me...Fuzzy video of gymnastics shot with Canon 70D....why?
on Apr 8, 2015 at 6:12:51 pm

I've changed the picture style to NEUTRAL, and dialed down saturation, which has helped a little, but not completely. For glass, I am using a quality Canon 17-55 f 2.8, so that should not be the issue, I would think.

If DSLR's are not that sharp, why are some film makers using them on feature films now? Is there a "secret" setting for them?

- Ron


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Blaise Douros
Re: Please school me...Fuzzy video of gymnastics shot with Canon 70D....why?
on Apr 9, 2015 at 9:07:51 pm

There are a whole host of issues here.

First, if you don't have the ability to post-produce your videos, then there is no need for you to shoot in 60 fps. If you're just throwing these on a USB stick, with no expectation that you'll be showing the slow motion, then I wouldn't bother shooting it at all. The average home user has no idea how to do a framerate conversion to even get the slow motion working in the first place.

Your shutter speed is currently set too fast for pleasing natural motion. I note that you're a still photographer, and this is a common error for stills guys transitioning to video. Unless you want a very specific effect, the general rule is that your shutter speed should be 2x the framerate you're shooting. Ever seen Gladiator? Remember how the fight scenes were super choppy-looking and strobe-y? That's what happens when you shoot at a shutter speed that's faster than 2x--in that movie, it was done intentionally.

So at 30 fps, your shutter should be 1/60th. At 60 fps, 1/120th. With the slomo stuff, you can get away with faster shutter speeds if you're going to do a framerate convert, but in general, stick to the 2x rule.

Once your shutter speed is set correctly, that will allow you to stop up a bit-- f8 would be the absolute minimum aperture I'd want to use, and I would probably try to go even higher than that. You NEED the DOF for shooting run-and-gun action like that. And as a bonus, in addition to improving your depth of field, stopping up will improve your sharpness.

It will definitely help the image quality to have a correct white balance set. Unlike shooting RAW, you're shooting to a highly compressed video codec--like shooting directly to JPG--so you need to get the color balance right. In the sample video, it looks like a lot of halogen lighting, so you could either do a custom white balance, or set to the 3200K Tungsten setting.

DSLR video is not usually super sharp right out of camera. Sharpness is a combination of a huge number of factors, not least of which is your lenses and ISO. Since the location looks to be in a pretty low-light setting, I'm guessing that you're either shooting with a low f-stop or high ISO...both of which contribute to a softer image. Canon DSLRs aren't too bad up to about ISO 1600 or 2000, but go beyond that, and you're going to see a breakdown in image quality and sharpness because of noise in the image from the sensor.

Another option is digital sharpening. Sharpening in post is generally better than doing so in-camera, because the camera's algorithm isn't as efficient as an NLE, but since you're just selling raw footage, you may consider bumping the in-camera sharpness setting up.

The reason indie filmmakers are using DSLRs, even with their limitations, is that their large sensors can give a great cinematic shallow-DOF look, and you have the ability to interchange lenses. If you are on a controlled filmmaking set, or have time to really set your shots up, the results can really look great.

However, they are not good for run-and-gun, uncontrolled scenarios, because you have to focus manually with shallow-DOF.

The absolute bottom line is that a DLSR is the wrong camera for this kind of work. Traditional, small-sensor video camcorders don't look as nice in a filmmaking environment, but they are perfect for fast action and sports work. They have very deep DOF, autofocus, powered zooms, etc.

All that said, you may have a chance if you experiment with some of the methods I've mentioned above.


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ron cournoyer
Re: Please school me...Fuzzy video of gymnastics shot with Canon 70D....why?
on Apr 9, 2015 at 10:04:54 pm

Thank you so much for the feedback Blaise. I will try shooting at 30fps, stopping up to around f/8, which should be fine in most of the venues with the 2.8 lens, while trying to keep the ISO's down. Digital sharpening has helped a little on some recent shoots.

All that said, we are going to be purchasing at least a couple more cameras, as business has been delightfully good. If we go the camcorder route, do you think something as simple as a Canon Vixia would do the job, or maybe step up to the Canon XA-10 or XA-25?

Keep in mind that people are buying these to plug in to their Flat screen TV's, or on their computer, as well as sharing online, and we want the quality to be true HD so they are getting the best product. This is very important to us, as a new company. Thanks again.

- Ron


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Blaise Douros
Re: Please school me...Fuzzy video of gymnastics shot with Canon 70D....why?
on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:49:53 pm
Last Edited By Blaise Douros on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:51:07 pm

I'm a big fan of the Canon XA-series camcorders. For the money and size, they produce a really decent picture, and have all the benefits (autofocus, powered zoom, integrated XLR audio) of a true video camera.

The bottom line is that it really just depends on the kind of image you're looking to produce. If you want that TV sports look, then the camcorders are going to get you there. If you're looking to go the cinematic route, and have the freedom to miss parts of the performance while you set up cooler shots, then DSLRs are going to be the rule of the day.

Now, to your last statement about true HD: whether you use the XA-series or the DSLRs, you're not going to get the ultra-sharp, contrasty look of a real broadcast camera. The h.264 codec is just too limited in its rendition of color and motion. However, without the ability to do any post-processing or editing whatsoever, it's a good option, since most of the cameras discussed here record in codecs that are designed to play back on consumer devices pretty seamlessly. The flip side of going to something like the new Sony X70 is that while it records in 10-bit 4:2:2, most consumers will not have the ability to play back the media. So your business model (i.e. selling the raw footage) is going to put a hard limit on the level of cameras you can use at all, even if you wanted to step up to something really high-quality--because the customer couldn't use the files.

Of course, this leads me to the crazy idea that you could get better cameras and run them into a broadcast switcher, and create a multi-camera line cut in real time that records to an encoder...but that, of course, gets REEEEALLY spendy. So to answer your question, yes, the XA-series are a good option for your business model :) They do pretty well in lower light, and as long as you set your white balance correctly, should do well color-wise. Rent one or two for a gig before you buy them, and see how you and your team like them.


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