I think I totally screwed up. I'm so bloody new at this.
I was using the XH-A1 to film a dance troupe. I still don't have the hang of all the controls, so I used the "concert" setting to automatically adjust for stage lights. Last time I did it, the result looked great. This time, however, I got zebras all over the place. I tried to adjust the F-stop but couldn't get it to respond since it was on auto (focus was manual, at least). With no time to figure it out, I finally gave up and just shot it, hoping in my naivete that I could correct in post.
So as you can probably guess, I have a big problem on my hands now. The dancers are completely blown out. I can't find any filter in Final Cut to knock down the highlights. I've tried every effects filter I can find but they only effect color or overall contrast and brightness.
So, two questions:
1. What should I have done differently to knock down the highlights while I was shooting (live work is so on the fly - absolutely no time to prepare for this one because the client gave me the wrong address and I got there 10 minutes before curtain with a camera I'm still learning to use).
2. What can I do in FC to correct all the blown-out footage?
[Justin Whitney]"1. What should I have done differently to knock down the highlights while I was shooting "
Set your zebras to 100%. If you see zebras on anything your exposure is too bright and you need to close down the iris until the zebras disappear. Don't ever use manual exposure because the camera is taking the whole picture into account when it exposes. If most of your picture is dark (like the background of the stage) then the camera opens up the iris to get the whole picture as bright as it can, thus blowing out your dancers. Big time, right? Always expose for your dancers and not the whole scene. 1/3" chip cameras like the A1 don't have enough exposure latitude to get detail in the highlights and good detail in the shadows all at the same time. If it did there would be no reason to buy studio cameras costing several hundred thousand dollars each.
With digital video when you've reached 100 IRE the information in those areas of the frame are pretty much unrecoverable in post, so always protect your highlights. Later in post you can boost the mids and lows to a certain degree to get back some of the detail lost in the shadows.
[Justin Whitney]"2. What can I do in FC to correct all the blown-out footage?"
Try Captain Mench's Blowout fixer. It's a freebie and you "may" be able to recover some of your lost highlight detail, but if it's really bad don't get your hopes up too much.