GL1 switched aspect ratio, mid shoot! WTF?
Sorry for the long post, folks... but I don't know how to "briefly" explain this phenomena.
Just shot a wedding with my elderly, but always reliable GL1 (Camera #2 of 3). Upon capturing the footage into FCP,v7.0.2, we noticed that the aspect ratio had changed from 16:9 back to 4:3. I located the point on the timeline where it changed, and it's obvious that the camera was in REC mode at the moment it switched! This amazes me, because for the life of me, I can't figure out a way to change the aspect ratio without using the menu, and you can't even access the menu with the camera in REC mode.
I then checked the tape itself, to ensure it wasn't FCP doing this. And when playing back the tape in the camera itself, the LCD display's 16:9 indicator is ON one second, and OFF the next.
And as if to try and amaze and confuse me even more, my camera operator changed tapes sometime later, and the footage on the first half of that tape continues to be in 4:3. But about 10 minutes from the end of the recorded footage, the aspect ratio switched BACK to 16:9... and yes, you guessed it, the camera was in REC at the time!
We were shooting in Automatic (A-in-the-Square) mode, due to widely variable lighting conditions, and had white balanced all cameras off a common source during set up. The camera was shooting in a low light situation when both switches occurred. The only other anomaly in our set up was that the camera happened to be recording its footage over a previously recorded piece of wedding footage, which HAD been shot in 4:3.
No... I'm not stupid... and YES, I DO know better than to let my shooters reuse old tapes. However this situation left no other alternative... either use the used tape, or forget shooting the reception. (Because,YES, I DID get caught with my pants down because I failed to carry new backup tapes in my bag... which I ALSO know better than to do!). Sorry... just trying to head off the dozen or so people that are going to lamb-baste me for reusing tape, while forgetting what my original question was about.
So my question is whether or not anyone has ever experienced anything like this before, and if so, what caused it? And most importantly, what did you do to fix it? I'd be suspicious that the camera operator changed it, except that A) he swears he didn't (and I believe him) and B) it is obvious during playback that there is NO timecode interruption at either point where the aspect ratio changed.
So I wondering if there's anyway possible that the camera was somehow reading some old metadata from the previously recorded footage, and thought it was set to the wrong aspect ratio, so it switched all by itself? You know... kind of like "SkyNet becoming self-aware..." or something... :) Maybe, you say? Then how did it change itself BACK when the operator loaded the second tape, which WAS brand new. (Because I sent one of my guys to "ride like the wind" back to our office and NOT to come back without NEW tapes!) The first ten minutes or more on that tape, the camera remained in 4:3, and then switched to 16:9 all by itself.
I'm figuring I'll call my Canon fixit person on Monday and ask them about it. But I always prefer to ask around in the forum first, before I go the service people... who's first response is virtually always, "Well just pack 'er up and send 'er on in to us and we'll take a look at it... a week from Tuesday."
Any similar experiences might shed some light on the situation. So I again apologize for the long post, but I really appreciate any help anyone might be able to offer.
Homeworks Video Productions
I'm surprised I never got a single reply to this post. I guess it was too long, or maybe too weird.
Anyway, I think I solved the mystery of the changing aspect ratios.
My camera operator didn't change out of 16:9 using the menu, but he did switch out of the "Auto" mode, and into the "Easy Recording" mode. This appears to be the only way the aspect ratio could have been changed while the tape was running.
Many thanks to my friend Sheryl, and her teammates at Video One Repair, for helping me sort this out.
Homeworks Video Productions