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Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?

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Patrick Bronte
Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 3, 2013 at 7:03:51 am

I'm conducting interviews using a Canon XF-100.
My set up uses a fill light, head light and black screen. The camera is about 2 meters from the talent. I'm recording head and shoulders. I have my camera set to auto in order to take advantage of the auto-facial focus. Should I use that function in this situation or do it manually?

The other issue is that when I bring the recorded footage into post there is noise to left of the talent and on his clothing and the face is over exposed. The talent looks fine when its all set up. It doesn't look like there's to much light. I understand that this could be my inexperience with lighting. But could having the cam on auto be causing any issues? Does anyone have any recommended settings or techniques to solve the noise + overexposure problem?

Any advice would really appreciated!



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Todd Terry
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 3, 2013 at 2:47:02 pm

Not to try to sound smug or all high-and-mighty, but a "real" cinematographer would rarely if ever use auto anything. Most high-end cine cameras don't even have any auto modes at all... you have to do everything manually, and it definitely gets the best results.

Your case is a perfect example of how auto functions are just causing you problems.

Some auto functions can be useful in, say, documentary or run-n-gun situations where you don't really have much choice... but in a completely controlled situation like an interview there's no reason to use them at all.

Focus manually, and expose manually. I'm betting you have your subject on a dark or limbo background and thus your camera is overexposing, probably by jacking up the gain (depending on which auto setting you have on), which is introducing the noise.

Shooting manual will fix that. Best to have a good monitor as well so you can really see what you are doing.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 3:13:04 am

Hi Todd,

Thanks for that. You didn't sound smug to me. I'm a complete novice so tapping into the experience from pro's like yourself is the reason for joining the forums. I've only ever done things on a hobby type level but now I need to learn these things to step things up to the next level.

You are correct about the black screen background and the reasons you've given for the over exposer sounds .

I have one little obstacle in my way though. I'm just an interviewer and due to paralysis I can't physically adjust the settings while the interview is taking place. I have help to set everything up (lights, screen and could do things like manual focus just for an example) and push record but they have less understanding of operating the camera than I do. But as long as I can figure out and learn exactly how to set things up manually I can then instruct them.

In most cases I can get the talent into a controlled room where nothing changes (such as lighting & position) from start to finish but there are going to be situations where I will have to go to the talents residents and won't have that same control. I'll still use the screen and lights but my concern is being able to totally block off all the natural light.

So in my case of recording talking heads, If I manually set everything up, what camera functions (gain, exposer etc) would need the most monitoring and be changed throughout the course of the interview? What would be the most crucial things I need to look for? I tend to use auto functions so I can set and forget and not have another person sitting in for the people I interview don't respond as well with an audience but I can't have it all. Can you please suggest the most important functions to set up manually and any advice on how to get the best results considering my circumstances?

Thanks again Todd!

Kind Regards,

Pat



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Todd Terry
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 7:20:35 am

Well Pat, I think your lighting situation is more controllable than you think. When you are lucky enough to be shooting on stage in your fully-controllable studio setting there is no real forseeable reason to ever have to fidget with the exposure once you have set it correctly for a particular interviewee. I mean, it could happen (maybe you're using a close softbox as a key and the talent decides in mid-sentence to move two feet closer to the instrument... or you have a bulb blow in a fixture), but usually that's going to be a "set it and forget it" type of situation. If it looks perfect when you set it, it should hold throughout the interview.

The same is true for most of your location interviews, even if you can't block out all the ambient light. Lighting is typically not going to change enough that that's much of a real concern. It could be, if interviews were hours long so that changing exterior lighting becomes a factor, or you have a lot of natural window light that keeps shifting from cloudy to full sunlight... but it doesn't sound like that's your situation. Again, if it looks perfect when you start, it should look pretty much like that when you finish your interview.

I was anti-auto-anything in my previous answer to you... but in light of your physical challenges this might be a case when auto focus works well for you... if you are shooting with longer lenses or a wide-open iris you might get a depth of field shallow enough that an interviewee leaning forward or backward even just a bit gives you a soft image. If you or an assistant can't manually pull focus to keep your subject's eyeballs razor sharp, then this might be a case when I'd break my "no auto" rule and try autofocus. That's not what was causing your previous problems of exposure and noise, though.

Those were caused by two things... the camera interpreting what it saw as proper exposure incorrectly, and high gain.

Your black background is playing hell with the autoexposure, and overexposing the talent. This can be fixed with going full manual on exposure. If you must rely on autoexposure, most cameras have a +/- adjustment that will tweak what the camera senses as "correct" up or down. You can use this to refine your autoexposure and get your talent looking good.

The video noise you see (which will be more evident over black) is likely being caused by your gain being too high... which in turn is caused by your auto exposure mode set to what is probably not the best choice. If the camera senses there is not enough light, it is going to do one of three things (or a combination of these): It will either open the lens iris more, or it will slow the shutter speed, or it will increase the gain. It all depends on the auto mode you have selected. An "aperture priority" mode, for example, fixes your f/stop at whatever you have selected and adjusts shutter and gain to compensate. A "shutter priority" mode fixes the shutter speed and adjusts the iris and gain instead. If you must auto expose, you need to be careful about which thing the camera is adjusting. You generally don't want it to mess with your shutter speed... a "normal" shutter is one over twice the frame rate (ergo, for 24p the normal speed is 1/48th of a second). Faster or slower than that and you get problems. You also don't want it to jack up your gain or you can get video noise. In your situation, ideally you'd like to lock the shutter speed and the gain and allow the camera to auto expose only by opening and closing the lens iris. No doubt your camera can do this (most can), but I can't tell you specifically how to make these settings. This will be one of those times to actually dig out the camera manual.

Good luck... I don't think you will find this all that hard once you figure out how to do it the first time... all the rest will be easy.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 7:44:09 am

Cheers Todd! Thank you for all that food for thought! I'm studying the manual as we speak. I use the Canon XF-100 and once I find out more about exactly how to manually make these adjustments and how to customise the auto settings I'll get back to you if that's o.k.?

You mentioned cloudy days and long interviews on location. Well sometimes these oral histories can go for up to 4-5 hours so there are changes in the lighting as the sun goes down or clouds pass over. I've invested in a good fluro key light with a soft box and head light to overcome the slight changes that can sometime be seen on the screen.

You mentioned a good monitor. I usually just flip the cameras lcd screen around and watch that. Can you tell me if the monitor I've linked in here would be a good start? I'm low on funds but if you could recommend something that would have the flexibility to be mounted on my wheelchair would be much much appreciated.

As a side note: if I've got the Zebra function on and there are no "lines" appearing on the skin on the talent am I on the right track exposer wise?

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/843442-REG/INDIPRO_TOOLS_CORP_PRO5_LC...



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 8:34:29 am

Todd,

If I really have to use auto mode which modes would you say I could get away with? Could I get away with auto gain for example? Would it be to much trouble for you to list by priority which manual settings I should be using (i.e 1. focus, 2. shutter speed etc) for my situation in a studio setting and on location. Then I can prioritise the functions and make better sense of the auto functions.

Your help is really shinning a light on things. Thank you very much!



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 9:05:53 am

When using artificial lighting would you turn the gain off or have it on low?



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Craig Alan
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 6:24:17 pm

A few thoughts.

Use as little gain as you can.

If you can afford a couple of kino diva lite kits go for it.

Get them with both studio temp and daylight temp bulbs.

Make sure your zebra stripes are set to 70-80 ire not 100.

Then you want to see a few zebras appearing on your subject's face-the highlights such as cheek bones and tip of nose. Play with the exposure control-have the zebras fill the image (over exposed) and then none (under exposed). You'll get the point of these built in light meters. 100 IRE is overexposed. You can use this setting to look for hot spots in your image.

When you say head light I assume you mean back light?

If you are shooting outdoors find a well shaded area or wait for the beginning of sunset.

Or set up a tented area or use a large butterfly.

If you are using a black (or any color) background - move your subject as far from your background as
possible. Move you camera as far from your subject as possible. Zoom all the way into your subject's eyes and focus manually. White balance manually on a white card where your subject's eyes will be. Zoom out to your framed shot. Then, adjust the exposure manually.

Look for the catch in your subject's eyes from your key light. One white dot per eye.

Move your fill light so you don't add snake eyes (two dots in your subject's eyes).

Make sure your backlight is creating a nice glow to your subject's hair. This will help separate your subject from your back ground.

Get some b roll footage such as close ups on things your subject talks about. You can not only tell a better story this way but also edit out shots when your subject moves out of focus or out of frame.

Ideally in a studio you'd have a broadcast monitor. If this is too expensive then a panasonic plasma can be a decent substitute.

http://www.shopfsi.com/

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/780138-REG/Panasonic_TH_42PH30U_TH_42...

I have not seen a good monitor for $200-$300 but maybe some are better than the built in LCD.

With an external monitor you can turn it toward the person adjusting the lights so they can see what the image looks like.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 11:47:45 pm

Cheers Craig! Thats some good advice. So with the zebra - do you want the lines to appear on the talents face? I thought the lines meant that there was over exposure. I must read up on that.

Thanks again. If you have any more advice please let me have it!



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 5, 2013 at 12:27:34 am

Hi Todd,

What do you think of these monitors? They are in my price range and appear to meet the specs you suggested? or am I wrong and just being hopeful that I can find a monitor around this price range?

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/837493-REG/Marshall_Electronics_M_CT7...

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/837494-REG/Marshall_Electronics_M_CT7...

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/854001-REG/Delvcam_delv_dslr_7l_Camer...

i'd like to send you a piece of New Zealand to thank you for your commitment to helping me out - how can i do that?



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chris nuo
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 14, 2013 at 3:28:58 pm

thanks. I will check them out.


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Craig Alan
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 5, 2013 at 1:42:43 am

Read your manual for how to set two different type/settings for zebra patterns. Zebra's are nothing more or less than a built in light meter, which show you where in the image that range of light is present. 100 IRE shows in areas that are 100 IRE or higher and is considered blown out or overexposed. You try to limit this as much as possible. They’ll be no visual detail left in these spots and you can’t recover the details in post. So 100 IRE would be your zebra 2 setting. I would check that once after setting up your interview, make any corrections and then turn that kind of zebra off. That is assuming a non-moving shot.

The most important thing for an interview is the human face. On Caucasian skin you want about 70-80 IRE. So set your camera's #1 Zebra at 70-80 and it will show you the range around that setting. It's a ballpark. Once you become experienced with the camera and if you are using a proper monitor what you see is what you get. But it does help you set your basic settings that effect exposure including F-stop, gain, filters etc. But you want some modeling of the face - that is light and dark areas which gives the face some dimension, some character, some 3D qualities. So you want the brightest part of the face to fall say between 75-85 IRE and other parts to have some shadowing. Use the zebra setting 70-75 as a guide-you want to see just a little stripes on the face but not more. Then use your eyes and with time - experience.

Remember these are ballparks and there are many variables including how the image chip of the cam deals with those light levels. Like I said above, set your zebra at say 75 and then play with your exposure control - have the zebras appear and vanish on your subject's face to get the feel for the range and image you want. You certainly want nothing appearing overexposed.

When I use a consumer level cam that has a zebra preset at 80 IRE - I make the zebra stripes just start to appear on a human face and then back off one exposure notch and leave just a hint of stripes on the highlights. With better cams and a monitor I play with several settings to get the best image.

Let's say you are outdoors and in order to not overexpose the face you need to stop down to a higher F-stop. Well this closes down your aperture and increases your depth of field. Depending on the lens and camera you most likely want your lens at the lowest or second lowest F-stop so the lens is wide open and focuses sharply on your subject's face. You might want to use a built in filter (ND Filter), then open up your aperture.

You can't beat a good monitor attached to your camera to learn what these controls and your lighting set-up does to your image. Yeah there is vocabulary and reading your cam's manual and reading about common practices - but every situation is different and in the end you are capturing an image on a TV screen. If you think it looks good and you have good taste then use those settings. There is no one right way or perfect setting.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Todd Terry
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 6:04:28 pm

Hey Patrick if you can give me a little more time when I'm in the studio sometime I can download your camera manual and maybe give you some more specific how-to advice, but for now some quick comments...

Ok, first, wow, I didn't know you were talking about interviews that were hours long. Yes, you might certainly have to make exposure adjustments as well as focus and framing adjustments periodically. I'm sure no one is sitting there for a continuous stretch that long... so you have to break that up and maybe sort of think about it as "scenes"... even though they all look the same. Any time there is a change... the lighting changes, someone moves, you all decide on a bathroom break, the talent needs to get a drink, whatever... think of that as a scene, and every scene will probably have to have focus, framing and exposure adjusted. I don't think there is much way around that.

The little flip screens on most cameras are ok for exposure and framing, but most are not good for focus... the resolution is just too low. Something might look razor sharp in them, but in actuality when viewed at full 1080 an image can be soft. That's the same problem with the little monitor you linked to... that size would be very convenient to mount on your chair, but its resolution is quite low. Look at the technical specs, it's only 480 lines... so again something could look sharp on it but it actually quite soft on the big screen. There is a cheaper/better route, but might not be as convenient. For something in the neighborhood of 100 bucks you can pick up a small monitor in the TV department of Best Buy, Target, HHGregg, or any store like that, that will be at least 720 lines and good enough for focusing. Unfortunately though those are still going to be physically at least twice the size or more of the little IndiPRO monitor, so it might be harder to mount conveniently to your wheelchair, if not impossible. The little monitors from SmallHD are true HD monitors and would be convenient for your to mount and use (and run on battery power), but they are going to be twice the price of the one you linked to, or more... although they do crop up on eBay now and then for good prices. This one is going to be a juggling act of how much you want to spend vs. what works well. Not a real easy and obvious solution.

The zebra function might be useful depending on how controllable the settings are on your particular camera. If the zebras are permanently set at 100% or 90% or whatever, then no, they are not useful. But if your camera will let you custom set the zebra level at something lower (like about 70%) then it might be helpful. Personally I never use zebras at all.

You asked "Could I get away with auto gain?" Noooo. In your case gain is the LAST thing you'd want to auto. That's what is causing your noise. Always shoot in a mode where gain is manual. As for turning the gain up, with your black background (which will have a tendency to show noise) I'd personally never jack the gain up at all, unless I really had to.

As for priorities, you'll be wanting an auto mode that only adjusts the iris, and locks the gain and shutter speed. I'll try to look at your manual when I get an opportunity and see if I can give some better advice... it might take me a day or two to get to that though.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 11:40:09 pm

Todd you are a legend! Thanks for all your advice and help.

Believe it or not but my interviews can go for up to 5 hours. I interview war veterans so theres a lot to talk about. I've only ever used consumer grade cameras where there aren't really any manual settings. But now it's time to go prosumer and get a better recording that I can use for a doco of something down the line.

As for a monitor - I think if I'm going to do this properly then stuff it I'll pay for an HD monitor with at least 720 lines. If I can't find one to mount to my chair or camera then I'll find a stand or something.

Your offer at looking through the XF-100 manual to help me with all these issues is really appreciated! Here's a link to a pdf download:

http://support-sg.canon-asia.com/contents/SG/EN/0300450301.html

Now I'm going to have a good play around with the manual settings taking into account all of your advice.

I look forward to hearing back from you.



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Todd Terry
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 5, 2013 at 1:01:24 am

Hey Pat thanks for the link I will give the manual a look when I get an opp...

As for the monitors, I didn't see any of those three that I'd consider ideal. The problem is so many of those little TTF monitors say they are HD when they really aren't... they'll only take in an HD signal, but they are only actually displaying more or less standard-def resolution. Click on the "specs" tab for each of those and you'll see that the vertical resolution on the first two is only 480 lines. Now the third one is a little better but it has the benefit of pixel-to-pixel mode. That means if you push a button on it the picture blows up to actual HD size, and you see the center of the screen but at full resolution. I don't know what your physical capabilities or limitations are, but if that's something you can handle that monitor could be very workable for focusing. Another problem with small TTF monitors is that very few even exist in full 1080 resolution, period. The most you can usually find in the little (7-inch or so) ones is 720... but that's a whole lot better than those "pretenders" that only show 480 lines.

As for zebras, if you see zebra stripes you'll only be overexposing if your stripes are set to 100%. If they are set to, say, 65 or 70 percent, then the moment you start seeing a hint of stripes on a subject's forehead or nose then your exposure is pretty good. I don't know if that particular camera model has setable zebras or not... the manual should tell you, and how to set them if so.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Todd Terry
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 5, 2013 at 1:43:03 am

Ok Patrick I've glanced through the manual, it looks like a pretty full-featured camera.

I'll backtrack a little bit on some of my "always go all manual" preaching. If the auto-face detection (page 50) works well, then it might be something you'd want to leave on. You'll just have to play with it and test it to see how it works.

Your flip out finder might be good enough after all. I didn't realize this camera has "peaking" and "magnification" focus assist tools (pages 48 and 49). I have both of these on my C300PL and they actually do work VERY well, especially the peaking feature. Check to see if these are good enough and workable tools for you, if so you might get away with not having to invest in an expensive monitor (although having a monitor is really nice, and I still highly recommend having one).

One of your problems with the noise has been the gain has been getting too high when shooting in full auto. That means that unbeknownst to you your gain might be creeping up as high as 24 dB... that's REALLY high and no doubt would give you pretty grainy/noisy video. The good news though is that even in auto modes you can "throttle" the gain so that it doesn't go any higher than some pre-determined setting that you assign. Learn about the "Automatic Gain Control" on page 53. It will bear some testing, you'll probably find that you never want it to go above +6 or so to keep the picture noise free.

You're going to want to make sure the shutter speed isn't affected in an effort to adjust for exposure. Do this by keeping the shutter speed setting to "off" (page 53) and that will lock the shutter at a "normal" speed.

If you do auto exposure, you'll want to do this with auto iris ONLY. See page 57 on how to set this.

You'll normally want your light metering set to "standard" for regular day-to-day work, but with your well-lit talent on your black limbo background you might find that the "spot" setting gives you better results (page 58).

After you get those things all set, you might still find that your exposure is consistently too bright or too dark. If that's the case, you can use the "AE Shift Control" (also page 58) to adjust +/- and "cheat" the exposure either up or down a bit to get it exactly as you like.

This might seem complicated but once you are really familiar with all these features and what they do (and why) I think it will be much easier and eventually become second nature.

Again, I almost can't believe I'd ever advise someone to use anything other than full manual everything, but you have some special circumstances all the way around... everything from your physical capabilities to your somewhat-difficult talent/lighting situation to even the shear length of your interviews... so in this case I think some of the auto features could be helpful. Remember I said SOME. Learn what those various features and settings can do and resist the urge to ever go "full auto"... and I think you'll come up with something you will be happy with.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Craig Alan
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 5, 2013 at 2:44:48 am

[Todd Terry] "If you do auto exposure, you'll want to do this with auto iris ONLY. See page 57 on how to set this.

"


It depends on the shot. The wider the shot the more auto iris might be a problem. If the back ground is bright then your faces will be under exposed. Maybe if you are using the black b.g. and your subject is moving and you widen to a mid shot it would work well.


[Todd Terry] "Your flip out finder might be good enough after all. I didn't realize this camera has "peaking" and "magnification" focus assist tools (pages 48 and 49). I have both of these on my C300PL and they actually do work VERY well, especially the peaking feature."

I have used these features on cams closer to the price point of the XF100 and both are helpful though the better the lens, the better the monitor, the better the scene is lit, the better all that works. I also think that with a better lens you have more play in terms of bringing up levels in post. With smaller cams I think you need to be as concerned with under exposure as over exposure.

If you are using an external monitor than having these features turned on is great because they will only appear on the LCD of the cam and you still have the external monitor to judge your composition. Same with zebra stripes.

Also if you are going to use an auto focus feature, learn how that feature works on your cam. It is often set in the cross hairs in the middle of your lens. This is not where you want to place your subject's eyes. Though on a moving wide shot it can be very helpful.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 5, 2013 at 6:14:41 am

Cheers Craig,

More helpful advice!

I've just been playing around with the peaking and magnification and peaking functions - very helpful. To me Peaking 1 looks good.

I'm still digesting what Todd has written down but I'll a lot more questions I'm sure. I appreciate your help.

From yours and Todd's advice I believe that purchasing an external monitor will help to the long run. I think a long articulating arm the attaches to the camera would work o.k. for me. If I sit next to the camera then I can monitor all the levels on the LCD screen and keep an eye on the monitor.

Craig, can you recommend an external monitor? It's proving hard to find one within my budget.

Thanks again.



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Craig Alan
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 5, 2013 at 8:52:54 am

Well the Flanders I mentioned earlier is a great monitor that you can use in the field and in post. It can be set up on its own stand and gives your a large monitor that can be seen at a distance so it doesn't get in your way though you do need to be connected to it. SDI cable is the best for this though I don't know if your cam has SDI out.

The panasonic plasma is a professional monitor but not considered a broadcast monitor. It is used by many companies to show their clients. Either one will let you learn what your cam is doing. I suppose there are cheaper monitors but many consumer sets are not calibrated correctly and do not always have the controls to do so. You do not want a monitor that makes the image look brighter than it is or boosts the sharpness etc. If you are happy with the image you are getting with your cam and the focus assist features allow you to get a sharp focus then hold off until you can afford a decent monitor. But in my experience having that monitor near your cam in the studio is a great learning tool and improves your lighting and overall production. You are seeing what you are getting and allows you to use all the features like focus assist. With out the extra monitor then the LCD screen can get crowded with all the overlays. When you are setting up lights you can turn the external monitor toward the person arranging the lights so they see what effect they are having.

I have not seen a cheaper one that was worth much but there is a lot of new gear coming out all the time.

The advantage of a broadcast monitor is you can also use it to color correct and adjust exposure in post.

If you are near a professional video store you might bring in your cam and ask to try out some monitors. Connect your cam and see if your LCD screen is giving you an accurate exposure level and focus. Many consumer level LCD screens are made too bright to allow for easier framing and to be seen more easily in daylight. Try to match its image with a true monitor. It most likely has a brightness control.

I would certainly buy good lights and mikes before a monitor but I really think it would up your game. Wish I knew of one in the $300 range but I haven't seen one. The marshall stuff is good for video mixers where the TD needs to see what is on each of the four cams. Even there our mixer puts them all on one monitor and we use a panasonic.

If you can't afford it now just experiment with the variables that Todd suggested and it will improve your image. One thing that will help him or anyone here help you is post a screen grab of your lighted interview or even a short clip of it. You'll get good advice how to light it better.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 5, 2013 at 6:36:58 am

Todd,

Man have you given me some exercise with all your recommendations. I'm going over all your advice/instructions and have got to the point today where I'm about to call it a night.

But from what instructions I've acted on I went through with the person helping me out and we've both got the manual focus sorted and the magnification function does help.

So with an interview with a darkened room, lights and the black screen I've set the camera to:

Focus: Manual Focus worked Peaking 1
Light Metering: Spot Light
Gain: 0

I will digest everything you've written down for me over the next day and keeping familiarising myself with these functions. I'm sure I'll have more questions though. I think it's a good idea to read more about how all these functions work on cameras in general.

An external monitor would be nice. One that fits onto the camera with an articulating arm would be great for it will allow me to watch all the notifications on the LCD and the other things on the monitor. If I want the best picture then a few extra tools won't hurt but can you suggest one for it's been hard finding the right one for the right price.

Will be in touch once I've tried all your tricks.

Thanks again

Pat



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 7, 2013 at 5:03:21 am

Hi Todd and Craig,

I"ve attached an image of the interview in question that started this conversation. Now it's over exposed and noisy. I'm using a Falcon Fluro http://www.falconeyes.com.hk/Product.aspx?id=857 as the fill light and a small head light with soft box.

From here I need to use the soft box diffuser on the light. It's a grunty light and I only need one or two lights on. This interview only had one on.

This interview was recorded with full manual with auto facial focus.

I've got my camera set to all of the specs you both have advised.

Manual Focus: Using the magnification with Peaking 1. Zooming into the eye and foucueing on that then zooming back to the desired frame.
Gain is set to zero.
Lighting metering: Spot Light
Shutter Speed setting is off.
Zebra is set for 75%
And been using manual iris control.

I'm going to break the bank and get a monitor if I can Out of these two which would work:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/813532-REG/Manhattan_LCD_HD089C2_S_8_...

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/896283-REG/ikan_d5_5_6_3G_SDI_Camera_...

If there is anything you can advise me on regarding anything to do with the look, framing lighting please hit me with them! I have another interview this Friday where I'll be using the same





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Todd Terry
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 7, 2013 at 5:24:39 am

Obviously it is overexposed, but you know that and are learning how to take care of that issue...

Otherwise...

Framing is fine, I don't have any issues with that.

Now, lighting is not math so there are no true right or wrong answers... BUT... that setup is not what most people would probably consider optimal...

You have your key light on what most people would consider the "wrong" side. It's on the left side of the talent (right side of the screen). Usually you'd want to put that on the other side... the direction that the talent is looking.

I think your fill light is also way too hot for my taste. A fill is just, well, to fill a little. The goal of it is not to make the fill side as hot as the key side. You want some difference in it, otherwise the image is very flat. You might try it with no fill instrument at all and see what it looks like... maybe just bounce in a little fill with a white card rather than using an actual instrument. If you do need an instrument, either scrim it down, dim it down, or back it off. I personally don't like a lot of fill, I like talent very uneven which I think is more interesting. I'll freely admit that I personally take that farther than is some people's taste, but yours is very flat, even by other folks' standards.

I notice this guy is wearing glasses, which can frequently cause reflection issues (although they aren't too bad with that guy). I'm betting though that if these are older war veterans you are shooting that a lot of them will be wearing glasses so you might run into this issue over and over. If you raise the key up higher (so that it is shooting down on the talent a bit) you can often eliminate those completely, or at least lessen them.

Keep a-shootin'....

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 7, 2013 at 5:45:21 am

Cheers Todd,

Yeah the change in lighting came about due to the LCD screen being on the left therefore I needed to be on the left hence swapping over the key light. Does it really matter if I am on the left? I'll move that light over to face the talent.

I wasn't using a fill just a key light and a head/rim light above his head to separate him from the background. I realised straight away it was to strong. Real bugger that mistake.

As I've mentioned I set it up and my assistant leaves to put the vet at easy. This may have to change but this does give rise to an external monitor. Could you please help me with these links and I might ask the question in the forum so I need an HD with no less than 720 lines right?

You looked at this one (would it just cut the mustard or is it worth waiting & saving for a better grade): http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/854001-REG/Delvcam_delv_dslr_7l_Camer...

There's so many out there but could you please checked this one out and tell me if it's worth purchasing:



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Todd Terry
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 7, 2013 at 6:08:33 am

It doesn't matter which side you are on. You probably want to vary them... some facing one way, some the other. But in any case you want the key light on the same side as you are, on the side toward which the talent is looking. I'd put it farther back as well, at about a 30° or even as much as a 45° angle, not so much head-on.

You said you have a "head/rim light above his head"... it's hard to really tell from the sample due to the overexposure, but do you mean it is literally above his head?... as in pointing straight down on him? If so, you want that farther back, so that it's also pointing down at about a 45° angle to him.

I think you need to get over the thinking that it only needs to be you and the talent in the room. I understand your wanting to make the talent feel at ease, but you might be underestimating these guys and it seems to me that in your situation you really want and need a live camera operator with his hands on the gear monitoring things at all times. These are guys who have faced enemies literally trying to kill them... I think they should be able to get over the fact that there's an actual person behind the camera. We've done zillions of similar interviews, and never once have we had to completely clear a set of every living soul in order to get a better performance (in fact, it wouldn't even occur to me to do so).

If you want to just check framing and exposure, that cheaper monitor is fine. If you want to rely on it for razor-sharp focusing, you'd need at least one of those in the previous two links (the one in the last link doesn't have very high resolution). Of the two earlier ones, they are virtually the same price and the same features, so I'd go with the one that is the most useful size for your. For me, that'd probably be the bigger one. For your mounting purposes, it might be the smaller... I think only you can make that determination.

Happy shooting and good luck!...

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 7, 2013 at 6:18:46 am

Thanks Todd!

You've been a fantastic help!

I think I may as well go for razor sharp focusing. One last question - what's the optimal resolution I should be go for with this monitor?

Thanks again Todd!



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Todd Terry
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 7, 2013 at 6:34:19 am

If by "optimal" you mean the very best there is... well that would be a 1080 line monitor. Unfortunately though those don't really exist in little TTF monitors unless you want to spend real money... such as the little Astro monitors like they use on feature film sets. Then again, they are about six grand.

For most of us we get by with 720 monitors just fine. Just look at the specs and make sure the ones you are considering have a vertical line count of at least 720 lines or more.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 7, 2013 at 6:42:44 am

Thank you.

sometimes the specs don't tell you their line count. Is it under a different title? I.e 8.9" LCD WXGA (1280h x 768v) does that 768v mean it's got the right count?

Thanks for your patience!

Pat



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Todd Terry
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 7, 2013 at 6:49:30 am

Yes, those numbers are the horizontal and vertical resolution.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 10, 2013 at 6:32:55 am

Hey Todd,

A very embracing thing happened to me today. I was very meticulous about using all your advice. I used the magnification function to help with focusing but didn't push the button again, stupidly recording the whole interview with it on. It looked great until I turned it off and the image went right back past the point I had originally zoomed in at. If it looked good with the magnification tool on I'm assuming it was recorded o.k. would there be anything it post that could help me get that picture back?



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Craig Alan
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 10, 2013 at 7:07:08 am

Any of the pro NLE will let you crop your picture. Choose the framing you want and apply crop. If it looked good magnified it should look good cropped. You'll loose a little resolution but you can choose the best frame in post.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Todd Terry
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 10, 2013 at 7:32:05 am

Patrick... that is a very easy mistake to make... learn from it, but don't be too embarrassed about it.

I'll have to admit I've done that a couple of times. See, I used that feature all the time with my previous camera, the Canon XLH1. But with the H1, magnification only worked when the camera was paused. As soon as you pulled trigger the viewfinder would pop back to normal. We retired that camera for the C300, which does not function that way... with the C300 you can use magnification when it is recording. So.. a couple of times I accidentally shot an image much much wider than I intended.

As Craig said, any NLE can blow that back up. If your finished project is in 1080HD you will significantly lose resolution though if you blow it back up to the size you were seeing when magnified. If you happen to have shot HD but are finishing your project in standard-def (say, for a DVD release), then you're golden... you can easily make that size change with no ill effects. If the project is staying in the HD world, you can blow it up 150% and still technically stay HD, since 1080 lines blown up that much is still 720 lines of resolution.

Just don't do that again :)

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 10, 2013 at 11:59:05 pm

Cheers Craig and Todd,

I've certainly learn't my lesson. I'm just very lucky the vet was so understanding and is going to let me redo the interview!

I won't be forgetting that again!

Thanks again guys.

Regards,

Pat



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Craig Alan
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 11, 2013 at 12:25:49 am

Have you looked at the footage in an editor? Unless you were way to wide you were focused sharply on his face so that might be perfectly good shots there. At the very least save the footage. You are going to need B roll shots for long interviews anyway. So you'll have the dialog.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 11, 2013 at 12:36:32 am

It came out far to wide which is strange because it wasn't originally framed that way but I did zoom out and frame it it in magnification mode. I'll certainly save the footage. I need to invest in a lot of HDD space though. Two hours = 52Gb and that's just the MXF files. What storage set up do you use?

Cheers Craig.



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Craig Alan
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 11, 2013 at 3:30:16 am

Yes files have become pretty large and you do need a lot of storage. On the other hand, hard drives have become much cheaper per gig. I'm on a bunch of Macs. At home I have an aging Mac Pro with a 4 TB internal raid as well as external firewire drives. I'm setting up a lab at school with 8TB raids that are hot swappable. What I suggest you get is an external raid where you can swap out drives as needed. Look on OWC. Lots of options. For archiving you can even get a dock and use it with bare drives as they go on sale. Store them with labels and plastic protection.

http://eshop.macsales.com/search/hd+dock

http://www.amazon.com/WiebeTech-DriveBox-Anti-Static-Hard-Disk/dp/B004UALLP...

http://eshop.macsales.com/search/Hitachi+SATA+3.5

For hard drives look on OWC, Amazon, Frys and for special sales. Frys is a pain to deal with but they have some killer sale prices on bare drives if you know the specs you are looking for and can wait for them.


In the old days you'd save your tapes as back ups but that is not an option with media cards. And I suppose you can erase stuff you don’t need when you are finished. But really if this is an important project you might want to keep the media and buy new drives as needed. The future will no doubt let us transfer our media to much bigger storage. I just saw a 4TB drive on sale for under $200. Also USB 3 is fast enough for editing and is way cheaper than the old firewire stuff. And also you do not need the fastest drives to archive media - only for the editing. So you can back up and archive to much cheaper drives.

So I would look for a drive fast enough to edit and big enough to hold your current projects. Then when you are done you can copy all of that to a storage system and wipe your media drive clean.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 11, 2013 at 3:46:33 am

Cheers Craig.

What was the name of the 8TB hot swappable drive? I'm on OWC looking at prices. I also have an old (2009) Mac Pro with two 1TB drives and half a dozen firewire drives. One recently died on me so I feel new project new hard drives! Have you seen the new Mac Pro - total make over but with no firewire. Apples way of getting us to use their Thunderbolt I/O. It looks very different, looking forward to them to release a price! Will probably come out when the release their Mavericks OS.



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Craig Alan
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 11, 2013 at 5:53:35 am

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=promise+technology+pegasus&N=0&Ini...

It's either thunderbolt or usb 3 (or networked stuff which I don't know enough about). Yes firewire is becoming obsolete.

http://nofilmschool.com/2013/05/macworld-benchmark-battle-usb-3-vs-thunderb...

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 11, 2013 at 6:04:41 am

a bit out of my price range unfortunately. what would work is a hotwswable that would allow me to buy the unit then fill it as my budget permits. i'm sure they are out there......



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Craig Alan
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 11, 2013 at 3:29:04 pm

does you compute have usb 3?

how much storage do you need for your largest project or projects being worked on at one time?

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 11, 2013 at 11:13:48 pm

No it doesn't, it's to old I got it mid 2009. After looking around those sites I think I'll have to get a eSata port multiplier installed into the PCI expansion slot because a lot of these hot swappable drives require them. Is that how I could get a Dock up and running on my machine? Some of these HDD enclosures have say four bays and express they can take up to 8TB storage or whatever. But what if you bought four 4TB HDs? I really need to replace the whole computer. I'm really looking forward to find out how much these new Mac Pros cost.



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 12, 2013 at 7:13:21 am

Craig, tell me what you think of this solution:

4TB HDD
http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Western%20Digital/WD4001FAEX/
and a Dock
http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Western%20Digital/WD4001FAEX/

All up (with the HDD case you sent me the link to) thats a cost of around $400

I was keen on getting something like this:
http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Icy%20Dock/MB561US4S1/
but it would cost me four hundred for only 2 TB

What do you think? This HDD would be intended long term storage so I wouldn't be using it to edit with etc. I use the second HDD in the Mac Pro for that. Having all this storage problems mean no field monitor oh well.



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Craig Alan
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 12, 2013 at 6:19:58 pm

The enclosure requires either an eSATA Port Multiplier Interface (like you said) or uses USB 2. The older Mac Pros (although PCI cards can be added) have firewire 800 for external connections. USB 3 which is fast enough for editing will be future proof and backward compatible.

So I don't see a USB 2 enclosure as a good investment though it is cheap enough.

Internally the 2009 Mac Pro has 3 free hard drive bays not including the system drive. You could get a ssd for the system drive which will speed things up a lot and then raid the other three drives. Right now the sweet spot I think for regular 7200 HDs is 2 TB at a bit over $100 each. That gives you 6 TB for any given project and when you are done with the project you can back up what you need to archive and wipe them clean. Or just swap them out for new drives.

If you need more storage than that you can go with 3TB drives for about $150 each.

Here's an interesting card: CalDigit FASTA-6GU3. (caldigit as a brand is high end)

Remember that when you do update to a new Mac Pro it has usb 3 and thunderbolt and no room for cards though you can get external ones via thunderbolt.

The most important thing to consider right now is your current project: how much media space do you need? Remember that no hard drive should be more than 80% full. For backing up I think the dock I suggested with bare hard drives is a cool solution. It also allows you to check on the contents of any stored drive.

I am far from an expert for large storage requirements. I need to learn this because i will be setting up a 20 computer lab soon. So if I were you and feel that these suggestions don't meet your needs I would figure out exactly what you are trying to accomplish in terms of amount of storage and then research solutions for that. These are transitional times and it's all a bit confusing.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 13, 2013 at 1:51:54 am

Thanks Craig,

For a novice, getting help from a Pro like you and Todd is a real godsend.

Your knowledge is helping me sort out my priorities and what my budget will be workings towards.
I've done a lot of "filmed" oral histories on consumer grade Digi8 & HDV cameras and miniDV tapes. They were just point and shoot jobs because I was only wanting to record their experiences for posterity. Now I'm doing a project that requires a much more professional approach for the end recordings will be used in a variety of different ways.

My tasks at this stage require me to have a lot of storage space for I need to archive the taped recordings. For that part I'm thinking that this set up would be good for that:
http://eshop.macsales.com/item/NewerTech/VOYQHDB4.0T/
Then I can store the drives in those cases you sent the link to. What do you think? For my current project I'm going to take your advice and upgrade my internal storage. Do you use the drives produced by Apple or do you find drives made by the likes of WD would be just as good? My second internal drive is from Apple but they are twice as much.

A couple more queries I hope you can help me with before I get out of your hair.

How do I make use of the focus assist option Peaking 2?

When I digitise (in FCP) the HDV tapes, 80% of the time I can expect dropped frames. I've followed so much advice from forum posts but they still occur. Would something like this breakout box help minimise the amount I get?
http://www.dvcreators.net/matrox-mxo-2/
I use a Canon HV40 for the HDV recordings. I don't get any dropped frames using the Digi8 camera. To be honest I'm unsure what these breakout boxes do but from reading around it sounds like it could help solve the drop frame issue which can really cause havoc when putting together a story from the HDV recordings. What a advice can you offer me on this problem.

Lastly, I'm improving my editing skills and am learning the Art of colour correction/grading. I don't feel I need a field monitor for the camera at this stage for there are more important products on the shopping list as far as the big picture goes. I do however feel that a broadcast monitor is required for the post production work - especially colour grading. Is it possible to purchase something that can be plugged into both my camera and computer (if there is a PCI card that would allow for HDMI output).
What do you think of the following option and offer any suggestions towards something that is cheap but will work:
Is this to good to be true for doing both the field and post tasks?: http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Lilliput-969A-O-P-BNC-Composite-HDMI-Out-Broadc...

Thanks again Craig!



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Craig Alan
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 13, 2013 at 6:11:34 pm

Apple does not make hard drives. WD has been spotty in the past though they own HGST (originally IBM) and apparently also Toshiba. Word was back then go with deskstar IBM. I stayed with that legacy recommendation so I buy HGST. That said any brand has had failures. If you are very concerned you can get enterprise class drives that have longer warranties. Just look for 5-year warranties for which you will pay extra. All that said tapes will last longer properly stored than hard drives will.

The best way to capture all your tapes digitally is to record them using something like a AJA KI PRO. There will be no dropped frames other than what is on the tape itself. And it will record them in an editing codec (Apple Pro Res) rather than HDV or whatever the cam used. The result will eat up more hard drive space as well but will be edit ready. Basically it records whatever you see on the monitor. You can go HDMI or SDI out to recorder. You can also use the Ki Pro with any camera that has SDI or HDMI out. The advantage is you will then be recording in Apple Pro Res rather than the codec of the camera. It also has audio inputs, which will record much better audio than most cams.

On the HV40 you will be recording in a much higher codec. It bypasses the tape altogether. The Hv40 has a really good image for its price point. Remember small lens mean it needs lots of light.

You do not get a monitor that can be used for color grading for a few hundred dollars. The Flanders is the low price leader for color grading and can be used in the field as a field monitor for production, which will improve your production skills, a lot.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 14, 2013 at 1:34:09 am

Thanks agin Craig.

This industry is dam expensive! Prices for somethings at the consumer are coming down but the more I learn and research the more I learn how things like the AJA KI PRO. are out of my reach. There might be somewhere in NZ that I can hire on from.

What did you think of that eSata dock and HDD combo? Like you said it's a funny time because firewire is on its way out, Thunderbolts coming in etc.

I need to start some serious saving!

Thanks for your all your help you've opened my eyes and taught a fair bit .



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Craig Alan
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 14, 2013 at 5:18:32 am

Understood Patrick. On the other hand, Imovie is more powerful than any editing that took place before 1990. Like I said unless you plan to be editing all that footage at once there is no need to store it digitally. Keep the tapes within reasonable temp range. Forward and rewind them every so often.

Check out

the ki pro mini or

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/759460-REG/ATOMOS_ATOMNJA003_Ninja_Vi...

My experience is with the KIPro so do research on these two if you are considering them as possibilities.

If you can't afford this stuff now stay the course. With good lighting and good sound and a decent camera you can get great original footage. Content is King. You can always color correct later. Also there is nothing wrong with your Mac Pro. It was the tool of choice up to say last year for FCP 7 professional editors. Max out the ram, update the graphic cards if you want, and use those hard drive bays. I would concentrate on good lighting, good sound, and organizing your footage in a way that you can tell a powerful story.

I haven't used the capture break out box you asked about but with a mac pro you can also buy a card. So ask someone who has. Also call the companies. I have gotten great help from tech support. I would future proof my choices to work into the next bunch of Macs. Lots of pros are using Imacs with thunderbolt and usb 3. USB 3 ain't going anywhere for a while and is very fast. A USB card is pretty cheap.

I'm happy for now with the P2 250 cam we've been using, but its no Canon c300 or Alexa with prime lenses. But you know it takes a very nice image and is a great run and gun cam.

I'm not that happy with my $1000 tripod but its better than my $600 tripod and I've gotten good shots with both.

Point is yeah pros are using equipment at all price points.

The basics though is preparation, good light, good sound, know your gear and make it work for you.

Don't hesitate to ask people what they think. Happy to share.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 16, 2013 at 8:27:43 am

I just really want to back up my collection of tapes. The solutions you've provided are all good ones. That Ninja would save a lot of hassle.
The great thing with the talent I'm recording is that you just have to press record a they provide great content. This leaves me to worry about all the things to make sure that content is captured well.

I'll load up some screen grabs of some stuff I've recorded since I've been chatting with you.

Are you a teacher? What type of filming (for want of a better word) do you shoot?



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Craig Alan
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 16, 2013 at 3:50:06 pm

Ninja - make sure it works with the editor of your choice. Audio and Video. And if so you should be able to record directly to it as well as using it as a transcoder. When you do transcode make sure all meta data on the tape is toggled off. Since you are recording a feed out (not internally) what you see is what you get. So for example the time and date could be recorded on the recording. And take notes cause you will loose the meta data. What you will gain is the footage in an editing codec. Prores 422 is good for FCP X/FCP 7

You might want to look into CAT DV if you will be archiving tons of footage.

Yes I teach HS in LA. We have a very nice studio that is professional but not well budgeted which can be difficult. I am currently setting up a a post lab. So I need to be a jack of all trades. We shoot all sorts of stuff from short form narratives, to documentaries, to abstract artistic, interviews, events, music vids, instructionals, talk shows, PSAs, commercials, etc. I was a professional writer in the industry for many years. I have also produced/directed theater and television and have done some acting.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 18, 2013 at 7:01:29 am

Well you've taught me a few things about what I need to consider in order to capture the right stuff.
I've recorded a couple of interviews since talking to you and Todd. I stuffed one up with the magnification aid but my latest is pretty good. Apart from the "shine" coming of his bald head. This is obviously the head light not in the right spot. I have it at a forty five degree angle as taught & told. How would you avoid this? My head light has a soft box but no diffuser, should I try the peg & tracing paper trick?

Cat DV looks great and affordable. So I just need to get the RAID system. But on your advice I think I need to upgrade my shot gun mic. My XF-100 has two XLR ports so I use a pretty decent lapel mic and a shotgun mic that is on a stand that I raise up to the talents knee height and have it pointed at their face. It sounds good but can be better got any recommendations?



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Todd Terry
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 18, 2013 at 3:05:59 pm

Just couple of things...

First, just some semantics. There's no such thing as a "head light." I think you are talking about your back light, but that term could equally apply to a key light. It's no big deal of course (and we have made-up or just-plain-wrong terms for things here all the time), but if you ever have to work with a different assistant or gaffer and ask them to adjust the "head light" they're gonna look at you like you have lobsters crawling out of your ears.

It's a "back light" (or occasionally a "hair light" or a "rim light"). Diffusing it could help with a bald head. Also, with a bald man or white-haired man or woman it can be helpful just to trim or flag it down so that it's not so much blasting their heads, but mostly on the shoulders so it gets good separation there, and some of the light bleeds up onto the top-of-head area. You also don't have to put it absolutely-directly behind them, but can move it a bit to the left or right to give a nice effect (usually in the opposite direction from your key light). Even far enough that it gives a little bit of splash on the side of the face can be a very nice look.

As for your shotgun, micing from below can work, but I'd usually only do that in a pinch... and even then it sounds like your mic is a fair bit farther from the talent that I'd usually prefer. You'll generally get much better results booming from above rather than below, and you can mic much closer that way as well. If your talent could reach up at about a 45° angle with not quite an extended arm and touch the tip of the mic, that's usually considered pretty good placement (although I try to mic just a big closer than that if I can). When micing from above, avoid the mistake that a lot of people make by pointing the thing right at the talent's head. You'll get getter results aiming at the neck, sort of base-of-the-throat area.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Todd Terry
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 18, 2013 at 3:17:53 pm

BTW, Patrick, nice website.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 20, 2013 at 7:10:14 am

Cheers Todd!



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 22, 2013 at 3:03:43 am

Todd,

Can you please explain how peaking works and how do I interoperate it? The XF-100 has two peaking options. Peaking 1 brings out sharp lines around the outlines of things in frame while peaking 2 has some kind of histogram appear on the LCD screen. I've found a field monitor that will help me with exposure, frame & focus. It has the same kind of focus assist as peaking 1 on the XF-100. Whats the best way to interoperate and use these focus assist functions?

Pat



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Todd Terry
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 22, 2013 at 3:55:36 am

Hi Patrick...

I can't speak exactly to the XF-100 because I haven't used that camera... does it have "red line" peaking? That's what some Canon cameras use.

If so, those red lines will appear around everything that is in sharp focus when "Peaking 1" is turned on. If you don't see the lines around what you want to be sharp, you know you'll have to adjust focus a bit. If the camera doesn't have the actual "red line" feature, then the peaking is just emphasizing the sharp edges. It works the same, just not quite as easy to see as the red line version.

The histogram version is a little harder to explain... in fact, I can't really. I know intuitively how to use it, but I can't really put it in to words. It's one of those things that if you play with it, it will be evident how it works to you... or it won't. You'll just have to try it.

The thing to keep in mind is to make sure your talent's eyeballs are sharp... that's the key. If the eyes are razor sharp, everything else can even be a little soft yet we perceive the scene as in focus. Conversely, if the eyes are soft it doesn't matter what else is sharp, the scene will be perceived as out of focus.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 22, 2013 at 4:13:51 am

Cheers Todd,

Yes Peaking 1does give me those lines and from your explanation I'm getting things right there. When I was first introduced to cameras at Uni my lecturer taught us to zoom right into the talents face adjust the focus so its nice and sharp then zoom out to the desired frame which in my case is head and shoulders. So from what you're saying is that I should zoom into the eye, adjust the focus then zoom out to the desired framing - correct?

Just for the time being I'm looking at getting this field monitor to help with framing and focus:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/170972816989?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984...

Do you think its worth getting it just for those two things? Its cheap enough to allow me to at least have something while I consider getting a proper on? It doesn't appear to be to bad considering its price. What do you think?



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Todd Terry
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 22, 2013 at 4:43:57 am

Yes, the old school tried-n-true focusing method is to full zoom in, focus, and then re-frame. That works. But the peaking functions help you keep a good focus during those times when you can't zoom in and re-focus, when you have to adjust focus during an active shot.

That monitor looks ok. It's not very expensive... but it's not full HD either (it's 600 lines). But it does have 1-to-1 pixel function. That means it will pop the picture up bigger so you are seeing it at actual full resolution (or at least see the center portion of the screen at fuzz res) so you can get a good focus.

I'll note that with my camera (the C300) the focusing aids (peaking, histogram, magnification, etc.) do not show up on an external monitor, only on the camera's LCD. Maybe yours works differently, I don't know.

On another thing... you weren't asking for any aesthetic input but I'll give you a piece of unsolicited advice. I believe you have been (or have been planning to) shoot these veterans on a black limbo background. I saw a shot or two of these gentlemen, either on your website or some other (can't remember exactly which). It seems to me that a lot more "character" of these fellows comes through when they are shot in their natural surroundings... in a kitchen chair at their table, or an easy chair in their living room, or on their porch or deck. At least to me, they'd look a lot more natural and like "real people" there rather than in a faux studio setting. Your talent might be a lot more comfortable that way as well. And as the final bonus... lighting will be much more forgiving and you don't have to be so "studio perfect." Just my two cents... that might not fit in at all with your master vision for this project, but I thought I'd mention it.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Patrick Bronte
Re: Auto Facial Focus vs Manual?
on Jul 22, 2013 at 6:04:53 am

Todd,

About your 2 cents: You are so right! I know for sure that lights, screens etc will put the guys off! I've been doing that for years. I'm really torn between the screen or natural habitat! I've got two projects I'm starting at the moment. One is more on the professional side while the other is more off a personal project. i used the screen for the pilot while contending to get the first project started and those involved like the screen and want to continue that way. As for the 2nd, if I go to see some guy and set up the screen, lights its like i'm invading there home! But I've found that lighting is key and that you can't always find the best back drop. I would like to do something with the footage and the black background does look a lot more uniformed. I am just not sure what to do at the moment. I shot a lot of interviews with no screen and most came out fine as long as the natural light was good. Now I'm making sure that I can control the lighting with a set of good lights. I think the screen does conform to the many documentaries cover my subject genera. The screen looks good but you are so right. I've tried it with two vets and the set up didn't disrupt a thing. Both were impressed which was a surprise but I know there are others that are reluctant to even talk to me with the camera let alone the other stuff.



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