DV Rack and Weddings/Events
I'm a newbie event videographer and recently purchased Serious Magic's DV Rack software. I really like the straight to laptop recording feature but I mainly purchased it to help set up my camera for shoots (Iris, white balance, focus) and have a field monitor/laptop.
On the Serious Magic Forum I got feedback that being tied to the laptop while trying to shoot the wedding was not a good idea. I can see the reasoning but would still like to at least set up the main shots such as the vows.
Has anybody used the software while shooting weddings and can you give me and input, advice, observations.
Im also looking for a laptop, initially I was looking for something very small with a long battery life, but now that Im not dead set on shooting the whole wedding through DV Rack I am considering a larger screen laptop, something I could show clients demo work with also. Any recommendations in this area would be appreciated also.
Don't have any advice regarding DVRack, but have some info regarding the laptop:
How much is your budget? If you can afford anywhere close to a $1500 laptop, I would highly reccomend the Dell Inspiron 9300. They currently have a $800 off $2000 coupon for the 9300. Take a look at http://www.slickdeals.net for the coupon code. This laptop has a 17inch screen and is a powerful system overall. (I use this as my editing system) If you are looking for a 15inch model, take a look at the Inspiron 6000d. A little more portable than the 9300, but not nearly as powerful.
Computer screens are simply not the same contrast or resolution as NTSC or PAL video monitors.
They can flat-out "lie" to you about your levels and focus (as will the LCD's built in to camcorders.)
Since you asked, my advice is to spend your money on a good CRT (not LCD) shooting monitor.
If that monitor is properly set-up, you can make dead-on iris, focus and framing decisions based on it during the critical parts of the ceremony.
Direct-to-Computer is "nice" little feature... A truthful monitor can help save your ASSETS.
As for playing demos to clients, use your camcorder hooked up to your "good" monitor.
I haven't used it at a wedding shoot, but I think it could be a useful tool. Of course, you don't want to be tied to a laptop when you're doing runa and gun shooting, such as at the reception. But when you're on a tripod at the church, it could be used. For direct-to-disk while shooting mobile, something like the Firestore FS-4 would be preferable.
As to the laptop not giving a "true" image: That's correct, but since DVRack provides color bard, and a WFM/vectorscope, you should be able to use it to get a good, calibrated image.
You are missing the point on using a laptop PC monitor versus a CRT for critical image monitoring. It has nothing to do about observing the video signal on a waveform or vectorscope but rather the LCD monitor itself which cannot be trusted in terms of resolution (for focus) gamma, brightness, black level, dynamic range,color etc etc.
There is no sense in using a waveform/vectorscope if the monitor you are using is technically incapable of displaying a color critical accurate image.
You will be actually fooled by an inaccurate monitor regardless of what the dvrack tells you.
[tony salgado] "You will be actually fooled by an inaccurate monitor regardless of what the dvrack tells you. "
This is no small matter.
You can actually get back to edit a video and discover (on a "real" monitor) that the image is severely under-exposed, or you THOUGHT that the focus looked "sweet" on the LCD only to find that the bride's detailed veil is actually a bit blurry in the close-ups during the entire ceremony!
I'd much rather make my LIVE under-the-gun decisions on a trusted CRT monitor than have a vectorscope, waveform monitor or other gear (which I DO have).
When you can SEE that your image looks RIGHT, you can feel confident about the rest of the production.
Beleive me, I have come home from shoots where I "trusted" the camera's LCD for exposure, etc. and had a real "surprise" (that did not merit a cake!)
For showing stuff to clients, you don't need an expensive laptop, check out the economical portable DVD players, they look like laptops, but are priced between 200 and 400 bucks. Have their own screens as well as a video-out to hook to client's TV or a monitor or projector you bring along.
A CRT monitor - do you mean NTSC?
I use an NTSC monitor and a waveform monitor on a laptop if I have control over lighting - otherwise I trust a 6" camera mounted nebtek lcd, on a tripod or the viewfinder if shoulder mounted. The subtle differences between lcd and ntsc monitors are largely irrelevant if you don't have precise control over the shoot.
If you shoot events sooner or later you will have to learn to do without external monitors of any type. Knowing your camera is key.
[Peter Ralph] "A CRT monitor - do you mean NTSC? "
I've (we've) been talking about the differences between LCD (laptop and otherwise) and CRT monitors and they ARE very different.
LCD have very limited "sweet" angles so that if you are at a slightly "wrong" angle you can make a very "wrong" iris decision.
The color renditions are different (you can't really judge true chroma levels... not really a big deal) but the contrast "steps" are very different (LCDs are limited) and that can give you the wrong impression of whether the blacks are too high or low (as well as incorrect readings on white-clipping areas).
Sure, lots of folks shoot with LCD monitors (I would LOVE to... much more convenient than bulky CRTs) but I can't RELY on them for correct "feedback" when I NEED to know under LIVE SHOW conditions.
(I shoot stage presentaions with ZERO chance for re-takes... kind of like a WEDDING!)
I have to (continue to) disagree.
Yes, an NTSC CRT monitor IS the best way to actually see the image. But these days, an LCD is a perfectly acceptable alternative, IF you're aware of its limitations.
1. Never make an exposure decision on the image alone. Use the camera's zebra bars. (I'd apply this to CRTs as well as LCDs).
2. Critical focus can be done with an external monitor, but checking with the camera viewfinder is a good idea. The VF itself may (or may not) have more pixels than the external monitor, and also the camera may add additional sharpening to the VF image that is not available on an external signal.
3. For high definition work, an SD monitor (or viewfinder) may not do the job. An HD LCD with a native resolution that's the same as the camera's output could be a better choice, especially if you can't afford a $6,000 HD CRT monitor.
4. The change in brightness and colorimetry with viewing angle is a problem unique to LCDs. You do need to look at them straight on.
5. My point about the DVRack having test equipment built-in is that you can use it to:
a) calibrate your laptop display using SMPTE color bars. This will get the image very close to that of an NTSC CRT monitor.
b) More importantly, you can shoot a physical color bar chart with your camera, to check white balance. You can shoot a gray chart to check exposure. The WFM and vectorscope will tell you a lot more about the setup than you can see with your naked eye on any sort of monitor, either LCD or CRT.
Thanks so much for the input. Im sure that a real monitor is going to provide a truer image than a laptop, however Im not too proud to admit that my eye and experience with my camera (HDR-FX1, my first, and I know DV Rack only captures DV) isnt ready even if I had a CRT monitor. The fact DV Rack holds your hand in setting up the shot is what sold me. Im convinced DV Rack is going to give me MUCH better shots than shooting with everything set to auto, which aside from setting the white balance was the extinct of what I was doing till now (keep in mind Im just starting to advertise as a buisness, albeit a very small on the side "oh god help me pay for this camera" operation, and its been strictly family/personal stuff up till now (my first scheduled wedding is in July). One year from now I feel I will have a much better grasp of setting up a shot and the monitor may be a viable/better option but right now I feel like Ive made the right choice.
That being said, Id still like to hear from people who use the software for event shoots, good and bad.
Thanks again, Creative Cow is the best Ive come across and I really appreciate it and it's users,
[Doug Graham] "Yes, an NTSC CRT monitor IS the best way to actually see the image"
Doug - was that a typo - I think you meant NTSC monitor, not "NTSC CRT" monitor?
No, I meant "NTSC CRT", just to be sure we were talking about a monitor that was displaying an NTSC signal and using a set of electron guns to do it. A standard TV set is a "CRT", and so is one of those boxy glass-fronted computer monitors.
Doug, which type of monitor do you recommend for feedback at a shoot:
1. a CRT monitor, aka the old style (pre-LCD) computer monitor
2 an NTSC monitor, aka a field or production monitor such as the SONY PVM series.
3. any monitor that uses a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT), i.e. either 1 or 2 above - makes no difference which
Just trying to clarify things here, I know you have a real good handle on the technical side of things.
The Sony PVM.
I see that I've gotten some people confused with my terminology. :)
A "CRT" monitor is any monitor that uses a cathode ray tube to shoot a beam of electrons at a phosphor screen. CRT technology is found in computer monitors, television monitors, and television receivers (a receiver is just a monitor with a tuner for receiving signals off the air or via cable). However, the computer CRT monitor differs from a TV in the way the beam is scanned; it's progressive for the computer monitor, but interlaced for the TV. Also, the gamma curve for computer monitors is different than for TVs.
An NTSC monitor is any television monitor that displays the NTSC television signal (as opposed to PAL or SECAM). It could be a CRT device or an LCD panel or a projector. So, a Sony PVM monitor would be an "NTSC CRT".
You keep trying to say that none of us could be speaking "well" of a "CRT" monitor.
Can you explain why you don't think that's a possibility?
A CRT is STILL the most accurate, and most economical way to view SD video.
And for HD, an HD CRT can provide the highest possible resolution as well.
CRTs are still the main "critical" monitors in thousands of professional post suites.
There are plenty of us who still use CRTs as computer monitors as well.
I've spent too many hours with the teeny-tiny pixel squares cutting thru the typeface on LCD computer monitors (can you say FCP Browser Type?).
Give me the (now) less expensive 21" CRTs and I'm just fine.
Maybe someday a good LCD or Plasma monitor (costing under $3000) will display camera output as accurately as a good CRT monitor (costing under $800), but that day is not yet here.
These are my opinions.
Anyone can disagree, of course, but please explain WHY.
As Doug explains above many televisions, production monitors, waveform monitors and vectorscopes can be described as "CRT monitors". I assume you are using the term CRT to refer to the typical (pre-lcd) computer monitor?
I prefer NTSC monitors to verify color, gamma, exposure and LCD monitors for just about everything else. They are lighter, brighter (easier on the eyes), and take up less space than CRTS. Most people it seems agree with my assessment and are prepared to pay a hugh premium for LCD monitors. IMHO - the only good thing about CRT monitors is that they are cheap.
If you prefer CRTs - good for you - I don't know any pros who wouldn't prefer to work with Apple cinema displays - but being in a minority doesn't make you wrong. Being different is good - why not give us a link to your website?
[Peter Ralph] "I assume you are using the term CRT to refer to the typical (pre-lcd) computer monitor? "
Well, yes I am.
CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) is the only term I know of to describe "standard" TV sets and other image displays that are still in use by the billions around the globe.
[Peter Ralph] "I prefer NTSC monitors to verify color, gamma, exposure and LCD monitors for just about everything else."
TO say you" prefer NTSC monitors" is like saying, for transportation you prefer "Unleaded".
That is just TYPE of fuel what you "PUT INTO" a unit. The unit (in this case) could be a 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder, 2-stroke, 4-stroke, a sedan, a van, a pickup, a motorcycle, etc.
Similarly, (if you allow the stretch) "NTSC" is a video SYSTEM or TYPE (its what you "PUT INTO" a monitor).
It does not refer (necessarily) specifically to a TYPE of monitor DISPLAY.
Although monitors CAN be described as being "NTSC", either exclusively or as just ONE of several of their display modes (PAL, SECAM, RGB, etc.)
In North America, we do use the NTSC system (SD) and so anything we shoot on NTSC cameras MUST be monitored on NTSC-capable monitors (or via a computer with transcoding).
All that is to say that when we (any of us) talk (at length) about monitors we need to be more specific than just "NTSC".
So, when I say "NTSC CRT" (as Doug reiterated) I am being very SPECIFIC as to MEAN an "NTSC monitor with a Cathode Ray Tube" display.
The reason I am so specific is that... NTSC "LCD" monitors have very limited "sweet" angles so that if you are at a slightly "wrong" angle you can make a very (VERY) "wrong" iris decision.
We have all seen this using the little swing-out LCD's on camcorders... they might give us a GREAT image as we shoot head-on, but if we raise or lower the camera (or pan) the image will simply CHANGE in levels... if we were to judge the IRIS based on this LCD, we could suffer dire consequences.
Also, the color renditions are different between CRT and LCD (you can't really judge true chroma levels or temperatures).
The contrast "steps" (degrees of full-black to full-white) are very different (LCDs are quite limited) and that can give you the wrong impression of whether the blacks are too high or low (as well as incorrect readings on white-clipping areas).
Unlike NTSC CRT monitors, to actually GET an analog (composite, RGB, Component or S-video) NTSC image to DISPLAY on a digital LCD, the image must be digitally converted (one could say "compressed") into the proper number of pixels and "routed" digitally to the proper LCD pixels. For most ("affordable") LCD monitors, this creates many digital artifacts that are evident in close examination of the LCD screen.
Back to our camcorder "swing-out screen" example... the images on that LCD screen look GREAT even on a $300 home video camera at an in-store demo rack.
But just look at the difference if you switch it onto the $200 "CRT" TV/Monitor they have in the same display... the video noise, exposure and color anomalies, and resolution limitations quickly become apparent.
When monitoring NTSC images, CRTs offer the truest, widest-range, most-accurate, and artifact-free image (as well as lower cost).
Those are the facts as they are today and likely for a while to come.
PLEASE DON'T THINK THAT I DON'T LIKE NEW TECHNOLOGY.
(I'm not an "digital-hater" with only LP's in my music library.)
I have been scouting for a reasonably-priced 13" or 19" LCD to use for my location work, but when compared side-by-side to a similarly-sized calibrated CRT, the images simply do not MATCH (and that can only mean the LCD is largely INACCURATE).
I would LOVE to be able to TRUST an LCD monitor for my (I can't stress this enough) LIVE, REAL-TIME, ONE-CHANCE-ONLY, constantly-changing light-level and distance form camera STAGE-EVENTS (very similar, in fact to a WEDDING).
Because LCD monitors are much more convenient than bulky CRTs.
But Waveform monitors and Vectorscopes aside, just by looking at the image on my properly calibrated NTSC "CRT" monitor (regardless of my viewing angle) I can TRUST that is EXACTLY the image that I'm recording.
And that kind of assurance can help me capture the best images I can.
And this was the point I tried to make at the very beginning of this thread.
(Sorry for the length. I'm just trying to better-explain my position.)
[Matte] "TO say you" prefer NTSC monitors" is like saying, for transportation you prefer "Unleaded".
Matte - I work in the video industry in the US - we use the term "NTSC monitor" in what you may argue is an "inaccurate" way - so be it. But we all use the term in that way - there is no confusion. Please go to your video supplier and ask or search for an NTSC monitor to confirm this fact.
I agree that CRT (computer) monitors do have a place in many studios, but they cannot replace an NTSC CRT monitor. In the absence of an NTSC CRT monitor I could imagine taking one on location, but I have never done so, and in fact never even seen one on a location shoot.
Matte. You misspoke. Get over it. We all did, way back when Peter explained the distinction. I don't get why you're still trying to say one thing is another.
I have been using DVRack as part of my workflow with my Z1 since I got it. It is easy enough to set up a laptop to match your camera and studio equipment so you get consistent results, whether in the studio or in the field. Like someone else said, know your equipment, know your results. I find DVRack invaluable for setting up the different picture profiles on the Z1 and the disk capture takes away the stress of tape drop outs. I wouldn't go back to not using it.