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Low Light for horror movie


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#1 Darrell Abney

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 03:29 AM

My first real attempt at making a short took place this weekend. Overall it was pretty good, I learned alot.

I filmed with the Canon HV20 in 24p HDV Cinema Mode. I rented an Arri light kit for the shoot. Shot to HDV Master tape.

It's a short horror film so its relatively low light. I tried to light it up as much as possible but I feel like if I would have lit the scenes any lighter it would have looked like daytime.

So I got home and used final cut studio to capture the footage and its not very clear. Lots of grain almost like i added film grain. and some blue spots show up (shot inside a cabin).

So, if you cant turn up the lights any brighter on set, is there another solution to get rid of the grain/noise? I'm looking for as clear of an image as possible for this movie but I have to keep the scenes from getting too bright since it needs to be creepy.

Thanks for your help
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#2 Chris Durham

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 10:21 AM

Darrell,

Sounds like you had the gain on the camera set to auto, which would have bumped the gain up in low-light conditions. I discovered this the hard way: NEVER use auto-gain. I always set my gain to either 0 db or -3 db.

Gelling the light blue is a classic trick to make it look like night. Moonlight = blue.

Also, minimize the ambiance of light. Light only the areas you need lit and let negative fill do the work of creating the illusion of darkness for you.

Another good trick is to use Neutral Density filters. You can light a subject pretty bright and then use ND filters to bring the overall brightness down. The cool thing about ND filters is they don't change the color of the subject, just how much of the light gets to the camera. The overall exposure is reduced evenly. Take a look at The poker scene here. I shot that in the lobby of my buddy's loft building in broad daylight. There's even actually a skylight overhead. The practical in the shot is a photoflood suspended from a telescoping mic stand over the table. Then I used an ND filter to lower the overall exposure and - Viola! We have a dingy dark back room.

Hope that helps
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#3 Douglas Sunlin

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 12:16 PM

Maybe you need to think about "low-key" lighting. This means (among other things) that you have large areas of black in your frame (mostly background of course), and that actors and other key elements are lighted starkly, often without the use of fill light.

It's a typical look for horror and film noir.
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#4 Darrell Abney

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 03:36 PM

Thanks for the responses. I am doing low key lighting. I will post a jpeg so you can see what it looks like.
I'm jus tnot happy with teh grain and the somewhat random colors that got thrown in there when you view it at the full hd resolution.

I will look into how to adjust the gain for the HV20, not sure how I can attach a neutral density filter to it without some type of modification.

I can't wait to kill that grain!

- D
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#5 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 03:19 PM

I will look into how to adjust the gain for the HV20, not sure how I can attach a neutral density filter to it without some type of modification.

I can't wait to kill that grain!


What? There's no filter thread on the lens?

It's not grain, it's video noise.

& specs on the Canon site claim a 43mm filter thread.

Lens
Zoom Ratio: 10x Optical/200x Digital
Focal Length: f=6.1-61mm
Zoom Speed: Variable/3 Fixed Zoom Speeds
Max. F/Stop: f/1.8-3.0mm (when tapes are used)
Filter Size: 43mm
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#6 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 02:00 PM

Here's a link to some low light stills from my HV20.
http://www.cinematog...showtopic=25089

I didn't get any noise. There's a "hack" to turn gain off in Cinema mode. When you enable the exposure adjustment you have to have a bright light covering the entire lens. I do this by having an all white background on my cell, cover the lens with it and then I hit the exposure. I get a wide range of apertures locked at 48 shutter with no gain.
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#7 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 02:44 PM

It's a short horror film so its relatively low light. I tried to light it up as much as possible but I feel like if I would have lit the scenes any lighter it would have looked like daytime.

So I got home and used final cut studio to capture the footage and its not very clear. Lots of grain almost like i added film grain. and some blue spots show up (shot inside a cabin).


My SD Canon will give random blue spots when in "low light" mode. Also sometimes a fixed 'Grain' pattern in really low light. Are you using such a mode?

Low light and low key are not the same.
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#8 Darrell Abney

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 04:12 PM

I go tthe cam a day before the shoot (not a great idea but thats life) so I pretty much used out of the box settings. I just made sure to turn on 24p and Cinema mode.
I had instant auto focus on, stabalizer on (which im reading is a bad idea too?) and default exposure/gain settings.

I was reading about the technique of putting the white cell phone in front of the camera, very good idea. I read alot of tech stuff but don't see any "real world" examples.

Maybe I'm just thick headed but lets say for example (to kill the video noise) on this particular shot what do I do:

I have 4 arri lights setup (Lights are as bright as possible to keep the low key mood without making it look fake) ,
then I'm assuming I should use the cameras built in ND filter (I did some research yes its built in) and then quoting the last guys post

"When you enable the exposure adjustment you have to have a bright light covering the entire lens. I do this by having an all white background on my cell, cover the lens with it and then I hit the exposure. I get a wide range of apertures locked at 48 shutter with no gain."

How do you "hit the exposure".

Let's say I do all these steps, then I should be good to go? Sorry for the long winded response this is all new to me, but I love this stuff. I'd love to get the most out of my HV20.

Thanks
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#9 Darrell Abney

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 04:51 PM

and to clarify I am not using "low light mode" just IAF, HDV Cine mode 24p.
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#10 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 08:07 AM

and to clarify I am not using "low light mode" just IAF, HDV Cine mode 24p.


You hit the joystick until it says exposure then you hold the light in front of the camera and hit the joystick up.

I don't understand why you're looking for "real world" experiences. I LINKED you to REAL WORLD shots done with the HV20 by ME. What else more could you possibly looking for? :unsure:

The exposure setting is basically the ND filter. When you engage manual exposure you're disabling the ND filter.
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#11 Darrell Abney

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 10:09 AM

Mr. Lewis,

I'm not sure why you need to all caps me. When I said real world examples I mean a tutorial where someone goes through their camera settings and shows you why they set it for certain situations. Thanks for the exposure tip.

Don't hate on me just because I'm learning.
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#12 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 10:58 AM

Mr. Lewis,

I'm not sure why you need to all caps me. When I said real world examples I mean a tutorial where someone goes through their camera settings and shows you why they set it for certain situations. Thanks for the exposure tip.

Don't hate on me just because I'm learning.


I'm not hating on you. You asked for real world examples which is what I provided you with. You don't get more real world than that.

You asked how to set the exposure. That should have been one of the very first things you looked for in the manual when you got the camera.

Here is a writeup on the exposure trick. That goes into more detail.
http://www.dvxuser.com/jason/hv20/

Edited by Jamie Lewis, 14 September 2007 - 10:58 AM.

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#13 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 11:22 AM

I'm not sure why you need to all caps me.


Hilarious
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#14 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 12:03 PM

Hilarious


He pwned me.
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#15 Freya Black

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 12:11 PM

Mr. Lewis,

I'm not sure why you need to all caps me. When I said real world examples I mean a tutorial where someone goes through their camera settings and shows you why they set it for certain situations. Thanks for the exposure tip.

Don't hate on me just because I'm learning.


Darrell. Your problem is that your camera being a low end consumer model, has kind of got everything set to auto. The other problem is that the HV20 doesn't actually have a manual exposure mode, so you basically have to trick the camera to get some control over it. Apparently the camera also is keen to turn up the gain automatically in an annoying way.

The only way round this is to lock the exposure and choose from a set of pre-set exposure options. You stil won't be able to control the exposure settings exactly but one of the presets is likely to be what you need. Obviously you want to find a setting with the electronic gain turned off and a relatively normal shutter speed.

love

Freya
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#16 Darrell Abney

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 12:20 PM

Thanks Freya

I don't want this thread to turn into a flame so I'll just end it here.
I appreciate the answers from most of you.
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#17 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 12:25 PM

Darrell. Your problem is that your camera being a low end consumer model, has kind of got everything set to auto. The other problem is that the HV20 doesn't actually have a manual exposure mode, so you basically have to trick the camera to get some control over it. Apparently the camera also is keen to turn up the gain automatically in an annoying way.

The only way round this is to lock the exposure and choose from a set of pre-set exposure options. You stil won't be able to control the exposure settings exactly but one of the presets is likely to be what you need. Obviously you want to find a setting with the electronic gain turned off and a relatively normal shutter speed.

love

Freya


I have complete control of the exposure when doing th light trick. I go from -11 to +9 at 48 and no gain. I don't know what more you could possibly ask for. I shot some pretty dark scenes and they came out with very little to no gain. I cant see any in any of the full res footage I've shot. The camera is a little peach and with some ingenuity it can be made to do things cameras that cost $2000+ more can.
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#18 Freya Black

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 12:39 PM

I have complete control of the exposure when doing th light trick. I go from -11 to +9 at 48 and no gain. I don't know what more you could possibly ask for. I shot some pretty dark scenes and they came out with very little to no gain. I cant see any in any of the full res footage I've shot. The camera is a little peach and with some ingenuity it can be made to do things cameras that cost $2000+ more can.


I guess you could ask for a proper manual exposure mode instead of having to pull tricks but given that the camera is so cheap and it is 1080p and it actually has a microphone socket, well you might be taken for being mean spirited and looking a gift horse in the mouth!

It certainly seems like a preety incredible little thing.
I'm very keen to play with one.

love

Freya
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#19 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 12:54 PM

I guess you could ask for a proper manual exposure mode instead of having to pull tricks but given that the camera is so cheap and it is 1080p and it actually has a microphone socket, well you might be taken for being mean spirited and looking a gift horse in the mouth!

It certainly seems like a preety incredible little thing.
I'm very keen to play with one.

love

Freya


A little light pointed in the lens or spend $2000 more to do what this camera can do?

The only issue I have with it is the work around that has to be done to get 24p editable. That's the only drawback. Now that I've shot with it a few times, it's a real gem at $2500 let along $950.
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#20 Freya Black

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 01:09 PM

A little light pointed in the lens or spend $2000 more to do what this camera can do?

The only issue I have with it is the work around that has to be done to get 24p editable. That's the only drawback. Now that I've shot with it a few times, it's a real gem at $2500 let along $950.


Yes this is my Dilema because I'm in Pal world and can get a 25p camera and not have to worry about that, but I could really use the NTSC analog in, so I'm very torn about it all.

Forgot about that Analog in too!
On paper it's almost like my perfect camera, but I've yet to get to play with one in real life.
*fingers crossed*

Your video is looking nice BTW!

love

Freya
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