You have asked "The Mother" of all questions. The DVX100a is a sophisticated and highly flexible tool that is capable of many "looks". To a great extent, getting "the right" look depends on what "right" means to you at that time. In order to learn to use the DVX100a you will need to learn (1) what all the settings are on your camcorder and what they do, (2) how these settings affect the underlying technology, and (3) what the resulting look is in your final video. A good place to learn about the settings on the DVX100a is to read the manual that came with the camera. The information in the manual explains more about what the settings do, and not so much about how to use the camera. To learn about the underlying technology, you can find a lot of information online. Some websites dive deeply into one aspect of the technology. A great site that gives a pretty complete overview of the technology of the DVX100a is at adamwilt.com at this URL: http://www.adamwilt.com/24p/index.html Learning about how different settings will produce different results requires some experimentation. One of the best ways to learn about this by reading DVXuser.com posts and looking in the "Screen Grabs / Clips of DVX Footage" section to see what others have gotten the camera to do. What you will find is that by studying these resources and experimenting, you will begin to educate your "video vision". You'll learn to see differences in the video that you hadn't noticed before. Now, all that is missing is a very basic primer to help you get decent images from the camera with a few simple settings. I'll try to cut through the details and give you a simple recipe for using the DVX100a. andy_starbuck View Public Profile Send a private message to andy_starbuck Visit andy_starbuck's homepage! Find More Posts by andy_starbuck Add andy_starbuck to Your Buddy List 09-21-2004, 07:40 AM #3 andy_starbuck Bronze Member Join Date: Jun 2004 Location: x0|CorpHQ|USA||0|0|KY,Kentucky Posts: 41 Re: Getting the right image ? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- DVX100a Basic Primer Here are the steps we will cover in the next several posts: 1. Camera baseline. 2. Selecting the scene file setting. 3. Adjusting the exposure. 4. Setting the White Balance. 1. CAMERA BASELINE Before we can go through the settings, we need to put the camera into a known state. Turn on the camera, remove the lens cap, and open the LCD screen. The switches on the side of your camera should be set as follows to begin: (1) The Focus switches should be set to "A" (autofocus). (2) The ND Filter switch should be set to "OFF". (3) The GAIN should be set to "L" (low, which defaults to 'Off'). (4) The WHITE BALANCE should be set to "A". You have two places to store white balance "A" and "B", and then there are is a third position, "Preset". I'll explain these settings in a bit, as they control the red and blue coloring that you said you were getting in some shots. andy_starbuck View Public Profile Send a private message to andy_starbuck Visit andy_starbuck's homepage! Find More Posts by andy_starbuck Add andy_starbuck to Your Buddy List 09-21-2004, 07:41 AM #4 andy_starbuck Bronze Member Join Date: Jun 2004 Location: x0|CorpHQ|USA||0|0|KY,Kentucky Posts: 41 Re: Getting the right image ? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. SELECTING THE SCENE FILE SETTING There is a dial on the back left of the camera with numbers on it going from "f1" through "f6". These are scene files, and they control a number of internal settings of the camera. I will assume for the moment that you haven't modified any of these scene files using the on screen menu, and that they are still at their factory defaults. The most important positions for you to know are "f1" and "f5". You can read about the rest of the default scene files in the manual. "f1" gives you 60 frame per second interlaced video, which looks sharp like a news video. "f5" gives you 24 frame per second video with color correction that looks a lot like the images you see in a movie -- from film. The main things you need to know about these two settings is that the AutoFocus works very slowly in 24p (f5) mode. It takes several seconds to refocus -- not like a consumer video camera. The AutoFocus in 60i (f1) mode operates as you would expect. The other thing that you need to know is that you need to choose either 60i or 24p for an entire project or video. You can't easily mix the two different types of material on a single time line in a non-linear editing program. Select (f1) or (f5). andy_starbuck View Public Profile Send a private message to andy_starbuck Visit andy_starbuck's homepage! Find More Posts by andy_starbuck Add andy_starbuck to Your Buddy List 09-21-2004, 07:41 AM #5 andy_starbuck Bronze Member Join Date: Jun 2004 Location: x0|CorpHQ|USA||0|0|KY,Kentucky Posts: 41 Re: Getting the right image ? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. ADJUSTING THE EXPOSURE Now that your camera is set to a basic state, follow these procedures to use the assistants to help you set the camera properly. Look at the LCD screen. The Znn in the upper right corner is your zoom. It tells you what percentage the lens is zoomed in and it goes from 00 to 99. Right below the Z is AFnn, which stands for AutoFocus. The autofocus numbers will be changing a little bit as the assistant focuses the lens for you. The number immediately beneath that has an "f", which stands for "F-stop", and that describes how wide the Iris is. The iris controls how much light from the lens reaches the sensors. If the number is low, the Iris is open more and more light comes in. If the number is high the Iris is smaller and less light comes in. Press the button that says "IRIS". It should say "MANUAL IRIS" on the LCD screen. Press it again until it says "AUTO IRIS". When it is on AutoIris, the assistant will automatically set the Iris and report that setting on the screen. When it is set to "Manual Iris" the little dial next to the IRIS button is activated, and you can open and close the iris by turning this dial up or down. For now, you will want it to be set on "AUTO IRIS". Depending on your environment, there may be too much or too little light to get a decent image. The iris only has a certain range, and if it is open all the way and there is still not enough light, there is some help available on the camera as an alternative to actually lighting the environment. That is the GAIN control. Also, if the iris is closed down all the way, and the environment is still too bright (as often happens outside on a sunny day), there is some help in the form of the ND (Neutral Density) Filters. Fortunately, the camera will tell you when to use each of these settings. For now, point the camera out the window on a bright sunny day. Never point the camera at the sun. The f stop reads "f16", indicating that the iris is as small as it can get, but there is still too much light. A blinking message will appear on the screen saying "ND 1/8". This is the assistant telling you to move the ND Filter switch from OFF to 1/8. An ND Filter is a gray (colorless) filter that will cut some of the light out. Move the ND switch from OFF to 1/8. If it is still too bright, in a second or two you will see "ND 1/64" blinking, which indicates that you need to cut even more light out. The f stop is probably still on f16. On overcast days you might only need 1/8, but on sunny days you will probably need 1/64. Go ahead and move the switch to 1/64 if that is what the assistant is telling you. Now you will see the f stop move off of the f16 setting and start to go down. The ND Filter is sort of a shift key for the Iris. It cuts out the light when it is too bright until there is just enough for the iris to do its job of making sure the right amount of light reaches the sensors. The GAIN switch is an electronic amplifier. If you were in a really dark environment, at night or whatever, you can turn off the ND Filter (of course) to let in the most light. And then if you can't get a good image, you might turn the GAIN switch from (L) (low / off) to (M) or (H). M stands for medium and it will provide a 6 decibel increase in signal. H stands for high and gives a 12 decibel increase. The main thing that you need to know about GAIN is that because it is an electronic amplifier, it not only amplifies the information in the signal coming from the sensors, it also amplifies the noise in the signal. So although it will enable you to get shots when there is less light in the environment, it will increase the chances that you will get artifacts -- blocks of color -- in the image. andy_starbuck View Public Profile Send a private message to andy_starbuck Visit andy_starbuck's homepage! Find More Posts by andy_starbuck Add andy_starbuck to Your Buddy List 09-21-2004, 07:42 AM #6 andy_starbuck Bronze Member Join Date: Jun 2004 Location: x0|CorpHQ|USA||0|0|KY,Kentucky Posts: 41 Re: Getting the right image ? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4. SETTING THE WHITE BALANCE Okay, now that you have the exposure set properly, you need to do something about the color. A sophisticated camera like the DVX100a has something called a WHITE BALANCE. The color of light can vary greatly. Regular light bulbs often have a lot of yellow or orange. Daylight changes enormously depending on the weather, the time of day, and the environment. A consumer camcorder has continuous white balance. It is always changing what the camera "thinks" is white depending on what is in the scene. Because of this continuous change, the colors are never stable and are not faithful to the true color in the scene. With the DVX100a, you need to tell the camera what white looks like in the environment and under the conditions in which you are shooting. With this information, the camera can figure out how to represent all the other colors, and the resulting image has coloring that is faithful to the real colors. The DVX100a has a switch on the side labeled "WHITE BAL" and a button on the front of the camera on the same side as the switches, just below the lens, which is labeled "AWB". You need to use the switch and the buttons together to set the white balance. The WHITE BAL switch has three positions "A", "B", and "Preset". Go ahead and move the WHITE BAL switch to "Preset". Now push the AWB button while watching the LCD screen. You'll see that it alternates between "AWB P3.2K" and "AWB P5.6K". That stands for "Auto White Balance Preset" and 3.2K is 3,200 degrees Kelvin, and 5.6K is 5,600 degrees Kelvin. These are measures of the "temperature" (color) of light. 5.6K is a good estimate of the color of white on outside on an average day. 3.2K is a good estimate of the color of light inside using standard light bulbs. The problem with using preset white balance is that the color of light is almost never exactly 5.6K or 3.2K. In only 20 minutes, at some times of day, the sun can move enough to radically change the color of the light. There are also other factors such as cloud cover, the color of the bounced light in the environment (grass? sand? pavement?). So what preset white balance gets you is a standard error. All of the colors in the scene will be off, but they will be off by the same amount. And that is most useful if you intend to perform color correction using an NLE (non linear editor) in post. You can thing of the preset white balance as an "emergency" white balance. If you have to shoot right now, and you don't have time to set the white balance, or you don't have any white object to use to set the white balance, then preset is one way to get a correctable image. Therefore, in most cases, you will want to set the white balance manually. Go ahead and set the WHITE BAL switch to "A". You have two place to store white balance settings, "A" and "B". To set the white balance you need to fill the screen with something white. Focus doesn't matter. You might take a sheet of typing paper, for example, and then zoom in on it until it fills most of the screen. Then press the AWB button to tell the camera "this is white". You'll see the image color change on the LCD. In a pinch, if you don't have something white, you can use a white object, such as a garage door or an awning to set the white balance. Just remember that if the object you choose isn't really white, the colors in the final image will be off. When you are outside on a sunny day, you might have to choose whether to set the white balance with the white object positioned in shadows under the shade or whether it should be in direct light. That depends on where the subjects are going to be when you shoot. If you can, positioning the white object in the shade, but where a lot of light falls on it, might be the best solution. If you are shooting in the shade and then in the direct sunlight, you might want to set the white balance on "A" in the shade and then set the white balance on "B" in the direct light. Then you can just use the switch to change between them as you move around. Also, if you are shooting inside and outside, then you might want to use one position for the white balance for inside shots and one for outside shots. You should make a habit of setting the white balance pretty often. Maybe before every scene, whenever the lighting changes, or whenever you change locations. When shooting outside, I set the white balance every 20 minutes because the movement of the sun and changing weather conditions can radically alter the color of the light. And if I want to be able to cut the shots together later, I need to have correct colors. Otherwise when I am editing, for example, a person's sweater will change from red to orange and back again as I cut between shots. andy_starbuck View Public Profile Send a private message to andy_starbuck Visit andy_starbuck's homepage! Find More Posts by andy_starbuck Add andy_starbuck to Your Buddy List 09-21-2004, 07:43 AM #7 andy_starbuck Bronze Member Join Date: Jun 2004 Location: x0|CorpHQ|USA||0|0|KY,Kentucky Posts: 41 Re: Getting the right image ? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- For further study... There you have it. You've placed the camera in a known "basic" state. You've enabled AutoFocus so that the camera will assist you in focusing on your main subject. You've selected a scene file, establishing the basic internal settings of the camera. You've used the Iris, the ND Filter and perhaps the GAIN with the advice of the camera assistant to properly set the exposure. You've set the white balance, to ensure that the colors will be faithful to your environment. Now all you have to do is press the red "record" button, use the zoom, and point the camera at your subjects. Experiment with the camera and study the resources I suggested at the beginning. I would suggest that you read about and experiment with the MANUAL Iris first. Then move on to MANUAL Focus. And perhaps from there read about and try out the manual shutter settings which are controlled by two buttons on the side of the camera that are beneath the LCD panel when it is closed. Remember to use the settings as previously described, and then change only one thing --one setting-- so that you can see the results of that setting on your final video. There are a *lot* of things that you can change using the software menu. But you should put off making any changes in the software menu until you understand fully what you are changing. Because it is possible to make changes from that menu that are difficult to undo. (For example, erasing the scene files, reassigning the meaning of buttons on your camera, and so forth). Hope this helps. andy_starbuck View Public Profile Send a private message to andy_starbuck Visit andy_starbuck's homepage! Find More Posts by andy_starbuck Add andy_starbuck to Your Buddy List 09-23-2004, 04:41 AM #8 Guest Guest Posts: n/a Re: Getting the right image ? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I'm amazed. I've have been in the advertising business, for more years then I care to admit, producing video and audio. I've have never read a more comprehensive and easy to understand piece of communication. My compliments to you. You are quite a teacher. Gary