SONY NEX-VG20EH 18-200mm

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dantheman
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SONY NEX-VG20EH 18-200mm

Post by dantheman » 02 Dec 2011 18:33

Please could anyone tell me how to film fireworks?
Some say Gain should be 0 but others say 9 or 12
Iris = f5.6 to f11
Focus = inifinty
AE shift = Auto
Exposure = Auto as all this setting seems to do is lowere appture and gain.

Any help would be fantastic, thanks!!

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Doughie
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Re: SONY NEX-VG20EH 18-200mm

Post by Doughie » 02 Dec 2011 21:13

My advice:

I would have gain set at 0db or maybe at most 3db or 6db.
VG-20 has a big sensor, and so a bit of gain should be fine.

but the KEY thing to remember is "expose for the fireworks, and NOT for the night sky".
If left to its own devices, (full Auto) the camera will see all the dark sky and try to throw in huge amounts of gain. What it is doing is trying to expose so that the whole scene comes out "18% grey". That's the way camera meters are calibrated. (stills and video). they work ok most of the time but when you have an unusual scene of 95% black or very dark sky, and then an occasional bright firework moving across the scene, the camera needs your intervention.

I would try setting Auto BUT set AE shift to something like from -2 to -4. You are basically saying to the camera "ok, whatever exposure you think the scene needs, subtract several stops from that". this will help keep the sky black or very very dark grey.

Or you could use manual exposure and keep the gain very low (or at 0db) and fix the exposure. As long as the fireworks aren't tiny and a longh way away, they will expose fine, and should look great against a BLACK sky.

FOCUS: I would not set to infinity. I know you're thinking "well they're quite a long way off, infinity should do". But ..no... i would DEFINITELY fix focus manually and set it on an object that is around the same distance as the fireworks. Look for the base where the fireworks will launch from or a tree that is around the same distance and focus on that. YOu could autofocus and then once it's got focus LOCK IT. But do not leave the thing on Autofocus, it will likely get very confused as most of the time it will be a scene of 99% black sky and not much else and it will be incapable of autofocussing in that scene. or worse, it will autofocus on a close object such as the back of someone's head in the crowd etc.

SO : Manual focus, i would set it to an object that you judge to be the same distance away as the fireworks when they're exploding. Again, they will go high up so use your judgement. If you're using a large aperture (iris) then you will have shallow depth-of-field (especially with that huge sensor in VG20) so that makes focus very important. You will prob not be able to see out-of-focus errors on the tiny LCD, but it will probably onyl become obvious when you are reviewing the footage later on your Pc or a big TV.

EXPOSURE : If you insist on Auto, use AE SHIFT to around -2 or -3 or -4. The more that your scene is "99% black sky" the more you will need to dial in NEGATIVE AE SHIFT values. You may of course compose the scene differently to have ground-based objects too.
OR : use Manual exposure and set a value that makes the black sky... black. Left to iteself the camera will probably try to use +15db or +18db as its trying to "see something, anything..." in the black sky. Use 0db gain or maybe +3 or +6db maximum. Shutter i would leave at 1/50th sec, will be fine.

Remember that when it comes to night-shooting, there is always a degree of experimentation and trial-and-error. So watch carefully the footage you get, try to review a bit of it quickly and look as critically at it as you can, and be ready to make changes if the focus or exposure is off.

Oh yes : WHITE-BALANCE : i would definitely lock this at a preset. won't matter too much what preset. Prob not an outdoor preset, but just pick a WB preset, and see if it looks ok. The main thing is that it doesnt move around a lot, and with so many bright and multi-colored fireworks, almost any camera will have a heart-attack trying to change white-balance if left on "AWB" (auto).

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Re: SONY NEX-VG20EH 18-200mm

Post by acgold7 » 03 Dec 2011 02:31

Great advice from Doughie. While most cams of this type have a Fireworks preset, this one doesn't. But the manual does say to use the Outdoor WB for fireworks. It's the only mention of fireworks anywhere in the manual. But as Doughie says it probably doesn't matter much which preset WB you use, as long as you don't allow it to go AWB.
Adam

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Re: SONY NEX-VG20EH 18-200mm

Post by dantheman » 03 Dec 2011 09:11

Thanks very much guys!!
I am filming them tonight and all that info is swooshing around in my head like a drunk coming home from the pub on a late night out, however I'm going to have a go.
To recap I have set the camera to:

FOCUS = set on something about the same distance as the fireworks then press "focus" which takes the vg20 out of auto but keeps the focus locked on the last thing I focused on, ie some tree about the same distance as the firework and as long as I don't move the focus ring that's how it will stay.

White Balance= Outdoor which I believe is more for Golds rather than blues, indoor, I have read somewhere is better for blues in fireworks but most fireworks are gold so sticking with outdoor here.

Apperture = widest f3.5

Gain =6

AE Shift = -2 lowest it will go

Shutter speed = Auto as I can't fine a button to change it

Exposure = Auto

Also, if I am reading you right do I need a low gain setting (0/3/6) and -2 on the AE shift or is it one or the other? If t's one or the other and not both then I may be better of leaving AES in auto and just fiddling with the gain, but which is best?

Do I want as big an Apperture as possible or will that take away the sharpness of the firework, would i be better off having a higher gain say 15 and a smaller apperture about f8?

Once again many many thanks for all you help!!

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Doughie
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Re: SONY NEX-VG20EH 18-200mm

Post by Doughie » 04 Dec 2011 18:13

dantheman wrote:Also, if I am reading you right do I need a low gain setting (0/3/6) and -2 on the AE shift or is it one or the other? If t's one or the other and not both then I may be better of leaving AES in auto and just fiddling with the gain, but which is best?
If there is a 'gain-limit' function on the VG-20 then i would definitely use that and set the limit to be probably a MAXIMUM of +6dB.
If you are going to be using Auto Exposure, i would DEFINITELY use AE Shift to be -2. As i say, if in the frame is 90% black sky, the camera will tend to overexpose that scene, and that is why you need to use AE SHIFT to be a negative value. If -2 is the max it will go, then ok -2 it is.
dantheman wrote:Do I want as big an Apperture as possible or will that take away the sharpness of the firework, would i be better off having a higher gain say 15 and a smaller apperture about f8?
Emphatically, NO do not use gain at +15dB or anywhere near that. I wouldnt go above 9dB or maybe 6dB. More gain = more image noise. Remember, you want the sky to look black or VERY dark grey. You are not filming to see the *sky*, you are filming to see the *fireworks*, so this is why you have to take control in this scenario. I would let the camera use whatever iris it wants. so AUTO IRIS is fine. I would limit gain to 6dB or 9dB. more than that, and you *may*start to see noise in the image. Now the VG-20 has a big sensor, its SLR big! so it will probably take a lot more gain to show image noise than a 'traditional' camcorder, but still, you dont want to use much gain. The scene WILL look probably 'rather dark' before the fireworks start going off, and in fact you may be able to see VERY LITTLE on the LCD screen and its a natural reaction to think ' well heck i can't see anything on the LCD screen, i must add more gain". Nope - be patient, let the fireworks happen and just look at the LCD during the fireworks it should be fine. I would try fairly hard to 'fill the frame' with the fireworks. Dont' shoot the whole thing at the same zoom, vary that. Do some wide shots, to get the crowd and the whole scene (called an 'establishing shot') and then get some tighter shots of the bonfire and the fireworks. Vary the scene, dont leave it locked off on a tripod for the entire show (and these shows are generally SHORT so you won't have much time to think during the show). I would shoot 'cutaways' too : some shots of peoiple faces gazing skywards, little kids looking up, shots of the bonfire, shots of the trees getting lit up in the reflections of the fireworks, stuff like that. 'Tell the story' of the fireworks night.
-- so really you should be shooting WELL before the fireworks start, shoot people stuff, bonfire, if you can get up a bit higher for some shots do that, shoot some stuff super-low-down as well, all kinds of stuff.

You didnt mention if you are shooting on a tripod or monopod or hand-held. I would use at least a monopod. I use a monopod quite a lot for video and it works well. High mobility, dramatic reduction in shake, its often a perfect compromise between the shakiness of hand-held and the occasionally-cumbersome tripod shots. Don't forget, with your shiny new VG-20 in your hand about stuff like that, keeping it steady. Fastest way to make a video look totally amateurish is to be waving the camera around./ Keep the shots slow, dont pan much (or not at all!) and dont zoom DURING the shot. Zoom in or out when NOT recording, and leave the zoom lever alone during recording. Or if you must, you could do a slowwwwww zoom during filming.

With stuff like night-time video of an event, bright fireworks shooting off in slightly unpredictable directions and sizes, and a fire, and street lights and arc-lights..... you have to realise that you will probably come out of it and say 'well i shoulda done that different and that setting didnt quite work'. Its always like that -- to get it all spot-on 1st time requires quite a bit of luck and forethought and skill or all three !! When i do a photo-shoot, i generally write a 'notes from the shoot' after the event, and try to eliminate any small mistakes for next time. Event photography and videography is fast-moving, exciting, very little time to *think* during the event about technical settings and decisions. Try to think ahead of time about all the technical decisions / settings as it can be hard to think clearly and logically in the heat of a short one-shot live event. Been there!

Let us know how it went.

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Re: SONY NEX-VG20EH 18-200mm

Post by Stephan » 05 Dec 2011 10:03

[Moved this topic to the Large Sensor camcorders forum]
dantheman wrote:Do I want as big an Apperture as possible or will that take away the sharpness of the firework, would i be better off having a higher gain say 15 and a smaller apperture about f8?
Hi, regarding the Aperture vs. Gain trade-off, you may need some experimenting on your own there, because in that department these new large-sensor camcorders behave more like a DSLR camera (compared to smaller-sensor camcorders). Which means:
  • Shallower depth of field => much less tolerant to focus issues (like Doughie said),
  • More sensitivity to light (esp. low-light scenarios) => I wonder whether gain noise will be an issue actually - that will be intereresting to figure.
Good luck, keep us updated!


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Re: SONY NEX-VG20EH 18-200mm

Post by Doughie » 05 Dec 2011 15:21

Stephan wrote:More sensitivity to light (esp. low-light scenarios) => I wonder whether gain noise will be an issue actually - that will be intereresting to figure.]
Good luck, keep us updated!
It's a good point, and yes these new large sensor cameras will not suffer in any like the same way with gain being thrown in there. Maybe it will be so well controlled that it wont be an issue. It'll be interesting to see what the poster came up with on his fireworks night out..

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Re: SONY NEX-VG20EH 18-200mm

Post by dantheman » 05 Dec 2011 16:35

Thanks so much for all your help, but your not finished yet.
Had the vg20 set to
AE Shift -2
Apperture f3.5 to f11
Grain 6 to 24db
White balance = outdoor

The grain never seemed a problem right up to 24db but at any settings the fireworks seem a little dim, thinking the AE shift does not need to be on -2?
Most of the colours were right apart from green just saw them as white??
What I did find hard was wind! it was blowing the fireworks and getting focus was very hard on the vg20 as its manual focus ring is kind of like a digital one rather than a straight forward turn and go, it jumps all over the place. So say I start at infinity and wind back it may go 50m 25m 5m 1m and less then another time it will throw 80m and 150m in so I think the only way is like you say auto focus on something about the same distance and hope for the best but as the wind blows them.....mmm hard.
This is one of them see what you think, Gain 24db f5.6 aes -2 and white balance set to outdoor.




ALSO I am thinking of an external lcd screen like this one whats your thoughts please?
http://www.amazon.co.uk/LILLIPUT-668GL- ... 019&sr=8-6
Last edited by Stephan on 05 Dec 2011 23:12, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: fixed YouTube URL

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Doughie
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Re: SONY NEX-VG20EH 18-200mm

Post by Doughie » 05 Dec 2011 23:49

Its very easy to bring up the levels in any video editing program if you want it a little brighter.
I use Sony Vegas and if i wanted the whole thing a bit brighter, i would just use 'Color Curves' and drag the diagonal line a little upwards. You should have an equivalent function in pretty much any editing program. Its FAR better for any video to slightly underexpose, then slightly overexpose. Once you have overexposed, and blown highlights, the highlights are not recoverable.

So whatever editing software you have, just brighten it up wioth Color Curves or gamma curve or similar. This is a very basic function, easy and quick. Do it in moderation, dont make dramatic changes.

on the colors etc it is actually a little-known oddity that, as far as i am aware, any video camera that has ONE sensor (as opposed to a 3-sensor camera like an FX1 / Z1 / FX1000 / Z5 etc) will show any light source as WHITE. this 'rule' was certainly true when i personally checked it as i had 2 camcorders, one a 3-CCD and one a 1-CCD. If you think 'rubbish', look very very closely at a still frame of the video. It will show the light SOURCE as white and the reds or blues or oranges etc you see are actually the color of the chemicals REFLECTING off surrounding material and smoke.
Try filming a neon sign with the VG-20. Like a red sign or a green sign or a yellow neon sign. Look at it afterwards and you will think 'no really i see red and green and yellow etc"./ BUT the actual NEON SIGN will be *white* and the color you see is from light being reflcted off of surrounding tubes and metal and glass etc. a 3-chip camcorder will, via the way it works, with a prism splitting the light to 2 sensors (one for red, one for green, one for blue) actually show the neon sign itself being the color it is actually emitting.

But whether this is the reason why you saw what you perceive as a lack of greens, i dont know. Anyway, the fireworks looked pretty good i thought. Try bringing up the levels in post a bit (what software do you use?) and you can also increase saturation and also change color balance in any direction you desire etc.

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Re: SONY NEX-VG20EH 18-200mm

Post by dantheman » 08 Dec 2011 12:49

Adobe premier cs5.5
Thanks for all your help!!

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