USC Production Faculty ( August 2006 )
Pre-striping your tapes should be done ASAP. You can drop in up to 5 tapes
per week at the edit lab for pre-stripping. They must be Sony Premium
Professional quality tapes. Mini-dv 1 hour tapes in the original cellophane
Note on time code and its importance: In order to have smooth sailing
when you go to edit your material you need to have continuous / contiguous
time code. This means no gaps in the time code as you record your material.
Look at your LCD screen while you are shooting your tapes: you will
see the time code running at the upper right corner. You must have a time
code number visible there any time you record. By simply using only the
start/stop button to record your material you will never have a problem with
time code.
Problems arise when you use either the EDIT SEARCH button or the VTR
side of the camera to review takes and slide past the last take to an area that
does not have time code. This is easily remedied by rolling back to a time
code area in the last take. As long as you see time code in that upper right
corner of the viewfinder you are in good shape.
PD-150 Camera set-up and tips
* Each student should plan to spend 3-4 hours going through the camera functions
meticulously so that he/she can fully understand how the various functions operate
and consider how they might be utilized in making your 507 films. It is highly
recommended that you connect your camera to an NTSC monitor (a television set
equipped with a video input at a minimum) so that you can evaluate the image on a familiar
screen. Use the 3 cables (red/white/yellow RCA) provided in your camera case. Yellow
is composite video, white is channel 1 audio, red is channel 2 audio.
1. Be sure to charge batteries the night before or check if they are already charged.
Set Power switch on Camera to OFF for charging.
2. Have tape stock available. DV-Cam or mini-DV only. Recommended are Sony Premium
(red wrapper) mini-DV tapes.
3. Install Mic Input 1, set input level to Mic, set 48v switch to on.
Select Record channel Ch1 or Ch1 & Ch2 depending on preference
4. Put in Battery.
5. Open LCD Screen and with camera switched to Camera mode, be sure that the
LCD brightness level is set to "normal." This is the lever switch near the red
button at back of the camera. While you are there be sure that the Lock button
Is engaged … push in the direction of the arrow.
Note: If the camera is plugged into the ac power line, the camera will go
to "Bright" mode and you will not be able to change it to "Normal", and
on battery power there are only certain adjustments you can make.
Consult the manual.
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USC Production Faculty ( August 2006 )
Now while you have the LCD screen open find on the small panel of
control switches the reset button. Take a blunt pencil or pen and press
the reset button… you will hear some beeps then nothing. This resets the
camera to the Factory default standards and is now ready for you to
make further changes using the MENU button.
6. Check that the Diopter on the Viewfinder is set for your eyesight (the small flat lever on
bottom of eyepiece focuses the viewfinder).
7. Go through Menu set-ups to establish a Manual working set-up. Auto Lock
in center position.
8. Press Menu on side plate.
The following settings are listed in the same order as they are on the camera:
Enter first Icon. TC/UB SET
TC Preset: zero out the clock, 01:00:00:00
UB Preset: zero out
TC Format: NDF (Non Drop Frame ) — types of codes will be explained later in
sound class
TC Run: Rec Run — the time code only runs when the camera does, keeping the
recorded code contiguous
UB Time: ON
Auto Shutter - Off
Progressive Scan - Off
Setup: 0 IRE, the component video standard
Digital Zoom: Off
16:9 Wide: Off
Steady Shot: On
Frame Rec: Off
Int. Rec: Off (means Interval Record—this is Time Lapse ) see notes further on
Wind: Off ( use with external mic during windy conditions)
Next Icon LCD/VF SET
LCD B.L.: Bright Normal
LCD Color: Be sure the bar is centered
Viewfinder B.L.: Bright Normal
Guideframe: Off
Next Icon TAPE SET
Rec. Mode: DV-Cam
Audio Mode: Fs 48k
Remain: Auto
Mic NR: On for Dialogue with Mic on Camera; off if Mic is Boomed
Audio Set - AGC Ch1 off, AGC Ch2 off. This sets up manual control for sound
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USC Production Faculty ( August 2006 )
Clock Set: Set for local time
Ltr Size: Normal
Next Icon OTHERS
World time: skip
Beep: Off
Commander: Off ( or On if you need the remote control)
Display: LCD
Date Rec.: Off
Rec. Lamp: On/Off your choice
Color Bars: off
Hrs Meter: skip
Press Menu to Exit.
Note: A 60 minute Mini-DV tape in DV-CAM mode will run 42 minutes.
Note: Be sure to label your tapes.
External Controls on camera:
ND Filter: Off or if you use them ND 1 = 2 stop loss, ND 2 = 4 stop loss
Focus: Manual; auto-focus tends to "hunt" for the right thing to focus on, so manual
control is virtually always better.
Iris: This is your f-stop controller, set by eye in the viewfinder for a pleasing range of
tones in the picture.
Zebra Bars: 100% or "off". These indicate portions of the picture where the brightest
levels are "over the top" of the capability of the camera. A part of the picture you can
tolerate being completely flat white is OK to "zebra," but you typically wouldn't want
primary subject matter to be at 100% white.
Shutter: 30 or 60. This is 1/30 or 1/60 of a sec exposure. You will get a little more
Motion blur w/ 30 (a more film-like look ) and a little less with 60.
Zoom: Your choice Manual or with Servo Lever
Gain: 0 dB - Every 6 dB jump is equivalent to 1 stop and will increase picture noise
(grain) . You should use this judiciously, 3 dB is subtle, beyond that you will
encounter a change in picture quality although you can employ considerable gain
for subjective artistic purposes.
White Balance - Try and use the presets. Outdoor is a Daylight balance(5500° K) and
should be used when the predominant light source is Daylight regardless of
whether you are interior or exterior. Indoor is a Tungsten (Incandescent) balance
3200° K) and should be used when the predominant source is Tungsten ( typical
warm interior lights) Manual white balance should be performed when there are a
mixture of sources and one is attempting to average these sources. A white card
should be held up at the Principal actor’s face in his/her Key light, for instance, to
perform this white balance. Also useful for predominantly Florescent sources that
tend to have a green cast to them. Press the white balance button and the camera
will set the white balance.
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USC Production Faculty ( August 2006 )
Picture Gain:
In the Manual mode you must have the various control parameters visible on the LCD in
order to control them. So, be aware that unless you see the 0 dB setting on your LCD,
your camera will be in auto mode for that function and it will make gain changes
automatically for you. This is a problem to keep an eye on.
UB vs. Time code: UB or "user bits" is perhaps best used in this class as an internal
24 hr clock. You can toggle between UB and Time code with the TC/U-BIT button. The AE
shift function is not recommended for this class.
Custom Preset Button: On the top of the Camera by the handle is an in-camera color,
sharpness, and White Balance shift corrector. You can get some very saturated looks
with this. It may be worthwhile experimenting with these to see if they might be useful at
some point as an effect. The top of the camera also has an AGC (Automatic Gain Control)
limiter for audio.
Auto Lock mode should only be set to Hold when you are not going to alter your
f-stop from scene to scene (hardly ever happens). Leave the Auto Lock in the Middle
position at all times.
INT. REC.: This is the "Interval Record" function usually called Time lapse photography by
filmmakers and can be useful for a special effect. Time lapse is a way of compressing
Real Time events into controlled Screen Time segments. Let's say you want to see
sunset occur in Time-lapse, for a screen time of 6 seconds. Sunset on the 27th of
August is at 7:25 with dusk lasting through to 7:42 (23 minutes). If you add some
"handles" to this time to get a little flexibility you might decide to film for 1 hour from 7:00 to
8:00 pm then you have some extra length with which to work. Thus you want to
compress 23 minutes into 6 seconds, or an hour into about 18 seconds.
The camera has some settings available: INTV (Interval) for the space between
exposures, and REC TIME for the length of each "shot".
The options are:
INTV: 00:30 secs, 1:00 min, 5:00 min, and 10:00 min.
REC TIME: 0.5 secs, 1 sec, 1.5 secs, 2 secs
So, if you expose 1.5 sec of tape (REC TIME) every 5 minutes (INTV) for an hour and set
to the INT REC (Interval Record) function, you will end up with a 18 second filmed piece
of a 1 hour event, and you can then edit for the best 6 seconds.
The camera must be on a solidly placed Tripod (take care of the wind) and try to make
sure that your lens does not flare (with sun or other light) by flagging off light sources
not within the field of view (this is of course difficult for the sun which pretty much has
to be in the field of view).
Follow Focus: On this camera it is a bit difficult. But follow these rules. In a simple
compositional set-up, with one character. Zoom into the subject to get a sharp focus
then zoom back out to set your composition.
If you are attempting a rack focus from one subject to another you cannot use the zoom
in procedure to get marks with these cameras. This is quite different from a Cine lens
whereby you can get focus marks by zooming into various key positions and marking the
lens, then returning to your compositional size and allowing the first assistant to rack
focus from position to position as you pan the camera. The PD-150 is a Digital camera of
the type that does not allow this zoom in procedure.
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USC Production Faculty ( August 2006 )
Instead the operator must set the focus marks by eye at the desired composition size.
You can put a thin piece of tape on the lens barrel with a witness mark and use a pencil
to mark your focus settings. Now you can operate the camera move and have the
assistant rack focus. Another method more akin to the documentary technique is to
practice the rack in -camera yourself as the operator/focus-puller and then perform the
rack as you operate the shot yourself.
Shutter: Although 60 (which represents 1/60th of second) is the video standard , you
can use other shutter speeds for effect and to help increase or decrease exposure levels.
Remember that as you head downward into the lower shutter speeds of 30, 15, 8, and 4
that you increase motion blur. Conversely as you head upward into 90, 100, 125, 180,
250, 350, 500, 725, 1000, 1500, 2000, 3000, 4000, 6000, and 10,000 shutter speeds, you
will increase apparent sharpness, decrease motion blur and reduce exposure. This effect
is more apparent when tracking fast moving objects. Experiment with these settings to
appreciate their effect.
When shooting picture, do not focus on shooting sound.
It will be probably be a distraction, and it will probably be unusable with the built-in mike
on the camera. Concentrate on getting the picture right first. Do however record ambient
sound in the same setting as where you shoot picture, as this will often be useful as
When recording original sound material, use an external mike.
If you need the sound effect from a specific action, do a take just to record the sound
clearly. You can place this sound under the picture in post. In quiet settings, be sure to get
the microphone off the camera as the body conducts mechanical noise of the mechanism
directly into the microphone. Hold the microphone firmly, and use a windscreen at all
times. The microphone often must be placed closer than the camera to the source so that
the sound of the source dominates, and not off-screen sound, in your recording. If there is
a sound effect that you need, but you forgot to record clearly when shooting, you have
the option of borrowing a camera for shooting sound. There are audio cassette recorders
available too, but they have much less dynamic range (more hiss and chance of
distortion) than the digital cameras.
If your instructor allows you to shoot a project with sync sound you should check out the
mic and boom package and get instruction. Sync sound needs to be boomed. Levels
should always be set manually. The microphone needs to be angled towards the subject
from above or in some cases, angled up from below the subject. See your CA for a demo.
This one is extremely important. When you record any type of sound with your camera,
be sure it is set up for a 48 kHz sampling rate. Use your camera’s menus to do this.
Be sure to re-check the camera every time you use it for sound! If you made one tape at
another rate, it could not become a source tape within the same project as other tapes:
there is no mixing and matching of sample rates, which is what makes this so important.
Override the Sound Automatic Gain Control on the Camera - Automatic Gain
Control is the camera's attempt to give you healthy sounding levels without having to go
into the menu to set them. However, the levels will “surge” or “pump” just as auto focus or
auto exposure causes the image to fluctuate in varying circumstances.
For the purposes of this class, there is very little to be gained from working in stereo,
especially since the three screen loudspeakers left, center, and right, are so relatively
close together. If you do record or import sound in stereo, mix it in mono (by setting up the
Audio Tool in Avid Express for mono output). The Pro Logic receiver in the classrooms
requires the same signal on both left and right output channels to decode to center, and
thus you need to output the same signal on both tracks to your edit master.
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USC Production Faculty ( August 2006 )
Avid Express can use up to eight source tracks
While Avid Express cannot play more than eight at once, more tracks can be added by
doing audio mixdowns. See the XpressDV lab monitors if you think your project requires
more than the standard 8 audio tracks.
Monitor Properly
You must monitor with a high-quality pair of headphones that isolate from exterior
noise. It is strongly recommended buying a pair of the Sony MDR-600 headphones
available at the store. They are expensive, but worth it. But using headphones is not a
proper mix environment! Mix rooms simulate the environment in which the project will be
monitored (e.g. a movie theater). This means that you cannot be assured how your track
will sound IN THE CLASSROOM unless you play it back IN THE CLASSROOM.
Leave enough time to playback your track in one of the classrooms before your class
screening. BE WARNED: With the headphones you cannot hear low end. Student
projects mixed on computers (most likely w/headphones) have blown the subwoofers in
Norris because the student didn't hear how much bass was being laid down on the track
due to monitoring only over headphones.
Each time you finish an edit session, even if you have not completed the final edit of your
project, RECORD (layback) your work-in-progress to a digital tape as a safety
measure. If you inadvertently did not save your session's work properly, you will have
this tape version to build from the next day. You will also have it to bring to class on
screening day if your efforts to edit on screening day do not result in a finished project.
The most important thing you will do after each editing session is back up your
project files to a floppy disk. I cannot over-stress how important this is. Back
up both your User and Project directories to floppy disk after each edit session.
This will allow you to quickly rebuild your project if it is lost by "auto executing" a batch
capture from your original source tapes, providing you have continuous time code.
USC Edit Lab: Notes from Peter Kolstad
Please use these suggestions as a rule.
Before shooting with tapes that have been pre-striped by the labs, students should first roll
the tape a little in VCR mode and check to make sure they see the pre-striped time code in
the viewfinder. Then switch to camera mode and begin shooting. Reason: if they forget and
accidentally rewind their tape IN THE CAMERA it will rewind to a point slightly ahead of where
the DSR 1500A deck in our labs began laying down its time code. If they then start shooting
at that point, camera time code will be recorded OVER the pre-striped code, thus defeating
the purpose of pre-striping.
-Students should remember to let their cameras roll a bit after finishing their last scene they
are shooting on a given tape so that they don't get a time code break when batch-capturing
that particular scene (obviously it's a good idea anyway to let the camera roll a bit more at the
end of a scene).
One other thing--if student leaves the tape in the camera and then turns off the camera
between setups, student should back-wind slightly to the tail end of their last shot before
shooting again to avoid a possible time code break. Obviously on PD-150s the search mode
will take care of this. -PK
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