Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Field Monitoring

Back in the day, when I owned my video company, my partner and I were sticklers for image quality. To be sure we had properly exposed and color balanced shots being laid down on tape, we traveled with a pretty expensive field monitor and a handy little device called the Hamlet Micro Scope. The Micro Scope was a portable waveform monitor/vectorscope, and would overlay the scopes on top of the video signal. It was especially useful when shooting on green screens, as we could see how even our lighting was. I miss my little Micro Scope, and it turns out they still make one, as seen here. But that’s another post.

I’m still a stickler for properly exposed shots. Problem is, the GL-2 I have to use at church doesn’t help much. The exposure meter is dubious at best, especially when shooting people against a black background (which we do a lot). There are zebras available, but they are not the nice dual-stage ones I much prefer. And since you can’t calibrate the LCD, and the brightness changes radically depending on angle of view, there’s really no way of knowing what your exposure actually is.

Somewhere in the last few weeks I read of someone using their MacBook Pro and Final Cut Pro as a field monitor and scope setup [Edit: Source located; I read it at Dave Smith’s blog creative | ideas—thanks, Dave!]. It seemed like a good idea and I had a shoot today, so I tried it. 

Man if it didn’t work like a charm! All I had to do was take the FireWire out of the GL-2 and shove it into the MBP. I launched FCP and entered Capture mode. In the Clip Settings tab, I activated the Video Scopes. And there you go! You get a decent sized preview of the shot (which is much easier to check focus with than the GL-2’s low rez LCD), and full waveform/vectorscope monitoring. As a bonus, the audio meters also work, which makes it easier to tell exactly where you are level-wise.

Look at my nicely exposed image...and look, the color balance is off a few degrees.

Look at my nicely exposed image…and oh look, my color balance is off by a few degrees… (click to enlarge) 

I wish I could take credit for it, but I can’t. I will, however, use this technique as often as I can. I think I’ll even look for a longer FireWire cable so it’s easier to set the rig up. The only real downside is that there is a slight delay in the preview, and it’s a bit jerky. I can live with that however, knowing that my shots are now properly exposed. Give it a try next time you’re out on a shoot. I’m no longer jealous of Adobe’s (formerly Serious Magic’s) On Location—though I’m still going to look for the install discs, I know we have them around somewhere.

Submit to Digg | Submit to Del.icio.us | Submit to StumbleUpon

10 Comments

  1. rick@rickrussell.org

    I actually had to use FCP scopes for awhile in services on Sunday mornings. Our scope was down and we just fired up the capture scopes and did what we needed. The delay was annoying but got the job done. It was interesting to see the difference in our main scope and FCP’s. Over all coming in through our Black Magic capture card the FCP scope seems to register a little dark.

  2. rick@rickrussell.org

    I actually had to use FCP scopes for awhile in services on Sunday mornings. Our scope was down and we just fired up the capture scopes and did what we needed. The delay was annoying but got the job done. It was interesting to see the difference in our main scope and FCP’s. Over all coming in through our Black Magic capture card the FCP scope seems to register a little dark.

  3. daniel.m@ranchocommunity.org

    I didn’t realize that FCP would do that in real time! It seems to me that you used to only be able to look at the scopes on a freezed frame. Maybe that was just because I was using a G4 back then =)

    There’s also another program out there that does some cool stuff that’s pretty similar called ScopeBox. It looks pretty sweet.

    http://www.scopebox.com/

  4. daniel.m@ranchocommunity.org

    I didn’t realize that FCP would do that in real time! It seems to me that you used to only be able to look at the scopes on a freezed frame. Maybe that was just because I was using a G4 back then =)

    There’s also another program out there that does some cool stuff that’s pretty similar called ScopeBox. It looks pretty sweet.

    http://www.scopebox.com/

  5. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Daniel, good call on Scope Box. It does look very sweet. At $399 for the SD version it’s a bit pricey and probably more than what I need, but it does look like a pretty great package. I may just download the trial for my next shoot and check it out. Thanks for pointing out!

  6. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Daniel, good call on Scope Box. It does look very sweet. At $399 for the SD version it’s a bit pricey and probably more than what I need, but it does look like a pretty great package. I may just download the trial for my next shoot and check it out. Thanks for pointing out!

  7. smithville99@gmail.com

    Don’t know if you picked it up from me but I wrote about it a few weeks ago, on my blog http://creativeideas.wordpress.com/2008/05/03/video-field-monitoring/“ rel=”nofollow”>Creative|Ideas. It wasn’t my idea, I picked it up from a class at fxphd.com. But it’s a great tip to share.

    I’ve thought about installing bootcamp so I can run On Location and ScopeBox is nice but it’s price is steep.

  8. smithville99@gmail.com

    Don’t know if you picked it up from me but I wrote about it a few weeks ago, on my blog http://creativeideas.wordpress.com/2008/05/03/video-field-monitoring/“ rel=”nofollow”>Creative|Ideas. It wasn’t my idea, I picked it up from a class at fxphd.com. But it’s a great tip to share.

    I’ve thought about installing bootcamp so I can run On Location and ScopeBox is nice but it’s price is steep.

  9. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for sharing the tip. It was your site I where I read about that. It really is a great idea. I agree Scope Box is pricey for what it does (cool though). I’m trying to locate the PC version of Production Premium CS3 that we should have a church. I run Windows XP under VMWare’s Fusion and it flies. I’m going to try On Location in that environment. That way I don’t have to re-boot. If it works, I’ll let you know.

  10. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for sharing the tip. It was your site I where I read about that. It really is a great idea. I agree Scope Box is pricey for what it does (cool though). I’m trying to locate the PC version of Production Premium CS3 that we should have a church. I run Windows XP under VMWare’s Fusion and it flies. I’m going to try On Location in that environment. That way I don’t have to re-boot. If it works, I’ll let you know.

© 2021 ChurchTechArts

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑