Suggested DVX100 settings and information links

DVX100The DVX100 offers a wide range of options and settings. Here are my suggestions based on my experience shooting with the camera in my own work and working with my students in production classes, followed by notes and pointers to DVX100 information resources. (Update: This post is relevant to all Panasonic DVX models: DVX100, DVX100A, DVX100B, however, this post was originally about the DVX100A).

Suggested DVX-100 Settings

  • Vertical Detail Frequency: Thin [See Note 1]
  • Vertical Detail: 0
  • Detail: -3 [See Note 2]
  • Detail Coring: 0 [See Note 3]
  • Skin Detail: Off
  • Chroma: 0
  • Phase: +3
  • Gamma: Cine Gamma
  • Matrix: Cine Look
  • Master Pedestal: -3 to -6
  • Format: 4:3 or 16:9 LETTERBOX [See Note 4]
  • Time Code: Record Run
  • First Record: Preset (set Tape #)
  • Shutter Speed: 1/48 [See Note 5]
  • Exposure: Use spot meter (“Marker”) in camera, highlights with some textural detail at 90%, “middle grey” ay 45-55%, dark areas with textural detail at 10-15%
  • Mode/Frame Rate: 24P or 24P Advanced [See Note 6]

Start by resetting all camera settings to their default values, then set your scene settings and then name and save them into one of the camera scene files. Double check settings each time you insert a new tape or power-up the camera. These settings are a starting point, you should do your own testing and establish the look appropriate for your project. Refer to your DVX-100 User Manual and Barry Green’s most excellent DVX Book and DVD (links below) for more details.

Notes

1: Vertical Detail Frequency. If you are intending to do a video to film transfer, up-convert to HD, or plan to project at festivals and other venues that are using 720P projectors, use the Thin setting. This provides the full 480 lines of vertical resolution the DVX is capable of and yields a better image when the SD video is up-converted (start with the sharpest and best image you can). The problem is that most television monitors are interlaced and thus can’t handle the high resolution, so you see what’s called line twitter (as a result of interlacing), but if you’re using a progressive display, projector, going out to film, or able to do post-processing in post production, it’s the way to go. The Mid setting brings the vertical detail down to about 400 lines reducing the twitter artifacts on an interlaced display. The Thick setting offers about 360 lines without any artifacts and ideal for material intended for SD broadcast. You will notice the twitter effects of the Thin setting when looking at a scene with lots of fine detail on an interlaced display. Another alternative is to shoot with the Thin setting and process the video in post to lower the resolution if you need material for both up-conversion to HD an SD.

2: Detail. Detail enhances edges, too much and the image starts to look electronic and artificial, like oh too many bad wedding videos. Leave off unless you have a specific need for it. A slightly softer image is part of the film look. Exaggerated edge detail is part of the video look.

3: Detail Coring. When you enhance detail, you add noise, especially in the shadows. Detail Coring reduces the added noise.

4: Aspect Ratio. Shooting 4:3 of 16:9 letterboxed within the 4:3 frame assures it plays on every TV, if you choose squeeze, you limit your screening to televisions and projectors capable of 16:9, which is not yet universal, also, some experts suggest even if you want squeeze, the scalers you can use in post will do a better job than the scaler built into the camera for creating a squeezed 16:9 version. Shoot 4:3 with vertical detail set to thin and you will get the best up-convert to 16:9 HD or film out possible. And while it’s more work to do the squeeze in post, the creative advantage is you can correct framing slightly up or down in post, so you might even consider shooting 4:3 even if your final destination is a 16:9 video.

5: Strobing. When shooting 24P, because you are “exposing” 24 frames per second (rather than 60 fields per second as with video) you will notice “strobing” when you do a fast pan. This can be reduced by panning slowly. The rule of thumb is it should take seven seconds for an object to cross the screen as you pan. Another approach is to move with the subject and distract the viewer’s attention from the strobing background. Another way to deal with strobing is to use a lower shutter speed, the default for the DVX is 1/48 when shooting 24P, you can lower it to 1/24, for example. This will increase motion blur (not always a bad thing, it’s kind of cool and another element of the film look). At the 1/24 shutter speed there is less strobing that at 1/48, however, more motion blur. Shooting at 30p exhibits less strobing, however, this format does not convert gracefully to other formats like film (24fps) or PAL (25fps).

6: Frame Rate and Scan Mode: For the standard video look, shoot 60i. For the film look, shoot 24P Standard or 24P Advanced. Unless you understand clearly why you want to shoot 24P Advanced, Shoot 24P Standard and capture your project at 60i in Final Cut Pro (or 30i in Avid Xpress Pro). 24P standard will provide you with the film look and the ease of editing a standard video project at 29.97fps. If you chose to shoot 24P Advanced, make sure you capture the project as 23.97. 24P advanced has advantages if you want a 24fps master, which is what I personally prefer. It’s easy to derive 60i from 24P. Getting 24P from 60i involved reverse telecine and some loss of quality. For web video 24p is a good choice. For 24P DVD 24P is a good choice. True 24P (shooting Advanced w/ the camera) is a universal standard easily converted to other standards. 24P advanced uses a 2:3:3:2 candence to encode 24p onto 60i video and then the editing system reconstitutes the 24fps video from the 60i. Your editing system needs to know how to handle this. Some argue that it’s easier to simply shoot 24P standard which uses the standard video to film cadence of 2:3 and edit standard 29.97 (60i) video in your editing system. If you are OK staying in 60i, then it’s OK to shoot 24p standard. I prefer a true 24p master and I think the extra trouble in capture is worth it. Test before you leap.

Recommended DVX100 Information Resources

Note: some minor editorial changes were made to this post on November 16, 2008 including the addition of some updated links and fixing some minor typos.

Comments

  1. firefighter Tim Andrew says

    Filmed my last movie was filmed in 4.3 w/ a sony pd150. You can watch it in 10 parts on youtube; timandrew1

    …anyways, my camera was lost at film school, thanks to my son. I am looking at the DVX 100. I like mini DV. So, here are the questions, even after I read your article. Our next movie will also go to festivals, hoping for a movie release. this movie is a scary film.

    1. I read that standard & advance have their advantages. I still am up in the air.
    2. How important is HD for this?
    3. 16.9 seems to be important for distributing, no? but then it says 4.3, and a studio can stretch it to 16.9. I’m told stretching is no good.
    4. 24p is important also, no?

    thank you,

    firefighter tim andrew
    naugatuck, ct [EMAIL AND PHONE HIDDEN]

    please email me, it’s best.

  2. says

    Tim, The DVX100b is by far the best Standard Definition camera out there, however, these days, if you can swing the budget, I’d suggest shooting HD if you can, for an HDV camera the Sony V1U is a good economical option (with XLR audio inputs) but you’ll get a better picture and audio with something like the Panasonic HPX170 or HVX200 or later models which are the successors to the DVX100b.

    These days I’d suggest shooting 16×9 when you can, but you crop the 4:3 of the DVX if you need to to get 16:9. Always shoot PROGRESSIVE and definitely real 30p or 24p (advanced) if you can with the vertical detail set to thin for the sharpest image possible. This way the DVX gives you SD images that scale up to HD better than most SD cameras.

    Hope that helps,

    David.

  3. Val says

    Pls could you abvise what would be the best DVX-100B settings to shoot the hockey games ? Thank you.Val

  4. WENDY says

    I want to know before I buy this camera does anyone know if it will work well with my sony vegas pro 8. please email back and let me know. Thanks and blessings to all ur footage.

  5. says

    Wendy, I have no experience with sony vegas, I do my editing with Final Cut Pro, however, there are lots of people out there editing DVX footage with vegas, check out the forums on DVinfo.net for more details.

  6. says

    Hi there

    really enjoyed reading your old DVX100a tips & settings article above. I do have some questions. We’re a small production company that has so far made videos out to DVDs for non-profit organizations. Always shoot in 24p, 4:3.
    Obviously, the world is changing rapidly. Not only is 16:9 the norm now, stereoscopic is entering the stage. While we’re not yet sure what our next step in purchasing a camera will be, we’re trying to increase the life and usefulness of our beloved DVX100a. This was all a preamble to the following question: for our upcoming project (still output to SD-DVD), I’d like to end with the best possible settings in 16:9. I understand there will be quality loss if I don’t use an anamorphic lens (which I’m not planning on doing). I don’t quite get the difference between squeezing and letter-box in terms of final picture quality and best settings for up-resing later. Could you baby-step me through the differences and if you suggest 16:9 letterbox, will the letterbox be visible on a flat panel TV or not?
    Sorry for the wordiness and look forward to your reply,

    Thanks,

    Dorit

  7. says

    Unlike most SD cameras, the DVX100/a/b has a long useful life, especially since it’s true progressive recording (with vertical detail set to thin) provides a very nice image, about as good as you’re going to get with a prosumer SD camera. That said, the reality of today’s standards dictate that any new camera purchased should record full HD. Of course, DVX footage cropped to 16:9 can intercut acceptably with HD footage when shot well and without vertical blur (e.g. vertical detail set to thin). The issue of up-resing is do you want to do it in the camera or do it in post where you have a choice of tools and techniques to do it. I prefer at this point to shoot 4:3 and crop / upres in post. This gives you flexibility to optimize the composition. In the end it’s an aesthetic choice, primarily. I’ve been shooting my current documentary with the excellent follow-up to the DVX100, the HPX170 (similar to the HPX200 but without a DV tape mechanism and a nice waveform monitor). I’m very happy with the HPX170 and the operation is very similar to the DVX100 series.

  8. says

    Hi There!
    I just noticed you replied to my message today…THE day of a big shoot. I was all prepared to to go for squeeze settings and now I’m confused again.
    Are you suggesting I shoot my regular 4:3 (and perhaps apply gaffer’s tape, or such in front of the lens) and then convert to 16:9 in post? Will putting tape in front of the lens give me the same quality as 16:9 letterbox setting on the DVX100? I have FCP Studio 3, so lots of post power but I’m not sure how to transcode or convert 4:3 to 16:9.
    If you happen to see this post today, I’d so appreciate a response ASAP

    Thanks David,
    Dorit

  9. says

    with the dvx (still use on occasion though now i’m shooting with an HPX170) sometimes i shoot squeeze, sometimes i shoot 4:3 and make 16:9 later, gives you a little more flexibility to adjust the frame. it’s more work in post, so it’s a trade off, but if you put ‘lines’ on the viewfinder, then only some shots will need reposition. letterbox simply puts black bars in. squeeze is ok to, it’s a personal reference thing. avoid the anamorphic lens, trouble more than worth.

  10. says

    Thanks David,

    I didn’t get your reply in time for my shoot, but decided to go ahead with a 4:3 shoot and stay in 4:3 for DVD and projection as well. Still not ready for HD and wasn’t convinced that 4:3 SD would look nice enough on the newer flat screen TVs in 16:9.

    Thanks for your input

  11. Shihan says

    I am shooting a feature that will be shown at a theater (I am renting the screen for two hours) What settings do you suggest to make my presentation have the quality and look of a feature film? The theater is set up to use DVD format.