I know we've covered black level here before, but now I'm
really confused. The JVC website claims that some* prosumer
DV cameras can record a non-standard black level, if you have
the setup properly switched for MONITORING at 7.5 setup.
What this says to me, is that I am not monitoring an image
with the correct black level, as I shoot DV at zero setup.
WTF, perhaps I misinterpret.
So I'm asking a favor: Could someone with gear run the following
There is a 5 minute flash tutorial about black level setup
on the JVC website. It's largely about dubbing procedures,
but if you can get through that, the last minute or two deals
with cameras. It suggests changing the setup switch while
viewing a monitor which is attached to the camera via a digital
I'd love to know what cameras this affects, or if the claim
Chris (I want to only shoot film now) Mosio
First of all, that's a great tutorial! I'm still confused,
but at least now I'm more educationally confused.
I ran my DVX-100 through the test and it appears that it "suffers"
from changing the black level output to the camera as well
as to the monitor. But here's where I'm confused.
Is JVC saying that because all monitoring devices are analog,
that the camera should output black levels at 7.5 setup regardless
of how the camera is set up (small pun
intended)? So if the camera is set up for 0 IRE, the output
would add setup to 7.5 IRE to be compatible with analog monitoring
(otherwise the blacks would be...crushed? No, milky...wait...???)
and if the camera was set up for 7.5 IRE, it would do nothing?
And if you set your camera to record 7.5 setup, then you're
shooting non-standard milky blacks?
>What this says to me, is that
I am not monitoring an image with the correct black level,
as I shoot DV at zero setup.
The JVC animation is factually correct on the tech (if you
ignore the puppy pix, which have contrast as well as black
level variations), but is hysterical in tone and offers an
Instead of flipping the "setup" on and off, simply
set your monitor to 0 IRE setup instead of 7.5 IRE setup (which
you can do using the camera's built-in colorbars if it's a
half-decent camera) and leave the menu setting at zero. In
that way, blacks will be shown as blacks. No problem.
But of course, you already *always* calibrate your monitor
on-set anyway, right?
The Sony DSR-PD150 and Panasonic AG-DVX100 both have "setup"
settings that bugger the digital data. The DSR-500 has a *proper*
I shoot stuff on DV. I Firewire into FCP. I output to DV,
DVD, and VHS. I understand that going to DV and DVD, everything
is cool. What about going to VHS? Do I need to add setup for
that and if so, what's the best way?
My setup is very simple: FCP > DV camcorder (used as a
deck) > higher end consumer grade S-VHS VCR (which I doubt,
very much, has a setup switch).
If I do need to make a setup adjustment, this implies I can't
master to DV and VHS at the same time unless I get an additional
piece of hardware to do the setup adjustment between my DV
deck and VCR, right?
I've read a number of articles on this whole setup issue including
Adam Wilt's which really, just confused me more (not a knock
on Adam - his site is like a bible to me, but his level of
info processing is far beyond my limited capacity).
>I shoot stuff on DV. I Firewire
into FCP. I output to DV, DVD, and VHS. I understand that
going to DV and DVD, everything is cool. What about going
Run your DV camcorder's S-Video output into a proc amp and
use it to add setup (and probably desaturate chroma a bit,
too, if going to VHS), and use the proc amp's S-Video output
to feed your S-VHS deck.
Menlo Park CA USA
>My setup is very simple: FCP
> DV camcorder (used as a deck) higher end consumer grade
Your DV camcorder has analog out so you can connect directly
to your VCR and do both transfers at the same time.
Robert Rouveroy csc
The Hague, Holland
>simply set your monitor to 0
IRE setup instead of 7.5 IRE setup (which you can do using
the camera's built-in colorbars if it's a half-decent camera)
and leave the menu setting at zero.
Yeah, I follow, which is in theory what we've all been doing.
But this assumes (I think) that the setup switch affects the
setup of the bars as well. Since no one has complained of
crushed blacks, I must assume this switch also changes black
level on bars. Or am I still confused?
Chris (I got the white levels all figured out) Mosio
Dan Coplan writes:
>I've read a number of articles
on this whole setup issue including Adam Wilt's which really,
just confused me more (not a knock on Adam - his site is like
a bible to me, but his level of info processing is far beyond
my limited capacity)...
Adam gave an excellent talk on just this subject tonight at
SF Cutters. The bottom-line rule of thumb, as I understand
it, is fairly simple :
- When shooting digital video, leave your setup at zero.
- When dubbing from digital to VHS, don't worry about the
- When dubbing from digital video to any analog tape format
**for NTSC broadcast in the Western Hemisphere**, check your
analog signal with a calibrated waveform monitor and if your
DV player's *analog* output has not automatically raised your
setup to 7.5 IRE, then use a standalone hardware proc amp
to raise it to 7.5. If a proc amp is unavailable, make a temporary
digital version of your program that has its setup raised
to 7.5. After dubbing it to analog, trash the temporary version
to avoid any future mixups.
Did I get it right, Mr. Wilt?
Marin County, CA
All this time, I've been color correcting my videos against
the output to my analog monitor without referencing the monitor
on my deck (camcorder). This suggests that my black levels
are OK when I output to VHS, but are washed out when I dub
to DV? I never considered comparing the two (never thought
I had to!).
"You Live And You Learn...And You Learn...And You Learn..."
>Your DV camcorder has analog
out so you can connect directly to your VCR and do both transfers
at the same time.
That's what I've been doing, but it sounds like I need to
go through a proc amp to add setup to the analog out in order
to do both transfers at once. Otherwise, my DV transfer is
fine, but my analog transfer has crushed blacks.
I feel like a first-grader with a short attention span trying
to figure this s**t out.
>When dubbing from digital to VHS, don't worry about the
Doesn't this conflict with your following statement where
you indicate going to any analog tape format (VHS is one)
requires adding setup through a proc amp? Or is the idea that
if it's not for broadcast it's not worth the trouble?
"An MFA Graduate With a Short Attention Span"
>simply set your monitor to 0
IRE setup...this assumes (I think) that the setup switch affects
the setup of the bars as well.
Ooh, good question!
On my PD150, the setup control has NO effect on bars: the
black bar is ALWAYS at 0% / 0 IRE.
On my DVX100, setup affects bars.
I'll update my website to reflect that, thanks.
Menlo Park CA USA
>When dubbing from digital to
VHS, don't worry about the setup level.
Erm, not really. For RELEASE copies, yes, you should add setup
to VHS copies. But for home movies, quickie work tapes, and
the like, it's not as critical, and you can get away without
adding setup because (a) these aren't quality-oriented applications,
(b) most consumer sets are so misadjusted that it's anyone's
guess where their black levels are,
Every consumer-level Video8, Hi8, and VHS camcorder I've ever
put on a 'scope fails to add setup, but their picture levels
were so all over the place and so, err, "challenging"
to use in multigeneration work anyway that no one ever noticed.
7.5 IRE setup maintenance was the *least* of the color-under
Menlo Park CA USA
> Since [DV] audio is on the
outside edge of the tape...
The audio sectors are on the lower ends of each slant track,
just above the ITI sectors. Check out : Figures 3 & 4
S o yes, it's possible to get transport misalignment such
that audio get glitched a lot more than video.
Only DVCPRO adds a control track (really LTC) and a linear
audio cue track (the optional tracks 1 & 2 in figure 3).
Both of these are used only for stunt-mode playback; the control
track allows the tape to be unloaded from the scanner for
really fast shuttling without losing track of position, while
the linear cue track allows Mickey Mouse (tm) audio during
jog and shuttle ops. In normal playback auto-track-finding
is used for tape positioning and the embedded PCM audio is
used for audio, just as in DV and DVCAM.
Menlo Park CA USA
Dan Coplan wrote:
>What about going to VHS? Do I need to add setup for that
>If I do need to make a setup
adjustment, this implies I can't master to DV and VHS at the
same time unless I get an additional piece of hardware to
do the setup adjustment between my DV deck and VCR, right?
The "correct" method would be a proc amp between
the analog output of the DV camera and the analog input of
the VHS machine. A low-cost consumer-level proc amp like the
Sima model SSC (under a couple hundred bucks) should be adequate
for making VHS dubs.
The seductive, yet dangerous, alternative is to add "fake"
setup digitally through a "broadcast safe" filter
in FCP. Then you can master simultaneously to DV and VHS,
but you MUST then understand the following …
A) You've added a layer of rendering to your
DV master, which can significantly degrade DV footage, defeating
one of its prime attractions (that edited material is essentially
a clone of the original)
B) Your DV master is WRONG. Your footage
no longer conforms to digital video black level standards
(setup is an NTSC analog-only standard). If you, or someone
else, uses the finished footage in the future, you will run
the risk that it will not match black levels with properly-recorded
DV footage. In addition, if it ends up going through a broadcast
filter again in FCP, its black levels will be raised again...
I'm not saying you should never make a master in that way.
There could be some legitimate reasons to do so in a particular
case. But it is a very tricky proposition.
Incidentally, the same issue applies captured in a DV system
from material dubbed from an analog source...if it was dubbed
to DV from Beta SP, for instance, was the analog setup removed?
(IT SHOULD BE, but often isn't).
If, as is the case where I work, Beta material is routed through
a DV deck and captured directly into a DV-based NLE, then
there should be a proc amp to REMOVE setup when digitising.
The correct workflow is that ALL (NTSC) ANALOG material should
be recorded with setup, and NO DV footage should have setup
(whether imported from Beta, or DV camera original, or finished
DV masters.) Proc amps should be inserted in your dub chain
where necessary, and dub houses should be reminded of your
requirements, to meet this standard.
That's the gist of what Adam is getting at on his site.
Then there is the whole can of worms having to do with color
bars...I believe that color bars are commonly miss-used in
the DV world and do more harm than good, for a number of reasons,
including this black level issue.
Point 3 Nashville
>The "correct" method
would be a proc amp between the analog output of the DV camera
and the analog input of the VHS machine.
If I sent my DV tape master to a dub house like Lightning
Dubs, would they add the set-up for VHS dubs? Would you have
to tell them?
Cinematographer / L.A.
>If I sent my DV tape master
to a dub house like Lightning Dubs, would they .add the set-up
for VHS dubs? Would you have to tell them?
I don't know if you directed this question at me, but my answer
1. If you have color bars at the head of
your DV tape, the dub house should line up your dub to bars.
Make sure your bars are correct. I was messing with FCP today
and it appears that they generate the appropriate bars, which
I believe should be the SMPTE bars with the "super black"
-- the leftmost bar of the black "pluge" bars--
at the same black level as the middle pluge bar. This is the
area that should be raised up to 7.5 units of setup.
2. They "should" add the setup
for the VHS dubs. Whether they would, I don't know.
3. If it were me, I would tell them.
Point 3 Nashville