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Old May 16th, 2014, 10:48 AM   #16
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Re: Film Look - what is it really?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Davis View Post
But finally, let me return to the 'desensitised' or 'habituated' problem. We're seeing Directors becoming habituated to the 'Raw' look after days or weeks on set looking at the bare camera image. That grey, ephemeral 'infinitely subtle' (i.e. 'dull') image from the camera that the DoP can take you through every stop of dynamic range is the look that the Director falls in love with, and the concept of looking at it in Rec709 is anathema.
That's not a "Raw" look, that is Log.
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Old May 16th, 2014, 11:42 AM   #17
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Re: Film Look - what is it really?

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Originally Posted by Gary Huff View Post
That's not a "Raw" look, that is Log.
Huh, I wouldn't have thought Ren & Stimpy had anything to do with the film looks...

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Old May 16th, 2014, 11:47 AM   #18
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Re: Film Look - what is it really?

I've wondered about this elusive "film look" on video ever since the Panasonic DVX100 camera arrived. [And also how the old PAL format on British shows looks like film naturally].

Besides all the technical reasons about how film and video handles highlights and darks differently, I read a good article discussing Peter Jackson's Hobbit being shot on a high frame rate and I think the film look is mostly about the lower frame rate.

24 frames per second makes things more dream like, and our brain is forced to fill in some of the things. Higher frame rate video like the newscasts and soap operas makes things look like reality and we respond to it differently.

48 FPS and Beyond: How High Frame Rate Films Affect Perception - Tested

I have the 8mm film application on my iPhone which shoots at a low frame rate and it feels a lot like film.
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Old May 16th, 2014, 12:00 PM   #19
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Re: Film Look - what is it really?

I have to agree with everything said above, really many great points. Also a bit overwhelming. To reduce to not-quite-the-absurd, here are highlights as I'd prioritize them for accessibility, cost, & ease. The OP is starting with a big sensor...

* In-camera sharpening, we used to call it detail. Turn it all the way down. Save sharpening for post and do it with a light hand, scene-to-scene or even shot-to-shot. Nothing says "video" like aggressive in-camera sharpening & detailing. You have control in post.

* Deliberately design the image.
* Light to a dynamic range that can be captured by the camera. Adjust such parameters in the cam as can be controlled to help with this, like flatter (or wider) profiles. "Expose to the right", that is, no highlights without details. No shadows without details. Provide this full dynamic range for post correction & grading.
* Use shallow DoF deliberately. Use deep DoF deliberately.
* Use a tripod. Motivated to deliver a hand-held look? Use a tripod to create it.
* No pans, tilts, zooms to reframe during a shot. Build sequences of shots to portray action.
* Camera movement is a nice sweetener. A slider is the least expensive way to get it. Practice before you get to the shoot! Not all slider moves need be horizontal, learn all the different ways to use it.
* Everything in the frame needs to be looked at. Does it add or subtract from the storytelling?

* Get good direct sound recording always. In many or most cases, this means a dedicated sound recordist.

* Develop good stories, with good characters, and credible performances.

* Post skills need to match all this deliberative production, all the basics, but also dialog editing, spotting & mixing for music & SFX, color correction & grading, etc.

* Mastering & creating distributions...

**************************************************************************
All the above is additive, do this, do that, etc.

I have another theory - the audience experience is subtractive.

That is, once they're with your story, they'll stay with it, until the number of miscues rises to the point that they disengage. One little miscue, like a blown highlight, a murkey corner, a jump cut, or a bad line isn't going to lose them. But when enough miscues occur, the viewer disengages from the experience. No amount of good work will bring them back.
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Old May 17th, 2014, 12:19 PM   #20
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Re: Film Look - what is it really?

As long as we are talking about the "film look" I wanted to broaden the discussion. Aesthetics--

I'm about to do a final edit on my independent feature movie (shot on a C100) and I just purchased film convert because I like the film look. I'm in my fifties and obviously grew up on film. When watching "narrative films" in the theaters it alway put me into a different world of make believe. I would leave the real world behind and for two hours would be in a different place. I loved it. Movie stars were gods and special people in our lives of make believe.

Today when watching "video" there is no make believe for me because the actors and sets look ordinary and my mind cannot escape. Everything is too sharp and over saturated for the most part.

Today's entering film makers footage shoot on video- short films, trailers, etc look just that-- amateur. It's looks like ordinary life which I can see outside my house window every day.

But today's audience is 16-24 typically and didn't grow up on film although the studios come out with film quality projects.

My thoughts are that independent narrative filmmakers should always use a "film" look and your project will most always do better in the minds of your audience and be more successful. Comments?
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Old May 17th, 2014, 02:13 PM   #21
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Re: Film Look - what is it really?

One perspective is that film is about what you don't show.

For instance, 24 fps doesn't show all of the motion.
By reducing detail, limiting DOF, and using diffusion and grain, we don't show all of the detail.
By avoiding the wide, stagy, master shots and by framing tight, we don't show all of the environment.
By using shadow and fog, we don't show all of the objects.
By using black and white, sepia, or teal/orange grading, we don't show all of the colors.
Through subtlety of script and acting, we don't show all of the characters' thoughts and feelings.
We even use makeup so we don't show all of the actors' blemishes.

By the same token, we want high quality tools and techniques so we don't show unrelated stuff like aliasing, block artifacts, contours, digital noise, blown highlights, and the odd boom mic.

So rather than "more, more, more", it can be helpful to think "less, less, less."

Hitchcock knew exactly what he was doing when he designed that shower scene. :)
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Old May 23rd, 2014, 04:19 AM   #22
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Re: Film Look - what is it really?

Of all the things mentioned above they all add to the film-look. However, they do not define the film-look, IMO.
If you were to take away all these attributes and just show film and video side by side you will still pick out the film as film. [I am talking about viewing on a tv screen].

If it was just the 24fps that was the main reason then why does not 24p video not show as film?

I am beginning to think that movies are treated in some ways (frame-rate slow-down, telecine, etc) that is causing the main effect on tv. I could be wrong but this is one big question that no one has a definitive answer to.
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Old May 23rd, 2014, 12:41 PM   #23
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Re: Film Look - what is it really?

Having shot digital black and white photos (with a 5D Mark II) and medium format, 60mm x 60mm black and white photos (with a Bronica S2a), I can also generally see the difference between film and digital - even though there is no frame rate, double flashing, or other time-based effect. Using black and white, this also avoids any color differences.

The differences I see come down to these things:
* Dynamic range & Brightness curve
* Grain
* Sharpness

Each is very subtle. One can theoretically shoot within the dynamic range of the sensor and apply a film-like gamma curve, but somehow it's hard to produce a curve that looks just like film. If you only have 8-bits, that can add contour lines - like a topographical map - which don't exit on film.

Grain on film can be very strong (at a dark wedding reception I pushed some film to 6400 ISO) or very clean (100 ISO B&W film in bright conditions). Film doesn't have pixels - but once you scan it, it does. Yet it still retains the feeling of film. So it's not the lack of pixels but it's the presence of grain. Well, it might also be that many processes happen well before the scanning and the creation of pixels.

Sharpening is really interesting. Believe it or not, it can happen chemically on film. Consider a dark area on photographic paper. The dark area consumes the active chemical in the developer and starts to deplete it, so the darkening will slow down. A bright area doesn't have much of a reaction, so the developer remains strong here.

Now consider a transition between black and white. Here, the developer is only partially depleted. That means that the edge of the white area is less developed and the edge of the black area is more developed than the larger black and white areas. This creates a self-sharpening effect; however, this is also very subtle. With no pixels or bit limitations, this sharpening creates no aliasing, contouring, or other harsh effects.

Countering this sharpening are the older, softer lenses often used with film. Again, this is analog and subtle. The lack of modern coatings can introduce diffusion.

Yes, you can take a digital image and make it nearly indistinguishable from film, but it's not easy. You need an image that doesn't push the limits of digital, and it should shot in bright conditions so we don't expect strong film grain. Finally, the image must be processed with a deft hand. Adapting an older lens to the digital camera also helps.

Also, one needs to use older film techniques. One can use harder lighting and color filters for a vintage, black and white look.

In the end, you might replicate film perfectly, but the result won't necessarily feel modern. So we use softer light, different contrast, more sharpening, etc. Now it looks modern and attractive to today's audience, but it will look less like film.

So we're likely at a transition. Recently, video looked crappy, so we wanted a film look. Now that video can look great but a bit technical, some still want the warmth of film. As time goes on, "film" will simply mean "vintage" or "old". It will no longer represent beauty but a time long past.
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Old May 23rd, 2014, 01:05 PM   #24
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Re: Film Look - what is it really?

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Originally Posted by Harry Akkers View Post
Of all the things mentioned above they all add to the film-look. However, they do not define the film-look, IMO.
If you were to take away all these attributes and just show film and video side by side you will still pick out the film as film. [I am talking about viewing on a tv screen].

If it was just the 24fps that was the main reason then why does not 24p video not show as film?

I am beginning to think that movies are treated in some ways (frame-rate slow-down, telecine, etc) that is causing the main effect on tv. I could be wrong but this is one big question that no one has a definitive answer to.
It seems to have just been naturally assumed that "film-look" is better.... but is it?

On the whole, I'd say "yes", at least historically, but there are various attributes associated with film that I'd call positively undesirable - dirt, scratching, weave may be being the most obvious. Frame rate? Well, 24/25fps is obviously associated with film, but does it really look better than 50/60 fields/sec? Personally, I'm not so sure - I think a lot of that may be down to psychology and past association. That frame rate has been associated with film, and TV drama shot via film has tended to look better than that shot electronically, so it becomes good by association. A bit like associating the ringing of a bell with the arrival of food...... :-)

So if not framerate, why has film for TV tended to be associated with "quality" in the past? It's interesting (living in the UK) to hear John say:
Quote:
Originally Posted by John C. Chu
And also how the old PAL format on British shows looks like film naturally
At first I was rather dismissive of that remark - why should PAL/NTSC make a difference? But having seen quite a few 1970's TV dramas recently, it got me thinking, and he may have a point. Nothing to do with PAL per se, but maybe more that such dramas tended to be shot with far lower levels of aperture correction than tended to be the norm at the time - the pictures tended to look softer compared to such as game shows etc of the time, but far smoother, less edgy.

And personally, I think that is the biggest single factor in making the image look "nice", the biggest single factor which made "film-look" so desirable in the past. In the UK in the 70's it was normal for exteriors to be shot on 16mm film, interiors electronic. And if you look at a programme like the "Onedin Line" now on a modern high quality TV, it's noticeable how much better the electronic sequences look than those on film - at least overall.

What is not so good are some of the artifacts of the tube cameras of the time - registration errors, low dynamic range (though in the studio tends to be compensated for by lighting), comet tailing etc.

But move on to now, and all that is in the past, with HD the intrinsic resolution is such that very low levels of detail enhancement can be fine - and the downsides of film-look (weave, scratches etc) are also a thing of the past. To the extent that now it can sometimes be very difficult with high quality material to tell if the original was film or electronic in the first place. With 25p video, even the motion is no longer a giveaway.

The most definitive thing I've seen on the subject is a BBC R&D paper, which is probably over ten years old now - The film look: It?s not just jerky motion - Publications - BBC R&D - which gives some real science behind the subject. Even if you don't read the whole thing, it's worth skipping to the end and the conclusions - in particular, I'm quite amused by "Other factors that contribute to a "film-look" are perhaps best regarded as faults of film, rather than features, and perhaps should best be ignored" Personally, I'm minded to put the 24/25fps in that category (though maybe as a "limitation" rather than "fault").
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Old May 29th, 2014, 11:19 AM   #25
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Re: Film Look - what is it really?

Thanks everyone who contributed. This has been enlightning. However, I am not convinced. I believe that there is just one, just one, thing that separates film from video. Put 24p video and film clip on tv side by side without any of the additions and film will look like film and video like video.

Could it be the added telecine? Is there added motion blur on film clips?
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