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Old May 15th, 2005, 09:03 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Gladwell
Moot points to the real question of achieving a film-look.

Jay
It seems like semantics are being debated. Xander's entire post was answering "If you want your movie to look like it was shot on film, why not shoot it on film?"

I think he answered many of the reasons why I wouldn't shoot on film. I'm a first-timer with about $10K total to spend. Money, expertise and ease are the main issues.

I'm an audio engineer and the film vs. film-simulated-video is a lot like analog tape vs. digitally-simulated-analog-tape. People still like what analog tape gives them and digital will never 100% achieve that because it is what it is...digital. However, first-timers will always go digital because of lack of money and expertise and ease. At the same time, they may always try to simulate that warm analog tape feel.

I don't think anyone is saying video is better than film. I think we are just saying that video is cheaper and easier than film, but we are still going to want to try to emulate film.

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Old May 15th, 2005, 11:46 AM   #17
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Wilbur
I don't think anyone is saying video is better than film. I think we are just saying that video is cheaper and easier than film, but we are still going to want to try to emulate film.
No, Kelly, I didn't imply that you were saying that video is better than film. (And by-the-way, thank you for using the correct word "than" instead of "then." This is a clear indicator of your intelligence!)

Yes, I agree that video is cheaper. Yes, certain aspects of it are easier, but capturing a beautiful image, whether it looks like film or not, is not necessarily easier. It takes just as much talent and knowledge to shoot beautiful video as it does beautiful film! My point, perhaps not well stated, is that video is video and film is film. Why can't we simply embrace video and appreciate it for what it is? It has come such a long way since it's introduction, which was long before most of you were born!

Here are some quotes from another post on cinematography.com on this very issue, which I think are very pertinent to this topic:

"I don't think it is like this in any other art form. A sculptor doesn't say: 'How do I make marble look like bronze?' A painter doesn't say: 'How do I make watercolor look like oil?' We are simply talking about a medium here, and in all other arts people choose their medium carefully. People come to this forum constantly and ask about video looking like film, because they are naive and don't know the right question to ask, much less how to make anything of any quality." (Josh Hill)

"I believe far to many people are concerned with getting a film look - but what really separates what many people CALL the *film look* from the video look is all that makes a cinematographer an expert in his craft: Lighting, composition, camera movement - the elements and principles of design." (Mike Donis)

"People should pick the medium that best suits their piece. Some people unfortunately are stuck using certain mediums because of cost. Nice oil paints will cost you a heck of a lot more than acrylics. Is one better than the other? I would say not. It is simply a matter of how you use it to express yourself." (Robert Gvildys)

Personally, I wish more of those who aspire to filmmaking would concern themselves with the other, more important, elements of cinema, those being:

Story -- A good script cannot be over emphasized!
Actors -- If your actors are incapable of carrying it off, all else is pointless.
Cinematography -- As in Joseph Mascelli's book "The Five C's of Cinematography": 1-Camera angles, 2-Composition, 3-Close-ups, 4-Continuity, 5-Cutting. Of course, lighting is another aspect that cannot be over emphasized. There is far too much focus on the "low-light" capability of cameras in video. If anything screams VIDEO and AMATEUR more loudly, it's poorly exposed video. Properly exposed images will do more than anything else to elevate the quality of your video image!
Sound -- Sound is too often overlooked. Some suggest that sound accounts for 80% of the quality of the image.
Editing -- This goes beyond simply splicing shots together. Owing an NLE does not an editor make!

These are just the basics, but with some level of understanding and mastery over these elements your video project can and will be improved immeasurably and neither you nor your audience will worry if it was shot on video or if looks like film.

Jay
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Old May 15th, 2005, 02:40 PM   #18
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"If you want your movie to look like it was shot on film, why not shoot it on film?"

"This is a real easy question to answer: time, money and expertise."

Without expertise, your image will look bad. That's why it's a good idea to learn how to do it properly, if you don't have the money to hire an expert. There is never enough time so it's always a compromise, expert or not. Knowing what you are doing at least prevents it from looking like complete crap.

Obviously it's nice to have all three, but often you only have one. There's never enough time, or money, so you have to rely on your expertise and the expertise of the crew around you. You can't just turn on the camera and expect everything to look like it was a "real live Hollywood movie".

There are a lot of caveats to your ten points/answers below. The main thing is knowing what you are doing and how to do it quickly and efficiently. Pre-planning and having a back-up are also necessities. That means time taken to gain expertise by working in the real world. Your simplistic and misguided points/answers show that you have little or no real world experience or knowledge, or that your parents are producers and you made the mistake of listening to them:~). Your arguments simply do not hold up.


"1.) Video setups are significantly easier to accomplish with less people."

Yes, if you want the project to look like crap. You still need a full crew to set up and move a camera, light the scene and make it look good. If you are doing documentary, then maybe, but you still have to be very aware of your lighting and exposure. You have to know what you are doing. There is no substitute for knowledge and experience. With those you can do more with less. People have gotten used to seeing a lot of crappy video on TV and it is making it harder for us because people like you have no idea what it takes to make a video production look good.


"2.) You can use less lighting."

Yes, if you want your project to look like crap. Light still needs to be shaped and sculpted, if you want your actors to look like humans. Video's shorter dynamic range requires MORE lighting.


"3.) Video cameras are smaller than film cameras (less attention getting)."

Depending on what you are trying to do, this is not an issue. If it is, use an Aaton A-Minima, it looks like a camcorder, or the new Arri 235. Have you seen the size of most ENG cameras? They are still quite large and most "man on the street" type interviews do not intimidate people.



"4.) Video cameras are less intimidating to on-camera talent."

Not necessarily. If you are shooting actors, it's not a problem. When shooting interviews, work with the interviewee and provide a "safe" atmosphere. Put them at ease. Also the majority of people are used to the idea that there are video cameras and ENG crews out and about. How the crew acts and interacts with the subject can go a long way to ease jittery nerves.


"5.) Light meters are built-in to the video camera; don't have to know
exposure real well, since you can preview on monitor (WYSIWYG)."

A non issue. You can light by eye and use the production monitor & waveform, or a good onboard color monitor. You can judge the exposure through the camera's viewfinder. I still use my light meter with my video camera. Some film cameras have built in light meters, but you have to know what you are doing. Same with video


"6.) 12-min roll of film + processing + color timing + telecine to DV = $$$$ vs. $4 for a 60-min mini DV tape. Think about how much money per minute you spend for usable footage on film (for every 12 minutes, probably 2 or 3 min is usable). Rewind the tape if you must and rerecord. It's still only $4."

You are comparing apples and oranges. Video is cheaper, sort of. There are a lot of ways that video can be cheaper, absolutely. But you still have to spend a lot of $$$ if you are doing a film out, even from MiniDV. But I wouldn't want to do a film out from MiniDV, I'd want to do it from DVCPRO50 or better quality video format. And besides, if you are going from video to film out you still have to shoot and light properly. If you transfer film to tape yes it is expensive, but the original film image will still be a much better image than MiniDV or video in general. Pretty much anything will be better than MiniDV. I own a very expensive MiniDV camera package, but let's face it MiniDV is a sh*tty format, it has too many limitations. MiniDV has 4:1:1 colors, film gives you millions of colors, better resolution and better low light capabilities. Film is going to be a better image than MiniDV and most video formats. The video vs film really depends on your needs and budget. Save it for another post. Beta SP is better than MiniDV. At least it's 4:2:2!


(more)
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Old May 15th, 2005, 02:41 PM   #19
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(cont'd)

"7.) Edit immediately - no waiting."

True. You can do the same on set. Go into "video village" and the playback operator is recording everything being shot. I think there are systems where you can create EDL's from video taken off the tap.


"8.) Video can now shoot 24 fps for that telecined-look."


Yes and no. If the image looks like sh*t, it's going to need more help in post whether it's film or video. Video especially. 24P emulates film and has motion blur similar to film. There are other things that go towards a film look, highlights that don't clip, color reproduction, dynamic range, etc. That's where knowledge and experience come in and yes, lighting. It is possible to make film look like video and video look like film. I'm not really arguing those points.


"Also, ask someone who isn't familiar with the film/video world to spot the difference between the two formats and chances are, they can't."

Maybe, maybe not. That's a more general argument of tech stuff over story. People will overlook bad technical stuff in video and film, if the story is good. That's the main thing. All the technical BS is in service of a good story. I'm not excusing bad technical mistakes, but it's about the story.

People will have a "feeling" often when they see something that's "different". They may not know what it is, or have language for it like we do, but they will notice it and sense something is "different".


"Another thing that I find interesting is digital projection in movie theaters. I went to see Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe in digital, and some of the previews and commercials shown before the film were obviously done in video. I was rather amazed at the quality of the video being projected that large. Also, more features are being shot in HD (i.e. Star Wars)... you'd never know it wasn't on film. Think about this too - most visual effects are recorded to film at a 2K resolution. HD is basically 1K - almost there."

But Lucas isn't doing it with one person and a couple of actors in his basement. They're still using large crews following normal production procedures and using the latest technology in the camera, and in post production. With a couple of ten ton trucks and a production crew I can make may video look like film too. CGI is starting to bump up to 4K, it's getting cheaper and easier. Before there wasn't the technolgy or infrastructure to support 4K outputs, now there are. 4K is a better resolution. 2K was the max that the post production systems could handle back in the 80's, but now they're starting to go to 4K. Film may be higher than 4K. Anyone? And they're still outputting to film


"The only thing film has to it, is the elusive ease at which to achieve DOF. Every other quality of film can be mimmicked with video."

Silly boy. The focus of film goes much deeper. There are a lot of economic issues involved, that's why it's called "show business". If it were that simple we'd have switched a long time ago.

Shooting on film makes your image "future proof". When you want to re-master your film project in twenty years, you can re-master film onto whatever the newest digital format will be and not loose anything in the process. Some people have transferred film to HD and saw things that they never saw in previous iterations. Film can still capture color and dynamic range much better than video. Archiving is a big issue. I may be wrong, but I think film lasts longer than tape when stored properly.

It's easier to rent film equipment around the world than video gear. Film is film, no compatability issues. I don't know for sure but I would think that repair and upkeep of mechanical film cameras, is cheaper. Also a Mitchell 35mm film camera from the 1940 can still shoot film. The upgrade is in the film stock, not the camera. There are now problems with finding playback systems for older tape formats and it will only get worse as time progresses.

One of the biggest reasons film is still around is distribution. Almost all of the theater chains are set up for film. Converting an entire chain from film to digital would require millions (billions?) of dollars and then who knows about the technology? Will it be upgradeable? Will it work? Can a video this week be played on the same equipment in ten years? Twenty years? What about storage of the tapes or files? Downloading a movie from an FTP site would be great, but there are security issues and file size, encoding and storage issues. The theory is there but the execution is a ways off. There are other things I may have missed. Talk to the studios and theater chains. They have a lot invested in film technology.

It would be pretty nifty to have a feature film exist as data, but the longer term issues of storage, future retrieval, playback and distribution are major hurdles to clear. A film projected on a large screen is still a very wonderful experience and the way film reproduces our world is still a thing of great beauty and subtlety. Video is close, but it still has several flesh tones to go, before it's palate reaches the level of film.

Other things: at the moment it's easier to under and over crank film. There are high speed video cams but they're quite expensive and not that easy to rent yet. Yes video is catching up but film isn't dead yet. It'll be quite a wile before film goes away.


Question for you: Can you make your video look like film? What is your level of experience? Have you ever shot film? Shot video? More power to you if you can, good on you.


"Let the flame wars begin :)"

Eh, whatever.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 03:19 PM   #20
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Just a little remark to Kelly:

Have you already tried the XL2 out?
Maybe just try it out, put it on a open iris, and look if you can achieve your effect.
Good luck, tell us what you thought!
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Old May 15th, 2005, 03:26 PM   #21
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Oy! Why did I even bother?
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Old May 15th, 2005, 03:45 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mathieu Ghekiere
Just a little remark to Kelly:

Have you already tried the XL2 out?
Maybe just try it out, put it on a open iris, and look if you can achieve your effect.
Good luck, tell us what you thought!
Thanks Mathieu, that is the next step. The only place that sells these in Indianapolis is closed until Monday. Hopefully they'll let me take one out of the box and try it out.

Kelly
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Old May 15th, 2005, 03:46 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Mark Sasahara
Oy! Why did I even bother?
LOL! You know, there really isn't anything like coming into a forum as a newbie and getting the regulars to slug it out with each other in a flame war!

Seriously though, I'm really glad you guys had that discussion. It helps educate everyone as to both sides of the issues involved.

Thanks to all for your responses and your continued discussion.

Kelly
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Old May 15th, 2005, 04:48 PM   #24
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It's frustrating when you have people say stupid sh*t and they haven't a clue what they're talking about, or what it all means. "Xander" is obviously not a film or video professional, because it's clear he has no idea what he's talking about, or the meaning of what he's regurgitating. I think he read a bunch of posts and then cobbled something together that sounded like he knew what he was talking about.

It's like when a little kid learns a swear word. He has this thing, he says it and the grown ups get all upset. But he really doesn't know what to do with it, or how to use it, because he doesn't know what it means.

The statements Xander made were just meant to incite people, not inform them.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 05:29 PM   #25
 
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Mark, try to be more patient and understanding. Not everyone here is at the same level of knowledge, talent, and/or experience. It's a place where everyone can learn something from someone else.

Sure, some will try to flex their muscles or try to impress the rest of us, but it's not worth getting our shorts in a knot over it.

Jay
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Old May 15th, 2005, 06:58 PM   #26
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All,
I considered whether to start editing the recent posts, or just address it head on...I've obviously chosen the latter so briefly bear with me, read and heed:

There ain't gonna be no flame wars here. Spirited discussions relating to the XL2, and use thereof, are most welcome, given that at least the appearance of mutual respect and courtesy is maintained. So for Mark and Xander and Jay -- and anyone else -- if you all disagree about film vs. video, you're welcome to politely duke out the merits of your positions, but please, in a new thread in another forum.

Mark,
Speaking of kids learning swear words...before you go demeaning too many more people with thinly veiled profanity-laced insults, please tone it down a notch. Even if Directors of Photography do that elsewhere, they don't do it here. I gather that you come from a full-time pro FILM-maker mindset, so it is laudable that you've spent significant time and effort helping Kelly in this and other threads before this one started going off track. Let's bring it down to the new-user level and stick to that here.

Kelly,
If you don't mind, give us a little more info about your experience level and what your near-term video goals are...hobby-level short films, or part of your job, or going full time indie, or...? The thread veered off-track toward film and high dollar professional gear. If this unruly mob has a better sense of your vision of yourself in 3 or 6 months, they can probably help more constructively.

Thanks, everyone.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 07:43 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Bauer
Kelly,
If you don't mind, give us a little more info about your experience level and what your near-term video goals are...hobby-level short films, or part of your job, or going full time indie, or...? The thread veered off-track toward film and high dollar professional gear. If this unruly mob has a better sense of your vision of yourself in 3 or 6 months, they can probably help more constructively.
Thanks, everyone.
Pete, thanks for your comments. Honestly, I think everyone has been on the right track with their answers to my questions. Much of what I'm trying to do will probably have to be accomplished through trial and error.

My background is that of a musician/audio engineer. On a completely unrelated note, I'm a molecular biologist. I only bring all of that up to show that I'm very technically proficient. If you will, I'm a student of science and technology and learning new technical things comes fairly easy.

I'm only used lower level consumer video cameras and NLE programs and that was in the past. I've recently decided to change my focus from audio engineering to independent film.

My plan is to spend about $10,000 on a camera, a mac and a more pro NLE, lights and other accessories. I've done research on the equipment, cinematography, etc. I'm a creative person and I feel I have an eye for this. I can critically evaluate the work of others and I've found that I'm able to think of improvements and changes that fit what I feel will be my style.

Ultimately, I'm working with others to write two to five short films (2 minutes to 5 minutes each) that I can short with little resources and few actors in order to evaluate my talent (or lack thereof). It is an expensive experiment, but if it is successful, I don't want to lock myself into equipment that I will grow out of very quickly.

One of the things that inspired me was John Gulager's submissions to the contest Project Greenlight. You can find them at:

http://www.wantmymusic.com/50_top_di...hthead_wm9.asx

and

http://www.wantmymusic.com/10_top_di...hthead_wm9.asx

This is why I am so interested in DOF. Gulager's work seems to have plenty of depth to it. There is almost always something in the foreground and the background of the subject. Of everything I've seen, this seems to be the style I'd like to emulate. It seems much more interesting than other independent film I've seen.

I understand the DOF limitations of video and the methods by which we attempt to overcome them. Unfortunately, I don't completely have a grip as to how limited the XL2 is. I know it will have DOF limitations, but I'm not sure how to translate those limitations into problems with actual shots. For instance, I know if will be difficult to impossible to limit the DOF to a few inches in most cases. However, I don't know how difficult it is to limit DOF to a few feet.

Right now, I'm looking into the Micro35 type of system. Although the pic will be reversed and upside down, I'll probably have an LCD monitor I can turn upside down and compensate. This should give me good control over DOF. I kind of wonder how it might affect the quality of the picture, but that is probably for another thread.

Anyhow, that is probably way too much information, but you asked. I believe I'm just going to have to look at a local XL2 and see if I can get that 2-3 foot DOF in a small room (without having to get way back and zoom in).

We'll see.

Thanks for all of your help. I'm still open to comments.

Thanks,

Kelly
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Old May 15th, 2005, 08:13 PM   #28
 
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Peter, please point out to me what I said that was not polite, so I'll know what not to do.

Jay
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Old May 15th, 2005, 08:32 PM   #29
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OK everybody...group hug!
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Old May 15th, 2005, 10:14 PM   #30
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Hi Pete,

I apologize for the profanity.

Best,

-M

P.S. Erm...Not sure about the hug, I've only just met you :~)
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