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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 07:04 AM   #1
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Neo-Noir Look

Yup yup yup. Same old question that has plagued DP’s forever. Getting the look I want. I want to shoot a neo-noir style short film with my XL2. I want it to look like “Fight Club”. Below are some screen shots. 2 questions.

1) What way would you guys go about getting it? Set it all in camera or shoot with a pretty broad look then tweak it in post?
2) If I decide to shoot a broader look and tweak in post what is the “best” preset to use and the process to go about achieving the look later.

http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d1...htClubLook.jpg

Some other questions I have are – are there any programs out there that will read data from your camera via firewire and generate a real time levels diagram. How many stops of dynamic range will I have to work with with the XL2. How does higher dynamic range affect contrast ie: if I had a camera that had 8 stops vs a camera that has 12 stops both saved to a 8bit file will the 8stops be higher contrast or will it just have blown out highlights and deeper shadows. Basically a simple question with a complex answer, what are ways of getting this look with the XL2 or another camera with more latitude?

Oh yeah - I have experimented a lot to try to get this look and haven't been happy yet because the highlight always get blown out. Please don't say experiment, I want to hear your solutions.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 09:04 AM   #2
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I'm sure they did tons of grading in post on that film, but I think it's best to get as close as possible to the look you're going for in camera. The less you have to tweak in post, the better. Of course, in the digital age, there are rumblings of shoot it straight and apply affectations in post...but that takes time that you could've prevented in camera.

The guys over at http://www.sequentialpictures.com did a spoof a while back called "Thumb Club" and they got the look pretty darn close. I recommend checking them out, you can probably even ask how they lit it, etc.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 02:12 PM   #3
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Okay so for Fight Club they did most of it in post? I remember on the DVD that Jeff Cronenweth (the films DP) said shot with a very wide latitude then was able to pull one way or another to get the high contrast look they wanted. I'm wondering how he got the slight green look to some lights. What lights register green like that? How can I avoid blown out highlights? All the normal questions when trying to recreate a celluloid look digitally.

Here is a similar look just from a different movie.

How did RR do this? What camera settings did he use and what post effects? I know he used F-950s and the settings of that camera don't translate to the XL2, but what setting would be comparable to the XL2?

http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d1...yColorLook.jpg

Last edited by Alan James; March 3rd, 2007 at 03:06 PM.
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Old March 7th, 2007, 03:41 PM   #4
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I'm in no means well versed in this area-- but I thought I'd drop a note about something I learned back in college...

miniDV tends to create 'weird'color distortions on certain CCD sensors-- so often you will get a hint of too much green and/or blue in certain shots...this being said, shooting in DV to achieve the look you are going for is perfect!

I would consider messing with your white balance- but to be honest, if it were me I'd do it in post... If you white balanced to offset your whites to something other than white, maybe it'd give it a more color washed look? I'd be hesitant to do this w/out experimenting and doing some CC tests in post...

I think that using the XL2 in either 24p or 60i will work just fine-- its just a matter of location/lighting and some tweaking perhaps in post to get the exact treatment you are looking for...

Not sure that any of this helps, just thought I'd throw my 2 cents in...
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Old March 7th, 2007, 05:04 PM   #5
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The noir look is more in the way you light. It's not a setting on your camera. You will actually have to work for it. :~) .

Often, it's better to shoot your video neutrally and then change it up in post. That way, you aren't locked into a particular look.

The lighting will be noir and you can interpret that look as you see fit and what fits within the limits of MiniDv. It may be a good idea to do some testing first and see what things look like before you begin shooting. Take it all the way out to whatever way you will release it and that will help you determine what to do. Noir is about the contrast and mood.

Look at some of the classic noir films and get inspired. Wikipedia's film noir entry here. Plus it's a good excuse to watch movies.

The other thing is to experiment and find settings that create a camera look that you like. Buy, borrow, or rent a good monitor. Set up a color chart, get a human, maybe a few with differing skin tones, wearing colored clothing and play with the settings. See what you like. Shoot some tape and make notations as to what the setting are for those segments. You'll see how changing different things will affect the color, saturation, contrast, etc. Do those tests under "normal" lighting, so you can see everything. You could also do your noir look also, but that would be sepaprate.

Cheers,

-Mark
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Old March 7th, 2007, 07:10 PM   #6
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Yup I'd say strong lighting, then all the rest in post looks a little like a cross between the settings for Bleach Bypass (blowing out the highlights) and a slight sepia tone. Blow it out then darken it down with a warmer tone maybe. IMO
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Old March 11th, 2007, 10:22 PM   #7
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So what I think Iím going to do is film with noir lighting (obviously) and just do all my CC and contrast correction in post. Iíll shoot pretty wide latitude so I can narrow it down later. Iíve been studying noir lighting and it seems like most of the time the crush the black but donít totally blow out the whites - although Iím sure for film the whites are considered blown out Ė for digital this is a bit tricky. I also think Iím gunna use a program like DV rack to make sure nothing exceeds 100 IRE, just so I will be able to blow whites out later if I want. Thanx for the help. Anyone have any good noir shorts I can study to get lighting down (I pretty much know how to do it but a little more studying never hurts).
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Old March 11th, 2007, 11:47 PM   #8
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Sounds good. As long as the director and producer are going for it I'd say definitely do your own take on noir and light it the way you think it should be lit. That's why I suggest a test, if there's time.

Having a scope will definitely help keep you out of trouble, sometimes the monitor looks great, but you find you may be in a bit of a spot later. The larger the monitor, the better.

Heh, in noir, there always seems to be a venetian blind shadow on a wall somewhere in every shot.
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Old March 13th, 2007, 07:19 PM   #9
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That is true. Iíll have to get one of those to hang in front of a light. And whatever I think the director thinks, we are kinda the same person. Iím also the writer, co-producer, visual effects supervisor, primary editor, and secondary music composer. I wear a lot of hats and that seems to make everything on set and in post a lot more cohesive.
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Old March 13th, 2007, 08:37 PM   #10
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Oh yes, that does speed things up a bit.
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