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Old May 17th, 2004, 06:21 AM   #1
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A few questions about mini dv and projection problems on the big screen.

I just attended the Jacksonville Film Festival and saw a good number of interesting short films. This is the second year of the film festival and I have noticed something troubling both years. I have a few questions and hope you folks might be able to help me figure out what is happening.

When a short shot on minidv is submitted to a film festival, how is it projected? Is it usually transfered to film? Is there a stand alone projector that will show it on the usual size movie screen?

The shorts shot on film where all color correct. The mini dv shorts all had greatly exaggerated colors. They were very "blue/purple" and the rest of the colors seemed washed out. Let me add that I may have seen one short shot on mini dv that did not have any color problems, but I'm not sure if it was shot on film or mini dv.

I felt bad for a couple of directors who were in attendance and watched as their hard work was made almost unwatchable.

I plan to shot a couple of shorts later this year with my GL2 and I hope I can learn what to do now to avoid this from happening....any advice is greatly appreciated!
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Old May 17th, 2004, 10:44 AM   #2
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I'm on the board of a festival in Kansas City, the Kansas International Film Festival (www.kansasfilm.com). Most submissions are 35mm, but lots of the documentaries we get are on DV or Betacam SP. Each screen has a video projector, and we have a Betacam deck and DVCAM decks.

There is no way to do any correction to a person's movie. The professionally done documentaries have NTSC bars and tone at the head of the tape and all are very close to normal broadcast standards. When a tape is set up before projection, the projector's brightness can be cranked up or down so the bars look right, which is what the bars are for. There's nothing we can do if a tape is way off color or out of range exposure-wise. I have seen quite a few tapes with overexposure and unuseable audio. If a tape doesn't have bars and tone, and if the sound and picture haven't been adjusted properly, there's nothing anybody can do when projecting (I have actually seen people record bars and tone onto an existing master because somebody told them to--and the bars/tone have no relation to what was edited. You need to use your system bars/tone and adjust your footage accordingly before making your master.

When you submit a tape to a festival, pretend it's for TV broadcast and make sure everything is at those standards and you should be fine. Of course, there are bad projectionists too who may have a projector's brightness cranked way up or down. All you can do is make sure your tape is proper and hope they will adjust things accordingly.

One problem you may have seen is that some theaters may use projectors that are not powerful enough for the throw distance, in which case everything would be too dark, and colors might be distorted. The more common problem I've seen is that the tape itself has a lot of overexposure on it.

Another thing you can do to help ensure your movie gets projected properly is label it as to whether it's 16:9 or is 4:3 that's been cropped to 16:9. Some video projectors will automatically detect if the tape is 16:9 and others won't. If you shoot in 4:3 and then crop to a 16:9 shape when you edit, that is not 16:9--it is a 4:3 image that has been cropped, and if a projectionist sets the video projector to 16:9, your image will be distorted.

With the equipment we have at our fairly small festival, full screen 4:3 is a bit of a hassle because we only have one projector with a lens that will zoom down small enough so the top and bottom aren't shooting off the top of the screen. Either cropped or anamorphic 16:9 is much preferred.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 03:23 AM   #3
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Very good points Bill! Thanks for sharing that. Could you elaborate
a bit more on how the colorbars/tone system should be handled
at our end?
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Old May 18th, 2004, 04:25 AM   #4
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Thank you so much for the explanation and advice Bill. I'm printing your reply and taping it to the side of my mac.

:)
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Old May 18th, 2004, 09:50 AM   #5
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Somthing else I should have mentioned...lots of people seem to edit on their computers and don't watch things on a well-calibrated NTSC monitor until it's too late. What looks good on a computer may not always be within the tolerances of the NTSC world. This especially applies to saturated colors and contrast.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 07:27 PM   #6
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Video viewed on a NTSC monitor will normally look a lot better than the same video projected on most video projectors. The video has to be tweaked somewhat to appear as best it can when projected. This is one of those cases where a LCD monitor may get you closer than a NTSC monitor.

You can do that when you edit the video IF you can get ahold of the projector.

For the very small film festivals we have at the local college, I've used a Proc-Amp to adjust the video. One of it's most important attributes is that it will force a black level and max white level so that they are within NTSC specs.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 08:27 PM   #7
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With the proc amp wouldn't you be in danger of fiddling with the directors vision of how it should look?
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Old May 18th, 2004, 09:25 PM   #8
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It is a good bet that the 'Director' did not plan for the distortion in the video that occurs with most projectors.

The Proc-Amp allows us to bring the highlights and shadows back into some semblance of what s/he saw on a NTSC monitor.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 02:03 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Mike Rehmus : This is one of those cases where a LCD monitor may get you closer than a NTSC monitor -->>>

This has been my experience when editing on a Sony 17" 16:9 LCD monitor and projecting with a 10,000 Lumen Barco DLP projector. The LCD really gave a pretty good approximation of what the projected image looked like on a 44' wide screen. We had a good Sony CRT studio monitor up in the projection booth that was fed by the same component video output as the projector. That NTSC monitor really didn't look much like the image on the screen at all.

I put grayscale charts, res charts, convergence patterns, color bars and other test charts on my laptop along with the video, and we output directly from FCP via firewire to a digital recorder which drove the projector.
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