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Sony ENG / EFP Shoulder Mounts
Sony PDW-F800, PDW-700, PDW-850, PXW-X500 (XDCAM HD) and PMW-400, PMW-320 (XDCAM EX).


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Old November 27th, 2006, 10:15 PM   #1
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Mastering The TV Film Look on the 350L/330L

Has anyone comeup with camera settings to achieve
a believable film look? I realize we are dealing with the
bottom of Sony's CineAlta cameras. But, how much is possible
on the 350L/330L cameras to look like a network television
sitcom shot in 1080p HD?
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Old November 27th, 2006, 10:42 PM   #2
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Sure, but at this level it's not much about the camera anymore. The camera is capable, it's everything else.

So let me run off a few things off the top of my head:

1-Detail lower than stock setting or off. Edginess is the opposite of "filmlook". Try maybe -20?

2-Use a Cinegamma. Not because it's got the word "cine" in it, but because it squeaks a lot more out of the highlights. I like Cine3, personally. Cine 2 is closer to a traditional film gamma, but when highlights burn out in that one, they go out in a ugly way, IMHO. If you like how the highlights burn out in Battlestar Galactica, Cine2 is for you.

4-I use a Black Gamma of 50 to 80, to give me more detail in the toe. It also raises the noise in those areas, but much of the time I selectively crush them back out to give things more snap. But I have the choice. Leaving the pic alone with Black Gamma elevated gives more of a "BBC no-nonsense documentary" look.

5-Make sure you're downconverting right. Compressor can do it very nicely, but pay attention to framerates. If you choose a 29.97 preset, Compressor will add pulldown incorrectly (it will just repeat every 4th frame, instead of adding fields).

6-Other than that, I'd say the rest is lighting and shot selection. And then there's:

7-Color correction. I don't think most videographers understand how much of the magic of the pictures they see on TV on the high end is attributed to colorists that know what they're doing. I'm not talking about fixing slightly off white balances, I'm talking about the real voodoo colorists do with secondary color correction when it comes to skintones, skies, everything. Colorists manipulate pictures in ways that, if you haven't seen a good one at work, are hard to imagine.

I'm sure somebody else will pitch in with things I've forgotten entirely, but is you shoot 24p, keep the overexposures down, and keep the detail down, you're 90% there.
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Old November 28th, 2006, 10:01 PM   #3
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Any tricks/tips on color correction in FCP with HD XDCAM footage?

Well said and thank you Nate.

Any tricks/tips on color correction in FCP with HD XDCAM footage?

Can you in post take XDCAM 4:2:0 footage and approach the look
of 4:4:4 color?
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Old November 28th, 2006, 10:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Stiff
Can you in post take XDCAM 4:2:0 footage and approach the look of 4:4:4 color?
What is the "look" of 4:4:4 color? I know what it is, but I'm curious what it means to you?
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Old November 28th, 2006, 10:42 PM   #5
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More color information for sharper colors.

Isn't there a visual difference from footage
shot without any chroma subsampling vs. the
way the XD Camera or HDV recording subsamples the colors?
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Old November 29th, 2006, 12:55 AM   #6
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I don't think any of us have ever seen 4:4:4 in any broadcast situation. Anything that ever makes it to cable/dish/dvd is at best 4:2:2, and since most delivery methods anymore involve MPEG2...I think most of the digital broadcast methods these days are at best 4:2:0

I personally can tell the difference between 4:2:2 and 4:1:1 (DV vs Digibeta), but it's not HUGE. At HD resolutions, my feeling is that the difference between 4:2:0 and 4:2:2 is not as big a deal as in SD. Remember, even HDCAM isn't 4:2:2

Anyway, to answer your question (tips/tricks), I don't feel there's anything to say about it, other than if you downconvert 4:2:0 1080p to SD res, AND keep it to a codec with 4:2:2/4:4:4 space, you wind up a downconvert with a hell of a lot of color info (per luma pixel)...there is a free lunch with the shrinking of the image.

Color correction as I know it is an art. I try to emulate what the real A-list colorists (Beau Leon, David Hussey) do, which is make most people wonder "what camera in the world makes color like that? what filters? what camera settings?". After I posted that Static-X video a year ago in the JVC forum, I got about 20 emails asking me what camera settings...I could have done what I did with damn near any camera settings!

I know it's cliche, and I apologize for preaching, but "it's not about the camera". The 350 is as good as it gets before you start talking about F900 or 35mm telecined on a Spirit.
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Old November 29th, 2006, 01:24 AM   #7
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Okay, here's a good example:

My friend Matt is a director, we're kinda both cut from the same cloth. We both like to direct and be our own DPs, and we both edit. He's not a whiz at the technical side of editing, so a lot of the time he works in DV so he can get the job done.

He shot a music video on Super16 last year, and had it transferred to DV so he could cut himself. A frame of it is below. The lighting setup is simple: the sun is the backlight/kicker, and key is just one single light to the left of the girl and up maybe a few feet. There's another backlight behiond her to her right creating that sheen on her right cheek, as well as the top of her right arm. My point is it's not some crazy complicated setup with exotic gear...it's really not, I could almost do the same with some Lowel lights.

In my opinion, the magic of this frame is the location and the color correction. It's a simple setup, you'd think there's very little to work with here. I have very little idea what the colorist did, but it sure is magic, isn't it? Actually, I can make some guesses:

1-An overall warm wash with primaries.

2-The dark areas of the pic (tree shadows and BG) got treated to a small amount of cyan.

3-With secondaries, the colorist isolated her skintones and made them even more warm/chocolate. This smoothes out skin imperfections and generally makes her look even better.

4-Note that the colorist has taken 2 wide swaths of color (cyan/green and brown/orange), and completely played them against each other. He saw the basic colors going on in the frame and refined/coaxed them into playing against each other in a pleasing way.

So anyway, the colorist does his magic, Matt walks away with his negative and DV tapes, and goes home and edits. His master is no better than 4:1:1 colorspace, and nobody cares, least of which the label, even though he gives them a Digibeta to make them feel important. It's still a beautiful video, even if the oranges bleed into the greens by 2 pixels from the DV codec.

Anyway, I know this prattling on is slightly annoying and I apologize again, because you didn't ask for it. But all I want to do is emphasize that if you're looking for world class images in the specifications, you're better bet is to look in some other places.
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Old November 29th, 2006, 06:11 AM   #8
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Well stated, Nate!

We had a colorist at one of our FCP meetings awhile back showing how they did the segment, "Tiger at 30" for CBS Sports. It was interesting to see the original, uncorrected footage and then he explained how he did it with Final Touch (he was there mainly to demo Final Touch to us).

They knew going in that they wanted a de-saturated look and I remember the colorist explaining that they changed the color of Jack Nicklaus' shirt in post so it would still stand out against the surrounding objects with most of the color information gone.

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Old December 4th, 2006, 08:34 PM   #9
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This thread has been very helpful!

As for color correcting in FCP: Is anyone using any
third party software for color correcting HD XDCAM footage in
FCP?
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