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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old December 7th, 2007, 09:35 PM   #1
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Best settings on camera to remove Video feel

As a proud owner of the PD170, the last couple years i've mostly shot documentary/sports/outdoor style with the camera. Keep focus, make sure the Iris isn't blown out and everyone was happy. Now i'm stepping up, been asked to shoot a commercial.

Now i need to reach into the depths of our pd170s features.I don't want that sharpness of video - it looks to sharp, realistic, completly the wrong look. I want that softer, warm (film) feel. I've searched through the archives but haven't found much other then filter it in post. Tried doing a 28 days search, didn't get anything prevalent for me.

Heres my question: What are the best settings for the camera to be in, with a high shutter speed. What about the iris/aperture? Should i shoot in 24f/s? Then what (if any) filter in post would you use (i edit with Vegas)? What other features, or what else have you done to make the colors look less video'e.

Thank,
Andy
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Old December 7th, 2007, 09:45 PM   #2
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Andy,

There are plenty of threads here discussing how to achieve a 'film look'. As a matter of fact, there is a whole bulletin board devoted to it. :) Read through there. There might be a sharpness setting on your camera, I do not know, and you can always set the white balance a bit warm if you like... 24p is also a very nice tool. But it comes down to what you do with the camera. Do you do cinematic moves or video moves? How does your AUDIO sound? Do you take the time to give a unique feel to your film during color grading in post production? This is what makes a movie stand out.

To quote Kim Segel: "When telling your story, the goal isn't to make something that looks like "a film", but to completely involve the audience in a different world." When I read that phrase, I think I said "THAT is so true!" out loud to myself. :)

Carl
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Old December 7th, 2007, 10:04 PM   #3
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First a PD 150/170/250 or any VX series does not have the option to shoot 24fps. Its 15 so I guess that not an option for you.
As for giving it a 'non-video' look, there are lots of different thing you can do without trying to do something the camera isn't made to do. A lot of the 'video' look can be toned down in Vegas. Color saturation, using a plugin to change the 29.97 framerate to 24p in POST can be done but I agree, telling the story and getting the audience into the story, it doesn't matter if it looks like a 'video' or real 8mm shot on an old Bell and Howell triple turret camera.
Don
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Old December 7th, 2007, 10:18 PM   #4
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a lot of my motivation to dig deeper, explore more features/settings is I worked on a Professional commercial shoot this summer and was blown away by what I learned. What i witnessed with my eyes looked completely different on the playback monitor. Granted it was an expensive pro DV cam (can't remember the model) but they shot in a higher shutter speed, len changes, a bit of fill lighting, and without even touching the footage it looked amazing. I know a cheap cam can't do that of one 10x it price, but i know it can do amazing things. Thats why I ask what settings you guys are using, pre post.

As for set equipment
Using my G2 wireless (first time - excited)
lowel light kit / filler (shoots indoors)
sticks

possibly a bigger monitor
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Old December 7th, 2007, 10:56 PM   #5
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As Don said, the PD170 does not shoot 24p, nor does it have a 1/24 shutter option. However, if you want to get a filmic look in camera, there are a couple of things you can try.

Regarding the motion, you can shoot with a slower shutter speed, like 1/30. Mind you, this causes a reduction in resolution, but this may or may not matter, depending on where this will be seen. If you're considering this, do some tests. Shoot some stuff with motion at 1/30 and put it through your post process all the way to the end. See if the resolution loss is noticeable or not.

You can also try the in-camera Flash effect. Turn it on and dial the effect down to it's lowest setting (just before OFF). This actually simulates a filmic framerate without the resolution loss that 1/30 shutter gives.

Regarding sharpness, you can actually adjust this easily using the Custom Preset menu (there's a button at the very rear of the handle). Dial the sharpness down to your liking. There are other things in here that you can mess with including saturation and even fine tuning white balance.

Other things to consider to achieve a less video look are depth of field and lighting. For the DOF, just hang around the long end of the lens if you can, even for wide and medium shots. For lighting, just do a good job. Don't just light for exposure and make sure you're careful of AND take advantage of your camera's limited dynamic range.

A PD170 can do a damn good job of making great-looking video if you're careful. OK, sure, it won't look like HD and it won't look like Film, but it can still look good in it's own way.

Oh yeah, go for the bigger monitor if you can. A calibrated monitor REALLY makes this a lot easier.

Good luck.

~~Dave
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Old December 8th, 2007, 01:00 AM   #6
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Don't forget the option of renting a camera with a larger CCD and pro lenses.

Nice as my 150 is, it doesn't look as good as my DSR-300 when it comes to what I call, 'color richness and smoothness.' The look is just different. Some of it comes from the much better lens and a fair amount comes from the larger (and better quality) CCD elements.

I have a friend that shoots nothing but very high-end commercials. 35mm, HD, 70mm, it doesn't matter. But he rents everything. And drives around in a Ferrarri. I'm not certain he owns a camera, film or video.

Still, the best thing you can do to one of these semi-pro Sonys (or any other imaging device) is to make certain the lighting is right-on. Soft, smooth and no high contrast areas anywhere. That will go a long way towards making the image look more film-like. Cause that's what film folks do...light things right.
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Old December 8th, 2007, 05:07 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Rehmus View Post
Still, the best thing you can do to one of these semi-pro Sonys (or any other imaging device) is to make certain the lighting is right-on. Soft, smooth and no high contrast areas anywhere. That will go a long way towards making the image look more film-like. Cause that's what film folks do...light things right.
ABSOULTELY! This needs to said more often and in more forums.
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Old December 8th, 2007, 08:43 PM   #8
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Hi andy, just thought id add my 2 pence. Heres a few specific things you can do:

Turn the sharpness down on the camera

shoot with your exposure to as close as open as possible and zoom in to your subject to achieve shallow deph of field

Use soft lighting

experiment with your colour setting in camera, i find shifting it up and down in different circumstances really helps for the look im after

Other than this you can do the usual treatments in post which are:
de-interlacing to progressinve scan

if you use magic bullet, apply 'reduce dv artifacts' this helps get rid of the jaggies

slightly desaturate colours and colour correct shots to achieve your desired look or apply a preset

and importantly apply a 'levels' filter so that you can manipulate your black levels

theres loads more but thats what i do first.
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Old December 18th, 2007, 06:55 PM   #9
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My camera to film Journey

Hey Guys - thanks for the advice. I had no idea how much I would take in for this little project. So heres my journey with my pd170:

'Discovering' the importance and necessity of lighting (heck, our cameras don't work without light), this sent me searching through mulitple threads, the good 'ole one thread leads to another. After about 10 different threads on lighting/depth of field i stumbled upon digitaljucie.com, and their tutorials blew me away. One of remakes in the philosophical tutorial was think less like a cameraman (settings and numbers), and more like a director of photography ( step outside the camera - looking at the scene), use the whole image, fore-ground, mid-ground, back-ground. The shot i did this to came out to be one of my best for the project.

So ok, how did i try to emulate the film look? The first thing was lighting - removing the subject from the background. I used my dual work light (500w. each is adjustable from 250w/500w) -made barn doors for one of the lights (step by step instructions and template gathered from cool lights), then diffused the light with oven parchment paper and good ol c47's. The other light I bounced off the ceiling.

Opened up my Iris, 2.0-2.4, and applied a ND filter and sometimes, depending on the brightness adjusted that with the shutter.

I also used some of my lens, back off the actor and zoomed it. Great look to help create a shallow depth of field.

For audio i used my Sennheiser G2 kit - shotgun mic w/ a wireless butt attchment and an adjustable duster handle as my boom - worked like a charm.

Once in post i adjusted the colors a bit using color correction, added SFX, I then explored the different filters that vegas came with, tried adding some red, some grain, a Gaussian blur, yet i didn't really hit the mark. Then enter Magic bullet and in one magic button, it looked great. warmed my shot up, with just some minor adjustments to my liking it looked great. Before and after comparison showed a softer background & a bit more skin tone - removing the 'harshness' i call it of video

I then downloaded dvfilmmaker to test out converting it to 24p. At $120+, i opted for the demo...glad i did . Comparing the two side by side found all it succeeded in doing was washing out the colors and adding my blur, a function barley worth $10 if you ask me.

Did I succeced in replacing 35mm cameras with these steps, hardly. But i did acomplish my goal of stepping up my production value for something closer towards hollywood. Heck, all i need now is the $50,000 camera and a lighting truck :)

So that was my journey. Fun, challenging and rewarding.
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Old December 19th, 2007, 07:13 AM   #10
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Glad to hear it went well for you! Seems you took the advice (the easy part) and applied it well (never as easy as it sounds on a bulletin board) =D I use magic bullet as well (I love it!) and your down and dirty work light tricks seem to have worked well for you ;) Whatever gets the job done... getting it done on a limited budget can be a challenge, glad to see you overcame.

Kudos!

Carl
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Old December 19th, 2007, 12:58 PM   #11
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Glad to hear things went well, i'm going to do some playing around with my VX2100 to see if I can compare.

Think we can get some screen grabs from ya?
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Old December 19th, 2007, 04:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Dufrain View Post
As a proud owner of the PD170, the last couple years i've mostly shot documentary/sports/outdoor style with the camera. Keep focus, make sure the Iris isn't blown out and everyone was happy. Now i'm stepping up, been asked to shoot a commercial.

Now i need to reach into the depths of our pd170s features.I don't want that sharpness of video - it looks to sharp, realistic, completly the wrong look. I want that softer, warm (film) feel. I've searched through the archives but haven't found much other then filter it in post. Tried doing a 28 days search, didn't get anything prevalent for me.

Heres my question: What are the best settings for the camera to be in, with a high shutter speed. What about the iris/aperture? Should i shoot in 24f/s? Then what (if any) filter in post would you use (i edit with Vegas)? What other features, or what else have you done to make the colors look less video'e.

Thank,
Andy
I recommend the Schneider Black Frost filter to remove the "video edge". This filter remove high frequency details while maintianing black levels. It is 30% more effective at maintianing black levels and holding resolution than other similar filters. I suggest you take a look at it as it is very popular in lower strengths for this application. I suggest a black frost 1/4 or 1/2. You can check this effect out on our Century 4x4 filter kit video that I will send to anyone for free if you send me an email requesting it. Otherwise, check out our website for the basic filter info.

http://www.schneideroptics.com/Ecomm...=1431&IID=6314

Ryan Avery
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Old December 20th, 2007, 12:35 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Avery View Post
I recommend the Schneider Black Frost filter to remove the "video edge".

http://www.schneideroptics.com/Ecomm...=1431&IID=6314

Ryan Avery
Schneider Optics
Hey Ryan,

Filters were an area I spent some time looking through and came across a couple that were of interest. One was a black 'type' filter (not sure if it was this one or made by tiffen). The other being a tiffen soft fx/3 which i was on the verge of buying. But i came to the unscientific conclusion after reading many reviews and watching a great demonstration from guy
http://dvestore.com/theatre/index.html# (probably not the desired effect, because the videos aim was actually showing the benefits of using a filter on location), that in our digital environment we can closely mimic that of a filter, with the wonderful advantage of removing said filter if the look isn't right.

I believe the Magic Bullet plug in did a great job acting as filter and the ability of reversale sold me to 'fix it in post". Granted the rendering time it takes suck, but benefit of softening the edges and warming the picture proved worth it.
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Old December 20th, 2007, 12:46 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Johnson View Post
Think we can get some screen grabs from ya?

Sure, once i finish up the project i'll post some. Also post some before/after with Magic Bullet.
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Old December 26th, 2007, 03:11 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Dufrain View Post
Hey Ryan,

Filters were an area I spent some time looking through and came across a couple that were of interest. One was a black 'type' filter (not sure if it was this one or made by tiffen). The other being a tiffen soft fx/3 which i was on the verge of buying. But i came to the unscientific conclusion after reading many reviews and watching a great demonstration from guy
http://dvestore.com/theatre/index.html# (probably not the desired effect, because the videos aim was actually showing the benefits of using a filter on location), that in our digital environment we can closely mimic that of a filter, with the wonderful advantage of removing said filter if the look isn't right.

I believe the Magic Bullet plug in did a great job acting as filter and the ability of reversale sold me to 'fix it in post". Granted the rendering time it takes suck, but benefit of softening the edges and warming the picture proved worth it.

Andy,

A little background on the Black Frost and similar filters; Tiffen's Black Pro Mist filter works in a similar way to our Black Frost filter with the exception that it removes 30% more detail from your image. This is due to the design of the filter. Black Frost and the alternative from Tiffen are filters that remove high frequency detail while leaving lower frequencies unaltered. This creates sharp lower frequency details like eyes and clothing alone but removes wrinkles and that over resolved look of HDV. Our Black Frost filter goes 30% less into the lower frequency details. This creates sharper details without giving it that over softened effect (you use a soft filter for that like our Classic Soft).

Post Production fixing is an alternative to using a filter but a disadvantage has already been stated by you of long rendering times. The other downside is that in post you can see a significant loss of resolution in details. It all depends on the look you are going for. Post can save your shot after but be costly in both time and money. Tiffen's filter will create a much softer look in details but work for that glamour studio look. The Schneider Black Frost is best for removing that "video edge" because it doesn't overly effect resolution.

Ryan Avery
Schneider Optics
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