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Old July 13th, 2003, 11:50 PM   #1
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Film On Video-part One

How do I make my video look like a classic film?

Will my GL2 work somehow-- or should I get a more expensive Panasonic DVX100 to shoot at 24 frames per second progressive mode?

The main issues seem to be this:

1) Film like ability

2) Color rendition

3) Sharpness

4) Cost effectiveness

I pondered this question deeply and at great detail. My dilemma was this-- I have a FEATURE project, that is to say a 1-hour to 90-minute "film" to produce-- AND I have my own distribution network. I.e. YES I will actually sell thousands of copies of my finished DVD.

I have no interest really in whether or not my feature will make it to the big screen, as this competeing with Star Wars thing is a huge gamble, lottery, and game I'm just not interested in. Right now I make my entire living selling my own original books and CDs, and a DVD to add to my product line will assuredly sell nicely.

SO- my question was, as a current GL2 / Vegas Video owner, "Will I be content with my production values with the GL2 or will the DVX100 give me a noticeable improvement in final product, and perhaps better recognition and acceptance of my final product-- and most importantly, will >>I<< like how it looks better on the GL2 or DVX ?????

Importantly I AM INTERESTED IN THE FILM-LIKE presentation and I really am not interested in a VIDEO-like look. Think FILM here. Quality classic look.

"Film-look" depends on many things, including light, camera handling, editing, etc.
But what I learned was that given all things the same, can one make a video camera have that classic look one recognizes in film productions- using a VIDEO camera? Would the DVX deliver that SOMETHING extra, significantly so, over the GL2 that would say to viewers "NO, this is not another home movie."

My first experiment was to see if there was in fact a noticeable difference in actual footage, indoors and outdoors between the two cameras.

I went to my local video supply rental, actually TWO DIFFERENT places that rented DVX cameras. They were both nice enough to let me shoot tape in their camera for about 30 minutes at each place. I shot tape using my GL2 in the same locations under the same conditions.

I then looked at the footage at home on my new really nice Toshiba 20' flat screen TV, carefully adjusted and tweaked.

I used the Canon in both FRAME and REGULAR mode, and the DVX in 24pA (24 frame advance)

I immediately noticed FOUR important differences.

1) The DVX produced a noticeably sharper picture. No doubt about it. This was visible within seconds. I went- "holy cow, that is one SHARP picture."

2) The DVX did not gather as much light in dim conditions. Yes, the Canon will shoot in very dim light and has tons of nice gain. The DVX does fine in regular room light (natural or artificial) in progressive mode, but you don't have gain added in very low light. Relatively irrelevant for me as I don't plan on shooting in the dark.

3) The DVX color was more natural and accurate, especially noticeable in RED. The GL2 has always had trouble giving me a really true deep red, NO MATTER HOW I TWEAKED IT. I could get a good red-- but then it messed up the YELLOWS and made them green. I've tweaked and tweaked-- its impossible.
The best balance gave me yellow yellows, but slightly magenta/pink reds. Livable, but not perfect. The DVX nailed the colors-- and on top of that is EXTREMELY adjustable in many more respects than the GL2.

4) The DVX had HORRIBLE aliasing on fine diagonal lines. At the time, I did not know how to fix this.

5) I did not immediately notice a big difference between Canon Frame mode motion of objects and the DVX 24 frame mode motion of objects.

Okay, so after this initial exposure and playing, I was indeed happy with my GL2. I, in fact, could not tolerate what appeared to be an insurmountable problem with aliasing with the DVX. Every telephone pole line, and sharp diagonal edge had just too much stair-stepping to tolerate. I didn't notice a big difference between 24 frame and Canon's Frame mode.


We shoot some test footage with the GL2. I take it home, do a little editing and look at it.

I am not totally thrilled, because FRAME mode still has this VIDEO look to it and when you horizontal PAN, you really get a lot of FRINGE along contrasty edges. It's okay, but it does not look like film no matter what I do. I try everything.

We did everything right in our test, and DAMN-IT STILL looked like home video-
REALLY REALLY GOOD video-but it was still VIDEO looking, and thus conveyed the inescapable quality of TV. Even the best video productions on network TV have this look--- and I didn't want it for this project.

So I decide to RENT a DVX for a full day-- $150, to make sure I am using the right camera for my project, since I will not get a second chance to film what will be hundreds of hours of footage.

This time, I read the DVX instructions and get a better sense of how to use the camera. Both myself and my subject-- a inexperienced in film 17 year old high school senior (artist however with an EYE) look at the results.

It was a NO BRAINER.

It was SO CLEAR.

The GL2 looked like a home movie.
The DVX looked like professional film. Ahhhhh!!!

Here's what we found, beyond a doubt:

1) The DVX is sharper, again, no doubt about it. The aliasing problem I first encountered can be adjusted-- it is actually a function on the sharpness of progressive fram video. Without going into long details, I found I could adjust this aliasing if it came up in a scene by adjusting the "sharpness" (called DETAIL in the DVX) if necessary. IN many situations, it did not come up and was an irrelevant issue. Mostly the picture of the DVX was REALLY SHARP.
I found that this did not necessarily translate into still captures from the video- yes the stills from the DVX were sharper, but you could REALLY tell when you watched the footage moving on a TV, then it was even more apparent to the eye. I imagine this sharpness is do to both the bigger lens on the DVX and the 1/3" CCD chips versus the 1/4" CCD chips on the Canon.

2) The DVX colors look more accurate-- this is not a HUGE difference, because the GL2 has pretty damn good color to begin with.

3) The DVX in 24p mode LOOKS LIKE FILM. It looks like something you would tell a STORY with, unlike a documentary which is fine on video. This was noticeable on a static scene, and even more so in a scene with motion. My subject put it this way "The DVX has more depth, it looks 3-D. The GL2 looks flat by comparison." Yep, unmistakable this time. It helps to read the directions and have the right settings on.

When we A / B the Canon against the DVX, looking at exactly the same thing moments apart in the same light the difference between the two cameras is quite NOTICABLE. Especially after a few moments of contemplation.

The Canon produces what looks like VERY VERY GOOD >>>VIDEO<<<. To most people for most of the time, this is an exceptionally nice thing. HOWEVER, it does not look like film.

The DVX is nearly a dead ringer for 16mm film. The motion is right, the resolution is right, the colors are right. DAMN!! This is what I was looking for.

The only way to get film frame rate motion is to produce a SINGLE PICTURE changing at 24 frames per second. That's what the DVX does. The Canon does not.

Film looks mostly like film mostly from this one thing.

You can change the light, the plot, the action, the motion--- and film will look like film because of 24 fps and video will not look like film until you video at 24 UN-INTERLACED fps. Period. You can get everything the same-and video will look different than film merely because of interlaced frames and frame rate.

Accept it.

B) The gamma (light and contrast) of film and video are different. Essentially video is more "contrasty" and highlights become over saturated and flare.
Video is usually shot BRIGHTER than film. The Panasonic people were very clever and set up there camera with a CINE-LIKE PRESET so that the camera will automatically film less contrasty, and less bright with film like gamma. This is IMPORTANT, though not as crucial as #1 above, alas many films are shot very contrasty and bright-and they still look like film because of the frame rate and non-interlaced picture.

The best thing about the DVX is that you really can adjust it to do almost anything you want, from plain normal interlaced bright contrasty video looking video to 24fps cine-like gamma that looks like 16mm film. The Canon does not go as far, and the FRAME mode only hints at film look.

C) The DVX just has a higher quality picture than the GL2. It has a bigger lens,and bigger chips and so in the end gives you a higher quaility more professional picture to start with. You can tweak it and trash it out to your hearts desire, but you START OUT cleaner and finer. You can't add cleaner and finer to a picture that doesn't have it to begin with.


I've tried to make STILL PHOTOS which demonstrate clearly the difference between the two cameras and it does NOT DO THE DIFFERENCE JUSTICE. So I'm not going to add to whatever is already out there on the web. You have to see the cameras on a TV side by side, and then you will go "YEAH, I SEE IT. YUP. THERE IT IS." Or you have to trust what a few of us are now observing.

It's like trying to describe the taste of strawberries to someone with words or pictures.

This is a combination of frame rate and motion that does not translate to low-resolution computer web language or stills.

But the difference in presentation of these two cameras is UNMISTAKABLE.

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Old July 13th, 2003, 11:58 PM   #2
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Even though the Canon gives you more lines of resolution in the 16:9 mode, the DVX
widescreen STILL looks better, because its a significantly better picture to start with. The DVX letterbox wins over the GL2 electronic 16:9.

So, here's the GRAB--- The DVX costs about $1000 more.

If FILM-LIKE presentation is necessary or important to you-- The DVX is the way to go, no doubt about it, no contest, no brainer. I, am in fact, blown away by the camera. And I am not a sucker for either buzz or hype, and I do not like to spend money.

The DVX has without doubt has captured that "film-look" thing that has been the elusive holy-grail of independent "film" makers for many years. This is a major breakthrough, have no doubts. However, it will cost you $3000 JUST for the camera alone for this. This is not pocket change for most of us.

Unless you spend half your life watching movies like me, it probably won't matter to you. Unless you actually NEED and WILL (and I don't mean HOPE) actually have an AUDIENCE who will in fact, perhaps only subconsciously notice that your project looks like 24fps film rather than video, you probably do not need the DVX.

The DVX will give you that oh-so-elusive until now expensive film-genre quality. Very cool, if you can really use it.


You do not need a DVX to film weddings, bar mitzvahs, or home movies. Forget it. Give the money to starving people on the street instead.

It will cost you another $1000 on top of the $2000 for the GL2, on top of ALL THE OTHER GEAR you will need to have to get a DVX over a GL2.

If you just want to make killer video, and if you do not need that FILM look, and if you do not have an extra $1000 over the cost of a GL2 sitting around-- the GL2 is still a KILLER video camera for the money. There are many many excellent memorable VIDEO productions out there, no doubt about it. For the majority of people making moving pictures the GL2 is an awesome tool, and more than most people will ever need.

Remember, you are going to need more than a camera to make a project work. You need GOOD MICROPHONES, A GOOD IDEA, A GOOD EDITING SET UP, A GREAT EYE, and A GOOD CREATIVE BRAIN.

The camera alone will not make a good end result.
If you don't have all of the other elements, even an unlimited budget and a Panaflex won't help you.

If you have a good handle on the basics, and you can see the difference between actual film and even the best video-- then I wholeheartedly recommend the DVX. You will likely NOT see the difference on any web presentation. You MIGHT see the difference in some stills. You will definitely see a different when you have the two cameras next to each other and can switch between them easily.

Neil Slade
Visit our film project page:

Good luck, and may the best camera for you be yours.
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Old July 14th, 2003, 04:59 AM   #3
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I know the feeling. I have that same feeling when watching DVX100 footage and footage deinterlaced into progressive frames on my PD150P using Magic Bullet Suite with deartefacting switched on.

Have you tried Magic Bullet Suite on the the GL2 for a side by side? Just a thought.

Of course; the option not having to render footage is sweet. The lack of 16x9 makes the DVX100 unusable for what I'm doing (which is the double 16x9 method). To bad.
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Old July 14th, 2003, 08:39 AM   #4
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Martin, couldn't you get the same cinematic widescreen effect using the anamorphic adaptor on the DVX-100, then cropping the frame to a 2.35:1 aspect ratio in post? In effect, your PD-150 is just cropping the frame when using built-in 16:9, so I don't think there's any loss of quality on the DVX-100. The higher vertical res of progressive mode on the PAL DVX-100 should (theoretically) yield better results than the PD-150. Or at least that's what I assume based on what I've read...
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Old July 14th, 2003, 01:34 PM   #5
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Normal people aren't going to be able to tell the difference. They won't know or care what you shot it on. Don't waste your money or time on what you should shoot it on because that is ridiculous. Use that to make your movie better. If "The Sixth Sense" was shot with a Sony Hi8 Handycam interlaced, it would still be a hit.

Good Luck
Corey Doyle
Livin' at 60i and dreamin' at 24fps!
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Old July 14th, 2003, 05:24 PM   #6
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Boyd: That would be interesting to try. I'm a sceptic to cropping lines from the actual broadcast image. CCD lines are kind of a "theory" behind the end result wich is the actual 480 or 576 lines. I'n my mind the "cropping" that the PD150 does is similar to putting a smaller CCD in the camera. I'd like to hold on to the SD resolution. I don't want to loose those lines when going up to HD. On the other hand; sharpness and a dynamic image has very little to do with number of lines and pixels. So we have to try it in practice.

My worry about the DVX100 is that it's poor in low light when using the "p" mode. I hear some people shoot low light scenes interlaced and deinterlace in post when they have to work in low light.
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Old July 14th, 2003, 11:03 PM   #7
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Have you tried Magic Bullet Suite on the the GL2 for a side by side?
I have tested Magic Bullet to de-interlace an XM2 (GL2) footage, and I was not impressed. Reelsmart Fields Kit give me better results, but I always found the de-interlaced video less sharp than the original. So I think the DVX100 has a big advantage to shoot in Progressive.

I imagine that a PD150, a GL2 and DVX100 are in the same class of sharpness shooting a test chart, but, if there's motion, it's an other history, and I imagine that the DVX100 is clearly the winner. Magic Bullet can't change nothing.
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Old July 15th, 2003, 03:37 AM   #8
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There is no "clear winner" between those cameras. They are all small form prosumer gear. They are kind of equal and have differences that may cater to different tastes. If someones opinion differs from mine they have never worked with "real" cameras.

FieldsKit does not provide a sharper image when deinterlacing than Magic Bullet does. I could show you why if you were in Stockholm, Sweden right now and could watch one of my monitors here at the studio.

FieldsKit is kind of ok. In my mind it's much to expencive considering what it actually does. Most of it could be done using After Effects out of the box. You can't do that with MB. MB deinterlaces and cleans up every part of the image in varying degree. This sometimes produces heavy rendering. FieldsKit renders fast because it doesen't do any of this. FieldsKit also demands a different setting for every new clip which is extremely time consuming. MB does what it is supposed to do straight away.

I'm not really interrested in starting a flame war between FieldsKit and MB. I'm just saying I'm currently spending seven days a week at least fifteen working hours completing two feature film using MB techniques and After Effects. I don't think thera are very many of you that does that and I'm only trying to share my experiences because I know how valuable it can be. I've learned almost everything I know from other people in forums. But it has to be more than opinions - it has to be knowledge. I have been doing this full time gig with AE and MB since november last year so I'm kind of picky when it comes to my tools.

There is really nothing to compete with Magic Bullet out there. I threw out FieldsKit and a lot of other apps and plugins pretty fast.

This DV thing is mostly fun. It's kind of a quest for the holy grail thing. Sometimes you get squashed under the workload of having to work with gear not really designed for what you are trying to use it for. But when you discovers something really important it's so inspiring and you feel your part of the evolution of cinema.
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Old July 15th, 2003, 08:30 AM   #9
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You say . . .
"Importantly I AM INTERESTED IN THE FILM-LIKE presentation and I really am not interested in a VIDEO-like look. Think FILM here. Quality classic look.

So . . . have you not considered film? If the project is that good, rent an Arri 16mm and go all the way. There's lots guys out there who own them and rent them. They may even run it for you, that's like getting a free DP (well not completely free).
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Old July 15th, 2003, 10:53 AM   #10
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Film and Cost, etc

My project is essentially NOT a LOW BUDGET film.
It is a NO BUDGET film.


Any borrowed money I have comes in the Spike Lee tradition, max out the credit cards. This is fairly limited, and allowed me the purchase of hard equipment, and would not allow the cost of film which is substantial. I also had to consider the cost of future productions-- if I own the camera rather than continual rental, I keep the cost down.

I also am not concerned with film distribution and transfers as my products have largely been sold from word of mouth and solely through my own distribution, so any high quality video source is my main concern. There is a distictive look to film frame rate, so the DVX and 24p fits the bill exactly for my needs. No need for the expense of film.

Yes, I agree, one can't say that any one camera is right for all jobs. Regular 60i and gain, and a light camera, such on a GL2 is likely better suited for casual on the spot dimly lit weddings, for example.

As for the LOW LIGHT capabilities of the DVX in 24p-- again, its only when you are shooting in extremely poorly lit situations that you are going to need aux. light- like a dark hallway with no light at all. Planned movie scenes and sets are easily adapted. It's not at all like the old days and needing bright light. A 75 watt bulb in the right place will make enough light for this camera in a room. No, its not "night vision", but I can hardly think when I'm going to need that in my own feature.

As to 16:9 shown on TV sets, I haven't honestly seen that the difference in ANY of the available methods yeild any detectable differences. Blowing up to theater movie screens, then, you might worry about it.

Adding effects to achieve 24 frame/film look-- well I dunno. I haven't had any real success in duplicating what was so easy and instant in the DVX. Again, actual full frame 24 fps is the most important element in film versus video perception. Color, grain, light and composition are secondary- though admittedly important elements in presentation.

Look at Monty Python -- they had essentially the same production values for the whole show, but used video indoors and film outdoors-- lights and sets for both. The difference in their video and film is instantly apparent. It's two different modes, and the difference is instantaneously apparent to most of us.

The eye detects very subtle differences in motion.Unless you change the actually interlaced to progressive and go from 60/30 fps to 24-- its not going to look like 24fps.

For some people, it is not going to matter a flea's knee which you use, interlaced, frame mode, or 24p. For some it will matter. You can perceive the difference, if it does matter. It might not in many cases.

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Old July 15th, 2003, 11:43 AM   #11
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Maybe it's just me, but I think you're over analyzing the situation. I personally prefer the look of the Canon over anything else on the market. More XL1's have been used in professional cinema situations than any other DV camera. The GL2 is the obvious choice for me especially since you are producing a DVD. In order to author a DVD, you will have to convert your footage to NTSC 29.97 MPEG2. Therefore, shooting native 30fps is much better and 24fps is useless unless your transfering directly to film for projection.

The GL2 is a newer smaller younger brother to the XL1s, and they have beautifully similar looks.

It all boils down to your opinion of "the look". The so called film-look is a myth in my opinion, because all films look differant. Who's to say film look is right, just because it came first?
I think the look you want is the "expensive look". That is acheived with proper lighting, dolly shots, jib shots, and good lenses.

I worked on a film project and shot some behing the scenes stuff with my GL2 of the same sets. The director is now kicking himself because the footage with the GL2 looks "better" and more "film-like" than the actual film footage.

Here's another thing. You do realize, don't you, that all films these days get transferred to digital, color corrected, rendered, and then retransferred to a negative. You can just as easily make good DV look like the "film-look" with the right NLE.
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Old July 15th, 2003, 02:49 PM   #12
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28 days later chose the XL1s above other digital cameras (including DVX100) at their disposal, why???

Well, in order to get the 'film look' (or the EXPENSIVE look that people want) one thing about the XL1s is that its lens can be changed. The quality of the elements in front far improve the actual shot teamed up with controlled lighting, exposure, angles, dollies, and all kinds of gear and skilled techniques.

I could give someone an DVX100 and then watch as they have rubbish footage. If you deeply look at the TRUE 'film-look' as in TRUE 35mm film, then you will see that its all in the lighting and other changes. If you have a chance to see the new James Bond film on DVD, look at the section on techniques. They show you Film footage as recorded straight from the camera and then after it had been enhanced and changed in the post, you will see that the changes make a greater improvement to the feel.

If I filmed my cousins wedding on film it would probably look like just a video, cos there would be no controlled lighting, scene colours, etc all that go to make a film look great.

The more I practice and get to know the camera, the more you realise that lighting, spot on exposure, and other external influences are the key to the film look, not just what camera you have. I bet a good DofP could make a film look great using any older video formats. Its all in making the sets right for the camera, to get the best out of it and best feel, not the camera that seems 'right' for the sets
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Old July 15th, 2003, 04:10 PM   #13
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Have you ever paid for an Arri, film, film developement, and the digital transfer out of your own pocket? Then you find out that the film wasn't exposed properly but it's too late because your talent moved to Montreal and you can't get that set rebuilt.

It tends to skew your opinion of the quality. Maybe I should have mentioned the details, but the point is the same.
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Old July 15th, 2003, 05:23 PM   #14
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<< 28 days later chose the XL1s above other digital cameras (including DVX100) at their disposal, why? >>

Actually, 28 Days Later was shot on the XL1, not XL1S (up to eight at one time), and the DVX100 was not available in the U.K. at the time of production. Hope this helps,

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Old July 15th, 2003, 06:32 PM   #15
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No, not all films are transferred digitally and corrected there. Color correction for film has been around since color film was invented. Typically, color errors are detected with the help of a digital sensor but still corrected using optical filters. Still, the digital transfers are 2k by 2k and higher with very expensive equipment so you can't compare it to a prosumer camera.

If the DP on your film set couldn't get better pictures than the gl2, he should have been fired.

Proper lighting and colorful sets go a long way toward creating a pretty set, but if your camera can't capture that, the film look doesn't matter.

This whole argument reminds me of margarine vs. butter. Margarine is always trying to say it tastes like butter. But butter would NEVER say it tastes like margarine.
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