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Old March 24th, 2002, 07:15 PM   #1
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Motion Picture Color? Is it a Filter or the Camera?

Hi..

Okay say you go to the movies and you watch a movie did you ever wonder how they get the picture to be of that nature? I mean is there a filter or is it just the cameras they use? If its the cameras is there software or filters available to manipulate that kinda picture?

Thanx
Alex
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Old March 24th, 2002, 08:07 PM   #2
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With regard to Hollywood 35mm motion picture film, there are several factors working together to get that look. First and foremost is a people factor... a highly skilled Director of Photography and his lighting and camera crew. Second, a combination of carefully controlled lighting and filters. Third, the properties of the 35mm motion picture camera itself... frame rate, film stock, optical resolution, etc. Then there's the soundtrack. Audio has an immense impact on how movies *look.*

The look you're talking about is not "making it look real." Quite the contrary. If you want something to look real, shoot it with video. The goal of expertly shot 35mm motion picture film, Hollywood style, is to make it look *better* than real.

Sometime you need to check out some old Technicolor and VistaVision movies such North by Northwest, Singin' in The Rain, The Searchers, etc. These movies don't look real at all. They look better than real! Magical... Fantastic... Hollywood.

Pick up a copy of the magazine American Cinematographer. About every month they'll have a feature article describing exactly how some key scene from some current Hollywood hit was set up, where the lights are placed and what kind, what filters are used, what film stock, etc. Those articles will go a long way toward answering your question here. Hope this helps,
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Old March 24th, 2002, 09:04 PM   #3
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Much thanx 2 your help.. When you said 35mm filming then I got the drift.. You can't get 35mm filming I assume with a digital video camcorder.. lol ... well thanx for the info.. I'm gonna check out the magazine PCE -Alex
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Old March 24th, 2002, 10:42 PM   #4
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Beyond the physical and aural aspects of the production, much of the visual look of movies now-a-days is crafted through "color correction", the meticulous manipulation of color and tonal values, shadows, highlights, and more. Almost no single shot in a feature film is presented on screen exactly as it was filmed, because, when filmed initially, they often look very bland. Colorists take those images, and breath a special life into them, mean't to evoke a certain time, feeling, or emotion.

Color correction is used not only feature film and commercials, but even in many of our own DV projects. Software such as Adobe's After Effects, and Discreet's Combustion offer great tool sets for manipulating our images to more closely resemble our ultimate vision.
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Old March 25th, 2002, 12:08 AM   #5
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Wow.. okay.. thanx for about 5 hours I thought it wouldn't be possible but now you enlightend my brain to new ideas.. Thanx
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Old March 25th, 2002, 06:47 AM   #6
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Chris,

you forgot the old John Wayne westerns like True Grit and Rooster Cogburn. The colours riding around in the deserts were amazing, even though they were mostly paintings.

Those old westerns always looked beautiful, plus they were pretty good movies to boot
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Old March 25th, 2002, 09:57 AM   #7
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I saw an interview with Steven Spielberg where he said he tends to watch the same four or five movies again and again before he starts a new project. I wish I could remember all of them...but the one I do remember is one with John Wayne, "The Searchers."

On DVD it really is a beautiful movie.
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Old March 25th, 2002, 11:35 AM   #8
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Casey:

Only a few features have been able to reap the benefits of digital color correction as the matchback to film is still prohibitive. "O Brother Where Art Thou" and "Amelie" were done this way but the vast majority of theatrical releases have only undergone the traditional chemical timing process which is far more limited than the tools available on a workstation or in a DaVinci. (Timing offers color correction via printing lights, which affect the red, green and blue palettes or overall luminance).
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Old March 25th, 2002, 01:56 PM   #9
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Thats true that most standard shots in films have only been timed, but its also a good bet that if you look at any digitally enhanced special effects shot in a film, for example many of the dinos in jurassic park, or some of the characters in lord of the rings, etc...those shots have been treated digitally and scanned back to film. O' Brother and Amelie were among the first to have the ENTIRE film go through that digital intermediate step. Where the DaVinci 2k, et al come in the most is in the telecine stage, that's why quite often your dvd's look better than what you saw in the theatre!
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