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Old September 30th, 2004, 12:45 PM   #1
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Pointers please for the best film look possable from a DVX100A

I'm sure all the info is on these pages, but it seems to be divided into a thousand articles...could someone with experience, give me a few basic settings for the dvx 100A...in say six steps (less than10 anyway)...I don't need the the constructive help about style...or lighting...that's the side I'm supposed to be familiar with.

I'm going to video...I don't care about 16/9...I'm shooting PAL (pal camera)

My questions:

1. I assume I set the camera to 24P (setting 5) as opposed to advanced pulldown (setting 6)?

2. I'm shooting outside...hopefully overcast...shutter speed on, or off? If on 25FPS, or 60FPS..or faster?

3. A guide for easy white balance?

4. Exposure..should I underexpose 1/2 stop?...expose for highlights?

5. Pro mist...light...I hate diffused images and soft focus, but is it worth it to use a light pro mist filter...

6. How can I get the feeling of a short depth of focus, without a complicated rig...??? small Fstp...using the onboard ND'S? Is there a way of doing this, but using the onboard automatic light meter..like an aperture priority setting?

..uhh...

last question...??

7. Best Mini DV tapes??? least drops etc????

Thanks for the help....sorry again for the redundancy.
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Old October 8th, 2004, 10:14 PM   #2
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Re: Pointers please for the best film look possable from a DVX100A

1. Correct - 25P standard, not advanced (you wrote "24P", I assume a typo)
2. For film-look - 25FPS
3. Zoom in on white piece of paper and balance. Repeat every time you change location or lighting setup. If you want a bluey look, use a pink piece of paper, etc.
4. Don't underexpose. If something blows out, take care of it in post. If underexposed, you can't.
5. Yup. It will look more filmic, make your talent look better and help reduce DOF (see next question)
6. Use internal ND filters, Pro Mists, etc. Open iris up as far as you can without adding too much glass in front of lens.
Scrim down or lamp down your lights enough to keep the iris as close to wide open as possible.
Move camera as far away from talent as possible. Zoom in as close as your shot allows. Focus. Shoot.
7. Best Panasonic tapes AY-DVM63MQ (Master's Series), but ONLY if you have been using dry lube tapes in the past. DO NOT mix wet and dry lube tapes in the DVX or you will have to pay for a good cleaning.

In spite of your admonition not to, I will add:
8. Use 16:9. It's what people expect from film and it will help the look.
9. Light for film. There's no substitute for good dramatic lighting, even in an interview shoot. Use some soft lighting - video loves soft light.
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Old October 9th, 2004, 04:08 AM   #3
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As a fellow DVX100 PAL user and using the filmlook settings a lot I would advise the following:

1. I assume I set the camera to 24P (setting 5) as opposed to advanced pulldown (setting 6)?
** The advanced pulldown isn't available on the PAL version. It's just 50i or 25P you can choose from (thank God). I use the Scenefile 6 function which I modified a bit. Lesser detail and more blacks is what I changed to create my favorite setting.

2. I'm shooting outside...hopefully overcast...shutter speed on, or off? If on 25FPS, or 60FPS..or faster?
** Most of the time I use the automatic framerate. Exposuring is set to manual and judged on the lcd-screen and works fine for me.

3. A guide for easy white balance?
** I haven't found time to deal this function, something is confusing me on the DVX100 regarding this function. So what I do is using the button on the frontside of the camera (below the lens). I change between indoor and outdoor and it works okay, but it can be better I think.

4. Exposure..should I underexpose 1/2 stop?...expose for highlights?
** Slightly is recommended, you can tweak this inside the Scenefile setting.

5. Pro mist...light...I hate diffused images and soft focus, but is it worth it to use a light pro mist filter...
** Sorry, no experience with these filters. So far I've done some little filtering in Vegas.

6. How can I get the feeling of a short depth of focus, without a complicated rig...??? small Fstp...using the onboard ND'S? Is there a way of doing this, but using the onboard automatic light meter..like an aperture priority setting?
** Yes, the ND can be helpful for shorter DOF. Also changing the shutterspeed will help I suppose. But it won't get you as far as I could do with my old Nikon photocamera.

7. Best Mini DV tapes??? least drops etc????
** I use Maxell and Fuji standard tapes, without problems. Other people recommend the Panasonic Pro tapes (I can't get them here without hassle so I stick with Maxell).

If you want to see some filmlook PAL work with the DVX100, check my website (URL below): the projects BitterSweet and Arenahoj pt 1 & 2 are shot with it.

Hope this is of any help.

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Old October 9th, 2004, 03:00 PM   #4
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To Jack and Peter,
Thanks very much for your pointers...I ended up shooting just before I received them....I will post my results when edited.

All worked out pretty well, with one scary discovery....you get more than you see on the screen. So I have a mike and a matt box in a lot of shots...But this should not be such a problem as I probably will do a proper telecine. Never the less...i never had this problem with my sony camera.

thanks again
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Old October 10th, 2004, 11:15 AM   #5
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4. Don't underexpose. If something blows out, take care of it in post. If underexposed, you can't.

In my opinion (and Peter seems to concur sorta) it is the other
way around. You cannot repair blow outs. When it is clipping the
information is gone and will be gone forever. I slightly under-
expose when shooting.

Ofcourse you need to take care of your shadow area's as well,
but that is usually much less of an annoyance than clipping
highlights.
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Old October 10th, 2004, 11:51 AM   #6
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I agree with Rob about exposure: almost all video looks better if it is underexposed by one half to one stop. (Of course, it is difficult to determine what is "correct exposure")

Another point about shooting wide open: The difference in depth of field between shooting wide open at f/2 versus f/4-f/5.6 is not that great on these small chip cameras, but what you are doing is allowing the greater depth of field to work in your favor at the higher stops. This means that critical focus will be more forgiving, and trying to set focus using an lcd finder is somewhat a bit of a guessing game in the best of circumstances. That picture that looked sharp when you shot it, suddenly is not so good when viewed on a high res monitor.

Additionally, all lenses perform better toward the middle range than wide open. This is fact of nature whether you are shooting video, film or still photography. In motion picture shooting, wide open aperatures are avoided on all but the most expensive lenses, and they are invariably tested before the start of principal photography.

You can check out the actual differences between shooting at f/2 and f/5.6 at this site: http://www.panavision.co.nz/main/kba...alcFOVform.asp

Wayne Orr, SOC
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Old October 10th, 2004, 11:33 PM   #7
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You probably already know this, and it's only my opinion, but I'll mention them anyway:

1. Use manual iris and manual focus. Iris changes and focus searching will call out "cheap home movie". If you can avoid changing the iris during a shot it will also look more cinematic. Of course manual focus is just fine, just maintain control and don't go searching for focus.

2. If possible, avoid zooming while rolling tape. The zoom (in my humble opinion) makes it look like tv video or home movies. Preset your focal length and if you need to change the composition, dolly in or out rather than zooming. It's a hard habit to break, but well worth the effort.

My real job is in television news, so I have to zoom and roll iris all the time as events unfold, but when I'm shooting my XL1-s on my own projects, I try to preset my iris and keep my fingers off the zoom. I do lose a few shots that way, but the shots that work are much more pleasing. It's also more challenging when using the long end of the lens, because of the demands for follow focus...not easy with that crazy XL1-s lens!
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Old October 19th, 2004, 05:44 PM   #8
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I rediscovered this one today. http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/pubs/whp/whp...les/WHP053.pdf It's very techy heavy, but there is some interesting stuff there.

My own personal preferences for filmlook in no order of importance are;

1. Think big with your compositions. Composition, composition, composition. Make the frame interesting.

2. Glidecam/Steadicam. If you want to look film like you MUST have something like this. There isn't a single film made these days without one. Of course you can still make films like Hitchcock and I won't complain.

3. 24p/25p. Progressive scan, again a must have.

4. Ditch the MTV look. Think about your pans and tilts, and regulate the speed. The BBC white paper I gave the link to gives extremely good advice regarding how to cope with faster or more constant camera movement.

5. Lighting. No, motion picture lighting is not about having a high contrast. It's about atmosphere and mood. These days apart from Daytime TV chat shows and REALLY cheap soaps, most high end TV shows are indistinguishable from expensive films. X Files, CSI, Alias etc are all examples of this. You can use them for ideas too, not just the huge big budget films. TV just isn't 3 point lighting any more!

This isn't all there is to lighting however. Lighting is not really much to do with film look as such, although it has a lot to do with 'high end look'. After all, how many 8mm or 16mm home movies do you know of that had big lighting setups? If you wanted to emulate old film home movies lighting is a non issue compared to adding grain and shooting progressive scan.

6. Depth of field. Forget it. Anyone who tells you depth of field is essential to film look is talking through their backside (the one thing I disagree with in the BBC paper, although it too points out other methods of achieving this without simply defocussing the background). Listen to James Camerons commentary on T2. Older filmmakers HATED shallow depth of field. Depth of field has nothing to do with film look. It might however have something to do with a 'modern high end look'. Depth of field is a preference and it depends on what you want to do. If you want to serperate your actorsa from the background you can use lighting, or diffusion instead of defocussing. If you zoom in with a camera to make the DoF shallower, you also decrease the apparent depth of perspective within the scene. So you give with one hand and take with the other.

Further to this, and using 8mm and 16mm film as examples, those two formats do not have shallow DoF. So as you can see DoF has nothing to do with film look.

7. As Brad points out, NEVER, I repeat NEVER use automatic settings on a camera.

8. To second Wayne, slight under exposure is better than over exposure. Although don't be fooled by shiny objects in your scene. The odd small highlight over 100 ire is perfectly ok, and it can be made broadcast legal in post if that is your intentional outlet.

9. Get a graduated ND filter. Best thing you'll ever buy. Nothing makes consumer DV stand out more than a blown out sky or window. True pro cameras can be set up to deal much better with such light contrast ratios, but consumer ones are a bit useless in this regard. You might need a pretty strong one however, or maybe even 2 to layer on top of each other.

10. Don't be a hack film director in editing. Respect your footage and don't cut like an MTV jock. If you are shooting 16:9 people need longer to take in a frame than 4:3 assuming it's on a 16:9 TV set. Film look is how your piece is edited as well as how the picture looks. The editing can contribute one heck of a lot towards the actual 'feel' of your piece.

11. Turn the camera image stabiliser off!!

To conclude, for a film look whether it is 8mm, 16mm, or 35mm (after all 35mm can be shot in totally natural light too. Look at some of The Bourne Identity and listen to the commentary) the essentials of filmlook are;

1. Shoot progressive scan.
2. Grain/damage (though this isn't essential to the high end part I will mention next).
3. Turn the camera image stabiliser off (I am amazed nobody ever mentions this) as a film camera doesn't have one.

Those 3 are the essentials to filmlook. Remember people, amateur 8mm footage etc suffered from blowouts and crap exposure, and so does film shot by someone who doesn't know what they are doing. Incidentally FilmFX does an amazing job at replicating 8mm and 16mm filmlooks for grain and damage.

To get a high end professional film look;

1. Shoot progressive scan.
2. Keep the latitude, avoid blowing out highlights to a large degree.
3. Get a graduated ND or two.
4. Get a Glidecam or equivalent and learn how to use it. Don't get a cheapo immitation that doesn't allow you control of the gimbal post. The Steadymate for example is pure crap, as are most of the copycats as they don't allow you control to be able to compose the shot. Steadicam and Glidecam whether they are the full sized rigs, or the prosumer models such as the 2000 Pro are TWO HANDED operations. If someone shows you a device that uses one hand walk away. But one thing is certain, for big contemporary feature film style shots you NEED a steadying device. There is no getting away from it.
5. Find a way of making a camera tracking dolly. A Steadicam is not a dolly, and it's a bad idea to use one for shots that are better served by a dedicated device.
6. Learn composition.
7. Learn how shots relate to each other so that you can keep the nice flowing movement without jarring.
8. Learn lighting. Actually no. Don't learn lighting. If you haven't a clue the filmmaking business is a cooperative one. If you don't learn yourself, find someone who can do it for you.
9. Related to above, if you can't do something, find someone who can.
10. Sound. Gotta have a really good sound mix. Good visuals only go so far. Bad sound is unforgivable. So get learning about sound recording. If not, find someone who can.

All of the above is related. You have to think about everything. If you are good, and really know what you are doing, you don't need Magic Bullet etc. People who really learn the way can get footage that looks incredibly filmlike even before it has been graded. Anything after that is the icing on the cake.

Sorry for waffling.
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Old October 19th, 2004, 06:58 PM   #9
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Simon, some thoughts:

1. Can't possibly agree with you more. I pass on the wisdom that was imparted to me when I was learning Steadicam: take that little 2" monitor and blow it up to 40 feet across in your mind. Think big, indeed. But speaking of Steadicam...

2. <<Glidecam/Steadicam. If you want to look film like you MUST have something like this. There isn't a single film made these days without one.>>

Bit of an exaggeration there...quite a few films around that don't use Steadicam. I'd point you to Wes Anderson, who insisted on having a mammoth length of dolly track built and leveled for a walk-and-talk in Central Park just to avoid using Steadicam (much to Gene Hackman's amusement), and the Cohen Brothers who VERY rarely use a Steadicam.

4. <<Ditch the MTV look.>> I wish this was the case, but I see plenty of previews for films made for the videogame generation that look just like music videos (Charlie's Angels II, yikes).

6. <<So as you can see DoF has nothing to do with film look.>> Your point is well taken, but my experience is that since small format video has a hard time with wide shots (lots of small details etc.), being able to soften the background will "make" the camera look better than it is by not asking it to resolve everything.

9. << Get a graduated ND filter. Best thing you'll ever buy.>>

I own several but don't often get in a situation where I can use them, i.e. a non-tilting shot where the sky is above the action. I would probably recommend a polarizer followed by Promists and Ultracons before investing in grads. But it definitely depends on what type of shooting you find yourself doing. Someone who specializes in nature films or sweeping vistas would certainly get a lot of use from a grad.

11. <<Turn the camera image stabiliser off!!>>

Hmm. If it is an optical system and doesn't degrade the image, I can't quite see as how this will reduce the "film look". I would rather suggest that handheld be avoided unless it is intentional. Many like to shoot DV handheld because the cameras are built to be used that way and it's quick, rather than what the material dictates.
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Old October 20th, 2004, 01:02 AM   #10
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Thanks for all your replies...

As for Simon, that PDF was the most complicated piece of N&%* I've seen for some time..not that it was bad..but the point of my request was to look for 'simple' pointers.

Otherwise I think Charles well sumarized remarks for the rest of that post.

With regards to camera moves. In the beginning of the year I posted some reqests about steadicamlike contraptions... I tested both the glidecam and Hollywood lite. Back then I wrote that allthough I thought the Glidecam was a sexier object, and seemed like the better choice...I truly beleive the Hollywood lite easier to use..

If you take both of them, and run down the street chasing your favorite villain, and just do your best to hold these things steadily...I guarantee you will get a smoother look out of the Hollywood lite (just because it doesn't have that extra gimbel, and, the crappy ball joint that makes the thing work is not too smooth, thus the extra friction and easier weight on your hand, makes it more controlable).

With that being said, in regards to camera moves and cinema, moving a camera is not necasarily going to make your work look great. Well thought out fixed shots, can payoff very well. A fantastic steadycam shot, or especially a travelling dolly shot, with a tiny little bump in it, seems great in your camera's monitor, but will reduce your film into a very amatuerish looking piece if it gets projected on a larger screen. There is a reason while all the "bigboy" equiptment costs alot, and takes a lot of manpower to move. I would suggest to any filmaker trying to make professional looking work, with limited budgets and knowhow, to never forget that "Less can be more".

As for one of my pointers...I'm still finishing my little "spot". However the one thing I'm feeling was a mistake about my shoot was using promist (1/8th 1/4). I rehearsed without it, and I think I preferred the sharpness. The promist sort of served to give me an old fashioned look, more like film, but in a "Cheesy" way. However I'm going to do a Tape to Tape grade on a very good machine (with a very good colorist)...maybe I will change my mind after this. Results to follow.

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Old October 20th, 2004, 04:19 AM   #11
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Hi Charles,

>>Bit of an exaggeration there...quite a few films around that >>don't use Steadicam. I'd point you to Wes Anderson, who

I agree with you here. At the beginning of my post I said this "2. Glidecam/Steadicam. If you want to look film like you MUST have something like this. There isn't a single film made these days without one. Of course you can still make films like Hitchcock and I won't complain."

The meaning being that I accept that not all films use Steadicam, and in fact some of the greatest films have been made without one. However the last part of my post to which you refer was where I was pointing out how to get a contemporary high end look. Although there are the directors you mention, in the scheme of things it is pretty rare not to use a Steadicam. Hence the idea of a contemporary high end look.

4. <<Ditch the MTV look.>> I wish this was the case, but I see >>plenty of previews for films made for the videogame >>generation that look just like music videos (Charlie's Angels >>II, yikes).

Hehe! Yes, I was thinking about those films as I typed. But I didn't want to encourage it. I suppose I should have made a third section called "Classy High End Look".

>>Your point is well taken, but my experience is that since >>small format video has a hard time with wide shots (lots of >>small details etc.), being able to soften the background

That's true. However if you have a landscape for instance, in prgressive scan as long as the pan rate is taken care of, a moving pan of a landscpe can acheive the same thing due to the blur of movement. Further, if the camera is moving, as the BBC article points out, the audience should be looking at the object you are concentrating on rather than the background. So again, moving the camera can achieve the same idea in a different way, but by distraction instead.

>>I own several but don't often get in a situation where I can >>use them, i.e. a non-tilting shot where the sky is above the

Recently I have used them quite a lot. A polarizer is okay. But for example, I use a 16:9 adaptor that cannot have a circular polarizer attached due to extreme vignetting. Okay, I could splash out for a matte box, but at the moment that isn't viable for me to do. So in shots where I have been outside and the sky is fairly high contrast with the foreground, I have bodged the ND onto the front of the lens and used the tracking dolly. Having a blown out sky is something I hate having and often it is not possible on a consumer camera to have a nice sky and a nice foreground with such adaptors.

>>Hmm. If it is an optical system and doesn't degrade the >>image, I can't quite see as how this will reduce the "film

Well, I mentioned this to be accurate. Plus even optical stabilisers 'creep'. In some cases I have got smoother shots with less unwanted movement on the Glidecam with the stabiliser turned off. It's the same with pans. Never have the stabiliser on when doing a pan because some movements can be wrongly interpreted by the stabiliser.

In handheld shots having the stabiliser off is best too for a more filmlike handheld effect. There is a fantastic example of how really shakey handheld camerawork can work really well in Spiderman 2 when Peter is pleading with his boss to give him another chance after he was late for his pizza delivery job. A stabiliser can often sap the energy out of a shot. If the shot is supposed to be rock solid and stable, then a tripod should be used rather than the stabiliser. If hendheld is used I would assume a more energetic look is being strived for, hence again the stabiliser should be off.

But yeah, at the end of the day it is personal preference for the look of the production.
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Old October 20th, 2004, 04:29 AM   #12
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TO SIMON

Regarding:
4. <<Ditch the MTV look.>> I wish this was the case, but I see >>plenty of previews for films made for the videogame >>generation that look just like music videos (Charlie's Angels >>II, yikes).

THAT'S BECAUSE YOU ARE WATCHING THE PREVIEWS! PREVIEWS ARE USUALLY VERY CUTTY AND MTV LIKE....MAYBE YOU SHOULD WATCH THE FILMS!
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Old October 21st, 2004, 05:41 AM   #13
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YES I HAVE WATCHED THE FILMS. No need to shout, and you're quote wasn't from me.
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Old October 21st, 2004, 06:22 AM   #14
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"As for Simon, that PDF was the most complicated piece of N&%* I've seen for some time..not that it was bad..but the point of my request was to look for 'simple' pointers."

It's not complicated if you take on board the conclusions of what he is saying. Most of it is Chinese to me, but I still understand the crux of what they are saying, plus their pointers as to how to achieve a more film like look. From some of the examples I have seen the BBC produce they often manage an extremely high end look to their programmes, even in documentary interviews.

In fact quite often I have a hard time determining what they have shot on film and what they have done with video. For example I know for a fact that their Randall and Hopkirk Deceased remake was shot on Super 16mm and then graded afterwards. Yet very similar looks have been applied to series shot on video since. The BBC seem to have become very adept at achieving a high end 'filmic' look. So even though you wanted a simple solution, if you want to be better able to apply similar processes in the future it would be as well to take the time to digest it rather than dismiss it as N&%* or whatever.
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Old November 2nd, 2004, 01:10 PM   #15
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An answer to my own questions..link panasonic example

This is where all my questions were leading to...here is the "faux" spot I created with my panasonic camera.


http://www.jonathanlennard.com/actor's/
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