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Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.

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Old December 7th, 2004, 06:03 AM   #1
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FILMLOOK an easy way?


I have been looking around these Filmlook pages and I must admit that I have drowned in information.
Can anyone tell me an easy way to achieve a filmlook on my next production?
I am creative so if you give me hints i will figure out the rest...

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Old December 7th, 2004, 09:20 AM   #2
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Uhh.... Shoot Film?

Sorry, there is no "Easy way" in as much as there is no exact definition to "Film Look". Is it simply the frame rate? A specific gamma curve? Does everything have to be shot at a shutter speed of 1/48th of a second? Everyone seems to agree that professional lighting is a prime element.

Personally, I think the best way to get a "film look" is to shoot a film workflow. By this I mean, approach your film as if the camera were a very expensive rental, and you have a limited ammount of filmstock.

You can't afford to waste time on set, or film in the camera.

This will FORCE you to preplan your shoots. Storyboard your films. Have read-through and blocking rehearsals. Plan the lighting. Get the best lighting equipment and designer you can afford. (DOing it yourself? Take time to learn and plan the lighting BEFORE you are on the set)

Do what professional DP's do... shoot some test footage. Try out different exposures, shutter speeds, lighting configurations to see what works for the purposes of the scene and the movie.

Then, when all the pre-production is finished, (And this could take months) when you are on the set, and shooting you can focus on the performance in front of the lens.

Sorry if the answer is not "technical" in equipment terms, but I really do feel that a feature will "Look more like a movie" if it is approached as one.
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Old December 7th, 2004, 10:42 AM   #3
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Well first off you want to figure out which "film look" you are after:
A- It looks like Hollywood with high production values and everything looks beautiful.
B- It looks like it was shot on film.

I assume you are going after A (although you might want B for artistic purposes).

Good lighting is the most important thing when it comes to making your footage look good. You need a good DOP and lights. The easiest way to get a good DOP is to find one who is willing to help on your shoot.

Good art direction and costumes also help, but on limited budgets this can be difficult.

In camera:
Turn the sharpness setting down so there's no halos on high contrast transitions (i.e. lines and edges, tree branches).

If you have the DVX100, turn cinegamma on. You can also change the gamma curve setting to the flat one to increase exposure latitude a little bit (see the review of the DVX100).

In post production, the easiest ways to get a film look are:
A- Use curves to create a "s" to boost contrast. Also increase saturation.
In a program with a color correction with secondary color controls, you can limit the saturation boost to everything other than skin tones. I suggest this to avoid ending up with skin tones that don't look like skin tones.

Also while applying curves you can bring up the scopes or histogram in your software to make sure you are using the whole luminance range available to you (i.e. if your shot is underexposed, it'll show up on the histogram and you can adjust the curves to increase brightness by making it more concave down).

B- Magic Bullet Editors does a little more than A (easy way to add tints, and white and black diffusion), but costs money. You can do better than Magic Bullet if you have a little time to invest in learning color correction (maybe a week). If you have Vegas you pretty much have all the color correction tools you need. Whether you consider this "easy" is up to you.

In my opinion I wouldn't worry too much about film look other than having good lighting and doing A. The most important thing is to have a good story/idea/concept/vision, and not really how your film looks.
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Old December 7th, 2004, 10:43 AM   #4
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thanks for the reply...

I may have given the wrong expression of my goal...I am not looking for the easiest and fastest way out..I have made films before and know how much effort it takes... But thanks for the info...i think that is a really important approach...
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