"filmlook vs. professional-look" -- Most filmlook arguments here are wrong - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

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Old September 16th, 2002, 07:28 AM   #16
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I must agree with stephenvv, and I am very pleased to see that someone here understands the difference. Yes a video shot in 24P can be made to look like film if the "professional look" is obtained carefully via lighting, depth of field and post production, but stephen's argument that Super 8mm film will always look like film no matter what is 100% accurate.

Basically there are two things separating videos from looking like films.

#1 Lighting and everything else involving how the video is shot and what is done to it in post processing. This is what 99% of the people on this board seem to think is the key to making a video that "looks like film". Super 8mm film has the advantage of actually being film and that factor will help in obtaining a look that can only be replicated with very careful lighting...but that's not the whole issue here:

#2 Motion. A 24P camera is MANDATORY for obtaining the true motion effect of film. True there are some computer processes that are getting better and better at mimicking this, but 30P and 60i will never truly look like film no matter how good the lighting is. I have a digital camera that under proper lighting achieves film like images. Many people do not realize that pictures taken with it were not shot on film. That right there shows the importance of lighting. However, those still frames lack the most important part of shooting on video - movement! The motion is not there on a still picture, but give that a 30P or 60i movement to it and suddenly those fabulous still frames will no longer look like film, but will look like video.

Bear in mind that Super 8mm film generally runs at 18FPS or 24FPS. Still, it always looks like film. On the other end of the stick, there have been film processes in the past that shot and projected at 30FPS. Did it look like film? Yes. What was it that looked "videoish" about it? The motion!

Bottom line here, start with a 24P camera and then worry about your lighting (aka "professional look") as you shoot. In the end your production will look much more like film than someone shooting with a non-24P camera like the XL1.

Now can anyone tell me just when Panasonic is going to actually release their new camera? I've been patiently waiting for months. :)
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Old September 16th, 2002, 09:15 AM   #17
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Hi Brad,

Details on the Panasonic AG-DVX100 are here http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?s=&threadid=3614 The ship date is October 10th.

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Old September 16th, 2002, 11:52 AM   #18
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Brad:

It's nice to have some validation and find some one else who undertstands this perspective of film vs. video.

Your #1 and #2 points are absolutely spot on.

Thanks for posting.
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Old September 16th, 2002, 12:59 PM   #19
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* * STEVENVV * *

Well... I went and shot it for 6 hours last night.

Yes, you are correct in assuming natural and artificial. Last night was the artificial. I am not a lighting designer and I can see why I am not. I shot in an f-stop range of 1.8-2.2 and a -3 gain. Very dark. I had a lot of depth, with a headache number of, overexposed, areas. Nothing I can't fix in editing, but jeez. The lighting I used was some modified halogen work lights which had a yellow orange hue. Which I happened to like. It fits the story nicely. However, I had wished I realized before shooting 2 hours that it was much too dark. Very sharp and deep shadows. Creatures of the night. I'm glad its fundamental elements are dramatic.

Cinematic maybe the wrong word. You could put a home movie into a theatre and it would be cinematic. Mean't for large screen viewing.

Smooth meaning action and camera movement. Also, editing. Because of the nature of the 'work' of improvisation, I used a tripod 2% of the time and the rest was hand held. The improvs proved very hard to track and keep in frame.

I might reshoot the scene... Not sure yet until I sit and mull it over. I will see what post turns up...
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Old September 16th, 2002, 01:06 PM   #20
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I have found that you can extract a lot of detail from shadows in post (as long as you adjust the gamma curve to keep highlights from clipping) much easier than finding details in highlights with DV footage.

So too dark may not be a problem.

Also make sure that your setup on the NTSC monitor is correct (also called IRE. DV is 0 IRE, but NTSC is +7.5 IRE) Mismatch between devices can cause footage to look darker than it actually is. Computer NLE generally default to 0 IRE.

What editing/viewing setup do you have?
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Old September 16th, 2002, 01:12 PM   #21
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* * EDITING * *

I have both Avid XPRESS DV 3.0 and Premiere 6.0. Both I am a novice with. I am more comfortable with Premiere at the moment. I haven't decided on which system to use, but I am leaning towards Premiere.

Trial by Fire.
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Old September 16th, 2002, 01:20 PM   #22
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Are you using a NTSC monitor to preview or just computer monitor?
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Old September 16th, 2002, 01:24 PM   #23
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Flat screen LCD computer monitor...

I am about to acquire a 19 inch Trinitron too...
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Old September 16th, 2002, 11:31 PM   #24
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Brad (and Stephen):

I agree with most of your assertions, but I will challenge the 24P vs 30P distinction. Whereas I do feel that film shot at 30fps and transferred via telecine to NTSC does have a different motion characteristic than 24fps footage given the same transfer, I don't think that it loses its filmic appearance enough to claim that it looks "videoish". I just shot a music video on Super 16, and while much of it was shot at 24 fps, some of it was shot at 30 fps for various reasons. We also shot with a double-speed music track at 60 fps and transferred at 30 fps to achieve slow motion footage with lip sync. I was somewhat concerned that the 30 fps would not look good intercut with the 24 fps, but I can't say that viewing the final cut, I can discern which is which--and I'm looking very closely, believe me.

I have also seen choppy-looking 24p digital footage, suffering from worse strobing than 24 fps film in my estimation. I've heard various theories about why this might be.

My attraction to the XL1 is almost entirely because of the smoothness of the "30p" (aka faux-progressive) Frame Movie mode. I look forward to seeing the new Panasonic other than in a brief trade show floor once-over, but I am not necessarily assuming that the 24p characteristic will blow away the XL1's look in frame mode just because of the 3:2 pulldown.

This of course is my opinion, on a subject which is probably one of the most hotly debated on this and other forums!
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Old September 16th, 2002, 11:42 PM   #25
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Well, 30 fps film does look more like video than 24 fps film, which I think was Brad's point, especially when lots of motion is involved. But it still looks like film.

Per choppy 24p, that seems to be a shutter speed issue from what I understand. It's something to see how it works with the new Panasonic.

Per Frame-Mode. Frame mode is much lower resolution than 24P. Motion is nice, but you only get around 320 lines of vertical resolution vs. 480 with the Panasonic. Since the Panny does true 30P as well, it will blow frame mode out of the water.

That's why I just sold my XL1 and lens package to get the Panny. 24P won't look like frame mode though. 24P will look like lower res 24P HD. Tweaking the shutter and iris will affect the motion strobe, hopefully enough to get filmlike motion blur.
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Old September 18th, 2002, 01:45 AM   #26
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Okay, this is where I pipe in.

stephenvv:
You are correct in your assessment of the issues. No problem there. BUT I will almost always know if a piece is shot with HD or a video camera BECAUSE of the deeper DoF.

Currently, most people will "associate" a shallow DoF with film only because that's one of the qualities of 35mm lenses and not something that current stock video cameras can match. Right now I think calling the shallow depth of field that comes from 35mm lenses "professional look" is something that confuses me. Why do you consider it the "professional look"? The DoF of a 35mm lens (with the same Depth of View and distance to subject) cannot be accomplished with standard video cameras HD, or otherwise. It's really through the use of 35mm lenses and proper equipment. So because I use this equipment than that's professional? I agree that because of equipment like the mini35 this issue is no longer a "limitation" of video itself. Keep in mind I say 35mm lenses and not 16mm lenses or super 8 equipment.

So in the end, YES, it's not technically the medium of film, but it's the association with 35mm equipment that I believe is important. Of course that will change in the future. Hopefully video cameras will come with shallow focus lenses equivalent to 35mm.

Brad:
"True there are some computer processes that are getting better and better at mimicking this, but 30P and 60i will never truly look like film no matter how good the lighting is. "

I don't believe this is true. I'm sure your footage looks great. But most people don't understand any of the issues discussed here. Viewer tests like that are not empirically accurate, unless you have some other equivalent footage to compare it to.

Now, I propose this. I bet my footage (with the mini35) and a post pulldown will look more like "film" (and beautiful) than something shot with the panny shooting the exact same scene. In fact I'll probably do that test.

Again, I don't want to start a debate or argument here, but as a DP and director I believe the aesthetic of a shallow DoF is an important part of my craft. AGAIN this is a visual aesthetic, perhaps my very own personal taste. All this is really not as interesting as talking about good lighting anyway.

I also believe that in the future hopefully we will be seeing more things shot at a higher frame rate. Why? Because it's looks more like what we see with our eye. I would still want to be able to control the DoF in that case. Douglas Trumbull was a pioneer in this concept with Showscan (70mm @ 60fps).

Anyway, I'm tired, flame away.
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Old September 18th, 2002, 02:35 AM   #27
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Only thing i want to flame Justin is you having a mini35 and i dont :)

Jokes aside though. We are going on in great technical detail about wether or not you can make it look like film with 50/60i materials or if you have to go 24p. We also talk about if shallow DOF is what gives the trick, or if it is lighting.

In the midst of all this debate, between all the "its impossible" and the "it can be done!". Remember who's watching the things we produce. They are not seasoned veterans of cinematography or experts in technical post process techniques and deinterlacing algorithms.

If the end results looks good then its all good. But it's the end results that matters. Not the way there.

I remember a few years ago, when i worked a lot with film people (meaning they prefere to shoot on 35 mm than on anything else). You faced the definite comments like "it's impossible to use video" and "video can never look like film ever". I always asked them. If you shoot on 35 mm and telecine it to edit for your final product, a broadcast piece. You are going from a very high def material (film) to video def (PAL/NTSC). And how ever you turn/twist/rotate it, it's still only 720x576(PAL) pixels with a limited colour depth. The end format doesn't really care what you started with. It will still be the same no matter if the original material was 35mm, 16 mm, 8mm, HDTV or Hi-8.

You can draw a parallel to the debate about CGI effects being good or not. I've worked with visual effects since the early 90's. and there are very few films where i've at the first sitting haven't noticed the effects. And the one thing those films had in common, was a good story and compelling images. Those two make me concentrate on the film that unfolds infront of me instead of looking for errors in the effects. The rest, well.. they come and go without leaving a trace.

Ok. i'll stop ranting now :)
/Henrik
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Old September 18th, 2002, 03:54 AM   #28
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just to add petrol to the flame

what happens when you use a pal xl1/s shooting at 25p, will that again be more film like?

Surely 1fps difference would be nearly impossible to see with the naked eye?

kermie
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Old September 18th, 2002, 06:41 AM   #29
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Great write Justin! Can only agree with you (and I've seen your
images! Damn.).

Kermie, a 1 fps difference is not detectable. So yes, a 25p camera
will probably a very compatible motion signature to 24p (if correct
shutter speeds are used and such).

I myself am experimenting with shallow DoF to increase the
charm and quality of my pictures. I cannot afford the mini35
rig + lenses, so I'll have to do it with the stuff I have. I had
some great results though and am planning to write some of
this stuff down with pictures. Don't hold your breath though.
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Old September 18th, 2002, 12:20 PM   #30
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<<<-- Originally posted by Justin Chin : Okay, this is where I pipe in.

Again, I don't want to start a debate or argument here, but as a DP and director I believe the aesthetic of a shallow DoF is an important part of my craft. AGAIN this is a visual aesthetic, perhaps my very own personal taste. All this is really not as interesting as talking about good lighting anyway.

Anyway, I'm tired, flame away. -->>>

I'll pull out the flamethrower :)

DoF may well be an important part of your craft, but it's not related to why video looks one way and film another. And does not affect "filmlook" at all.

Consider the deep focus techniques of Gregg Toland. He had to use some tricks given his lenses and stocks, but the huge DoF certainly does not make Citizen Kane look like video or "unprofessional".

So, when someone says "Use short DoF to make your footage look more like film", I always cringe. Because all that happens is you get short DoF video, not film.

Now, if you deinterlace or shoot progressive, add grain, change gamma curves, adjust color rendition, it may start to actually look like somewhat like low-rez film. But then, you could lose the short DoF and still look somewhat like low-rez film.

I was watching a Bravo show, shot on video, that used lots of short DoF shots and low key lighting. It looked like video, although the cinematography and lighting were of very high quality. But interlaced screams video, so it does not fool anyone, except maybe in a still image.
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