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

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Old January 26th, 2005, 01:48 PM   #16
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In my opinion, the most effective places to spend your money on making your image look good are:

1- Lighting
Gear-wise, you need lights of course. You also need talent, which you can't buy in the same way you'd buy a piece of gear.

2- Color Correction/Enhancement
Adding a "s" gamma curve with any curves plug-in will immediately make your picture look better if shooting on video. Film naturally has this s-shaped gamma curve.
Selectively boosting color saturation via any color corrector with secondary controls can also improve your image a lot (i.e. boost all colors except for skin tones).
After that, you can create looks through adding tints (via a 3-way color corrector, curves, or magic bullet) and any of the various forms of diffusion.
You can also add filters to emulate on-camera filters... especially graduated color filters, which are better to add in post rather than on-camera.
If you want to take that further, you can use masks/windows and secondary controls to apply color corrections to specific areas of the images.

All that is practically free with most NLEs. Vegas for example can do all of the above. So can Final Cut once you get a curves filter.

3- Set decoration / art direction
Not really gear-related.

4- Tripod and/or steadicam-type device
In my opinion, the #1 mistake with low-budget films is not using a tripod. The camerawork is all shaky and distracts the audience. Using a tripod solves all of this. If you can afford it, a steadicam-type device (i.e. glidecam) or dolly would be sweet to have.
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Old January 26th, 2005, 05:20 PM   #17
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Just wanted to say thankyou to the people putting forth Ideas on the subject! It looks like we're gradually heading in the right direction.
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Old January 27th, 2005, 06:18 AM   #18
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Thanks for the info,I will check out your link.
I have a Pentax SLR with many lenses ,will try it and see.
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Old January 27th, 2005, 04:55 PM   #19
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I rushed trough this tread, so I don't know everything thatís discussed.
I'm attempting the cheapest way to have high resolution results with a 35mm adapter recorded by two DV cameras.
I have a tread in the -Alternative Imaging Methods- category:
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Old January 27th, 2005, 05:31 PM   #20
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Glenn made two good points...with a good NLE that can do color correction (I recommend vegas 5..i just love it) you can use almost any camera and if you work hard enough get very good results (though I really don't recommend the sony DVDhandicam...the image is just terribly noisey...worse than even the cheaper minidv fact I watched some video on a minidv handicam today..and it didn't look that bad at all) . My only reason for recommending the optura in my first post was the potential for progressive scan if what I have read about the direct to disk photo trick is true. Whether or not your results with just any camera are "film like" is more or less dependent on where your standards of film look lie.

Second...steady cam is a great idea. Check out this thread for a simple steady cam you can make for $14
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Old January 30th, 2005, 04:25 AM   #21
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How is the GS-120 considered as a low-cost way of getting started? I ask because it is currently in my possesion and was also purchased as my first mini-DV cam. I was pretty impressed with it at first, but the DV artifacts are noticable all over the image. I bought it on the strength of it 3-CCD capabilities, but it seems like the CCDs just aren't big enough to give clear quality that other more expensive cameras obviously have.

Is the GS-120 deemed to be a good camera for indie filmaking or is the GS400 maybe more likely to be a superior candiate for this?
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Old January 30th, 2005, 02:04 PM   #22
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I think some people are saying if you work really hard (as in, good lighting, good audio, good whathaveyou) that any camera such as a 120 will give you decent results once you've corrected everything in a video editing environment. No doubt this is true. The amount of man hours may be staggering though. I think the "getting started" phrase points mostly to learning the process. The process of camera position, how to frame a shot, how to direct the talent, how to get your product into an editing environment and then manipulate it into something watchable, how to match music to video, etc. etc. etc. - all of these things can be learned "getting started" on a 120 or many other cameras.

Personally, after some soul searching I've decided I'm just too dam lazy to go around capturing poor video or correcting the mistakes of a consumer type camera, so I've got my sights set on a AG-DVX100a, a new 3gig/64bit computer (ready for windows 64bit), and a bunch of goodies like some lighting gear, mics, maybe an anamorphic lens. Hopefully all of this for under 5g - used ofcourse. I think with this setup broadcast/orfilm festival quality is capable - I just have to learn how to use the gear!

Then on the other hand, every day I spend shopping is another day I could be shooting if I had something like the 120 in my hand. And I'm going on probably 60 days of shopping since I decided to get into video. You make the call!
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Old February 4th, 2005, 04:08 PM   #23
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Interesting topic, with some great responses already. I'll attempt to coherently add my thoughts to the fray.

First of all, I thoroughly agree that one should learn the fundamentals before messing around with 35mm adapters. I started shooting SP Betacam for broadcast about ten years ago, using the Sony BVP 90 for the most part, and trust me - there are a million things you can learn about composition & light that will improve your results far more effectively than strapping a CD spindle and electric motor to your filter ring.

That leads me on to another point that's already been touched on here. I think it's possible to build your own DOF adapter to a usable production standard, but it's certainly not going to be a simple, or cheap proposition. Will you save money over a Mini35? Undoubtedly. However, I don't think you'll build something that's "ready for prime time" in 3-hours with $20 worth of gear. The Agus35 and all its derivatives have been really effective at de-mystifying the Mini35 and its much-coveted look, but as Dave Eanton pointed out a few posts back, you'll quickly go insane tryign to do any serious work with a jerry-rigged gaffer-taped contraption dangling precariously from the front of your camcorder. I'm currently messing around with a rail-design, as a few others on this forum appear to be as well.

My next opinion might be controversial... but what the hell :) personally, I think people are far too tied up in lusting after the latest & greatest gear, and not sufficiently concerned with how to extract the best results from what they've got. My aging Panasonic NV-DA1 PAL camera, with its single-CCD, would not even be considered by most here as "air-ready", but in the course of my professional career, I've pressed it into service dozens of times in situations where I couldn't take an SP rig. One shoot I worked on involved my shooting with the Panasonic from a parasail, while the producer (also an adept camera operator) shot SP from the tow-boat. With some slight colour correction, we intercut the two cameras with no appreciable difference, and the show was aired nationally here in Australia.

Don't get me wrong, of course I'm not saying that an early-generation single chip DV camera is the equal of a multi-thousand dollar broadcast camera/recorder. I'm simply saying that in expert hands, you'll get very good pictures from a cheap camera. Similarly, a rank novice let loose at the controls of the most prestigious professional equipment on the planet will almost invariably produce garbage.

I've digressed somewhat from the topic, haven't I! :)

I guess I'm encouraging people to get out and shoot what they want, the best they can, with what they have. You'll lose valuable time lusting after your DVX100, HDR-FX1, or whatever comes along next, and when you finally do get your coveted piece of gear, you'll have far less experience and skill than the people who spent the time actually shooting.

So, there's my rather verbose 2c worth :)
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Old February 4th, 2005, 08:15 PM   #24
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Nicholas,thats the most sensible post I have read in the Forum.
I too have yearned to own the latest piece of harware,knowing full well I do not even know all the controls and settings on my present gear,thanks for bringing me,and a few othere maybe,down to earth .
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Old February 10th, 2005, 08:02 PM   #25
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Film look and "cheap" are hard to put together.

To me film look enhancement technologies include:

1. 24p
2. Vivid colors tending toward the warm
3. Shallower depth of field
4. Grain sometimes
5. Imperfecctions on occasion (scratches, hair etc.)
6. Rich sounds (avoid echo)
7. Wide screen (16:9 or wider)

How you get there using cheap technology is hard to say. I can tell you how to get there using expensive technology.

Probably the all around cheapest piece of technology that makes your mini dv look more like film would have to be Nattress Film Effects. That's probably the best bang for the buck.

Of course that assumes you already have a Macintosh and FCP.

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