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The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


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Old March 27th, 2005, 12:11 PM   #16
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<<<-- Originally posted by Dominic Jones
> 1) Grain is rarely visible in a film...
> 2) Grain IS important! The advantage of grain structure in film
> over pixel structure in video is that grain is randomly distibuted
> throughout each frame(...)This also helps acount for
> the "softer" look of film, despite it's higher resolution.
> It is organic and analogue in its nature.

Dominic hit very important points.

> 3) Higher exposure latitude, as someone here mentioned
> earlier...

That's right, video is still unable to handle the highest contrasts
between highlights and lowlights of a picture. that's why your
video exposure has to fall somehow in the middle of the scale.
Lighting the scenes properly is key to achieve (compensate,
simulate) any exposure effect in post production.

I should emphasize that film gamma and picture softening are
as important
.

Film often has a very "warm" tone to it,
as opposed to video, which can look quite "cool".
So provided that the footage/scenes were lit adequately
you should be able to achieve this color look in post.

Picture softening can be done thru camera electronics,
optical diffusion or with filters in post.

> 5) Last, and imho, definitely least is this damned 24p
> business. Don't get me wrong, it's a great tool to have
> at your disposal, but it's not much different from 25p,
> or even 30p folks! Also, it seems there are a lot of new
> filmmakers out there who think that buying a camera
> that shoots 24p will give them "that film look".
> No chance....

Hmmm..I have to agree and disagree here.

24p by itself won't make your video look like film,
you'll need to do the above first among other things.

24p and 30i look very different. In fact 30i, looks like 60p
to the human eye. This makes video motion much smoother
and more like watching the real world. Film, on the other hand,
strobes slightly on the horizontal plane.

Juan Parra
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www.cinetech.ca
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Old March 27th, 2005, 12:49 PM   #17
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Great stuff!

I think that video has a very definite "edge" to it, which makes itself evident mostly at the sub-conscious level, but it is like a subtle boarder around each object... not found in film.

I also think that the jaggies are going to be around for a while and are quite offensive :-(
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Old March 27th, 2005, 01:11 PM   #18
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Pete , I've taken you up on your offer. I want to point out that I do not consider myself a guru in these matters and for all I say, please interpret as ' in my humble opinion'.

Firstly, I consider nothing quite approaches the majestic quality of a projected moving image. So when folks speak of filmlook I assume they are referring to a telecined version of a film as found on DVD played back through a television or projector.

There are many parameters to discuss and unfortunately they have to be addressed from a technical standpoint, I personally would like to see more discussion on psychological aspects and I hope this thread moves into that arena.

For now I wish to touch on two areas - temporal qualities and something which in my mind is very important - focal length.

temporal qualities

theres no escaping the flat fact that motion pictures are screened at 24 frames per second. But what does this mean? It means that unless you pay careful attention to best cinematographic practice you will get strobing. For me strobing is not good, when I go to see a movie I am making a contract with the Director/Producer to 'suspend all disbelief' for the 2-3 hour duration of the movie so when strobing happens my illusion is shattered. For me, the production should be transparent on first viewing - sure its good to review the movie later on DVD to find out 'how did they do that?'.

The very best productions have no strobing and the techniques used to avoid it enforce a pace or cadence on the production. The enforced cadence has a seductive quality which helps with the 'suspension of disbelief'. To illustrate this consider the car chase in Bullet versus that in Bad Boys II. To my mind Bullet has respect for the cadence of 24p whilst BBII even though technically superior does not and would be ideal as an IMAX production. I believe Bullet - whereas I dont believe BBII even though it is a fantastic spectacle and exciting to watch.

Another question we should be asking is that if I play a DVD on my computer of my favourite movie filmed to best cinematographic practice and then I switch it to play 2x normal speed does is suddenly start to look like video? Well all I can say is that PowerDVD gives smooth playblack on my PC at 48p and it doesnt look like video to me.

I conclude from this that if you want the cadence of 24p then arrange your production values accordingly - shooting at 25p or 30p will not change the look. An analogy for this is as follows - 2 soundmen record the sound of a gong (less than 10k frequency response) - soundman 1 records at 12 bit 32Khz 0db, whereas soundman 2 records at 16 bit 48Khz -24db, question is which sounds better? They both will sound identical.

24p is essential when blowing up for film release, however digital cinema is here and spreading so 30p is fine so long as you film with respect for 24p cadence.

focal length

Video is often decribed as vivid, reality-show , immediate, in yer face etc,, whereas Film is often described as dreamy, fantasy, flat, distant etc,, I personally put this down to focal length as this is what determines the depth of the scene.

We have all seen variation of the dolly and zoom camera move. The shot usually starts at wide angle (short focal length) with the camera close on the talents face and the dolly moves back but the camera zooms in (long focal length) to keep the talents face the same height in the frame. At pinhole apertures there is a weird effect on the background which appears to come seeping out of the talents ears as the talent appears to be pushed back flat against the background, with large apertures the background appears to dissappear into a fog of Bokeh. In the first case you are seeing the telephoto effect and in the second case you are seeing the short depth of field effect. I consider long focal length to be associated with the dreamy far away look, wheras short focal length is real and vivid.

When 8mm cameras were first marketed later superceded by super8, the intention was to provide consumers with a device which would capture magic family momemts etc. The focal lengths in use provide a sense of being there even when projected and viewed 40 years later. The focal lengths for 1/3 CCD camcorders are similar to Super8 but are 4-5 times shorter than those used in the movies. This is why I consider super8 although most definitely film does not approach the look of a 35mm movie.

Choice of focal length in concert with composition has an immense psychological impact on the look and perception of a movie. It is a subject in its own right and could never be done justice in a small thread as this. Bear this in mind if you want your movie to look real use focal lengths near to the human eye (~16mm) if you want a more dreamy look use longer lenses.

There are many examples of cameramen being sacked on set for using the wrong focal length - Stanley Kubrick being a tough cookie in this respect.
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Old March 27th, 2005, 02:00 PM   #19
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I think film look is just a progressive image rather than interlaced (deinterlaced image doesn't cut it).
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Old March 27th, 2005, 03:48 PM   #20
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Juan, good to see someone else who understands!!

In reference to your final point, I'd like to point out that my post said 30p is not too different from 24p, not 30i, which is certainly *very* different!

However, your statement is completely correct - used with the above techniques 24p will certainly add to the "filmicness" (sic!) of the video...

Your points about lighting to allow for a "simulation" of film gamma are spot on, to boot. (Interestingly, this differs in approach between DV and HDCam - it will be interesting to see where HDV lies in this equation).

John: Fine points about the differing use of camera due to 24p as regards narrative supsension of disbelief, and again an important "phsycological quality" point...

Patrick: I'm sorry, but I simply cannot agree on either front. 24p is far from the be-all-and-end-all of film look, and in fact clever de-interlacing can and has (for many years) been used to transfer excellently to film, particularly (but not exclusively) from 50i - I challenge all but the very best to take the "pepsi challenge" between 24p and 50i-25p presentations viewed in RT (predominantly as the vertical resolution of a still image (de-interlaced well) is identical to a native progressive frame, and the eye's resolving power is lessened the more movement (and therefore the greater drop in vertical resolution) there is per frame).
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Old March 27th, 2005, 04:51 PM   #21
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There's a point that most, if not all, people seem to miss and I have been trying to address for some time.

I think it would be important to make a distinction between 'film look', and 'movie look' or 'movie feel'. Since the terminology hasn't been defined (and I'm not stating that mine is right, just using the one I feel suitable), people keep using the same term for two different things.

I mean, if you give a monkey (a real one) a 35mm camera, and have him walk about all day and shoot whatever he is looking at, the footage will still have a 'film look'. That's because it WAS shot on film, it's not going to look like video in the slightest. Will it look like a home-made production or worse? Oh yes, but that only gives it an amateur look. It's still film, even with no post.

And if we switch things around, have Clint Eastwood and Cate Blanchet on your production being shot with a $500 miniDV camera, even if you lit things properly and have a great script and sound, with no post it will still look like video.

I really don't think that sound or lighting has anything to do with filmic look, it just makes things look professional.

So, IMO, there's actually two debates: Film look vs Video look (which is essentially a 'what camera & media was used' issue), and Professional look vs Amateur (or home made) look (which is a movie production issue).

Of course both this things are related, but speaking of them as if they were the same just leads to confusion.
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Old March 27th, 2005, 05:10 PM   #22
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So, in relation to my post right above, here are two lists of what I feel define both debates. I'm sure I'll miss something, so let us know what.


Achieving a FILMIC LOOK, ie, as if it were shot with a 35mm or any camera that uses film (pellicle). All this characteristcs are inherent to these cameras:

1 - 24p
2 - Gamma curves and color latitude.
3 - Shallow depth-of-field
4 - Fine grain
5 - Best CCD possible, HD even better.
6 - Anamorphic aspect ratio, although this is more a 'cinema' issue rather than film. I've seen documentaries on TV shot in 16mm 4:3 aspect ratio, and they didn't look like video in the slightest.

Achieving a PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTION QUALITY, similar to the ones we see in Hollywood movies:

1 - Proper lighting
2 - High quality sound
3 - Good script
4 - Good actors
5 - Good framing & general cameraman work.
6 - Extra camera gear (cranes, etc.), make-up, sets.
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Old March 27th, 2005, 06:11 PM   #23
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<<<-- Originally posted by Dominic Jones : Juan, good to see someone else who understands!!


Patrick: I'm sorry, but I simply cannot agree on either front. 24p is far from the be-all-and-end-all of film look, and in fact clever de-interlacing can and has (for many years) been used to transfer excellently to film, particularly (but not exclusively) from 50i - I challenge all but the very best to take the "pepsi challenge" between 24p and 50i-25p presentations viewed in RT (predominantly as the vertical resolution of a still image (de-interlaced well) is identical to a native progressive frame, and the eye's resolving power is lessened the more movement (and therefore the greater drop in vertical resolution) there is per frame). -->>>

I didn't say 24p, just p ;-)

Dave Ferdinand made a much more eloquent post in terms of how I was thinking.

Of all of the things he described as Filmic (as opposed to interlaced stuff) - which I agree with fwiw, the main difference is a progressive image ('clever' interlacing aside) vs. an interlaced image.

Interlaced video with film gamma or film DoF, grain, 16x9 or 2.35:1, etc just looks like 'better' quality video (in a movie / production sense), it doesn't look like progressive film (IMO). Film with poor color/gamma, deep DoF, 4x3, etc with all the hallmarks of video will still look like film.

Basically, other than P or I, the rest are subtleties (again, IMO) that will either enhance or detract from the overall presentation, but won't dictate the heart of what the presentation is.

$.02
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Old March 27th, 2005, 06:42 PM   #24
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Hmm.. Yeah, see what you're saying, fair point as far as "things which cannot be acheived other than through capture hardware" goes (although I stick to my guns on 'clever' deinterlacing ;)...

I still think the latitude and clipping/burning out factors are very important as regards the overall filmic look - remember we're talking about acheiving a "more filmic look" here, rather than differences in the un-graded rushes (or rather, they are what we're trying to correct for).

But certainly shallow DOF and good lighting can and (in the case of lighting) certainly should be applied to both - however what I'm talking about is how to correct for a difference in look between two scenes shot under the same (or similar) lighting conditions on the different media - that, after all, is what counts.

Another factor here is how much people mean "film" look and how much they mean "better look"!! Seems to be something of a grey area!....

As an aside, the film with clint eastwood on MiniDV , brilliantly lit etc etc will be a far better movie!!! We have to remember that at the end of the day this is all just the icing on the (hopefully tasty!) cake...
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Old March 27th, 2005, 10:31 PM   #25
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<<<-- Originally posted by Dave Ferdinand :

> 2 - Gamma curves and color latitude.
> 3 - Shallow depth-of-field

Dave,

I understand what you're trying to say.
However, gamma, latitude and DoF depends
on lighting. If you want to achieve a decent
filmlook you must know how to work with lighting.

How so?

* Film gamma: without good exposure, you won't
get the right gamma colors in post.
* Color latitude: without good exposure you won't
get enough information to simulate the film latitude.
Otherwise your footage will be under or over exposed.
* Shallow DoF: The lighting has to be just right, since you need
the iris to be wide open.

>6 - Anamorphic aspect ratio,
>although this is more a 'cinema' issue rather than film.

I think you meant widescreen.

> Achieving a PROFESSIONAL
> PRODUCTION QUALITY, similar to
> the ones we see in Hollywood movies:

That's also called Production Values.
Wanted or not they're associated with films,
so they are somehow part of a filmlook.

Juan
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Old March 28th, 2005, 12:44 AM   #26
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The issue of film speed has been around for a while. For an interesting article on the pros and cons of a faster film speed, see The Future of Cinema by Deroy Murdock, 01.24.00. Dean Goodhill's MaxiVision 48 projection system is discussed.
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Old March 28th, 2005, 04:38 AM   #27
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I have seen s16mm footage that looks quite videolike.

Mainly it's the motion cadence. I recently had an argument on the DVX forums regarding the difference between 24p video and 24fps film. There is a difference, and I consulted an ex-BBC camera engineer who has specialised in camera setups for filmlook for the past 15 or so years. His setups are used the world over in high def cameras as well as SD ones.

The difference apparently mainly comes from the apparent edginess of video thereby making any strobing much more notceable. Here is the reply I received;
http://www.dvdoctor.net/cgi-bin/ulti...c;f=8;t=003375

Regarding contrast handling, film is much better at handling highlights. Shadow areas however aren't handled much differently. With higher end cameras the highlight rolloff can be precisely controlled to give a smoother transition to the clipping. The clipping of highlights can also be adjusted. So it is possible for higher end cameras such as the DSR570 and above to obtain a much more filmlike highlight response.

Then there is colour in highlight areas. Video tends to lose colour in the highlights. However once again higher end cameras have an adjustment to compensate for this, again making things more filmlike.

Then we come to black levels. Once again higher end cameras can be adjusted to have a much wider contrast ratio and dynamic range. This will make blacks slightly more grey, but many filmlook setups that stretch the blacks such as those recommended by Swiss Effects and the Varicam film gamma are designed for filmout and mimick the way many modern filmstocks work. The image produced is a work in process and is designed to compensate for the extra contrast introduced when performing film transfers. If your footage is staying on video or DVD there prpbably isn't a need to stretch the blacks like this unless you want ultimate control over the contrast in post and are doing heavy colour correction such as adding Magic Bullet to the footage.

Sharpness. You don't want edge ringing from edge enhancement. Higher end cameras have the advantage here again as their detail circuits can be precisely adjusted tto pretty much get rid of all edge halos. You end up with a soft picture as a result, but this can be tweaked in post. When performing a film transfer Swiss Effects has their own recommended settings which do make the picture fairly soft, but they sharpen it up again using their own high end equipment. I will never do a film transfer (not yet anyway) so I have created a setting on my camera that is halfway between the default settings (too sharp) and the Swiss Effects settings (too soft).

Depth of field. Often over used. But for a much more cinematic look trying making shots with out of focus backgrounds (and foregrounds) wider. Too many people go too close to faces to obtain shallow DOF.
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Old March 28th, 2005, 07:54 AM   #28
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Quote:
I mean, if you give a monkey (a real one) a 35mm camera, and have him walk about all day and shoot whatever he is looking at, the footage will still have a 'film look'. That's because it WAS shot on film, it's not going to look like video in the slightest. Will it look like a home-made production or worse? Oh yes, but that only gives it an amateur look. It's still film, even with no post.

And if we switch things around, have Clint Eastwood and Cate Blanchet on your production being shot with a $500 miniDV camera, even if you lit things properly and have a great script and sound, with no post it will still look like video.
I agree!!!
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Old March 29th, 2005, 03:39 PM   #29
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a film look?

ok. then, why doesnīt one of you experts in filming or creating a film look put up an aprox. 3 min short where you can show one " before and after" film look (of course after using any software , vegas, premiere , ...)?
Because words are words, and an image is an image.

Thatīs just a suggestion, and i think will help many people to understand the famous "film look".
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Old March 29th, 2005, 11:50 PM   #30
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Because stills alone can't show you the film look.
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