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Old October 6th, 2002, 10:35 AM   #1
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35mm film versus DV analogies

You know those DVDs that come with a bonus disc showing how the movie was made? I have been watching quite a few of them recently. In some scenes they show the same shot on pre roll video and then in the finished movie.

Ok, the lighting is the same, the framing and angle of view is the same etc, but the end result is quite different. The film version has a flatter look than video which is not wholly due to DOF, there is something else going on - a sort of compression in the film response (similar to tape compression on RTR audio deck).

On DOF
I performed an experiment with my 35mm still camera. With a standard 50mm lens I set up a portrait shot at f2.0 such that the background was nicely blurred, the objective was to find out how to get the same shot with my DVcamcorder. Now my digicamcorder has 1/4" chips - meaning that the image area is about 1/10th that of 35mm. At full zoom the focal length of the DVcamcorder is 50mm so in order to frame the shot as before I had to move further away from the subject and shoot at f2.0 and I got a similar result on DOF to the 35mm shot.

On Film Response
I was looking for something to mimic film response and I found it in Photoshop Image>Adjust>Curves command. This amazing function can control the tonal range of the image, but it is difficult to judge on a still and required experimentation with some footage. I found the exact function in After Effects and went to work to try to imitate the 'Filmlook'. Sure enough my efforts were rewarded - instead of a straight line response I adjusted the curve command to produce a faster ramp with a softer rounding off at the top - in other words a typical compression type response. This gives motion video footage a sort of sheen/smoother quality which is due to the clamping of the tonal response and kills the undesirable electronic feel to the footage making it look like film.

In summary even without resorting to progressive scan a filmlook can be achieved by shooting telephoto/wide aperture for low DOF and applying the curve function in post.

Try it
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Old October 6th, 2002, 11:19 AM   #2
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*On Film Response
I was looking for something to mimic film response and I found it in Photoshop Image>Adjust>Curves command. This amazing function can control the tonal range of the image, but it is difficult to judge on a still and required experimentation with some footage. I found the exact function in After Effects and went to work to try to imitate the 'Filmlook'. Sure enough my efforts were rewarded - instead of a straight line response I adjusted the curve command to produce a faster ramp with a softer rounding off at the top - in other words a typical compression type response. This gives motion video footage a sort of sheen/smoother quality which is due to the clamping of the tonal response and kills the undesirable electronic feel to the footage making it look like film.*


Could you please elaberate on this more? i don't know any of the math, so maybe include some numbers, figures and explain further how this was achieved?

maybe post a picture to show this?
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Old October 6th, 2002, 11:52 AM   #3
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There are several plug-ins for Photoshop, After Effects and others that mimic the film look. Magic Bullet is one of the most popular and there are some links to images made with MB. Use the search function in the upper right and you'll find many threads and links to images.

Jeff
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Old October 8th, 2002, 04:55 AM   #4
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Pictures would be very interesting indeed. I've had similar
results and am trying to find some time to a) try out all sorts
of products and b) write an article with pictures about it all.....
There is a lot you can do in post!
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Old October 8th, 2002, 09:51 AM   #5
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as I said in my post with a still picture it is difficult to assess the feel which comes more from the motion footage - you will need a few minutes worth to experiment with. If you are looking for a setting for the curves function check out the help file in Photoshop 6 under

Making Color and Tonal Adjustments > Using the Curves dialog box

they show a lazy 'S' type hysteresis curve applied to a picture of some fruit. The curves function in After Effects works the same, if you dont have After Effects save your clip as a filmstrip and apply the command in Photoshop.

bear in mind that if you intend to apply a curve like this it is best to shoot around 90% zebra to allow for clamping at the highlights.

have fun
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Old October 9th, 2002, 02:54 AM   #6
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I worked on a project a little while ago where the whole point of it was to simulate a film look from my camera. The story and footage is pretty dry, but I think it looks good, which was the point of the project.

I tweaked the curves in after effects to emphasize the red mudtones, and green midtones while suppressing the green highlights and shadows, also suppressed the blue highlights and midtones but bumped the shadows.

You can take a look at the video and screen shots at:

http://www.bitesize.ws/production

For what it's worth, I've tried film fx and cine look, which both suck in my opinion.
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Old October 13th, 2002, 06:43 AM   #7
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travisterwilligar,

What caused that odd jerky motion? I assume the original camera footage did not have this and it was added in post.

By the way, you should consider the AG-DVX100 before you consider an XL1 if you are trying to achieve film look. Right out of the camera your motion will look like a film transfer. From there all you have to do is worry about the lighting and other aspects. :)
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Old October 13th, 2002, 02:27 PM   #8
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Actually I have a JVC DV500... the jerky motion is an artifact of the film motion plugin, (I'm still working with it).
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