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Old March 27th, 2005, 09:27 PM   #1
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Film look with VX2000, Premier Pro, After Effects 5.5

Hi everyone,

I've been doing a lot of reading around the internet and I've got to say this message board is one of the best DV resources around. With that said, here's my situation:

I've been doing a lot of research and reading on the internet to try to do what everyone else in the world seems to be doing as well - the film look w/ DV. I'm a student, which means my budget is close to zero, but at the moment I have a VX 2000, Premier Pro, and After Effects 5.5. After doing some reading, I got the impression that the best thing to do would be to shoot everything at 60 full/progressive frames (so i wouldn't have to de-interlace), then in post production bring it down to 1/24 in after effects, change the gama curve, and crop to 16:9... how does that sound so far?

(Is it better to crop to 16:9 or 1.85:1?)

Also, does anyone have suggestions for lighting and which types of lights would work best with the VX2000?


Any feedback and help would be greatly appreciated!
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Old March 27th, 2005, 09:34 PM   #2
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Re: Film look with VX2000, Premier Pro, After Effects 5.5

<<<-- Originally posted by Danny Oh : I got the impression that the best thing to do would be to shoot everything at 60 full/progressive frames (so i wouldn't have to de-interlace) -->>>

Unfortunately the VX-2000 can't do this - and neither can any other prosumer camera. The DVX-100a and XL-2 can shoot 30 full progressive frames per second (30p), but not 60. But the VX-2000 can't even do 30p. The best it can do is 15 fps progressive, and you probably don't want that unless you're looking for a stylized effect.

The normal mode on the VX-2000 is 60 interlaced frames per second (60i). Perhaps you have just confused the terms "interlaced" and "progressive"?
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Old March 28th, 2005, 01:45 AM   #3
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Ah.. thanks for pointing that out Boyd... I misread something in the manual for the camera. Ok so with that in mind, is the best method to shoot at 60i, and then de-interlace and change the frame rate in After Effects?
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Old March 28th, 2005, 09:01 AM   #4
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Just re-reading this... actually I should have said "The normal mode on the VX-2000 is 60 interlaced fields per second (60i)." It still shoots 30 frames per second, but each frame consists of 2 fields.

I haven't used After Effects so I'm not familiar with its 24p abilities. I know there are plug-in that support this however. I've used DVFilm Maker to get 30p from 60i footage and thought it did a good job. They now also support 24p from 60i and I've read pretty good things about it.

Maybe someone else can offer insights as to what can be done in After Effects without using any 3rd party add-ons. But basically, I think you need to shoot 60i on the VX-2000, and I'm pretty sure you need to keep the shutter speed at 1/30 to get the best results with any frame rate changes.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 12:14 AM   #5
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Hm, well does anyone have any suggestions for lighting when shooting DV?
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Old March 29th, 2005, 12:36 AM   #6
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All the general cinematography advice applies, so check out the lighting forum here, books (i.e. lighting for digital video by john jackman, matters of light and depth by russ lowell, etc.) and analyze movies and TV.

DV-specific lighting suggestions:
A- Set exposure carefully. The VX2000 does not have zebras (as far as I know, unless there are hidden menus) so you do not have a convenient way of setting white level. However, you might be able to jury rig yourself a white card with 100% white and bands of a white that is slightly dimmer than that. Raise exposure just until the whole card is white. You may need to fiddle around with the viewfinder's brightness and contrast settings if available. That's how I would set white level on your camera. You hold the white card in frame where the subject is standing, and angle it slightly upwards to catch any kickers or backlights (which would cause highlights).

Or you can use a light meter, and figure out the appropriate f-stop.

B- Light within DV's exposure range. DV has around 4-5 stops of latitude. Some cameras have alternate gamma modes that allow you to extend the dynamic range (i.e. the DVX100).

Make sure important highlight and shadow detail fit within your available exposure range. Anything outside it will clip and just be a pool of complete black or white with no detail. Many cameras do a little compression to highlights and shadows before they clip, so there is some detail variation in highlights and shadows before they clip.

On highlights that gradually blow out, watch out for color shifting. You may see this on skies when you are shooting outside, or hotspots from lights.

Avoid blown-out skies that are big white blobs by using a polarizer (may need to be circular instead of linear). ND grads (graduated neutral density filters) can also work but you may prefer the look of a polarizer filter.

If you want blown-out highlights, I would expose normally and do the effect in post. Use color curves in After Effects to blow out highlights or get the high contrast look. Color curves affect saturation, so you may need to compensate for that. Doing it in post means you avoid clipping and get compressed detail in the highlights.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 08:56 AM   #7
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Of course the VX-2000 has zebras! They aren't controlled by the menus, it's a physical switch in the group of controls that are revealed when you open the LCD screen.

I see I made another error in my earlier post. To give you the most flexibility when changing frame rates with software, leave your shutter speed set for 1/60 sec. 1/30 sec gives a little more "filmic" motion but you sacrifice 50% of your vertical resolution since the same data is written to both interlaced fields.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 02:40 PM   #8
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Danny, I have the same setup as you do, so here's my down and dirty film look on the cheap. I just used this for a music video shot in a dark club, but it can work on all sorts of footage. Some people I have shown the video to were fooled into thinking it was shot on 16mm, and it even has a good chance of airing on some music channels.

1. Shoot normally with the 2000, using Glenn's advice and making the image look as best as you can. This will be the most important step - even careful tweaking with Magic Bullet won't make home videos look like anything but Super-8 or 16mm home videos.

2. Edit normally in Premiere. Do your filmlook process in After Effects after the program is finished.

3. In After Effects, make a duplicate layer of your finished program, ABOVE the normal layer. Change the Transfer Mode to Hard Light. You should now see a very saturated, contrasty, reversal-film look. Very Oliver Stone or 50's educational film. Now apply the Noise filter, and deselect the use color noise chackbox. Crank the noise up to 20-50%. Now add a bit of Gaussian Blur, maybe around 4. That will soften up the noise, make it look like clumpy grain, and kind of glow around the highlights. Now turn the opacity of that layer down to around 50%. By tweaking those settings, you can pretty much dial in a wide variety of looks. If you find the effect makes your image too contrasty, try applying Brightness & Contrast or Levels filters to your underlying layer to bring back the lost contrast. Finally, when it comes time to render, make sure you turn field rendering off. This will give you 30 progressive frames. I find that this gives a very filmic look without trying to go through the nasty field interpolation to 24p. Even though After Effects basically throws away one field, I have not found it to be too objectionable when going for a film look.

There are better ways of doing all of this, but this is a fast, cheap way to get a very filmic texture with the tools you already have.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 06:24 PM   #9
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It might be slightly better to apply B&C to the top layer and reduce contrast on it. If you increase contrast in the bottom layer, you will kind of lose highlight and shadow detail that gets clipped off. Note: If you reduce contrast all the way, the top layer has no effect.

If you don't need/want grain, you can improve your video quality in Premiere Pro by using the color correction. Make the RGB curves s-shaped. The top half is concave down, and the bottom half concave up. This raises overall saturation, and gently compresses highlight and shadow detail (you will lose a little highlight and shadow detail to get detail in the midtones).
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Old March 30th, 2005, 12:35 PM   #10
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If I shoot on my VX2000 with the normal 60i, and i finish all the editing in Premier Pro WITHOUT doing anything to change the 60i, right before I'm ready to be done with the whole project, what do you advise I should use for the final export and change to 24p?

I have After Effects and Premier Pro.. should I be looking to get something else? Or if you know how I can do this with AE or Premier, please let me know!
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Old March 30th, 2005, 01:14 PM   #11
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As I said above, take a look at DVFilm Maker http://www.dvfilm.com/maker. It's reasonably priced and gets good reviews.
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Old March 31st, 2005, 12:44 AM   #12
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Shoot 60i in VX2000.

I have one of these and edit the footage in Ulead Media Studio Pro 6.5. When all of my editing is complete save (render) your video (as fields still, 60i). Then use AviSynth to deinterlace your video file (actually bob your material) via TDeint() and anti-alias it via SangNom() or any other anti-aliasing plugin. Then use the script convert60pto24p() (technically convert60ito24p on Doom9 forums, but I posted here earlier convert60pto24p, so do a search for it) to take your 60p deinterlaced footage and convert it to 24p.

I actually do a little more complicated step in-between, to keep text and such as high a quality as possible without interlacing then deinterlacing them.

If you want me to walk you through this, I can, but it is fairly simple if you know AviSynth. If you do not-- it is a little more difficult to get use to editing video by scripting.

Regards,
Josh
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