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Old May 10th, 2005, 06:56 PM   #1
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Raw film doesn't look that good

Some people say to get the film look you should shoot on film. But from what I've seen, film doesn't look all that great. To me, it doesn't look much better than video. Film does look great though when it's gone through lots of color correction/grading/enhancement. Commercials and music videos are often color graded on a Da Vinci system (which doesn't seem to be the best system now, although I believe it's very popular).

I've seen student films shot on film, and stock footage from the Sony Pictures library. That footage doesn't look all that great.

I think you can download some stock footage from the Sony library at
http://mediasoftware.sonypictures.co...437&SerialNum=
http://mediasoftware.sonypictures.co...p2.asp?DID=583
Not sure if you need to own Vegas. You may need to register.

Certainly, lighting and set decoration plays a part in things (which would explain ). But if you look at exterioir/landscape shots (where this stuff doesn't matter), the Sony library stuff doesn't look all that great (it was shot on 35mm). Although if you shot those scenes with video, you may have problems with exposure latitude.

Anyways I guess my question is, have anyone here shot film and have it look so-so?

(Talking about film telecined to video here.)
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Old May 10th, 2005, 07:13 PM   #2
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That's a pretty broad statement.


Different filmstocks have different looks. And those looks can also be altered in the developing process, before you even get to the color timing.

When you say "Raw film"... I'm not sure what you are reffering to. The raw negative you get when you shoot with your 35mm still camera, doesn't look like much. I worked in a professional still lab, and believe me the manipulation that goes into getting a good print, especially for magazine level reproductions, is extraordinary.

All negative stock is manipulated to get the positive image. It's the nature of the negative image, that stores so much MORE information than video data, that is what's so great about film. You can take the same negative, and get more 'looks' out of it, than you can from raw video data.

I've shot reversal film, which looked FANTASTIC in both super 8 and 16mm. The film comes out of the developer... as is. That's what you project. The colors and the lattitude, even for reversal stock (which is not as broad as negative) looks much better than video. (And that's not taking into account the increased DOF of even 16mm film...)

(I'm assuming you are not addressing the presence of grain, 24fps, or greater depth of field in this discussion... all of which add to the 'film look')

So when you shoot negative stock, and go directly to telecine, there are different levels of exposure you can ask for. One light, best light, full process...

So, if by film look, you are simply referring to lattitude in color and exposure... there's no comparison to video.


Not sure if I'm answering your question.
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Old May 10th, 2005, 07:25 PM   #3
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Obviously it's a matter of opinion. But I think that if one were to take a 35mm film camera with a fine-grain stock and place it next to any video camera, do a best-light transfer of the film footage and then watch the two images on side by side monitors, I'd be hard pressed to pick the video image as the winner under any circumstances.
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Old May 10th, 2005, 08:32 PM   #4
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I'm not sure. If we compare it to these uncompressed 4:4:4 cameras the output of both is relatively the same. The pre-processed footage from LOTR for instance looks merely ok. It's the grading that really gives the movie it's other wordly feel. Film is currently better in latitude but I don't think it has much if anything on digital in color rendition (not talking DV25 here). While the film stock is certainly a part, the color grading used on most modern movies is much more extensive than any look you could achieve via selecting a specific stock.
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Old May 10th, 2005, 09:15 PM   #5
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O Brother, Where Art Thou (released in 2000), is the first Hollywood movie that was digitally graded all the way through. To my eye we have the better part of a century's worth of film before that which looks better than video.
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Old May 10th, 2005, 09:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Shaw
It's the grading that really gives the movie it's other wordly feel. ... the color grading used on most modern movies ...
Aaron,
Can you please explain what "color grading" is for us nonfilm-industry folks?
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Old May 10th, 2005, 09:31 PM   #7
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This Wikipedia article sort of explains it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_grading

Someone should add to it!
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Old May 10th, 2005, 09:40 PM   #8
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Well I think that film looks like film and video looks like video. There are strengths for both but the industry is saying that film is the look that you want so that is what most think is ‘better’ because it is the standard. In my opinion (as a 16 year old outsider) in 10 years it will be mostly digital and then we shall see what the differences are then.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 12:49 AM   #9
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To clarify a little, by raw film I mean film telecined to video. I'm sure film looks great when projected, but I want to talk about film telecined to video. By "raw" I mean film that hasn't undergone extensive color grading. If video got the same treatment it would probably look great too (i.e. Star Wars).

I guess what I'm trying to say is that shooting film doesn't automatically make your footage look really good. Examples would be:
student films from film schools
the stock footage from the Sony Pictures library
old Hollywood films, without digital re-mastering

In my opinion, "raw" film just doesn't look that great as film that has undergone lots of color correction (i.e. Lord of the Rings, commercials, music videos) or video-originated material that has undergone lots of color correction (i.e. Star Wars, the BBC TV Show Top Gear). If you look at the footage people here are shooting, there are some really good-looking "low" budget video-originated flicks... the ones in my opinion that look good are:

Silencer (glidecam, Canon Gl2, Magic Bullet)
Sundowning (which used very minimal lighting, Magic Bullet for color grading, shot on Canon GL2)

Unfortunately it's hard to do a comparison to film because very few people on dvinfo are shooting film (or posting their work in the DV for the masses forum).

I guess the things I see are:
A- Color grading/enhancement makes such a huge difference to how good something looks. (I'm biased here because that's where my interests lie right now.)
B- Color graded video looks a lot better than "raw" film. This is definitely subjective. (And subject to bias too, because I am a fan of color enhancement.)
C- "raw" film versus "raw" video: I'd agree that raw film (on average) looks better. Although people shooting on film usually have more money and experience. As well, the DVX100 allows some in-camera color grading with the gamma curves and other settings, which can make its footage look very nice. But I don't think the DVX100 represents the average.
D- Color-graded film versus color-graded video: It's hard to say because there's not that much color-graded video being produced. Or maybe I can't tell what's video and what's film (I thought 24 was video). It'll be interesting to see how this turns out.
Right now I would say film has an edge. But films like Sin City and Star Wars look really good. I think we are close to the point where color grading has seriously closed the gap between the two mediums and that artistic usage of the medium (i.e. the coloring in Sin City) makes a much bigger difference than film versus video.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 12:02 PM   #10
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Film or video, there should be a great deal of attention paid to color correction (and other corrections) in post to make it look great. Film has a different response to color, and that difference itself differs from stock to stock. You can use Curves to emulate or correct to that difference if you want to match a certain stock. In fact, a lot of stock has published response curves and other technical info available use to match. Of course, you'd have to know the same info for how your camera responds to make an accurate match. You can't assume that your camera is a neutral capture device. So, I'd say color is a wash, except that most video formats don't store full color information.

24p, we can do that on video,too.

Where you can't beat film is in exposure latitude, and it's a long way ahead of most video cameras. Surprisingly, most cameras (especially comsumer-level cameras) default picture processing settings increase exposure and contrast a great deal, reducing the latitude even moreso. If you have manual controls you can get some of this range back, and you should do so.

Depth of field, the range you have to work within is relative, mostly to the size of the imaging plane. Even a 1/3" chip camera like the XL2 or DVX100A is only equivilant to 8mm film. 2/3" chips nearly the same as 16mm. I'm not sure if a 1 1/3" chip camera exists to match 35mm.

All in all, it's true film can look bad... but at least you'll see a better range of bad details. :)

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Old May 11th, 2005, 02:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua Provost
I'm not sure if a 1 1/3" chip camera exists to match 35mm.
Yeah there is, panavision (i think) has one. It's a beast, not to mention prolly worth more than my life.
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Old May 13th, 2005, 12:59 PM   #12
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I think it's silly to say that raw film looks worse than color corrected video...
Nobody is going to use raw film in a movie anyway, so what's the point?

You have to compare raw with raw, and graded with graded. And film wins every time. When you color-correct your video you'll be trying to emulate the film look anyway. When you color grade film, you certainly won't be trying to make it look like video.

Film has much better latitude, DoF, handles HDR better. I still think those Vegas examples you posted look pretty good. The colors are so soft and rich.

Also, stating that video will replace film in the future is stupid. Video was invented because it was cheaper and more pratical. Can you imagine a reporter in Iraq walking around with a 35mm for point and shoot?

Automatic Transmission is more pratical for city driving, but racing pros always use Manual...
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Old May 13th, 2005, 03:40 PM   #13
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Quote:
I think it's silly to say that raw film looks worse than color corrected video...
Nobody is going to use raw film in a movie anyway, so what's the point?
Student and low-budget films might often be using un-color graded footage.

EDIT: It probably doesn't make sense to compare un-color graded film to graded video, because if you can grade video there's no reason why you couldn't grade the film material (presumably telecined to video).

Quote:
I still think those Vegas examples you posted look pretty good. The colors are so soft and rich.
Thanks :)

Quote:
Also, stating that video will replace film in the future is stupid. Video was invented because it was cheaper and more pratical.
I think in time, the quality you get from video would be very comparable to film. However, video would still maintain the advantages of speed and cost. This would free up time and money that could be better spent elsewhere.

If you look at still photography, digital has really taken over. However, speed is a big deal for news photography (no development, don't have to change film as much) whereas video doesn't benefit that much from speed.

Last edited by Glenn Chan; May 14th, 2005 at 12:52 AM.
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Old May 17th, 2005, 08:28 AM   #14
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Glenn, you bring up an interesting viewpoint, because what you say is true. I have shot 16mm before, and just like video, you do need to color correct it in post. In fact, whenever you watch deleted scenes from DVDs you can often see how the uncorrected footage looks very shoddy...but these very well could be 1-light dailies...so the comparison wouldn't be all that fair. However, the amount of correction you can do with film is probably far greater then DV.
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Old May 17th, 2005, 09:32 AM   #15
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Adding on the topic another diff (film/video):
Film is factory balanced to Day or Tungsten (preset white balance)
If the light sources used on a shooting are matching this preset, the neg only "needs" a very minimum of timing to get to the "ideal" print, in fact, leaving a lot more options for DP to "tweak" it to his vision.
Video needs to have WB done under existing lights (most times a combination of various color temps) Now..... where, on what and how one does the WB is what generates the FT employment for post!!! (lol) aside from the creative part of editing.
A "bad" WB will further reduce the CCD's general sensitivity to light. If the material leaks blue, there is no way to bring it back to what it should have been, without having the other two color suffering (I am talking extremes here no minor adjustments and.... only for compressed signal)
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