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Old January 21st, 2006, 01:38 PM   #1
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Film look

I've often thought 24p was the only thing needed for a film look, but have since learned there's more to it than that. Shutter, shallow depth of field, how it's lit, etc., are also a part of that equation.

Sure, 24p will "kill" the TV look of DV/HDV in 60i, but as I study more films, I've learned more and more that 24p isn't the end of achieving a film look.

Also, anyone think high shutter speeds (1/250) in movies and TV (for even quiet moments) is overkill these days? And shallow depth of field, too.

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Old January 21st, 2006, 03:42 PM   #2
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Yes I agree almost all the "film look" techniques are way over used. Especially shallow depth of field.

The real artistry and the real work lies in finding the proper techniques to support the story. That, more than anything else will create the "film look". Akira Kurosawa's technique supports his stories so well, you almost never see it.
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Old January 21st, 2006, 03:54 PM   #3
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I pride myself as a filmmaker who does his best to not let fancy camera moves get in the way. And yes, I want to do steadicam stuff like Martin Scorsese, whose Goodfellas was a huge inspiration when it came out in late 1990, when I was 14.

But I believe in letting the story, actors' performances, and overall look move the story along.

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Old January 21st, 2006, 06:04 PM   #4
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I think the shallow depth of field look is really more of a fad in the 1/3" world than anywhere else...I'm not aware of a stylistic change in this area in 35mm features since the selective focus (swing and tilt) fad 10 years ago.

It seems like many of the DV folk who use the commercial or homemade 35mm adaptors feel like they have to design shots around rack focus elements or deeply soft backgrounds, rather than allowing the look to occur naturally.
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Old January 21st, 2006, 08:07 PM   #5
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For me the film technique I always wanted to master was deep focus. A well lit, well staged, well choreographed sweeping deep focus shot has always been what I aspired to.

Standard def's resolution is the main stumbling block. But deep focus in HDV looks promising.
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Old January 21st, 2006, 08:12 PM   #6
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I would say extreme rack-focus is the fad, not shallow depth of field. Movies all over the place have shallow depth of field. Even on wide shots, the DOF is shallower than what we can usually get with 1/3" chips.

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Old January 21st, 2006, 09:42 PM   #7
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Charles,

I agree, but I like seeing it in crucial moments. But on TV these days, it's over done.

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Old January 22nd, 2006, 12:23 AM   #8
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Dof/Shallow Focus

well, in it's defense, I love the shallow depth of field for MCU and CUs. I love how it looks and how it challenges the viewer, and allows me to define what I want the audience to be paying attention to....but at the end of the day, its just one more technique that can be used to tell your story...
a crap story, nicely shot, it still a crap story and will fall on its face....
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Old January 25th, 2006, 02:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quito Washington
well, in it's defense, I love the shallow depth of field for MCU and CUs. I love how it looks and how it challenges the viewer, and allows me to define what I want the audience to be paying attention to....but at the end of the day, its just one more technique that can be used to tell your story...a crap story, nicely shot, it still a crap story and will fall on its face....
Q
I'm gonna echo Quito here but twist it a bit; shallow depth of field is less a "technique" than a mathematical result that’s been consistent throughout the history of cinema. For example, night exteriors consistently have shallow depth of field and day exteriors have deep focus. When shooting film this is pretty much consistent throughout the history of modern cinema because, unlike video technology, the technology of film emulsion and scientific properties of light have evolved in only the tiniest of increments…which is kind of a way of saying that the “sensor chip equivalent of motion picture film” has been relatively the same for one hundred years (sure, stocks got faster and held colors better they ain’t THAT different and there imaging properties remained relatively the same; at f/1.4 or 100mm your depth of field is shot no matter what the emulsion).

So, all over the world, no matter what the film, we’ve associated certain things with movie images: at night, you can see information in the foreground but the background is soft, at day you can see the entire world in focus and in close-up the depth of field falls off considerably beyond the subject, etc. etc. (so long as it isn’t a Wong Kar Wai or early Scorcesse film).

With video this just isn’t the case, thus, to a world of people who’ve been raised on images with pretty much this same photographic language (give or take stylistic aberrations), images that don’t conform simply seem less “real.” For example: It’s been said that the new Canon “can see in the dark.” That’s fine, but does the depth of field roll off accordingly?

For indie-filmmakers aspiring to a “film-like” quality, conforming to these dynamics (aka limitations) of emulsion imaging is CRUCIAL to what’s “currently” accepted as pictorial integrity in motion picture films. As someone just getting into digital filmmaking, I can’t see myself going about filmmaking without some sort of 35 lens adapter (which makes Shannon’s other thread about the pot of gold awaiting whomever designs one of these things to mount to the body of these camcorders without the stock lens d@mn enticing :)

Where was I? Yes, depth of field and, to a much more subtle degree, grain (aka “noise”) are CRUCIAL points of reference in achieving a film look. The way emulsion records an image is just closer to the imperfect resolving qualities of the human eye—stand in a long white corridor, but focus on your hand in front of your face—though clearly the experience of movie watching has more to do with people’s “familiarity” with a film-like image than similarities to the human eye.

Now that we’ve got SO MANY toys to play with at such reasonable costs, maybe the increased output of material created this way will slowly chip away at what “film-like” means…(though as a closing bit of wordplay much of that will involve deciding if the “film” in film-like stands for emulsion or movies). Still, until that day comes, 24 frames per second film negative into a mag and light pushed through emulsion onto a screen sets the precedent, so bending video’s depth of field is a damn neccessary task in replicating that.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 06:36 PM   #10
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35mm adapter

"which makes Shannon’s other thread about the pot of gold awaiting whomever designs one of these things to mount to the body of these camcorders without the stock lens d@mn enticing"

I recently got the letus 35a adapter and find myself having no reason not to shoot with it on, i like how it looks, how it makes the images appear and how the DoF with the 1/4 50mm is so precise....
but it does make it more "difficult" to shoot...which is fine...just takes a bit more time to get everything right...
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Old January 25th, 2006, 08:04 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quito Washington

I recently got the letus 35a adapter and find myself having no reason not to shoot with it on, i like how it looks, how it makes the images appear and how the DoF with the 1/4 50mm is so precise....
but it does make it more "difficult" to shoot...which is fine...just takes a bit more time to get everything right...
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Quito,

Can you elaborate some on the "difficulty" in shooting with it? I've wondered what focusing must be like with these adapators, haven't seen anywhere where someone describes the process in detail...I'm guessing you lock the stock lense at one end of the focus ring and just use the mounted 35 lens...
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Old January 25th, 2006, 08:12 PM   #12
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not to difficult

it just throws the weight balance of the camera off....whereas normally, the weight is to the back of the camera, with the convertor and the lens, the weight shifts to the middle of the camera...possibly more to the front...and thats with the 50 or 55mm lens...with the 200mm lens on it, the weight is thrown all the way to the front
but its not so difficult as to make it impossible, its just tripoding is mandatory (for me, at least)...
set your camera, get your composition, set your focal distance and then adjust your focus....
for wide shots, i remove the adapter because its not needed....
I only want the shallow dof for MCU and CUs
(exceptions are the once in a while ls with the 200mm lens)
hope that helps
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Old January 25th, 2006, 10:36 PM   #13
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I must chime in here, being an avid supporter of "shallow depth of field" I tend to lean toward Spielberg's beliefs of manipulating the audience toward the story you, the director, want them to see. Besides use of closed composition, psychological connections etc... shallow depth of field is a must to maintain control over the viewer's experience.

Many here will disagree with me, as we all know Orson Welles was a master of deep focus (to the point of establishing in camera effects that had never been tested before) and there is no point in "Touch of Evil" or "Citizen Kane" that I am exploring my own world, Orson has me right where he wants me without the use of shallow depth of field, but... I still prefer blatent manipulation of a shot to control my audience.... that may sound borderline sadistic but it is part of the director's vocabulary... control. Directors approach this cinematic need differently.

The most important thing is to know "am I using shallow depth of field or deep focus because I think it looks pretty? or does it serve the story to have one character thrown out of focus, or a dozen characters in deep focus? STORY STORY STORY. That should never take a back seat!

One more thing to add, though Spielberg is known for his manipulation and shallow focus, one of the most powerful shots in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is his split-field diopter shot of Dreyfuss and his son at the dinner table. Both characters are in perfect focus... because it serves the story.

Highest Regards,

Daniel Riser
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Old January 31st, 2006, 12:42 PM   #14
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I dont know if it was posted in one of the replies I skipped over, but there are deffinatly alot more things that give an image a "film look" than just 24p. You mentioned lighting which is a big factor. Learn how to manipulate the contrast ratio of your image that gives the best results. You do this by using lighting techniques. Video, especially DV, has a high contrast ratio. Light for this and you'll have more control in the next film like process, color grading. no shot of film goes untouched for color correction before being distributed. Use this technique on your video and you'll get great results. As mentioned in another reply, film emulsion plays a big role in the look of an image. Learn how to replicate different film emulsions in terms of color and grain. Dont be affraid to add grain to the image, I personally shoot all my video at 0 or less on the gain setting. But in post I can add grain (usually monochromatic). Camera movements and composition are another thing. Experiment and find which style works best for the story. Sometimes handheld is good, sometimes locking the camera off is the correct thing. It just depends on the story and what emotion you're trying to convey. There are alot of other things that help the finished product appear to be that of a higher budget (usually what people mean when they say "film look"). Make sure the art direction, set and costume design and sound design are high quality too. I like to use the mantra "Everything must be motivated". In other words, there must be a reason for everything on screen including colors, camera moves, lighting, etc.
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