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Old February 4th, 2003, 11:04 PM   #1
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Towards a Video Look Using Film

Okay, my problem is the opposite of most. I shoot travel videos (non-commercial). There are many locations that don't allow videotaping, but do permit still photography. When I encounter these, I'll shoot a lot of stills, then scan the negatives and use them to make a Ken Burns-style video montage. This compromise is fine for me, but it bothers me that it is so easy to recognize the photographic stills as being the product of . . . well . . . photography. I'd get a more seamless result if there were a way to get the contrast, saturation and grain to more closely match the look of video.

Any suggestions (that don't include buying a $500 plug-in)?

The issue may become moot for me, since I plan to purchase a Canon D60 digital still camera before my next trip. Aside from the convenience of not having to scan negatives, I'm hoping that the characteristics of the D60's images will more closely match those of video.
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Old February 5th, 2003, 01:04 AM   #2
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If you really want video, and not just more photographs, find yourself a used Canon L1 or L2 camcorder. They look like mutant SLR cameras, so you could sneak one in. In my crazy mind it looks like an SLR anyway.

Of course if you found out, you might find yourself in a bad bad place. Like prison. :)
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Old February 5th, 2003, 03:09 PM   #3
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Maybe I've led a sheltered life. Why would a place permit photography, but NOT videography? The technologies are so similar, why one and not the other?

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Old February 5th, 2003, 03:33 PM   #4
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It could be that the locations sell their own video tours on cassette, and while still photographs wouldn't pose much competition, videography would.

Alcatraz has an audio tour played from a little digital audio player. The narration guides you through the prison, and fills in the details on the famous prisoners, escape attempts, etc., complete with background sound effects. They still allowed videotaping as of March 2001, and I saw several clever tourists plugging the audio tour player directly into the microphone jack of their video camera--presto, professionally narrated video tour, probably much the same one sold in the Alcatraz gift shop.

So maybe Dylan wasn't too far off.
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Old February 5th, 2003, 03:44 PM   #5
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A technique I like that produces very nice video images is to simply video the prints. Set up strong, even lighting at angles to avoid glare and tape what you need. Possibly this could be faster than doing digital scans, depending on the number of images and your scanner type. This allows you to also zoom and pan using your normal video skills which will also enhance the videoness.

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Old February 5th, 2003, 05:52 PM   #6
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I've used a D-60 extensively and it does not have a video look. Nor do the in camera controls give you enough adjustment to make it look like video. You would need to use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to adjust your images and obtain a video look.

The easiest way I have found to get a video look is like Ron says, video tape your prints. I've found it much faster than scanning.
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Old February 5th, 2003, 09:31 PM   #7
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If you really want video, and not just more photographs, find yourself a used Canon L1 or L2 camcorder.
These are travel videos -- size and weight of equipment is an issue. I can't carry an extra camera just for these kinds of circumstances.

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Why would a place permit photography, but NOT videography? The technologies are so similar, why one and not the other?
I have no idea, but I most recently ran up against this last month at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Video cameras are only allowed up to the beginning of the long path of fountains which lead to the Taj. Still cameras are allowed everywhere.

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Alcatraz has an audio tour played from a little digital audio player. The narration guides you through the prison, and fills in the details on the famous prisoners, escape attempts, etc., complete with background sound effects. They still allowed videotaping as of March 2001, and I saw several clever tourists plugging the audio tour player directly into the microphone jack of their video camera--presto, professionally narrated video tour, probably much the same one sold in the Alcatraz gift shop.
Coincidently, I did exactly this when I went through Alcatraz. However, there are no official videos (or anything else) for sale at the Taj Mahal. I suspect the limitation has more to do with traffic control. Incidently, there were a number of places in India in which this was true. Also, I've run across this limitation in museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Re: suggestions to video prints -- in order for that to work, I'd need a motion table, which is what Ken Burns uses for his documentaries. Otherwise, I'd still have to do the pans and zooms in the computer as I do now, except that I'd be limited to 720 x 480 resolution, instead of the 4,000 x 4,000 that I work with now. This would severely limit my ability to zoom and pan, which is the whole point of this, i.e. to create a "motion surrogate" out of the stills that can blend with live-action video.

I'm sorry to hear that the D60 doesn't approximate video, though I'm still determined to get one for no other reason than the cost of film development is prohibitive, and it takes to long to scan the negatives into a computer-usable format.

I'm curious -- would "deinterlacing," e.g. removing alternate scan lines, a D60 image approximate a video look? I'm assuming a major difference between digital still devices and video is that one is progressive and the other interlaced.
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Old February 5th, 2003, 11:42 PM   #8
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The D-60 is a digital film camera. It's an SLR that captures still pictures to a memory card. It uses a progressive CMOS chip. There is no interlacing. It's designed to produce images that look like 35mm film. I easily make 11 x 14 inch, inkjet prints that are indistinguishable from prints made from 35mm color negatives. Through software (I believe it comes with Photoshop LE) you can increase the contrast and saturation, lower the resolution and adjust curves and sharpness to get a more video look. But it would certainly be over kill for your projects. You'll need to also evaluate if your time is better spent adjusting all your digital images to look like video or having your film processed and scanned to CD. Many retailers offer that service in an hour.

No easy answers, but I don't know that throwing $2,200 at it is going to solve your problem. It'll solve some but create others.
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Old February 6th, 2003, 05:28 PM   #9
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The D-60 is a digital film camera. It's an SLR that captures still pictures to a memory card. It uses a progressive CMOS chip. There is no interlacing.
I know that. One of the options for "video filter" in Photoshop is to remove alternate scan lines. Obviously, no video still has scan lines -- Photoshop merely divides the still into 525 lines (or something similar) and removes the odd or even ones (you can specificy which) and then interpolates the missing lines by doubling the existing ones.

I'm curious if this effect were applied to a still that was taken by a D60 (or any progressive scan device, including video captured in progressive mode), whether the result would look more "video like."

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It's designed to produce images that look like 35mm film. I easily make 11 x 14 inch, inkjet prints that are indistinguishable from prints made from 35mm color negatives.
You have very different standards than I. I'm getting the D60 to replace my film SLR, but I can readily tell the difference between film and digital prints, particularly at 11 x 14. The D60 is very, very good. Prints made from its images, however, only approach, but do not duplicate, chemical film prints in tonal range and contrast range.

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Through software (I believe it comes with Photoshop LE) you can increase the contrast and saturation, lower the resolution and adjust curves and sharpness to get a more video look. But it would certainly be over kill for your projects. You'll need to also evaluate if your time is better spent adjusting all your digital images to look like video or having your film processed and scanned to CD. Many retailers offer that service in an hour.
I guess my original post wasn't very clear. Images scanned from film negatives do not look like video when imported into a project. It doesn't matter whether I scan the negatives, or a 1-hour lab does (Incidently, I used to use 1-hour labs for this purpose, but found that the quality of their scans was abyssmal -- I had to spend a considerable amount of time "retouching" each scan to remove imperfections, dust, scratches and digitized artifacts -- that's why I switched to my own negative scanner). Film, when scanned, looks like film, which does not look like video (see the subject of this forum).

With the D60, I skip the scanning step. However, the D60 also is reproducing the actual scene, rather than a film negative image of the actual scene -- it therefore should not exhibit all of the characteristics of a scanned film negative. My hope is that it will more closely approximate video since (1) it uses the same physical medium as video for translating focused light into digitized image, (2) it does not pick up as "artifacts" any of the properties of chemical film, e.g. random film grain, different gamma, etc., and (3) the spectral characteristics of CCDs in the D60 and video cameras are far more similar than either is to film.
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Old February 6th, 2003, 08:46 PM   #10
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I just played around with the Video Filter that is included in Photoshop. The filter was applied to 6 different images from a D-60. Some of the shots are people, indoor, outdoor, scenics. The de-interlace filter has very little effect on the files. They show some slight sharpening of edges in some shots. I think you'll get better results adjusting brightness, contrast, levels and unsharp mask. You could build an action to combine all the adjustments automatically. There are some additional plug-ins that might provide a more video look, but as you suggest, they cost hundreds of dollars.

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You have very different standards than I. I'm getting the D60 to replace my film SLR, but I can readily tell the difference between film and digital prints, particularly at 11 x 14. The D60 is very, very good. Prints made from its images, however, only approach, but do not duplicate, chemical film prints in tonal range and contrast range.
You're right, my standards, as an instructor of photography and digital photography, are probably higher. If you are seeing a difference between the prints from a D-60 and a 35 SLR it probably not the cameras. More than likely, the digital files are not being properly handled and printed. Most people have no clue how to set up cameras, scanners, monitors, software, and printers for printing digital files.

The whole point of the D-60 is to emulate a film look. That is why it is being marketed and sold so successfully to professional wedding and portrait photographers. I have a friend who is a Master Photographer in the PP of A and judges some of their print competitions. He has replaced his Mamiya RB 67's and Hassleblads with several D-60's. Why? The look he is able to achieve is virtually indistinguishable from film.

The D-60 does not use a CCD. It uses a CMOS chip. It's characteristics are different from a CCD. It is much larger in physical size and number of pixels than a video CCD used in prosumer camcorders. If you want to try to match a video camera 's image, a high end digital SLR with expensive lenses is the wrong approach. Buy a cheap little digicam, with small CCD's (1.3 to 2 megapixel) with a cheap lens. That will get you the higher contrast and digital artifacts your looking for. But you don't have to take my word for it. Almost all digital cameras have an NTSC video out. Compare the outputs of different cameras on an NTSC monitor and you'll see what I mean. The D-60 image looks more like film (or prints video taped) when viewed on a monitor.
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Old February 6th, 2003, 09:12 PM   #11
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Jeff,

Are you reffering to the calibration expression used in digital media "WYSIWYG", you previous post about setting up?

It is stange your friend you talked about went for a d60, i have no doubt they are fantastic, but it must have been for a really specific need, i have used almost all high end digital slr's, including some higher in the range than the d60 and i can still see more noise than the exact same print (side by side same conditions) printed well from a high quality film.

I know it is being approached, but i don't see the quality yet of film, or in a stange way the flexibility of what film can do. (i know photoshop can do wonders, but i am reffering to random texture and contrasts, similar to that i cant see digital achieving.)

Maybe i am just strange,

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Old February 6th, 2003, 10:00 PM   #12
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The actual process to achieve "WYSIWYG" (What You See Is What You Get) is ColorSync. I don't know if Apple invented it, but they certainly have championed it. ColorSync involves building custom profiles (this includes calibration) for all your devices, camera, monitor, scanner and printer. These profiles allow the proper transfer and exchange of data into different color spaces.

When ColorSync is achieved, the image on the screen will match the image reproduced on paper. But, just like traditional chemical based photography, the digital process is only as good as the weakest link in the chain. Did you buy the $150 monitor or the $800 monitor? The $99 printer or the $2999 printer? You get my point. Why do so many consumers trust the pimply faced kid at the computer store? I hear so many times "The guy at the store told me it was a photo quality printer"

The price of the current state of the art mini lab, Fuji Frontiers, (these are the same labs found in Sam's Club and many Wal-Marts) are over $250,000 new. Add a few options and your at $400,000. You can get stripped down ones used for $120,000. What makes people think that spending $2,000, or less, on a computer, monitor, and printer will duplicate the results of a quarter million dollar machine? An 18 year old in a computer store?

Today, I'd say more than half of the top pros have switched to digital. In some fields the numbers are over 90% (journalism, sports). What does it take for them to achieve professional results? Well, not a quarter million dollar machine. A good monitor will run you $800 and up, a decent computer will be $2,000, a photo quality printer $700 plus and $600 for Photoshop. Spend $500 to $1,000 to have someone set-up your system and give you some photoshop training. Start printing your images. The results will amaze you.

I should probably list my credentials. I am a member of the Society of Photofinishing Engineers (SPFE).
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Old February 6th, 2003, 10:32 PM   #13
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I just played around with the Video Filter that is included in Photoshop. The filter was applied to 6 different images from a D-60. Some of the shots are people, indoor, outdoor, scenics. The de-interlace filter has very little effect on the files. They show some slight sharpening of edges in some shots. I think you'll get better results adjusting brightness, contrast, levels and unsharp mask.
That's interesting, because I haven't yet had a chance to play with this. I agree that it will take a variety of tools to get digital stills to look like video. That's why I started this thread -- I want to know the best way to get there.

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You're right, my standards, as an instructor of photography and digital photography, are probably higher. If you are seeing a difference between the prints from a D-60 and a 35 SLR it probably not the cameras. More than likely, the digital files are not being properly handled and printed. Most people have no clue how to set up cameras, scanners, monitors, software, and printers for printing digital files.
I wasn't precise enough in what I wrote. I haven't had enough experience of the D60 to make this statement. However, in general, I have had no problem distinguishing chemical prints from digital ones. I do my own darkroom work, and have been doing so for 40 years. I'm _very_ familiar with the properties of negative film. I have yet to see what someone has identified as a digital print that isn't readily ascertainable as such. That doesn't mean that the state of the art hasn't advanced to the point where the two technologies are comparable -- I just have yet to see it.


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The whole point of the D-60 is to emulate a film look. That is why it is being marketed and sold so successfully to professional wedding and portrait photographers. I have a friend who is a Master Photographer in the PP of A and judges some of their print competitions. He has replaced his Mamiya RB 67's and Hassleblads with several D-60's. Why? The look he is able to achieve is virtually indistinguishable from film.
I'll be ecstatic if that's the case. The D60 is the first digital camera I've given any serious consideration to, primarily because it has enough pixel density to allow greater-than-8x10 prints (I usually print my work as 16 x 20, but I'll be happy to pull a decent 11 x 14 from the D60).

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The whole point of the D-60 is to emulate a film look. That is why it is being marketed and sold so successfully to professional wedding and portrait photographers.
Well, with all due respect to wedding photographers, that isn't necessarily the standard to which I aspire. I know some some very fine wedding and portrait photographers (I'm thinking of two that I know in particular who are artists in every sense of the word, and produce museum-quality images), but much of the wedding photography that I see tends to be on the commercial side. From what I understand, digital cameras were first adopted professionally by news photographers. Their photography was good, and important, but wasn't done as art per se. Digital cameras made it possible to transfer news photos to news media quickly and inexpensively. I expect that convenience and cost is also part of the equation for wedding photographers as well. It certainly is part of my consideration in selecting a D60 -- the cost of film, development, proof prints and scans for just 3 or 4 trips will pay for the D60.

Since I've had very minimal experience with the D60, I'll defer to your judgment that it produces very high quality images. I've had enough experience of digital imaging, and more than enough experience with chemical photography, so that I'll reserve my opinion as to the interchangeability of D60 images and film negative images until I've had a chance to examine the D60 product at some length.


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The D-60 does not use a CCD. It uses a CMOS chip. It's characteristics are different from a CCD. It is much larger in physical size and number of pixels than a video CCD used in prosumer camcorders.
I didn't know the D60 uses CMOS. It will be interesting to see how it differs from CCDs. Size and pixel density are relevant to light sensitivity and resolution, but not, I would think, to gamma, contrast, etc. One significant difference between digital images and chemical film is that the latter has a random grain pattern, whereas the former uses symmetric arrays. I find it hard to believe that this factor alone isn't sufficient to distinguish one format from the other.

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Compare the outputs of different cameras on an NTSC monitor and you'll see what I mean. The D-60 image looks more like film (or prints video taped) when viewed on a monitor.
I'm sure that it does -- the resolution differences alone would account for that. The question, though, is does it look more like video than scanned negative film?
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Old February 6th, 2003, 11:50 PM   #14
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You could just add some video noise (maybe 3%) with software to the video to make it LOOK like video as opposed to true stills.
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Old February 7th, 2003, 03:14 AM   #15
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Most digital cameras will record short video clips in avi or MPEG. I know the G2 records video and it is no where near the cost of a D60 and a very, very nice cam. Not near the D60 at all, but still nice, especially for the $$. It is a still cam so people will not know if you are capturing video or taking a photo!
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