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Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


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Old April 30th, 2006, 10:32 AM   #1
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"Real" looking movies?

I was wondering if any of you know of any indie films shot on DV that exploit the fact that they're shot on digital. Using all the methods of proper cinematic filmmaking, but leaving the DV look. Interlaced, not letterboxed, and at 25/30fps...I imagine that could actually be, if shot properly, a really good style that makes the film seem a lot more real. A lot of filmmakers, me included, are hung up on trying to make our stuff feel like film...Why not break away and make something that feels totally different?
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Old April 30th, 2006, 10:46 AM   #2
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You can't project interlaced video theatrically so "24p" (however you end up with it) is kind of necessary.

People have tried, though:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0154420/

It's supposed to be one of the greatest films of the past ten years and the cinematography is allegedly revolutionary (I've heard it compared with Tolland's work in Citizen Kane in terms of level of innovation.) Embarassingly, I've never seen it.
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Old April 30th, 2006, 10:48 AM   #3
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Full Frontal

I believe, (correct me if i'm wrong) but soderbergh's "full frontal" was filmed on an xl1s?
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Old April 30th, 2006, 11:49 AM   #4
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Is it not possible for a DV film that's been shot in PAL 25 to be displayed in a theatre? There's one or two indie cinemas here which have a film projector and a DVD player/projector.

DV-And-Proud filmmaker :D I'm not trying to be anything I'm not :P
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Old April 30th, 2006, 12:01 PM   #5
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I was wondering if any of you know of any indie films shot on DV that exploit the fact that they're shot on digital...

I think that Aviv is on to something here. What is the point of our trying so hard to reproduce the look of an outmoded technology? Many of the things we seem to value about film (shallow depth of field, a slight stuttering of fast motion, a particular reproduction of color) were originally flaws of the film process, which were transformed into creative strategies by early film makers. Why not embrace the new technology, with its peculiarities, and learn to use its supposed flaws (wide depth of field, smooth motion) as creative techniques? It sometimes seems to me, as I read posts on this and other forums, that we are architects given concrete and plastic and trying desperately to make them look like wood and stone.
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Old April 30th, 2006, 02:36 PM   #6
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Well, we have movies like Sin City and Collateral that were filmed on HD, but then again that isn't really DV although it does have that video motion to it.

How was Open Water shot? I know it was shot on a VX2100 but was it shot in widescreen?

But then again, the look of film is traditional and many people will have a problem getting used to it DV.

Note as well, I'm not talking about HD indie movies, but full on Mini-DV.
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Old April 30th, 2006, 02:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Francois Camoin
What is the point of our trying so hard to reproduce the look of an outmoded technology? Many of the things we seem to value about film (shallow depth of field, a slight stuttering of fast motion, a particular reproduction of color) were originally flaws of the film process, which were transformed into creative strategies by early film makers. .
This is because the human eye can see beauty in these supposed flaws.

Why do many people still prefer paintings using 'outmoded technology' versus photographs? It is because through manipulation we can see a different way of viewing reality that is somehow pleasing to the eye or to the senses.

Even if we were to use high def video we are still acting to filter it through editing a narrative or shot composition. That is not reality.

For the same reasons the audience prefers to see actors who are attractive, want to hear clear, bold dialogue and would rather see films that are extraordinary versus every day reality.
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Old April 30th, 2006, 06:27 PM   #8
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Keith:
Your point about painting and photography is well taken, but while both photography and painting are still flourishing art forms, there's nothing quite so pathetic as photographs which attempt to look like paintings.

As for reality, neither film nor video is anything like reality—both present us with two-dimensional images, controlled by the camera's angle of vision, both subject to the spatial and color distortions of the equipment, whether it be celluloid film or CCDs. I'm not arguing that video is superior to film, but only that each has its own beauty, its own satisfactions for the maker and the audience. To attempt a "film look" for video seems to me as unprofitable, as foolish, as it would be to go to the same lengths to make a film look like video.
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Old April 30th, 2006, 07:46 PM   #9
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Francois: I agree with the gist of your post, but not the specifics. Depth of field is a property of optics, not film. Even if you were right, depth of field is a creative tool in the cinematographer's arsenal. I would not want to be without it. Film also has a much broader gamut than video. NTSC is pathetic, any way you dice it. And don't get me started about DV's color resolution.

If we were talking about 4:4:4, 60p, 4K it would be another story...I have loyalty to any medium; I want the best result.
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Old April 30th, 2006, 07:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoochul Chong
I believe, (correct me if i'm wrong) but soderbergh's "full frontal" was filmed on an xl1s?
Yes, if you want to see how to make film look like really bad, shaky handheld video then go watch that film. I saw it in the theatre and it gave me a headache! ;-)
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Old May 1st, 2006, 07:01 AM   #11
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Well, if you want to make film look like video, check out Bam Mangera's stuff. He can make 16mm look like Mini-DV.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 08:17 AM   #12
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All the elaborate camera and lighting techniques evolved over the years are mostly designed to make the audience see things through the lens the way they see it through their eyes. Shaky camera movements are not natural to human eyesight. Our brain stabilizes the image. Bad exposure does not happen unless someone has eye disease. Blown-out highlights with simultaneously crushed shadows only happen in the morning and evening while looking towards the sun. At noon, our eyes don't perceive this phenomenon that happens with video so lighting technique must be employed to combat the limitations of the camera's exposure range. The human eye also does not have a deep focus. We re-focus very rapidly, but we only focus on a narrow plane and only have fine detail in a small area of our retina. The good cinematographer can lead the viewer's eye around with selective focus. Selective focus is natural as opposed to deep field of focus.

I agree that video has strengths and I have heard many comments from average Joes that have a preference for the "real" look of video. Personally, I like a higher frame rate. 24fps is the bare minimum for perceiving smooth motion. What I prefer about film is the higher exposure latitude. The greater resolution of HD is nice, but I would rather have more exposure lattitude than four thousand lines of resolution. I think if 1080p becomes a standard, that will be just fine for most people for many years to come. On the shooting side, 1080p is fine for resolution but the exposure latitude needs to improve.

Another factor that I REALLY like about video cameras is the smaller size that is now achieving good quality. I really liked the Sony PD/VX cameras for SD performance and useablility in a wide range of situations. I now like the FX1/Z1 cameras for their much-improved controls and higher resolution. If cameras could be this size and have larger imagers for better light sensitivity and depth of field control, they would be perfect. I really want better image quality, but I don't want the burden of a big heavy camera.

I just thought of a great example. In Blair Witch Project, I greatly preferred the video footage over the 16mm. I don't like noticeable film grain and they used a very grainy stock. The color and light sensitivity was also better in the video.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 08:36 AM   #13
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Well, like I said about using tried and tested methods. Your video is exposed correctly, it's stable and focused right. The gamma and movement is just kept to video standards.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 10:03 AM   #14
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My only insight here is that I have seen video that looks like film and film that looks like video...there is obviously something going on that is never touched by the number crunchers who state that the colorspace is horrible and the DoF is too long and don't get me started on resolution or compression...etc... I've stated this many times in the past, perhaps here as well, Screw the film look, you can make more difference in camera than you can fix in post. Pay attention to lighting, staging, optics and motion within the frame and you will get filmic looking miniDV. Actors who know how to act in front of a camera are just as important as knowing how to control light on set. Set designers and costumers who choose the color palete for contrast control as well as aesthetics are invaluable. White and Red (not the camera) are the devil, fast motions breaks the illusions, interlacing breaks the illusions, and long DoF breaks the illusions. I have diatribes up here and on my site as well as the comprehensive one I'm working on at the indiewiki - http://www.seedwiki.com/wiki/indie_f...cinematography

my site has some tips and tricks as well, see the sig for that.

The one thing that hurts my head is that film manufacturers, at the behest of the film industry, has stived to make film that has better color reproduction and less grain...the first things the filmlook softwares do is to change the color reproduction to something other than reality and add film grain...who needed that 200 years of development.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 05:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
All the elaborate camera and lighting techniques evolved over the years are mostly designed to make the audience see things through the lens the way they see it through their eyes.

No, the techniques that have evolved are mostly designed to make the audience experience the story the director is trying to tell.

That is why shakiness, over/underexposure, etc., are very valuable tools: A static or smooth camera may be very realistic on paper but it won't help convey how frightened or panicked someone may be. With a well-lit, static shot, suddenly the mysterious thing in the dark becomes an actor, and we lose that sense of being "in the movie."

Same for overexposure. Ever been in a dark room, then go outside at high noon on a bright day? On paper it's true you can see things just fine with no blown-out highlights. But how can we convey how bright things seem or feel? Or the eye pain, and having to squint? Crank that exposure up until everything is blown out for a moment. Now the viewer "gets" it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
I have heard many comments from average Joes that have a preference for the "real" look of video. Personally, I like a higher frame rate.

That's like saying "I prefer wrenches to screwdrivers." Depends on the job!

For sports I prefer a higher frame rate for a feeling of realism. For movies I prefer 24 fps for that effect that lets me feel like these aren't just actors standing around in a soap opera.
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