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Old January 13th, 2002, 11:10 AM   #1
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Cinematic look with XL1

Hello everyone,

I have had my XL1 for 8 months and I am very pleased with the results I get from it. I am going to be producing a 10 minute short video, which I want to look as much like 35mm cinema film.

I have heard that turning down to -3 Gain db will give the picture a much more forgiving cinematic curve, but what exactly dose it do?

Are there any other tips to try and make miniDV look a bit more like 35mm with the XL1, with out getting it transfered?

Your help is much appreciated.

Ed
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Old January 13th, 2002, 04:14 PM   #2
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-3db gain will help to make your depth of field a bit more shallow and flattens the contrast a bit.

You want to make your video look like film, light it for film. Film look is all in the lighting. Study how lights are used on a motion picture set -- that will do more than anything else to make your video look like film. Hope this helps,
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Old January 13th, 2002, 04:38 PM   #3
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I really have to agree with Chris. After reading and trying dozens of clever and funky tricks and tips for making "video look like film", I've concluded that the "film" look is at least 90% the "professionally produced look" which generally translates into total control of the camera's motion (particularly lack of same), skilled lighting, and skilled framing/scene composition.

The trick with lighting, however, is that lighting for film is different than for video. In general, video needs a bit less light to achieve good color saturation and proper contrast. You also have a bit more on-the-fly latitude with tape than with film, particularly with cameras that have good DSP's. But starting from a film approach will certainly put you on the road to success.
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Old January 13th, 2002, 11:32 PM   #4
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Ken,

I agree with what you have to say about capturing the "film look" on tape. I would point out to EdSmith that video in general is less forgiving and has a narrower contrast range than most film stocks. Because of this, a lot more attention needs to be paid to contrast range in video than film. Part of what makes video seem more flexible is that "on-the-fly" latitude. After all, when was the last time any of us used a lightmeter to measure light ranges in a scene when shooting video? Why bother when you can just look at the monitor? But the care in lighting that film demands by its very nature is part of what contributes to that "professionally produced look." Try using an incident lightmeter to light a few scenes without looking at a monitor (or through the view finder). It's an excercise in controlling light "organically" that translates into a better lit frame for video.

What Chris points out is also true - lenses. Shooting long to reduce the depth of field. Or, as Chris suggest, opening up the iris by reducing the gain. I woud try using prime lenses if I could find some that would give me the equivalent of something wider than a 105mm.
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Old January 13th, 2002, 11:52 PM   #5
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Ozzie,
You made me grin; you must be psychic. Just this weekend I was cleaning up a closet in my office and came across a light meter I used to use for 35mm photography in the early 1980's. (The battery had long since fried itself.) I began to wonder why these aren't used more for video work (although I'm not even sure I'd know how to use it for video, at least the version that I have).

Then, reading your post, I realized that we videographers indeed do just look through the magic viewfinder. In Zebra We Trust, eh?

Maybe I'll play around with using a light meter again.

Thanks, Ozzie.
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Old January 14th, 2002, 12:22 AM   #6
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Yeah, video has made us all very lazy. Before I stated working in broadcast video I taught television in college. I remember having my students (who were a few years younger than me) go around the studio with a light meter just to make sure the light ratios were within tolerances. I still have my trusty old Luna Pro and occasionally I take it out just for fun.

But don't feel dumb using a light meter with video. There are a lot of DPs I know who still use them in video. I worked in Austin for a while (in the mid 70s at KLRN) and the chief engineer had a seemingly anachronistic but valid way of ligting. He would set up all the cameras to "unity" - to bars off a chart and the video operator would not touch them once they were set. It was up to the lighting director to light the set to yield good pictures. No riding the gain or adjusting colors. At first I thought this was the hard way of doing it but I soon got to appreciate what that chief engineer was doing and why. We got some of the best lit video I've ever seen.
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Old January 14th, 2002, 07:39 AM   #7
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Film Look in XL1

I am a beginer and would like to put some comments based on
my short-term experience.

I had a chance to play with my friend's XL1 PAL and XL1S NTSC
for a day.

I set both in manual mode, 16:9, Frame/Regular mode.

I found that PAL version with frame mode image was closer to the film look.

PAL image had more detail (625 vertical vs. 524) and more color.

I heard that many independent film maker use PAL to copy
their works to 35 film.

I am seriously considering buying PAL version because I like
the PAL image.

I will edit it in Premire and view them in PAL monitor.

If I have more money, I would buy a professinal NTSC cam
such as DVPRO or analog BetaCam-SP to get the film look.

Read "Digital Moviemaking by Scott Billups" to get more
information about the digital movie making.
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Old January 14th, 2002, 09:55 AM   #8
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Where to find more info?

I've read all the good advice on this post but how can someone find out how to light - more specifically what are the best lights (watts/volts) to use for a short film, etc.?

Also,

What about lighting in the field? What can you use for field work that does not require electric cords but still puts out good lighting?

Where can I purchase a good inexpensive lighting set?

Thanks.
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Old January 14th, 2002, 10:51 AM   #9
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There is no shortage of good books on lighting for filmaking and videography. Aggregate books such as "The Digital Filmaker's Handbook" and "The Filmaker's Handbook", as well as Scott Billup's book mentioned earlier all cover the subject of lighting to some depth. Just spend some time on amazon or Barnes and Noble and I'm sure you'll find many worthwhile works.

But there's no substitute for just experimenting. This is less a matter of "what should I buy?" than "what should I do?". It's easy to get caught-up in the consumerism of amatuer videomaking and then decide that your wallet is what limits your abilities. Lighting kits can be purchased for relatively modest sums. Basic lighting kits can even be -made- for even more modest sums. OK, so you won't be able to light a 6000 sq.ft. set with such kits. So what?

Like the Nike people say, Just Do It. Put your eyes and ears to work and have some fun!
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Old January 14th, 2002, 11:51 AM   #10
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Vuduproman, (boy, I wish people used their real names or at least names)

Vudu,

There are a number of lighting kits that come with an assortment of lights, stands, reflectors, and whatnots, to allow anyone to light. The kits run from $700 to $2000. I've found that no kit is ever "perfect" for everything, that's why we hire a lighting director and a gaffer who come with a truck full of every conceivable light, flags, gobos, reflectors, you name it.

Take a look at Lowel Light Kits and Tota Lights (I believe that's the correct name). Both make a variety of kits for different types of lighting and job size. Even if you don't buy any of the kits, at least become familiar with the instruments they contain.

You'll probably end up improvising a great deal, that's how many lighting instruments were "invented" - e.g. the Chimera. She shot in a large store once that had fluorescent lights - possibly the worst lights for lighting (they strobe, their color temperature is all over the place, they hum). Still we couldn't light the entire store. The LD decided to use them and augment the closeups with panels of same tubes the store already had. This was a home-made unit that has become a staple of many lighting directors.

My favorite Lighting Director? - the late Nestor Almendros. Why? Is technique was to make use of the natural light and use as few intruments as possible. Take a look at "Blue Lagoon".
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Old January 14th, 2002, 12:35 PM   #11
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For the consumerism record <g>, I certainly agree with Ozzie that Lowel makes some of the most versatile kits for relatively modest budgets. I own 2 Lowel sets. One contains 2 "Omni" lights and one "Tota", along with stands, barndoors and an umbrella. The other is a Caselight 4, which is a 4-lamp high-output flourescent panel. Both kits come in very compact carrying cases. The Caselight, in particular, is a very clever design that packs to a case just slightly larger than a briefcase and weights around 10lbs.
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Old January 14th, 2002, 12:43 PM   #12
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Ozzie:

<< boy, I wish people used their real names or at least names >>

I do too, and this is actually in the Community FAQ as a general posting guideline. It's not particularly enforced, but I would like it known that I'll always show preference for those who are up-front and sincere and comfortable with themselves that they use their names. I simply don't understand "handles." There's no reason for anonymity here, and I tend to get suspicious, wondering why someone feels like they have to hide their identity. Rant mode off. Thanks and much respect to you and *everybody else* who has the confidence to say who they are,
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Old January 14th, 2002, 01:28 PM   #13
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If you want to roll your own lights check...

If you want to try rolling your own lights try this URL:

http://www.studio1productions.com/Articles/FL-Lights.htm

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Old January 14th, 2002, 02:08 PM   #14
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<< boy, I wish people used their real names or at least names >>

Chris/Ozzie,

Sorry about the name thing - The name of my company is Vudu Productions. When I registered it asks for a user name and not first name/last name.

If possible, I would appreciate it if you changed my user name to my real name. I certainly do not want to ruffle any feathers. I love and appreciate the advice I receive here.

Gilbert Labossiere
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Old January 14th, 2002, 02:14 PM   #15
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Gilbert,

No problem -- company names are fine in my book and I'm happy to accomodate a change if you want. Do you prefer Gilbert Labossiere or Vudu Productions -- either one is terrific -- send me a private e-mail to chris@dvinfo.net and I'll change it for you right away.

Much respect,
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