Having I Lost Sight, Gone Round the Bend? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Techniques for Independent Production

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


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old October 10th, 2006, 06:54 PM   #1
New Boot
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: MD
Posts: 16
Having I Lost Sight, Gone Round the Bend?

Many moons ago I started messing with my footage and shooting techniques in an effort to distinguish the short actionsports films (that I shot of myself and my buddies) from other total noob efforts. I poked around in this forum and others and started tinkering. Obviously more than gear does the film look take, so I'll keep this technically oriented (and I know the limits of DV vs HDV so I won't ask about 35mm adapters and really get flamed/mocked).

Recently I settled on a look that I found favorable. But I wonder, have I lost sight of the film look in favor of some bizarre stylized creation of my own, or am I just reading too many of these threads and confusing myself. I'm not seeking approval so much as just sharing, though I grew up dealing with the harsh reality of art critiques so if you hate it tell me why.

Here's what I'm doing:
- Shooting 60i on a Canon GL1
--- Time permitting, manual exposure
--- Aperture low-ish (for minimal DOF)
--- Adjusting shutter/aperture using zebra stripes to remove any white spots
--- ND filter (in camera) almost always on
- Capture in Premiere CS2
--- RGB curves to bring up detail from shadow/mid areas
--- Edit
- Post processing to taste in Premiere CS2
--- Dupe video track above base track
----- Threshold new track (130-ish)
----- Gausian Blur (29-ish)
----- Opacity (20-ish)
--- Color process base track
----- Saturation 125-150%
----- Unsharp Mask standard settings
----- Tint 236,138,0 RGB, 15-20% tint (to replicate Warming Filter 85)

In terms of conversion to 24p from 60i I'm still playing with things. Up until now I've always either exported from Premiere with deinterlacing or done it in Cleaner XL. Frame blending kinda sucks so I turn it off. The other option I consider using is converting to 23.whatever using Discreet Cleaner XL. Seems fast and I do it as I resize the vids for web delivery. I literally just downloaded DVFilm Maker so I'll try that too but I guess I'll only really notice on a DVD played on a TV which I don't get around to doing terribly often.

Anyways, here's some pictures because people like pictures. Pictures are pretty and stuff. Heh. ;)

Original (in this case shot in Aperture Priority)
http://www.idrivethetrain.com/extran...dv_test_01.jpg

Processed (heavily, per the above method) which I seem to like
http://www.idrivethetrain.com/extran...dv_test_03.jpg

Short bunch of clips from a "let's try some new stuff" weekend last Sunday (downsized, compressed, not so useful but you get the idea of what I'm shooting)
http://www.idrivethetrain.com/assets...e_test_01b.wmv


EDIT: Ugh, a typo in my thread title. What a nimrod.

Last edited by Alec Eriksson; October 11th, 2006 at 08:34 AM.
Alec Eriksson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 10th, 2006, 06:59 PM   #2
New Boot
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: MD
Posts: 16
Oh and some day I'll figure out the best way to crop those annoying vertical bars off the left and right edges of the footage. I'm sure Cleaner can do it but whoever designed the cropping tools there needs a slap.
Alec Eriksson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 11th, 2006, 04:07 AM   #3
Trustee
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 1,961
"...and I know the limits of DV vs HDV so I won't ask about 35mm adapters and really get flamed/mocked)."

Your mother was an elderberry and your father smelled of hamsters!!!

Seriously, my very first impression of your footage is that it looks a lot like you were using a polarizing filter, only you achieved the look in post. I think you might be on to something. I also think you should get a polarizer since you seem attracted to the look it creates. The saturated greens without the greyish highlights on the leaves are a hallmark of a polarizer. Your comparison images very much have that look. If you are already resorting to an ND filter, you won't mind losing the light caused by a polarizer. For non-polarized light, it acts more like an ND filter. For polarized light like highlights on water and leaves, it is like a magic eraser.

For my tastes, I think I would expose just a bit higher to preserve detail in the dark areas. It is okay for a white object in bright sun to get zebra bars. Remember, there is some detail above 100ire that you can extract in post. A tiny bit of zebra is okay, but I understand why you are doing things your way. You want to avoid the clipped highlights that make things so "videoy".

My only criticism is not the look, but in your shooting/editing. This is fairly minor, but I think your shots would look better if you let the cyclists pass by the camera more often instead of tracking them the whole way. When you have multiple riders, let the first one or two go by and maybe track the third. At least try this once and I think you will like how things look once it is edited. If you can match the motion at end of one scene with something at the beginning of another, it really flows nicely. Also, if you intend to let the riders go by you can get closer to them and get some nice tight shots as they pass. Of course, don't get so close as to put yourself or the riders in danger.
Marcus Marchesseault is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 11th, 2006, 08:33 AM   #4
New Boot
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: MD
Posts: 16
Thanks for the input Marcus, much appreciated.


Polarizer, hmm... I'll have to check that out. Was also thinking about getting an actual screw on ND filter as well.

I think I actually agree with you regarding the exposure. The first clip in the compressed movie where the riders are coming towards the camera and over some logs was set with the exposure leaving a few zebras, but not many. The rest of the shots were set with zero zebra and had to be boosted quite a bit in post. My own satisfaction level with those darker shots is sketchy so I think what I'll aim for is a little more balance. Maybe I was going a bit overboard with the exposure considering even if the sky is overexposed it makes up a tiny portion of the image when you're deep in the woods.

My camerawork and editting needs help and seems to be the weakest part of my setup, I'll admit it straight away. I seem to have weedy girl arms that can't stabilize a camera for handheld shots, and my ancient tripod doesn't have a full range of motion making tracking shots tough (long shot coming down the trail was on a tripod, which wasn't bad but not great either).

Keeping the talent large in the frame has worked well for me in the past. It seems to translate the speed better, looks better, and generally makes for more interesting viewing. A well known mtb cinematographer told me he aims for the bike/rider and if he loses the rider's head for a moment as they pass then he's just about right.
Alec Eriksson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 11th, 2006, 05:43 PM   #5
Trustee
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 1,961
I think you will really like using a polarizer. It is the one thing that can darken the sky in relation to the rest of your scene. You need to dial it in a bit to get the right effect, but it is much more useful than a plain ND filter.

You could also try using a luminance key to seperate the overexposed sky from the rest of the scene and then tint the sky layer blue. Sky replacement has been discussed in this section of the forum and I plan to try it on my next shoot.

Editing and shooting skills come from practice. Just keep shooting and trying new things until you are happy with your footage. Unfortunately, once you are happy with how your footage is turning out is the time you need to start really improving so you don't get complacent. In other words, camera skills are something that you must always improve. The best part is that it is fun to practice!

Thanks for the color-enhancing tips. I'm sure I will be trying all color-correction schemes under the sun on my next shoot.
Marcus Marchesseault is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 11th, 2006, 05:58 PM   #6
New Boot
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: MD
Posts: 16
Funny you mention color correcting the sky by itself using some sort of mask or keying. I'd never looked into it but just a few minutes ago while looking over a movie I shot in May (relying too heavily on Auto mode in my camera) I thought to myself "couldn't I use something like threshold to mask out the hot (white) area and color correct that separately?" Guess I'll have to go dig up some of those threads you speak of.

I'll order a polarizer for sure. Tempted to order it tonight and see if I can get it here by Friday afternoon since we have our last big mtb trip of the season Saturday and Sunday. Guess I could call a camera shop locally and pay twice as much. Heh.

Lastly.... I tweaked my method a bit further by adding the Unsharp Mask lately. I figured it would blow out the render times and it did, which is a drag, but the results are very good. Problem is without it my footage goes too soft (see this: http://www.idrivethetrain.com/extran...dv_test_02.jpg) without it versus with it (see this: http://www.idrivethetrain.com/extran...dv_test_03.jpg). Maybe I need to take this to After effects for better results since there's no real layering (besides opacity) in Premiere whereas AE has layer controls closer to Photoshop (multiply, overlay, etc).

I also need to get more familiar with Premiere's color correcting effects since right now I'm using 3 stacked on each other in some cases and combining into one has to be more efficient in theory.

It's sad but I've had this GL1 camera for about 6 years and never really cared to learn how to use it well. Now I'm basically shooting all manual, with purpose not just to be Joe Wannabe Cinematographer, and pondering whether or not I should go so far as to try using manual focus and the eyecup instead of the LCD (scary).

Last edited by Alec Eriksson; October 11th, 2006 at 11:08 PM.
Alec Eriksson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 11th, 2006, 06:17 PM   #7
New Boot
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: MD
Posts: 16
With a bit of research it appears that the filter I probably want is the Hoya "Moose" Circular Polarizer. Has a built in 81A warming filter plus the benefits of being a polarizer.
Alec Eriksson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 11th, 2006, 06:44 PM   #8
Trustee
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 1,961
You don't need a warming filter with a digital camera. In fact, the white balance will probably remove the effect of the filter. Manipulate the white balance to get a warmer tone as it is the only way in-camera to change the color balance. You could do it in post, but that adds render time.

Is your gaussian blur fighting the effects of your unsharp mask? Why use both?
Marcus Marchesseault is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 11th, 2006, 07:51 PM   #9
Trustee
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Sauk Rapids, MN, USA
Posts: 1,675
I live and die by my polarizer (get a circular polarizer if you have to use auto focus at all). Here's my diatribe ( http://www.yafiunderground.com/TurnKey/1.html ) about DV vs. Film and how to take the differences and use them to your advantage. Seems though that you've come upon most of this stuff on your own. My take is that it's impossible to get a "Film look" using DV, so get a really good DV look :)
__________________
Web Youtube Facebook
Cole McDonald is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 11th, 2006, 11:03 PM   #10
New Boot
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: MD
Posts: 16
On my own? Hah! Yeah right. Look at my join date, two years ago and only 10 posts. I do a lot of reading/lurking and have just been too embarassed by my efforts until now.


But I concur. Best to aim to maximize the quality of the DV, perhaps shoot for a stylized look I'm pleased with, and then work on improving any of the numerous other areas of the craft that I'm less than brilliant at.

I've stumbled onto the YAFI diatribe more than a few times. I only know that because I remember the grey background and seemingly endless amount of text on one page. I'm a web designer by day so I notice these things. ;) Definitely a good read. On my list of things to do before this weekend's shooting is make up a little checklist to tape to the back of the LCD on my cam that includes things to remember to do in the heat of shooting (seriously, "Push REC" is on there, I've forgotten before).

I hate to buy new gear because I always feel like I'm falling into the "gear will fix my yips" trap but I really do need to get a Rode VideoMic and a decent fluid head tripod. Think those two plus a polarizer are higher on the list than the semi-fisheye adapter I've lusted after.
Alec Eriksson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 12th, 2006, 02:30 AM   #11
Trustee
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Sauk Rapids, MN, USA
Posts: 1,675
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alec Eriksson
stumbled onto the YAFI diatribe more than a few times. I only know that because I remember the grey background and seemingly endless amount of text on one page. I'm a web designer by day so I notice these things. ;)
I was a web dev too (late 90's first web firm in central MN)...which is why I'm leaving that as a diatribe and reworking that whole thing to be a better resource for beginners/intermediate filmmakers.
__________________
Web Youtube Facebook
Cole McDonald is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 12th, 2006, 07:37 AM   #12
Trustee
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 1,961
Alec, I forgot to add that you should get a monopod. Save your money for now and get a polarizer and a monopod. For what you are doing, those things will have, by far, the greatest impact on your desired results and won't cost you a fortune. I don't like to tell people to throw money at the problem, but the polarizer gets rid of some of the unpleasant "video look" and a monopod is affordable and fast to set up for your kind of work.

I would say to stay away from the fisheye unless it is an expected look in your field. I think you will be fine with the shots you are getting and you can maybe move in a little tighter. A fisheye requires you to get very close and that could be dangerous.
Marcus Marchesseault is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 12th, 2006, 11:30 AM   #13
New Boot
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: MD
Posts: 16
You're almost obligated to use a fisheye in "extreme sports" style films these days. Frankly I hate the way a true fisheye looks so at best I would go for simply a superwide rectalinear (semi-fisheye). Problem I have with it is that it's very common and I'd prefer to make something with more traditional camera angles. That said, they're very handy when shooting in the woods where you simply can't get farther than a foot or two off the side of the trail before you're wrestling with underbrush.

Monopod sounds like a good idea. Never used one before but they seem potentially useful.

I'll also have to try the whitebalance trickery. If I'm understanding you correctly I would just need to whitebalance against something light blue instead of white, which should trick the camera into going warmer.



Getting clipped or run into by one of my riders isn't so much a concern. Why? Through the lense detachment or whatever photogs call it. I've had them ride literally within inches of me going around 20mph or more (unintentionally).
Alec Eriksson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 12th, 2006, 10:58 PM   #14
Trustee
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 1,961
You got it, white balance to something light blue or use a light blue gel over the lens. A monopod is very handy and very light. A carbon fiber model with no pan head is practically weightless. If you do get a tripod, try to match the quick-release plates of both tri and monopod so you can change in a hurry. I have a Bogen 503 head and got a quick release adapter that accepts the same plates for my monopod. On a run-n-gun shoot, all the little things you have to do can add up and changing plates is too time consuming. Also, a tripod with a ball-leveling head base is essential. You don't want to re-level all the legs every time you adjust your position. You can also buy just the ball leveling mechanism seperately and install it between the tripod and pan head.
Marcus Marchesseault is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Techniques for Independent Production

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:01 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network