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Old January 12th, 2007, 05:48 AM   #1
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Can somebody please explain.....

what the attraction is with this so called 'film look' by just going for 24P delivery. For years CRT TV's have used 100 Hz technology and now LCD TV's are moving in the same direction. I can understand it for delivery on chemical film, but for digital delivery, be it HD, BR or DVD, I don't get it.

It seems somewhat like going back from color to b/w movies, or going from 24 fps to 18 fps, or even more absurd, to remove the shocks from your car to get the cart and carriage feeling back. Is nostalgia the overriding factor?

I look forward to your thoughts on this matter.
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Old January 12th, 2007, 01:05 PM   #2
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Whether you like it or not, 24P (or progressive-scan capture in that frame rate range) is necessary to replicate the motion reproduction of 24 fps film, whether or not the final presentation is on a big theater screen or on a TV screen.

It's just a simple case of how motion is reproduced -- it's not an issue of right or wrong or better or worse. In fact, low frame rates like 24 are not very good for the reproduction of motion, not if you want it to look smooth with minimal strobing.

But since we are conditioned to seeing movies shot at that frame rate, the motion of material shot at much higher sampling rates like 50 or 60 (such as with interlaced-scan cameras) looks different -- it IS different. Much smoother, almost hyper-real. But it doesn't look like the classic film look that we are familiar and comfortable with.

Now you may chide people for wanting that classic look (by using the term "nostalgia") and not accepting a new look, but people are not always logical about their likes and dislikes. It's just a simple truth: if you want to replicate the look of 24 fps film, then one element will obviously be the frame rate. That only makes sense.

But you're questioning really why one would even want to replicate the classic film look, and that's another issue entirely. Let's just say that when you try and force audiences to accept a new look for material (like for narrative fiction feature films) that has traditionally had another look, you have to be willing to accept rejection. For some filmmakers, it's not worth the risk, trying to re-educate the public into the beauty of higher sampling rates for motion.

Conversely, the opposite thing happens when you attempt to shoot material traditionally captured at high sampling rates (like news, sporting events, live concerts) at low frame rates like 24P -- again, it feels "wrong" to many viewers (most of whom are too young to remember the days of newsreels and 16mm news photography.) They like the immediacy, the "live" look of the higher sampling rates.

However, there is some argument that high sampling rates for fiction looks and feels odd because it is TOO immediate, unprocessed, live "reality" -- it may be great for an immersive action movie going for a "you are there" quality, but for a typical dramatic scene, it sometimes makes the fiction less believable because the setting looks too "live" and "real". I know that sounds like a contradiction, but we need some sort of visual clues that tell us that we are watching fiction so we can accept it as an alternate reality, the "suspension of disbelief" that we talk about -- and sometimes if the image has too much clarity and smoothness, we feel we are looking at sets and actors, not real locations and characters. People had that reaction when they saw the episodes shot in 60i HD for shows like "E.R." and "West Wing". The greater reality of high sampling rates had the effect of making the scenes look more fake.

Again, this is all an issue of conditioning and obviously people can get conditioned to new ways of looking at things. We have had soap operas shot in interlaced-scan for decades now, and producers of those shows have been hesitant to go to 24P lest they upset the viewers used to that look. We used to see news shot on film, now we're used to seeing them shot in interlaced-scan video. So certainly someday if movie theaters and home theaters allow high refresh rates of progressive-scan video, like 60P or higher, we may see a shift where some filmmakers try and make an action movie or an epic at 60P instead of 24P for that hyper-reality feeling.

By the way, there have been attempts in the past to up the rate of movies. Cinerama was 26 fps. Todd-AO (65mm/70mm) was initially 30 fps. Both formats switched to 24 fps after a few features in order to make copying the movie to standard 35mm prints easier. Later, Douglas Trumbull tried to sell a 65mm format shot at 60 fps called Showscan, but it only got used at some theme parks for ride films, etc. There was a similar idea called Maxivision involving shooting and projecting 35mm at 48 fps.

So once we are freed from the need for a standardized frame rate in the movie theaters, we may see more experimentation and therefore more viewers willing to accept frame rates higher than 24 fps for fiction material.

But for now, it's a simple problem that if you want to fool a viewer into thinking that video is film, one aspect will involve mimicking the most common frame rate of film: 24 fps. Since film can't really create a 50i or 60i interlaced-scan look easily, avoiding that look in video is an aspect of fooling the viewer that they are looking at film.
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Old January 12th, 2007, 01:38 PM   #3
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Thanks for the insight David!

I was thinking that it was all about re-creating the look of film that we are all used to. I'm just a hobbyist but I'm devoting some time to trying to understand just what makes film look like film and video look like video.

I do this of course, so that I can take video footage from my XL2 and massage into a more film-like look to better capture the attention of my audience.

I understand that there are certain characteristics to the motion and motion blur of 24fps, but what I'm really trying to figure out now how things like color, contract and diffusion come into play.

Why exactly does the TV commercial by The GAP look so much better than the commercials produced by our local TV station. I mean, the TV station is using $15,000 broadcast cameras, yet their commercials look like there from hicksville. I'm trying to learn how to see exactly why?

Anyway... thanks again for your insights.

Todd
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Old January 12th, 2007, 01:46 PM   #4
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You and I are in PAL land, Harm, and here in Europe there's far less interest in the stuttery film look - primarily because our footage is more stuttery to start with. Our 25 fps video is a lot closer to film's 24 fps than NTSC's 30 fps, which may have some bearing on why the NTSC folk are rather more hyped up about it.

As you say, CRTs have long offered 100 Hz technology to get over the quite obvious 50 Hz flicker, but of course this doesn't smooth camera or subject motion any. In fact it can do quite the opposite, and sports fans often prefer 50i because of the smoothness of motion.

Most people now shoot 25p if they want to emulate the film look. That way the frame rate exactly matches our TV and footage looks like films we see on TV. Of course it's more juddery (pans and tilts show it up) but then again you don't get the nasty half vertical resolution and comb effect that's associated with interlaced movement.

I tend to agree with you: nostalgia is the overriding factor. When Thrumbull shot at 60 fps nobody liked it. cameras were noisier, slow motion was less slow, costs rocketed and projectionists never had a moments rest. It's ok for IMAX to go this route, but 24 fps with a 48 Hz projection (every frame shown twice) is purely history and accountants at work.

tom.
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Old January 12th, 2007, 01:51 PM   #5
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"Why exactly does the TV commercial by The GAP look so much better than the commercials produced by our local TV station. I mean, the TV station is using $15,000 broadcast cameras"

not sure if i've seen the current GAP spot .. in gerneal GAP spots are shot on FILM with probably $150-300K+ budgets - they hire top directors, DP's , production designers etc ... more then likely that 15K camera at your local station is interlace and could be 10 years old ? the local station do not hire top directors, DP's , production designers ....

IMO once movie theaters convert over to digital projectors we might see a move to 30fps ( 30p) ????
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Old January 12th, 2007, 02:12 PM   #6
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Well Don... when you put it that way. :) I see your point.

Last edited by Todd Brassard; January 12th, 2007 at 03:30 PM.
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Old January 12th, 2007, 03:32 PM   #7
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Harm, nostalgia really has nothing to do with it at all and 24p is a highend production method that is used every single day and will be used for many years to come.

24p is used for many national TV spots as well as most primetime TV drama and comedy shows. Almost everything highend in the US is shot either on film or at least shot as 24p.

Having 24p allows many of us to try and reach that style and look of the large scale productions. About the only thing really on TV that is interlaced is the news, talk shows, game shows and reality shows.

From a visual effects background I can tell you that I really hope movies never go to 60p or even 30p. Not only is effects work much harder with all the extra frames but it isn't really needed. Any rotoscoping and compositing work would be a huge pain in the butt just for slightly smoother motion. Rendering of 3D effects and composites would take much longer as well driving up the costs of post production.


Lets face it film projects are high end and many of us want to create projects that can try to match the big boys as much as we can. We are not try to go back to a quality that isn't as good like you mentioned with 18fps or B/W but to match one of the highest production standards world wide.

Finally 24p is a lot easier then 30p or 60i to convert to 25p for PAL. This makes 24p a universal format that can be adapted with great ease to pretty much any world market.
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Old January 13th, 2007, 05:49 AM   #8
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Guys,

Thanks for all your input and the time invested to answer such a basic question. Your insights and the comprehensiveness of your responses are very much appreciated.
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Old February 5th, 2007, 01:50 PM   #9
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When done correctly, the 24p with the rights settings to create the "film look" will generate a more emotional response than that of the 60i "news camera" look.
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Old February 5th, 2007, 04:43 PM   #10
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I argue that *most* of the "film look" that seems to be the holy grail of videographers happens in front of the camera...lighting, movement of actors, set design, makeup, props along with editing and ...all of these things that make much more difference than the frame rate. I've seen both 24fps film that looks like video and 60i video that looks like film. The vast majority happens in front of the lens...concentrate your efforts there. 24P will just get you a little piece of the puzzle.
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Old February 9th, 2007, 10:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Mullen
However, there is some argument that high sampling rates for fiction looks and feels odd because it is TOO immediate, unprocessed, live "reality" -- it may be great for an immersive action movie going for a "you are there" quality, but for a typical dramatic scene, it sometimes makes the fiction less believable because the setting looks too "live" and "real". I know that sounds like a contradiction, but we need some sort of visual clues that tell us that we are watching fiction so we can accept it as an alternate reality, the "suspension of disbelief" that we talk about -- and sometimes if the image has too much clarity and smoothness, we feel we are looking at sets and actors, not real locations and characters. People had that reaction when they saw the episodes shot in 60i HD for shows like "E.R." and "West Wing". The greater reality of high sampling rates had the effect of making the scenes look more fake.
One of the most dramatic examples of this effect is scene in the "making of" featurettes that accompany many DVDs. When video coverage of a scene being shot is intercut with the actual scene shot on film, the film vis a vis video distinction is blaringly obvious.
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Old February 10th, 2007, 05:54 AM   #12
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Its very simple why we all want the film look, take Die Hard for example, it's one of the best action films ever.......now imagine it had been shot on an XL1S in 50i mode (ignoring the resolution diffirence). It would look like a well composed home video like you use to film your kids party.

For me it's the progressive nature that makes it look like film rather than the frame rate, The audience has to be detached from reality in order to commit to the world within the film and progressive scan provides that detachment.

Andy.
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