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Techniques for Independent Production
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Old July 20th, 2007, 11:37 AM   #1
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Full wide = amatuer?

I`m noticing the more you step back from the actors and zoom in then focus, the more movie-esque things look, and less like student film. Am I crazy or is there some reason for this ? Perhaps its just my tired eyes heh.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 11:45 AM   #2
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Nathan,

I suspect what you are noticing as 'movieesque' is the shallower depth of field that results from using the long end of the telephoto.

Do a search on 'depth of field' and you'll see why.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 12:29 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Nathan Quattrini View Post
I`m noticing the more you step back from the actors and zoom in then focus, the more movie-esque things look, and less like student film. Am I crazy or is there some reason for this ? Perhaps its just my tired eyes heh.
Nope you are not crazy, that is how it is done when you don't have a 35mm lens or adapter. Camera shake is the only enemy, use tripod. Be sure to try to run your aperature full open as well. ND filters may be necessary.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 12:47 PM   #4
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Bad generalization. You don't want to shoot everything in close up. You need wide shots too.

Shallow depth of field is nice, but not everything.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 12:59 PM   #5
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Sorry, I assumed that was a given. Yes you need all the range of shots.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 01:06 PM   #6
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I think what you're seeing is a better composed shot where the subject is clearly defined. That what looks professional. Many full wide shots include all kinds of extraneous clutter and zooming in with a shallow depth of field usually helps get to the heart of the composition. But that's really an operator problem and has nothing to do with the focal length of the lens. If your composition clearly defines your subject, it will look professional, even if it's full wide, with infinite depth of field.

Akira Kurosawa created some of the most amazing cinematic shots ever seen using full wide / infinite DOF. Another example, the classic low angle close up "boot shot" of two gunfighters facing each other.
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Old July 21st, 2007, 05:26 PM   #7
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i think wideshots require more from the actual technical aspects of your production. If your shooting with a regular DV camera, a wide shot will really show the flaws of the picture your taking, as DV camera take quite low-grade images.

I've always found film to enhance a moment and make it worth watching, whereas DV presents it more as it is. If you have beautiful morning setting of a field of grass with fog drifting over it, your DV cam will capture this very well it will look good at a wide angle.

Shallow depth of field also does plenty, and this is something you get none of with wideshots when using DV. If your shooting outside, shoot in the morning and the evening, and if you have to in the middle of the day, make sure it is overcast. If your shooting inside. Spend hours experimenting with lighting, and pick somehwere that doesn't feel generic. Don't pick a house with typical kitchen, that is semi-messy. Pick something like an old, farm-style kitchen with antique style cupboards...etc. Very, very modern would also work.

I also find that most indoors shots work better with the lights off, and then use the sun your light source, and use artificial lighting accordingly.

If your trying to shoot indoors at night, using in-house lighting, good luck, this would be near impossible to shoot and make it look authentic, since your not going to get the depth of field you want, indoors limits the amount you can zoom in.

Shooting outside at night is also easier to make look good, but again you have to do a very good job with lighting. If you can't see the background, you can't tell it's not blurred out like it should be.
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Old July 21st, 2007, 06:45 PM   #8
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It's funny people say that, but look at all the "professional" films (whatever that means), they use wide shots throughout the movie. Close ups are mainly used for that emotional connection or to highlight an action... or to create an atmosphere (claustrophic etc).

Orson Welles used wide deep focused shots that looked beautiful. Definitely don't look amateur!

I think it's just the digital vibe and look that people assume to be amateurish. But if it's lit well, acting is spot on, and it is framed properly, whether it's shot on film or digital, 60i or 24p, it won't look "amateurish".

Shoot whatever strengthens or serves the story :)
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Old July 21st, 2007, 10:15 PM   #9
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I am going to say that depth of field plays a big role but lighting is what I mainly see that makes films look amateurish, by far that can kill a film look. Depth of field definately plays a big role however. Lighting can overcome much of it by focusing your attention on what is the important part of a frame just as depth and focus does.
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Old July 22nd, 2007, 12:18 AM   #10
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I have done a very informal and "unscientific" study of this subject by simply watching movies and counting the number of wide vs. shallow depth shots. On the movies I watch ( which are the basic hit movies that are popular today, not the independant foreign films or classics) the shallow depth of field shots are the winner hands down.
wide shots are great when the viewer needs to see whats in the background, but otherwise I want the director (or camera operator) to actually show me what to focus on, I dont want to have to work at it!

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Old July 22nd, 2007, 02:25 AM   #11
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that true, also closer shots tend to be easier to light than wide shots, you need a lot of light to cover a huge area, or else you need to be outdoors on a weather correct day (cloudy and moody or sunny and cheerful) or else you need to start gelling and filtering to crreate the effect of sun or mood. Close ups tend to offer more controlled lighting.
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Old July 22nd, 2007, 03:58 AM   #12
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Look for the music video I posted in the show your work forum. All but about 8 second of the video is at FULL WIDE on a stock HVX. It takes more skill and craftsmanship to frame a wide shot. It also takes more art direction, etc. etc. etc. A tight, shallow depth shot can masked many of these things.




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Old July 22nd, 2007, 10:17 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Ash Greyson View Post
It takes more skill and craftsmanship to frame a wide shot.
For an excellent and highly entertaining example of this, watch the Cohen Brother's "Raising Arizona," shot wide by Barry Sonenfeld pretty much throughout the entire movie. There's nothing at all amateur about it, in fact, the choice of wide focal length enhances the humor, which is why Sonenfeld refers to wide-angle as the "comedy lens."
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Old July 22nd, 2007, 10:41 AM   #14
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For a really extreme example, watch How The West Was Won which was shot using the 3-strip Cinerama process. The 27mm lenses on that monster of a camera provided vast depth of field and the effect is stunning. Certainly not amatuerish, I think this film redefined the epic movie genre: http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/wingcr3.htm

If you haven't seen this film (I saw it as a kid in a real Cinerama theatre) it's definitely worth the watching. Unfortunately it's only available in letterboxed 4:3 instead of anamorphic though.
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Old July 22nd, 2007, 11:59 PM   #15
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Cinerama

I always wondered what the heck those seams in the movie were from....learn something new everyday.....
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