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-   -   Soft background for film look (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/panasonic-p2hd-dvcpro-hd-camcorders/84396-soft-background-film-look.html)

Daniel Cegla January 20th, 2007 04:10 PM

Soft background for film look
I have noticed when watching movies, that almost always the background is out of focus and soft to very soft, with just the main subjects in focus. However most video I see is sharp everywhere.

With the HVX200, is it possible to set focus like this with the camera stock, so that the background is soft with just the subjects in sharp focus? I think this would help with the film-look a lot.

Or, if not, is there some kind of filter that can be used to help with this?

James Gleason January 20th, 2007 04:54 PM

Soft background for film look

Shallow Depth of Field (what you're referring to) is the Holy Grail of video. There are many factors that contribute to a shallow DOF, such as F-Stop, distance from camera to subect, and imager size (1/3 or 1/2 inch CCDs).

For a quick thrill, put an object halfway to two thirds of the way away from your camera and the background, zoom in and open up the iris to 1.7 or 2.0. Notice how the background goes blurry.

By nature film allows for this easier than video does (there's a science to it), but you can work hard at it and make it work in video.

Google the subject and you will find a large amount written on it. I've been reading "The DV Rebels Guide" by Stu Maschwitz. It's a wealth of info for the price.

Chris Barcellos January 20th, 2007 05:11 PM

Go to alternative imaging section of this Forum, and take a look at all the 35mm adapters that are designed to create the film depth of field you are looking for. Ultimately, the issue has to do with the resulting image size. The smaller the imaging size, the deeper the depth of field is as a result. Video cameras have very tiny image sizes. 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 3/4. As the chips get bigger, the shallower the depth of field.

What the 35mm adapters do is throw an image on a ground glass using a still 35mm lens, or cinema lens, that you in turn focus on with your video camera. The resulting image has the depth of field characteristics of film.

Robert Lane January 20th, 2007 05:14 PM


As James mentions, other than using a 24p frame rate having ultra shallow depth of field (DOF) is one of the biggest "must haves" for a video production trying for a film look.

The HVX - and every other video camera on the market - has very limited DOF characteristics at all focal lengths. The only way you truly acheive the look you're after - especially if you're using shorter, wide angle focal lengths - is to use one of the 35mm lens adapters on the market. This requires a very specialized setup process and some acclimation for the shooter in using this type of rig, but it is the only way a video camera can get what you're after.

Daniel Cegla January 20th, 2007 07:49 PM

Thanks for the information guys.

I've been looking at the Redrockmicro M2. One question I can't seem to find an answer to: Does using a setup like this still allow for dynamic camera movement, ie, dolly/tracking shots, jib movement, steadicam, etc.? Or is it going to be very difficult due to issues of keeping things focused properly?

Chris Barcellos January 20th, 2007 08:58 PM

There are various gears, knobs, etc, available to assist in follow focusing. It will take practice. I have an adapter I built using Redrocks plans, and focus off the lens ring itself. With a little practice, I think it can be done even that way. Don't forget these adapters give you a flipped image. On my FX1 and on many other cameras, the image can be flipped back using a strategically placed magnet. Without that, follow focusing get a bit more confusing.

Daniel Cegla January 20th, 2007 11:49 PM

So would that be pretty tricky for a fast action running shot on a steadicam?

Jon Fairhurst January 21st, 2007 12:27 AM

Another approach is to shoot the foreground in front of a greenscreen, and then blur the background. There are lots of technical challenges to get a good result though - you need even lighting on the screen, good keying software, good light management and good color correction. And then there's the problem of matching motion, and, of course, a good blurring process for the background.

Or you could just shoot on 35mm film ;)

Andzei Matsukevits January 21st, 2007 02:42 AM

actually you dont have to shoot 35mm film, 16mm is quite ok too :)

Are you guys sure that DOF depends on the size of CCD? I read somewhere, that it is a misleading fact. There was said that bigger CCD cameras usually have shallower DOF, coz they are using longer/better lenses, not that their CCD are bigger...Dont remember exact link though...

Gunleik Groven January 21st, 2007 03:18 AM

It's possible to get shallow DOF with the HVX.

Open the aperture/Iris to full

That's it

Don't see it? -;)

It will become more apparent if you zoom in -;)

So if you have the subject 1/3 (or closer to you) than the total distance from the background you'll have it.

IMO the tradeoffs with the 35mm adaptors are bigger than the gains (loss of light and general soft focus on a lot of the imagery but test shots)

The bigger sensor you have (16mm/35mm 1/2", 2/3", 1") with a longer focal length lens, the easier you'll put yourself in a situation where you'll have to deal with shallow DOF.

Do remember, though - that shallow DOF does not make a movie!!!!

Mostly it has to do with composition and story-telling.
Then maybe as a point 5-10, the ability to choose what DOF each shot should be shot at.
The contrast between huge "wide open" deep DOF shots (think landscape, city-scenes with tons of objects and people in them e.g.) and shallow DOF (foucusing out one subject from the masses) can tributes to the effect.

But shallow DOF is not synonymus with "film look".

Just my 2c


Tom Hardwick January 21st, 2007 03:22 AM

DOF is surely influenced by chip size, focal length, focused distance and lens aperture. Having the background as far away as possible helps with its softening.

Lets get back to chip sizes. A camera with 1"/5 chips (the PDX10, say) will have a 12x zoom with a max focal length of 43.2 mm

A camera with 1"/3 chips (the VX2100, say) also with a 12x zoom has a max focal length of 72 mm.

If you're after shallow DOF, which focal length would you rather shoot with? Right; so go for the camcoorder with the biggest chips on board.


Gunleik Groven January 21st, 2007 08:31 AM


Thing is, the guy asks if it's possible to get shallow DOF from the HVX.
I just say: It is. Even without an adapter.

And: Shallow DOF doesn't make a "filmlook" (whatever that is...) alone.



Vince Curtis January 21st, 2007 12:08 PM

.. you can also try this puppy


if appropriate or use a clear shower curtain. ....

Sam Jankis January 21st, 2007 01:50 PM


Originally Posted by Vince Curtis
.. you can also try this puppy


if appropriate or use a clear shower curtain. ....

For $547 I think I'd rather go with a frosted shower curtain... jeez!

Vince Curtis January 21st, 2007 01:58 PM

Yeah, expensive, but clever - if you have the money. ..

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