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more than just grading to get that FILM look.

Posted: Thu, 20th Apr 2006, 6:34pm

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ashman

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Ok im going through some bits and pieces of what ive done and decided to put my teasers on a disc and check them out on my TV, while they look ok on the moniter from the pc on the TV they simply look to sharp and clear and have a real home made video look. I'm trying to narrow down what I can do to give it the movie polish, ive extensivley look around read through some other replys and it never seems to be spelt out. While grading helps it doesn't remove the o so sharp edges, it basicallt looks painted over the home video look. I looked through the net and found these factors are what need to be looked at to remove the crappy quality.

24p
cinema gamma
16:9 format
High definition (HD) video
Post-production tools
Film-style cinematography (using the Micro35)

I have an XM2, so i have frame mode (fake 24p) and hear its very poor function, is there a way I can film normally and convert the footage to 24p? I'm pretty much ok with the rest except micro35, what the hell is that!? I really want to give my movie a great look, at the minute it just looks shite, im not the most experienced filmmaker so any help on this would be great.

BTW i have premiere pro 1.5 and use vlab (what else of course wink )

Cheers
Ash
Posted: Thu, 20th Apr 2006, 6:54pm

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Redhawksrymmer

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Micro35 is a adapter for cameras, more info can be found here.
Posted: Thu, 20th Apr 2006, 7:02pm

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Simon K Jones

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Rating: +2

This should start some interesting debate. smile

First off, a couple of points I'd like to make about the general concept:

The 'home video' look is not crappy (well, unless it's shot on a shoddy camera, which the XM2 is not). It's just a different look.

Also, there is no such thing as 'the film look', if you ask me. Take 5 films, they will all look utterly, utterly different. Off the top of my head, try comparing the following: Fight Club, Saving Private Ryan, Back to the Future, Evil Dead and American Pie.

What people perceive as the film look comes from five things, as far as I'm aware: Lenses, film stock, grading, camerawork and lighting.

Camerawork, grading and lighting can all be done on minimal budgets, with enough time and effort put in. They have nothing directly to do with film itself, really (though light obviously plays very differently to film than it does to a video CCD), and it depends more on the filmmaker/crew.

Film stock is obviously important, and can determine the level of grain in the picture. Compare low budget horror movies to slick Michael Bay movies, for example. Video can also produce a lot of grain in dark areas, although it doesn't tend to be as 'pretty' as natural film grain. Most non-horror films tend to try and avoid grain, though, so whether it should be considered part of the 'film look' is debateable - it's more an aesthetic choice when you want to make something feel nasty and dirty, and can be simulated fairly easily (the Grain filter in our products, for example).

Lenses are probably the most crucial element (and also the element I'm least confident in talking about, having never had the opportunity to use anything other than digital camcorders). Film cameras have astounding lenses, complete with astounding prices. They can create amazing panoramas that verge on being fish-eye, or they can narrow the view down to the intimate. Generally films tend to have a wider scope, with proper widescreen, precise depth-of-field and an 'epic' feel which is very difficult to recreate using a home video camera, which tend to have lenses designed for minimum distortion and maximum clarity and annoyingly wide depth-of-field.

You can buy lenses for the XM2, though. We bought the standard wide angle lens and it is really superb, it transforms footage into something far more cinematic. It's a subtle effect, but well worth it. Filming without it, everything looked horrendously 'flat' and boring. You could maybe try simulating it with a very, very slight use of a digital fish-eye filter, but I've not tried that and it could end up looking awful.

So, basically, film stock and lenses are the tricky bits for low-budget/amateur digital filmmakers.

As for your points, let's take a look...conveniently ignoring ones I know nothing about... razz

24p - I don't see the fuss in this, to be honest. Filming 24 frames a second seems utterly pointless to me, unless you're specifically planning to have you film projected solely in theatrical conditions and need to have it converted to film and project through a film projector. Otherwise, using 24fps just risks potential playback issues on televisions and removes information.

Progressive, on the other hand, I'm something of a fan of. Your XM2 doesn't do 24p at all, as far as I'm aware. But it does do progressive at 25fps (normal PAL). The difference is that instead of each frame being two interlaced fields, each frame is a full resolution still image. The difference is massive when it comes to post-production, with a much higher resolution to work with and none of the irritating deinterlacing/split field issues. It can apparenetly cause problems with some televisions (as TVs are still designed for interlaced footage), but I've never actually encountered a television that can't play it well. When played on a computer it gives high quality, silky smooth playback, and on a TV it is a little 'jerkier', in a barely-perceptible manner, which actually makes it appear a little more like film, if anything.

16:9 format - Widescreen definitely helps. All professional movies and TV is filmed in widescreen these days, so produce a 4:3 movie would be a bad plan. This raises issues of how you're going to achieve the widescreen, though. Most professional cameras do it via proper anamorphic lenses, which you don't tend to find on camcorders. They can do digital anamorphic which seems to work quite well, though. You could also film 4:3 and then crop it or stick letterbox bars top and bottom, which means you have more general footage to play with, but also means you ultimately lose quite a bit of resolution - not great if you're only working at miniDV res to begin with. I'm not an expert on widescreen methods, I'm sure people like schwar and sollthar will be able to give more accurate and technical advice.

High definition (HD) video - Proper HD (as used by Lucas, Rodriguez, Cameron, Michael Mann etc) is, of course, fantabulous. It's the future, it's already here in fact, and I'd love to get my hands on a proper HD camera. Unfortunately all us spods can afford at the moment is HDV, which is entirely different. It's higher res, but it's still squeezed onto a miniDV tape, which is a rather dubious design aspect as it inevitably means rather high compression. Again, I'm sure sollthar can give lots of hands-on experience, as he used HDV for shooting Nightcast, and schwar's done lots of research into the topic. It has its pros and cons, as with anything else.

Post-production tools - Crucial. Decent grading can make all the difference. One thing a lot of people don't realise is that the raw film that comes out of movie cameras often looks a bit crap, too. It's only once it's gone through considerable grading that it looks sexy. You can also do 'lens enhancements', adding such things as fake depth-of-field. I wrote a tutorial on the subject way back for Chromanator, but most of it should still apply to CompositeLab. It's a technique sollthar uses a lot and can really enhance your cinematography, removing that documentary/news broadcast 'everything in focus' aesthetic.

Film-style cinematography (using the Micro35) - I don't know the tech (what's a micro35?), but this is also crucial. Decent lighting is vital - if you don't have good raw footage going through your lens (whether it's a film or a video camera), you're going to have trouble extracting decent stuff the other end. Lighting is only half the game, too - camera movement itself is also crucial. Take the time to develop techniques for smooth movement, or if you're going for the 'shakey cam' look, make sure you do it right.

Not sure if any of that was of any use whatsoever to you, but I quite enjoyed mulling it over. Hope it wasn't too boring a read. razz

Last edited Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 12:49pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Thu, 20th Apr 2006, 7:10pm

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Redhawksrymmer

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A good example of a feature film with a "crappy home video" look is Blair Witch Project which was filmed as a home video and therefor added realism to it. As Tarn said, the movie look isn't just ONE single look of films. Every single film in the universe has it's own look and feel to it. (Well, maybe not the Rambo films razz)
Posted: Thu, 20th Apr 2006, 7:37pm

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ashman

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Ok what I mean is, the footage i shot for the teasers looks ok on the monitor, they look darker and even a little cinematic, but when i played the footage back on my tv, the whole image looked overly sharp, while i appreciate that home video look is ok, this looks really bad, even blair witch has a less sharper look to it. I don't know how else to explain it, its just too sharp and clear on a TV, like a news broadcast thats been graded over, while I have depth of field shots and slow smooth pans, it just looks overly sharp and clear, even with the grading. I have a feeling its to do with the frames I'm shooting, but as I'm inexperienced I don't know what else i can do. It's like the compression makes it softer giving it a more cinematic look.
Posted: Thu, 20th Apr 2006, 7:50pm

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Arktic

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Here's a thought - are you using a TV hooked up to your PC to review the footage and grading, or are you just working on your monitor?

This might be your problem. Whereas most TV's are setup with pretty similar contrast/brightness etc settings, monitors can vary greatly - it might be that something like the gamma on your monitor is very low, compared to a TV display.

So, to fix this, connecting a TV to your machine, and grading on that will allow you to see how it will look when you play it out. You might find that you need to lower the brightness, increase the contrast, and add more glow (or similar) to affect a film-look on a TV, as compared to your PC monitor.

Also, don't bother trying to convert PAL to 24fps - they're so close anyway, it makes very little difference. If you were shooting NTSC, there might be a benefit, but with PAL there really isn't.

I hope this helps smile

Cheers,
Arktic.
Posted: Thu, 20th Apr 2006, 8:08pm

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ashman

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heh could be, but the picture for the teasers comes out similar on all the other pc's ive seen, but it could help maybe. I just want the image to look softer, i'll try upload the mpeg2 file, if you guys can veiw it on a TV, tou'll see what i mean, the monitor to tv looks completely different
Posted: Thu, 20th Apr 2006, 8:08pm

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Xel

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Whether or not your monitors or calibrated correctly would be a big thing. You might want to read up on how to calibrate one correctly.. As there definitely is a correct way to do it. But that aside and continuing the debate on film vs dv look, .........

Tarn hit it closest... What everyone misses with DV cameras is depth of field. The sharpness you talk about is simply everything being in focus, .. huge DoF... Lenses are one of the biggest factors..

The other is simply that CCD's ≠ film, literally. They have different physical properties, are based off of different systems, and so forth.

All the other things do contribute or take away from DV vs film looks, but I think if you had to just pick one thing out to make the biggest difference, I can guarantee you that DoF/the lenses will make the biggest. Even try faking some DoF. use your favorite effects package to separate background from foreground, and you can literally perform a 2d rack focus... Won't look as good as the real thing, but it shows you that it makes a big diff.

(Yes, been working with both for long enough to say that pretty confidently, though I too would love more experience with some more unique lens types...and I've yet to get any HD experience to comment on that world.)
Posted: Thu, 20th Apr 2006, 8:54pm

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ashman

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Tarn- the progressive 25fps you speak of, is this the frame mode on the XM2. I have used this mode before and it seems to split and jerk with fast movement, as some shots are handheld i don't know what to do about this, it does say it gives it a more cinematic feel but it also states :Frame video may not appear completely smooth during playback.

Does this mean it will look smooth when i get it into editing or it will just look dodgy throughout no matter what I do. It's kinda ambiguous, is it just jerky on the playback of the tape on the XM2?

If anyone can shed some light on this, that would be great.
Posted: Thu, 20th Apr 2006, 9:11pm

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ashman

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ok here's a link to my mpeg2 footage, watch this back on a tv and it looks very poor. I think its the lack of DOF as xel and arktic said and poor grading. see what you think:

http://beta.yousendit.com/transfer.php?action=download&ufid=BCA40A8C508FC2C4

If it is the DoF, it's some thing i can really pay attention too. and not a moment to soon. I warn you tho, the footage looks shocking on a TV, you have been warned wink
Posted: Thu, 20th Apr 2006, 9:33pm

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Bryce007

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I'm kinda thinking what he's talking about is the "Sharpness" setting on his camera...also, You might consider Turning the contrast up abit as well, because that tends to look more..Filmic some of the time.
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 12:12am

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viper3139

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hey does anyone own a Micro35. that looks interesting. And if so how much does everything cost. Because i don't understand what u need and what u dont. Thanks
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 12:58am

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Hendo

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viper3139 wrote:

hey does anyone own a Micro35. that looks interesting. And if so how much does everything cost.
I don't have one, but the Micro35 is not the only option. There are quite a few 35mm adapters around, ranging from DIY kits to very expensive ones.

Apart from the adapter, you will need the 35mm lens (e.g. Canon, Nikon, etc) and most likely a rod support system. You may also need some step-up / step-down / macro filters depending on the adapter and your video camera.

35mm lenses can be picked up cheaply 2nd hand from ebay etc.

The rod support (or something similar) is needed because the adapter and lens are quite heavy, and so without the necessary support they will damage your video camera's filter threads. Due to the extra weight, you'll also need a tripod that can handle it.

As for costs, it's a case of the old saying: you get what you pay for. The expensive adapters will have better quality, which means less light-loss, less grain/dust and less/no distortion.

If you're interested, the following are some other adapters to investigate, but there are many more around.

http://www.cinevate.com
http://letus35.com/letus35.html
http://www.guerilla35.com
http://www.pstechnik.de/en/index.php
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 1:08am

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viper3139

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thank you so much. i'll definetly check it out. and by the way I have a vx2100 if you know of any adapters that are good for the 2100. Thanks again
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 9:31am

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ashman

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Ok ive looked around alot of other forums to sort this issue out, appears that the cannon xm2 has a overly sharp quality (no bad thing) that has been noticed by others as well. What im going to do is shoot in frame mode, set the sharpness down (to the left 4 clicks) and have the shutter speed up (1/800-1200) as was planned. These look like they stop any strobing that frame mode usaully causes allowing me to do erractic movements. I'm going to test these and again check them out on my TV, hopefully giving it that less clinical overly sharp crisp look. I'm also going to try the DoF shots as was talked about, I may even try to get the 35 lens adapter if time allows. I do think frame mode may be the way to go. I'll post results up for all those interested smile
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 9:42am

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Simon K Jones

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The 'strobing' when using Frame made on the Xm2 looks fine on all the TVs I've seen it played on. Tends to look jerkier on the Xm2's playback for some reason.
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 11:28am

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ashman

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I was just wondering about this frame mode on the XM2, i know it records a full picture and mimic's progressive supposedly making look cinematic. I just want to know what these differences are, what so different between the look of the interlaced footage and the frame mode, how does the picture differ. I have looked all over the net and it just says : frame mode for cinematic look. It doesn't explain what the difference is, wether it's colour or contrast, it's not mentioned. I am going to test this but im at work atm, im thinking should i use a program to make it look progressive or use the xm2's frame mode. i heard twixtor is a good program for this, or is frame mode really that good?
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 11:38am

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Simon K Jones

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Normal mode films interlaced footage. ie, each frame consists of two half-resolution fields that are played alternately by the TV.

A progressive frame, however, consists of a single still image - like you'd get if you just took a photo with a stills camera.

Easiest way to see this would be to film in both methods, then import both clips into VisionLab. Make sure you set up the new project as Progressive, that way you'll see the frames exactly as they're stored.
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 12:31pm

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Sollthar

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If you plan on shooting with a 35mm adapter eg a 35mm lens, be very aware if one thing many people don't realise:

The reason for the high DOP in consumer cameras is the fact, most people want to point and shoot. As soon as you lowet the DOP to a 35mm lens, you WILL have to constantly pull focus.
Be aware that this will need a lot of practice and make your shoot much harder, since whenever someone moves, you'll have to set markes and pull focus on your camera to keep your actor/object sharp.
This can be a true pain, trust me.


And definately listen to Tarn: Unless you're planning on having the film blown up to real film and shown on a projector,
DON'T BOTHER WITH 24P!!!!

You have absolutely no advantages from that, only disadvantages such as:

- You loose a frame which either results in simply lost frames (which you can see on playback) or weird frameblending (which looks just plain ugly)

- Format problems on some TV's

- General suckiness


The key to good looking material is LIGHT and FRAMING, not fancy grading, or any super-dooper-make-my-film-look-awesome filter. smile

Read into light, it'll make a huge difference. Learn your cameras weakness and try to avoid them.

The main thing you want to avoid is hot spots. Avoid everything that is so bright so you loose information on the actual image.
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 12:40pm

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ashman

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So only use the frame mode if I plan to convert my dv footage to film stock? We are planing to screen the movie from a projector onto a screen but linked from a dvd. Is there no point in using the frame mode at all in that case? If this is true then all i need to alter is the sharpness, i just wanted a softer picture instead of the hard crisp edges i keep getting, i may do all the DoF shots in vlab, i know its painstaking, but we just don't have time to get an adapter, and i want it to look as good as possible.
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 12:42pm

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Sollthar

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No no, shoot in the frame mode! Definately shoot in the frame mode (full progressive). But not in 24P.

Yeah, doing DOF in post is a pain, but can give amazing results if you can't afford to do it in any other way for whatever reason.
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 12:50pm

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ashman

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Hey thanks for all the info guys smile I know all these questions can be fustrating to go through and feel like your banging your head a brick wall, i do appreciate all the advice and help your giving me, I find it annoying because im so desperate to learn as much as possible and always missing stupid things out, this thread being one of those cases, It was very close to becoming a disaster, as the teaser footage shoot shows. I'm running some tests tonight to get this fixed, this is the worst time as well, there's only 10 days left before the shoot, eeeekk! Just call me a crazy movie making amature, but i guess thats the best way to learn is by doing it.
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 12:51pm

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Simon K Jones

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24P and the Frame mode on your Xm2 are totally different things.

24P = 24 frames per second, progressive. ie, exactly the same as film. Not many digital cameras can actually do this, so it tends to be simulated in post, leading to the problems sollthar mentions. And as said, it's pointless unless you're transferring to film.

Frame mode on your XM2 = 25 frames per second (like normal PAL), progressive (ie, each frame is a nice full res image).
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 12:58pm

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Arktic

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Ash - this *might* sound crazy, but try it and see. To get a 'softfocus' effect on your footage, try stretching a pair of nylon stocking/tights (try black ones) over the camera's lens.

What this does is diffuses the light going into the camera, giving it a softer feel. It also means you'll be able to open the iris of the camera larger than it would normally go, which gives you less Depth-of-Field (which is the look you're going for).

Combine that with a wide angle lens, and you should start to get some pretty good looking footage. The ammount of softfocus will depend on how tight or slack the stockings are pulled (the tighter they are, the less the effect). This technique might not work right for you - but it's definatley worth a try.

Hope this helps smile

Cheers,
Arktic.
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 1:05pm

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ashman

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Heh that does sound crazy, but im a crazy guy wink My other half is going to think im mad, i hope she doesn't think odd thoughts when her tights go missing smile
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 1:18pm

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Sollthar

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And imagine the effect it has on your actors if you show up with your stockings-camera.

"Act completely baffled! Action!"
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 2:06pm

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ashman

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hey all,

I found this link and sorta confirms alot of what was said previously, I think it will help alot of other peeps who also have questions about the film/video saga.

http://www.jorenclark.com/whitepapers/dvforfilm.html
Posted: Fri, 21st Apr 2006, 4:49pm

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ashman

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I did some tests, the frame mode removed that horrible dv home feel that i was grumbling about, it looks fantastic and I'm very happy with the results. All the edges softened up a treat, I can't believe i nearly ruined my whole shoot, but at least it's sorted now smile

I did try the stocking, the results looked like, well, like I stuck some stockings over it, so I going to proceed to film without them. I can sleep an extra hour tonight knowing there's one less thing to worry about.
Posted: Mon, 24th Apr 2006, 3:11pm

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CurtinParloe

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Ooh, an argument!

Actually, there itsn't one yet, maybe I should start one razz

I tried the progressive modes ("frame") on the XM2 the XL1 and the Sony PD170, repeating the same camera movements, and then played back on a dedicated MiniDV deck. The XL1 footage was beautiful, the XM2 was a little jerky, and the PD170 looked like poo warmed up (which is apparently because progressive on the PD170 is only 15fps). If I can find the footage I'll post it (I borrowed a tape from the uni technician).

As for Depth of Field, I may have said in the past that it's a good film-faking technique. I hereby rescind my earlier statement. Minimising the Depth of Field does not film-look make (he says in a yoda-type sentence).
If you don't believe me, watch Citizen Kane and The Shining, where the director has specifically chosen a deep DoF. (In The Killing, an early Kubrick film, he reportedly screamed at the DoP for lowering the DoF)

Otherwise, what Tarn said - make the lighting good, and shoot progressive if you can biggrin
Posted: Mon, 24th Apr 2006, 3:17pm

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Simon K Jones

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CurtinParloe wrote:

If you don't believe me, watch Citizen Kane and The Shining, where the director has specifically chosen a deep DoF. (In The Killing, an early Kubrick film, he reportedly screamed at the DoP for lowering the DoF)
Exactly. Which further proves my point that there is no such thing as the 'film look'. I find it amusing that what a lot of "make my video look like film!!!!!" fanatics want to simulate is precisely what Orson Welles wanted to avoid in Citizen Kane - which happens to be one of the most admired films in history.

Goes to show that it's not about looking like film or video - what's important is creating the right look for the story at hand.
Posted: Mon, 24th Apr 2006, 3:44pm

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JohnCarter

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Tarn wrote:

Goes to show that it's not about looking like film or video - what's important is creating the right look for the story at hand.
That entirely resumes my point of view.
Posted: Mon, 24th Apr 2006, 4:43pm

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ashman

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But your missing my point, the footage i had (a link to the mpeg2 footage on this thread) Just looks plain horrible, you can't deny it, it looks crap. I wanted to just soften the picture, i didn't want 24p or any of that, It just need to have softer edges, the frame mode seems to have resolved that problem, also I really need to edit the footage from a TV rather than the monitor, this'll help framing nd colouring of the footage. When i say Film, I just meant softer, it's really hard to explain but im sure somebody knows what I mean. While video is a look I hate for this movie in particular, its the look I really want for our next film (or parts of). Again the look is a tool for providing atmosphere and depth to the story, while there are no rules to the look, I always set them out for the movie beforehand, now its pretty much there. As linked before there is a great guide I found, It really sorted my needs, and a few replys here helped as well.