How do movies achieve "The Look?"

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Travis D, Feb 20, 2002.

  1. Travis D

    Travis D Second Unit

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    Alright, I'm going to be making a short film for class and I was wondering how movies get their look.

    Is it the 24fps framerate? High resolution? Grain? Color? Or a combination of everything?

    How do they set apart the film look from the video look.

    And on what kind of new video recorder (MiniDV if possible) can achieve this look if you can do it?
     
  2. Steve_E

    Steve_E Agent

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    The 'Movie' look you are referring to is the depth of field. Most Camcorders are designed to be used in low light conditions. You will notice that when you watch a film the background is kinda blurred. With a normal camcorder, you will notice that its slightly in focus.
    So how do we get around this?
    I dont have one yet, but I neutral density filter for your camcorder to select a wider aperture than might be available, thus reducing the depth of field. Throwing both foreground and background further out of focus to accentuate the subject.
    (This is what I'm gonna get soon [​IMG] )
     
  3. Rod Melotte

    Rod Melotte Stunt Coordinator

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    Depends on what you're talkign about. Take a look at O'Brother Where Art Thou. AWESOME look. The Coen Brothers shot the film, then completely digitized it and recolored the entire move. Then transfered it back onto film.

    The entire movie looks HOT. the DVD has a nifty featurette on how they colored the movie. amazing!!!!!!!
     
  4. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    Hi, Travis...
     
  5. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    Travis, this is a given, but I did not mention it so... When using consumer or prosumer video cameras for this purpose, disable every single auto setting. No auto iris, no auto white balance, no auto shutter, no auto ND, and in most cases no auto sound levels. And no auto focus unless it is a tested tracking or rack focus shot.

    I also neglected to mention that the Sony PD150 has audio XLR inputs, and true 48KHz/16 bit sound.
     
  6. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Scott, I figured you would come through in this thread. Thanks for the opinions. I knew many of the reasons to some extent, but your starter ideas on which camera and methods give me a good jumping off point since I've been wanting to tinker with this stuff myself.

    I figure the best way to get going is to find some beginners level and just start working at it. Just filming fake narratives like "my girlfriend goes to the store" type films to practice setting up shots and editing to look "professional" I think would be fun.

    After all the story is moot if you simply want to practice the ability to tell the story.
     
  7. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    Thanks Seth. That's just some thoughts. There is no right or wrong way necessarily, but those are some factors that differentiate between a "professional look" or a "film look", and just everyday video. Also, that is just a relatively inexpesive camera that I favor, another may serve someone well.

    Something I often say to people is to come up with stuff to do based on your circumstances. In other words, concieve for what you have access to, from locations to gear to actors, and do it really well. Filmmaking is very difficult. Shoot/direct managable things before taking on more complicated projects. Find your footing.
     
  8. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I've been wondering about a certain difference for a while: videos tend to look very sharp, or overly vibrant. In contrast, films tend to look softer, warmer, and not usually as "harsh". Is this due to the flat lighting generally used with News video versus the careful lighting and post-processing done with film?
    Thanks. This has bugged for years [​IMG]
     
  9. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Travis,

    You have no idea how involved your question is. It would be wonderful if you could just put an ND filter on a video camera and have it look like film, but it just doesn't work that way. Like Scott said, you basically just can't make video look like film. They can both be done with many different looks, but it is almost impossible to make them look alike.

    Like Dave said, video tends to have an "edge" that could be described as "sharpness" or "harshness" depending on whether it suits what you want. I tend to chalk a lot of this up to the fact that video is created entirely with electronics where film has an organic element to it. Photographers will point out a similar difference between transparancy (slide) film and negative film. In general, transparancy film has more saturation and more of an edge, similar to video. Negatives have a softer, more forgiving nature. That is why negatives are almost always used for photographing people and transparancies are usually used for Commercial Photography and Scenics.

    In the end you can spend years learning about lighting and other factors and only scratch the surface.
     
  10. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    Dave, as John just commented, you are referring to an inherent part of the look of current video. While some of the practices that I mentioned can address that percieved "sharpness", that has more to do with video being electronic and film being organic. A common phrase used in video production is "take the edge off". It is to that end that I have often shot through black promists, or that people will utilize low contrast filters with video.

    Interesting that John mentioned transparency film. In filmmaking such stock exists as reversal. An analogy in filmmaking could be made between reversal stock and some attributes of video. Both have less latitude and higher contrast than negative film. I expose both quite differently than I do negative film.
     
  11. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Scott,

    You have a 6mm AND a 3.5mm for your Arri? Effectively, the widest lens I have is a 58mm for my 4x5, which is roughly equivalent to a 17mm on 35mm. From what I can figure, a 3.5mm must me roughly like a 8mm or 9mm on 35mm still cameras. While the thought of shooting motion pictures has always fascinated me, I have really only worked in still photography.
     
  12. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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  13. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    John, the Arri SR2 in my sig of the moment belongs to Panavision. The 3.5mm and 6mm are quite a bit different on 16mm. That 6mm is a world class lens, the 3.5mm just a nice little lens to get wider. The 3.5 is roughly equivalent to 8mm on 1.85:1 35mm Academy motion picture film, 11mm on 1.5:1 35mm SLR, and 35mm on 1.32:1 Polaroid. It is also pretty common for us to have an aspheron attachment for that Century 6mm which takes it to 4.5mm.
    Here is Century's page for the 6mm, with the asphere attachment:
    http://www.centuryoptics.com/product...s2000-6mm.html
    None of that approaches a fisheye extreme. We have some CP mount lenses that go there . And we have an old anamorphic projection lens that we sometimes shoot through for a very distorted perspective.
     
  14. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Scott,

    I'm guessing the 3.5mm isn't exactly rectilinear but the 6mm is. Actually, now looking at the specs, the 6mm says less than 3% distortion at all distances. So I guess that answers my question on that one. Just a question that jumped into my mind. Is the double asphere attachment two aspherical elements or a single element with two aspherical surfaces?
     
  15. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    John, the Century 4.5mm asphere is a single element with two aspherical surfaces.
     
  16. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Man! That thing must cost a fortune.
     
  17. Travis D

    Travis D Second Unit

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    Thanks you guys for all the great answers! I'm sorry if my question was a "little" generalized. It was my intent to get a lot of answers on just about everything you knew.

    Also thanks for the heads up on the Sony, if anyone else knows a really good camera or uses something the fell superior, then please by all means post it.

    One more question since you seem to have answered most of the "Look" question. How do I do a jitter-free camera move? Is there anykind of prosumer steady-cam (that is most likley a stupid question) or something that eliminates the look of "handheld?"
     
  18. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    BTW, a great look at this contrast between film and video use the Natural Born Killers DVD.

    Several of the "TV show" segments are in the deleted scenes and are much of the time shown as the original video. However sometimes within the same deleted scene, and certainly by comparing to the film itself, you can see the dramatic and rather annoying difference.

    Same footage goes from looking cheap to looking good.
     
  19. Steve_E

    Steve_E Agent

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    The way I get rid of the "jittery look" is just to put the camera on a tripod. I brought one and thankfully its quite heavy. Why? Well, if I hold the tripod with the camera on it, then it works fine and dandy as a steadi-cam. [​IMG]
     
  20. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I haven't been involved in that stuff for about eight years, but there used to be a consumer steadicam available that worked with video cameras.
    I went ahead and looked it up, and you can see it Here.
    While you are there you can check out "Black Promist," "Ultra Contrast" and "Black Softnet" filters to soften the look of video. Don't use one of the stronger ones. Grade 2 on the ultra contrast or grade 3 on the Promist and Softnet are really as strong as you probably want to go.
     

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