View Full Version : massive visual differences within DV??


psych1905
05-20-2010, 04:13 PM
Hi there,
first post so apologies if asking the obvious here but,
why are there so much variety between the way digital images look in a finished film? for example
this basically looks as if it has been shot with a home use camcorder!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gmisZlnyRM

yet other digitally filmed movies seem to have got the 'film look' to them?

is it done in post production by bringing the frame rate down or by using specific lenses and if there is a technique for doing this why hasn't lynch used it above to give his short a better production quality?

thanks in advance for any help

sonnyboo
05-20-2010, 05:52 PM
There are a myriad of factors involved.

Yes, some camcorders have a 24 Frames Per Second setting that is more film-like because film shoots at 24 Frames. But that's just the number of frames and the "look" is more than that. It resides a lot in the color properties, and there is a "cinegamma" color curve that is more like film properties.

All of that technical jargon is nothing compared to a well shot, well exposed, perfectly framed and well lit picture. It's amazing how much video can pass for film if those elements are in place regardless of frame rate or whether the video has a special "film" setting.

knightly
05-20-2010, 06:07 PM
Outside the camera as well. If you choose the color palette (set, wardrobe, makeup), work with well trained actors on a meticulously lit set and get a really good editor, you'll be able to make cinema looking stuff on a cell phone camera. The alternative is that you can fling around a panaflex 35mm film camera with no work outside the camera and get 24fps 35mm film that looks like home video too. The camera is the least of the "film look." Cinema and the Film Look is created by teams of highly trained professionals working tirelessly to make sure every detail is looked after and presented the best it can to convey a story. Every color, every movement, every cut makes cinema.

Scoopicman
05-20-2010, 08:14 PM
Also, I found that rendering from a High Def image for YouTube DV quality looks much better than my DV to DV compression.

Tinalera
05-20-2010, 08:20 PM
Oh have I learned this lesson lately!

I've been rendering all my work to this point in wmv format (don't ask why, its a sad story about an unknowing noob-me). When someone suggested that I render in DV format for my stuff, I was like :weird:
why the (well, it was a long profanity laced rant in my own home) didn't I think of that?! Redoing the footage with DV it looks ALOT nicer.

Course it takes up more memory, but I've got plenty of that-so I would say in my example yes, there is a difference!

bhikkhu
05-25-2010, 12:48 PM
another aspect of the special "film look" (apart from the film grain and the things already mentioned) is the shallow depth of field.
luckily you can reduce dof with special 35mm/dof adapters. if you don't want to/can't spend too much money on stuff like that, you can even build such a thing yourself, there are various tutorials online.

superamazing
01-29-2011, 02:01 AM
You know, I think video is frequently blamed for a wholly separate problem--low production value.

I mean, think of all the filmic qualities of movies like The Social Network or Pirates of the Caribbean, which were both shot on the Red One, a digital camera.

chilipie
01-29-2011, 02:36 AM
You know, I think video is frequently blamed for a wholly separate problem--low production value.

I mean, think of all the filmic qualities of movies like The Social Network or Pirates of the Caribbean, which were both shot on the Red One, a digital camera.

I think there's a lot of truth in that - it's very easy to blame the equipment for our own shortcomings in other areas. I'd much rather shoot a well-lit, well-designed set with a camcorder than do a rush job with a REDů but the quality and limitations of most consumer cameras are simply incomparable to the RED.

Abraxas Studios
02-01-2011, 05:25 AM
I have a bit of footage here that i found on Youtube which shows just how much lighting adds to a scene. The camcorder being used is a Canon XM2, but it's the lighting (and editting i suspect) that makes this short scene look amazing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VbAGhbr2VY

Theodebernacius
03-13-2011, 02:29 PM
There are many threads in this forum that discuss this subject. Several posters have asserted that some well lighted, well post-processed DSRL footage are virtually indistinguishable from proper film. I am yet so see a single example of that. If you know of any, please post it here.

I am not convinced by the video posted by Abraxas. It's a night shot with very unsaturated colors. I'd like to see a colorful day shot.

I'm particularly fond of the look of old Technicolor movies. What kind of post-processing do I have to do to make a DSLR picture of NYC look like the NYC of "Breakfast at Tiffany's"?

chilipie
03-13-2011, 02:37 PM
There are many threads in this forum that discuss this subject. Several posters have asserted that some well lighted, well post-processed DSRL footage are virtually indistinguishable from proper film. I am yet so see a single example of that. If you know of any, please post it here.

Have a look at the Zacuto Shootout 2010 (http://www.zacuto.com/shootout) - lots of great film vs. DSLR comparisons. I don't know if any of us would go as far as to say that they were "virtually indistinguishable", but then we spend half our lives looking for and trying to reduce these differences; I'm sure most DSLR footage would be virtually indistinguishable from film to the average movie-goer.

knightly
03-14-2011, 12:32 AM
Several posters have asserted that some well lighted, well post-processed DSRL footage are virtually indistinguishable from proper film.

...

What kind of post-processing do I have to do to make a DSLR picture of NYC look like the NYC of "Breakfast at Tiffany's"?

I've always asserted that you can't achieve a film look using digital, but rather you can achieve a "cinema" look by using cinematic standards in your production (usually necessitating a larger, more experienced crew than most of the folks here normally shoot with). You can make it look like really good video, but it'll never look like film.

...

To get the second part as close as possible, please post a frame of the shot you're attempting to get, and we'll try to help dial in a look for you.

Theodebernacius
03-15-2011, 11:16 AM
I watched the 3 Zacuto 2010 Shootout webisodes. Very instructive. The rigor with which the tests were carried is impressive. However there was not a single comparative test outdoors in sunlight. Maybe it was because lighting conditions can't be controlled outdoors, but if they had picked a sunny day with no clouds I think it would have been feasible.

The most interesting tests for me were in webisode 1. The first "latitude" test clearly shows the superior dynamic range of film. In highlights you can see details in film whereas it just becomes undifferentiated white blobs in DSLRs. This kind of situations might be frequent in sunny outdoors scenes. The "13 stop" test was also telling. With film you can see a nice gradation of gray levels along the 13 bands. This subtle gradation seems substantially lost in DSLRs.

It would be interesting if we could draw some sort of characteristic curves for both film and DSLR. We would have exposure on one axis and the corresponding grey level on the other. The limitations of DSRLs compared to film would be evident on such curves.

All this seems to mean that there is less information in DSLR pictures. I would think that 3 bytes per pixel would be more than enough. Film would require more.

This cannot be corrected at post-processing. You cannot invent information that was not recorded.

The last webisode seems to suggest that this lack of gradation is not due to sensors but to the recording process. Apparently if the image format is RAW rather than jpeg you have more gray levels. Why do they discard precious information? If it's only a matter of memory space it could be solved. If one day it becomes possible to shoot in raw format, DSLRs will catch up with film.


@Knightly
It was more of a hypothetical question. I don't have NYC footage I want to process. I was interested in the process itself. Would one try to match histograms? etc.... Thanks for the offer of help.

knightly
03-15-2011, 11:36 AM
Alot of it starts with the operator having moderate experience with the equipment to be able to manipulate it. If the captured footage is captured extremely differently than the footage you're trying to match, it'll be a post processing rotoscoping nightmare. So it starts in camera with visually matching the "look" you're trying to achieve -- this is the art part of cinematography.

The rest is making the 'scopes match the best possible. Histogram only shows exposure densities... the waveform monitor and the vector scope will be your allies in this endeavor... the first shows a stronger representation of the exposure levels of the image than the histogram and the vector scope shows the color densities.

voodoogmr
03-15-2011, 03:18 PM
One of my filmmaking friends once asked me how I got that "film" look when we were both using identical cameras (Canon HV20). He said his footage looked like typical "home video", whereas mine had a more cinematic look (comparatively speaking, that is). He didn't believe me when I said I was using the same camera he was.

As Knightly said, it is a combination of many things. Here were my basic suggestions to him for shooting with a consumer camcorder:

1.) Turn off the auto-iris / auto-focus! Nothing screams "amateur" like a constantly pulsating iris or chasing focus. Plan your shots and light it right so that won't happen in the first place. And if you don't have remote focus or can't do it smoothly, then plan your shot so the camera/talent distance remains constant. Just takes planning and work.

2.) Back up and zoom in. He was shooting with the camera right in the actor's face, causing lens distortion. If that's not the intended look and you just have a consumer camera, then back up and zoom in. Gives more natural proportions to faces and gives less DOF. Simple and effective.

3.) Hold the camera steady! Or better yet, use a tripod. Smooth camera moves that don't draw attention to themselves is something to always strive for. That doesn't mean you can't shoot handheld. Just use that only when the scene and story call for it.

4.) Record good audio. For me, the one thing that makes a film a "film" is a great soundtrack. As George Lucas famously said, "Sound is 50% of the film." I agree with him. If you run around with an on-camera mic, it's virtually impossible to get decent audio. Separate the mic from the camera. Again, nothing sounds more "amateur" than hearing the camera jostling around in your hand.

5.) Shoot some close-ups. Or at least, vary the focal length, depending on your subject matter. Study photography and practice with a still camera to learn composition, framing, focal lengths, etc. and how they each communicate.

6.) If you are forced to shoot in your own house, straighten up before filming. And get your dog/cat out of the shot unless they are supposed to be there. Seeing a dog stare at the camera just draws attention to the camera, so clear the room.


A lot of this is common sense, but it's very easy to overlook if you are just starting out. It will go a long way in giving you a more cinematic look. You can then do some post-production tricks that will help further.

Tinalera
03-15-2011, 03:30 PM
One of my filmmaking friends once asked me how I got that "film" look when we were both using identical cameras (Canon HV20). He said his footage looked like typical "home video", whereas mine had a more cinematic look (comparatively speaking, that is). He didn't believe me when I said I was using the same camera he was.

As Knightly said, it is a combination of many things. Here were my basic suggestions to him for shooting with a consumer camcorder:

1.) Turn off the auto-iris / auto-focus! Nothing screams "amateur" like a constantly pulsating iris or chasing focus. Plan your shots and light it right so that won't happen in the first place. And if you don't have remote focus or can't do it smoothly, then plan your shot so the camera/talent distance remains constant. Just takes planning and work.

2.) Back up and zoom in. He was shooting with the camera right in the actor's face, causing lens distortion. If that's not the intended look and you just have a consumer camera, then back up and zoom in. Gives more natural proportions to faces and gives less DOF. Simple and effective.

3.) Hold the camera steady! Or better yet, use a tripod. Smooth camera moves that don't draw attention to themselves is something to always strive for. That doesn't mean you can't shoot handheld. Just use that only when the scene and story call for it.

4.) Record good audio. For me, the one thing that makes a film a "film" is a great soundtrack. As George Lucas famously said, "Sound is 50% of the film." I agree with him. If you run around with an on-camera mic, it's virtually impossible to get decent audio. Separate the mic from the camera. Again, nothing sounds more "amateur" than hearing the camera jostling around in your hand.

5.) Shoot some close-ups. Or at least, vary the focal length, depending on your subject matter. Study photography and practice with a still camera to learn composition, framing, focal lengths, etc. and how they each communicate.

6.) If you are forced to shoot in your own house, straighten up before filming. And get your dog/cat out of the shot unless they are supposed to be there. Seeing a dog stare at the camera just draws attention to the camera, so clear the room.


A lot of this is common sense, but it's very easy to overlook if you are just starting out. It will go a long way in giving you a more cinematic look. You can then do some post-production tricks that will help further.


If I may add to this: if you have a camera with a viewscreen, TURN OFF/down the "backlight" to zero. There is NOTHING so frustrating as having the lit "screen" give you the impression your lighting is good, only to put it onto your editor, and you see how dark the lighting actually was! Don't rely on that, turn it down/off so the lighting you SEE is in fact the lighting you are getting