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Polaroid Look on HD?


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#1 Andrew Visser

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 10:13 AM

Just a curiousity really, something I was maybe considering for a film.....

Does anyone have any ideas as to how you would get a simulated 'look' and 'feel' of Polaroid film with HD cameras. I know this might sound like an odd request/post but there are some reasons for asking. Also I should note that I'm aware that there are many different polaroid films and 'looks' but what I'm most interested in, is a look which is close to the more consumer, instamatic side of polaroid fim, your 600 and your SX70.

I have just started looking into this a little myself, to see what qualities it is, that I'm looking for and I guess they would be the following - the way the highlights look, they seem to bleed out onto other parts of the image? the tones that you often get (a blue bias - to do with colour temperature I presume) - contrast ratio - what is this like? There is also an issue with focus which you often get (the most obvious seeming to be objects photograhed to close up, being out of focus - but is there also a more 'general' property of focus with these films?

Anything that anyone could point out would be really helpful. I'm probably really ignorant to many of the properties, so anything that anyone could point out would be very helpful, and any suggestions about how people would go about simulating this specific look?

Thanks
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 11:17 AM

It would be better to specifically list the picture qualities you want, the things you THINK a Polaroid looks like (the reality of what a Polaroid looks like isn't really important.)

Then you can use camera tricks or post tricks to create it.

Let's say you think it is a fairly soft & pastel look with a shallow focus, with the blacks & shadows having a blue bias.

Well, using the Multi-Matrix or the Saturation Level control on the F900 (if that's what you're shooting on), you can lower the overall color level. Or you can do it in post later when color-correcting the image. So thatgives you your pastel look.

You can turn off Detail for starters to reduce edge enhancement / sharpening. Then you can use some form of diffusion filter. Maybe not something "misty" like a ProMist or Fog, but maybe something like a Soft-FX or Classic Soft. Just make sure you aren't stopping down the lens because you may see the filter pattern.

Which brings up the shallow focus look. HD is inherently rather deeper in focus (I'm talking about pro 2/3" CCD HD cameras -- the problem is MUCH worse with 1/3" CCD consumer HD cameras.) Shooting wide-open on fast lenses will help, especially if you can use the Zeiss Digi Primes, which are T/1.6 or so. The only way to get a much more shallow-focus look is to use the P&S Pro-35 adaptor and put high-speed 35mm cine lenses on it (like a Zeiss Super-Speed shot at T/2.0 or wider.)

In terms of the shadows & blacks having a blue bias (i.e. not cleanly black but slightly milky) you can do that with the camera's color tools, although I'm not sure exactly which ones. Probably the gain on Master Video Black for starters to lift the blacks. It's possible that your diffusion filter will naturally lift the blacks a little too.

You can also shift the low-end of the image towards the blue digitally in-camera. A more complicated method would be to use something like an Arri VariCon flashing device, which fits into a 6x6 mattebox and would allow you to flash the image with blue light.

Now a lot of what I described can be done later in the post color-correction phase, in which case you can concentrate more when shooting on getting a shallow-focus look, maybe adding some diffusion to the lens.
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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 04:42 PM

Hi,

Further to Mr. Mullen's expert commentary:

> Shooting wide-open on fast lenses will help, especially if you can use the Zeiss Digi Primes, which are T/1.6
> or so.

It's worth bearing in mind that many ENG style lenses are that fast. My super cheap and nasty lens goes a little way beyond F/1.3 - the viewfinder calls the last stop "OPEN". So, while digiprimes are probably great for other reasons as well, many ENG lenses will do this if you're short on money.

Regarding varicon style devices - yes, I'd love to try it, as my inclination, especially on video, is to do everything optically that's possible to do optically.

Phil
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#4 Brian Wells

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 07:17 AM

It's worth bearing in mind that many ENG style lenses are that fast.

Maybe so... but usually only on the wide end of the zoom. I am not aware of any ENG lens with a T/1.6 at say, 70mm. I guess maybe that's why they created DigiPrimes?
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#5 Bill Totolo

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 02:55 PM

I think you would also want to consider the on camera flash of the Polaroid cameras and consider mounting a light close to your lens to get that flat, frontal, hard lighting.

This to me would be most critical.
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#6 Sam Wells

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 03:54 PM

Maybe so... but usually only on the wide end of the zoom. I am not aware of any ENG lens with a T/1.6 at say, 70mm. I guess maybe that's why they created DigiPrimes?


Yes but then again you could say long end like 70mm on 2/3" doesn't suggest " consumer, instamatic side of polaroid fim, your 600 and your SX70" !

-Sam
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#7 Keith Mottram

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 07:13 PM

check out fiona apple video this video has an amazing snap shot quality which is a mixture of simple dramatic lighting and intelligent post.

keith
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#8 Andrew Visser

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 05:13 PM

Thanks for all the great replies.

I guess my question as a Director is about how the cinemtographers think Polaroid pictures look. I'm still thinking of images created like from the SX-70 and other Polaroid produced/ameture/semi manual instamatic cameras.

I'm aware that you cinematographers have a much better 'eye' for the finner details than I do.

Any suggestions on what 'you' all think the look it? - And then how you might achiece that.

Thanks again.
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#9 Gordon Highland

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 06:48 PM

In looking at some old Polaroid pix, one of the other things I noticed is that while the whites are blown out, they're also nowhere near pure white (at least mine aren't). So that would be what, a knee adjustment and/or a low White Clip? In Photoshop Levels, it would be the equivalent of pulling back the Input White while bringing down the Output White, so that the highlights get murky (and you'd have to lower saturation as well). Again, all things that can be done in post. I like the idea of the on-camera spotlight with a lot of falloff (you could vignette in post as well, but it looks a little different).
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