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The NTSC 'look'


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#1 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 04:16 PM

Hi,

I have a promo coming up where we need to recreate the look of bad NTSC tv. Now, I know that it's not necessarily an 'in-camera' thing, so I'm wondering if anyone here has any experience of creating a look like this, either in post, or any other way.

thanks.
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#2 Chance Shirley

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 04:28 PM

I'm a big fan of just pointing the camera at the TV, a la Soderbergh's SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE. Many people hate doing it this way because of the "roll" effect you get. I hate to see it done in post, because it never looks convincing to me.
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#3 Phil Connolly

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 04:49 PM

Hi Stuart

Not done this my self, but I have worked as QC person for broadcast and dealt with lots of bad NTSC to PAL conversions in my time

To Get the NTSC look I would

1) Lift the blacks, NTSC blacks are at 7% compared to 0% for PAL. A good conversion would fix this but I've seen plenty of bad ones that don't - mmm loverly grey blacks

2) Images need to be a little soft - this could be done in post by re-sizing the image to a lower resolution in after affects or something - or maybe do it in camera with a filter in front of the lens

3) The big give away of NTSC, when converted to PAL is motion artifacts (judder on pans etc), the less good standards converters go from 30 fps to 25fps by (in the worst case) skipping frames - causing judder or blending frames - causing a smearing effect with double edges on fast motion. This is really noticable on NTSC matial that was shot at 24 frames and telecined with a 3:2 pull down. Eg earlier PAL conversions of the simpsons. The ideal way to get this effect would be to shoot 60i/30p and do a standards conversion to 25fps- the Z1 perhaps would be a good candidate. Or shoot PAL then standards convert the material to NTSC and then back to PAL. use a cheaper standards converter and the images will look suitabley nasty.

4) NTSC colour - easy to play with in the grade
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#4 Chance Shirley

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 04:54 PM

Ack. Sorry, Stuart. I just realized I missed the entire point of your question. Please disregard my earlier post.
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#5 Hal Smith

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 05:27 PM

bad NTSC tv.
thanks.

What is your definition of "bad NTSC"? One instantly recognizable NTSC characteristic to my eye is the dot crawl between vertically defined areas with high chroma values. Does PAL do that? I'm under the impression that PAL was developed with the idea of avoiding many of the NTSC pitfalls.
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#6 Evan Winter

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 01:32 AM

is this a troll job?

don't you think we already know that our tv format sucks?

:)

to me the primary difference between ntsc and pal is that pal stuff always looks sharper. i know this isn't going to sell your 'bad ntsc look' but i'd definitely soften the 'ntsc' image with a light soft f/x filter and perhaps even shoot with a wider than 180 degree shutter... just suggestions (not tested out), so please take with a grain of salt. :)

evan
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#7 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 04:52 AM

Thanks everyone for the ideas. The look we want is that of 1970's NTSC television, so, nice and soft, muddy blacks. But there's also a certain feel to the colors as well, a kind of yellowness to skintones etc.

Thanks again.
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#8 John Cummings

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 07:35 AM

Thanks everyone for the ideas. The look we want is that of 1970's NTSC television, so, nice and soft, muddy blacks. But there's also a certain feel to the colors as well, a kind of yellowness to skintones etc.

Thanks again.


Here's an easy way...go buy an old tube ENG camera and 3/4" U-matic recorder on ebay. An Ikegami HL-79 would be an excellent choice.

Cheers-John
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#9 Sam Wells

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 10:17 AM

3/4" ? That's cruel and unusual punishment, I think it's outlawed under International treaties now :o

Ahh I guess you're right though, it; lt'll give you everything not to like about NTSC..

I actually shot a corporate piece in the mid 90's with an HL-79EAL (onto BetaSP mind you) - it had brand new (believe it or not) Plumbicons. It looked pretty nice, it was kinda geeky fun to go back to that (so don't use a good one then) -- or else f*** with the beam current etc...

Since I've totally forgotten how to set those cameras up properly you should hire me on this job :D

-Sam
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#10 Hal Smith

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 10:32 AM

3/4" ? That's cruel and unusual punishment, I think it's outlawed under International treaties now :o

Ahh I guess you're right though, it; lt'll give you everything not to like about NTSC..

I actually shot a corporate piece in the mid 90's with an HL-79EAL (onto BetaSP mind you) - it had brand new (believe it or not) Plumbicons. It looked pretty nice, it was kinda geeky fun to go back to that (so don't use a good one then) -- or else f*** with the beam current etc...

Since I've totally forgotten how to set those cameras up properly you should hire me on this job :D

-Sam

I've got a complete HL-79 chain in my shop, Canon lens and all. It probably still works having come off the floor in working shape, but the tubes are likely tired.

I was thinking of bronzing it and building an outdoor shrine to house it. :)
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#11 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 12 September 2006 - 03:40 PM

Well, the promo has been shot, and is being cut at the moment. Here's a test still with the 70's TV look applied

Posted Image

It was front lit with a pair of 5k's through frames of 216. The lamps were set far enough back from the set that they were fairly hard sources, even with the 216, so that we got a Hard TV look. There was a 650w high up on the back of the set for hair/toplight.

In post, the contrast was raised, and a Glow filter applied, which seemed to blow out the highlights, and generally soften the image.
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