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Filters:Real vs. done in post


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#1 Marty Hamrick

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 02:33 PM

I was having lunch with a friend of mine who used to shoot a lot high end commercials,mostly on 35mm.Recently he sold his company and now works for the same station I do producing the promotional spots.He told me was looking to unload his Tiffen filter set.He said he uses the software in post.

I have no experience with these types of software and I was wondering,is it really that similar?I've always preffered to get my effects in camera.I've often prided myself on the fact that when I turn in my video,or film for that matter over to an editor or colorist,very little was needed.What are the advantages to shooting naked and doing your filtration in post?I'm speaking more of such filters as diffusion,fog or haze,as well as dot texture filters.
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#2 Robert Hughes

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 06:16 PM

The most obvious advantage adding effects filters in post is you can decide to not use that filter after it's been shot, or set for a greater or lesser degree of intensity. If your filter effect is done in-camera, it better be what you had in mind, otherwise you're going to have to re-shoot.

Edited by Robert Hughes, 28 July 2007 - 06:17 PM.

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#3 Will Earl

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 08:56 PM

The main advantage of using filters in post is that you have more control over the effect, even down to animating the effect or adding masks/mattes to a filter so it only effects one part of the image - a ND filter that only affects the sky for example.

The disadvantage is that there are some things happening optically that are hard to reproduce in post to get the same effect as you would in-camera. For example a grad filter in post won't bring back values that have gone past white.
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#4 Chris Keth

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 12:48 AM

Here are my preferences. Like a lot of things, they are preferences and not necessarily for you:

I generally like to do overall color tints in post. Exceptions to this are very strong color and brown tones. Strong color I usually use a lighter version of that I want so I can time it to the final color with less potential noise. It also allows me to entirely remove the effect, which probably wouldn't be plausible had I gone the whole 9 yards with a very strong color. An except ion to this exception is very strong red. I like doing this in camera because of the slightly unsharp look it makes on film. For brown tones, I just use the exact filter I want because browns are tricky to get right in RGB numbers for some reason.

Grads I prefer in camera, especially ones that incorporate some kind of ND. I think the end result is usually richer that way.

Diffusion filters could go either way, but I prefer in camera. I'm not entirely sure why, I'm sure a good colorist could replicate most of the types of diffusion, if not all of them.

Edited by Chris Keth, 29 July 2007 - 12:50 AM.

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#5 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 05:41 AM

Seems like with diffusion in post the grain of the film is affected.
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#6 Hugh Thomson

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 11:54 AM

I've been wondering about shooting in black & white...
If you shot in color and added green or red filters digitally before converting to black & white, would there be a considerable loss in quality/exposure/anything? I know this is pretty weak and should just learn how to shoot B&W properly, but it could stop you from losing green stuff against red if you didn't know what you were doing. (Which I don't!)
I guess this would only be useful if you were shooting on film, in which case you'd be shooting on B&W film stock.
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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 12:14 PM

I've been wondering about shooting in black & white...
If you shot in color and added green or red filters digitally before converting to black & white, would there be a considerable loss in quality/exposure/anything? I know this is pretty weak and should just learn how to shoot B&W properly, but it could stop you from losing green stuff against red if you didn't know what you were doing. (Which I don't!)
I guess this would only be useful if you were shooting on film, in which case you'd be shooting on B&W film stock.


Yes, it would control contrast as if you shot B&W film. Nearly every filter has a filter factor so there could potentially be an exposure loss but most B&W filters aren't too bad.
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#8 John Sprung

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 12:27 PM

What are the advantages to shooting naked and doing your filtration in post?

The big advantages are that you can take your time and change your mind.

But the problem with doing nothing in production is that the executives, producers, director, and editor will all spend several weeks or months looking at it that way. If you lay a really heavy treatment on it in color correction, that can come as a surprise to them.

Therefore, the smart way to go with filtration and exposure is to take it in the direction you want to go, but not so far as to paint yourself into a corner. You can always crush the blacks some more, blow out more of the whites, make it browner or softer or whatever. But what you put out of the dynamic range of the system in production -- be it film or HD -- you can't get back.



-- J.S.
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#9 Matias Nicolas

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 12:35 PM

generally like to do overall color tints in post. Exceptions to this are very strong color and brown tones. Strong color I usually use a lighter version of that I want so I can time it to the final color with less potential noise. It also allows me to entirely remove the effect, which probably wouldn't be plausible had I gone the whole 9 yards with a very strong color. An except ion to this exception is very strong red. I like doing this in camera because of the slightly unsharp look it makes on film. For brown tones, I just use the exact filter I want because browns are tricky to get right in RGB numbers for some reason.


Im shooting a shortcut in hd, sony hdv-z1 , I was thinking on usin a tobac filter in camera, but I realize, that perhaps I will be needing the stop I loose with the filter... so I was thinking to do it in post... till now !! that I red your article... can you explain me more about your expierence in brown correction or filter in camera?
thanks...
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#10 Phil Savoie

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 01:16 PM

Although you may add filter-like effects in post it is the general perceived wisdom to add the filters / effects in camera. Like most shooters I prefer in camera filtration. Post added filtration ? either electronic or physically adding filtration in the telecine light path looks quite different.

Having said that I often find during telecine we can make the image that bit better with massages during the transfer. ND mattes (with and without color) come to mind as well as excluding or toning down certain colors to hide blemishes for example. Additionally dynamic ND added in transfer is lovely to assist in masking extreme focus pulls ? as much of my work is outdoor location 4-8 stop exposure pulls during tilts, pans and jib shots are not uncommon. The ability to add dynamic ND during a running shot / move in post is a very useful tool. It can smooth out any bumps in the pull. At times I?ll shoot some shots without a pull ? sometimes we won?t have a gear/motor for exposure when the cameras 25 feet up on a jib ? I?ll shoot it at the minimum, maximum and middle exposure and add the correct ND to bring it in line during telecine. With a skilled Op on a Spirit you often won?t know the difference between the three takes.

As a producer/director/shooter I?m very lucky, I get to shepard the image every step of the way. The key is to work with one telecine Op for a number of years ? a good one will have a number of tricks up their sleeve and can really make your images sing.
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#11 Cristian Olariu

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 01:29 PM

Personally, I prefer to get a clean image in camera, then alter it in post. There is however a filter that I will always use on the camera: the polarizer. No matter what you do in post, I have never seen results that would compare to what a polarizer could do. There are another couple that look nice, not to mention the gradient ND filters, which always helped me so much.

Cris
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#12 John Sprung

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 02:22 PM

No matter what you do in post, I have never seen results that would compare to what a polarizer could do.

There's a good reason for that. Polarization, if any, exists only in the light from the actual scene. Film and chips can record color and brightness, but not polarization. The same goes for focus, using split diopters, and for ND grads to pull bright areas into the dynamic range of the system. They have to be done in production, they can't be fixed in post.



-- J.S.
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#13 Phil Savoie

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 01:01 AM

Although I have a full range of ND filters, that see steady use, ND in post is possible and effective. I take your points John and agree fully on the use of polarizers but I differ on post-production ND ? or the exposure differences within a single frame, which is really what we are talking about. The combination of the outstanding latitude of today?s film stock and modern telecines, like the Spirit, offer the ability to correct extreme exposure differences during telecine.

If we were working and posting in film this would be different, however I shoot on film and deliver video and am speaking from this prospective. To be clear I prefer in camera filtration but I am continually amazed by what the latest stock/telecines are capable of in terms of exposure and latitude.

cheers
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#14 Michael Nash

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 01:47 AM

But the problem with doing nothing in production is that the executives, producers, director, and editor will all spend several weeks or months looking at it that way. If you lay a really heavy treatment on it in color correction, that can come as a surprise to them.

Therefore, the smart way to go with filtration and exposure is to take it in the direction you want to go, but not so far as to paint yourself into a corner.-- J.S.


I wish I could credit the quote, but someone once said "flexibility in post means flexibility for someone else to screw it up." In the end it's a judgement call. There's no right or wrong way much of the time (although there are still some things optics can do that digital manipulation has a harder time replicating). You just have to pick which method is going to work best for your particular situation.
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#15 Alex Wuijts

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 11:06 AM

I wish I could credit the quote, but someone once said "flexibility in post means flexibility for someone else to screw it up." In the end it's a judgement call. There's no right or wrong way much of the time (although there are still some things optics can do that digital manipulation has a harder time replicating). You just have to pick which method is going to work best for your particular situation.


sounds a lot like statements made by by Gordon Willis and Owen Roizman which I've read in seventies issues of AC (on shooting The Godfather, The Exorcist and The French Connection)
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#16 John Sprung

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 12:21 PM

I wish I could credit the quote, but someone once said "flexibility in post means flexibility for someone else to screw it up."

Yes, you have to take into consideration the politics of the project, the degree of involvement you'll have in post, and the competence of the people doing it. In some cases, you can make sure you get the look you want by putting some stuff out of the dynamic range of the system. If doing that ties the hands of the people who hired you, who will they hire to shoot their next project? ;-)



-- J.S.
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#17 Tony Brown

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 05:04 PM

Although I have a full range of ND filters, that see steady use, ND in post is possible and effective.


Rubbish. Sorry but you're missing the point of ND's. Its not to control exposure, its to control Depth of field, can you do that in post? No

GOLDEN rule. Do it in camera every time. You may not be in control of the post, so at least if you've conveyed your intentions in camera you have some chance of it being realised in the final image.

Your job, the reason you are being paid, is to present an image, a mood, as closely as you possibly can on the neg to the brief. You are not likely to attempt something that you have not discussed with the director. Its not your place to decide to throw a scene Storm Blue without consultation. Make people aware of your opinion / intentions.

Post is for tweaking.....

And with respect " the ability to correct extreme exposure differences during telecine" if you're that far out, get another job or get a new AC
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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 08:17 PM

This is part of the problem with shooting video.

You almost always shoot very flat. Everyone assumes you are bad.

Then you whiz it up in post, and everyone assumes you've gone nuts.

Lose-lose scenario.

Phil
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#19 Phil Savoie

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 11:30 PM

Rubbish. Sorry but you're missing the point of ND's. Its not to control exposure, its to control Depth of field, <snip>


Hi Tony,

In the nicest possible way your incorrect and inaccurate. Many NDs such as Attenuators and Grads are designed specifically for exposure control. And although you may use strait NDs, which is what I assume your refering to, for DOF control I use them more often to shoot at optimized stops in outdoor locations where light control isn't possible or cost effective.

In these locations, where we often find a 15 stop difference in light levels, we commonly use ND masks in post during telecine to additionally control the contrast. With experience you'll find many cinematography tools have multiple uses.

Cheers
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#20 Chris Keth

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 11:39 PM

This is part of the problem with shooting video.

You almost always shoot very flat. Everyone assumes you are bad.

Then you whiz it up in post, and everyone assumes you've gone nuts.

Lose-lose scenario.

Phil


Very true. I nearly failed a quarter of my thesis because of the prof's opinion of my flat video dailies. I had to prove to her that it was intentional and that the footage would grade well before she would give me a grade.
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