Jump to content


Photo

Incorporating Still Photos Into a Film


  • Please log in to reply
17 replies to this topic

#1 Cory Smith

Cory Smith
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts
  • Student
  • Philadelphia

Posted 12 November 2008 - 03:42 PM

If I wanted to incorporate still photos into a film, what would be the best way to do so? I'm shooting with a Bolex, 16mm and was wondering if I should just take still pictures with that and then stretch them out in Final Cut Pro, or something else??? I'm unfamiliar with the whole process, so any advice would be great...

Thanks
  • 0

#2 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 12 November 2008 - 03:50 PM

If I wanted to incorporate still photos into a film, what would be the best way to do so? I'm shooting with a Bolex, 16mm and was wondering if I should just take still pictures with that and then stretch them out in Final Cut Pro, or something else??? I'm unfamiliar with the whole process, so any advice would be great...

Thanks


Stretching out in FCP from a 16mm frame is cheaper, but you'll definitely see the freeze frame because the grain will stop moving, so ultimately shooting in real time would be better.

If you do opt for stretching out footage, shoot at least a couple seconds. IDK if the single frame exposure would be reliable in terms of exposure time and accuracy, so maybe you could test that way.

Ultimately though, if you're cost cutting, why even shoot them on 16 if this is to be digitized? You could scan them for even less cost and then you wouldn't have film grain as a problem. If anything, assuming adequate resolution, they'd look *too good* compared with the 16mm footage.
  • 0

#3 Alessandro Machi

Alessandro Machi
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3318 posts
  • Other
  • California

Posted 12 November 2008 - 04:11 PM

If you are not planning on making a film print when you are done, you can do all kinds of creative things in the editing stage.

Just freeze a frame in edit and because you are freezing the frame from the actual transfer, there should be no "jump" in the levels if the freeze is in the middle of a sequence.
  • 0

#4 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 12 November 2008 - 04:34 PM

I would however, as mentioned, worry about the freeze in the grain pattern. Depends on what you're going for, of course.
  • 0

#5 Jason Debus

Jason Debus
  • Sustaining Members
  • 311 posts
  • Student
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 12 November 2008 - 05:42 PM

I'd like to jump in here because this is on topic with a thread I was going to start.

I'm working on a documentary that has a lot of still photos (a mix of 120/220, 35mm Kodachrome 64, & digital). As far as eqiupment I have a K3, Bolex, small mini-DV camera, Canon EOS 35mm still camera, and a Canon EOS digital. I'm under the impression that professional documentaries use a animation stand or something similar to 'zoom' into still photos, so that is the look I'm trying to replicate. Like Adrian I'm concerned about a fixed grain pattern if I do the zoom digitally. In my limited experience with zooming on still photos it seems like a whole art in of itself to make it look professional. Any advice on how to proceed is appriciated!
  • 0

#6 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 12 November 2008 - 05:51 PM

for the "grain," some programs allow you to "render film grain." I've never tried it myself but it may be worthwhile to help it "match."
as for the zooming in; I think a lot of the issue comes from using lower DPI images. If you get a high enough resolution image; the zoom in shouldn't degrade quality substantially. I haven't done anything even remotely involving mixed still/video since the days of Premier 6.5 though; so things may have changed.
  • 0

#7 Cory Smith

Cory Smith
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts
  • Student
  • Philadelphia

Posted 12 November 2008 - 06:16 PM

I recall my film professor talking about using an animation stand for still photos in a piece he did a while back. What exactly is it?
  • 0

#8 Ira Ratner

Ira Ratner
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 558 posts
  • Other
  • Coral Springs, Florida

Posted 12 November 2008 - 07:13 PM

Jason, in Apple's iMovie--which is the most basic post program you can use--what you want to do is called their Ken Burns Effect. Not just zooming in, but panning as well.

I can't believe that higher end programs don't offer the same functions, but you sure wouldn't shoot these frames. You would scan it, then simply add noise in Photoshop or another program so it matches the look of the rest of the film.

It's the only way to go. Just scan one file, and then digitally manipulate the zooms and pans later in post.
  • 0

#9 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 7118 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 12 November 2008 - 07:17 PM

the other programs to zooms, pans, and resizes via keyframes. in Fcp it's under the "motion" tab for example.
  • 0

#10 Brian Rose

Brian Rose
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 896 posts
  • Student
  • Kansas City area

Posted 14 November 2008 - 12:13 AM

I'm doing for my thesis a history film, which utilizes a fair amount of still images as well, and I've played with both capturing in camera, as well as scanning and animating in post. Each has their own pros and cons. Now, if you want to do your pans and zooms in camera, which was the way Ken Burns did it on films like The Civil War, you will have a nice consistency of grain structure, and it'll sure be easier and cheaper if you plan to output finish on film. If you scan images, you'll have to do a DI.

Also, there is a certain, handmade quality to doing it in camera that, IMO, is quite charming and intimate. Animation in post can sometimes be TOO perfect. I think that's part of why Burn's films are so beloved. He's filmed each image, and you get a sense that it's a labor of love for him. Now the drawback is once you've got it on film, that's it. If you decide you want to pan on something, but you've only got a zoom, you're SOL. And if you bump up an image, it bumps up the grain of the film, and becomes apparent.

So what about scanning the image into post? If you're going to finish on digital, this is better because you can scan at higher resolution, and therefore manipulate the image more before it starts to "break down." Animation in post also gives you a lot of freedom to decide what to emphasize. But that can also be a drawback. With all the things available to you, it is very easy to go overboard and to show off, zipping around and back and forth, which draws attention to itself. It is a process that demands a modicum of self restraint and subtlety. When I use it, I go slow, slow, slow. The movement is almost unconscious. And there's nothing wrong with using a mix of the two. That's what I'm doing. There are some images that I've already got in digital form, so it's easiest to import straight into my NLE and animate them. There are others that aren't digitized, that I prefer to capture them in camera. A newspaper clipping for example. I could scan it and all that, but I much prefer to use a close focus diopter so I can really zoom in on an article, a phrase, even a word, all the way to the actual pulp of the paper.

Hope this helps!

Best,
BR
  • 0

#11 Glen Alexander

Glen Alexander
  • Guests

Posted 14 November 2008 - 12:15 AM

why don't you get or bodge up a macro lens and just shoot it on film?
  • 0

#12 Tom Hepburn

Tom Hepburn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 341 posts
  • Other
  • Chicago-land

Posted 14 November 2008 - 12:51 AM

Here would be another option. It's worked for me in the past. Shoot 10 seconds of a white board, nothing else just a white board filling the full frame to pick up the grain of the film. After you scan a picture and bring it in to a NLE (although not realtime, I love AfterEffects),overlay that white board footage and use a blending mode like ?overlay? or ?screen.? The white in the board footage will become transparent and you'll be left with grain from the stock you?re using over your picture. I agree with Brian that an animated still looks too perfect. It takes some random key frames. Sometimes the hardest thing to animate.

I think another reason Ken Burns filmed his stills was because the historical photos were so susceptible to damage through mounting on a drum or the light on a flatbed. Gotta love Shelby Foote though.

As has been mentioned, it?s a matter of the look that you going for. Some like to do everything in camera and there?s something to be said for that.

Tom
  • 0

#13 Brian Rose

Brian Rose
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 896 posts
  • Student
  • Kansas City area

Posted 14 November 2008 - 01:02 AM

True that on Burns. He's got a lot going on in his films. I always found that handmade quality to them so endearing!

I trick I use with keyframing is vary the distance between them, to get the sense of acceleration and deceleration. It gives it a more "imperfect" human quality to it.

Brian
  • 0

#14 Cory Smith

Cory Smith
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts
  • Student
  • Philadelphia

Posted 14 November 2008 - 11:08 PM

Thanks a lot for the suggestions! That helped a lot
  • 0

#15 Ira Ratner

Ira Ratner
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 558 posts
  • Other
  • Coral Springs, Florida

Posted 16 November 2008 - 10:19 AM

Totally off-topic:

How the heck is HDTV TV going to affect what guys like Ken Burns do? For instance, don't all of the rules change if we assume a 100% hi-def viewing world?

Especially when you don't want it to look that way?

Edited by Ira Ratner, 16 November 2008 - 10:20 AM.

  • 0

#16 Brian Rose

Brian Rose
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 896 posts
  • Student
  • Kansas City area

Posted 16 November 2008 - 11:53 AM

Totally off-topic:

How the heck is HDTV TV going to affect what guys like Ken Burns do? For instance, don't all of the rules change if we assume a 100% hi-def viewing world?

Especially when you don't want it to look that way?


How do you mean? In terms of his workflow/production method? Or in how he's broadcast?

He still works in film, as far as I know. I checked the credits for his latest documentary, "The War," and saw Kodak credits. What could get tricky is the 16x9 thing. A lot of his earlier films were regular 16. I can't imagine how they could crop them; is compositions are so exquisite and precise that any manipulation would ruin them. I wouldn't have a problem with them being shown 4x3 with black bars on the left and right, but broadcasters might get rankled by that. It's hard to say. It would be a shame for them to avoid broadcasting those grand films simply because of an AS thing.

Brian
  • 0

#17 Cory Smith

Cory Smith
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts
  • Student
  • Philadelphia

Posted 29 November 2008 - 03:05 AM

Here would be another option. It's worked for me in the past. Shoot 10 seconds of a white board, nothing else just a white board filling the full frame to pick up the grain of the film. After you scan a picture and bring it in to a NLE (although not realtime, I love AfterEffects),overlay that white board footage and use a blending mode like ?overlay? or ?screen.? The white in the board footage will become transparent and you'll be left with grain from the stock you?re using over your picture. I agree with Brian that an animated still looks too perfect. It takes some random key frames. Sometimes the hardest thing to animate.

I think another reason Ken Burns filmed his stills was because the historical photos were so susceptible to damage through mounting on a drum or the light on a flatbed. Gotta love Shelby Foote though.

As has been mentioned, it?s a matter of the look that you going for. Some like to do everything in camera and there?s something to be said for that.

Tom



hey,

i opted to go with what Tom suggested and film 10 seconds of a white board and blend that with still photos that i have scanned onto the computer. could somebody elaborate on how to do that, specifically in FCP?
if the blending thing doesn't work, i am wondering if there is anything else i can do in Final Cut to avoid the jarring effect of going from 16mm footage to a still photo with static grain.
  • 0

#18 Stuart Page

Stuart Page
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 41 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Auckland, New Zealand

Posted 30 November 2008 - 06:11 PM

...and then stretch them out in Final Cut Pro, or something else??? ...

Thanks


I have edited many docos and shorts utilising a lot of still frames. The "motion" tab in Final Cut Pro is very basic, it doesn't have an effective "ease out" and "ease in" setting, it's not really up to substantial photo animation.

I would suggest using After Effects for this, it does beautifully weighted zooms and tracks with excellent "ease out" and "ease in". (I suspect that you can also do this well in Apple Motion).

If you google After effects "still photos" animation or something similar, you can even find free tutorials that tell you how to do this. Or you can buy excellent tutorials for After Effects from lynda.com
  • 0


Abel Cine

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Paralinx LLC

CineTape

Ritter Battery

Visual Products

rebotnix Technologies

FJS International, LLC

Metropolis Post

Aerial Filmworks

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

Technodolly

The Slider

Tai Audio

Willys Widgets

Opal

CineLab

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Wooden Camera

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Tai Audio

Opal

Glidecam

Visual Products

Abel Cine

The Slider

Rig Wheels Passport

Technodolly

FJS International, LLC

Willys Widgets

CineLab

Aerial Filmworks

Wooden Camera

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

Metropolis Post