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All the factors in a final look


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#1 Travis Gray

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:46 PM

So I'm still trying to figure out a lot of things here, and don't know all the vocabulary/translations into what things are in a look. And hopefully this isn't a "how do I make digital look like film" question, but more or less what are the factors that go into certain looks.

But I was watching the Newsroom and was thinking the picture looked really good. Blacks seemed crisp, not too sharp, almost kinda filmy I thought. Looked and saw it was shot with Alexa (except the pilot).
Then was watching Sons of Anarchy last night (not a usual thing for me) and was curious, looked up, and saw it was an Alexa as well. Two very different looks. I felt like it was a little more video-y.

Obviously one's not better than the other, I'm not arguing that, but just trying to see if I can get a better grasp on what the factors that go into it are. Is it all the grade on the Newsroom to just take the black and crush them a bit? Aided by specific lighting in the set so they have that flexibility? (the outdoor scenes in the season finale I was less impressed with. It's the shots in the studio that I love)
Or is it less of the grade and mostly how the lighting is done, and I'm assuming (I don't think I was able to find this anywhere) it's mostly space lights inside the main bullpen set?

Or is it a different model Alexa/sensor? I don't know the camera well enough to know how much of a factor it would be.

Kind of a newbie question maybe, but hopefully knows kinda what I'm trying to figure out and has something good to link to or point out.
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#2 John Holland

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:53 PM

Dont get those shows here . If both were shot with a Alexa then it must be down to the post grade.
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#3 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:55 PM

Crushing the blacks to reduce grain is not really a modern day film technique, it's more of a kodachrome film technique.

I frankly can't stand the matted black hair on the backlit shots. The Alexa to me looks so much better in less contrasty scenes that I find some of the backlit contrasty shots, the wider the backlit shot, extremely jarring.

When they do these film vs Alexa tests, do they actually compare wide angle back lit shots, or just the less contrasty scenes? I wouldn't mind seeing the wider shots shot in film.

I'm still a sucker for "The Middle" and it's eye popping color shot on Kodak film.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 01:32 PM

Travis;
I haven't watched either show; but I can say it is multiple factors in making a look.
A lot of it is down to the grade but I would put it this way--

It starts with your production design, how things actually look are painted ect. From there it's down a lot to recording format, each camera has a certain look (in the case of the Alexa there's Log -v- HD as well as ArriRaw as options), and the lenses you put in front of it and their subtle effects. There's also filtration you may or may not be using on set (fogs/lo-cons/diffusion/warming/cooling ect). Lighting is of course a huge factor, as that's how you see the image in the first place-- via light-- and each show with each DP will approach scenes differently and light them differently to show/hide certain things in keeping with overall established aesthetics.Then at the end of all that is the grade. Modern cameras, Alexa especially I would say, have a lot of information in them which you can move around in the digital sphere. Film has a lot more, I'd argue but that's kinda moot to the point that what you are seeing on the screen in the end is a selection of information (colors/contrasts ect) from a much larger pool of recorded information. Then, there is the final variable, which is how you are actually watching the show. It'll look different across screens/TVs and hell, even the ambient lighting in your room will effect how you are perceiving colors and contrasts ect.
I would say a look, of anything, is never "all in" anything. You can have some areas of production weight more heavily on the final look than others, but at the end of the day, the look of a project is a synthesis between every aspect of the recorded image from conception all the way through to distribution.
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#5 Travis Gray

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 02:10 PM

Yeah, I forgot to mention production design and filters and etc etc.

And didn't really account for different viewing devices when thinking about them. Will have to A/B different stuff on the same monitor.

But I guess there's something about the Newsroom that I felt just looked... crisp... but soft. If that makes sense. Maybe just a crisp black. Something similar to other things I've seen shot on film (Up In the Air comes to mind, others as well, but that's just the one that I first thought of).

So I'm trying to kinda figure out what I'm seeing and then translate it into the look. Is it actually soft? Should I use a light diffusion filter? Are the lower end of the blacks crushed but just a small part of it, should I grab a small part of the s-curve and pull it down? But then what can I do in the production to facilitate that. That sort of thing.

So maybe a dumb or too vague question and I just need to keep playing more. I have something I need to play with the grade for, but haven't gotten to it yet.
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Ritter Battery

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Glidecam

Willys Widgets

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Rig Wheels Passport

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Opal

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

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