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How to make digital video look like it was shot on film in the 70's

filmizing filmlook film 70s digital video

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#1 Saku Paavilainen

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 05:47 AM

I'm a student at Karelia -university in Finland. I'm writing my thesis on "How to make digital video look like it was shot on film in the 70's". My thesis aims to answer questions like 'why did movies look the way they did in the 70's', 'why and how does deteriorated film look' and 'how can you achieve that look with modern tools'. I focus on the post-production part.
If you could answer one or more of the following questions, I'd be most grateful. Or if you know a book or a website (other than Wikipedia) which deals with these subjects, that could help too.

1. How were the colors of the film altered or enhanced in the 70's? If I understand correctly it was done chemically somehow. Could you alter colors separately or would the alteration affect other colors as well?

2. How has film stock improved from the 70's to this day? 35mm film was used back then and it's used nowadays, so what is different? For example, older movies look softer or blurred compared to movies nowadays. Is this due to film stock getting better, or some other factor?

3. Color fading. I've come to understand that the colors of the film stock fade at a different rate. Cyan fades faster than yellow and yellow fades faster than magenta. Still, I have seen older horror movies that are quite heavily blue tinted. Of course I haven't seen them on film, but on DVD or Blu-ray made from the film. Are there some variables to how the colors fade?

4. Why do older movies have more film grain than newer movies? They are caused by silver particles in the film stock, if I'm correct. Is this due to film stock or camera equipment getting better?
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#2 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:06 AM

You get footage that looks like it was shot in the 70s by using film stock that was made in the 70s. Digital video wont get that look, I guarantee it.
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#3 Saku Paavilainen

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:25 AM

I understand that I wouldn't be able to make the look exactly how it should be. The important thing, as far as my thesis goes, is that I can tell how to get as close as possible.
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#4 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:18 AM

I understand that I wouldn't be able to make the look exactly how it should be. The important thing, as far as my thesis goes, is that I can tell how to get as close as possible.


Good luck with that.
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#5 Mark Dunn

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:41 AM

Colour balanced was altered, or rather matched shot-to-shot, by filtration in printing. Cyan, yellow and magenta filtration would affect the red, green and blue emulsion layers respectively. But the intention was mainly to even out differences in colour throughout the film, not to create a mood or effect. That was done in the original photography.
Modern stocks are usually finer-grained and read better in the shadows.
Many prints made in the 70s have faded because of the use of a particular print stock; it should still be possible to print as the neg isn't affected in the same way and the filtration can be adjusted, as above. However some effects shots were printed on a reversal material, CRI, and then cut into camera negatives. CRI has deteriorated badly and so films containing it may be difficult to print.
Modern stocks usually have smaller silver particles so are more finely grained. It's nothing to do with cameras. The silver is actually bleached out of colour prints so what you see is a dye image, the dyes having attached to the silver before bleaching. Some print effects involve bypassing this bleach. B/W prints used to be silver, just like paper prints, but nowadays they're usually dye as well.
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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:58 AM

One important consideration is whether you are being asked to simulate 1970s film as it would have appeared on its original release at the time, or the way 1970s film looks now.

I once produced a set of the filmed inserts which are required for the stage musical Singin' in the Rain, which is about the Hollywood movie industry in the late 1920s, at the dawn of sound. Of course, 1920s film stock would, at the time, simply have looked like a 1.33:1 black and white movie. A lot of the things we associate with pre-sound movies - flicker, weave, dirt, scratches - are artefacts of time which would not have been there on the original release.
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#7 Freya Black

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:51 AM

1. How were the colors of the film altered or enhanced in the 70's? If I understand correctly it was done chemically somehow. Could you alter colors separately or would the alteration affect other colors as well?


Supposedly this ipad app emulates colour timing the old school way to some extent:

http://www.redsharkn...h-analogue-eyes

don't know much about it but it might be worth taking a look at.

Freya
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#8 Joseph Konrad

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 01:37 PM

I think there are no shortcuts. You have to use film. You have to use slower-speed film. You need to have powerful enough lights to expose the slower speed film, and push it in low-light scenarios at your discretion. You have to use the lighting techniques of that time, and good framing. You have to have the attitude that you need to plan everything out and make it perfect going into the camera (a lot of thought into it) rather than having the knowledge that you can do everything in post and do 200 takes because tape is so cheap.
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#9 Keith Walters

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 05:48 AM

I'm not entirely sure what you mean "make it look like it was shot in the 1970s"
A lot of 70s (and earlier) movies have scrubbed up extremely well for Blu-Ray release, looking a damned sight better that a lot of movies shot much later on video. Certainly lots of 60s and 70s TV shows are getting a new lease on life on HDTV; similar shows shot (or posted) on videotape haven't fared anywhere near as well
As Phil said, most of the deficiencies we associate with old movies (and TV shows) have happened between when they were shot and when they were viewed. It's particularly sad that so many people think that all 40s and 50s TV programmes were horrible, washed-out murky and grey, but that is because the only workable means of recording video in those days was the so-called "Kinescope", basically filming a TV screen. The live images were vastly better.
Even 1970s NTSC video can come up incredibly well if it's been respectfully handled and is from the original 2" masters, but most of the what you're looking at these days has been badly dubbed to a cheap component video format, and as often as not, carelessly digitized.
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#10 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 06:08 AM

During the 1970's there was a wide range of styles or "looks" being used which involved hard v soft lighting, flashing the film stocks, the use of fog and other camera filters.

If you go back to the negatives modern telecines or other scanning methods will give stunning results.
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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 06:19 AM

Yes - but let's be fair, it will still look different to modern stuff. It probably should look different, although that does open up a can of worms with regard to how much things should be made to look like we expect them to look, as opposed to how they're inevitably going to look for technical reasons. After all, a colorist transferring an old film for blu-ray might decide it's appropriate for a 70s movie to look 70s and push that, which the crew who made it might object to if it became a charicature of itself.

Tricky.
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#12 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 04:31 PM

Many prints made in the 70s have faded because of the use of a particular print stock; it should still be possible to print as the neg isn't affected in the same way and the filtration can be adjusted, as above. However some effects shots were printed on a reversal material, CRI, and then cut into camera negatives. CRI has deteriorated badly and so films containing it may be difficult to print.


Color intermidate stocks also fade. & that's since they came out in the 50s.
I/Ns from the early to mid-50s usually appear deep purple. So they print green.
Later I/Ns,while not as startlingly purple, also print green.
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#13 Andy Hager

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 07:08 PM

Film has changed a lot since the 1970s; as such so have the folks using it.

Looks like during the 1980s is really when using color negatives became more popular. Looking through an old Kodak catalog now, from cia 1975, and it looks as though very few negative stocks were available back then. Most common was the Eastman Color Negative II 5247 which was a 100T film which used the ECN-2 process. They also had 5254, which was also a 100T stock, but used a different developer process, I suppose ECN?

Huge selection of Reversals though, my gosh! Between Kodachrome and Ektachrome and PlusX and 4-X.

Several VNF stocks for video news footage, 125T and 400T and 400D which used the VND and VXD processes as well as VNF-1.

What a weird time for film stocks!?
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