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#1 Ckulakov

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 04:06 PM

Dear Filmmakers,

Many filmmakers use low contrast and soft focus to try to obtain the so called film look. The question is that I dont understand becaus to me 35mm movies shot on film look like the have allot of contrast and saturation to me and I believe that it looks better when it has contrast.

The question is do I really need the filter to make my digital movies look much better. And will it really make it look more like film?

And which one has more contrast film or digital?

Thank You
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#2 Gordon Highland

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 04:42 PM

Film has a lot more contrast lattitude available, in other words, the number of steps between the darks and the lights. You get the most flexiibility in post, especially with video, by exposing "flatter" (low-contrast with neither blown-out areas or crushed-black areas), because once a video pixel goes to white or black on tape, it stays that way and there's no way to extract more detail from it the way you sometimes can with film and photochemical processes (ever work in a darkroom with dodge and burn?).

Because video is lower-contrast, you really should be careful during shooting. A bright sky will blow out much faster and give it that electronic look, so people often use grad filters on skies to keep the overall exposure flatter. And they'll find ways to fill in some of the shadow areas with light. Contrast is much easier to add in post than remove. Especially with digital video, if there are hard lines of contrast in the shot that neighbor each other, you get that electronic look again, especially with too-high detail settings. Film often does have a perceived softer look, espcially because of the way highlights glow sometimes, adn the more subtle grading in contrast levels. Even in film, sometimes DP's will "flash" the negative with a VariCon to lift the blacks a little bit for a flatter, more flexible negative.

I highly recommend using ND, grad, and contrast control filters when shooting video. Underexposing a little bit will also give you more saturation.
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#3 Gordon Highland

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 05:10 PM

Just to clarify my own post, I didn't mean to imply that you necessarily have to leave your video low-contrast for a "film look," just that it's best to start off by exposing it that way. You can alter the contrast to taste later in post.
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#4 Dominic Case

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 06:09 PM

DOn't confuse the terms contrast and brightness range. And don't confuse the contrast in the subject with the contrast in the medium (film or video). And understand that contrast is more than a single number: in fact, the way in which film maintains the contrast in the range of mid-tones, while flattening it in the shadows and highlights - with the result of capturing a greater brghtness range - is rally what you call "the film look".

If a scene has a wide brightness range (you might call it contrasty but that's not necessarily the same thing), then video may have difficulty capturing the full range from shadows to highlights. Normally you will either have crushed shadows or clipped/burnt highlights.

A low contrast filter simply works by scattering some light from the highlights into the mid-tones and shadows. So it reduces the depth of the shadows and therefore the total brightness range: but it reduces sharpness a little into the bargain. It also necessarily reduces colour saturation.

Film will capture that full brightness range without compromise.

Anyone who uses soft focus to get "the film look" should perhaps consider whether they are in the right job.
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#5 Gordon Highland

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 06:33 PM

Anyone who uses soft focus to get "the film look" should perhaps consider whether they are in the right job.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


While it may be true academically that soft focus and film have little to do with each other, I'm sure many folks will take issue with your statement. Yes, if you plan to blow up your video to film rez that's probably a bad idea. But if you are staying in the video realm for delivered content, I disagree somewhat. A very light Black Pro Mist or Glimmerglass or soft-focus filtration can really help take some edge off the electronic look, with just a little halation around the highlights. I'm not talking Barbara Walters vaseline-lens here.

When most people refer to "the film look" (I'm sure there are mucho posts about that term elsewhere), I think most are referring to how to simulate that on VIDEO in a way that suits drama well and distances it from that "news" look, i.e. a lower fps, controlled highlights, and a more organic (hate to say "softer") look.
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#6 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 08:34 PM

As always, the surest way to get "the film look" is to use film! :)

http://www.kodak.com...d=0.1.4.3&lc=en

http://www.kodak.com...=0.1.4.13&lc=en
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#7 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 04:47 PM

A low contrast filter simply works by scattering some light from the highlights into the mid-tones and shadows. So it reduces the depth of the shadows and therefore the total brightness range: but it reduces sharpness a little into the bargain.  It also necessarily reduces colour saturation.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Sorry Dominic, (or is it a problem of language understanding) but I would say LC, WPM, BPM etc, reduce contrats by lighting the dark areas, shadows, not by darkening the highlights...
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#8 Dominic Case

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 06:14 PM

Sorry Dominic, (or is it a problem of language understanding) but I would say LC, WPM, BPM etc, reduce contrats by lighting the dark areas, shadows, not by darkening the highlights...

Yes indeed. I don't think I said anything about darkening the highlights. You are correct that those filters lighten the dark areas as I said:-

A low contrast filter simply works by scattering some light from the highlights into the mid-tones and shadows.


If a filter lightens the dark areas, it must get its light from somewhere.

In a 10-stop brightness range, the extreme highlights are one thousand times as bright as the deepest shadows. Ratio is 1,000:1. If, on average, the LC filter scatters one per cent of the light (that is, 10 units of light from the highlights), then the highlights are reduced to 990.01 (that decimal bit allows for the shadow light being scattered as well!), while the shadows are increased to 10.99. Call it 990:11. The new brightness ratio is 90:1 instead of 1000:1 - about 6 1/2 stops instead of 10.

In the shadows, a subject with a 3-stop range now hits the film (or chip) with intensities of 19:11 instead of 8:1. Massive reduction in contrast at that end. Because there is so much more light in the highlights, the scattered light has virtually no effect at that end of the scale.

That's all a simplification of the numbers. It depends on how much highlight there is in the frame, and how the filter scatters it.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 06:19 PM

People think that a Low Con or ProMist adds a film look to video because they aren't using a camera where they can turn off the edge enhancement and are therefore fighting over-sharpened images with diffusion. There is also a belief that the "mist" particles in these filters adds a texture resembling film grain.

It's not so much that people think that low-contrast video photography must somehow resemble film more, although maybe a few do, but that doesn't take into account movies shot in film with a high contrast look.
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#10 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 07:07 PM

Dominic :

>If a filter lightens the dark areas, it must get its light from somewhere.

I see what you mean - it was a language problem in the sense that I didn't get the precise meaning of your former sentence. Now what you said is more clear to me. Should I say you 've lighten it up ?
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#11 Dominic Case

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 07:34 PM

it was a language problem

Not a problem, Laurent.

Try explaining it all back to me in French - I wouldn't follow very much at all!

I'm a keen student of "language" but very poor at "languages".

Should I say you 've lighten it up ?

Brilliant! :D
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#12 Matt Pacini

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Posted 06 May 2005 - 01:13 PM

As always, the surest way to get "the film look" is to use film!  :)


Exactly!
I am amazed how often people toss this around, as if it's really possible.
Sure, sometimes, you can "kinda" make really well shot video look kinda like how film looks, but very seldom does it really work, and you certainly don't have much choice in different looks like you do with film.

I posted a question once in the video section, of how to make film look like video.
Sure, I was being a bit sarcastic to make a point, but we would all agree that it would be pretty freakin' difficult to do that, and film has much more information to start with, so it should actually be easier!
We've become conditioned to start believing press releases and hype, just because the manufacturers of equipment toss out this PR to make people accept their products as replacements for something superior, when they really are not.

Matt Pacini
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#13 not valid

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Posted 06 May 2005 - 05:09 PM

I find to make the soft focus i tend to do it in post using filters and colour correction but to do that you really need to exposure your footage say 1 stop higher then you normally would. Im surprised how much after it has been tweaked in post video can resemble the film look.
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#14 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 06 May 2005 - 05:14 PM

I posted a question once in the video section, of how to make film look like video.
...we would all agree that it would be pretty freakin' difficult to do that, and film has much more information to start with, so it should actually be easier!
Matt Pacini

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Actually it is very easy to make film look like video. You crank the contrast up, ditto the chroma, and sharpen the image a touch...

One of the reasons for films' continued popularity is the fact that because it captures such a huge range of information at such high quality, you can make it look anyway you want.
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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 May 2005 - 06:36 PM

You could shoot film at 60 fps and transfer it to 60i video...
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#16 Michel Hafner

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 12:55 PM

Actually it is very easy to make film look like video. You crank the contrast up, ditto the chroma, and sharpen the image a touch...

One of the reasons for films' continued popularity is the fact that because it captures such a huge range of information at such high quality, you can make it look anyway you want.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Unfortunately not concerning motion rendition using 24fps. And anything else is not viable outside of niche markets (for now).
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#17 Joshua Provost

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 06:10 PM

Constantine,

I would highly recommend using a camera with as many manual controls as possible. Turn down the contrast and exposure controls in-camera and you will gain some latitude. Add a low-contrast filter to get even more. In post, use Curves or a non-destructive contrast filter to bring back a normal contrast while retaining all of those great details you captured via low contrast.

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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 03:48 AM

Hi,

I've never been much of a fan of low-con filters on video; they really just seem to fill up the shadows, which is exactly where you don't want filling up if you're trying to look like current film-originated drama.

In fact, I find that the most attractive film stuff is generally quite contrasty, with all that deep black in the shadows.

Phil
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#19 Jim Murdoch

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 06:31 AM

As always, the surest way to get "the film look" is to use film!  :)

http://www.kodak.com...d=0.1.4.3&lc=en

http://www.kodak.com...=0.1.4.13&lc=en

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

One might add that when it's all said and done, the cheapest and easiest way to get the film look is also to use film!

Perhaps another definition of the "Film Look" is "a captured image that portrays a scene more closely approximating the way your eye sees it." For example you could be sitting in fairly subdued light in a living room and see everything perfectly well in there, but you can also glance out the window onto a daylit scene which could be hundreds of times brighter, and your eye doesn't see it as hundreds of times brighter, just "somewhat brighter". With a video camera you'll just see an unrecoverable white rectangle, wheras with film you might not get a perfect image of the outside, but there'll be something on the negative to work with.
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#20 Jim Murdoch

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 06:41 AM

We've become conditioned to start believing press releases and hype, just because the manufacturers of equipment toss out this PR to make people accept their products as replacements for something superior, when they really are not.

Matt Pacini

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I'm not sure what you mean by "we". Despite the best efforts of the technical media and manufacturers' spin doctors, the concept of so-called Digital Cinematography has failed to really go anywhere. It would seem they've convinced everyone except those whose opinions actually matter :P
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