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#1 Jason M Silverman

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 10:00 AM

Hey,

I'll be working on a documentary (filmed on XL2, edited on Final Cut 5) which will involve the need to record archival still images as well as documents. The project will hopefully end up being put onto 35mm. I'm wondering what the best way to record them is. As far as I can tell, I have three choices: 1) film them with the XL2 and some sort of mattebox 2) scan the pictures/documents on a high-quality scanner and manipulate them on Final Cut 3) take stills with a 35mm still camera and work the negatives into the edit when going to film.

Opinions on the best option? What is the minimum resolution I should look for if I go for buying a scanner?

Thanks for the help.

Peace

jason m silverman
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#2 Jay Gladwell

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 07:41 AM

Scan them, by all means! Better image, better control, better storage. Save as a lossless file (png for example), not jpg. Any Epson intermediate-priced scanner will work just fine.

Jay

Edited by Jay Gladwell, 01 June 2005 - 07:44 AM.

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#3 Patrick Neary

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Posted 02 June 2005 - 11:09 PM

i saw an interesting interview with Ken Burns where he described shooting all those old photographs for his documentaries- he said he liked to paste them up on a magnetic board and shoot them "live" because it gave the footage a more human feel or something to that effect, i guess as opposed to the clinical-smooth moves you'd get from after effects.
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#4 Jason M Silverman

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 03:02 AM

i saw an interesting interview with Ken Burns where he described shooting all those old photographs for his documentaries- he said he liked to paste them up on a magnetic board and shoot them "live" because it gave the footage a more human feel or something to that effect, i guess as opposed to the clinical-smooth moves you'd get from after effects.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Scanning could produce more digital artifacts than perhaps shooting them. I suppose it might depend on what one was planing on doing with them; it may be easier/better to pan from one to another on camaera, but if planning complex cgi type effects to scan.

peace

jason
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#5 Jay Gladwell

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 06:03 PM

Scanning could produce more digital artifacts than perhaps shooting them.  I suppose it  might depend on what one was planing on doing with them; it may be easier/better to pan from one to another on camaera, but if planning complex cgi type effects to scan.


No digital artifacts if scanned at high res and saved as lossless file.

Depending on the size of the photo, shooting/panning/tilting can prove to be difficult at best.

Jay
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#6 Charlie Seper

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Posted 04 June 2005 - 04:47 PM

Hi,

I'm a big Ken Burns fan and documentary junky to boot. I think he just was saying that there's something different about taped moving footage of a photograph versus using a still photo in a graphics program, and there is. Even though we don't think of well shot film or video as having a strobing effect, there actually is on an almost unconscious level. I can only say that if I video tape a photo on a wall and zoom in/out, pan etc., even while using a tripod hands-free, that I can tell the photo has been video taped, as apposed to using a graphics package where I can do all the same things with a single still and outputing it to an AVI file. Somehow the still always looks like a still and a video taped photo always looks like moving footage.

BTW, do you have any experience with Flash? I much prefer to work with photos (already edited) in Flash. Trucks, pans, stretching, alpha fades etc., are much easier to perform in Flash and when I'm done I can output an AVI file to any frame size I want and at any speed, including those conforming to hi-def. Since most TV studios are requesting material on hi-def these days, its a good cheap way to do a hi-def documentary. And if you have some moving footage here and there from your XL2, you can still get away with upconverting it to hi-def if you're only using a little bit of it for interviews and whatnot.

I actually use a cheaper Flash knock-off even more than Flash these days called, SwishMax. It's only $100 and will do darn near anything Flash can. It has a ton more effects than Flash does and to top it off, it has some really great titling effects that no other product does. If you work in machine fonts, they'll stay nice and crisp all the way to the final AVI as opposed to trying to do lettering in a graphics program where they'll likely be more of a photographic quality.

The other great thing about Flash or a good Flash knock-off is the ability to create documentaries ala Ken Burns, using just photos and narration/music, and being able to output something for web viewing that will look great even for dialup users if you time things correctly, without having to resort to a tiny postage stamp size movie file with rotten sound.

Just a thought. I started out as a jazz muciain with a studio where we were also stuck trying to make money doing jingles for AG Edwards and others in the St. Louis area more than 15-years ago. I was also doing occasional freelance writing for Skeptic Magazine, Vortex, Sojourner and others, and later got into some short fiction, then novels, etc. I was also working on computers (I got certified in computer repair in Illinois back in 89) which led to some work with Flash and the Internet (which I hated!) Then a couple of years ago I got my first camcorder and made a guitar instructional video. Had a good time doing it and decided it might be fun to try a documentary.

Its amazing how one falls into certain hobbies and jobs in life. One thing leads to another.
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#7 Stephen Williams

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 05:13 AM

Depending on the size of the photo, shooting/panning/tilting can prove to be difficult at best.

Jay

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi,

It was done without problem for over 80 years before PC's hit the scene.

Stephen
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#8 drew_town

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 03:18 PM

There are benefits for using either approach.

The one and only benefit of actually shooting a photograph or article is that is does look a little more natural than a motion graphics approach.

However if you need to do some advanced matte work for transitions and such, using a graphics editor will shave off a lot of post time. You can throw an image in Photoshop, break it into different layers, and animate/alter each individually, all in about ten minutes. Whereas a travel matte would take a good while longer if you were working with footage.

It's easier to change your mind with a graphics editor, too. You don't like that zoom after all? Delete Key or Reshoot.

Granted Ken Burns never evolved beyond simple editing techniques, but I would like to think others would.

My two cents: use a graphics editor.
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#9 Jay Gladwell

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 05:54 PM

Hi,

It was done without problem for over 80 years before PC's hit the scene.

Stephen

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


That depended on who was doing it, didn't Stephen? I didn't say it couldn't be done. All I said (implied) was it is NOW easier to do it using a scanned images. And just for the record, I came into video/computers from 30 years of working in film, so I do have some experience and know a little of what I'm talking about.

Jay
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#10 Jason M Silverman

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 06:05 AM

Hey,

Unfortunately, I don't know flash. I'm familiar enough with graphics editing through Final Cut and Photoshop.

Some of the archival items (such as 300-year old books) may not be easily moveable or matte-box-able. I was thinking that maybe a good still picture scanned well might serve better for such items, and perhaps for collections of more easily manipulated items use the camera.

In general, I agree with the comment that it is often better to leave most effects until post, in case one needs to change one's mind, though with a documentary I think I would tend to shoot archives twice, once still and once with a pan, etc just to give myself more options.

In this case, I want to make the post as easy as possible, since much time will be requirted on the audio, and on a few choice graphics. But maybe I'll invest in both a scanner and a matte-box...

Peace

Jason
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#11 Jay Gladwell

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 06:16 AM

Some of the archival items (such as 300-year old books) may not be easily moveable or matte-box-able.

Sounds like you're on the right track. With an item such as that I would try getting a still with a digital camera (not video) using the highest resolution. That would allow you to pan, tilt, zoom, whatever, with a fair degree of latitude.

Jay
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#12 J. Anthony Gonzales

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 02:19 PM

I think that actually shooting the photos gives a bit more to the film. Burns is a good example. Also look at Dogtown and Z-Boys for some really cool stuff.

John
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#13 Achim Girnth

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 04:16 AM

Hey,

I'm wondering what the best way to record them is.  As far as I can tell, I have three choices: 1) film them with the XL2 and some sort of mattebox 2) scan the pictures/documents on a high-quality scanner and manipulate them on Final Cut
jason m silverman

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi Jason,

Two Years ago, I did a 5 hour DVD programm (3 DVDs) about World History for Bertelsmann. We had the same Decision like you to make. With my project about the 20th century in 1999 we picked the stills with a videocam. For the new project, we decided to do all stills with scans in combustion. We used very high quality scans (up to 600 dpi) and added the motion in combustion. This gave us a very precise control of the timing and gave in addition the possibility to combine parts of the stills in dissolves with very precise pans. Also lighting tilting and rotating is possible, what makes all of the footage more lively. I was very pleased with the results and we processed more than 800 stills in this manner. You have to take care for interlacing problems by use of filters and blurs, but if you plan to go to 35mm, you don't need this. You can even work with higher resolutions for that reason.

Acceleration control by bezier curves is very good inside combustion and you get very "human-like" results (without the usual shaking and slow down problems, but you could add them if you want) The precise control saved us weeks in post and gave us the possibility to change motion accoring to the final commentary and edit.

cu

Achim
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