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Getting that "film look" from DV.


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#1 Smaisch

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 10:10 AM

Hello all, my name is Steve and I am a professional screenwriter. I have optioned two screenplays this past year and one of which is going into pre-production. While I love writing, I have a passion to actually get behind the camera and direct one of my own screenplays. Since I live in Kentucky, I havent gotten the chance to actually work on a set yet.

Obviously I need to start out slow. Read a lot, buy a nice DV camera, and run a ton of tests. But I wanted to get the opinion of some pros and some savy amatuers.

My questions are below:

1. How do you achieve that "film look" using DV? Is it a matter of film speed? Or maybe lighting techniques? Any hints would help. How did they achieve it on 28 Days Later? Also, how many camera's are usually used on an Indy set? 2, maybe 3? One for a set shot, one for closeups?

2. I have a decent budget for a good DV camera. Say, between $3000-$5000 with some room. What all do I need to buy for a first time Indy project? I am sure I will need lighting, mikes, camera, lenses, etc. Any good packages you can point me too?

3. Also, Any online tutorials? I hate reading books on videography, but love interactive tutorials online.

4. I currently have a full version of "Adobe Premiere Pro", will that be good enough for post edits?

Obviously this is a lot of info I am asking, so if you prefer to email me please do at smaisch@53.com. If anyone has any screenwriting questions I would be glad to return the favor, tit for tat so to speak.

Steve
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 11:32 AM

This will covered in the FAQ...

The really short answer is you have to sort of reverse engineer what you think a film look is personally, because some people have different ideas of what that is. After all, movies do not have one look.

But I'd say a big part of the classic video look is interlaced-scan capture, which is unique to video. Each video frame is made up of two fields containing every other line of picture, captured sequentially, not simultaneously. Therefore motion is being sampled at twice the rate roughly as film does (60 or 50 times per second rather than 24 or 25 times) but each sample only contains half a frame's worth of info. This creates some very unique motion.

24 fps film, on the other hand, has a low sampling rate in comparison, so motion is choppier and strobier, plus 50% of the time, the shutter is closed, creating gaps in the motion sample. This also creates a unique motion.

So cameras that allow true progressive-scan (entire frames captured at once) tend to produce more of a film-like quality TO THE MOTION than interlaced-scan only cameras. You may want to look at the Panasonic DVX100A or the Canon XL2, which are DV cameras that offer 24P & 30P in NTSC, as well as 60i (the PAL versions offer 25P as well as 50i.)

This ignores the whole other issues of why movies feel the way they do, which is the production value from good lighting, composition, coverage and editing, sound, etc. Ultimately this can be just as big a factor in the film look than any technical reasons like frame rate or aspect ratio.

But at least if you get a progressive-scan video camera, you won't be fighting the look of interlaced-scan capture.
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#3 Smaisch

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 11:52 AM

David, thank you. That is exactly the type of response I needed. I do know that lighting, editing, sound, etc is key to getting that "first run" film production look, but I was unaware of the rest. I will look into the cameras you mentioned.

Any specific Lenses you suggest as well?
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 12:18 PM

Only the Canon XL2 allows interchangeable lenses, so if possible, I'd get the manual zoom rather than the servo zoom. Otherwise, the main problem with DV is the excessively deep focus -- the primary solution has been to shoot nearly wide-open on the aperture (like around an f/2.8) and then use the telephoto end of the zoom to reduce depth of field. Not always possible or practical when doing shots in small locations though.

The only system that completely replicates 35mm's depth of field is the P&S Technik Mini-35 device, but that may be too much info for you, plus it then requires you also rent a set of 35mm cine lenses.

http://www.pstechnik...film-mini35.php

The progressive-scan issue deals with replicating the MOTION artifacts of 24 fps film. What I'm talking about here is replicating the DEPTH OF FIELD artifacts of larger imaging areas like a 35mm frame.

We didn't even discuss RESOLUTION, EXPOSURE LATITUDE, COLOR REPRODUCTION, PIXELS VERSUS GRAINS, ASPECT RATIO, COMPRESSION ARTIFACTS, etc.
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#5 Smaisch

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 12:26 PM

Would it simply be smarter for me, and more economical, to hire a local cinematographer? I am starting to think that might be wise.

I can purchase my own camera, then hire someone to run it off my storyboards and direction.
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#6 siddharth diwan

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 12:51 PM

Only the Canon XL2 allows interchangeable lenses, so if possible, I'd get the manual zoom rather than the servo zoom.  Otherwise, the main problem with DV is the excessively deep focus -- the primary solution has been to shoot nearly wide-open on the aperture (like around an f/2.8) and then use the telephoto end of the zoom to reduce depth of field. Not always possible or practical when doing shots in small locations though.

The only system that completely replicates 35mm's depth of field is the P&S Technik Mini-35 device, but that may be too much info for you, plus it then requires you also rent a set of 35mm cine lenses.

http://www.pstechnik...film-mini35.php

The progressive-scan issue deals with replicating the MOTION artifacts of 24 fps film. What I'm talking about here is replicating the DEPTH OF FIELD artifacts of larger imaging areas like a 35mm frame.

We didn't even discuss RESOLUTION, EXPOSURE LATITUDE, COLOR REPRODUCTION, PIXELS VERSUS GRAINS, ASPECT RATIO, COMPRESSION ARTIFACTS, etc.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


does canon xl1 also have 24p option and don't they have interchangable lenses.
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#7 Robert Hughes

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 12:56 PM

You may be better off hiring a DP and art director, discussing your show with them and let them handle the technical issues like format and camera selection, rent vrs buy, and such. Why do you want to shell out thousands on a camera if you don't even know the format you want to use?

Stick with your strengths and build a team to help you achieve your movie goals.

Edited by Robert Hughes, 03 June 2005 - 12:57 PM.

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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 01:25 PM

No, the Canon XL1 has a fake progressive-scan option called "frame mode" that simulates a 30P look with the 60i NTSC camera and a 25P look with the 50i PAL camera.
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#9 Rik Andino

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Posted 03 June 2005 - 07:11 PM

My questions are below:

1. How do you achieve that "film look" using DV? Is it a matter of film speed? Or maybe lighting techniques? Any hints would help. How did they achieve it on 28 Days Later? Also, how many camera's are usually used on an Indy set? 2, maybe 3? One for a set shot, one for closeups?

2. I have a decent budget for a good DV camera. Say, between $3000-$5000 with some room. What all do I need to buy for a first time Indy project? I am sure I will need lighting, mikes, camera, lenses, etc. Any good packages you can point me too?

Steve

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Listen to what Robert wrote...
It make sense to find people to help you with your project...
A Cinematographer, Art Director, & Producer will help you alot

To answer your questions...
First off
"Film Look" is bad way to describe how you want your movie to look...
It's like someone telling you they want you to write a show and make it dramatic...
It doesn't say much it's not very specific...and leave you still wondering what to do.

If you really want it to look like it was shot on film shoot it on film.

Otherwise some tips are like what David Mullen said...
Shoot it in 24P, also shoot it in a 16x9 aspect ratio...
& get a cinematographer who's good and has experience shooting movies
Compose the shots like movies are composed & less like television or soap operas.

There are other tips but they depend on what you want to do.

If you're very much impressed with the cinematographer of 28 days later...
Look it over and see if there are some stuff you like that you can do...
However be wary of trying to accomplish shots
That were created on a multimillion dollar movie
By pros with years of experience you do not have.


On most indie sets they on;y use one camera...
Unless there's a special need for two...

There's a bad trend among first time directors these days
To want to shoot with a constant two camera set-up
Personally this is ridiculous and counter-productive
As well as disrespects the cinematographers skills to compose and light a shot...
For your first shot I recommend you stick to one camera set-ups.

With your budget you can get a very good DV camera package

I recommend for Standard Def.
Panasonic DVX100a
Canon XL2
They both do 24P and 30P and have other features...
The XL2 is superior to the DVX100a but they're both good cameras.

I recommend for High Def. DV
Sony HVR Z1u
JVC HD100
And if you're willing to wait 8 months Panasonic HVX200

The JVC and Panasonic cameras are the future of DV
And are eagerly awaited by many indie filmmakers...
The Sony HDV cameras is good but it doesn't have 24P capabilities...

As for sound I recommend hooking up with a good sound mixer
And for lights you can rent them from somewhere...
There's no need in owning everything


Good Luck
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#10 John Travis

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Posted 10 July 2005 - 06:30 PM

I second hiring people to help you. You won't regret it. Just make sure you interview a number of people for each position. Some first time filmmakers tend to grab whoever's available to them and this can cause problems on the set. It might go without saying but make sure you get along with the people you hire.

Also, be open that you're a novice, but be firm in the fact that you want to make YOUR film. If they're true professionals (most of the time anyway) they won't step all over you just because you're new. They might try to steer you in a certain direction to help you, but that's what you want.

Lastly, were you planning on making a feature screenplay you wrote? I would highly reccomend doing a short film first. One around five minutes should be more than enough for a first time director. Good luck with your work!

Edited by John Travis, 10 July 2005 - 06:31 PM.

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#11 Dominic Case

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Posted 10 July 2005 - 07:01 PM

I have a passion to actually get behind the camera and direct one of my own screenplays.

From the earliest days around the turn of the LAST century, these have been two different jobs. There must be a reason for that.

If you are working professionally as a screenwriter, you should consider the fact that if other people are prepared to pay for a professional to write, you should pay for other professionals too. It's got to be worth it!

Anyway if you hire a DP to shoot the film you want to direct, then you will learn more about shooting simply by being around that DP than you will any other way (even from this list!).
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#12 FilmmakerJack

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Posted 10 July 2005 - 07:17 PM

I've heard of people deinterlacing and pulling the frame rate down to 24 with success. I tried this and it came out horribly, unbelievably choppy. Am I doing something wrong or is there just no good way to do it.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 July 2005 - 11:47 PM

I've heard of people deinterlacing and pulling the frame rate down to 24 with success. I tried this and it came out horribly, unbelievably choppy. Am I doing something wrong or is there just no good way to do it.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


It works a little better if you shoot PAL (50i) and convert to 25P -- it's a simpler process -- rather than shoot NTSC (60i) and convert to 24P, but the truth is that if you want a 24/25P look, then shoot 24/25P.
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#14 Joshua Provost

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Posted 13 July 2005 - 02:49 PM

I've heard of people deinterlacing and pulling the frame rate down to 24 with success. I tried this and it came out horribly, unbelievably choppy. Am I doing something wrong or is there just no good way to do it.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


24 doesn't go into 60 evenly, so each method of conversion, each software package of set of open source tools to do the job, has to make some compromises to get the job done. They all do it different ways, and the results are all slightly different. Some investigation is in order, and a certain method may be better or worse for any given type of footage (locked down shots vs. handheld, etc.).

Also, there is a subtle psychological problem with the conversion. If you have been working with the 60i footage, and convert to 24p, you will perceive it as being very jumpy or stroby. In fact, it may be no more jumpy than any other 24p footage. It's just an effect of seeing the same footage smooth (60i) and naturally stroby (24p). Give it some time and come back to the footage fresh, and it may look more natural.
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