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The Look of Film


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#1 michaelmikes

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 02:57 AM

Bare with me, these are most likely simple questions to all of you..

1. In music videos and films, how is the crisp picture and professional "look" achieved? Is it the lens size, the lighting, the camera or a combination of them all?

2. What are the main considerations for choosing digital over film or vice versa?

3. Can digital cameras achieve the professional "music video" look?

Thanks for any help you can offer.
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#2 David Cox

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 04:07 AM

Bare with me, these are most likely simple questions to all of you..

1. In music videos and films, how is the crisp picture and professional "look" achieved? Is it the lens size, the lighting, the camera or a combination of them all?

2. What are the main considerations for choosing digital over film or vice versa?

3. Can digital cameras achieve the professional "music video" look?

Thanks for any help you can offer.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Most music videos we work on that have a decent budget are shot 35mm and transferred in a Spirit or C-Reality telecine. However, music videos have increasingly challenging budgets and over the last year we have seen an increase in videos shot on HD or HDV. However, in most cases these are for a technical reason as well - such as where blue/green screens are used and therefore the use of 16mm is not as post friendly for this type of work (niether is HDV)

For your questions the answer to (1) is all of them - but with the addition of long sessions in telecine or other grading suites. All music videos shot on film spend a lot of time grading. Often a long day for just 3 or 4 minutes of material. The total time that it takes to make a "professional" music video has a higher proportion of post than most other types of projects.

(2) This forum is full of that debate, but in essence 35mm film provides a higher quality original image owing to its ability to capture a greater range of shades. However, digital cameras are getting better - providing we're talking about Vipers and Genesis' and not HDV! Shooting digitally allows for instant play back and removes the cost of film stock and processing. Although a telecine isn't needed for digital, it still needs grading so there isn't so much of a cost saving there. If you're aiming for a TV final master, the difference between digital and film originated stuff can be very small provided that the lighting is well controlled and camera / lens choice is correct. But also remember, "film" is a wide spectrum (from Super 8 to Imax) and "digital" is just the same (from DV to Genesis). What you are actually seeing on the screen is money spent properly. If you run around with a DV camera in one hand and a light in the other, it isn't going to look as expensive as a fully crewed 35mm or proper HD shoot.

(3) Depends precisely what that "professional" look is. For some bands its a clear colourful picture and for others its a grungy punk affair. The basic answer is yes it can, however, music company comissioners are still skeptical about anything other than film. Actually, to be more precise, they have grown up in a culture where the bigger bands get film, so it's seen as an acolade for historical reasons. So sometimes it can be a hard sell when we tell them that they should not be using 16mm for special effects shots. Their emotion tells them to shoot film even though our logic tells them (in that case) they'll get an inferior result at the end of the day because of grain and film-weave issues. But again, if by "digital" you are thinking of a one-man DV camera shoot, then you're going to have a hard job matching the quality of a fully crewed 35mm shoot.

David Cox
Baraka Post Production
www.baraka.co.uk
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#3 Stephen Williams

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 06:46 AM

But again, if by "digital" you are thinking of a one-man DV camera shoot, then you're going to have a hard job matching the quality of a fully crewed 35mm shoot.

David Cox
Baraka Post Production
www.baraka.co.uk

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi,

A one man film shoot will look better than a one man video shoot.
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#4 Nate Downes

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 08:38 AM

So sometimes it can be a hard sell when we tell them that they should not be using 16mm for special effects shots.


Depends, I've used 16mm for special effects shots before on a Mitchell 16PRO and then matched it to the rest of the footage.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 11:07 AM

I did 1/4 (or less) of the music video "Sunrise" for Duran Duran; the rest was shot in Europe without me by the Polish Brothers; I shot a segment out in the desert here with one band member in only four hours.

My part was shot on Sony 24P HDCAM, the rest of the video in Europe was Super-16 mostly, some Super-8 (even used for greenscreen!). Looking at the final video, my shots are probably the sharpest and most "clear" (the video is so montagey it's hard to shift out my few shots) but that's partly because I was shooting in full sun with the camera tweaked for a harsher skip-bleach contrast with black blacks.

I also shot a couple of shots of the band member sitting in a hotel room, camera tracking around (just a doorway dolly on some planks) and then exiting out into the sun with a guitar case looking like "El Mariachi", plus the sunball rising shot. Plus a shot of him sitting in diner in the desert with a cup of coffee.

They told me that some of their Super-16 footage from Europe was way too overexposed by the DP and had to be fixed in the transfer.

http://duranduranmus...se/sunrise.html

I'll be shooting another video for the Polish Brothers on the Varicam next week. They like HD.
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#6 David Cox

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 03:26 AM

Depends, I've used 16mm for special effects shots before on a Mitchell 16PRO and then matched it to the rest of the footage.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I was refering to the problems with keying and tracking with 16mm. We generally advise not to use it for these types of special effects shots because the grain reduces the quality of the key and the edges, and the weave needs stabalising and that leads to softness (and extra time in post where music videos have invariably already run out of money).
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#7 Tim J Durham

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 08:48 AM

I did 1/4 (or less) of the music video "Sunrise" for Duran Duran; the rest was shot in Europe without me by the Polish Brothers; I shot a segment out in the desert here with one band member in only four hours.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Any chance you'd be willing to relate the pitch meeting for that video? I'd be interested in knowing how that sort of thing gets done. There are several different themes in that video, seemingly unrelated. Is the idea just three minutes of eye-candy?
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 11:11 AM

The band couldn't be shot at once for the whole video, so the proposal was to shoot each band member separately on a vague journey to get together, and each person's journey would be shot in a different format or style (hence b&w, color, 24P HD, Super-8, Super-16.) I don't know if the band got together for the final shots of them playing; I wasn't there for most of the shoot. But the proposal said that even in the group shot, each member would still look like they were shot in their own format, hence why one guy is chromakeyed in Super-8.
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#9 Byron Karl

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 01:42 PM

Hi David, quick question

What was your technique for getting the heat shimmer in the opening shot?
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#10 Nate Downes

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 02:45 PM

I was refering to the problems with keying and tracking with 16mm. We generally advise not to use it for these types of special effects shots because the grain reduces the quality of the key and the edges, and the weave needs stabalising and that leads to softness (and extra time in post where music videos have invariably already run out of money).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Weave in a Mitchell?

As for softness, it was being matched to Super8 footage, so it actually had to be degraded before final use.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 06:57 PM

I don't remember if I had that much rippling at sunrise or if it was added in post. I had some minor shimmer... but it wasn't THAT hot yet at sunrise -- so perhaps it's a post effect.
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#12 Byron Karl

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 09:01 AM

Yes, it looked excessive.

I was wondering if you had any experience using those propane rigs that are placed right under a lens, to create heat shimmer? Do those give excessive results as well?
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 11:23 AM

I did one shot for the video with three Sterno cans burning under the lens. You get more of a big watery "wave" of heat coming in and out more than the true rippling effect -- in some ways, the post efx software is more realistic to what heat ripples are like.
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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 11:42 AM

Hi,

Where's your Varicam coming from? Is this the London thing? I had a great experience with one Varicam place but... I can't... remember... where.... argh

Phil
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#15 michaelmikes

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 07:43 AM

Thanks for the correspondence.

Much appreciated.
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#16 Algis Kemezys

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 08:40 AM

I did 1/4 (or less) of the music video "Sunrise" for Duran Duran; the rest was shot in Europe without me by the Polish Brothers; I shot a segment out in the desert here with one band member in only four hours.

My part was shot on Sony 24P HDCAM, the rest of the video in Europe was Super-16 mostly, some Super-8 (even used for greenscreen!).  Looking at the final video, my shots are probably the sharpest and most "clear" (the video is so montagey it's hard to shift out my few shots) but that's partly because I was shooting in full sun with the camera tweaked for a harsher skip-bleach contrast with black blacks.

I also shot a couple of shots of the band member sitting in a hotel room, camera tracking around (just a doorway dolly on some planks) and then exiting out into the sun with a guitar case looking like "El Mariachi", plus the sunball rising shot. Plus a shot of him sitting in diner in the desert with a cup of coffee.

They told me that some of their Super-16 footage from Europe was way too overexposed by the DP and had to be fixed in the transfer.

http://duranduranmus...se/sunrise.html

I'll be shooting another video for the Polish Brothers on the Varicam next week. They like HD.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



This is great fun. Thanks for sharing the production info and that link David. Congrats too !!!
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Broadcast Solutions Inc

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Ritter Battery

Wooden Camera

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Rig Wheels Passport