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Do Current Cameras not have Viewfinders?


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#1 Stephen Baldassarre

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 08:39 PM

I keep reading that the main reason many people want to shoot UHD or 4K is for re-framing in post.  Now, I would like to change SOMETHING about just about every video/film I produce, but framing is seldom one of them.  Why is reframing so important that it warrants 4x the storage and processing power?  I could only conclude that a lot of DPs have a hard time making decisions when put on the spot or that their viewfinders are inaccurate.  Am I missing something?

 

Not trying to be rude, just genuinely curious.


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#2 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 09:32 PM

For me, the extra data is completely worth the ability to crop in for a quick fix without losing detail. Also helps for things like post stabilization. Especially handy when doing a single camera web series or something.


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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 10:02 PM

I don't believe in post reframing as a general principle, the original composition must have some authority and be respected... however, occasionally a shot has to be reframed, hopefully mildly... post-stabilization is one reason, or the best performance take has something on the edge of frame that shouldn't have been there, maybe the mic dipped in or the operator caught the movie light or flag during a move, or someone mistakenly stepped into the background, etc.

If you are finishing in HD then maybe shooting 4K just for post-stabilization is a bit overkill but not many cameras offer something in between like 3K.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 10:10 PM

There are also often major political reasons on set you shoot a shot (or don't) in a certain way and moments where the "we can punch in in post" comes up in serious conversations between people on set.

It's not that a single individual has a problem making choices, but film and framing isn't generally an individual act (least of all with cameras as made today where you have an audience watching each shot "through the viewfinder")


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#5 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 10:38 PM

I'm constantly re-framing in post. It's not a "cinematography" thing or has anything to do with the photography side of things, it's all about post production.

As someone who edits most of the time, I can attest to the countless hours I've spent re-tooling scenes in post. Generally directors first go-to, is to re-frame because it allows them to maybe use a better performance in the wide, to a medium where it seems more intimate.

Shooting in 4k doesn't really matter, most movies are distributed in 2k anyway, so shooting at 3.2k with an Alexa is fine. You just want a little bit of wiggle room so you can work the image in post, that's all.

The point's above are all very accurate as well.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 10:59 PM

Not a fan of the notion that the original composition made on set has no value -- considering the thought and care I usually spend to create that frame -- plus I don't think in general that most shots that get punched into look well-composed, they just look tighter. Imagine if someone took "The Godfather" and zoomed into it and created a bunch of new shots; it would not have the visual power it currently has. Nor would a John Ford movie.

Filmmaking is more than chopping a bunch of close-ups together -- and it's today's inability by many directors to learn to love wider framing that drives me nuts.

Plus if you need a medium shot, then shoot a medium shot, and if you need a close-up, then shoot a close-up. Creating all the coverage in post by zooming into a master is just lazy directing, like they couldn't figure out how to cover the scene on set.

The occasional reframing, for a variety of reasons, is not unexpected but no one becomes good at staging and composition by not practicing that skill on the set, but leaving it until post, any more than you become a good still photographer by not thinking of your composition until after you take the picture. Imagine how poor an actor would be if they never made any choices but just gave you a dozen versions on every set-up and then told you to create whatever performance you wanted later in editing.

To me, that's what all art comes down to -- making choices and learning from them. If all your choices can be easily changed in post, then you never learn what works and doesn't work because you never suffer any consequences for your choices.

So for pragmatic reasons, I accept the occasional need to reframe, but hopefully minimally, but I don't think it should be the way you should approach shooting a scene, to leave the art of composing until post. In post, you can't adjust the angle of the camera and the arrangement of objects, all you can do is enlarge what was shot.
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#7 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 11:21 PM

I view it far more as a technical trick in the bag as opposed to a creative method. Like cropping out booms/equipment. Or if doing a documentary, trying to emphasize a subject in the frame a tad bit better.

 

If I could ask the OP, is your work primarily narrative shorts/features? If so then I understand the confusion.


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#8 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 11:33 PM

I think also there is a big difference between narrative films and documentaries, interviews, industrials, etc.

In narrative filmmaking, action is usually blocked to the camera. There's time to discuss the shots and to design compositions into a sequence. Almost everything in the frame is intentional. So to re-frame these compositions is to effectively re-design the sequence in post.

Sometimes, that's necessary to make a sequence work. But usually not very often if the scene has been shot and directed well. If a shot has been re-framed in post, 99% of the time that is not the DP's choice - it's usually either the editor or the director making that call.

On the other hand, in documentary work and especially interviews, you often cannot control the frame to the same degree. Actions are not repeatable. And if you do not have multiple cameras for interviews, punching in is sometimes the only way to cut without resorting to b-roll or jump cuts.
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#9 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 01:14 AM

Totally agree with the Sat.. as above..

 

If I were a DP or operator on narrative /commercial  where time and consideration  has been spent to set up a shot.. I would be furious if it was changed and it would reflect very badly on a director who didnt  have the courage of their own convictions.. any film doing that in post is in big trouble already.. (except getting rid of stands /mics etc)

 

Its frequently done in corps.. mostly for interviews.. and stabilization .. but even on that level I get pissed off to see small creep zooms .. or little pans for no reason that have been put in in post.. doesn't matter so much there  are no credits.. but if I were a DP on films and my name was on it.. I wouldn't want someone changing the damn frame from wide to mid shots because the dir couldn't judge a good performance from his/her actors.. 


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#10 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 02:03 AM

I'm a big fan of adding a little zoom in or out in post to heighten a moment. And for interviews in particular, I think having additional resolution to crop into is a huge boon for editing purposes.

Greater resolution has some specific advantages. I hardly think it undercuts the importance of composition though.


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#11 Freya Black

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 05:29 AM

If the trend for watching on phones or other tiny screen devices continues then I suppose it could be possible to reframe the movie for a phone version where it is mostly close ups! hah hah!

I think the trend at the moment is to shoot more close ups as the big screen experience seems to be becoming less significant sadly.

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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 06:31 AM

Oddly enough, in narrative television, the trend has been to frame wider than in the past due to the fact that so many people watch on large TV monitors, so the framing is now more or less the same as for features. Plus shooting a bunch of tight close-ups is considered to be too "TV" by a lot of showrunners and producers so directors are actually discouraged from doing that.
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#13 Stephen Baldassarre

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 06:32 AM

Plus if you need a medium shot, then shoot a medium shot, and if you need a close-up, then shoot a close-up. Creating all the coverage in post by zooming into a master is just lazy directing, like they couldn't figure out how to cover the scene on set.

See, that's what I feel (though I'm starting to find that not many people know what a "medium shot" etc. is anymore).  I was electrician on a feature a few years ago and the DP was really angry that zooms and crops were done in post (which he only discovered at the premier) rather than being asked to shoot that way on-set.  Just because there's more pixels than the output medium doesn't mean the glass has the resolving capability either, so even something like a 1.5:1 crop can yield a softer look than having used a 1.5x longer lens, despite being shot with 2x the output resolution.

 

 

If I could ask the OP, is your work primarily narrative shorts/features? If so then I understand the confusion.

For the last few years, it's been 95% documentary work.  Before that, it was narratives and commercials.

 

 

Its frequently done in corps.. mostly for interviews.. and stabilization .. but even on that level I get pissed off to see small creep zooms .. or little pans for no reason that have been put in in post.. doesn't matter so much there  are no credits.. but if I were a DP on films and my name was on it.. I wouldn't want someone changing the damn frame from wide to mid shots because the dir couldn't judge a good performance from his/her actors.. 

Digital zooms/pans are usually fairly obvious, depending on the resizing algorithm used.  You can see the pixels changing.  Even with something like stabilization, you can get rid of the shake but not the motion blur and rolling shutter artifacts from the shake.  It's better to shoot a stable shot.  I imagine a lot of stuff being shot on small, lightweight equipment is part of the problem there, because people do some amazing things with hand-held 35mm or 2/3" 3-CCD cameras that needed no tweaking in post.

While we're at it, I know a lot of DPs are pissed about all the stupid things people do in grading, often to the point where it doesn't look real anymore, certainly not what the DP intended.  I understand correcting minor exposure errors or difference in color between one lens and another, but not changing the entire look of the movie without the DP's involvement.


Edited by Stephen Baldassarre, 13 June 2017 - 06:34 AM.

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#14 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 08:50 AM

Well its 4K for HD delivery so these little zooms,pans.. although I dont like them myself .. are not really doing any noticeable damage to the image.. actually I was going to post the same comment as Dave re Freya,s post.. doc,s too we often now tend to shoot wider angles and very wide landscapes due to the average tv now being huge... compared to say 5-10 years ago the you would never do it as all the details would be so small..  


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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 09:44 AM

If it's a very slow and short zoom-in, I'd almost rather it be done digitally these days -- then I don't have to switch to a slower zoom lens and hope that the zoom kicks in at the right moment of the performance and zooms smoothly enough.  I've gone through many zoom motors and microforce controls on some shows just trying to get a creeping zoom to start smoothly, and have had the best performance take marred by a rough or mis-timed zoom start.  

 

Of course, anything other than a minor creep-in I'd rather do optically.


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#16 Justin Hayward

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 10:54 AM

Oddly enough, in narrative television, the trend has been to frame wider than in the past due to the fact that so many people watch on large TV monitors, so the framing is now more or less the same as for features. Plus shooting a bunch of tight close-ups is considered to be too "TV" by a lot of showrunners and producers so directors are actually discouraged from doing that.

 

 

Wow, that's really cool to hear.  It must mean there's some sort of evidence that the majority of people aren't watching this stuff on their phones, which is very encouraging.  


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#17 Stephen Baldassarre

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 10:54 AM

I've gone through many zoom motors and microforce controls on some shows just trying to get a creeping zoom to start smoothly, and have had the best performance take marred by a rough or mis-timed zoom start. 

I wouldn't even try to do that with a motorized zoom.  Smooth starts are always a problem.  I prefer to dolly when possible rather than zoom (I don't even have a zoom lens for my 35mm camera and the zoom for my S16 camera stays at home) but if I must do a zoom (like for 2/3" doc video work), it's via purely mechanical control.


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#18 Ravi Kiran

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 11:01 AM

For the interview-based videos I've done, I usually shot the interviews in 4K and finished in 1080 so I can add slow zooms or punch in for close-ups. For narrative work a post-zoom would only be a last resort to be used rarely, if at all.

 

If you want the benefits of oversampling without having a ton of data, you could use a camera with a higher resolution sensor that records at 1080 or 2K.


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#19 Phil Connolly

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 04:51 AM

I don't think I'd done a production in the last 10 years that hasn't included some sort of post reframe. In my case its usually minor since I do always strive to shoot it on set in the best way possible and plan the compositions carefully. So in my case its less about cheating coverage with a massive punch in.

 

However I've found due to the limitations of time, budget, talent, skill - there are always a few shots that would benefit from work in post to resize. Working quickly on a DLSR with a rubbish viewfinder on run and gun doco, I'm not going to respect the frame if I can make it better in post. 

 

4k helps you do a better job + the ability to oversample why not. I've certainly jumped onto 4k on the shots I know I have to resize - when i want a big close up and I'm sitting on the MOD of a lens thats not long enough - I plan for the crop in post. 


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