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Cinema HD versus TV HD


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#1 Sean Azze

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Posted 02 July 2005 - 05:20 PM

I'm not sure if my title makes exact sense, but there's a question I've been pondering and I was hoping someone on this forum could enlighten me.

HD cameras that are used for commercials, music videos, and feature films are made to capture a film look. Whereas, a sporting event that is filmed in HD seems to aim for capturing reality more accurately than SD cameras. Is there a difference between the cameras used in fictional productions and the cameras that are used for sporting events and concerts? Is there a different setting these cameras are put on to modify the look? Maybe the lenses?

If someone could clarify this for me, I'd really like to know. Thanks again.
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#2 Tomas Koolhaas

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Posted 02 July 2005 - 06:03 PM

Hello,
There are many reasons for the diff. in look between dramatic HD and sports HD footage.
For one, most sporting events take place in noonish daylight or floodlights, neither of which are very attractive or dramatic looking. Dramatic HD is usually lit very particularly by the DP to give a sense of mood, contrast,beauty etc.
Also much sports footage is shot interlaced and thus has the feel look of "video", whereas dramatic HD is shot 24 frames progressive scan, giving it a look and feel similar to film.
You are right that the lenses used are different too, for sporting events HD cameras are usually fitted with ENG (electronic news gathering) style lenses, whereas for dramatic productions 'Cine' style lenses are used. These lenses have various differences and similiarities, but as with the lighting, and frame rate etc. it's more the intent of how these lenses are used that makes the difference in dramatic HD's appearence versus that of sports HD- one is attempting to create mood/emotion through it's visual language and the other shows you a bunch of people attempting to score more points than each other.
Cheers.
Tomas.
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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 02 July 2005 - 07:16 PM

Hi,

It's fundamentally the same technology - the accessories, from lenses up to mattebox, power, and other camera equipment may or may not be slightly or very different, but it isn't always. It's perfectly possible to shoot a feature on ENG style zooms; it's what I'd do. What differs is the way it's used, particularly the way it's lit, or in the case of open air sports not lit, but the major differences are the people and the way they work. Otherwise, it's basically the same gear.

Phil
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 July 2005 - 07:46 PM

Live or reality HD events are often shot in interlaced-scan at high sampling rates (50 or 60 times per second) -- basically for a classic video look except with more resolution, whereas narrative fiction tends to be shot progressive-scan at lower sampling rates (like 24 or 35 times per second) for a film look. Many HD cameras can be switched to either interlaced-scan or progressive-scan. I guess, however, if you wanted the "live" immediacy with the Varicam, you'd shoot and broadcast at 720/50P or 720/60P.

I'd say only the newest HD cameras like the Genesis, Arri D20, and Dalsa are not really designed for anything other than narrative TV programming or features that would traditionally use 35mm film.

I've shot HD features with ENG HD zooms; they work OK but they have some operational differences, and because the barrel rotation is shorter, your focus pulls have a slightly different feeling to them than when using cine lenses. And some of them breathe badly compared to their bigger HD "cine" versions, and have ramping problems (exposure fall-off at the extreme telephoto end.) And all the markings are sort of crammed together.

But sometimes I prefer a lightweight, short ENG HD zoom when doing handheld shots because in that case, you might as well use the camera for what it was designed for, i.e. ENG-style operation. However, when I'm on a dolly with a follow-focus set-up, I prefer a cine-style HD zoom.
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#5 Sean Azze

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 01:53 AM

Thanks a lot, Gents!
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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 09:23 AM

Hi,

One great leveller is radio remote focus, where you can program the lens range to be anything you like - on steadicam shoots where you're doing remote focus anyway, it's often easiest to leave it in place.

Many of the ENG zooms I come across are rotten at the long end of their zoom ranges, but I'm surprised that the best HD zooms are. I mean, okay, the 6.4-128 I own is soft and mushy beyond 90mm and vignettes beyond 100, but that was only the equivalent of US$7k... what exactly are we paying for with these thirty-grand lenses?

Phil
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#7 Filip Plesha

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 03:29 PM

That's what I don't like about the idea of digital cinematography. Sport events and movies look the same, it's just that they are differently lit.
Film looks special even if you shoot a trip to the zoo or shoot your backyard.
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 04:28 PM

Hi,

As filmstocks slowly get lower and lower contrast, I think that's becoming less true. Reaching once again for that 16 I shot, I can't say it looked like anything I couldn't have achieved on video. Possibly that's down to my hopelessly conservative lighting, but I'm afraid I just don't see the huge, world-altering difference. If you shot your holiday on Imax, it'd still look flat and uninteresting.

Phil
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 05:55 PM

That's what I don't like about the idea of digital cinematography. Sport events and movies look the same, it's just that they are differently lit.
Film looks special even if you shoot a trip to the zoo or shoot your backyard.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Interlaced-scan video has a very different look than progressive-scan video, enough that I've been able to tell sometimes even when the camera is pointing at a static subject.

As for news and sports being shot digitally and movies shot on film, remember that forty or more years ago, news and sports would have been shot on film as well, so that difference sort of came about only in these past few generation of viewers. So there was a technology divergence that is closing again.
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#10 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 11:38 PM

Its the opposite for me.

With lower contrast film stocks, I become more daring with lighting.

I'll let the highlights blow more than I would've before, and I won't work as hard to put more fill into the shadows.

As long as you don't stretch it too far in either direction, pretty much anything is recoverable in telecine.
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#11 Max Jacoby

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Posted 04 July 2005 - 02:37 AM

One great leveller is radio remote focus, where you can program the lens range to be anything you like - on steadicam shoots where you're doing remote focus anyway, it's often easiest to leave it in place.


Personally I prefer to have focus-pulls done by hand as much as possible, since they look much more organic than a remote one. Most focus-pullers I work with try to use a follow-focus as much as possible.
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#12 Filip Plesha

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Posted 04 July 2005 - 08:02 AM

Hi,

As filmstocks slowly get lower and lower contrast, I think that's becoming less true. Reaching once again for that 16 I shot, I can't say it looked like anything I couldn't have achieved on video. Possibly that's down to my hopelessly conservative lighting, but I'm afraid I just don't see the huge, world-altering difference. If you shot your holiday on Imax, it'd still look flat and uninteresting.

Phil

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Well, even thought I admit there is less difference between film and digital than it was before, it's still there.

Shadows on film are more open and neutral now, highlights are cleaner, color is better separated, but still it looks different from digital capture.

It's not world-altering any more, that's for sure, but the small signature aspects of film look are still there in some situations. I say some, because there are subjects and scenes that will look very similar in both digital capture and film capture.
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#13 Filip Plesha

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Posted 04 July 2005 - 08:11 AM

As for news and sports being shot digitally and movies shot on film, remember that forty or more years ago, news and sports would have been shot on film as well, so that difference sort of came about only in these past few generation of viewers.  So there was a technology divergence that is closing again.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


yes, I am aware of that. But news film never looked as good as cinema film. It was lower quality (than E-4 at the time) 16mm reversal aired on a film-chain, rather than a film print that people saw in cinma (specially if it was IB)

But I guess if we are talking about the simple look of chemical photography, then
yes, they were two variations on the same look (TV and cinema)
but I'd rather have film look on TV, than TV look in cinema.

I'm not suggesting that this new hybrid look of HD is bad, I just don't prefer it over film, and I know the problem is in me as a viewer, because I can either adopt or leave the movie theater.
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#14 Sam Wells

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Posted 04 July 2005 - 10:33 AM

With lower contrast film stocks, I become more daring with lighting.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I was way too daring with lighting long before it was appropriate :D

The range of new stocks is nice but with V2 - it's really enough. (As you pretty much suggest).

"Digital" needs to feather the highlights as well as film does; the range we can work out.

i.e. I'd have no trouble then using digital as I would a reversal stock OR as a Vision stock.
If I can't have virtual 500 speed Kodachrome and virtual 25 speed negative then I don't care yet :)

-Sam
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#15 Sam Wells

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Posted 04 July 2005 - 10:49 AM

But I guess if we are talking about the simple look of chemical photography, then
yes, they were two variations on the same look (TV and cinema)
but I'd rather have film look on TV, than TV look in cinema

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


That's because film is the legacy of PROJECTION and video is the legacy of TRANSMISSION.

Now, film is for most if not all intents and purposes, transmittable.

For video to be *projectable* at the quality level we require, it has to fly out of the nest of Television.

-Sam
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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 July 2005 - 12:46 PM

Hi,

> If I can't have virtual 500 speed Kodachrome and virtual 25 speed negative then I don't care yet

You don't care, because you don't have to pay the bills!

Phil
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#17 Filip Plesha

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Posted 04 July 2005 - 02:22 PM

That's because film is the legacy of PROJECTION and video is the legacy of TRANSMISSION.

Now, film is for most if not all intents and purposes, transmittable.

For video to be *projectable* at the quality level we require, it has to fly out of the nest of Television.

-Sam

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



It's not really about image quality. In my eyes, a grainy 16mm frame is more pleasing for some subjects that a 16Mpixel DSLR frame which is higher in image quality.
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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 July 2005 - 05:23 PM

It's not really about image quality. In my eyes, a grainy 16mm frame is more pleasing for some subjects that a 16Mpixel DSLR frame which is higher in image quality.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Surely movies can be made in a wide variety of looks that include both grainy 16mm images and slick digital ones. If I had to remake "2001" and only could choose between a grainy 16mm film and a 16MP digital movie camera, I'd probably choose the digital camera... But if I had to remake "The Godfather" and only had those two options, I'd probably pick the 16mm.
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#19 Filip Plesha

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Posted 04 July 2005 - 06:21 PM

I said "for some subjects", of course 16mm is not always the best choice.

And I'm simply talking about my tastes, I am not trying to suggest that my tastes should be used as a general rule
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#20 Mike Brennan

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Posted 04 July 2005 - 09:39 PM

The eye is so easily fooled and trained... we'de probably puke and end up on all fours if the brain/eye double act clicked into some kind of photrealistic reality...then we'de get used to it.

If you watch a landscape image, shot on fine grain 65mm film on a HD monitor it looks like it was shot on HD. Clean no visible grain, lots of detail.

And just about every expert in the world has been fooled at some time or another by the comparative HD to film tests. Steve Poster says he couldn't tell the difference with the Genesis test.

Turn the shutter off in a HD progressive camera and it begins to look like interlace.

Sharp in focus backgrounds are reminiscent of TV, yet turn the colour down on the same picture and it will look like a BW movie from the 50s.

Interlace looks like soap or sports, deinterlace looks like film.

Panasonics 720p demo of super bowl has plenty of 60i interlace pictures from the cablecam rig that no-one notices.

I'm sure the reason why sharp backgrounds have not (ever?) become trendy fashionable mainstream or desirable in film circles since the intoduction of colour is that

1/ It is more expensive
2/ It is harder to frame
3/ It would look like video

Someone someday will break the mould, and then maybe the period from 1950 to 20xx will be known as the "soft period" both for the dominence of film and soft backgrounds.


Mike Brennan
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