|What gives quality production the "look"?||Merek (FJORDING aol com)|
|Some technical elements of video||Michael Askin (michael ipk-broadcast co uk)|
|Elements of Video and Film production||Bob Watson (bobw Exchange.Microsoft com)|
|Styles, Frame Rates, Resolution||D Gary Grady (DGary.Grady gte net)|
|Composition and Depth of Field||Mahmud (hajjmahmud unternehmen com)|
|Color Rendition, video vs. film||Jerome Maro (gzooflup my-deja com)|
|Contrast and filtering||J. R. (crtf sedona net)|
Subject: [TRV900] Film (or Commercial) look From: (FJORDING aol com) Date: 05 October 2000 04:13 Just caught a few seconds of something on the Cable Spanish channel. In the first 3 seconds, before even realizing I was on the Spanish channel, it didn't look right. More like home video than a regular production item. WHAT is the intangible element that makes something filmed as a movie by a studio look totally different than something shot by a shlock outfit like this? I mean, it wasn't jerky like handheld, it didn't have people talking in the background, no shadows of people moving about, just a guy riding up on a horse to a girl by a lake, but somehow you could instantly say, "low budget", looks like a home video. WHAT is the detail giving this instant impression dividing a network TV piece or movie from a low budget foreign-language item? I can't figure it out. Merek
Subject: Re: Film (or Commercial) look Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000 17:34:40 +0100 From: "Michael Askin" (michael ipk-broadcast co uk) No mentioning these in any particular order: just the technical issues: - Poor colours (washed out, or over saturated) - Poor colour balance - black level to high (usually, though I suppose crushed blacks can happen as well) - hum bars - though not obvious immediately unless really bad- poor contrast/overly contrasty - over clipped whites (which turns them to grey) - CCD effects like light smear, colour smear, and a subjective effect which relies on the gaps between the sensors, this along with lighting often makes the difference between film and video. - poor video signal to noise ratio (usually noticeable in the washed out blacks) - poor line stability (jitter) - poor horizontal resolution (a la VHS) - poor vertical resolution caused by flicker removers, and poor standard converters - motion artefacts again caused by cheep standard converters heavily compressed and distorted voice-overs is often a feature of these types of ads - louder is better!!! Usually with really poor room dynamics, i.e. small room reverb. For home movies just add "Camerashake TM" for that authentic just come out of the 80's consumer video look. These don't include all the production things like bad lighting (can really make a difference to broadcast/film projects), poor camera work (shakes, wobbles, poor framing, over exposure etc..), bad direction and acting. Basically it all lands on one person doing a poor job - the Producer - who should of got a good team together, budgeted for proper equipment etc.... Have a go at making one in your NLE from footage made from your TRV-900, recording via a VHS tape to get that lower quality more noisy environment. It won't make any difference how good the original footage is, with enough processing you should be able to make it as bad. Remember these ads very probably filmed on BetaSP or highband u-matic to start with. Mike www.whosaskin.co.uk
Subject: Film (or Commercial) look Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000 09:45:29 -0700 From: "Bob Watson" (bobw Exchange.Microsoft com) from my experience as a TV, video and movie watcher, I'd say the following differences exist: Characteristic Home-video Prof-video Prof film --------------------- ---------- ---------- ---------- shot selection random deliberate dramatic camera work unsteady steady(er) rock steady Image quality contrasty med. cont. low-contrast Lighting ambient thoughtful extravagant sound echoey clear post-processed edits none purposeful invisible Understand, before pointing out all the exceptions to the above, that these are merely my observations and like any other art form, the art exists in not following the "rules". Likewise there are prof-films that looks like home-videos and home videos that look like prof. movies. These are some of the components I see when I'm watching some random footage (e.g. my own :-) and say "hmmm, that looks professional" or "hmmm, someone left their home movie tape in my camera!" or "How did those lousy shots get into MY camera?!" :-) Another way to look at this is the home-movie photographer usually consists of 1 and they must juggle the photography duties with barbecue, beach party and other duties (and the photography shows it :-) A prof. video crew might consist of a photographer, audio tech and a producer in addition to the talent so these elements improve dramatically. But the image is still subject to the capture medium (e.g. video tape) A prof. film crew has one or more person responsible for each detailed aspect of the production (just look at the movie credits of a feature film and you can get some idea of the scale). Even then, you don't always get a quality product. :-) The devil lies in the details and the more attention you can pay to them, the better the end product looks (this is probably true for many more things than movie/video production). In many cases, home-movies can look almost professional simply by holding the camera steady (e.g. on a tripod). Avoid contrasty lighting situations and put mikes on the talent, esp. with the digital cameras, and the pro's will be doing double-takes on your work. I'm still not convinced about all this "film look" hype. Transferring video to film is a different topic, however, and a much more important and worthy one. IMO, the "film look" on video tape seems like a passing novelty or just another special effect right up there with chroma key) If it advances the story or makes an otherwise impossible shot/sequence possible, then fine. If you are just trying to fool the audience into thinking you used film when you really just used video tape, then I think you're only fooling yourself. -- bob watson
Subject: Re: Film (or Commercial) look Date: Thu, 05 Oct 2000 13:05:36 -0400 From: D Gary Grady Michael Askin wrote: [after a good catalog of technical defects that can subtract from the evident quality of an image] ) ) These don't include all the production things like bad lighting (can really ) make a difference to broadcast/film projects), poor camera work (shakes, ) wobbles, poor framing, over exposure etc..), bad direction and acting. ) Basically it all lands on one person doing a poor job - the Producer - who ) should of got a good team together, budgeted for proper equipment etc.... I agree with everything you say here. I would just add that there is also a matter of what might be termed "style." I have noted at least three distinct styles used in broadcast video (with a lot of variations). All of them are professional, but some of look "wrong" somehow when used for certain purposes. This may be nothing more than a matter of what we're used to, but it's worth taking note of. One style is what I think of as traditional video, characterized by uniform, almost shadowless lighting and a generally "hard" look. It's typical of a lot of news work but I also see it on American shot-on-video situation comedies (especially older ones) and especially Mexican telenovelas (which I think are what Merek might have been talking about). It's usually obvious that it was shot with multiple cameras. The problem isn't a lack of technical quality, which is often excellent; it just doesn't look quite right for fictional television since it's so far from the look of film. Another style is current American soap opera. At least from what I occasionally run across, this lately seems afflicted by a general murkiness, which I attribute in part to a fanatical avoidance of specular highlights. I gather than in an attempt to stay away from the problems of the first style, they sometimes overshoot. The result looks more film-like, but like poorly processed film. Finally, there's finally what I think of as BBC video. A lot of BBC productions from the 1960s and 1970s look pretty bad in comparison with American stuff, but in the last 20 years or so they finally seemed to start getting it right. It still looks like video rather than film, and once again it's obviously shot multiple camera, but the video look is less distracting than a lot of stuff I see. Incidentally, even though they're shot on film, I am really impressed with the lighting on Frasier and before that on Cheers. I think it's the best lighting of its type I have ever seen. I wonder what video would look like shot that way. -- D Gary Grady Durham NC USA dgary mindspring com
Subject: Re: Film (or Commercial) look Date: Thu, 05 Oct 2000 13:34:17 -0400 From: D Gary Grady (DGary.Grady gte net) Bob Watson wrote: ) ) from my experience as a TV, video and movie watcher, I'd say the ) following differences exist: ) ) Characteristic Home-video Prof-video Prof film ) --------------------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ) shot selection random deliberate dramatic ) camera work unsteady steady(er) rock steady ) Image quality contrasty med. cont. low-contrast ) Lighting ambient thoughtful extravagant ) sound echoey clear post-processed ) edits none purposeful invisible The only thing I'd quibble with here is camera work. I don't think professional video is any less steady than professional film, and in fact I think it goes slightly the other way, because there is a subtle jiggle in film images caused by registration error. This is especially notable with older optical mattes (even on such film as 2001), where the registration problem is glaring. Some "film look" processes deliberately simulate registration jiggle. ) A prof. film crew has one or more person responsible for each detailed ) aspect of the production (just look at the movie credits of a feature ) film and you can get some idea of the scale). Even then, you don't ) always get a quality product. :-) I think you've hit on a very important point! It's hard for a one-man band to perform like the Juliard Quintet, and it's hard for them to sound like an orchestra. ) I'm still not convinced about all this "film look" hype. Transferring ) video to film is a different topic, however, and a much more important ) and worthy one. IMO, the "film look" on video tape seems like a passing ) novelty or just another special effect right up there with chroma key) An interesting contrary opinion comes from Douglass Trumbull: He tried shooting a fictional film using his 65/70 mm, 60 fps giant screen process and quickly gave up. The problem was that it didn't "look right" for drama, and specifically that the 60 frames per second gave it a video-like motion characteristic that most viewers felt wasn't right for a fictional story. (That said, a really gripping bit of story-telling can make the audience forget that.) As for film look's being a passing fad, note that a large fraction of film's "look" comes from its having a wider contrast range, higher resolution, and so on, and that top-end HDTV systems are becoming more and more film-like. The chief remaining difference is frame rate, and a growing HDTV production standard is to shoot at 24 frames per second progressive in imitation of film. Incidentally, I think I've been guilty of passing on some incorrect information on that subject. I'd for some time been under the impression that all HDTV production uses square pixels. While this is true of broadcasting, it isn't (yet) true of production. On the U.S. broadcast side, the networks NBC and CBS use 1920 x 1080 interlaced at 59.94 fields per second, and ABC and FOX use 1280 x 720 progressive at 29.97 frames per second. But all current production recorders doing 1080-line, 24-frame progressive use a pixel raster of 1440 x 1080, which would give square pixels only at a 4:3 aspect ratio. Another amusing aside: Turns out that some U.S. "HDTV" sets really have only 540 lines of picture! That's right, sports fans, in the U.S., HDTV can have fewer lines than standard definition PAL! (Since HDTV is starting to look like a market failure anyway, in retrospect I wish we'd aimed for 24 fps digital PAL...) -- D Gary Grady Durham NC USA dgary mindspring com
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 2000 08:14:00 +0100 From: hajjmahmud unternehmen com Tom Hardwick schrieb: ) ) ) WHAT is the detail giving this instant impression ) ) dividing a network TV piece or movie from a low budget foreign-language ) item? ) ) I can't figure it out. Merek ) ) Good question, and I know just what you mean and have often asked myself the ) same thing. It's like you can turn on the TV and within 30 seconds know ) that this director has something special, that his name's Scorsese or ) Krubrick, yet you've only seen a snatch. Then there are other - technically Merek, Tom et al, In fact in most cases, if we're talking about the same phenomenon, I think you discern the difference within five seconds. My impression of the subtle communication going on is that in a 'film' or let us say a 'quality' production, the viewers attention is directed in a non-distracting manner into the production and in the 'cheap' or 'video/television' type production you are left to look at it, i.e. you are watching the whole screen from outside. This is like the theatrical experience of forgetting the proscenium arch, you enter into the drama and forget for that time that you are seeing actors, sets, scenery, lighting, hearing music, etc. There is another term for this along the lines of 'the suspension of disbelief' or to put it another way, one production has artistic values and the other production is a recording of something. Chief among the elements that contribute to the successful achievement of this quality would be directing the viewers attention through light and focus. And most of us using the 900 are well aware of what has been present in television lenses traditionally, that is a much larger depth-of-field than prime film lenses. This along with videos' need for lots more light - up until recently anyway - meant that often the entire viewable frame in a production is both evenly lit and in focus, associating it perhaps in a subconscious manner with the likes of TV news, talk shows, sports, etc. Skilled directors, cameramen, and others working on a production for the big screen are much more aware about directing the audience's attention to a particular part of the frame and only in specific instances giving the 'big picture'. As I said, I think that it takes only a second or so to categorize or recognize what kind of a production you're watching. Regards, Mahmud
Subject: Color Rendition From: Jerome Maro Date: Oct. 19 2000I have a small comment for the "production quality" page. I basically agree with all what is written there, especially the need for good lights, but there is an aspect which I am suprised not to be cited: colour rendition. In my experience, this is one of the most visible aspects. Home video has this slight blue-green effect from "auto white balance", studio NTSC video has this slightly pinkish (magenta) look which I think comes from correcting for skin tones under the light used, PAL studio video does very strange things to saturated colours, etc... Cheap productions look cheap because the colours do not look right (amongst other things), usually a bit too blue-green or pinkish while adding a bit of yellow and saturation gives a more pleasing look.
This is for video only. Film is another story. If you need a convincing experiment, just borrow a 35mm still camera, buy 3 or 4 different slide films (different brands) and take pictures of plants and people in a sunny day (preferably in the late afternoon). Try the same subject with your video camera. You will notice that all pictures (including video) will look like a somewhat accurate rendition of reality... when seen individually. If you compare them side by side, you won't believe the differences. Even if the color balance is similar between all pictures, one will e.g. show different types of green for the different plants while the other will show everything spinach or grass green, flowers will have very different colors between the different takes, skin tones can be anything between the "pink caucasian" and the "slight yellow mediterranean" type (for white people that is), sand or dirt can be any type of brown, etc... Try it.
Of course, movie makers know this. And they have different film stocks at their disposal and tend to use the differences in colour rendition as part of the creative process and it shows. Likewise, they will avoid some colours that the particular stock they are using is not good at (like e.g. a yellow dress if the stock is not good at yellow colours). I believe that this counts a lot towards the elusive "film look".
Subject: Video vs. Film Contrast, Filters
Date: Nov. 27 2000
From: J. R. (crtf at sedona net)
One simple factor to consider is contrast. Low-contrast filters can be bought for digital camcorders that "lighten" shadows and balance the contrast of the image, bringing out detail. If you watch a show like "The X Files" you will notice that despite the generally darker tone of the footage that even the shadows have deep detail and rarely does anything appear completely "black" on screen. Graduated filters can also be used to darken a bright sky, bringing balance to a video image. All in all, I feel the contrast problems inherent in video footage is the defining, maddening difference between video and film.
See www.formatt.co.uk ----- these folks advertise a "low contrast" filter to be used with digital cameras -- it precisely enhances shadows and balances the contrast (I don't know how a camera would react with this filter considering auto exposure, auto white balance, etc.). I just received their catalog in the mail today and it shows two example pictures, one with slightly more even contrast and better detail.
The following Tiffen web site gives perfect examples of what these filters do ----- www.tiffen.com. As far as I can tell, these filters don't cause a soft focus effect, though on the above web site you'll notice some of that effect with the picture of the Low Contrast 5 filter -- but it doesn't look terribly troublesome.