Making Video Look Like Film – A Digital Filmmaker’s Guide

You have your script. You have your digicam and pc modifying software program. You have actors, a crew, and some places. Now you begin to shoot your “digital” movie. Although the “filmmaking system” described in here makes use of the “movie” phrase, what we’re absolutely speakme approximately is the overall venture, now not the medium on which it’s far shot. In latest years many traditional filmmakers have made the leap from movie to virtual video as have many tv series. The reasons are clean: even the use of the highest quality digital video formats to be had, the value financial savings over shooting conventional 35mm film aren’t to be ignored, in addition to the truth that these days many conventional film shoots use a “virtual intermediate” (a flowery way of saying the film pictures is scanned body through frame into a chain of digital nevertheless pics) to provide colour correction, add computer graphics (if needed), and within the case of ordinary tv series, are output directly to tape or disc and never see movie once more.

In the impartial film world, these current changes have had an significant effect on the affordability of manufacturing. “Prosumer” virtual video cameras ranging from $a thousand as much as $10,000 provide exceptionally smooth, clean pictures. Also extraordinarily inexpensive are pc hardware and editing software program which offer unmarried-source answers, not handiest for editing of pictures, but also shade correction, computer graphics, sound blending, and DVD authoring. Just some quick years in the past, a characteristic-duration impartial movie shot in 16mm shade movie would have full-size expenses sincerely within the apartment/buy of a proper camera; the cost of a movie (400 foot reels at greater than $ninety every), processing, bad reducing and color correction charges, and all this even IF one chose to output to videotape and edit the final footage there (a l. A. Robert Rodriguez’s “El Mariachi”). Now a single mini-DV tape costing around $4 can report as much as an hour of footage. Portable laptops and/or proprietary difficult pressure systems can document immediately to disk layout equipped for modifying with out even the want for capturing from tape. However, one fact nonetheless stays – you are nevertheless capturing “video” and, unfortunately, video does not appear like “movie”. There are several motives why:


Film is shot at 24 frames in line with 2d (fps); video is shot at 30fps (despite the fact that due to the fact fashionable video is interlaced, i.E. Each body is made from two fields that are scanned at unusual/even periods, it really seems greater like 60 fps). The extra frames of video provide extra element in an object or person’s motion, making the photograph look more sensible in nature However, as a society we have emerge as so used to the 24fps appearance of movie that video does no longer create the “suspension of disbelief” whilst we watch it.


Standard definition DV video uses a frame size of 720×480 pixels. Doing the mathematics, it really is a paltry 345,600 pixels to breed each body. If revealed on a sheet of photo paper at 300 dots according to inch (DPI – the minimal amount wished for a clean printed picture), it’d barely be 2 ½ inches huge. By evaluation, trendy virtual nevertheless cameras now operate within the 5 megapixel range and up, imparting 14 instances greater picture information than wellknown video. This strategies the readability of 35mm movie, which, although no longer having a selected pixel matter, may be magnified and blown up to large proportions (i.E. 8×10 photograph or projected onto a 30 foot display). However, newer High Definition (HD) video codecs offer plenty sharper pictures (the 2 maximum popular codecs are 720×1280 pixels and 1080×1920 pixels).


Although film technically has extra decision than fashionable video, the general appearance of the photo is “softer”. This is because of colors at the movie emulsion mixing steadily from one to any other, while every pixel in preferred video has particular boundaries among itself and its pals. New digital cameras have special circuitry to assist create smoother photographs, especially in areas of color than technique skin tones.


Until lately, video turned into shot with a photograph peak that was ¾ of it’s width (frequently referred to as four:3, or in film phrases, 1.33:1) For years, film has been projected with element ratios starting from 1.85:1 to two.35:1. New excessive definition television sets and transportable DVD gamers use a compromise component ratio of sixteen:9 (or 1.78:1, close to the 1.Eighty five:1 quantity mentioned above). This does no longer have as much of an effect because the items cited above, but it is going a protracted way to selling the “look” of video as film.


This is a number of distances from the camera lens wherein an item remains in attention. It is based totally on numerous factors, the most important of which can be the real body (in film) or CCD (in video) size. The larger the body floor, the much less depth of field at a particular aperature placing. Traditional movie cameras receive light via a lens onto a square this is 35mm (1.4″) diagonal. Many of modern-day smaller DV cameras use 1/3″ or maybe ¼” diagonal CCDs. This is why a conventional 35mm movie image will have a topic in consciousness and the instantaneous background out of consciousness. This effect additionally facilitates separate the foreground character or object and lets in the filmmaker to force the audience to concentrate on a specific a part of a scene. Video cameras have a tendency to allow more gadgets (foreground and historical past) be in recognition on the equal time.


Another way to generate a “cinematic” look to a moving image is with the aid of shifting the digital camera in place of the use of the zoom lens. Except for a short period for the duration of the Nineteen Seventies, zooming in the film network has been hardly ever used. Instead, the method of bodily moving the camera facilitates create a extra 3-dimensional feel and is extra carefully related to what we study through our eyes every day (do not forget our eyes can’t “zoom” the manner a camera lens can). Zooms are also greater generally utilized in television applications (news, sports, communicate shows, and so on.).

So, what are we able to do to triumph over the “video” appearance in prefer of the extra pleasing “movie” look? First of all, the selection of a right camera is the important thing. Many more moderen cameras (starting with the groundbreaking Panasonic DVX-100 collection) are able to shooting at 24fps. The ensuing set of pix is then laid down onto DV videotape the usage of a three:2 pulldown method (just like how traditional movie at 24fps is transformed to 60 interlaced fields). This lets in well matched playback on any trendy DV digital camera or deck. The byproduct of the 24p mode is likewise that the image is scanned step by step, which yields a barely sharper photograph than the standard interlaced video frame.

Other cameras just out on the market (which include the JVC HD100 and the Sony FX-1) shoot in HDV mode (an abbreviation for High Definition DV), which once more makes use of a fashionable DV videotape to file greater pixels per every body. The downside is that this machine uses MPEG-2 compression, a technique of compressing records that is utilized in general DVD discs and players. Because of the large amount of records that has to be “squeezed” onto the tape, occasional artifacts can seem, specially in scenes with plenty of motion.

Finally, true HD cameras consisting of the Panasonic HVX-200 offer “genuine” HD recording functionality, however here the cost of the recording media begins to upward push. Although the HVX-two hundred has a mini-DV tape force built-in, to be able to recognise the better best images, one need to use Panasonic’s proprietary “P2” garage system, which facts the information onto a sequence of detachable reminiscence playing cards. At this point, these cards are nonetheless extremely costly, but as technology improves and memory fee falls, this can show more affordable in the destiny.

When capturing on video, numerous key elements can help avoid the “video” appearance. The first one is to keep away from overexposing even part of the body. Overexposed film reacts lots in a different way than overexposed video, which has a tendency to sharply lose all color and generates a important “blooming” along the edges of the overexposed part of the scene. By last the iris of the camera ½ to 1 complete f-prevent, you may bring potentially overexposed highlights down into a usable variety. With the shade correction tools in most main editing applications, the picture can be brightened a piece later if essential. Also, some of the more moderen DV cameras have selectable gamma settings which expose the mid-tones of the scene in one-of-a-kind ways to better fit the manner movie reacts to light. Also, the use of smooth, diffused mild is extremely crucial – this facilitates maintain shadows to a minimal and softens the photograph that is captured by way of the digital camera’s CCDs.

The thing ratio of your video frame is distinctly clean to alternate. First, you may shoot full-frame, then add black bars throughout the top and bottom while you edit. Although this gives the video a “widescreen look”, you have essentially thrown out 25% of your photograph facts. Many DV cameras have 16:nine widescreen modes, even though they vary in how that is executed. Some actually upload the black bars across the top and backside and record the body that way; others will turn off the top and bottom portions in their CCDs and “squeeze” the rest of the information right into a complete body (known as anamorphic), which yields barely higher consequences. The resulting “squeezed” frame is then restored to ordinary thing whilst regarded on a sixteen:nine reveal or projector, which then “stretches” the body out to its ordinary width. With fashionable definition DV cameras, the best pleasant method for obtaining a 16:9 photo is to apply an anamorphic lens, which optically squeezes the photo to healthy right into a 4:3 frame, allowing you to use all of the available pixels on the camera’s CCD. Unfortunately, anamorphic lenses can fee upwards of $800 or more. With Some of the brand new breed of HDV and genuine HD cameras, the CCDs within them honestly have 16:nine element ratios and the pixels to healthy.

Unfortunately it’s miles extremely hard to healthy the slim depth of field look of film. Even big professional cameras with ¾” CCDs nevertheless have problem matching that of 35mm film. There are different factors which have an effect on intensity of discipline, but, considered one of which is the aperature setting at the camera lens (additionally known as the iris). The extra open the iris, the extra slim the intensity of field. So even in case you’re the use of a number of mild on a particular scene, you may pressure your digicam to shoot with a narrower depth of field by way of the use of built-in neutral density filters, which most prosumer cameras have, or via setting neutral density filter in the front of the lens to darken the image entering the lens. Another factor is the focal period, or how some distance the digicam is zoomed in to a subject. The extra telephoto a zoom setting is, the more essential the depth of area. However, this need to be used carefully; through putting in the camera too a ways away from the problem and zooming too a long way in, it may motive the historical past, even though slightly out of cognizance, to appear toward the difficulty than it’s miles in fact.

Camera movement is an issue that may be solved either with a larger price range, a chunk of ingenuity, or a touch of both. Simple hand-held moves are the most inexpensive, however additionally require a few ability, even if the resulting shot is supposed to appearance “a chunk shaky”. Simulating the usage of dollies may be done inside the age-antique way of life of the usage of an vintage wheelchair, putting the digicam and/or operator on it, and rolling it alongside a highly easy floor. For excessive angle pictures, not anything beats a crane; even lifting the digicam up 10-12 feet above your scene, in particular with the lens set as huge as feasible, will attain surprising consequences. Again, with a bit of ability you can construct a easy crane machine the usage of some 2x4s, a experience to the hardware save and some vintage exercise weights. However, a few new cheap (around $300) crane structures have become to be had in current years. There are various sorts of digital camera stabilization systems (i.E. “steadicam”), a few as easy as a counterweighted platform requiring the operator to keep all of the weight along with his/her arm; others come ready with vests and spring systems which switch the burden to the body and permit for even smoother motion. Again, using systems like this take practice, but can reap dazzling effects while applied correctly.

By taking all of those objects into consideration when capturing, one can create a believable film look that is sufficient to “fool” most audiences. Of course, ultimately the overall production fee of the shoot (lighting, sound, appearing, set design, makeup, and so forth.) will also determine how “professional” the completed film is, irrespective of whether or not it looks like movie or video.