20 Replies Latest reply on Aug 27, 2012 4:24 PM by Steven L. Gotz

    Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)

    Seb B Level 1

      Hi Everyone,

       

      Still trying to get my hands on creating a good cinematic film look. I know there are quite some threads already out there but they go way too far in my opinion with installing all kinds of plug-ins. I just want to stick to Premiere Pro's intrinsic options and have 2 questions:

       

      1) It seems to me that many of the "amateur" tutorials out there focus on a mixture of playing with the saturation levels and the brightness via the ProcAmp and sometimes tweaking a bit with the secondary color corrector. Other tutorials that seem to be done by more professional editors (lynda.com, Creative Cow) seem to focus on copying the layers and than tweaking the blend modes for shadows and highlights in the opacity option. Am I correct to assume that the latter is the best/preferred way?

       

      2) My source material is 1080i 25p. Of course I've read a lot about the fact that the framerate for a filmlook should be 24p. Is it as easy as using the posterize time option on a clip and setting it back to 24p to achieve this result?

       

      Thanks very much for your help.

       

      Cheers,

       

      Sebastiën

        • 1. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
          nullsebasvideo Level 1

          Sebastiën, in my experience one of the best tools within Premiere and AE to mimic a sort of cinematic look is the Cineon Converter. I think it's not meant for that and if you apply it with its default settings it's going to look horrible, but with a few adjustments it can look very cinematic.

           

          Needless to say, to achieve the best look you have to have a proper monitoring card, for example the Matrox MXO2 Mini, connected to at least a decent consumer TV set, or better yet a professional broadcast monitor if you can afford it, and make sure that all the picture settings are set to their default levels, and all gimmicks like Dynamic Contrast are set to off. Better yet, you can get one of those calibration Blu-rays to make sure it's properly calibrated. AVS Forum even has a nice AVCHD calibration disc for free that you can download and burn to a simple DVD and will play in HD, with lots of color bars and everything you need to calibrate properly.

           

          One you apply the Cineon Converter, these are the proper settings:

          Leave conversion type on Log to Linear

          Set Highlight rolloff to 150

          Set Gamma to 5.00 (usually this works, but different footage might require a different setting)

           

          (You have to adjust the two above before anything else to be able to adjust the other settings properly)

           

          10 Bit black point: you'll have to play with this setting depending on the footage. The best way to set this is to find a part of the footage with dark areas and move this setting slowly in either direction until you can barely see detail in those dark areas, but not so high that you will crush the blacks.

           

          Internal Black Point: leave it as it is.

           

          10 Bit White Point: also depends on the footage, if the footage is dull, you'll probably have to decrease it (which makes the picture brighter as you do so), until the highlights look good but not overblown.

           

          Internal White Point: leave it as it is.

           

          After this, you might also want to add a saturation filter if you want a more colorful look, or less colorful if you prefer.

           

          If you want to see an example of the look, here's a video I made: https://vimeo.com/45541895. This is all shot with a Sony HDR-AX2000, in 1080i, 29.97fps. The first 50 seconds or so is an AE Composition at 29.97p that uses footage exported from Premiere using this technique, the video after it is all done in Premiere with only the Cineon filter applied, and a vignette done with the titler.

          • 2. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
            Jim_Simon Level 8

            the framerate for a filmlook should be 24p. Is it as easy as using the posterize time option on a clip and setting it back to 24p to achieve this result?

             

            No, not really.

             

            In my experience, the only thing that really 'defines' a film look is 24p.  You can have the most professional lighting, framing, a nice bokeh and the best color-correction/grading, etc, but if it's shot anything other than 24p, it'll still look like video.  On the other hand, you can have the worst amateur shooter in the world filming with zero lighting, crappy camera work, everything in sharp focus and no post correction whatsoever, but if it's shot at 24 fps, it'll still look like film.

             

            Want proof?  Compare any TV soap opera to some old super 8.

             

            My point here is that if you want your project to look like film, it really has to be shot at 24p (or converted to such).  Anything else you do might well make it look better and "more professional", but it won't contribute to the "film look", which is pretty much defined solely by 24 fps.  (This is one of the largest criticism of Peter Jackson's new effort shooting at 48 fps.  Despite all the filmic production qualities, people complain the faster frame rate still looks like video.)

             

            So, you either need to reshoot, or convert.  If the first isn't practical, you might try the following, which was initially developed for 30i standard definition, but might possibly be made to work for PAL HD.  You'll have to play around and experiment with "installing all kinds of plug-ins", because Adobe tools alone just can't do what I consider a passable job at conversion.  (Which is why we developed the outside method.)

             

            http://bellunevideo.com/tutdetail.php?tutid=15

            • 3. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
              nullsebasvideo Level 1

              Jim Simon wrote:

               

              In my experience, the only thing that really 'defines' a film look is 24p. 

               

              My point here is that if you want your project to look like film, it really has to be shot at 24p (or converted to such).  Anything else you do might well make it look better and "more professional", but it won't contribute to the "film look", which is pretty much defined solely by 24 fps.  (This is one of the largest criticism of Peter Jackson's new effort shooting at 48 fps.  Despite all the filmic production qualities, people complain the faster frame rate still looks like video.)

               

              I disagree with that. Shooting at 24 fps is only half of the film look, but it's not the only thing that matters. If you shoot native 23.976 fps with a video camera, it will still look like video, only at 24 fps. Even if you set the gamma and color matrix to Cine, it will still look nothing like real film. It will just look like stuttery video. Closer to film than 59.94i, sure, but still far from a real film look. Truth is, even after applying lots of filters you'll have a hard time making a true video camera look like film. With a DSLR you might get much closer, but then you have all the headaches associated with it, especially the moire.

               

              And while I haven't seen Jackson's footage, I would agree with most people that it's a terrible idea. Film has to stay at 24 fps, except for 3D, but I couldn't care less about 3D.

              • 4. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                lasvideo Level 4

                Ya want the film look....shoot film. In 30 years of editing content that has been shot on 35mm as well as the Alexa and everything in between, that has been my experience. Anything less just doesn't mimic it believably to my eyes. 

                • 5. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                  Jim_Simon Level 8

                  If you shoot native 23.976 fps with a video camera, it will still look like video

                   

                  Really?  Have you seen the Zacuto 2012 shootout?  Have you seen anything on television or in theaters in the last 5 years?  A good deal of that content was shot on "video cameras" at 23.976, and all of it looks very film like

                   

                  But again, apply that same degree of professional cinematography to a higher frame rate (48 fps) and it still looks like video.

                   

                  24p IS what defines the "film look".

                  • 6. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                    lasvideo Level 4

                    Jim there are more components than just the 24 FPS frame rate that defines the film look. It also involves the contrast ratio of the imagery, the texture of the moving emulsion and the soft gentle look (as opposed to the harder edge of video) that all combine together and create the "film experience" to viewers. On the Avid DS there was a "Film Look" filter that addressed all this, but it really just took off the "edge" from the video. No professional that saw it was ever really fooled into thinking it really was film.

                    • 7. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                      Jim_Simon Level 8

                      Jim there are more components than just the 24 FPS frame rate that defines the film look.

                       

                      I have to disagree on the grounds that The Hobbit has all those things you're talking about, but still looks like video at 48 fps, yet other Digital Cinema productions shot at 24 fps still look very much like film.

                      • 8. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                        nullsebasvideo Level 1

                        Jim Simon wrote:

                         

                        Have you seen the Zacuto 2012 shootout?  Have you seen anything on television or in theaters in the last 5 years?  A good deal of that content was shot on "video cameras" at 23.976, and all of it looks very film like

                         

                        Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sure that all the participants of that shootout were allowed to do as much color correction in post as they wanted, and that is why they look film like, in addition to shooting in 24p. Which is precisely my point, 24p is one half, picture quality is the other half. Obviously the better the internals the picture will look more cinematic out of the camera, but with a typical professional video camera in the $3,000 range, 24p doesn't look like film. Heck, I have a $3,000 Canon XF100 and a $1,300 Canon 60D DSLR, and with the exception of the moire problem, the 60D looks much more like film than the XF100, both shooting at 24p.

                        • 9. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                          Jim_Simon Level 8

                          all the participants of that shootout were allowed to do as much color correction in post as they wanted

                           

                          Watch part 3, which has the unaltered versions.  Yes, the higher end cameras have more dynamic range than the iPhone or the GH2 and require less additional set lighting and post work to satisfy the cinematogrepher, but the unaltered versions all still have a very film-like quality to them, even the iPhone, and it's solely because they were shot at 24p.  Change the recording mode to 30i under the same set conditions, and even with post processing, even the Alexa (assuming it could record 30i) would still look like video.

                           

                          Now, you have to consider that to the professional, things like dynamic range, color banding, highlight handling and other image qualities may well be what they look for when they want their electronic image to look like exposed emulsion, and getting those qualities from an electronic sensor is a noble goal.  But to the average person, the 'movement' is the only thing they notice.  Because even when you add all those 'professional qualities' to 30i video (or even 48p Digital Cinema), it still looks like video.

                           

                          Hence, 24p is the sole factor the defines the "film look".

                          • 10. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                            lasvideo Level 4

                            Jim you are sadly misinformed and I find its not woth continuing this pointless discussion. Have a nice weekend 

                            • 11. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                              nullsebasvideo Level 1

                              lasvideo wrote:

                               

                              Jim you are sadly misinformed and I find its not woth continuing this pointless discussion. Have a nice weekend 

                               

                              Same here.

                              • 12. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                                Level 4

                                the film motion picture camera is mostly based on a "mitchell movement" method of dragging down film frame by frame at 24fps, with pins that sorta "trap" the frame in place at the gate for exposure. There are now more options than 4 pin registration, but that was the original (most common) way. Now there is also 2 perf, 3 perf, whatever...as the gate gets wider. But the whole idea of dragging film down to the gate, putting that film in place to be exposed ( with pins in the perforations) had to do with a rotating shutter. The shutter is typically half a circle.. or called 180 degree shutter.  It spins between the lens and the film, and is times in such a way that when each frame of film is registered ( in the gate ) that shutter lets light in to expose the film HALF OF THE TIME that it is spinning. The OTHER half of the time it is closed and NOT exposing the film , as the next frame is dragged down into place.

                                 

                                There's probably some decent illustrations of a mitchell movement and how it works on the internet, and what a 180 degree shutter does.

                                 

                                Soooo, what you have is an exposure time that is half of what the shutter is doing with all its spinning around ....which means that at 24fps the shutter speed is 1/48th of a second.

                                 

                                You may laugh all you want, but that's the way it is.  The film is exposed at 1/48th of a second and normally that is all she wrote. There are of course ways to adjust this with pro cameras and change the shutter speed etc, but that gets sorta complicated if you dont know the basics of the 24 fps to begin with ( you can open the shutter more or close it a little ( make it NOT 180 degrees ) and overcrank or undercrank the fps ).

                                 

                                So part of what everyone "thinks" of the film look aesthetically is really a function of the exposure rate of the film. If you shoot anything at 1/48th of a second ( at this point it doesnt matter what the iso of film is or f stop etc ) you will get some "blur" if there is fast movement going on. The fact is, 1/48th of a second exposure is kinda slow.  So THAT is half the battle if you want to make something look like " film ". The REST of the discussion re: a color grade, contrast, etc etc is kinda moot, cause that is just plain DIFFERENT...has to do with the color, contrast etc.  In the film world those things are dealt with by pushing or pulling the negative, and all sorts of stuff ( even filters on the lenses ! ).

                                 

                                The most basic point about film is that it is being exposed with that 180 degree shutter at 1/48th of a second.

                                 

                                Digital cameras can give you different stuff than the mitchell movement .... it is a huge difference. I can expose digital images at 24 fps but with much different exposure times than 1/48th of a second... so right off the bat it is a new thing and different.  There is NO MITCHELL MOVEMENT ( 180 degree shutter ) in digital cameras.  It does not exist.

                                 

                                Hope this clears up some of the confusion...

                                • 13. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                                  nullsebasvideo Level 1

                                  That's a good point, when shooting with a typical video camera (not a DSLR), setting the shutter speed to 1/48 in 24p will render a motion much closer to typical film than the same fps but a different shutter speed.

                                  • 14. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                                    the_wine_snob Level 9

                                    While the Frame-Rate and Exposure/Shutter Speed, are very important, there are other aspects that can contribute to the "film look," such as the dynamic range differences between digital Video and film stock, DOF (Depth of Field) of the lenses used, and such. Some of this can fall into the realm of Color Grading, and also things such as Highlight and Shadow capture and Gamma differences, which have been mentioned already.

                                     

                                    There is an interesting article in the July, 2012 edition of American Cinematographer on Ridley Scott's choices, when filming Prometheus on digital Video. He had a few comments on digital Video vs film, and how he, and his DP, Dariuz Wolski, addressed the issues, plus also shooting 3D. Might be worth a read?

                                     

                                    For more notes (not the AC ones), see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus_(film)#Principal_photography

                                     

                                    Hunt

                                    • 15. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                                      Level 4

                                      plus, don't forget about " lighting" and color correction at the light sources.

                                       

                                      film is typically 32k or 56k color temp. However, you can shoot 56k film with tunsten lights ( 32k ) if you put full blue on the tunsten...or you can 3/4 blue on those lights and leave them a little "warm"....

                                       

                                      typically films are shot with mixed lighting ( flourescent, incandescent, HMI , etc ) especially when out on locations where there's all sorts of lights in the world ( sodium vapor, neon etc )...

                                       

                                      Believe it or not, a lot of THAT stuff is part of what makes most movies you see that was shot on film a part of the "film look"..

                                       

                                      Depending in what digital camera you use also contributes somewhat as they all apparently have slightly different " looks " ( alexis doesnt look like red ) and I personally pity the poor DP who has to keep up with all this stuff as it would drive me crazy....

                                       

                                       

                                      • 16. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                                        the_wine_snob Level 9

                                        Rod,

                                         

                                        I used to see a lot more "lighting issues" with video vs film, but that was with older video equipment, and also the mindset on lighting for it. Once, videographers only looked at the Lux of the scene, and seldom at the "quality" of the lighting. Part of that was due to the inability of earlier video cameras to handle the dynamic range, that film could. Also, many video shooters came from the "news" side of things, where working with an on-camera light was all that they had time for, and even a sheet of Rosco Diffuse was too time-intensive. When they moved on to production, they took the lighting concepts with them.

                                         

                                        Now that many commercial productions are using video, things are better, and I do not see the "video look * " so often. The Gaffers know their lighting, and also the dynamic range of the recording equipment, and can light things very, very well. That problem is fading, due to people, who know how to light, and for each capture method.

                                         

                                        Hunt

                                         

                                        * Video Look is what I would typify as the opposite of Film Look

                                        • 17. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                                          Level 4

                                          Bill, you have hit the nail on the head re: lighting for video in studios ( some live tv shows , game shows, news, and soaps )..but there was an even more important aspect of that difference compared to the "typical" film job ( movie or tv commercial shot with film ).

                                          Mainly the fact that for "video" ( now I'm talking about the old RCA cameras and the stuff that is used at sports etc now for live broadcast ) was always lit on the set for multiple cameras and the 'cuts' and 'switching' from camera a,b,c etc happened in the control room during the shoot.

                                          That meant you had to light for multiple cameras on a set that is a defined space, with mutiple actors etc ( action etc ) on that set....which is really hard to do. Basically what happens ( with even the most basic 3 camera setup for video in those days ), is one persons key light becomes another persons fill light, and another persons 'back' light...as they mosey around the set or simply sit there....most of those lights are on a grid and flagged off and diffused etc to do the best the DP can do...but it is very limited re: finesse....cause you are lighting for 3 different cameras.....usually they are " wide " ( master) and "coverage" ( medium to close ups )...

                                           

                                          That is going on now with digital motion pics ( look at walking dead and check out the lighting and camera angles etc...you'll see they are shooting multiple cameras all the time, lit for everyone at the same time ).  That is a budget issue and time issue now...more than an "art" issue.. as I happen to know some people doing that stuff ( and you do too from the AC magazine about 'get low' ) who are fantastic motion picture people, but the product of walking dead people demands a different attitude and reality in terms of time, budget, product etc.   I hate to say it but things are not perfect in this world...and besides...when looking at dead walking zombie people, who cares about lighting?  Flashing lights out of nowhere might do the trick for all I know .....did you ever see a movie recently where things get scary and all of a sudden lights are flashing like strobes out of nowhere?... is kinda weird but the audience buys it.

                                           

                                           

                                          • 18. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                                            the_wine_snob Level 9

                                            Ah, multiple cameras in a single lighting scheme. That can be difficult. The Prometheus article actually addresses that too. Once, it was just not done for TV. It took the film community to address the lighting issues, and address it, they did.

                                             

                                            Good point,

                                             

                                            Hunt

                                            • 19. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                                              Level 4

                                              I hope its not a dying "art" ..the time it takes to light and set up angles and coverage and shoot cool stuff IMO...it just takes so much time to do and nobody seems to have the money or the patience and so on. Times have changed dramatically in the past 30 years.

                                               

                                              boo hoo.. I really love watching good stuff...but I also know how things have gotten too pressured for getting stuff done. In the old days if you did 3-4 pages a day on a movie that was "good" , you were happy. Now you can't do less than 8 pages a day or people are totally freaking out in the accountants office.  It really has changed tremendously.  It used to be sorta fun to work on movies. Making fun or dramatic stuff... now it is just a drudgery unless you get onto some really special project...and even then it's a bit of a chore.

                                               

                                              I think the main thing different about it is that people used to do it that loved it. Now it's more of a 'business'.  I guess a good example is the simple one of saying " it used to be fun to work for the circus and entertain people"... It was always hard to do and challenging, but there was some fun and pride respect for the skill etc.  Now it is not as much fun for those who work on the stuff.

                                               

                                              I do know that there are still some projects ( movies) that get done with the pleasure of doing stuff with a reasonable schedule and mutual respect and a fun attitude in general.. but they are the exceptions now rather than the rule.

                                               

                                              My hope for digital and this revolution in equipment etc ..is that new talent from young people will emerge and re-discover the magic of the live theatre, drama in the classic sense, and the fun of entertaining their freinds.  I'm not talking about " success" as defined by a low budget movie making a ton of money... I mean really having some fun and doing good work.  Hard to explain.  Some of the old time guys did that ( producers, directors etc )...

                                              I'm afraid that part of the problem now is the actors becoming too hot too soon to do what they should to contribute also.

                                               

                                              I suppose this is nothing new under the sun

                                               

                                               

                                              • 20. Re: Cinematic film look (framerate & technique)
                                                Steven L. Gotz Level 5

                                                I ran across this article and thought it might be interesting to anyone following this thread.

                                                 

                                                http://mashable.com/2012/08/27/red-faster-frame-rates/

                                                 

                                                I knew that the frame rate made a bit of a difference, but I always thought that depth of focus and lighting were more important.

                                                Perhaps it is a lot more important than I thought.