Posts Tagged ‘professional’

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I’m sure you’ve been poking about on the internet and come across many different forums. Have you noticed that everyone is talking about this mysterious thing called “film look”? I’m sure you have.

The way people talk about it, it seems like making your video look like film is the holy grail. I’m sure in your mind this has raised many questions. What is film look? Do I need it and why? How do I get it?

The truth about ‘film look’

If you float around the message boards long enough…you’ll probably be really confused as to what this whole concept is about. Obviously, people are trying to make their digital video look more like film…but how….and why?

Let’s talk about the “why” aspect first.

Why make your video look like film

Many people just assume film is better so it only makes sense to try and make your video look like film. That may be your opinion, but you can get yourself into trouble thinking this way. Many people who think film is better will do anything to make their video look like film, even if that means putting ‘dust and scratches’ effects on their video. The result of doing something like that is video that looks like it has scratches on top of it.

The real reason to strive to make video look like film is because audiences are used to the look of film when watching a movie. If your movie is shot on video, people will notice that the movie looks different than what they are used to seeing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Video has a look of realism and if you are trying to portray a gritty realistic story then video great. However, if you are trying to portray a mystical fantasy world, video could be distracting to your audience.

Ultimately though, you have to shoot with what you have. So rather than strive to make your video look like film, make it your goal to make the best possible looking image for the medium you are shooting.

That being said, lets discuss some of the differences between video and film, how to compensate for them, and when you should just leave things alone.

Film look demystified

There are a variety of components that make film look different than digital video.

1. Dynamic Range – Film has the ability to capture much bigger variations in light intensity. Have you ever seen video where the sky is completely white? The sky is white because when the camera’s CCD chip sees something so bright it can’t translate it. Instead it says “that is so bright…its just white”. The same is true on the dark side. If something is too dark, the camera just assumes it is black. Digital video has a very limited range of intensity it can see, while HD is slightly more, and film is drastically greater (several F-stops.)
* How to compensate – This is probably the hardest thing to overcome when working with video. In some very expensive cameras you can do somethings to slightly improve this…but that is a subject way to complex for this article. Instead, the best thing you can do is to prevent this limitation from distracting your audience. The number one distraction caused by this is blown out highlights..aka the white sky. You should try to do everything you can to avoid blown out highlights. You do this by exposing for the brightest thing in the scene. Outdoors, this could cause your subject to become very dark, so its a good idea to have a big reflector to bounce light onto your subject. Or block out some of the suns light with what is called a butterfly scrim. Here is a great tutorial on how to build a scrim.
* When in doubt underexpose – That statement probably sends chills down the spine of a professional cinematographer because it sounds like such bad advice. However, rarely do I see a single shot that seems so underexposed that some post production treatments can’t save them. Shots that are too bright, however, are very difficult to treat.
2. Gamma Curve – Film reacts in a non linear fashion to light, while video is completely linear. If you want a good (but very technical) explanation of that, check out this wikipedia article. But all you need to know is that film colors look different because of this, and there is very little you can do about it. However, some of the higher end prosumer and professional camcorders actually have gamma correction features which help it to mimic the look of film.
3. Noise – Video CCDs produce noise due to the way it picks up light as well as the way it digitizes the image. You can’t completely eliminate noise, but you can minimize it by keeping your camera’s electronic gain settings at their minimum.
4. Dust and Scratches – Since film is a physical thing, dust and scratches can easily end up on the film negative. Alot of people get so into the ‘film look’ thing that they think this is important to add to their video. Don’t be stupid. There is no reason to purposefully degrade your image. This is the one area that digital has a significant advantage over film, so be happy and keep it the way it is.
5. Resolution – Film technically doesn’t have a resolution because it doesn’t actually have pixels. However, just like video, if you project the image of a 35mm film big enough, it will start to look soft just like video does. Most experts estimate 35mm film to be about equivalent to a 4K resolution. That is about 4 times more resolution than 1080p
6. Depth of Field – This is the big one. Most digital cameras have a small CCD that is about 1/3″. Higher end cameras sometimes have a 1/2″ or 2/3″ CCD. This is much much smaller than a 35mm frame. Because of the way light goes through a lens, the result is that the smaller the CCD size, the more of the image is in focus. That means that on 1/3″ chip the entire shot will be in focus, where as on 35mm film the DP can control the focus to be on the subject and blur out the background completely. This can be of huge benefit to the filmmaker as it forces his audience to look at the subject. With video, you have much less control over what is in focus and what is not. Because of this, you have to be very careful not to have a cluttered distracting background that will pull your audiences attention away from the action
* Back up zoom in – You can get some of the same effect of a shallow depth of field by backing your camera up as far as possible, and then zooming in to get the shot type you want. Technically you haven’t changed your depth of field, but you can achieve close to the same look with the subject in focus and the background out of focus
* 35mm adapters – There is an entire industry now of 35mm adapters. These are devices that allow you to put a 35mm lens on the front of the a device, which then is projected to an intermediate screen which your digital camera focuses on. These can be a bit pricey and difficult to work with, but they are a bargain compared to shooting with film. Here is a trailer for a short film, Wide Asleep, that we shot with a 35mm adapter. The shots look beautiful, but I can tell you from experience these devices are often quite a bit of trouble to use.

There isn’t a whole lot more to it than that. But remember, the idea isn’t to make people think that your movie was shot on film. Honestly….who cares? Your goal should be to make the best film possible, using the techniques and tools available.

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Professionals will often prefer to purchase a 3 CCD video camera, as these offer many benefits over other models. Consumer video cameras are perfect for documenting family memories. However, they are not suited for professional productions. There are many reasons why professionals will prefer 3 CCD cameras over consumer level camcorders.

What Is a CCD?

Almost all digital cameras on the market use CCDs. These are special electronic chips that convert the light entering the lens into electrical signals, which can then be stored. These chips are essential for all digital cameras to function correctly. A 3CCD video camera has three separate CCD sensors. Each of these collects Red, Blue and Green light separately.

Superior Quality

The quality of videos made with 3 CCD video cameras is superior to videos made with consumer level camcorders. Because different colors are collected on separate sensors, they can then be recombined to produce a very high quality and high resolution photograph.

Even camcorders with a higher resolution will normally produce poorer quality images than a 3CCD camera. This is because they need to use interpolation algorithms which reduce the actual resolution of the image.

More Advanced

A normal consumer level camcorder will feature a single CCD. This CCD will capture all of the colors of light entering the lens. By using a 3CCD model, it’s possible to take a step into the world of professional film making. There have been quite a few professional films which have been captured on these professional 3CCD camcorders.

Many of these video cameras have interchangeable lenses. This is very different to a consumer level camcorder which has a single fixed lens that cannot be removed. The ability to change lenses makes it much easier to shoot in a variety of different conditions.

Reliability

While these cameras are more complicated, they are much more reliable. Professionals will be aware that these are built to high specifications, which will ensure that they won’t let you down. These camcorders can cope with being used every day without any trouble. These are also much more rugged than a typical consumer camcorder, and this means that they do not need to be handled with kid gloves.

Flexibility

A consumer level video camera will shoot high quality video in most, but not all, situations. A 3CCD sensor is much more flexible as it allows you to shoot in a wide range of different lighting conditions. The three separate CCDs in the camera will ensure that the images are clearer and sharper, even when shooting in poor light conditions.

Choosing a 3CCD Video Camera

When looking for 3CCD video cameras, you will need to look at a few different names. These cameras are also sold as 3MOS and 3 chip cameras. It’s a good idea to stick to a well known brand name for these cameras, as this will ensure that you choose a high quality and high resolution camcorder.

Not all 3CCD video cameras are created equal. It’s a good idea to test the camera out before buying it as this will give you the chance to check how everything works.

Visit Our Website at:  www.adr-productions.com

We are excited to start off 2011 with the News4 Health and Fitness Expo on January 15, 2011 at the Washington Convention Center.  We will be filming for one of the participating booth vendors.  They have asked us to come in and capture the excitement surrounding their product.  This will be done in a short documentary style piece which will eventually be uploaded to their website and YouTube.

We look forward to being a part of this exciting annual event in it’s 18th year!

Visit our website at www.adr-productions.com

At ADR Productions, we want to wish everyone a joyful and safe New Year 2011!

2011 marks another year where we hope to make new friends and visit with old friends.  We have some new and exciting ideas to bring you throughout 2011 which we hope you will enjoy.

As always, your suggestions and referrals are always appreciated!

We See Us in Our Customers!™

Sincerely,
Scott Shirley – Owner

Visit us on the web at www.adrproductions.com

It’s a good feeling when you can look back on a year and have it bring a smile to your face.  2010 was one of those years!

In 2010 we had the return of some old friends and the addition of some new friends.

We started the year off with the conclusion of the Stixrud project which started in September 2009.  Dr. Stixrud is a professor of neuropsychology who who specializes in the evaluation of children, adolescents, and adults with learning, attention, and/or social/emotional difficulties.  He partnered with us to film a twelve session training course  with the goal of creating an online course for his customers.  I found myself absolutely amazed at the information I gathered about the effects of TV on young children during the filming of this project.

Spring of 2010 saw the return of Elan DanceSport Center and their ProAm showcase.  We also welcomed a new customer to ADR Productions in the ballroom dance genre, Dance Factory!  The Dance Factory gave us a trial run on their Spring ProAm dance showcase and expressed the complete satisfaction with the finished product.

Summer of 2010 brought the addition of the semi-pro football team, Virginia Lions, to the ADR Productions family.  The Lions are part of the AFL and have committed to making ADR Productions their official video production company in 2011.

Fall of 2010 again saw the return of Elan DanceSport Center and The Dance Factory for their Fall ProAm showcase performances.  These really are must see events if you get a chance when they return in the Spring of 2011.

2010 also saw several other new clients such as ARMI Live and Urban Fat Chords, The Producers Choice music software.

We continue to run into old friends in the industry and make new ones.  I would like to welcome TimeLine Media to our circle of friends in the production arena.  We have had the great pleasure of working beside Rassi Borneo and his wife Bryony.  If you are looking for a professional photography company, Timeline Media should be your first choice.

At ADR Productions, we just want to say thanks to all of our new and old friends who have helped to make 2010 a very special year. We will see you in 2011!

Join us on Facebook at ADR Productions’ Facebook page!

Thanks,

Scott Shirley

ADR Productions

Visit us at:  www.adr-productions.com

ADR Productions is one of the premier production companies in the Washington, DC area.

They are located in Rockville, Maryland and operated by Scott Shirley.   They are most recognized for their work on the “Behind the Scenes of Extreme Makeover Home Edition” documentary featuring the build for a family of fifteen people in the Poolesville, MD area.

In 2004, ADR Productions produced a concert video for the popular rock band “Live”.

In 2009, ADR Productions teamed up with RaySat Broadcasting to produce several training videos featuring their T7 Mobile Satellite System with the AT&T CruiseCast Service.

Fall 2009 brings more exciting projects to ADR Productions with the return of Elan DanceSport Center’s “Dance Showcase” production featuring professional and armature dancers from around the Washington Metropolitan area. They have also contracted this fall with William Stixrud, PH.D., & Associates to produce and online course study video in neuropsychological education.

ADR Productions has been donating services every fall since 2004 to one Maryland high school to produce their football season highlights. This year they will be filming for the mighty Northwest Jaguars in Germantown, MD.

In 2009, ADR Productions added photography services with the addition of Giovanni Pizzino who is one of the area’s top photographers.

ADR Productions works in all areas from business video production to family video production. They have three departments of practice:

  1. Video Production
  2. Independent Media Production
  3. Entertainment Production