View Full Version : The Many Looks of Film?
Shane Smith Productions
04-04-2008, 09:46 PM
I have been following the Red boards for a good while now, and am strongly considering the Red One as my next purchase. I have a very large understanding of cameras, frame rates, lenses, lighting, etc; but while reviewing the Red clips on this forum, a question came up that someone with more knowledge might could explain. There are 3 different types of looks that I can think of that all originate on 35mm film, but yet look different. Theatrical movies, Television Shows (especially shows on Disney, Nick, etc), and Commercials. And I'm sure Red is (or will be) used on all of these at some point. I just can't put my finger on what the difference is. I'm sure they all use very high quality lenses, all using film at 24fps. The lighting maybe, or the color grading? From my personal opinion, most of the footage i've seen on the boards from the Red all make me think about watching a commercial. Can some one please shed some light on the differenses (unless its all in my head, lol). Thanks. I look forward to learning alot about this and the potential of the Red One.
04-05-2008, 12:04 AM
One of the main differences IMHO is the lighting. Generally commercials are really well lit while (generally again) movies tend to have more natural, bounced lighting.
Shane Smith Productions
04-05-2008, 12:35 AM
Thanks for the reply. After 35 views someone actually took the time to answer. I'm sure its a noob sounding question, but everyone has to start somewhere. Right now I use a DVX100, and it just has that look to it, still very nice, but its all you can do to strive for the "film look" that noobs always ask about. But thats not what i'm asking. With the Red One, your in a completely different playing field. Its no longer the whole "35mm DOF" "24fps" "4:4:4" that is the reason why your camera will never look like that, because now you have all that, so its more or less how you shape what you have, just like with film. I think the audio/score might have a small part to do with it also, just putting you in that mood. But yes, I think lighting has a lot to do with it (lots of fill light vs very contrasty lighting).
I just know that if I flip through the channels and i'm on the Disney channel and its a show, i know it. And If I flip through and land on a station with a commercial, I know that it is, and if its a movie, i know that it is. Yet they are all million dollar budgets, the best sound and lighting equipment, and all use 35mm film.
Anyone else who wants to help a young filmmaker out, please do. Even if you think its a stupid question.
04-05-2008, 12:53 AM
I think it's everything combined. The lighting, the lenses and focal lengths, the camera movement, the type of actor (right? Disney actors seem different than that edgy indie movie), the wardrobe, the acting style, the types of stories, the editing style, the soundtrack, the coloring. and more...
It all combines to feel like a Will Ferrell comedy or a Jim Jarmusch indie or a Ron Howard slick Hollywood movie or Fight Club.
You may want to focus on lighting, lens choices and post color correction - but really it's everything IMHO.
Shane Smith Productions
04-05-2008, 01:07 AM
I figured it was a mix of a little of everything. Just wondered if there was any one thing that made it or broke it. But yes, I agree with you that it is a mixture of things. I just want to make sure that if I spend 30 grand on a camera, that my horror movies and indie films aren't going to come out looking like a commercial. So many people on the posts put so much emphasis on resolution. But the thing is, even a very compressed youtube version of a movie scene still looks very much like a movie. Not to say that we should go out and shoot our movies 320x240, but 4K is not as big of a concern to me as making sure my camera can capture that motion and look of a theatrical movie. A big leap from a DVX.
04-05-2008, 06:23 AM
Shane, you've pretty much answered your own question by pointing out that TV shows differ in their looks to movies, and so on. As you point out, they often use the same technology. A perfume commercial isn't going to look like a gritty cinema verite style production even if they do share the same technology. As for your comments on the posted RED images: many of the images representing RED output are directed towards showing the image in all its pixel rendering glory, and that sort of "clinical" approach can be a shade removed from our own ideal aesthetic. But it's the right approach at this point in RED's development. They're not trying to sell perfume,etc.. However, you are in some ways watching a commercial, and, to be fair, they're some of the most rewarding commercials out there for people looking for the right tools. If you're considering purchasing a RED, put aside sex value and discern with the cold objective eye of a scientist.
Besides, (and I mean this with all sincerity) unless you're considering film, what would you consider as an alternative to RED? What might we expect from another digital camera? More horror movie value? A Wong Kar Wai dial? Make it work.
04-30-2008, 02:45 PM
Shane, this is a very good question that I have also been pondering for a long time, and I don't know why more experienced members haven't answered it here. I suspect the biggest differences are lighting and grading. Lately I have been trying to learn more about grading by reading books, etc., but so far I haven't heard a concise description of how the grading differs for different looks. Certainly saturation and gamma are big, but what else?
Michael "Dorkman" Scott
04-30-2008, 04:58 PM
It's all in the lighting, I think. From my understanding, film and commercials generally have the time to light per-shot, whereas television generally has to move faster and so will typically light a set or location to "work" from all angles, so once the lighting is set they can go go go.
Also worth noting, if you're in an NTSC country, TV and TVCs are probably shot at 30fps, which also gives you a different "look".
05-01-2008, 10:18 AM
Great thread...love to hear more folks with experience and knowledge chime in!
05-06-2008, 12:46 AM
There's a lot of talk on here about cameras, lenses, framerates, datarates, dynamic range and so on. But as the others have already said: it's all in the lighting; after all when you break it down, regardless of which camera, lens or format you shoot on - what you're doing is capturing light.
05-06-2008, 03:48 AM
Its a very interesting question considering the common origination medium. It shows that the same tools can be used very differently. In my experience, there are two main (though interestingly interlinked) things that differentiate between the three areas of production; time and aesthetics.
Most commercials take a long time on a time per shot basis to achieve the desired look. In post, you may try several grades. You may spend a whole morning on just one shot. You usually just shoot one camera at a time. On TV and increasingly films, you need to light for multi camera setups. Thats difficult and often a compromise. Often softer lighting with less direction is used so that what looks good on one camera is not shit on another. Time is of the essence, especially on TV. You may be shooting 8 mins of screen time a day. Often actors are not willing to spend time on a shot to fine tune. (look at the comments from the actors about 'Kingdom' - loving the 'new' run and gun style which means less time on set). Commercials make less use of 'stars'.
And with a commercial you need to get your point across in perhaps 30 secs. In a film you may have two hours. That results in a different aesthetic. In films especially, shots can be longer, develop more slowly, and be affected by the scenes that precede them. (They can be more eliptical, though interestingly some commercials not seem to play heavily on this..)
Though commercials are increasingly about more nefarious things than just the product - lifestyle, emotions, atmosphere and the like - they are not generally story driven except in a simplistic way. Films and Tv are about characters and stories. To film an actor as a silhouette for a scene in a film is dramatic. In a commercial its generally avoided unless that in itself becomes part of the style.
Sometimes in films what you dont see can be more powerful than what you do see. This tends to be less common with commercials. So your choice of shot can be very different, even for an ostensibly similar scene.
a series of 'perfect' shots can be tiring, even annoying. Flare on every shot in a commercial can be great, imagine it for two hours...
In commercials you tend to light the shot. In Films and Tv you tend to light the set.
Often even the images are different - not may commercials involve blood, guns, death, horror, war, nightmares, chases, sex..
Just some thoughts..
05-09-2008, 06:28 PM
Been thinking about this thread a lot. Have been watching a lot of footage from film and RED at the same time. Seen footage on both mediums from all kinds of sources, from Professional to home movie production value.
The main difference that I see is that compared to film, RED footage looks more bleached or white-d out. Like a very slight white haze (ie. looking at a photo pressed tightly against very thin wax paper). The sharpness is very close, but the richness of color to film is not as good. Of course there is a DR issue, but that seems to be more correctable with good lighting. And build 16 is coming, and who knows what that will do to advance the image.
This difference does not seem to be limited to RED, but to digital video overall compared to film. I LOVE RED and everything they are doing. I'm on the waiting list for a RED ONE myself. If I had all the money in the world, I'd shoot film, but I don't so hurry up and get me my camera already!!!
05-09-2008, 06:48 PM
I haven't had a chance to shoot RED yet, but have played with native files for a while now, and I'm convinced that this "bleached", undersaturated, whited out look you talk about has more to do with people's lack of comfort with RAW files, and trying to color grade them as they would other HD footage, which already comes out of the camera with all kinds of looks and goodies applied to it. RAW must be pushed much more agressively to get that same color feel of film, and it can be done quite well, so long as you know what to do.
05-09-2008, 07:35 PM
Exactly. It's very easy to get the super saturated colors and deep contrast that you're used to with film with Red... You just have to have the guts to push it there (which is not difficult to do - but requires more than just RedCine to do it).
Also, a slight bit of sharpening in the end gets the image to POP.
Seriously, the milky image is due to the LACK of color correction. If you saw the NAB presentation this year, you would have seen that all looks, from gritty and moody to super saturated and glossy music video/commercial.
Like Rudi said, we're used to recording a processed image to tape (or to disk/card). Now we get to develop our own process to mold the image to our visual needs.
05-09-2008, 10:46 PM
Wow...Thanks Rudi & Kenn for your response. Nice to know that you can have such a great deal of control with RED footage. I'm excited to get my camera and "play" with the files!
Thanks for the info, very informative!! Happy Shooting!
05-09-2008, 10:51 PM
The main difference that I see is that compared to film, RED footage looks more bleached or white-d out. Like a very slight white haze (ie. looking at a photo pressed tightly against very thin wax paper).
That is inherent to RAW. Actually, that is good to have so you can achieve amazing things in post. Color correction makes all the difference on the world! But, without a doubt, lighting makes it or breaks it. A well lit scene in RAW will still look hazy, but once you do the grading, WOW, it comes to life!:sorcerer:
05-10-2008, 12:16 AM
Thanks for the response LUIS!!
05-10-2008, 09:40 PM
If you have either PC or Mac, download and install RedCine (which I doubt that you have not done it by now). Just try to load an r3d file and play with the colors. Do not be shy... push it to the limits and you will be amazed! Just look at this EXREMELY basic color changes (not even close to final for our project, just for your reference). The colors are there; it's a matter of getting them out of the RAW file:
06-02-2008, 10:40 AM
Check out the end of this demo reel (not mine) and notice how drastically different the before/afters are from 300. Just a testament to post production and how it affects the look.
06-02-2008, 11:11 AM
We need a grading Guru to share his/her secrets in a how-to DVD or book...or both.
08-20-2008, 06:29 AM
Here is an example of taking one of the DPX files and some simple color correction using photomatrix in photoshop. http://motivitypictures.com/images/city.jpg
08-20-2008, 09:31 AM
We need a grading Guru to share his/her secrets in a how-to DVD or book...or both.
Well, here`s what I have found so far:
This one is for SHAKE (http://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/dvds/mli02.html), the basics could be applied for after effects or combustion as well.
And this one is for Photoshop (http://movielibrary.lynda.com/html/modPage.asp?ID=344), again, most on the basics can be applied in any CC module.
I`m with you, it would be nice to have some Pro Film CC and Gradin how to DVD.
08-21-2008, 12:56 PM
Here is a really good book on color correction:
After providing background knowledge of the basics, professional colorists walk you through specific examples (included on the DVD-ROM). The author describes the processes such that you can use it with any color correction tool (I used Vegas). Since reading this and applying it to my work, I have gotten a lot more compliments on the look of my films. This is the sort of thing viewers can't describe, but affects how the film makes them feel.
It does not, however, cover much on the subject of this thread: how to achieve commercial vs. TV vs. cinema looks, but it shows you what knobs to turn to try different looks for yourself.