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Please explain: Video vs. "organic"/cinematic look


anax276

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Hi,

I often read people discussing about the video look vs. the "organic" look of different cameras. Although I think I somewhat understand what they mean in general terms, can someone please explain this to me in a few words? What are the main characteristics defining the different looks. I mean apart from 24/25p, 180-degree-rule, lighting... What makes a sensor (or a lens) give the one or other look? Is it contrast, colour, sharpness, grain? And can't you transform a "video look" to be more "organic" in post (e.g. with FilmConvert). 

Thanks for your help. I am an amateur filmmaker trying to improve my skills and knowledge.

 

 

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Saw this reposted on dvxuser the other day and found it absolutely fascinating: Film v Alexa: http://www.yedlin.net/DisplayPrepDemo/ Background: https://storify.com/tvaziri/steve-yedlin

Yes but are you wanting something to look like it's shot on film or to look cinematic. Those are different goals in my view.  Seinfeld was shot on 35mm.  But it's not cinematic. By pointing

I also noticed more cinematic motion cadence with the BMPCC and GH4 shooting at true 24.00p with 180 degree shutter opposed to 23.976 and 1/50th shutter, especially using All-I.

Personally, I think it is a collection of factors that are all independent of the camera.  So when someone says "X camera looks video-y", they aren't actually referring to the camera but a collection of factors that created the look they are referring to.

Lenses, lighting, and grading all play a bigger factor (IMO).  

A vintage Kowa anamorphic can dirty up an 8K RED image or a Sigma Art can make that same image look clinical and clean.

You can dirty up that image even further in grading.  If someone captures footage on a GH5 using Lumix lenses and shoots in a standard video profile with no post work...yeah, it will look like out of the box Panasonic footage.  As it should, that's literally what it is.  At the same time, some old glass, a flat profile, and some film grain/thought out grading can pretty much create any look you want.

So, the look is up to the filmmaker, not the camera (anymore).

My two cents at least!

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In my eye, what separates a proper cinema camera and cinema look from my own work (with an eos M) are these:

resolution: not to be confused with sharpness, looking at images from a black magic camera, even at 1080p, I can clearly see how much detail they resolve, were my camera needs to do sharpening instead, to give the illusion of detail. and that "sharpening" is something that I think gives away the video look. Of course sharpening is used often in cinema, take a look at tomorrow land for example, but I'm sure those effect are done in more advanced and complex manners that what my camera does. A few month back, I downloaded some sample file from RED and was actually surprised how soft the 5k and 6k footage looked at 100 percent, but it looked more "filmic" and "cinematic" anyway... and no aliasing and moire of course.

having a lot of dynamic range doesn't hurt but I think one can work around a limited dynamic range... The other thing is color and tonality, this is again were cinema cameras can manage to store as much information as possible so the end product is richer in terms of color.

and all the other thing that you yourself mentioned.... lighting, set designing, camera movement, lenses... and a good story.

as for transforming a video look into a more filmic look... I think the basic rules are use as less in camera sharpness as possible, expose properly and try to manage the dynamic range and avoid shooting with a high contrast picture profile to get a flatter look which some argue that itself looks more cinematic, and plugins like film convert can actually give you a more filmic, I personally like the grain they produce and use it whenever i denoise my footage. but please be subtle when using any kind of effect or lut. 

think about composition and move your camera properly... for practice, study your favorite movie or music video or... and pay attention to every aspect of the image that you see and like, from color and contrast to camera angel and movement and framing and etc.

sorry for the long post...

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Dynamic range, and the overall sensor light response plays a big role IMO.
"organic/cinematic look" is defined with the film standard. That means : Wide Dynamic range with soft rolloffs, No rolling shutter, "organic" Noise, Difficult color science, and so on.
Some of it is technology (DR, Sensor response) but some of it is just years of fine tuning (color science).
Just my thoughts about you topic, not at all an expert. I just find this subject very interesting.

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Apart from the technical aspects that let you MIMIC film (24p, DR, Filmconvert) and make your video a travesty of an extinct medium, I think it's mostly the quality of the recording that helps, the film arts if you will, a.k.a. production value. Don't record the banal reality, make an image bursting with emotion and sensation. rec_2020 describes HFR and true HDR as the new standards. Though considered uncinematic now, these will actually help to enhance a truly great film. Be ahead of time.

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I'm a big fan of the A/B test. Meaning put on your favorite scene from your favorite director (Scorsese, Coppola, Spike Lee, whoever)... and then put on the last thing that you've shot. What are the differences?

The low-hanging fruit are things like sensor size and resolution, followed by dynamic range, bit depth, and motion cadence. Then you move on to lenses, lighting, and camera motion. Then there's color-correction. Followed by production design, locations, and costume choices. And, finally, talent. 

The "look" of your project results from a confluence of all of these things. As you start out, almost none of these will be comparable to your favorite films. But you can pick them off one-by-one. Start noticing things. Get better. Over time you'll inch closer to your idols.

Stu Maschwitz, one of the minds behind Red Giant Software, has been writing about getting a film look out of digital tech since the MiniDV era, then designing products to help you achieve it. Lots of insights in his archive.

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I think it's true that you can almost work any image in a way to look or feel "cinematic" but in the end technology plays the biggest factor in making that an easy/simple experience or not. If you've got the right tools (or close) to do the job you're going to have to do far less to make it a reality. 

For me Dynamic Range and Motion Cadence are the quintessential "cinematic" traits for most viewers (whether they understand those terms or not).

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15 minutes ago, tweak said:

I think it's true that you can almost work any image in a way to look or feel "cinematic" but in the end technology plays the biggest factor in making that an easy/simple experience or not. If you've got the right tools (or close) to do the job you're going to have to do far less to make it a reality. 

For me Dynamic Range and Motion Cadence are the quintessential "cinematic" traits for most viewers (whether they understand those terms or not).

I'd go with framing, camera motion, lighting and color grade. With theses techniques cinematic looks can be achieved with a smartphone... https://***URL not allowed***/shooting-cinematic-iphone-footage-filmic-pro/

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Latitude to begin with, for pixel peepers we all are.

But, also resolution in the past old days, motion, progressive versus interlaced was determinant to arrive where digital has placed the motion pictures to pair with a cinematic feeling marked for over more than a century of 35mm format experience.

When there is the absence of artifacts, of course. Even though, rolling shutter, as for instance, can be acceptable within certain limits.

Color sampling for vivid imaging, DOF (not necessarily shallow DOF all the time), framing where perspective, composition and accurate movement of camera are mandatory for creating the idea of POV as primary aesthetic requirement of filmmaking. Last but not least, production design for sure.

In two words, it means space and time. Reason why when we talk about motion, slow motion is much appreciated by the film audiences comprehending an effective way of going towards the suspension of disbelief.

E :-)

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Accurate motion at 24 frames versus a more fluid, quantifiable number of frames such as 30, 48, 60 or even higher per second (do not confound with overcranking, obviously).

Follow the new TV displays to interpolate frames or fields and mimic the infamous soap opera effect, you can take a look on the practical meaning of that.

 

59 minutes ago, Viet Bach Bui said:

What is motion cadence anyway? Can someone describe it in quantifiable ways?

 

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11 minutes ago, DBounce said:

I'd go with framing, camera motion, lighting and color grade. With theses techniques cinematic looks can be achieved with a smartphone... https://***URL not allowed***/shooting-cinematic-iphone-footage-filmic-pro/

No doubt. But those techniques also help to replicate/alleviate the two things I mentioned when shooting on lesser cameras.

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6 minutes ago, Raafi Rivero said:

I'm a big fan of the A/B test. Meaning put on your favorite scene from your favorite director (Scorsese, Coppola, Spike Lee, whoever)... and then put on the last thing that you've shot. What are the differences?

We have been discussing these things since many years now. The method of analysing the differences is very effective. Since a few years, the obvious technical differences vanished one by one. The famous cinematic look became famous with the affordability of camcorders for no/low budget storytelling (late 1980's, early 1990's). What the owners noticed first were the characteristics of their video, not those of Hollywoods movies. Video look let them invent the cinematic look: a bundle of obvious differences. I suppose everybody here knows Maschwitz' DV Rebel as well as the Zacuto 2012 shootout. If an inept and unambitious guy shot your cats lying on your mundane living room sofa with an Arriflex, would you expect the image to look cinematic? In contrast to that, if you - ambitious and experienced - were on the set of The Godfather, lit by Gordon Willis, and have the intense eyes of Al Pacino staring at you in a reaction shot just with, say, a GH4 ...

I used to say that 24p were obligatory. They are as well a viewing habit as a signal for 'narrated time', whereas HFR (and of course interlace) signalled present tense and real time. But these are not rules of nature, they are just conventions. Ang Lee shot Billy Lynn @120 fps. He explained the experience. For every take of the film, he said, he had to remind himself that he was no longer in Movieland. The sets, the costumes, the camera movements, the acting, the editing, in short: everything had to be more precise. I would have liked to see an HFR version. Unfortunately, the producers decided to process it to 24p for a more *natural* look after unfavourable reviews following a test screening. One critic wrote it was "a fucking crime against cinema".

The world is changed. We can feel it. Fake news everywhere, many of them easily debunked. Some say we are now living in a "post factual era". We don't believe in blatant lies. But it's particularly the mendaciousness of the common sense and political correctness we despise. We desperately needed fresh approaches. This may sound OT for you. But right now cinema (audio-visual storytelling) still has the greatest power over our morals and ways of thinking and feeling. Do we like to live in Movieland? Or force our minds to stay open, to dare new ways, to re-invent cinema? We decide.

 

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Organic is completely different from cinematic I think. I'm alright with us calling House of Cards cinematic, but organic it is not. "Organic" can be shot poorly, in bad lighting, with insufficient dynamic range and resolution, at f8, on a one inch sensor. the important element would be the camera or grade, maybe a nice grain, proper highlight and shadow rolloff, maybe cadence.. "Cinematic" is the production quality argument, with HDR and high res, good lighting, and apparently doesn't need good colors these days (having just watched Sneaky Pete on Amazon)

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" To re-invent cinema " doesn't necessarily mean to ignore the past as a bygone aesthetic.

Take Europa (Zentropa in US) by Lars von Trier for example.

E :-)

 

59 minutes ago, Axel said:

 

(...) We desperately needed fresh approaches. This may sound OT for you. But right now cinema (audio-visual storytelling) still has the greatest power over our morals and ways of thinking and feeling. Do we like to live in Movieland? Or force our minds to stay open, to dare new ways, to re-invent cinema? We decide.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Viet Bach Bui said:

What is motion cadence anyway? Can someone describe it in quantifiable ways?

This statement will always be the issue with this discussion. Motion cadence is a feeling a viewer or creator gets by watching the motion in the film. Unfortunately feelings are often indescribable. Just because motion cadence is not quantifiable doesn't mean it does not exist. 

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