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Recipes for "film look" for EX-3?

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Tom Laughlin
Recipes for "film look" for EX-3?
on Jun 29, 2010 at 4:43:33 pm

I shoot with the Sony EX-3, and as far as making it look like film, what frame-rates, settings, and resolutions that you recommend, and what filters would you suggest? Any "specific" filters from Red Giant? Anyone using a 35mm lense adaptor for their EX-3? Sorry if this is a repeat topic.

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Benjamin Reichman
Re: Recipes for "film look" for EX-3?
on Jun 29, 2010 at 5:10:22 pm

Tom, I'm a film student who's been using an EX-1 for about a year, which is extremely similar to the EX-3. I'm (obviously) not an expert, but I can tell you a few things that I've tried and that teachers have recommended:

1) As for resolution and frame rate, I don't think you can get more film-like on the EX-3 than 1080/24p. That's the maximum resolution of the camera, and 24fps is the standard framerate for film.

2) CineGamma presets in the Picture Profile menu can really help. On the EX-1, there are a set of Standard Gammas and a set of CineGammas, and we've found that CineGamma 3 often gives us a rich, film-like look. It all depends on your taste, what you're filming, how it's lit, etc. So you'll just have to try out the various gamma settings to find what works for you on a particular project.

3) You may want to set gain to a negative level (-3db) to ensure the cleanest image.

4) Speaking of clean images, you may want to make the image less clean by adding fake film grain to your footage. I personally have never tried that, but I've heard you can get good results that way. There are various plug-ins that do this. Last week, I saw a demonstration of the FurnaceCore plug-ins from The Foundry (a package that works with Final Cut), and one of the plug-ins can be set to mimic the grain of specific film stocks!

5) We used the Letus adapter with the EX-1 on two of our final projects this year. I think this is probably the BEST single decision you can make to mimic film (after framerate), because an adapter with 35mm lenses is the only way to get the shallow depth of field that film has.

I can't comment on whether the Letus is better or worse than other similar adapters, but what they all have in common is a certain amount of light loss, and a kind of "grain" caused by the spinning ground glass.

Also be aware that renting an adapter, lenses, follow-focus, and rails isn't cheap. You'll also need a dedicated focus-puller, so if you're used to having only a camera operator, now you'll need an operator and a second person to pull focus.

And of course, this will slow you down! Focus pulling is hard. Don't expect to shoot nearly as much in a day as you would normally--at least until you and your crew are very proficient at it. We had good results thanks to some fellow students with experience. But it was still tricky.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Recipes for "film look" for EX-3?
on Jul 26, 2010 at 2:25:51 pm

[Benjamin Reichman] "3) You may want to set gain to a negative level (-3db) to ensure the cleanest image."

I've seen one detailed test that shows this will decrease latitude, meaning that the whites will clip at a lower level. It will give you cleaner blacks in many situations. I've used -3db when shooting fireworks. With the proper CINE gamma selection, the whites still roll off smoothly so the loss of latitude isn't obvious to me.




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Michael Palmer
Re: Recipes for
on Jun 29, 2010 at 10:41:17 pm

I use the Red Rock Encore 35mm lens adapter and here are a couple videos to show how well it works with the EX STOCK LENS.













One of the main picture profile tweaks is to reduce the detail level to -20 or lower and then start adjusting the Gamma settings.

Search for EX Picture Profiles here and I'm sure you will find some interesting reading.

http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/micro-xdcamexsite/resource.latest.bbsccms-asse...

Good Luck
Michael Palmer


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James Hilton
Re: Recipes for "film look" for EX-3?
on Jul 26, 2010 at 12:04:00 pm

I would add, do remember settings in the camera are only part of the story. Once your EX-3 is setup the real fun begins.

You need to approach every shot as if you were shooting on film if you want to pull off a film look.

When using film every second costs money. So you want to get everything planned and set up so you can get it right in a limited number of takes without wasting film or crew time. In my book the same should apply when filming in digital be it a feature film or small indi production, you want to aim to get it spot on first time.

To do that really think about what look you want to get before you hit record, practice panning the camera etc and make sure you have got the best camera position. Consider the focus, and where the subjects will be in the frame and depth of field before the cast arrive. Very importantly, get the lighting just right.

You want to use a good quality external mic connected to your EX-3 as bad sound quality can potentially can ruin anything.

Other tips would be use a rock steady tripod, lock exposure and use manual focus. Also don't zoom in or out. Make sure you set the camera’s white balance correctly before each shot. And don’t think “it can be fixed in the mix”, aim to get it right when shooting.

In truth you can make HDV look very film like if you approach it the right way, the only thing you won't get without any extra help wth HDV is a lot of depth of field. Approach each shot the right way and you will be able to produce some really good, film like results with your EX-3. Good luck and enjoy!


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Craig Seeman
Re: Recipes for "film look" for EX-3?
on Jul 26, 2010 at 2:21:42 pm

[James Hilton] "the only thing you won't get without any extra help wth HDV is a lot of depth of field."

Depth Of Field is related to sensor size and not codec. EX camera with HDV codec will have just as much control of DOF as using EX XDCAM codec.

The problem with HDV codec is that certain subject matter can "break" the codec. Basically shots with lots of movement (and lots of movement can be rippling water or blowing grass or leaves) have the potential to be problems. Also issues may become more apparent with heavy compositing or color grading.





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James Hilton
Re: Recipes for
on Jul 26, 2010 at 3:23:44 pm

I should have been more clear, I meant an HDV camera in my post, not HDV codec on an EX-3.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Recipes for
on Jul 26, 2010 at 3:37:03 pm

[James Hilton] "I should have been more clear, I meant an HDV camera in my post, not HDV codec on an EX-3."

Sorry to be too nit picky about this but the language we use can create misconceptions. Canon's new XF300 and XF305 are not HDV nor are many Panasonic cameras. While it may be true that all HDV cameras are 1/3" sensors, there are plenty of other non HDV cameras that also have the same. In fact JVC's EX cameras (HM series) are also 1/3" sensors. This is THE KEY reason why Sony EX cameras have an edge.

If you want better DOF control (the ability to have shallower DOF) the larger sensor wins.

I've seen far too many posts on the COW saying "I read . . . ." and then misunderstanding the concept. There will be people who will think HDV cameras are the issue and then assume that new Panasonic and Canon camera's have better DOF control because they don't use HDV codec.





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Tom Laughlin
Re: Recipes for
on Jul 29, 2010 at 2:38:47 pm

Excellent points from all of you, thanks! Also, for the sake of having more tape, crews sometimes shoot in the SP mode rather than in the HQ mode. Even though this is for mainly getting more video on a card, 1 (32GB) card = 160 min of HDV of 1080SP mode. Are there other reasons that this may not be a good idea? On the technical or creative or image quality level, any problems with this? If shot in 1080HQ, what are the advantages, as well as how many minutes less do you get on a 32GB card? When shooting in 1080HQ, are there settings you definitely want to tweak differently than when shooting in 1080SP mode? Again, this is all because crews want more footage per card, and I've edited and seen nice video here, even though it is an HDV codec, but I just wanted to see what the shift would be in that arena, if we started shooting in HQ from now on.

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Craig Seeman
Re: Recipes for
on Jul 29, 2010 at 4:06:59 pm

Please reread my post on HDV codec breaking. To me that's the single biggest reason. If you're just shooting talking heads against simple backgrounds that might be OK but for everything else it's an irreparable problem waiting to happen. EX XDCAM, especially progressive, will hold up better in compositing and color grading as well.

Other problems specific to EX is that it's not progressive and when you used 24fps it's in 29.97. You can't overcrank.

Make sure the camera is current with firmware and buy high quality SDHC cards.

If you are primarily concerned with "more on the card" you'd be better off with a good AVCHD camera with 24mbps data rate. It's a better codec than HDV but you'll get the joy of either dealing with it in an NLE or having to transcode everything . . . but it is both "more" and "better" than HDV.



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Steve Pender
Re: Recipes for "film look" for EX-3?
on Jan 23, 2011 at 5:07:57 pm

Hi, Tom.

I'm a video biographer in Tucson, Arizona. I may be looking for a second EX-3 for some upcoming shoots in the Salt Lake City area. Wondering if you're available for hire on a daily basis - if not, whether you may know of other resources for an EX-3 in Salt Lake City. Shoots may be in March or April.

If you'd like to know a little about me, please visit:
http://www.familylegacyvideo.com.

Cheers, Steve


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Tom Laughlin
Re: Recipes for "film look" for EX-3?
on Jan 24, 2011 at 2:26:23 pm

Let me know the exact dates, when, where, how many days, gear you need, and I'll see what I can coordinate. Please email me at tomyboy342000@yahoo.com and have a great week.

Thanks,

Tom

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Tom Laughlin
Re: Recipes for "film look" for EX-3?
on Jan 24, 2011 at 7:21:35 pm

So, when I'm shoot using the EX-3, the "SP Mode", here at my work is used to fit more footage on to a card, we can shoot more HDV on a card, obviously, than Full HD. When I drag the video into a FCP Time-line, this is what I get:



So it looks like the default is HDV 60i. So, is this basically good to go for editing, or so I need to change the codec on the timeline to another one, since it was shot in HDV (SP Mode) FCP auto-detects the format, so in the past, I've just left it alone, and all is well, but does one need to change to an EX-flavored codec? In other words, a codec like from the other codec listed below?



And what does changing the codec do to the codec, enhance it or maintain it, or it is the same thing? In other words, why change it? Pros or cons? Or does it matter in the end, since it's HDV?

Also, when I change drag it into the time-line, it shows the frame-rate at 29.97, but we shot it 60i, does this matter? FCP seems to do it's auto-adjustments and auto-defaults upon the media being imported and read, so I usually don't mess with those things a whole lot, and in the end our output is for the web, so I'm not worried about that, it's more of an editor staying true to upholding integral quality; visible and non-visible. Like if I shot with the DVX-100, I'd capture the video as how I shot it, let FCP auto-detect the raw video, and edit, I'd never ever upres it or change the time-line codec or frame-rate for any reasons, never thought there would be a need. Why change the time-line codec from DV (shot in DV) to an Apple Pro Ress Time-line? I saw some do that in film school, never made much sense...

Thanks,

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Craig Seeman
Re: Recipes for "film look" for EX-3?
on Jan 24, 2011 at 7:42:17 pm

This doesn't really have to do with film look. This is basic codec understanding.
HDV is CBR 25mbps. XDCAM EX is VBR 35mbps. The latter is less likely to break (show artifacts) due to motion content.

NTSC compatible frame rates are 29.97 frames which is 59.94 fields. People call them 30 or 60 are usually just rounding the numbers.

I can't think of many reasons to use HDV compatibility mode on EX. The few reasons are:
Integrate into a project already started in HDV.
Using HDV LIVE out of firewire where HDMI or HD-SDI isn't possible (for example when live streaming).

If you want film motion you'd shoot 23.98 frames which people round to 24 when shooting video (in film it is actually 24).

[Tom Laughlin] "So, when I'm shoot using the EX-3, the "SP Mode", here at my work is used to fit more footage on to a card, we can shoot more HDV on a card, obviously, than Full HD."

I can't fathom the logic to this. Buy more cards. Offload the cards. I can't ever see the logic to throwing out quality.



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Tom Laughlin
Re: Recipes for "film look" for EX-3?
on Jan 25, 2011 at 3:03:34 pm

Yea, I know this doesn't have anything to do with "film look", I just didn't want to have to start a new post. It was like, ok now that I've got my question answered, let me ask one more quick one, within the same post, so. No worries, thanks!

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Tom Laughlin
Re: Recipes for "film look" for EX-3?
on Jan 25, 2011 at 3:15:01 pm

Craig, I'm not defending those at NAB last year that were doing workshops or discussions on this, but a friend of mine who went to NAB last year, said he went to a panel about codecs and resolution, and he said that the panelists, or a few of them had mentioned that there still was some value in HDV, 1440x1080, and that although not full 1080p, it was still of some worth in still using it today. I've seen stuff shot in SP mode and shown on a HD monitor, and it doesn't look that different from 1080p, obviously there's a lot of variables to this, and all. But I think 1080p shooting, is way better. But the point at NAB was that they were saying that it still has value and shouldn't be thrown out of the resolution ring. Understanding also that there are many who say, once you go 1080p, why go back? I guess part of it, is that the cards hold more minutes, 160 minutes on a card, in SP mode, and it looks fantastic on the web and on DVD. But yes, it doesn't make sense to shoot HDV, when you have the ability to shoot Full HD, so I take your points perfectly.

So, if I'm shooting in CBR (HDV) 25Mbps on the EX-3 in SP mode, and Final Cut imports it, and it defaults the timeline at HDV 60i, should I 'manaully' change the Time-line Settings to the EX 35 VBR Mbps setting? Will this matter, or should this always be done this way. We shoot mostly talking heads and b-roll, not a lot of action, fast motion, or fast movement.

Thanks,

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Craig Seeman
Re: Recipes for "film look" for EX-3?
on Jan 25, 2011 at 3:39:20 pm

[Tom Laughlin] "there still was some value in HDV, 1440x1080, and that although not full 1080p, it was still of some worth in still using it today"

Kind of meaningless statement without comparison. HDV has value XDCAM EX has more value. There's little reason to chose HDV over XDCAM EX. Heck there's still "some value" to Standard Def as well. It doesn't mean you chose it over better codecs though unless you have a workflow situation that's made easier/faster otherwise.

There's no context to the above statement.

[Tom Laughlin] "I've seen stuff shot in SP mode and shown on a HD monitor, and it doesn't look that different from 1080p, obviously there's a lot of variables to this"

It depends what you're shooting. Shooting with HDV is a risk because if there is a difference you don't find out about it until after the shoot and the damage is irreversible.

[Tom Laughlin] "So, if I'm shooting in CBR (HDV) 25Mbps on the EX-3 in SP mode, and Final Cut imports it, and it defaults the timeline at HDV 60i, should I 'manaully' change the Time-line Settings to the EX 35 VBR Mbps setting?"

No, if you shoot HDV, you got HDV. There's no point to changing the timeline. The HDV is 60i (59.94). You keep inadvertently pointing to reasons why NOT to shoot HDV. Why shoot interlace when deinterlacing is just another round of damage to a codec which is worse than XDCAM EX.

Again there's NO reason to shoot HDV except when matching a project already using HDV from other sources. There's no advantage and many disadvantages.



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Craig Seeman
Re: Recipes for "film look" for EX-3?
on Jan 25, 2011 at 3:24:28 pm

[Tom Laughlin] "I just didn't want to have to start a new post"

But someone else also looking for information about codecs would now have a hard time finding the post given the thread title. New thread with new title makes it easier for others to find.



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