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Favourite examples of dressing up SD archive footage for a doc

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Gabriel Tougas
Favourite examples of dressing up SD archive footage for a doc
on Sep 28, 2017 at 9:14:18 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm currently working on a broadcast documentary. We'll be using some testimony from Senate hearings and I wanted to ping the collective consciousness.

The best version our archivist could deliver was 16x9 480p footage. It's got some mild compression artifacts, but nothing horrendous. We're delivering in 1080.

Obviously, cleaning up the footage and playing it as is would be an option, but I was thinking of giving it some kind of look that could obscure the minor artifacts and differentiate it from the rest of our b-roll.

What are some of your favourite examples (in fiction or non-fiction) of 'looks' that were given to archival footage? I'm open to pretty much anything, this is just a collective brainstorm.

As always, thanks for being a great community.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Favourite examples of dressing up SD archive footage for a doc
on Sep 29, 2017 at 12:58:18 am

For 16x9 SD archive footage, I'd go with black & white. No color artifacts to fool with!

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Walter Soyka
Re: Favourite examples of dressing up SD archive footage for a doc
on Sep 29, 2017 at 1:34:41 am

If you're going to introduce a style or a design element, I'd argue that it should be motivated. What's the context for the archival footage? Is there a big idea in the story that this visual treatment should support? Some emotion or feeling that you want to evoke?

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Gabriel Tougas
Re: Favourite examples of dressing up SD archive footage for a doc
on Sep 29, 2017 at 1:48:50 am

Since I posted, I've been doing exactly that kind of thinking.

I expect to use the footage to mostly punctuate and serve as a transition between beats. I'd say the mood is "mildly dramatic". The footage and its content isn't inherently dramatic, but this is one of the more high-profile things our subject has done, and the way he summarizes his work for the senators is quite compelling. Basically, he's in the spotlight.

Some kind of subtle faux-TV effect, slightly desaturated and distorted, to accentuate the very public nature of this testimony? I'm trying to find some successful examples of this, because I know I've seen them, but it isn't easy to search online for "faux-tv effect used on archives in popular documentaries".


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Daniel Waldron
Re: Favourite examples of dressing up SD archive footage for a doc
on Sep 29, 2017 at 1:07:35 pm

You could shoot an old TV set in a living room and composite the old footage onto the TV. Or if you want to be really dramatic, composite it on to one of the big screens in Times Square. Just a few ideas. Like Walter suggested, it needs to match the rest of the video. Sometimes simple is better. Maybe just scale it up to fill the screen and add a subtle tint or flicker.


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