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1980s public access tv- how to recreate today?

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peter djorino
1980s public access tv- how to recreate today?
on May 27, 2009 at 1:44:39 pm

Hi hello

I'm trying to recreate some 80's style footage and need some help. Is there a method or filter that can give you the look of 80's public access tv? I've thought about filming on my cam then dubbing it to vhs then back to camera then computer....would this work?

thank you for any advice

pete


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Micah McDowell
Re: 1980s public access tv- how to recreate today?
on May 27, 2009 at 3:42:58 pm

That would help, and be sure to make your set lighting a bit ugly.

If you could track down an older tube-type video camera, that might help too; they have a different look, especially with bright highlights in the image that tend to smear and trail. I just found an old Sony DXC-M3a at a yard sale for $5... still works great (if you call the finest of 1984 great).


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Mark Suszko
Re: 1980s public access tv- how to recreate today?
on May 27, 2009 at 4:17:24 pm

80's Access look:

Cliche' Set: Dark blue or gray curtain, K-mart Shoji screens, ugly chrome sled chairs, oversize plastic ficus plants with no reason for being there, check.

Bonus points for putting a slash of light on the curtain using a slit-style cukaloris or just barn doors on an open-faced light.

"Funky" graphics using "postmodern" kidney, boomerang, and random geometric primitive shapes with unmotivated leopard stripes and sharpie pen squiggles on one element and harsh primaries like chrome yellow, magenta, and blue on the others, check.

Chyron VP-1 style lower thirds: Use only Times Roman bold for all fonts, 8-bit, no gradients. Make the key weak without good shadows or edges and the clipping just barely adequate, check.

Lighting: hard-lit, no diffusion, 3-point lighting at a blinding overall level, with a neck-burning backlight intensity. The tips of subject's ears should have a translucent glow from the excessive backlighting.

Cameras: you won't see analog imaging tube burns unless the camera tracks a light in the frame, or an intense reflection from some sparkling jewelry. The burns are reddish brown and translucent. If your modern CCD camera sees a light, the vertical smear line it generates is a dead giveaway it's not analog, so watch out for that.

Effects: See youtube for most any 80's video by ZZ Topp. Imitate the DVE comet-trailing images, posterization, and step-framing. Page turns should show the same side on the back of the turning page because the old DVE was only single-channel.

To imitate the trails and tube burns, you'd perhaps add a layer with luma keying and add trails to that, probably in AfterEffects. Though you might be able to use Apple Motion. Set a slow decay rate, so the burn looks like those "floaters" in your eyeballs for the next five minutes, post-burn.

The analog generational loss look: dub the master a few times between two VHS machines in SLP speed, or record on a DVD recorder at the 8-hour compression setting using composite-in or better yet, use the ch.3 or 4 on the tuners and RF connections only... Play with desaturating or over-saturating the chroma untill it bleeds, maybe add subtle amounts of posterization.

That ought to get you in the ballpark:-)


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Wayne Vollweiler
Re: 1980s public access tv- how to recreate today?
on May 27, 2009 at 6:22:14 pm

wow Mark... to make this happen is so incredibly involved compared to the 1980s when it all happened so easily. We lived and died by comet-trailing and posterization - especially when it added absolutely nothing to the production.

Additional notes - you forgot to mention the use of "controlled" feedback through the DVE. Always gave that special look through the ADO 1000.

Chyrons often were done in yellow "because it read better" over the overly lit footage - still no edge and the worst drop shadow possible.

This all wasn't JUST public access - most broadcast was the same.



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Mark Suszko
Re: 1980s public access tv- how to recreate today?
on May 27, 2009 at 7:47:14 pm

I know, brother... I LIVED IT.


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peter djorino
Re: 1980s public access tv- how to recreate today?
on May 28, 2009 at 12:42:55 am

you guys are awesome - thank you for the in depth replies now lets see how i go ;)

pete


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Mark Hollis
Re: 1980s public access tv- how to recreate today?
on May 9, 2011 at 5:17:41 pm

All due respect, but Public Access "stations" never had digital effects. That was cheap local TV production where the producer wanted everything to page peel -- or bounce around -- or rotate in a cube -- or [insert the popular effect-of-the-week here]. I swear, I saw some awfully horrid commercials back then.

I think you would have to use some kind of compositing system (like Avid's DS or After Effects or Motion) to get the lag or the trails from hot spots from the old tube cameras from that era. Generally, Public Access was characterized by people who could not or simply did not understand lighting. Thus, if a guest wore anything that glittered, even a metallic pen in their shirt pocket, the tube cameras would burn on that spot as the reflection of the lights entered the camera.

I think one would get extra points for having almost zero depth-of-field, with people and objects that moved in any way falling out of focus with any movement at all.

What if there were no hypothetical questions?


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grinner hester
Re: 1980s public access tv- how to recreate today?
on May 28, 2009 at 10:22:09 am

Film wont get ya there but an old video camera camera or just some added saturationa nd a blur filter will. Don't forget wardrobe and hairdoos. Very important for proper 80s vibe.



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Jason Diebler
Re: 1980s public access tv- how to recreate today?
on Jun 3, 2009 at 9:00:34 pm

I was born in 81, so my memories of the 80s are slightly fuzzy, but that doesn't mean I can't chime in...

At NAB 2 years ago, the editor of Borat talked about how he got that Kazakhstan News Channel look seen at the beginning of the film. He said he basically did what you mentioned, which was VHS dubs, downgrading the film -- I think he dubbed down 3 times or more.


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