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Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?

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Casey Petersen
Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 30, 2010 at 5:46:36 pm

This is an issue I have been trying to figure out since we got our 7D.

I have the latest Final Cut Studio, and have been shooting 1080 24p and using Philip Bloom's MPEG Streamclip workflow to convert my footage to XDCam EX.

I use Compressor's DVD presets to go to DVD and the Blu-ray preset for Blu-ray.

My footage doesn't look as good as what I've seen others do (like the House finale last season). That looked like film both in on my HDTV and on my SD tube TV set. My footage looks very strobey...remember the Canon GL1's "Movie Mode"? Yes, 24p is supposed to look a little strobey, but mine stuff is very noticeable, whereas the House footage looks perfect.

I guess my question is, what is the difference between what Hollywood is doing and what I'm doing? Am I missing some steps...such as CinemaTools, or something different than Compressor? I am shooting 24p and using the shutter speed of 1/50 (double the frame rate). My issue here is just with the strobey-ness. It looks fairly decent on a HD monitor, but looks awful on an SD monitor...whereas House looks great on both.

I've seen it posted recently about dropping the sharpness when shooting...is that what's making the difference?

I guess what I'm seeing is that there appears to be a "motion blur" on the House footage, where mine doesn't have any kind of motion blur, which makes mine look a little strobey.

Also, are they doing something different to conform the footage for broadcast? In my tests, I haven't done anything to convert from 24p to 29.97i...is that a process that Hollywood is doing that I'm not? If so, and if this is the basis of my problem...can someone explain how to do this correctly?


Thanks!
Casey


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Shane Ross
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 30, 2010 at 6:49:19 pm

[Casey Petersen] "and have been shooting 1080 24p and using Philip Bloom's MPEG Streamclip workflow to convert my footage to XDCam EX."

Mistake number 1...converting to XDCAM. I admire Philip Bloom, but this advice was wrong wrong WRONG. You convert to ProRes, not XDCAM.

[Casey Petersen] "My footage doesn't look as good as what I've seen others do (like the House finale last season). "

Because it was shot by a professional camera person, lit by a professional crew of lighting people. People with years of experience. And then color corrected by a professional with years of experience.

[Casey Petersen] "I guess my question is, what is the difference between what Hollywood is doing and what I'm doing? "

I believe the transferred the footage to HDCAM SR, rather than doing the XDCAM thing. And then everything listed above. If you were handed an Arri 35mm camera, that they normally use, and shot with it...I doubt it would look as good as their stuff. It isn't the TOOL that makes things look good, it is the people who use that tool.


[Casey Petersen] "can someone explain how to do this correctly?"

Step 1: Light properly. And expose properly. This takes training.

Step 2: Good location sound.

Step 3: DO NOT CONVERT to a GOP format for one. ProRes is a far better option. I have a tutorial for that here: Tapeless Workflow for FCP 7 Tutorial

Step 4: Professional color correction.

Step 5: Professional audio mix.

Shane

GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Casey Petersen
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 30, 2010 at 7:07:37 pm

Thanks Shane for your insight.

There are still a few questions that linger, though.

I can take my same clips and edit them in ProRes and I still get the strobey look. I have done several experiments with different formats and I am still seeing the same thing...even with hundreds of different clips from different locations and conditions...both good and bad...and nothing looks significantly better (or worse), so I don't think what I'm seeing is a lighting/exposure/composition/color correction issue.

It's hard to explain what it is I'm seeing (thanks for bearing with me!).

Even on House, a lot of it was "handheld" and had a lot of elements in motion in addition to the camera, and everything (off my Dish Network 1080i DVR) is smooth, and for me, even things that are barely moving appear jerky. It's almost like there's a motion blur or some kind of in-betweening that needs to happen with my stuff to make it look remotely like House (just as an example).

Is there some kind of frame rate conversion step that happens somewhere in this process? I mean, you can't just take 24p footage and it automatically looks good on a SD tube TV that is 29.97 interlaced, right? Even my Dish receiver is set for 1080i, so there has to be some kind of conversion that makes it look good when interlaced, isn't there. I think this is getting closer to the heart of what I'm seeing.

Thanks!!
Casey



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Richard Harrington
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 30, 2010 at 7:14:04 pm

Check your shutter speed. Should be 1/50 for 24 p

Richard M. Harrington, PMP

Author: From Still to Motion, Video Made on a Mac, Photoshop for Video, Understanding Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Studio On the Spot and Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 30, 2010 at 8:08:40 pm

[Casey Petersen] "for me, even things that are barely moving appear jerky."

I think I know what you are seeing. I get the same thing with my GH2 when there is any amount of camera shake. It's skew and jello doing its thing. It gives the footage a weird jittery look. If you go through the footage frame by frame, you will probably see how the image expands and contracts (jello) and vertical edges will warp (skew). Going handheld is not one of the strengths of a DSLR. It does help to have a lens with Optical Image Stabilization. When I shoot handheld with my GH2 and manual Nikon lens, I have to be very smooth and steady -otherwise it looks terrible. Maybe 'House' is using nice stabilization rigs and then running all their footage through software correction.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!


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Richard Harrington
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 30, 2010 at 7:16:53 pm

May I suggest you work your way through book/DVD from still to motion. You are suffering from not knowing what you don't know

Richard M. Harrington, PMP

Author: From Still to Motion, Video Made on a Mac, Photoshop for Video, Understanding Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Studio On the Spot and Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques


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Michael Sacci
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 30, 2010 at 11:37:15 pm

[Richard Harrington] "You are suffering from not knowing what you don't know"
That is a golden saying. Love it.

We are living in a time where we need to know the entire workflow to get things right. While we can all afford to buy stuff that are being used by the big boys there is no easy/quick way to pick up and shoot. A person still has to put in the time and effort. But the good news is that there is a ton of info and help available that wasn't around for the old timers.

There are many good resources out the Richard/Robbie's book is a great one, covers A-Z, informative and walks you through what you need to know to get a firm foundation.


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Frank Giardina
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 30, 2010 at 8:30:37 pm

Hi Shane...

I watched your Tapeless Workflow tutorial, Thanks! It's great info.

I have a quick question... regarding mixing 1080 MiniDV footage and 7D footage. Would you recommend capturing the MiniDV footage prores422, so as to keep it the same as transcoded 7D footage, then a ProRes Easy setup in FC 7? I'm not situated to shoot everything DSLR yet.

Best Holiday Regards!

Frank


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Casey Petersen
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 30, 2010 at 8:39:09 pm

Thanks Richard...I'll check that out.

I am shooting 1/50, BTW.

Jason, I don't think I'm seeing the same thing you are. I see this even with tripod shots and there is subtle movement...like a duck swimming in the water or a birdhouse swaying in a gentle breeze.

Thanks!
Casey



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Shane Ross
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 30, 2010 at 8:46:50 pm

[Frank Giardina] "regarding mixing 1080 MiniDV footage"

Call it HDV...to avoid confusion.

[Frank Giardina] "Would you recommend capturing the MiniDV footage prores422, so as to keep it the same as transcoded 7D footage, then a ProRes Easy setup in FC 7?"

If you have the room, yes. But know that when you capture HDV as ProRes, it is 1440x1080, not full raster 1920x1080...so they won't match EXACTLY. But you don't need to. You can capture HDV as HDV, and 7D as ProREs....and just use a ProRes sequence setting. But ProRes is better in the end...easier to work with.

Shane

GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Frank Giardina
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 30, 2010 at 9:13:48 pm

Thanks Shane...

HDV... yes, I'll remember that. What you mentioned is pretty much what I've been doing. I just have to render more than I'd like. Space is an issue for me at this time too.

Thanks Again!

Frank


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Peter Burger
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 30, 2010 at 8:52:04 pm

I worked on a lot of projects with mixed HDV/VDLSR footage and had no problems with not transcoding the HDV files before editing. Did a couple of tests and working was smoother when having both transcoded into the same format. You'd need a bit more HDD space though.


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Frank Giardina
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 30, 2010 at 9:27:17 pm

Hi Peter...

Over all the HDV and ProRes footage seem to get along OK. I was concerned about capturing the HDV ProRes... you and Shane both mention space as a concern, and space is an issue for me at this time.

Thanks

Frank


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Mike Josephs
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on May 12, 2013 at 6:19:18 pm

I was wodnering the same thing. Its true the right people need to shoot, but without sounding arrogant my stuff looks gorgeous in FCP, and a raw MOV even a compressed H264. But make a dvd and it looks like utter crap! I know the dvd is SD but like the OP intimated, buy an sd dvd of a hollywood movie and it's fantastic. I shoot on dull HD, progressive, put alot of effort into lighting and shot comp, and at elast for DVDs it's all a waste b/c, as said, looks like shit.
Help please!


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Bob Dix
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 30, 2010 at 10:35:29 pm

Hi Casey,

I may be splitting straws, I thought the House Videos were shot on 3 Canon 5D Mark II's (which has the bigger 35mm sensor and amazing lighting ISO range). The movie look to-day is no where near the movie look of say 15 years ago, Quote" Chief Projectionist V Cinemas " A quality 35mm film is still better than digital for colour etc.)" In my opinion a very good 1920 x 1080 HD digital production not degraded to so called "Cinema" now, is superior or equal to film say 40 years ago ?

Freelance Imaging & Video
AUSTRALIA


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Chris Wright
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Dec 31, 2010 at 6:07:45 am

I know I'll get reamed for this but...

imho the Canon 5D Mark II does way better 24p than the 7D. If there is any slight difference between movement and frame interval in the circuitry, you'll get funky jerkyness even with blur on, same problem with the GH2. Guess which camera costs more and was used for TV shows.

You can actually fix this stuff with timewarp/twixtor in AE by creating new frames then decimating down to 23.976. removes all jerkyness.

http://technicolorsoftware.hostzi.com/


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Peter J. DeCrescenzo
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Jan 1, 2011 at 12:44:02 am

[Chris Wright] "... you'll get funky jerkyness even with blur on, same problem with the GH2 ..."

Do these GH2 & GH1 1080p24 videos look "jerky" to you?

They look fine to me. Very fine.



http://www.vimeo.com/13982269

Cheers.

---

http://www.peterdv.com


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Chris Wright
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Jan 1, 2011 at 7:35:35 pm

I have no problem with the color. It's great. I'm specifically talking about motion.
Here's a motion example. Ignore the compression quality, this just emphasis motion. Watch closely the water, swans, carousels. etc.

The other clip was fine because nothing moved in frame. Search other clips for cars driving past, etc. It's not as smooth either.

swans






http://technicolorsoftware.hostzi.com/


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Peter J. DeCrescenzo
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Jan 1, 2011 at 8:37:01 pm

Hi Chris: Happy new year.

The old GH1 clip you linked to appears to have been shot using a shutter speed that is too high to produce smooth motion. This is sometimes done on purpose as a special effect (such as in "Saving Private Ryan"), or as a cheat to achieve acceptable exposure but with the undesirable side effect of staccato-like motion.

The 2 GH2 clips I linked to in my previous reply certainly do contain motion. The motion looks perfectly fine to me. Very smooth. These 2 clips were shot recently by experienced DPs.

Both of those clips were shot using the GH2's 1080p24 "24H" mode at 1/50th or 1/60th shutter speed. These shutter speeds will produce motion characteristics in 24p video typical of 24fps film shot with a 180-degree shutter.

The GH1 & GH2 can also record video in 720p60 mode, which is useful for creating slow-motion effects in post, or for producing footage with a extra-smooth, more "video-like" motion characteristic.

Another cause of motion artifacts often seen in online videos is pulldown incorrectly removed from GH1 video shot as 1080p24 in a 60i wrapper. However, this is typically not an issue with GH2 video shot using its fully-progressive 1080p24 "24H" mode, since this footage contains no pulldown.

---

http://www.peterdv.com


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Chris Wright
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Jan 1, 2011 at 9:45:19 pm

Happy New Year to you too.

I'm trying to find footage from a GH2 that has contant motion in one direction, like a pan or car with 1/30th. I'm focusing on the GH2 over the GH1 to eliminate the pulldown variable.


here's a 24p test with a low shutter but I still see the jerkyness.
I'm really trying to sell myself that it works as well as the markII.


here's ice skating at 1/30th sec

Ice Scating - 12/18/2010 - Torture test 1 from Paulo Teixeira on Vimeo.




You have to go full screen to watch motion. Also,the camera seems to handle smaller objects better than large objects.


In comparison, this canon 5d markII 24p footage is almost psychedelic.

Rain Drive with 5D Mark II HD Footage from emmagination on Vimeo.








http://technicolorsoftware.hostzi.com/


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Peter J. DeCrescenzo
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Jan 2, 2011 at 3:09:56 am

Hi Chris: I shot the following two tests with my GH2 today:

GH2 24p "24H" @ 1/50th second shutter:




GH2 24p "24H" @ 1/60th second shutter:




Both 1080p24 clips are approx. 15-sec. long. I re-wrapped the camera-original .MTS files to QuickTime .MOV files without recompression so more people can play/edit them. Vimeo members (free) can download the less-compressed files. Details on the Vimeo pages.

Both the Vimeo-compressed and camera-original versions of the files play smoothly on my MacBook Pro 17 via QT & VLC.

Compare, contrast, discuss. Cheers.

---

http://www.peterdv.com


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Chris Wright
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Jan 3, 2011 at 3:52:55 am

here it is smoothed out with timewarp at 23.976. I think this is what it would look like with a canon 5d markII.

Untitled from Chris Wright on Vimeo.



http://technicolorsoftware.hostzi.com/


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Casey Petersen
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Jan 3, 2011 at 3:08:10 pm

Thanks everyone for your responses!

The thing is, I don't see the strobey look on anything that's uploaded to Vimeo or YouTube. I haven't had time to look at the clips that have been uploaded for this thread, but even with my own stuff in 24p, it looks great on Vimeo...it looks pretty good on my FCP timeline and pretty good on a Blu-ray, but looks lousy on a tube TV set.

I noticed on a thread (perhaps this one!) that someone mentioned changing the settings on the camera to drop the sharpness and chroma. I wonder if that would have any effect on looking lousy on a regular TV. I'm also trying to play to the lowest-common denominator, and hopefully the old tube sets will be out of the picture soon.

Thanks!
Casey



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Jason Jenkins
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Jan 4, 2011 at 6:14:03 pm

Motion looks fine in those samples, Peter. In my experience with several weeks of shooting with the GH2, it's not movement within the frame that is the problem, it's movement of the camera that shows the weird jerkiness. Rolling shutter?

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!


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Paulo Teixeira
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Jan 4, 2011 at 6:09:44 pm

I would not use that video as an example. It was my very first outing with the GH2 and not only were the settings not the best, I used a lower quality 24p mode. The higher quality 24p mode looks much better than that. On top of all that, it was obviously on a shutter of 30.

Again, that example is very poor to be using it and I did thought about deleting it and this thread is reminding me that I probably should.


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Jan 4, 2011 at 6:53:01 pm

[Peter J. DeCrescenzo] "Do these GH2 & GH1 1080p24 videos look "jerky" to you?"

The images look very nice. I can see some jerkiness going on in some of the handheld shots, though. It matches with my experience shooting with the GH2. I assume that the rolling shutter is what exacerbates the jerkiness of handheld movement.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!


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Anthony Bari Jr.
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Jan 4, 2011 at 3:32:21 am

Make sure you do a few things:

Focus and stay focused

use a rig or tripod, handheld looks very amateur

Use adjust Picture Styles, like Flat colors so you have room to color correct.

Great Lenses, L series, or don't buy plastic cheapies.

good audio is a must!

be aware of shutter speed at half of your framerate ie: 24p shutter 1/50th (smooth movement)
thats a start.

*Production*Post-Production*
Apple Certified Instructor (Final Cut Pro 7)
"Semper Fi USMC"


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Casey Petersen
Re: Why doesn't my footage look as good as Hollywood?
on Jan 17, 2011 at 7:11:32 pm

I'm starting to think now that this is more of a progressive footage looking lousy on an interlaced TV issue, rather than there is something wrong with the camera or anything in that part of the process.

Maybe the question I should be asking is how to get original progressive footage to look decent on DVD when played on an interlaced TV.

Thanks!
Casey



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