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FILM LIKE (POST) by Michael Robinson

For those of you who haven't discovered egroups this is the sort of gem you're missing. We recently had a long discussion on how to make pictures, from a Sony PD150 DV camera, look like film. Michael posted a great reply and with his permission it is reproduced here.

Please note: Michael has no connection with the companies mentioned. He just uses their software for the projects he works on. At present he's working on several projects including some "animation short work on the side for fun (and learning)".

For better results (yes better than the frame mode on Canon's cam line)-- Shoot interlaced with the PD150. Bring the clip into After Effects and either deinterlace native within the program or place your Photoshop deinterlace filter into the plug ins folder and use that.

To do it native in After Effects, bring 2 copies of the clip into the program, specify one clip lower field and the other clip upper field in the interpret footage dialog box (motion detect best quality checked on both). Then drag both clips to your composition and apply an opacity of 50-75 percent (I like 50, 75 gives me jaggies but others attest to the 75 percent).

You can acheive the same results with Final Cut Pro, check out 2-pop.com for more on this.

Ok now you've got 30 full crisp frames of progressive frame footage. If that's good enough for you there you go, but there are 2 other options ahead if you want them....

  1. Render one comp at 24 fps, and then bring it in again to re-render at 29.97 (mock telecine, and you'll probably want to apply reduce interlace flicker afterwards).
  2. Or if you're willing to spend the cash, there's a plug in called Twixtor that can actually do all of the above for you (they claim to have better results than the methods I've described, but I haven't gone as far to research their claim...there is a tutorial for this at their site).

And if you're in the PC world there's a stand alone app called MotionPerfect from Dynapel that will do the same for you (and it's cheaper too...like 30 bucks compared to Twixtor's $200-300 range.

Avoid Cinemotion at all costs...well if you like scratching your head, I can't get a result I like with it. Play with a demo, see for yourself, you know the whole deal, don't rely on my opinion. The above advice will yield real 24fps and not mock 24fps ala Cinemotion. If anyone thinks I'm being too judgemental here, please enlighten me with a preset that you think works. One thing though, I have been able to get really weird motion effects just by experimenting with Cinemotion.
Film grain? Yuck...I like Cinelook for color correction (mainly curves) but that's about it. But...there's a new plug in coming out stil in beta called Grain Surgery that will let you sample a source image's grain structure and apply it to the clip you want (this is for After Effects also). You get yourself a DVD ripper, rip a source frame from your favorite type of film stock (ala 3 Kings which I hear posted about so many times) and apply it to your DV footage (you can also smooth your CCD grain out with this, and this alone is worth it because supposedly it beats Commotion's, Cinemotions and Ultimattes Grain Killer by a far mile). In fact I spoke with someone at the company and Puffin Designs wants to include an integrated version of Grain Surgery into a future Commotion release (not 4 obviously). This tool is an at-home compositor's dream, but the day isn't too far off when we'll be sampling film stocks instead of emulating them (I wonder about the legal ramifications of this one though).

There are a myriad of ways available out there to fake the funk on the film look, some cheesy, some refined...one just has to do some searching around to find it. But remember your DV color restrictions. This will not change.

Not that I'm about film look though, DV has a lot of interesting places to go...anyone who has played with Synthetik Studio Artist ought to know.

Oh and by the way, I do not take credit for any of the above recipes, just passing on the info like a good team player so we can all learn a bit more. I'm a total compiler made up of absorbent material.

© 2001Michael Robinson

PS-In writing this I assumed you have some access to software for post, so don't flame me if I didn't exactly offer the low-budget solution.

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Here's our complete list of articles on making video look like film including links to other sites of interest.