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Making It Look Like Film

Tweak your video for surprising results By Stephen Schleicher
Everyone wants their video to look more like film. There is no way to make your video look exactly like film because of the inherent differences between the two media, but with some tweaking, you can emulate the look of film transferred to video.

Here are five tips for shooting on DV to make it more film-like.

Here is our raw, unimpressive, video looking shot.

Depth of Field
Most people shoot video with a short focal length (wide angle lens), which creates a large depth of field. A large depth of field causes the image to look rather flat, since a large area of the image is in relatively sharp focus. By using a long focal length and a shallow depth of field, you isolate your subject from the background, which will give it a more film like feel.

Use a long focal length (move the camera back and zoom in), to decrease your depth of field.

The biggest key to making your video look more like film, is to light like film. Instead of lighting your subject with a lot of light, use a lighting scheme that has a high contrast ratio. Be sure to check out the Lighting 101 series that we have been running on the sites.

Light it like film.

Video looks like video because it is sharp. Any visible lines, and the outline of the subject tend to have a very hard edge. This is because the pixels on the CCD and on your monitor are aligned in a grid. Film grain on the other hand is free to organize itself however it sees fit on the emulsion. This layout gives film a very soft, organic, natural look.

By default video cameras have their sharpness (or detail) setting turned up to make the image look, well... sharp. To soften the image, enter the settings option of your camera and turn the sharpness value all the way down. While Ive not been able to prove it, Ive been told that Sony cameras tend to have the sharpest image of all video cameras.

Lower the sharpness of your camera all the way down to soften the image.

You can also soften your image by adding a diffuser filter to the front of your camera. For more on filters, be sure to check out
my recent article here.

Too much diffusion can make your image look too unnatural, but maybe you are going for that glam shot.

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Related Keywords:film, video, film look, shooting, dv, footage, schleicher


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