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How to Make Your Video Look Like Film

How to give video a film look using 24p.

Video Transcript

Shooting in 24p is one way to give that elusive film style look to your projects and to your videos. The look of film in the movies that we grew up with often leaves us with the impression that we need to have a big time budget to recreate the same look that only film offers, which is synonymous with quality large budget productions.

24p refers to the frame rate used for film. Film uses 24 frames per second. Well, nowadays a typical HD camera shoots at 30 frames per second, or more accurately 29.97 frames per second. Standard definition video records at 60 interlaced fields that combine to make 30 frames per second. Each field can contain unique picture information if the camera or subject is moving. This gives video a very smooth look.

Film on the other hand records a new image 24 times a second giving it a slightly choppier effect. Many of the newer HD camcorders offer variable recording rates such as 24, 30 and non-interlaced or progressive frames per second.

Using a setting of 24 or 30p will help make your video look more like film. 24 frames per second was chosen originally because film is expensive and that is the absolute lowest frame rate possible to use and still have some semblance of fluid motion to the eye. The less frames per second, the less film you use and the more money you would end up saving.

When the first motion pictures with synchronized sound were introduced in the late 1920’s a constant speed was required for the sound head. 24 frames per second was chosen because it was the slowest speed which allowed for proper sound quality.

When shooting fight scenes major motion pictures generally use a lower frame rate, such as 22 frames per second, and then later play it back at 24p, which speeds up the footage and makes it look like the action is happening much faster.

Recreating that film look could be achieved in a couple of different ways, the first of which is by creating a shallow depth of field just like you’d get when shooting with a 35 millimeter camera. You can accomplish this effect by zooming in on an object or a subject. You’re going to want to zoom in all the way or as close to the subject as possible, then you’re going to want to open up the iris. This effectively decreases the depth of the video. You can also invest in a 35 millimeter lens adapter.

These devices attach to the front of your camcorder and allow you to use a 35 millimeter still photography lens to capture your image, giving you much greater control over the depth of field.

Another factor to keep track of is you want your video to look more like film is adjusting the shutter speed. You’re going to want to double the speed of the frame rate in the shutter. So when you want to shoot at 24 frames per second you’re going to want to adjust your shutter speed to 148 or 160 if we’re shooting at 30 frames per second. The reasoning behind doubling up the shutter speed is to decrease motion blur, which brings us some things to look out for when shooting in 24p.

When shooting with a lower frame rate fast camera motion can tend to blur or strobe the video, creating what is known as jutter. For example, the key is to plan out your shots accordingly and always move with some sort of camera support to assist you in creating smooth movements. You want to take any pans and tilts nice and slow to keep the illusion of motion.

Nowadays even most consumer-level, non-linear editing programs come with various filters and effects which attempt to replicate the film look. Some are better than others. Generally they all focus on de-interlacing your interlaced footages and are artificially adding some grain and adjusting the gamma of your video.

However, the point is that it is now possible to create very clean and professional looking film like video through a little customization from the camcorder or in the post-production process.

Replicating that film style look can add a touch of professionalism to our projects. Shooting in 24p encourages all of us to be as creative as we can be.

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