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The truth about 24p video

composite1's picture
Last seen: 8 months 3 weeks ago
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Ever since video began to compete with film for the dollars of Indy filmmakers, film afficionados have always argued that video was inferior because it's high framerate 29.97 and lack of selective focus makes it look too 'real'. Well for those who would like to know the real info on 24p here's an explanation of the framerate and how it works in video from Videopia.

The 24p Conspiracy from Videopia on Vimeo.


Rob Grauert's picture
Last seen: 10 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 02/16/2008 - 10:47pm

i hate when people think 24p makes your video look like film. It has pretty much the least impact when trying to create a film look. And what's so great about the film look anyway? No one says "oh look, it looks like film! i like this story even better!!"

And a lot of people don't even know you have to remove pulldown when capturing 24p recorded on tape.

Also, if you're authoring DVDs in DVD Studio Pro, DVDSP doesn't even support 24p for SD DVDs.


composite1's picture
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Rob,

I've always prefered video to film. I've worked with both and probably developed enough film from 35mm to 5"x7" to circumnavigate the globe. Video always looked like the real world to me. Film afficionados always harped how video was too harsh and film was more the look of fantasy. My counter to that was film had been around for a hundred years and you were used to it. Now, film is wonderful mind you as there are creative things you can do with it that video has yet to achieve. However, that gap is closing fast.

Now I do like 24p from midlevel pro cameras and above particularly for projects that will go straight to DVD or the Web. If you know what you're doing, you can simulate a 'filmic' look. When I'm shooting something that way, I try not to get too carried away with it. You can get some nice looks, but if you really want to shoot a film look, you should use film. If you take a look at the '5k Anyone' thread and watch the Great Shootout video, you'll see how HD video shot with several of the midlevel cameras commonly discussed in the forums stack up against film. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Lately, I've been all about 60p. I'm just sorry Premiere CS3 will only go as far as 30p which still looks nice. I think Vegas 8.1 and or 9.0 will handle the full frame rate. If I remember correct, you're an FCP user, can it handle 60p?

Now, would I use 60p to shoot a drama or a romantic film? Probably not. But you are correct, there's a whole bunch of issues going into post with a 24p project and if you didn't take them into account during production, your editor will have soooooo much fun and nice things to say about you in the editing bay.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


Rob Grauert's picture
Last seen: 10 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 02/16/2008 - 10:47pm

"You can get some nice looks, but if you really want to shoot a film look, you should use film."

I disagree. I think if you want a film look it's more important to light your scene like films, implement smooth camera movement and shallow DoF, and apply some color grading. If you do all that with 60i, I highly doubt anyone will complain, or even realize, that it's not 24p.

And yes, 60p is supported by Final Cut, although I don't think many people output 60p. There's nothing stopping you from doing so, but I think most people plan to shoot 60p and drop that footage into a 30p or 24p timeline to achieve a super clean slow-mo.


XTR-91's picture
Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
Joined: 12/06/2008 - 8:57pm

The "film" look has always been the style, and it still is. It is not hard to create with color enhancement during the editing processin most editing software.Also, higher frame rates and better quality is always more natural. There are a number of ways to give a video the classic film style - cutting back on improved features is not one of them.


composite1's picture
Last seen: 8 months 3 weeks ago
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Rob,

You're correct about the techniques of creating a film look in video. My point is, film is nice buy why are so many of us breaking our necks to turn video into film? Where are the reams of books and stacks of training CD's going on at length of how to take advantage of the video format in it's own right? I remember the first time I saw raw DigiBeta footage that was headed to the NatGeo Channel. It was shot without 35mm adapters and all of the trappings that go with 'filming up' video. The images were phenomenal. Later that same year I was training with an HDCAM rig and the stuff my team and me shot blew me away. Again, it was all shot without any intention of making it look like film.

It wasn't until the last season of 'Star Trek: Enterprise' when I read an article about the show being shot in HD that I finally started hearing a cinematographer seriously talk about what could be done artistically with video without harping on how it wasn't film.

You also mentioned shallow dof. Yes that's inherent with shooting film and it's been that way since it was invented. I personally like the deep dof you get with video as it's condusive to what we actually see. Now there's debate about shallow being better to help focus attention on the subject, but take Soap Operas for example. They stopped shooting with film back in the mid-'60's and transitioned to HD in this decade. They don't bother with shallow dof and their audiences don't give a rat's toenail's about shallow dof because they don't notice it. Why? Because the audience is focused on the characters and the storyline. You get that through your framing and composition.

The real reason you want shallow dof is when you're going to project your piece onto a large screen (especially at theatrical sizes.) It's at size that all that extra detail gets rough on the eyes. On TV, not so bad. But with HD screens getting larger by the year, it's going to factor in. Ever try to watch a sporting event on a 72-inch screen in HD without shallow dof? Better be at the back of the room.

I think the whole shallow dof thing is just like the 24p thing, just another marketing bit to get us to spend money. Funny thing is, I also happen to like shallow dof and 24p so I'll be ponying up when the time comes.

BTW,

Rob, I took a look at your demo. You do good work.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


Rob Grauert's picture
Last seen: 10 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 02/16/2008 - 10:47pm

Oh, thanks. I'm glad you took the time to take a look at my work. Glad to hear you enjoyed it too.

And I agree with all you said. When it comes down to it, it's all about the story. It doesn't matter if it's 24p or 60p, or shallow DoF or deep DoF, or 4K or Hi8, etc etc. If there's a solid story, people will watch.


composite1's picture
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Rob,

You're welcome. How did you get your quicktimes to come out so well and still be able to load quickly? Do you use a cleaner/compressor? I like qt and use it to display my mac inclined client's stuff. I have a real time getting the right balance of good detail and low file size. This does relate to the thread as all of my qt's end up being converted to 24p for play on the web. Also, have you shot any narrative work?

XTR,

You too are correct about the different techniques to achieve a film look in post. Where the pain in that comes from, is if it is being done professionally all of that filming up costs time and money. Anyone serious about making their video look like film better do most of that during production. However, that can get pricey too.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


Rob Grauert's picture
Last seen: 10 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 02/16/2008 - 10:47pm

Composite,

Many people think file size is the issue when it comes to steaming video for the web. It's not. It's the data rate. You can load a HUGE file to the web and have it play fine as long as the data rate of that video does not exceed the viewer's data rate of their internet connection. If the data rate is too high, when the video reaches a point that isn't loaded it has to stop and buffer. I'm sure we've all experienced that and it's annoying.

Apparently the average internet connection speed in the US is 3 megabits per second, but I wouldn't rely on that statistic. I encode at a much lower data rate than that. Here are the settings I use. Hopefully you have the same options...I don't see why you wouldn't:

Codec: H.264

Video Settings:

Frame Rate: 30fps

Key Frames: Automatic (if you can't choose 'Automatic' try '300')

Data Rate: Restricted to 700kbits/s (although, you should experiment and see how low you can go)

Encoding: Multi-Pass

Audio Settings:

Format: AAC

Channels: Mono (although Stereo is fine if you really want it)

Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz

Render Quality: Best

Target Bit Rate: 64kbits/s (128kbits/s if you choose Stereo)

Streaming Option: Fast Start (this is what 'tells' the video to load as you watch)

And yes, I always compress and deinterlace using a dedicated compression program. I use Compressor right now. I might buy Sorenson Squeeze so I can encode to flash. You can achieve really low data rates with high image quality with .flv videos. I have had some people tell me they had to wait around for my videos to load.

Oh yea, and just so that you have something to compare to, my videos are about 40 megabytes, but like I said, it's the data rate of the video that matters, not the file size.

Let me know how things go.

Oh, and no. I haven't done any narrative work, although lately I've really wanted to.


jimcvideo's picture
Last seen: 5 years 8 months ago
Joined: 04/15/2009 - 1:39pm

There are only two things that I love film for over video. One is the shallow depth of field, which If you really care that much, a DOF converter can be purchased or built farly inexpensively.

The one that can't be simulated so easily is the super wide latitude that film gives you when it comes to picking up light. That's what really makes film look so special and "lifelike". Sure, you can simulate it by tinkering with your color curves, but the bottom line is that video is just not catching the light in the same way that film can, at least so far.

It won't suprise me at all though if some genius figures out a way to widen the latitude of video. I've often thought that if you had a camera that could capture enough frames per second, you could theoretically do some sort of interleaving - Even frames are underexposed, odd frames are overexposed, and the processor blends the two into one frame. Okay, so the idea's a bit crazy, but sooner or later, someone will invent a way to do it, and then film will go extinct completely. Let's hope for nostalgia's sake that Kodak is the company that invents this technology. I'd hate to see them go out of business. :-)


composite1's picture
Last seen: 8 months 3 weeks ago
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Rob,

Thanks for the info. Yes I do have those options. I do believe it's more the limitations of my current website. We are currently preparing for a complete 'slash and burn' of the old one and are redesigning it from scratch. It will be primarily support flash based video with potential links to .wmv and .mov for my clients who prefer the old stuff.

That's too bad about not having any narrative work in your background. You've got the 'eye' for lighting and good composition. Narrative work would really flesh out your skills as it takes more planning and discipline to make scenes look like you 'didn't do anything'.

Jim,

You are on point about the strength of film's potential lattitude. However, I do believe Canon has hit that mark you mentioned. The EOS 5D Mk II has ISO ratings from 50 to 25,000+. Yeah, I wrote 25k ISO. Now offhand I think the effective ISO for video is 6400 so you can shoot in some places you would need a Night Vision adapter and still get usable footage. It just so happens I have one for the EOS and would love to try that out. It be grainy, but I could put it to good use.

It's funny how you and many others say 'film is lifelike'. I must have different eyes and a different brain because I always thought film looked 'fake'. I've shot film for years as a photographer and cameraman with 16mm to 70mm and developed medium to large format film (everybody goes on about 70mm ever see 9"x9"? Imagine 'The Dark Knight' shot on that!) But I've never seen a photo or motion picture image on film that ever struck me as looking like 'real life'. Now I've seen a bunch of video that did. Especially seeing a soccer stadium interior at 6k! I swear, even from the cheap seats it looked like all you had to do was step out and just sit down on the bleacher in front of you.

But with film depending on your stock can play with exposure so much more and there's stuff you can do to it prior to shooting to get certain looks. In the movie 'Saving Private Ryan', they actually 'baked' the film to give it the same texture as that old combat camera film would have had back in WWII. In 'Blade', the cinematographer fooled around with the bleach process to get 'richer blacks' as he called it. They all looked 'blue' to me, but I got his point.

Now if you have a mid-level to pro camera you can get into the controls and tweak your settings to create certain looks before you get to post. However, lately conventional wisdom says to shoot it 'clean' as possible then jack with it in post. I agree and disagree with that because you do want to be creative as a shooter and you don't want to give your editor nightmares either.

As far as 'film going out of business', I don't see that happening for quite some time. I figure it will go the way of painting and sculpting as a primary medium and become a purely 'artists medium'.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


Rob Grauert's picture
Last seen: 10 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 02/16/2008 - 10:47pm

Composite,

I could be wrong and possibly be misunderstanding you, but I think what Jim means is that when you work with film, you don't have to worry about losing detail in dark shadowy area or bright hotspots. Video looks bad when the image loses detail in the highlights and shadows. Therefore, video has a limit to the amount of contrast it can record.

Maybe the ISO on the Canon 5D address that, but from my understanding of what ISO is, i dont think it does.


composite1's picture
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Rob,

I totally got what Jim meant. Exposure Latitude is determined by how much film can be over or underexposed before you start to lose detail. By the very nature of the silver halides suspended in film's emulsion said silver begins to decay when exposed to the blue spectrum of light. The lattitude and range of sensitivity comes from the amount and density of spacing of the silver in the emulsion. The range of sensitivity can be selected by its ISO number. Color Film gets additional boosts in what it can record from the different chemical additives comprising its individual color emulsion layers. As for 'not having to worry about losing detail in dark shadowy areas or bright 'hotspots, yeah you do. With film you have to take extra care in selecting your film stock, speed, how you light it and how it's going to be processed. Nothing worse than seeing 'bulletproof' (overexposed) or 'ghostly' (underexposed) daily's in the screening room.

All that said, the ISO rating is very important if you want to get that image detail in the highlights and shadows. For a very long time color film had low ISO ratings and needed lots of light to get those details. If you've ever watched Hollywood 'A' list films from the late '40's through the early '60's they had to use 5 point lighting in nearly every scene and either shot night scenes on stage or used 'day for night'. Your film lattitude comes from the base layer of film that contains the blue light only sensitive silver. A higher ISO rating will give you more ability to record highlight and shadow detail due to it's greater sensitivity.

Video on the otherhand is similar to film as each camera's CCD(s) or CMOS chip also has an ISO rating. Most prosumer and mid-level cameras come in at 320. The way video cameras give you simulated lattitude is through boosting the gain. Obviously, a cameraman would use that only as a concious creative choice and it is not comparable to film, but that's video. Knowing your camera's ISO will help you to expose properly and light to expose those light and shadow details.

Film has the advantage in that you can also 'push and pull' during processing to get more or less detail in your images. With video you have to make all of your adjustments in camera and get your desired look during production. The closest you can get to pushing and pulling is tweaking the exposure in an NLE. But you have so narrow a range on what can be done, you want to shoot to avoid having to do that in post. So the CMOS chip in the Mk II being sensitive as it is should be able to record more information and give you more exposure latitude than the typical 3CCD chip.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


jimcvideo's picture
Last seen: 5 years 8 months ago
Joined: 04/15/2009 - 1:39pm

Yet another reason I say that if they put the 5d Mk II into a camcorder body, I'd pay for one. Or four.


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 6 years 1 week ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hey Rob.

I don't want to hijack this thread, but do you use these settings on all web sharing sites (YouTube, Vimeo, Metacafe, etceteras), regardless of HD or SD?

>>Apparently the average internet connection speed in the US is 3 megabits per second, but I wouldn't rely on that statistic. I encode at a much lower data rate than that. Here are the settings I use. Hopefully you have the same options...I don't see why you wouldn't:

Codec: H.264

Video Settings:

Frame Rate: 30fps

Key Frames: Automatic (if you can't choose 'Automatic' try '300')

Data Rate: Restricted to 700kbits/s (although, you should experiment and see how low you can go)

Encoding: Multi-Pass

Audio Settings:

Format: AAC

Channels: Mono (although Stereo is fine if you really want it)

Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz

Render Quality: Best

Target Bit Rate: 64kbits/s (128kbits/s if you choose Stereo)

Streaming Option: Fast Start (this is what 'tells' the video to load as you watch)

Or do you use different stuff for SD than you do for HD? Thanks.


Rob Grauert's picture
Last seen: 10 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 02/16/2008 - 10:47pm

Norman,

No, those are the settings I use when I upload videos to my personal website.

When it comes to sites like Youtube, I upload videos at the recommended image dimensions (1280X720 for HD, 640X360 for 16:9 SD, and 640X480 for 4:3 SD) and I compress as close to the file size limit as I can. I do this because sites like Youtube apply their own compression that the user has no control over. So I upload as much data as I can.

But I do always upload h.264 Quicktimes.


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 6 years 1 week ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

Hi Rob.

Thanks.

Just to confirm, you mean you upload to YouTube and other sharing sites in H.264?

Norman


Stephan's picture
Last seen: 5 years 5 months ago
Joined: 06/26/2009 - 6:22pm

I never really use 24p. Even after seeing the video, still will continue to use 29.9 frames per second.



composite1's picture
Last seen: 8 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
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"Yet another reason I say that if they put the 5d Mk II into a camcorder body, I'd pay for one. Or four."

Jim,

I don't know Hoss, after seeing some of the rigs put together for the Mk II by Redrock and Zacuto, plus the firmware updates allowing for manual exposure control, zebras and audio levels 'being in a camcorder body' is shrinking fast in my eyes as an issue. If you haven't seen those rigs, check out the videos on the '5k' and 'Advanced Info' threads.

Stephan,

Yeah 29.97 is the old workhorse but I'm definitely a progressive scan convert. If I didn't have to edit another interlaced video project again I doubt my feelings would be hurt. Currently, I'm working on a project shot in 24p with the web and DVD in mind.

Norman,

No I don't think your questions are hijacking the thread as I asked it in the first place.

BTW,

Have any of you shot any projects in 24p? If you have, please elaborate on why you did it and how it turned out.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


MazdaMan's picture
Last seen: 5 years 7 months ago
Joined: 05/23/2009 - 5:43am

I've never shot 24p and never really had an interest in video until people on my website wanted it. Since it is an automotive site where I might be covering local race events or something I was thinking it best NOT to have a camera that shot in 24p only? This seemed to make sense to me since the movement of a car traveling at high speeds would be less between frames and so would look smoother on video. I like to take into account though that many of my viewers probably have a below average internet connection because they are gearheads who don't do much on their computers. Not sure if it would really matter in my case since I upload to youtube anyways....

Good thread.


composite1's picture
Last seen: 8 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
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Mazda,

Glad you're enjoying the thread. I recently shot some racing events one set using 60p the other 24p at high shutter speeds to make for more interesting slo-mo's. I dig the look of both though as you implied, the 24p has a less smooth look at normal speed. However, the stuttered motion does lend a certain 'excitement' to the look of the movements.

Concerning whether your 'gearheads' computers can handle the footage, yeah it helps to format it so it will work for the lowest level units. However, YouTube does allow for higher-res viewing so you can put out a better looking piece and those who can view it at hi-res can choose to do so.

Deciding to use 24p with video is purely an artistic choice. Using it just so your video will look like film isn't a good idea if you aren't sure about what you want to accomplish with it.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com