Troubles rendering ‘film noir’

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    • #51903

      Inspired by a recent Videomaker article I decided to try my hand at a film noir composistion using high contrast lighting.


      It all worked out pretty well until I saw my post rendered video on my big screen plasma and saw a tremendous abmount of pixelation, bigblocks, where light falls into shadows. With our eye we just see a gradual light to dark, but on my videos there is distinct banding like a monotone rainbow with pixelated edges where one color transitons to the next – except this is in shades of white/grey. BTW, the banding can't be seen on small frame samples, even my 24" monitor isn't large enough.


      At first I tried different render settings and then though, duh, look at the camera files on the big screen. Sure enough, right out of the cameras, the video is pixelated. Is this a compression problem or color space problem?


      I tried two different Canon cameras and three different file types. From my Canon XHA1 I get MPEG2 files, recorded in 24F, worse when I go to 60i. I have a DataVideo DN-50 make MT2 (AVCHD) files and when I use my Canon D60 (MOV) AVCHD I get the same result under a wide variety of settings and adjustments. I've had the XHA1 for many years and never put it through the high contrast lighting paces, the D60 I've had a year and always had great video.


      My thought is that high contrast lighting is really hard to capture. Do you folks suppose it is video compression that is the problem? One forum I read recently suggessted the 'color space' is a problem in big block pixelation/compression problems. The XHA1 is 4:2:0, so is the D60. Would 4:1:1 be any better? Does anyone with a 5D MkII ever see that? Sony FS100 users?


      My concern is that I have been contemplating a project that has high contrast lighting (film noir) sections. The end product would have to make it to 'the big screen' ( to make money) and if my cameras aren't capable of producing good files, am I looking to rent a camera with uncompressed video out to hard drive – and what camera would that be?



    • #204860

      There is a difference in fine detail and clarity when scaling up or zooming in between uncompressed 4:2:2 and AVCHD 4:2:0 off the card on the FS100 but you have to zoom or scale a lot to see it.


      The difference is actually so minimal at normal resolutions that its not worth capturing 4:2:2 unless you are filming for green screen. The difference in file size and rendering isn't worth the small difference.


      It is very possible that color space could have some minor influence here but I would think it to be just that, minor. You could try a free program called 5DtoRGB that will convert footage to Pro res or DNxHD 4:2:2. Its not the same as having it off the camera but there is enough of an improvement that you should be able to see any influence that might have.


      There are many other technical issues that could be causing this but first I would have to ask, how you are getting it on the tv, what format and what difference in scale are we talking about here?


      Really though, if the "Big screen" is the end product goal, I would be looking at what 4k camera options were available.

    • #204863

      My video card (EVGA GTX-580) is directly connected to my 60" Panasonic plasma via an HDMI cable – normally this looks great. In fact, it's always looked great (and still does in 'normal' situations) except for this high contrast project.


      I used four different video players to view the project files, before and after rendering, as mpegs or mp4 and a few exports from Adobe PremPro 5.5 that my players (Windows Media Player, VLC, Quicktime and Cyberlink) couldn't read. I think I"ve tried everything possible (multiple times) but keep returning to the questions, why are my 'out of the camera' files pixelated under high contrast lighting scenarios? …and what can I do/try (with my equipment) to reduce/eliminate pixelation in the areas I should be seeing light on one side, dark on the other, and nothing blocky in between.


      What other technical issues may be involved?



    • #204869

      Could be outputting a resolution that doesn't play nice with the TV. I don't know what formats or resolution your TV plays well with but this is a pretty common issue for gamers using HDMI. 


      Also, how did you accomplish this "High contrast look"? If your "Out of the camera" files look bad no matter what I would check your camera settings. If you have access to a blu-ray/HDTV set up I would burn to blu-ray and see if its any different.

    • #204910

      Since you have a Canon 60D you can download and install the Technicolor Cinestyle picture style.  When you use this your on camera image looks washed out as the darkest and lightest parts of the image are moved into the 8 bit dynamic range of the compressed frames.  This is exactly what you need for high contrast shooting.  Once  you get into editing you apply an inverse transfer function to bring back the contrast but now you are working with floating point numbers.  The overall effect is to eliminate the blocked up blacks.  Here is a link to the informaton.



    • #204935

      thank you all – the forum changes have made it difficult to see where my post got to, found it!


      Woody, my Pansonic TV is a (now) 1 year old HDTV. Good idea about burning to bluray, I rendered bluray files and they didn't look any better. The problem does appear to be my capturing, yes my settings, are to blame. But really, I dialed a lot of setting combos, added ND's manually etc. I suspect there is some user error but I also suspect I hit the limits of what my cameras can do – that's why the suggestion Bruce McIntosh mades sounds so good.



    • #204942

      thanks for the tip Mike, before the 'upgrade' I kept track of my posts by checking 'recent.' I'm not sure why my post yesterday didn't show up under 'recent' or 'active' but I also realize you guys are still working on the forum problems. Of course, now I'm wondering about what I am NOT seeing when I land on the forum 'recent' or 'active' page.

    • #204982

      Trying "Cinestyle" would likely be the best place to start but I have no experience with the 60D. My experience in shooting "Flat" pictures styles however, hasn't been all roses. I do shoot "Flat" most of the time with the FS100 but mostly use the CPF LOG, it doesn't push 8bit as flat as some others. I've found some picture styles push 8bit to far and what you can do in post becomes limited as you will be inducing  problems like aliasing and sometimes the blockyness you are talking about when you are trying to rebuild color in post.


      A lot of people mess with "Flat" picture styles and judge them by eye. Then they wrastle it in post untill they come up with what they like but if they see noise or aliasing they crush the blacks with contrast or levels and forget to mention that. Somewhere "Flat" picture styles became more of a look than a function. These custom cocktail picture styles are a shot in the dark if they will work or not. The more manufactured ones like "Tech Cinestyle" and "CPF LOG" from Crooked Path Films are designed with the use of monitoring equipment to understand how far they are pushing dynamic range and if in fact they are actually doing something. So, thats what makes them a good place to start IMO but that still doesn't mean they will function the same from camera to camera even within the same brand as small differences in sensors and how they function can effect the usefullness of a picture style. 


      Sometimes its a easter egg hunt to find the picture style and then sometimes tweak it to fit what your looking for out of a camera. Then there is Post but thats a different world.

    • #204983

      Hi Woody,

      I did manage to get the software on my 60D and plugin into PremPro 5.5 so technically I'm set but I wanted to read the material again, especially the post production stuff about LUT. This is a whole new level of post production to me – I usually eyeball color correction, which is a bit of a crap shoot, so I'm looking forward to incorporating your advice into a new understanding about my cameras and post production efficiency.

    • #204986

      I have been using Cinestyle for several months as a default.  The first thing I do in Premiere is to apply the correction effect and a 50% sharpen.  I then have what looks to me like what I would have seen if I had used a Standard picture style.  The benefit is that there is less information loss in the compression to H.264 because of the "flat" unsharpened nature of the encoded frames.  


      I then do normal color correction steps to adjust brightness contrast and gamma further by eye.


      I hope you have as good results as I seem to have had.


      Once you digest this you should explore the Magic Lantern firmware overlay.  It has a high dynamic range mode where alternating frames are shot at higher and lower ISO to bring out the highlights in one frame and the shadows in another. In post the data is recombined to produce 30FPS of higher dynamic range data.   I haven't explored this yet but plan to do so in the not too distant future.  The other features of Magic Lantern make shooting much more camcorder like.


    • #205099

      Could you please post a picture that represents just HOW contrasty an effect that you are looking for?

    • #204940
      Mike Wilhelm

      A little tip on navagating the new forums: if you click on "My Account" at the top right of the page, then go to your activity tab, you can see where all your forum topics and comments are.


      By the way, we'd love to see your video when it's done! 😀

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