Summer '94
































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One of the more frequent questions asked about Filmlook is "Do we light for film or for video when we're shooting for Filmlook?" There is a very simple answer to this question: "There is no difference between film lighting and video lighting. There is only good lighting and not-so-good lighting." To explain, the typical attitude toward shooting a video production in the past was to make it as cheaply as possible and as quickly as possible. Not much care was given toward making the lighting an integral part of the production, because video cameras of old typically didn't demand (or allow for) creative lighting techniques.

Almost all tube-type cameras had a very narrow dynamic range; detail was minimal and the videographer had fewer than 5 f-stops of exposure to work with. This is why many shows (even to this day!) were lit very flatly, every shadow chased away and eliminated with a barrage of high powered lighting instruments in order to limit contrast and increase exposure. Outdoor productions were a nightmare to light correctly due to the inherent limitations of the cameras either in full daylight or at night. Contrast was difficult to control--tube cameras easily "bloomed" whites when overexposed and shadows became muddy and undefined black holes when lighting fell below the exposure range.

With the arrival of the CCD camera, all those barriers to good video production were finally shattered. Newer three-chip cameras today have very large dynamic range--subtle shadows and bright highlights are now recorded faithfully whether shooting in midday sun, twilight or evening, and the video D.P. now has exposure latitude competitive with film. An additional advantage CCDs have over tubes is no burn-in of images when shooting highlights, or directly into the sun. Contrast can conversely be limited either with well placed fill lighting, smoke or with optical filters on the camera. Instead of a light meter, the professional camera operator typically uses a waveform monitor on location to immediately determine proper exposure. Bear in mind, once details are lost due to overexposure or "crushed blacks," nothing in video post production--including Filmlook--will be able to repair the image. Unfortunately, many productions fail to take full advantage of the creative opportunities afforded by CCD cameras. This may be due to the outdated belief that video cannot hold up to the same dramatic lighting techniques that film has been famous for. Also, video productions tend to have a tighter budget and time constraint than do film productions. The time allowed for lighting setups in video is often a fraction of what is allowed in a typical film shoot.

Filmlook demands very few technical requirements, yet it takes a great deal of care and attention in exposure and lighting to unlock the full potential of the film simulation process and achieve breathtaking results. Simply put, any creative and proper lighting technique normally used in film applies directly to a video production--the newer CCD cameras can handle it. Dramatically lit, well-exposed video that borrows techniques from film production and Filmlook will only add to the rich texture that was originally created by the D.P. and the camera.

VIEWFINDER: Eric Mittleman

Eric Mittleman is the producer of "Playboy's Hot Rocks" program and has been working for Playboy for over three years. Eric has used the Filmlook process on "Hot Rocks" for over two of those years. His background includes directing and producing music videos and features for home video, and five years experience in writing for motion pictures and television. During a recent session, we asked Eric about his experiences with and his techniques for shooting "Hot Rocks" for the Filmlook process.

What sort of lighting and video equipment do you use?

We usually use a five-ton grip truck with a full tungsten / HMI package up to 4Ks. Depending upon the setup we'll use either the tungsten or HMIs, or we'll mix and match wherever appropriate. I usually like to stay with the Sony 90 or the Ikegami HL-55, although I've gotten really good results with the Sony 70 and 400. The higher end chip cameras always work the best for us. Then we usually use Pro Mist or warm Pro Mist filters, which give a very nice look. For shooting "Hot Rocks", and especially for women, we keep the detail enhancement chip in the camera around 75% for beauty and glamour shots.

What special techniques do you use to get the "look" that you want?

We light as if we were shooting on film, and do everything as if it were a film shoot, except we have videotape rolling. We do a lot of special effects lighting using (rear screen) projection and gels. By working with Filmlook enough you learn what the "translation" is and you get to learn what you can do with the colors. I try to work with the same guys, and they really know how to light not only for film, but for Filmlook. If you know how to light for Filmlook, you'll definitely get a better look.

Why use Filmlook instead of actual film?

It's money. In today's production environment where you have to do more and more production for less money, Filmlook is an excellent alternative to film, because it gives an extremely aesthetically pleasing look on tape that you normally can only achieve on film. Filmlook will not make Betacam SP look exactly like 16mm film, but it will come close. There was a music video we did of a Japanese band called The Pitsiccatto 5 that consisted mainly of old 16mm film clips and Filmlooked selects. The Filmlook blended in perfectly with the older 16. In fact, the Filmlook footage looked better than the bad 16mm footage!
By using Filmlook on "Hot Rocks", I'm able to save about 15 to 20% (on the budget), which over 26 episodes is like saving enough money for four extra shows. I've run into people and they tell me that the show looks really great and it doesn't look like other music video host shows...but it's a collaborative thing, with the technology behind the filters, the cameras, the talent and the crew, and Filmlook. It's just being able to combine the elements along with the research into how the different processes work from filters to Filmlook.



SAN FRANCISCO - The popular group Huey Lewis and the News recently finished a music video for the song "Some Kind of Wonderful," that was recorded in video and processed in Filmlook. The video was recorded in a San Francisco nightclub by Face Broadcast Productions and processed in black and white with heavy grain texture. The video at first was never intended for air, according to Face Broadcast's Ron Malvin, who was impressed enough by the Filmlook process to submit the video for promotional use by Huey Lewis' record company.


HOLLYWOOD - When MTV presented its annual awards ceremony in June, it parodied some of the most popular and honored movies of the year with chimpanzees and orangutans playing out scenes from "The Fugitive", "The Piano" and "Jurassic Park." The "Monkey Theater" vignettes were shot in one day in video and then processed in Filmlook in time for the awards ceremony.


HOLLYWOOD - A&M Records has produced a commercial promoting The Neville Brother's new album "Live From Planet Earth." The commercial was edited from a concert video and then processed in Filmlook with enhanced grain and contrast.


© 1997 FILMLOOK Inc. All rights reserved. FILMLOOK is a registered trademark of FILMLOOK Inc.



NEW YORK - BBC television in conjunction with PBS has produced Paddy Chayevski's short play "The Mother", which was recorded on video and processed in Filmlook. It is a poignant tale of a lonely widow finding employment and self-respect in 1950's New York City. The teleplay stars Anne Bancroft and Joan Cusack and will be shown domestically on PBS' "Great Performances" and in the United Kingdom on BBC TV.


BURBANK - The Wrightwood Group has produced a television special on the making of Walt Disney's latest animated picture "The Lion King" featuring interviews and behind the scenes footage of Roy Disney, producer Don Hahn and composer Hans Zimmer which were originally shot on video then processed in Filmlook. The special, entitled "The Lion King, a Musical Journey with Elton John," aired on ABC June 14 and had film elements which were combined with Filmlooked video elements in order to achieve a more integrated look.


LOS ANGELES - Filmlook congratulates Jenny McCarthy for being chosen as this year's Playboy Playmate of the Year. Jenny's other duties include hosting the popular Playboy TV program "Hot Rocks", portions of which are processed in Filmlook. Producer Eric Mittleman has used the process for over two years and is pleased with Filmlook's speed and quality. (See VIEWFINDER article)