Looking for a camcorder that records in a '90s quality - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 05-02-2013, 02:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello,

I'm looking for a camcorder that records in a certain quality. To cut the story short, I want to make short films and I want the quality and feel of the images to resemble those of a 1990's film.

Here's two scenes of very famous movies that capture the quality and atmosphere I'm talking about:

Reservoir Dogs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-qV9wVGb38

Pulp Fiction
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBP0Mbc7VFw

Now I know both movies must have been recorded with expensive, professional cameras. But as I'm a broke student, I'm looking for a cheap alternative that will record in a similar style/atmosphere/quality.

I'm also a huge noob on camcorders, so is it just down to the camcorder or is it the lenses that produce the quality, etc?

Thanks a lot for reading this, if you have any suggestions please let me know.
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post #2 of 16 Old 05-02-2013, 02:40 PM
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Get a Panavision camera and lenses like the one QT used to shoot that.wink.gif I really don't think a low cost camcorder with small sensor will capture that.




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post #3 of 16 Old 05-02-2013, 03:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbrubb View Post

I'm looking for a camcorder that records in a certain quality. To cut the story short, I want to make short films and I want the quality and feel of the images to resemble those of a 1990's film.

The idea is to get a camera that can shoot high quality HD; a DSLR (Canon T4i) or micro four thirds camera (Panasonic GH3) and shoot it "flat", meaning you turn down the camera's sharpness, contrast, saturation, etc.. You then use editing software, (Sony Vegas, Adobe Premiere), to color the image anyway you like, including a 90's look. Keep in mind, what you see in a movie like Pulp Fiction is not straight from the camera - it was also altered from what it originally looked like from the camera.

There are FX packages, like "Magic Bullet Looks" that can be incorporated into an editing program that have coloring looks preset for you. Buying a camera to get a certain look is pointless when you can control the image any way you want in post-production.

That same image that you can make look like a 90's film can also be made to look like an 80's film, 1920's film, etc. - without buying a different camera for each look.

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post #4 of 16 Old 05-02-2013, 03:32 PM - Thread Starter
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If only I had the money! So you're saying it's impossible to get anything like that quality with a "budget-friendly" camera?

Maybe I should look into hiring camera's....
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post #5 of 16 Old 05-02-2013, 03:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbrubb View Post

Now I know both movies must have been recorded with expensive, professional cameras. But as I'm a broke student, I'm looking for a cheap alternative that will record in a similar style/atmosphere/quality.
.
You're better off buying the latest cam so you're not stuck with some piece of crap you will regret, and achieving the look you want though filters in an editor. This method will be much more flexible as opposed to TRYING to find a cam that may or may not achieve the look you're after.
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post #6 of 16 Old 05-02-2013, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbrubb View Post

If only I had the money! So you're saying it's impossible to get anything like that quality with a "budget-friendly" camera?

Maybe I should look into hiring camera's....

Sure you can; buy a decent HD camcorder and an affordable editing program like Sony Vegas Platinum...
http://www.amazon.com/Sony-Movie-Studio-Platinum-12/dp/B008MIMHDU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1367534428&sr=8-2&keywords=sony+vegas+platinum+12

..and a cheaper alternative to Magic Bullet Looks, like Pixelan for Vegas Movie Studio:
http://www.pixelan.com/sony-vegas-plugins.htm

You can also, instead of/or in addition to the plug-ins, use the coloring FX within Vegas to color it yourself.. although it would take some time to get the hang of and the desired look versus having it preset for you.
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post #7 of 16 Old 05-02-2013, 03:44 PM
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Magic Bullet Looks - Examples :



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post #8 of 16 Old 05-02-2013, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbrubb View Post

Hello,

I'm looking for a camcorder that records in a certain quality. To cut the story short, I want to make short films and I want the quality and feel of the images to resemble those of a 1990's film.

Now I know both movies must have been recorded with expensive, professional cameras. But as I'm a broke student, I'm looking for a cheap alternative that will record in a similar style/atmosphere/quality.
It's near impossible to get those looks without much money. Hate to say it, but it's true. High quality film stocks have a good 12-15 stops of dynamic range, depending on which one used. A cheap camcorder probably has around 5, some of the newer ones may have a couple more or so. Dynamic range is the lighting ratio it can handle from light to dark before clipping highlights and/or crushing shadows to black. Camcorders in a decent price range have gotten much better, but are still far away from film like dynamic range or color quality. They generally record in 8-bit 4:2:0 color space, which is very limited color range causing less smooth color gradations, which means when trying to push the image in grading banding will happen a lot easier.

There are multiple reasons why they have the look they do and it's not just the camera. First off, they started with film (or a Digital cinema camera with film like dynamic range) which already has way higher dynamic range, which gives it better tones, much less harsh contrast, more range to work with, but also the fact that high quality lenses are being used in conjunction with professional lighting from a Director of Photography (ie; Cinematographer). A cinematographer's job is to paint with light to get a desired look. Also, the shallow depth of field (the scene where the background is blurred out) is much easier to achieve on large sensors such as DLSRs than with small sensor camcorders and you'd want to use a low F-stop to achieve really shallow depth of field for creative focusing purposes.
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I'm also a huge noob on camcorders, so is it just down to the camcorder or is it the lenses that produce the quality, etc?
The camera is a part of it, but lenses play a key role as well. Some lenses are slow (ie; meaning they don't open up as wide and thus allow in less light, such as say an F3.5 lens) and some are fast (allowing in more light such as an F1.8 lense). The lower the F-Stop number the shallower you can make your depth of field also. The most movie like look you will get on a really cheap budget is to use a Canon T2i or T3i with Magic Lantern, Panasonic GH2 or a Sony Nex-5n. The Sony is great for low light. First off, research lighting, especially three point lighting, because lighting is essential for any filmmaker to learn. Lighting helps tremendously and can help you adjust your lighting ratios to improve your dynamic range artificially. I would start saving. lol. Good starter lighting packages are getting cheaper and cheaper and will make a massive difference vs using none at all. You can buy some clamp lights and some daylight CFLs pretty cheap, but I'd recommend something like these to start:

http://www.amazon.com/Fancierstudio-Digital-Continuous-Softbox-Lighting/dp/B0050K3DW2/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1367542404&sr=1-1&keywords=video+lighting+kit

http://www.amazon.com/Fancierstudio-Barndoor-Lighting-Halogen-Fancierustudio/dp/B005VUBNDW/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1367542404&sr=1-4&keywords=video+lighting+kit

http://www.amazon.com/CowboyStudio-Digital-Continuous-Softbox-Lighting/dp/B001P7G0ZQ/ref=sr_1_15?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1367542404&sr=1-15&keywords=video+lighting+kit


Thing about camcorders is you're stuck with the lens built on. DSLRs give you options to change lenses just like real cinema cameras. I'd also learn about color grading techniques as well as picture styles. With my T2i i frequently use CineStyle or Flat 10. You can use the Standard mode as well, but I'd put it as -4 contrast and make sure to light, because it can crush dark detail at times.
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post #9 of 16 Old 05-04-2013, 06:46 AM
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Hi bubbrubb - I agree with MTyson. As I said in my answer over on Videomaker:
Quote:
in addition to the production values provided by lighting, makeup, wardrobe and acting, the "filmic" qualities you see in the clips above come from the Super 35mm film format's 2K+ resolution, shallow depth of field and 15 or so stops of dynamic range. Film is also "gradeable" - which means that the colors can be altered in post-processing to match the filmmaker's vision.

The least expensive digital camera with a film-like resolution (1.9K) sensor size (Super 16) and dynamic range (13 stops) is the $995 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. Because of its dynamic range, it is almost as "gradeable" as film. It was introduced a few weeks ago, so there is only one test video online, but it is a lot more film-like than most video cameras

This camera is the closest you can get to film for a reasonable amount of money.

Good luck!

Bill
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post #10 of 16 Old 05-04-2013, 07:27 AM
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The OP stated:
Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbrubb View Post

I'm also a huge noob on camcorders...
Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbrubb View Post

If only I had the money! So you're saying it's impossible to get anything like that quality with a "budget-friendly" camera?

The Black Magic pocket cam is not a good choice for someone with no experience; no auto focus/auto anything...more importantly you need knowledge of film making to benefit from any of the stated advantages. OP also says he doesn't have money. The BMPC requires additional investment in cards, storage, lens and system specs.

Start cheap with a decent camera/camcorder, learn the basics - if after a couple of years you are still interested in it/want to take it to the next level: then buy more expensive gear.
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post #11 of 16 Old 05-04-2013, 07:52 AM
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Good video is better than film anyway.As i have said time and again watching tv now with good video soursed programns is great compared to old film sourced rubbish.
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post #12 of 16 Old 05-04-2013, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xfws View Post

.........Start cheap with a decent camera/camcorder, learn the basics - if after a couple of years you are still interested in it/want to take it to the next level: then buy more expensive gear.
I paid no attention to video until recently. In the last two years, I've seen the picture quality level soar in the low end as AVCHD has worked its way into so many products from P&S cameras to consumer grade software.
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post #13 of 16 Old 05-04-2013, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by brunerww View Post

Hi bubbrubb - I agree with MTyson. As I said in my answer over on Videomaker:
This camera is the closest you can get to film for a reasonable amount of money.

Good luck!

Bill
I have four pre-ordered. biggrin.gif
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post #14 of 16 Old 05-07-2013, 06:39 AM
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Hi bubbrubb - here is a new Panasonic GH3 clip, shot with an anamorphic (widescreen) lens, that comes pretty close '90s film 'look' (if you pretend the Citroen is a Chevy smile.gif):

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution
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post #15 of 16 Old 05-07-2013, 11:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brunerww View Post

Hi bubbrubb - here is a new Panasonic GH3 clip, shot with an anamorphic (widescreen) lens, that comes pretty close '90s film 'look' (if you pretend the Citroen is a Chevy smile.gif):

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution

It makes me wonder why anyone wants old 90s film look looking at that,just my opinion.
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post #16 of 16 Old 05-08-2013, 02:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flintyplus View Post

It makes me wonder why anyone wants old 90s film look looking at that,just my opinion.

Clearly they were going for a very stylistic artistic decision for the feel of their movie, and in my opinion, no way does that represent this "90s Film look" figment. In reality, there really is no such thing as "90's Film look". A 90's film looks pretty much however the DP/Director intended it to look: The Matrix, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump, Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, all 90's films and none of them look the same. They look like high quality cinema with each their own style and look.

This is a far more impressive video from a Panasonic DLSR...The GH2. Now this looks wonderful & like cinema:

http://vimeo.com/57342043#at=0
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