Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television

Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Flash Frame Visuals Academy, Bangalore, India

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

And thus we make good ads...

A good advertisement is nothing more than a story, which stays back in your heart, connects your emotional chord and jogs your memory when you are out, making choices. A good ad is anything but a visual medium, that stops you from changing the channel on television when that ad is there, or skip ad on you tube. You just want to sit and watch it fully. That’s the success of any storyteller.
But how do we succeed in making good TV commercials? Every second, a new ad is telecasted on TV. But what makes one ad stand out from hundred others? Here are some quick insights:

·      Think from your heart
Best of the ads, ranging from Fevicol to Vodafone, all have a human bond. They succeed to make you smile for those few seconds. In most of those ads, they attract you by the story and then at the end tell the brand. It’s the story that will make you chose that brand and not otherwise. So keep your logical mind aside and let your heart work more

·      Always consult your personal Google
No, am not talking about the Google.com. Am talking about the Google what our grandparents use to use i.e. people around. Strike conversations, travel, get deep into diverse cultures, traditions, sounds, and languages. You never know which person or place will get you that last minute idea which your client is looking for in the pitch. The personal Google becomes infinitely more powerful when you add more ‘sources’

·      Simplicity is the formula
Where everyone is trying to outsmart everyone else, where CG works more than the concepts, that’s when your storytelling should stand out. Simple stories always touch our hearts. Human chemistry is extremely important in the business of communication. In this fast, technologically driven world, simple conversations, locations, situations are what one needs the most

·      Target audience
Never forget whom your brand is actually targeting to. A village set up might work for one brand, but for others you might find the necessity to show a Jacuzzi setup. See who is the buyer of your product, get into his shoes and plan your ads well

·      Indirect advertising
Strike it hard, especially when it’s least expected. Write your story, characters, and situations in a manner that your viewer hardly expects the brand at the end and it just amazes him completely. This formula always works better than the conventional ways of showing the product and revolving your ad around it. Recent Filpkart, OLX ads are the best examples

·      Observe your surroundings well
You reflect the piece of your soul in everything you write. In this fast paced world, many people forget to observe the small little things around them. But when an ad filmmaker shows it to them, it strikes as a reminder, a feel good moment, which rather went, unnoticed.  At the same time it is extremely important to accept the changes- and equally important to retain your roots. Such moments will make them remember your product/ brand too. ‘Daag ache hain’ of surf excel works on the same formula

·      Consider the clients brand as your own brand
When you make a pitch to your client, they all they want to see is how differently each agency interprets a brief and then how passionate an agency is about that category of the brand. They should get a feel that you are not some external agency but belong to their extent team itself

·      Research- But Different
You are a creater and not a phd researcher. The phd kind of research captures what’s there on the surface. It does not capture what’s inside. It truly doesn’t capture what drives consumer, motivates the, what captures their imagination and what they want to hear. So get off your systems, take a walk and get into real surroundings

·      Right music is magical

Ogilvy has always said that never create music and lyrics that take the brief way too literally. The second is never to force music onto the consumer. The third is not to sing the brand names. By this I mean that ‘Vicco turmeric’ and ‘Nirma’ is passé. Now, sober sells…such as ‘U & I in this beautiful world’ for Vodafone pug ad

Written by 
Aditi KK
Associate Director
Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Email: aditi@ffvacademy.com

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/ffvacademy
Instagram: https://instagram.com/ffva/
Google Plus : https://plus.google.com/+FlashFrameVisualsAcademyofFilmTelevisionBangalore
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/flashframevisua/


Thursday, 23 April 2015

Getting color grading the right way

We have travelled a long distance, since black and white era. When color came in, DPs lighting style changed completely. They started color grading, but couldn’t play much with colors, since they had very few options. There were very few DPs like Roger Deakins, who took the initiative of giving their film a specific look. Especially in 'O Brother, Where Art Thou’, Deakins made it look unique and stunned the entire world

O Brother, Where Art Thou (Movie)
After digital took over analog, Digital Intermediate (DI) came into the scene, because of which we are able to manipulate every bit of information being recorded within a sensor. So it’s very important to have better knowledge about the DI process to attain its full advantages. Before moving into rest of the technicalities, its very important to the basic difference between color grading and color correction.

Inside a color grading suite

Color correction vs Color grading

Color correction - It refers to a process that is more technical in nature, of making adjustments to correct clear qualitative problems in an image, bringing it to fairly neutral state.
Color grading - It refers to a more intensive process of developing an appropriate overall style for the image, relative to the narrative and artistic needs of the program.

Famous colorist Joe Owens explains it in a simple words – “Correction is sword fight, while grading is the war”.

Basic kinds of grading used in India

1. Neutral: It’s a usual pattern were people adjust the exposure to get maximum details and adjust the color temperature to make white look white. There are no much complications for the colorist. He just makes it neutral, for a night scene, its bluish and for flash backs, black and white or sepia. This has been the reason why most of the films look similar.

2. Hollywood Style: Hardcore hollywood fans will want to make their film look teal & yellow/orange. Colorist would add teal/cyan to shadows and yellow/orange to highlights, expecting it to look international. It works with certain kind of films but currently even Hollywood is bored with this style. And some DPs feel satisfied when a foreign colorist grades their film

The teal orange look
3. Free Style: This gives us an opportunity to travel with the story and exploit the DI platform to the fullest. We would allow story to decide its look and tone. But for this, we will have to take a lot of pain trying to create a new look that suits the story and its feel. But, the output would be unique and makes the story look more pleasing and apt.

Purpose of Color Grading

·      Correcting errors of color and exposure- Images acquired digitally almost never have optimal exposure or color balance to begin with. So it becomes colorist’s job to get the things right.

·      Making key elements look right- Every scene has key elements, from which audience have certain expectations. So it becomes colorist's job to navigate the difference between the uncorrected shot and the preferred image.

·      Balancing shots in scene to match- Many programs, narrative or documentaries incorporate footage from variety of different sources. When viewed together in edited sequence, these inconsistencies of color contrast make it look ugly. With color correction it can be balanced

·      Creating style & depth

During color grading of Flash Frame Visuals Academy students project

Case study - Color grading of a feature film

Below mentioned is the personal experience of Mr.Bagath, cinematographer of upcoming tamil feature film “Boomerang”.  He was recently involved in the color grading of his film.

As narrated by Bagath...
Recently I have shot a Tamil film ‘Boomerang’ in Black Magic Cinema Camera 4K and graded with DaVinci Resolve. It was a great learning and experience.

Important things to take care while grading

      Lock your edit: Shots are aligned with EDL. If we make further changes in edit, it would make things complicated.

·        Create a Look book: Look book is something were you take a snapshot of every scene and do your desired look with the help of Photoshop or any other software and create a PowerPoint. I found Photoshop more useful; this look book conveys your vision to the director and the colorist. My colorist found it very useful as it made his job so easy and saved a lot of time. I graded my film within just seven days. This is something I started doing when I was an assistant DP in Maniratnam's Kadal.

·         Director’s Approval: Before starting the DI, confirm your visual ideas with the director or at least grade a scene and get an approval from him. This avoids confusion during later stages. I have heard a lot of stories from my colorist were he graded some films twice since director didn’t like the look.

·          Interpret different Sequences: Every scene can’t look similar. It varies with location, time and character's emotion

·         Continuity: Initially we grade individual shots without watching it as a whole. We will have to render the entire sequence to play it in real time were, we will start noticing the variations within a scene if there are any. We might have shot a scene with different cameras, time and light conditions, all these have to look similar and make the scene flow evenly without any major jumps.

·         Power windows: We can always manipulate a part of frame provided if there is information in the image recorded. Usually I draw a power window on sky and bring out its detail by reducing the luminosity by half or one stop and also I like changing its color, or a power window on a character face and open it by half a stop it helps the shot look more dynamic. If the shot is in motion then these power windows have to be tracked.

·         Note the shots that require CG: Some shots will require CG, like in fight sequences we will have to remove ropes and other stuffs, replacing green matte with a proper background where foreground and background tone should be matched. We can also rectify few shots like boom mike in frame, camera reflection on mirrors, light reflection on shades .etc.

·          Attend the DI sessions personally: Most DPs don't find time for DI and they send their assistants to take care of it. But, they are missing a big part because today's cinematographer's job is not just only shooting but also to work on lot of things in post production. So make sure somehow you attend DI sessions personally.

·          Output: Confirm your output format for DCP. Mostly its QUBE in recent times. And the resolution has to be conveyed initially whether its HD or 2K or 4K or 8K. And also the scope ratio16:9 or 1:2.35 or 1:2.4... in India its usually 1:2.35. 

Not to forget that at end of the day, we are just trying to tell a story with all these tools in a best possible way, and we shouldn’t allow visual style to dominate the script

Article by 
A.T.Bagath Singh
Cinematographer & faculty
Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Bangalore, India 

Reference(s): "Color correction handbook", Alexis Van Hurkman

Monday, 10 November 2014

Understanding 4K for filmmaking

In recent years digital cinema has quickly progressed towards 4K and beyond. Therefore it would be worthy to understand this enigma called 4K. Firstly let’s understand what we mean by the term ‘Digital Cinema’? In the early days, motion picture used to be shot on celluloid or film using motion picture cameras manufactured by companies such as ARRI, Panavision, Aaton etc. The capturing medium was 35mm film negative usually Kodak or Fuji. The exposed negatives were taken to laboratory where they were developed and printed on 35mm film print stock (positives). These film prints were projected in cinema halls using film projectors running at 24 frames per second.   

As digital technology advanced, digital projection replaced film projection in many cinema halls. The idea was to do away with the costly process of printing multiple copies of the film print and distributing it to various cinema halls individually. With the advent of the Digital intermediate (DI) process, film negative could be scanned at a high resolution and captured as a Digital (Digital Picture Exchange - DPX) file. The DPX file could be color graded at a DI suite to enhance or achieve any specific look. This color graded file is then transcoded (this is a process of digital to digital conversion to ensure compatibility and efficient compression) and is ready for projection. Cinemas make a one-time investment on digital projectors like Barco etc. and distributors send out their films using memory devices like Hard-drives or broadcast their film through satellite with security features. This has become an economical option for the film industry and therefore being widely used.
The acquisition process

During the same period, several Digital Cameras (RED ONE MX, ARRI ALEXA etc.) were introduced in the market for the purpose of shooting motion picture. These cameras were attempting to provide a similar image quality as film but the capturing medium is a digital image sensor (CMOS etc.). There are two key attributes to be considered to gauge the image quality; they are - latitude (or dynamic range) and resolution of the capturing medium. Latitude is basically the range of brightness (from the blackest black to the whitest white) a camera can capture. Higher the camera latitude, the captured image has that much more details. It’s widely regarded that film negative has high latitude, close to 15 to 16 stops (latitude is represented in terms of stops).  Digital cameras claimed to provide high latitude close to 14 stops, but in actuality fell short of what film negative can provide. This is because the stops are not standardized across formats. (Note: In recent years with advancing technology some cameras like RED DRAGON claim a latitude of 16.5+ stops which is more than film negative)

Latitude range

Then consider the resolution aspect; motion picture is meant to be seen on the big screen.  The 35mm film print has an ideal resolution to handle the big screen, i.e.  The image projected is of acceptable clarity. Formats like 70mm and Vistavision were meant for even bigger screens like IMAX etc. In the world of digital cameras the resolution was quantified in terms of vertical pixels. Thus a standard definition television screen had a resolution of 480p i.e. 480 vertical pixels. A high definition screen had a resolution of 1080p i.e. a full HD image has 1920 horizontal pixels and 1080 vertical pixels. A 2K image has 2048p i.e. a resolution of 2048 * 1556 is ideally considered as 2K. And a 4K image has 4096p i.e. a resolution of 4096 * 2160. There is an intermediate standard known as the Ultra high definition television (UHDTV) which has a resolution of 3840 * 2160 which is also commonly referred to as 4K

 The initial RED One Mx cameras were giving a 4K resolution image, which was the highest at that time.  

But soon succeeded with the RED EPIC which gave 5K out and the latest camera RED Dragon which gives a 6K out.   

It is important to note here that higher the image resolution, the workflow would need to handle higher volumes of data, which would require more resources. For theatrical release 2K to 2.5K is sufficient. 
ARRI Alexa in comparison is a 2.8K camera with a highly advanced 3.5K sensor camera. It delivers far superior image density and more color subsampling. It captures data as 12 bit logarithmic uncompressed ARRIRAW file. 

Another 4K camera which is a highly affordable option is the Blackmagic Production Camera (having a super 35 frame sensor) which gives an Ultra HD out. Also the Canon 1DC is the only 4K enabled digital SLR camera (with a full frame sensor) in market right now. In contrast the Panasonic GH4 is a mirror less Micro four thirds camera which also gives 4K out. At this point we should understand how the different sensor size affects the image resolution. (See the image below)

Note: the Super 35 frame is equivalent to APS-H standard of Canon

Here we can see that 35mm Full frame size is the largest among the different formats which is the sensor size used in all Full Frame DSLR cameras like the Canon 5D Mark 3, Canon 1DC, Nikon D3X etc.

The Super 35 frame size (APS-H equivalent) is the standard motion picture size frame which is used in cameras such as ARRI 435, ARRI Alexa, Red Epic Mx, Blackmagic Production Cameras etc.
The Micro Four thirds (MFT) frame size is used by Panasonic cameras such as GH4, GH3 etc.
Here we need to note that camera sensor size is a factor in determining image resolution but the spatial resolution of the sensor also needs to be considered. For e.g. If we consider the Canon 5D and Panasonic GH4 cameras, the 5D (full frame – 2x) gives a HD out whereas the GH4 (MFT – x) having a sensor size much smaller than a full frame gives a 4K output. Therefore we also need to consider the spatial resolution of sensor while considering a camera’s out.

If we consider the Canon 5D and Canon 1DC, both having full frame sensor,  we can say with certainty that 1DC is a superior camera as it gives a 4K output, which can be attributed to higher spatial resolution of the sensor.

If we consider the Panasonic GH4 and Canon 1DC, it is unwise to state that the 1DC (full frame – 2x) has superior image quality compared to the GH4 (MFT – x) purely due to the higher sensor size. 

Thus concluding, 4K image is highly desired attribute in cameras now days; in fact even mobile phones have 4K enabled cameras that are out in the market. In such a scenario, it is firstly important to gauge our requirement   and make informed choice regarding choice of cameras and whether 4K is essential for the project. The volumes of data can be huge while shooting 4K and may increase the cost in post processing.  But there is also much scope to enhance the image in the post with the 4K Raw file.

At Flash Frame Visuals Academy, students pursuing their Diploma in Direction, Cinematography and Editing courses are given detailed classes on the 4K technology with hands on training and live demos, from the script to screen. 

Article by : 
Santosh Bhoopalan
Faculty - Cinematography department

Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television
Bangalore, India
Website : www.ffvacademy.com