Film-Technique Crash Course

The bottom line is that two different issues separate film from video: the technologyand the technique. What you can’t change is the look of the basic medium: You’re going to be recording onto tape, not film.


If the grain and softness associated with film are crucial to your project, you’re not utterly out of luck. With the addition of a 320 video-processing program called Adobe After Effects and a $550 software add-on called CineLook (from DigiEffects), you can get very close to making video look like film. CineLook adds the grain, flecks, and scratches to taped footage, and plays with the color palette to make it look more like that of film. Another popular add-on called CineMotion (from the same company) adds subtle blur processing to make the motionof video look more like film, simulating 24-frames-per-second playback. (Needless to say, few iMovie fans go to that expensive extreme.)

What you can change with iMovie alone, however, is almost every remaining element of the picture. Some of the advice in this chapter requires additional equipment; some simply requires new awareness. Overall, however, the tips in this chapter should take you a long way into the world of professional cinematography.

The Very Basics

If you’re using a camcorder for the first time, it’s important to understand the difference between its two functions: as a camera and as a VCR.

The most obvious knob or switch on every camcorder lets you switch between these two modes (plus ...

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