03 Apr 2015

Want video to really look like film? Here's our in-depth review of the remarkable Film Convert

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How to make video look like film How to make video look like film Peter Haas


Here's another chance to read our review of the amazing Film Convert. (Note that this was first published in November 2013). Even in a world dominated by pixels and the "new aesthetic" there are a number of us who still love the seemingly undefinable look of celluloid film. Now, you can match it with digital video, very closely. In a major new review of Film Convert, Peter Haas shows how

There have been many attempts in the past to make our digitally acquired images look more like film; from 24p frame rates to applying a fancy s-curve in the online.  Yet while many of pre-packaged filters, home-brew DIY color corrections, and film-grain add-ons came close,  they mostly gave the impression of "video that aspired to look like film," that anyone who has ever shot celluloid could quickly spot.  For a long while it seemed as though shooting film was the only way to capture that elusive cinematic look.  

Film Convert software

Film Convert, a software tool from Rubber Monkey Software designed to give digital footage that filmic "mojo" has, in this writer's opinion, changed that.   

The company's co-founders Craig Herring and Nigel Stanford have long been advocates of shooting cinema digitally.  Rubber Monkey got its start when Nigel purchased a Thomson Viper and developed software to extract footage from LTO storage.  This software would later be used by teams working on the feature films ZODIAC and THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON.  

"Later, RED released the RED ONE and shooting digital got substantially cheaper."  Craig told me in an interview over e-mail.  Nigel and Craig developed the software Monkey Extract which helped handle the R3D files before applications had native support for the format.  "[Monkey Extract] was widely used amongst RED users in the early years... We got a lot of support throughout the industry for this."

Not easily convinced

Despite the fact that digital cinema technology was making leaps in bounds in terms of image quality, some filmmakers and DPs could not be easily convinced.  

"So many customers came into [our] rentals business determined to shoot film, despite not having the money to pay for it.  Once people had decided to shoot film there wasn't anything that was going to change their minds.   We could put side-by-side comparisons in front of people showing them how close they were, but there was always a psychological barrier to shooting digital.  People have a lot of romantic ideas when it comes to film and I think only part of that is the look of the finished product.  The idea for Film Convert came out of this.  

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Peter Haas

... is an award winning Brooklyn-based filmmaker and writer whose first celluloid love was “Godzilla.” Since age 9, he’s been chasing monsters and men, camera in hand. His chief inspirations are classic German Expressionist cinema, the free-wheeling creativity of Terry Gilliam, and the fog-shrouded forests of his New Hampshire birthplace. Through his films, Peter strives to unlock the experience of "ecstatic cinema" -- a viewing experience that challenges, delights, and sweeps up the audience in equal measures.  His work has appeared in American Cinematographer, Red Shark News, various broadcast networks, and various festivals around the world.

Website: www.peterjhaas.com

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