Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

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Matthew_Lawrence

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Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

PostFri Jul 30, 2021 8:58 am

Last night my wife and I sat down to watch a film called a film called “Stalked by My Neighbor” which we’d found on Amazon Prime. Our early impressions of the film were that it must be cheap because it had a video look to it and we felt it looked more like a soap than a proper movie. I’m guessing this look is down to things like lighting (which was flatter and brighter), frame rate (I’m guessing 30fps instead of 24) and a rec 709 (HD video look) colour grade.

We nearly turned the film off early on but we quite enjoyed the story so stuck with it. As the film progressed it became clear that the budget was probably significantly greater than many small indie films that have had a limited theatrical release because the scope was much bigger (number of actors, locations, emergency services vehicles & staff etc…).

I did a quick Google search after watching the film and found out it was a Lifeime TV movie, which I didn’t know when I put it on. This made me wonder why TV movies still decide to go for this look when the option of creating the cinema look is so much more affordable and presumably within their budget. If it’s down to time, they would have been better off slightly reducing the scope and allocating more time to the shoot and grade IMHO.

Any thoughts/suggestions appreciated. I’m genuinely intrigued.

Thanks,

Matt
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John Griffin

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Re: Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

PostFri Jul 30, 2021 3:41 pm

Frame rate is the most obvious visual indicator.
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Kays Alatrakchi

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Re: Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

PostFri Jul 30, 2021 4:34 pm

Matthew_Lawrence wrote:Any thoughts/suggestions appreciated. I’m genuinely intrigued.


First of all, I assume you have all of that Smooth Motion crap turned off on your TV, right? Otherwise even The Godfather will look like a soap opera.

My girlfriend is currently production designing a feature film for Hallmark, they're shooting the whole thing in 15 days which is pretty insane. They won't have any time to do anything fancy, nor adjust too many light set ups. They will need to light once, and maybe make some minor tweaks here and there for the different angles. A 90-page script over 15 days means that they will have to consistently shoot at least 6 pages a day, and that assumes that nothing goes wrong (rain, location issues, delivery issues, equipment issues) whereas they would be forced to increase that schedule to more pages per day to make up for the problems.

The point that I'm trying to make is that for many of these made-for-TV films, getting a filmic look isn't the priority. These guys need to light in a way that will pass the network QC, and move on.

...but yeah, double check your TV settings. It's unusual for anything to shoot at 30 or 60i nowadays, maybe some documentaries. Most made-for-TV movies are shot at 24.
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SkierEvans

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Re: Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

PostFri Jul 30, 2021 5:17 pm

I guess for here I am one of the people who like 60P and the smooth look. I shoot everything at 60P. You can get the slow frame rate look from that if you want too. I have all that TV stuff turned on to get rid of the 24P judder. Getting 24P to look good on a TV is not straight forward. The TV will refresh at 60hz so the 24P film frame rate will have to be modified to play on it normally with a 3:2 pulldown so will never look like it does on a projector in the theatre as it will always have the cadence of a repeated frame in it.

For the OP it is likely the TV.
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Jamie LeJeune

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Re: Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

PostFri Jul 30, 2021 6:04 pm

SkierEvans wrote:The TV will refresh at 60hz so the 24P film frame rate will have to be modified to play on it normally with a 3:2 pulldown so will never look like it does on a projector in the theatre as it will always have the cadence of a repeated frame in it.
Most modern TVs refresh at 120Hz, so there's no asymmetric pulldown cadence needed when displaying 24p content.
IMHO the creative intent of the original frame rate should always be respected when possible.
All the smoothing junk is fine to use for sports. For everything else, especially films, it is an abomination.
As to the OP's question, Amazon for some reason often seems to get some of its TV content after it has been frame converted for US broadcast, even if the show was shot on film or shot at a film frame rate. So, that might be the issue, at least with the motion cadence.
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Re: Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

PostFri Jul 30, 2021 7:26 pm

This looks like many of the features shot in 2014/15 on the Canon 5D Mark III with the Magic Lantern hack.
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Kays Alatrakchi

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Re: Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

PostFri Jul 30, 2021 7:43 pm

drknsss wrote:This looks like many of the features shot in 2014/15 on the Canon 5D Mark III with the Magic Lantern hack.



?
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SkierEvans

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Re: Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

PostFri Jul 30, 2021 8:19 pm

Jamie LeJeune wrote:
SkierEvans wrote:The TV will refresh at 60hz so the 24P film frame rate will have to be modified to play on it normally with a 3:2 pulldown so will never look like it does on a projector in the theatre as it will always have the cadence of a repeated frame in it.
Most modern TVs refresh at 120Hz, so there's no asymmetric pulldown cadence needed when displaying 24p content.
IMHO the creative intent of the original frame rate should always be respected when possible.
All the smoothing junk is fine to use for sports. For everything else, especially films, it is an abomination.
As to the OP's question, Amazon for some reason often seems to get some of its TV content after it has been frame converted for US broadcast, even if the show was shot on film or shot at a film frame rate. So, that might be the issue, at least with the motion cadence.



120hz for more expensive TV's but I think you will find most reasonably priced sets are still 60hz. It is a personal taste as to frame rates. Done well 24P is fine, I shot a lot of film at 18fps Super 8 in the 1960's so am not against slower frame rates totally. Unfortunately a lot of film makers do not do a very good job and backgrounds judder badly with poor technique and understanding the scene situation. When this happens I turn it off so they have not won me over. If it hurts my eyes with judder its a failure. The content will govern the frame rate. Shooting a training video with fast moving pieces needs a high frame rate to display the detail needed for instruction to look real. Likewise a fictional piece has all the latitude to use whatever will portray the intent. But judder is not part of that for me. If it judders it was shot badly.
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timbutt2

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Re: Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

PostFri Jul 30, 2021 11:40 pm

At a Christmas Networking Event I met someone who is a producer at Lifetime. They make a ton of films every year, and they all have a type of story that they all make. He spoke about how many scripts they receive that fail to realize what a Lifetime movie is. So, we didn't discuss the look of Lifetime movies, but they all have a formula.

Thus my guess is that the same principle applies to how they shoot it. They don't want contrasty/moody lighting. They probably want tit to be flat and bright. It's their formula. Then they probably do shoot it at a higher television frame rate. Maybe 30p (29.97) or 60i (59.94), which gives the motion more of that soap opera feel since it's the same frame rate as a soap.

So, it's Formula. People tune in to those movies expecting a certain story and for it to play out a certain way, and then as well for it to have a certain look.
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Re: Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

PostSat Jul 31, 2021 1:10 pm

Kays Alatrakchi wrote:
drknsss wrote:This looks like many of the features shot in 2014/15 on the Canon 5D Mark III with the Magic Lantern hack.



?

That was a thing for a while. The 5D was the indie film king for a few years.
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Kays Alatrakchi

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Re: Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

PostSat Jul 31, 2021 3:35 pm

drknsss wrote:That was a thing for a while. The 5D was the indie film king for a few years.


Oh I'm well aware, I own one. I just don't know what that has to do with this thread.
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drknsss

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Re: Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

PostSat Jul 31, 2021 5:37 pm

Kays Alatrakchi wrote:
drknsss wrote:That was a thing for a while. The 5D was the indie film king for a few years.


Oh I'm well aware, I own one. I just don't know what that has to do with this thread.

..., you have answered your own question.
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Kays Alatrakchi

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Re: Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

PostSun Aug 01, 2021 4:58 am

drknsss wrote:you have answered your own question.


Are you a troll? Actually, I think I answered my own question.
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Matthew_Lawrence

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Re: Why do TV movies have a “video” look?

PostSun Aug 01, 2021 7:45 pm

timbutt2 wrote: So, it's Formula. People tune in to those movies expecting a certain story and for it to play out a certain way, and then as well for it to have a certain look.

Thanks Tim, this makes sense.

Thanks for everyone who commented on this thread. My TV settings are ok.

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