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Shooting Video Tape for Transfer to Film

The process of transferring videotape to film involves a few complex steps, not the least of which is the method of converting 30-frame video into a signal that can be recorded into 24-frame film. (Some of the fields of the video signal must be discarded.)

Digital signal processing techniques should be employed to treat the video signals to make them look better on film. Scene-to-scene color correction, dynamic enhancement, smear correction and phase correction are a few methods used in the tape-to-film process to overcome limitations of the video environment. These techniques are employed to make the videotape look as much like film as possible. Of course, it is helpful if your cinematographer knows some things about the nature of video signals and how they correspond with film.

The general rule for shooting videotape that will be transferred to film is no different from general practice: make the video as good as possible. This will involve giving attention to some factors that are not normally a problem when shooting film. Bear in mind that a motion-picture screen is much larger than a television monitor and care must be taken in the video production to allow for the best possible end result. Small defects in the video can be quite objectionable when projected on a larger sceen.

The most commonly asked "video-to-film" question is "How much resolution is lost in the process?" This is a difficult question to answer because it depends upon what you call resolution, and what your frame of reference is.

In contrast to film origination there are two types of resolution, static and dynamic:

  • Static resolution in the amount of detail present in a scene that contains no motion.

  • Dynamic resolution is the amount of temporal information contained in a scene having movement.

Film resolution is measured in millimeters, but video resolution is measured in megahertz. You can use easy charts at any local camera rental company to figure out the best results for your particular piece.


Gavin Schultz
Image Transform, Inc.
New York, NY


Resources Index
Video to Film Transfer
Your Visual Resume
Film in Cold Weather
Shooting a Music Video
Cover Your Bases

Link to Film & TV Connection


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