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Maik Schlösser

90s Music Video / Documentary on Betacam SP

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Posted (edited)

Hi, I’m Maik from Germany and I’m producing 90s rave music with that old hardware from that era.
I started wondering about the music videos from that era and how they were made. I know this topic isn't here for the first time, but my questions are more special I think. Googled and google and found out: most of that music videos were captured on analog film and / or maybe Betacam SP.
I decided to use Betacam SP format because the whole set (Camera, Recorder, Tapes) was cheap.

I got 2x Sony Betacam SP BVW-300AP and a Sony Digital Betacam Recorder DVW-A500P, playing back through SDI into my Blackmagic Card. There would not be a big loss in that workflow.

Now I started analyzing things.

What I want to do:

This video is the role model: 

The loveparade documentary in 1995. It was a television broadcast production and I think this should be BetaSP because this was the standard broadcast format at that time. The characteristics are mainly the same, the camera movement fits to this monster on a shoulder, the zoom behaviour, the slo-mo parts are typical dynamic tracking / half speed and last but not least:
I think nobody ran with analog 16 or 35mm cameras to this event.

Starting with the first shot:

f1.jpg

We see those leaves in the shadow, covered in blue. Everything that should be black in this video is simply blue. (missing UV filter?)

In the background over the sea obviously a lot of fog appears, but I think there was no fog?

next shots:

Again very foggy, flat looking, the black things are blue.

f2.jpg

Third Shot:

The water is a mess. I simply don’t know how to describe it but I think everybody knows what I mean.

f3.jpg

 

Here we have a shot of castle Bellevue. Compared with “Dune – Hardcore Vibes” (1995) Intro shot.

f4.jpg

I think there are some equalities between the videos from Loveparade and Dune.
The flat-looking structure of the building is nearby the same, but the color is very different.

Next Shot from Dune:

f5.jpg

The whole video is covered in a more blue look, black parts are blue, even the green leaves and trees in the background are more blue than green and very washed out. I know there was some post production done, but the base material won't look that different I think. The whole video could not have been much different.  

Now I went with my camera into the forest at a normal sunny day, used filter 5600K and I got this:

f6.jpg

But, no shiny fog effect at all. At least, a very good picture with a camera of that age.

Another shot from the Loveparade video:

f7.jpg   I think this is mostly destroyed by VHS and Youtube, but we have a very colorful shot with blue tint but no (strong) fog effect.

Then this shot:

f8.jpg   Is it even possible to have more fog effect in some video? So at a high range, there appears some fog at sunny days?

Switching to Haddaway – What is love (diffused, foggy, old 90s look)

f9.jpg

Magic Affair – Omen 3 (same)

f10.jpg

Again: The black parts in this video are blueish.

Next shot was at a local club, filmed with my Betacam. The auditorium was covered in red and blue, the stage in red. The black parts should now have a blue tint. Used Filter 1: 3200K

f11.jpg

Not as much as blue as I wanted, but I tried the 3200K filter outdoor at a cloudy day:

f12.jpg

This is no cool effect, this is simply bad white balance. Try again.

But in this video I found the first similarity to the Loveparade Video: Water (besides the bad white balance)

f13.jpg

Back to the sunny day at the forest with the 5600K filter I tried to catch up this foggy look.

f14.jpg

But if I can only achieve this through high distance, how was this shot made?

f15.jpg

The foreground is already foggy. The hole shot is foggy.

And I think this wasn’t as much as bright as in a forest on a sunny day and I don’t think they used a fog maschine either.

 My question is simply: Is there any possibility to influence these effects? And if so, how?

Edited by Maik Schlösser

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I have no prior experience with Betacam but I would think a lot of the blown highlights (river) would be characteristic of the low dynamic range of the early generation video cameras. You have an apparently overcast sky with trees in the shadows, and water reflecting the bright sky. Probably even quite a challenge for many of today's lower end cameras. And the "fog" could be due to low contrast (possibly uncoated/single coated?) lenses... I suppose a doc like that would've used ENG style zooms...

And a lot of the colour casts, even outdoors, seem to be simply mixed lighting (warm sunset with sun in frame contrast with cool shadows). Not sure what kind of colour correction was being done back in the SD tape-based days, but budget would've been a consideration too. The rest would just be the camera's white balance settings and/or colour temp gels. Esp. in the music videos a lot of that would've been done as an artistic choice.

Are you specifically trying to reproduce that look? Or just trying to figure this out to avoid those same issues?

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I think its quite hard to judge anything from the examples because they've been effected by youtube compression and maybe bounced to lower formats. The distortion at the top of the frame on the love parade video - looks pretty extreme for Beta-SP, more likely this is Hi-8 or U-Matic.

Although its possible the footage was digitally originated Digit-Beta came out in 93 and I understand German broadcasters always focused on quality and adopted the format quite quickly.  I worked for Channel 4  and they went digital in 1994 for programme delivery. Initially with D5 which was used by some people before Digi-beta took hold. Its also possible the footage could be D3 9 (composite digital-yuck) which came out in 91 and then copied to analogue later.  

On a good day with a good source Beta-SP can look pretty close to digi-beta. I worked at a broadcast TV channel 2004 to 2008 and we got the odd music video master in on Beta-SP (mostly film originated) a lot of the time they still looked really good. You had to look quite close to tell the difference between them and Digi. But by the time they were mashed up on transmission, its really hard to judge the difference. It  was always a shock to see how horrible the off air feed looked compared to the master tapes. 

Beta-SP as a format is better then DVCAM, it is pretty representative of what the cameras captured. So if you want a 90's look and want to save on tape. You'd get very similar results using a 90's camera and capture to a digital disk recorder. 

If your after grunge I think Hi-8 has a bit more texture and more visible drop outs. The other option would be to shoot digital and bounce the rushes to Hi-8 to pick up some artefacts. Then you have the work flow advantages of not lugging a large camera/tapes/caputre etc... For instance with careful post its probably possible to make iphone footage look similar to 90's SD tape

Another feature of the period is CCD cameras give quite different results to the modern CMOS.  So if you good with a digital cam - picking somethings got a small CCD chip and then bounce to analogue tape is going to get you close to the look.

Colour balance, contrast, highlights are easily manipulated in post. Older video cameras typically gave more contrasty images - clipping sooner. This can be faked in post if your using a modern camera with more lattitude. 

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On 5/10/2019 at 6:08 PM, Daniel Lo Presti said:

[...]

Are you specifically trying to reproduce that look? Or just trying to figure this out to avoid those same issues?

I'm trying to reproduce that look while I'm learning how and why this look was created. In August there's an event called "Zug der Liebe" which is translated with "train of love" which can be seen as the Loveparade 2.0 in Berlin. This year, me and a friend traveling with my both BVW-300 to this event and we want to create a video like the Loveparade 1995 video. 

On 5/11/2019 at 8:40 PM, Phil Connolly said:

I think its quite hard to judge anything from the examples because they've been effected by youtube compression and maybe bounced to lower formats. The distortion at the top of the frame on the love parade video - looks pretty extreme for Beta-SP, more likely this is Hi-8 or U-Matic.

I know, I know. I think the way of this video was something like: Recorded on BetaSP, aired, recieved via analog tv, recorded on VHS, digitized many years after recording, converted and converted and converted and uploaded to youtube. The distortion you mentioned pretty looks like VHS after 15-20 years. 

On 5/11/2019 at 8:40 PM, Phil Connolly said:

Although its possible the footage was digitally originated Digit-Beta came out in 93 and I understand German broadcasters always focused on quality and adopted the format quite quickly.  I worked for Channel 4  and they went digital in 1994 for programme delivery. Initially with D5 which was used by some people before Digi-beta took hold. Its also possible the footage could be D3 9 (composite digital-yuck) which came out in 91 and then copied to analogue later.  

This could all be possible, yes. We simply can't know that. But I don't think it's digibeta. I can hear the boss saying to the cameraman "Don't you take that expensive new thing to this event. Here, take that old think, it's not a big problem if you break it."

On 5/11/2019 at 8:40 PM, Phil Connolly said:

On a good day with a good source Beta-SP can look pretty close to digi-beta. I worked at a broadcast TV channel 2004 to 2008 and we got the odd music video master in on Beta-SP (mostly film originated) a lot of the time they still looked really good. You had to look quite close to tell the difference between them and Digi. But by the time they were mashed up on transmission, its really hard to judge the difference. It  was always a shock to see how horrible the off air feed looked compared to the master tapes. 

simply, yes.

On 5/11/2019 at 8:40 PM, Phil Connolly said:

Beta-SP as a format is better then DVCAM, it is pretty representative of what the cameras captured. So if you want a 90's look and want to save on tape. You'd get very similar results using a 90's camera and capture to a digital disk recorder. 

If your after grunge I think Hi-8 has a bit more texture and more visible drop outs. The other option would be to shoot digital and bounce the rushes to Hi-8 to pick up some artefacts. Then you have the work flow advantages of not lugging a large camera/tapes/caputre etc... For instance with careful post its probably possible to make iphone footage look similar to 90's SD tape

Another feature of the period is CCD cameras give quite different results to the modern CMOS.  So if you good with a digital cam - picking somethings got a small CCD chip and then bounce to analogue tape is going to get you close to the look.

Colour balance, contrast, highlights are easily manipulated in post. Older video cameras typically gave more contrasty images - clipping sooner. This can be faked in post if your using a modern camera with more lattitude. 

I don't want to change the format in the near future because that Betacam things were cheap, but I already spent much time in the restoration of these cameras and got now (after a half year) everything to work. 
I'm asking this because I want to be prepared on this event and not going home and find out that everything is wrong and the whole day was recorded like crap. 

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Correction of myself: 

"I think nobody ran with analog 16 or 35mm cameras to this event."

LP1994-arri.jpg

 

and I found my camera 

LP1994-bvw300.jpg

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7 hours ago, Maik Schlösser said:

I'm trying to reproduce that look while I'm learning how and why this look was created. In August there's an event called "Zug der Liebe" which is translated with "train of love" which can be seen as the Loveparade 2.0 in Berlin. This year, me and a friend traveling with my both BVW-300 to this event and we want to create a video like the Loveparade 1995 video. 

Interesting, I wasn't aware. I never managed to make it there - by the time I was actually interested in checking it out, it was cancelled due to that horrible tragedy... 

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The fog effect may be a result of a net or stocking between the lens and camera body and amplified by compression and generational loss. It seems to have been a big trend with BetaSP footage back then to produce a more "cinematic" look. Almost all of the BetaSP footage I used to get as an editor back then had footage shot in this way.

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Posted (edited)

I'll try this too, but first I tried the "Hairspray on PolFilter" Trick and:
Bildschirmfoto-2019-05-17-um-18-36-55.pn

nice! 

Just a little bit too much.

Edited by Maik Schlösser

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