Brookside - Film look

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Andy Martin
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Joined: Aug 30 2000

Has anyone noticed that the makers of 'Brookside' have recently chosen to adopt the film 'look'. If so, what do you think? I recall some time ago that the BBC tried this with 'Casualty' and received a number of complaints.

I personally think the film 'look' has significantly changed the way the programme feels. It has taken on a more 'formal' appearance and lost the 'live' more spontaneous element.

SIMAnt
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Joined: Jan 9 2002

The same filters are used on Mersey Televisions other show "Hollyoaks" and have been used for a long time on it. Brookside also used it previously on the videos produced.

Andy Martin
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Joined: Aug 30 2000

I think the use of the 'film' filter in 'Hollyoaks' is more appropriate - it is, after all, a somewhat glossier package. I was also willing to accept its use in the various Brookside 'specials'. I'm not convinced however that it should be used in the normal programmes.

Does anyone else have any opinions?

Should we be seeking to make video images look and feel like film in the first place?

DAVE M
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Joined: May 17 1999

I'm sure that i read somewhere that casualty was actualy filmed rather than taped. They spent a fortune upgrading the sets and the picture quality only to have loads of viewers complain. I don't know if they still do it on film or if it was an experiment for one season.

"The Stand Up Show" used to have a drop frame done to it that made me feel queasy. If id been to the pub, I refused to watch it.

DAVE M
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Joined: May 17 1999

The ironic thing is that "Friends" is shot TV Studio style on 35mm and doesn't have the film look.

Alan Roberts at work
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Joined: May 6 1999

Casualty is not shot on film and never has been, it would cost too much. The episodes that had a "film look" were "converted" after final editing, and done badly. That caused complaints, and the process was dropped. Had the intention to do the film-look conversion been know at the time of shooting, the lighting style would have been changed significantly. There are far better ways of doing it than dropping fields. When I retire I'll tell you all about how to do it, but I can't now for contractual reasons.

Snake Plissken
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Joined: Sep 17 2000

Hollyoaks and Brookside look terrible. I don't know where this idea that film looks like a degraded video image comes from. Hollyoaks does not look like film. Nor do the increasing number of TV shows using this effect. It looks bad, stop doing it. It looks like blurry, strobing video. Cheap and nasty. ( just like the show) . It's convincing no-one that it's shot on film.

billyh
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Joined: Dec 2 2000

Brookside started using what you are calling the "film look" for the final Anthony Murray / Imelda bullying episodes and as these were well received (after an independent survey) a production decision was taken to continue with this style.

It is still shot entirely on video however as due to the time constraints of three half-hour shows per week shooting on film would not be practically or commercially viable.

What has changed is the actual method of filming, the lighting plus various other production changes.

Brookside was always a "one camera" production up until this point (except two of the released in advance on video specials, Friday The Thirteenth and The Lost Weekend, which WERE shot on film) due to the size of the actual sets, i.e. real houses with normal sized rooms.

For the Anthony Murray / Imelda final episodes the production decision was taken to shoot using "cine" style techniques to add to the drama for what were considered important storyline developments (i.e. the apparent killing of Imelda by Anthony). This meant that instead of the normal "one camera" shots, viewers were treated to long tracking shots, various jib and boom shots, more adventurous angles and for certain shots specially produced music and sound effects.

This production method is more time consuming (in the final editing) and this also has a bearing on why the show is now broadcast three nights in a row, i.e. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday now instead of the original Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday.

The production team were also aware of the accolades being awarded to Channel 5's, "Family Affairs" who are widely acknowledged in the television world as setting the standard for high production values (in the soap opera world) and indeed it was initially thought that Family Affairs was shot entirely on film. It is this show that the Brookie production team have tried to emulate.

As for the film effect it is all down to taking time over the actual lighting and the method of shooting. There are no Cinelook or Cinemotion type filters used in the post production.

Whether you think the programme is "cheap and nasty" or not the overall effect has certainly been moved up a gear and the overall quality is really quite high for a show that is produced with such a fast turnaround.

Incidentally, the production team had an independent professional survey carried out in the streets of Liverpool during the initial "film look" episodes and out of everyone asked about the shows "new look" only 12% of the people asked in the survey had actually noticed the "cine" styling although 68% stated that they thought that the overall quality of the show had increased.

This is what prompted the production team to continue in this style.

Snake Plissken
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Joined: Sep 17 2000

I watched Brookside again and didn't at all like the psuedo film effect. I'm surprised the production team initially thought family affairs was shot on film! And for a show like Hollyoaks (ie crap) - it's made worse by this strange and failing attempt to make it look more expensive than it is. I believe the final image looks far worse than just shooting on video. I don't think viewers expect or care what it looks like as long as it's not flickering and blurred.
Still, the process on Brookside is better than last night's Cutting It, which looks like it's been shot with a fast shutter. And looks sub-broadcast quality on the beeb.

Andy Martin
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Joined: Aug 30 2000

My complaint is not against the 'film look' per se. I merely think that the use of this 'technique' in Brookside is inappropriate. I feel that the programme has lost its spontaneous 'live', 'informal' atmosphere. The look and feel of film is more formal and far less 'on the edge'.

I would certainly prefer a return to the old style.

Alan Roberts at work
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Joined: May 6 1999

Don't forget that, in the tv industry, it isn't the consumer that matters, it's the producers and the excetutives . If they want to do it that way, they will. It takes a lot of complaining to get things changed, it took 2 weeks for Casualty to revert to conventional, non-film-look.