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shooting dialog scenes with loud silent cameras

loud cameras dialog makeshift video tap

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#161 Carl Looper

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 12:06 AM

Film isn't just a recording medium. It's also a playback medium. The same with audio tape. The media (projector/speaker etc) these all become a "musical" instrument so to speak. One "plays a film" in the same one plays a guitar. The film screening becomes a live performance in this regard.

 

That's the important point. Film is otherwise "canned theatre" and that's the worst kind of film making there is - well in my opinion anyway.

 

C


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#162 Carl Looper

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 12:54 AM

So cameras, film stock, audio tape, digital switches, computers, projectors, speakers, cinemas - these can be understood in the same way one understands musical instruments such as drums, guitars, flutes, a piano - they are instruments for creating sounds and images. One "plays" these instruments in certain ways to obtain a particular effect.

 

Now consider the piano. A piano can be regarded as decomposing all possible sounds into just a finite number of sounds. It's a bit like digital in this regard. But we work with that. We can make a piano create some great sound despite such limited capability.

 

The same goes for film, or digital for that matter. One works around the limitations of one's instruments and creates what does work with such instruments. There are great experiences one can create with little more than some acetate or polyestor running in front of a light. Of course, what goes into that performance (like any performance) is a lot of work.

 

That is how the film makers I work with make films. As live performances. Making a film is preparing for this performance - making all of one's "props" so to speak. It's not theatre, but it's very much like theatre. It's the creation of a kind of ghostly 'theatre' with disembodied images and sound/music in the air. If the ghosts are grainy - all the better - the more ghostly they are. One works with the grain rather than putting up with the grain. Or if one prefers one's ghosts more solid one plays another instrument instead. Either way it is a ghost world that one is exploring with such instruments.

 

It's not a second rate substitute for theatre or a music show. It's first rate cinema.

 

C


Edited by Carl Looper, 17 March 2016 - 01:05 AM.

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#163 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 03:00 AM

Film isn't just a recording medium. It's also a playback medium. The same with audio tape. The media (projector/speaker etc) these all become a "musical" instrument so to speak. One "plays a film" in the same one plays a guitar. The film screening becomes a live performance in this regard.

 

That's the important point. Film is otherwise "canned theatre" and that's the worst kind of film making there is - well in my opinion anyway.

 

C

 

Agreed. There are some rather "stagey" movies which are very obviously adapted stage plays or done this way (ensemble cast in a confined space). Some of these actually work extremely well because the camera work is ace (and of course story, dialog and acting). I am a huge fan of the original "Twelve Angry Men" which is an adaptation of a live television play of course. I also like the original "Sleuth" a lot. Same goes for hitchcock's "Rope" which was intended to be "canned theater", but it works: the camera work and the look and feel of the film stock turn it into first rate cinema.

 

About the film grain and overall image: back in the day the director and DoP had little control over how a movie was actually seen. Poor quality and /or worn faded (the horrible '70s Eastman print stock that loses the cyan layer in only a few years and looks red/magenta!) 35mm prints, pan and scan or cropped 16mm prints.... later VHS. None of this was truly intended. I tend to like a film when it is as close as possible to what the director and DoP actually intended: a fresh, clean release print in the intended format.

There are horrible BluRay editions with tweaked colors and grain reduction to make them look more "modern". I'm happy to see efforts like the "de specialized" versions of the original Star Wars Trilogy, done in painstaking detail by skilled enthusiasts, using low fade 35mm prints as the color grading reference and even a 16mm Scope print as a reference for the subtitles as they were in the 1977 original. There is a fine line between what was actually intended and what the film makers simply had to cope with. Also: the grain structure is different on each release print, both in pattern and intensity.

 

Another example (intended format, look and feel) is Hitchcock's "Psycho". He made it with a television crew in black and white to give it some sort of gritty B-movie look. Just check Bernard Herrmann's brilliant score. Just strings! No other instrument. Herrmann was a violinist, so he knew how to write for the string section - bringing out all the colors and expression! Genius!

 

First time I watched Psycho (didn't air on tv for many years) was through Super 8mm digests - very grainy and each version (there was a 60 meter silent and a 120 meter sound version that I know of) had a different look. The grain was a little too intense (cheap Orwo film stock) but a nice 16mm print with the correct aspect ratio probably would have been the closest to what Hitchcock intended. I have seen the restored BluRay version. It looks fabulous, pin  sharp, clean and it is more immersive than any version I have seen before - but I would love to see a nice 16mm print.

I actually owned some 16mm prints, including "Gentleman's Agreement". This one looked fabulous on 16mm. Just enough clarity, yet that silky look without true deep blacks (not needed) and warm optical sound, even the noise floor was sweet because it's not an annoying hiss. Of course it was an excellent print (a former rental print, sold to collectors by established sellers - those still exist BTW) with some scratches and splices so it was affordable for me back in the day). Sure: for a large screen the resolution wouldn't have been sufficient. I have no idea how these prints (very likely at least two generations away from a 35mm release print) look to younger people. 16mm color prints are another story. Some look horrible (shadows are washed out by a haze and the color palette leans towards cyan and yellow - no rich greens and reds - and strange browns) - these were hastily made with at least one generation too many. But in general: I am not the "the sharper, cleaner and true to life, the better" guy. The look of a certain kind of film stock and format is very much part of a film for me.

 

Not sure how it works today. Probably many a DoP shakes the head when seeing what the color grader did in digital post.... back in the day at least the film makers were aware of how their films would look like on final release prints on the various formats in use.

 

About musical instruments: yep, they all are limited in one way or another, but that adds to the character. A high Eb (written F) on a Bb trumpet sounds very different from the same note played on a piccolo trumpet. It's the effort to play that note on the Bb trumpet that makes it sound so powerful in certain styles (jazz, funk, latin). Same with violins: a leap into a high note doesn't always sound best when the violinist nails it dead center. That slightly shaky pitch or portamento (slide-in) at the start of the note adds so much character when it's just the right amount. That's why I love many an orchestral score from the '30s and '40s. Not 100% perfect, but with tons of soul and passion. Just listening to the Warner Bros. orchestra (yep: the full orchestra!) playing incredibly difficult stuff for the 1940s "Looney Tunes" animated shorts: fantastic and rather thankless - because this material is actually much more difficult to compose and play than most dramatic scores from the same time. Check: "Long-Haired Hare". Now that's brilliant on all levels - IMHO doesn't get better than this, including the gorgeous Technicolor prints (here is the "showdown"):

 

 

O.K. I'm writing another novel here :-) I just love to share my opinions (which are just that). Thanks for reading.

 

Cheers,

C.


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#164 Carl Looper

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 04:40 AM

Love your wramblings Christian - don't stop - it's all good  :)


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#165 Peter Bitic

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 05:24 AM

Yup, I like reading them too.

 

Since the debate has broadened to audio and characterictics of different mediums etc. I would like to ask if there is a form of music-making that is inherent to digital, or more accuratelly computers? The same way pixel art and vector graphics are inherent to computers for example. They are "purely digitally synthesized", meaning that they have no origins outside of computer, and they also aren't trying to imitate any physical medium. They are also methodical and precise in their approach in the sense that you are working with individual pixels in pixel art and in vector graphic you have extreme control over the geometry.

 

Is there a similiar stuff in music? Creating unique sounds in a computer without any sampling from outside?

 

This is probably incredibly beginner question :)


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#166 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 06:09 AM

Yup, I like reading them too.

 

Since the debate has broadened to audio and characterictics of different mediums etc. I would like to ask if there is a form of music-making that is inherent to digital, or more accuratelly computers? The same way pixel art and vector graphics are inherent to computers for example. They are "purely digitally synthesized", meaning that they have no origins outside of computer, and they also aren't trying to imitate any physical medium. They are also methodical and precise in their approach in the sense that you are working with individual pixels in pixel art and in vector graphic you have extreme control over the geometry.

 

Is there a similiar stuff in music? Creating unique sounds in a computer without any sampling from outside?

 

This is probably incredibly beginner question :)

Absolutely no beginner question. Of course there are computer generated, unique sounds that use no samples and don't imitate/emulate any physical instrument.

 

Two methods come to mind:

 

1) physical modeling. This method needs a LOT of CPU power if used to emulate real instruments without samples, that's why the results are still unsatisfying, even though the concept are decades old.

 

2) graintable (granular) synthesis. Imagine it as a series of "frames", just like film. The waveform changes are visible in a 3D model. This method goes back to the late '70s/early '80s and was pioneered by the PPG keyboards.

 

And of course the two traditional synthesis methods, which can be vastly expanded in a virtual instrument/synth:

 

1) subtractive synthesis: a basic single cycle waveform (such as triangle, square, pulse and sawtooth or any imaginable shape in the digital realm), rich in overtones is filtered and can be manipulated with other waveforms.

 

2) additive synthesis: either as sine waves being added (each with its own loudness contour - the underlying concept is the Fourier analysis of sound, just reverse-engineered = synthesized) or as FM (frequency modulation) synthesis - where one waveform (Modulator) modulates the frequency (z-axis) of another waveform (Carrier) or more.

 

You might want to check out modern virtual synthesizers such as the Absynth which creates truly complex soundscapes in surround sound (if desired), not rooted in the "real world".

 

Hope this helps,

Christian


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#167 Peter Bitic

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 06:16 AM

Yeah, definitely helpful, thanks. It is very useful to have a concise starting point so I can base further research on these concepts/tools that you mention. Before that I had no idea where to even start. Thanks again.


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#168 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 07:06 AM

Yeah, definitely helpful, thanks. It is very useful to have a concise starting point so I can base further research on these concepts/tools that you mention. Before that I had no idea where to even start. Thanks again.

Glad to be of help. Anything you'd like to know: just holler! Synthesis definitely is my gig! :-)

 

C.

 

P.S. oops, error. Frequency modulation: the modulator acts on the x-axis of course (just like good old FM radio). The y-axis is loudness (=amplitude). No z-axis here.


Edited by Christian Schonberger, 17 March 2016 - 07:10 AM.

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