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Jost Vacano on DVD (Showgirls and Total Recall)


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#1 Alfred

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 12:36 PM

For whatever reason it seems impossible for colorists to follow the look found on the original transfers of Jost Vacano shot pictures: Showgirls and Total Recall SE DVD(s) look awful from their initial home video transfers.

Are there no colorist notes or cinematographer notes that future colorist have has reference?

Edited by Alfred, 29 November 2005 - 12:36 PM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 01:39 PM

No. I mean, a colorist could take the time to watch a print of the movie, but most are handed a bunch of old titles to get through the works for a new transfer, without much supervision. They aren't going to be paid to do any research or watch the movie before they begin the transfer.

A few people like Grover Crisp at Sony will try and contact the original cinematographer to get their involvement.
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#3 Alfred

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 01:53 PM

No. I mean, a colorist could take the time to watch a print of the movie, but most are handed a bunch of old titles to get through the works for a new transfer, without much supervision. They aren't going to be paid to do any research or watch the movie before they begin the transfer.

A few people like Grover Crisp at Sony will try and contact the original cinematographer to get their involvement.

I guess I should feel sad that neither one of these titles are considered great works of cinema. Therefore the painterly way the colors appeared during their theatrical and original home video release is lost forever because the telecine operator is under the gun to just run through the process.
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#4 Christian Appelt

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 05:51 PM

Jost Vacano is an extremely helpful and friendly person. Very different from certain "star DPs" who brag about having breakfast with the stars but deny answers to technical and stylistic questions. Vacano attended two screenings of TOTAL RECALL and SHOWGIRLS at the German Film Museum, and he watched both films with the audience and answered all questions in great detail and in a gentlemanlike way. B)

Chances are they didn't ask him at all before they did the color grading... :(
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#5 Alfred

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 12:59 AM

Jost Vacano is an extremely helpful and friendly person. Very different from certain "star DPs" who brag about having breakfast with the stars but deny answers to technical and stylistic questions. Vacano attended two screenings of TOTAL RECALL and SHOWGIRLS at the German Film Museum, and he watched both films with the audience and answered all questions in great detail and in a gentlemanlike way. B)

Chances are they didn't ask him at all before they did the color grading... :(

Christian would it be accurate to say that Jost Vacano timed both films in crisp pastels?
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#6 Christian Appelt

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 06:31 PM

I think that's a perfect description of the SHOWGIRLS print I saw. I remember that Mr Vacano was unhappy with the release print of TOTAL RECALL that was screened, he remarked that the color looked a bit washed out (like many 1980s release prints from US films look due to sloppy IP/IN stages).
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#7 Alfred

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 02:21 PM

I think that's a perfect description of the SHOWGIRLS print I saw. I remember that Mr Vacano was unhappy with the release print of TOTAL RECALL that was screened, he remarked that the color looked a bit washed out (like many 1980s release prints from US films look due to sloppy IP/IN stages).

I skipped the opportunity to see Total Recall theatrically so my only idea of what this movie is supposed to look like comes from the initial VHS release which I’m only guessing had the cinematographer’s involvement.

I say pastels for Total Recall too, because the colors appear quite gentle for an Action / Sci-fi picture. There is an unnatural push towards Green (not Matrix Green) but Oil Pastel Greens.

The re-mastered DVD comes from an older generation elements. The picture is soft, the tint does actually shift during a scene and some colors are artificially pumped.

*Reminder* Total Recall was released Summer of 1990

Edited by Alfred, 06 December 2005 - 02:26 PM.

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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 03:02 PM

Well, a lot of "Total Recall" had those red-lit Mars backgrounds, which tend to bleed on TV, so you'd almost have to reduce red chroma in a video transfer to protect yourself.

Otherwise, Jost Vocano tends to shoot "straight", often medium-speed stocks well-exposed in soft lighting (often Kinoflos). It gets a little flat-looking at times, but it is generally clean and fine-grained, like "Starship Troopers" or "The Hollow Man" was. He doesn't really manipulate the color intensity of the prints or anything tricky like that. If the movies look pastel, it's mainly because they were art-directed to look that way and his soft lighting brings that quality out.
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#9 Alfred

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 12:58 AM

Well, a lot of "Total Recall" had those red-lit Mars backgrounds, which tend to bleed on TV, so you'd almost have to reduce red chroma in a video transfer to protect yourself.

Otherwise, Jost Vocano tends to shoot "straight", often medium-speed stocks well-exposed in soft lighting (often Kinoflos). It gets a little flat-looking at times, but it is generally clean and fine-grained, like "Starship Troopers" or "The Hollow Man" was. He doesn't really manipulate the color intensity of the prints or anything tricky like that. If the movies look pastel, it's mainly because they were art-directed to look that way and his soft lighting brings that quality out.

Reds hold their own well on my television. However the older generation IP used for the SE DVD is lifeless. It does appear after a quick look through the colorist at points attempted to replicate the available source colors.

David soft-lighting tends to yield (pastel) colors? Great.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 03:55 AM

David soft-lighting tends to yield (pastel) colors? Great.


Not particularly, but soft lighting won't make a color look punchier compared to hitting it frontally with hard light. But soft frontal lighting does not particularly turn a color more pastel. Soft backlighting may since it creates a sheen or glare over the surface.

If you want pastels, you really need to art direct for them.
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#11 Alfred

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 03:44 PM

French release has the better print
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