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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 11:49 PM

Saw this today, the new French movie by Michael Haneke, shot in 24P HDCAM and transferred to 35mm flat.

The film is about a couple who are sent disturbing VHS tapes by some unknown person who is secretly taping their house. It's an interesting use of the HD format because Haneke blurs the boundary between the normal movie footage and the video being shot -- at many points, you aren't sure if you're watching a normal image or the tape footage that the person has sent them (even though in real life, VHS would be obviously lower-rez than this HD image).

The "HD look" here is used effectively to create a world where you can't separate reality from the videotaped reality, since it is all video. There is a little lower-rez video mixed in because the main character is on a TV show and we see that studio footage as well.

In terms of the "film look" of the 24P HD material, it's that psuedo-35mm look we've seen before -- in soft overcast daylight with no hot spots, it looks fairly close to 35mm. At night, it looks cleaner than high-speed film but with more depth of field. And when dealing with bright sunlit backgrounds, bright practicals, etc. it looks the most digital and clippy. Color is that typical HDCAM sort of gray-brown skintones and overall grayness; they didn't attempt to punch up the colors to compensate for HDCAM's 3:1:1 color - the dreariness matches the mood of the movie. Sharpness is also typical for HDCAM, slight soft overall but not objectionable, and the close-ups look plenty sharp. There is one night driving scene in the back of a police van with some slight gain boosting in available light that looks pretty good, as faces realistically as lit by passing streetlamps and storefront lights.

But what's most fascinating is this blurred line between what's happening in the "now" of the story and what was taped in the past by this "video stalker". You see a shot that you think is just part of a new scene and suddenly it rewinds on the big screen.
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#2 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 12:29 AM

I've really wanted to see this ever since I read about it in American Cinematographer. I liked their idea of using HD with the intention of making it look like video rather than film in order to subvert the reality of what you're seeing. It's been getting some great reviews as well too. Unfortunately it's only playing in New York and LA right now. Hopefully it will make it to Chicago.

Also, that article in AC talked a bit about a lighting system invented by the DP that uses a single source- it seemed pretty interesting and I'd like to learn more about it.

Edited by Scott Fritzshall, 02 January 2006 - 12:32 AM.

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#3 Francisco Valdez

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 02:22 AM

The ASC magazine of what month?

I usually read the entire magazine every month but I've fallen behind the last few months and would like to read that article while the movie is still fresh in my mind.

Thanks,

Francisco
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 03:18 AM

The ASC magazine of what month?


The current January 2006 issue ("Memoirs of a Geisha" is on the cover.)
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#5 Francisco Valdez

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:30 PM

Thanks

The current January 2006 issue ("Memoirs of a Geisha" is on the cover.)


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#6 Alex Haspel

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 08:29 AM

a friend of mine told me a funny story he heard from another friend of him which is befriended with christian berger, cache's DoP....

i cant promise that this is true, but from what ive heard

they had like 7 cameras and 3 sony technicians on the set, just to have at least one camera working all time.
imagine the poor AC changing cameras all the time..
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#7 Keith Mottram

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Posted 11 February 2006 - 10:59 AM

I liked their idea of using HD with the intention of making it look like video rather than film in order to subvert the reality of what you're seeing.


Finally saw this the other day and i'm not sure what you mean about the intention for it to look like video rather than film. Although to the trained eye it was clearly shot on HD it never really resembled 'video' apart from the tv studio shots- which were clearly SD. I liked the shot of them talking on 'camera' and then the SD camera carried on filming the 'real world' shot. Everyone else who saw it with me had no idea that it was shot on anything but film- apart from the deliberate shots. The look of the print is low saturated and in general I felt it looked very decent and 'un-videoish'. I do remember hearing something along the lines you mention, but I feel it must be a comment on the bluring of the lines between the world of the main characters job (he is a TV presenter)/ the subject matter (video surveilance) and the 'real world'. Either that or in post they decided to go against their original intentions and go for a more filmic look.


Keith
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#8 Max Jacoby

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 06:00 PM

The look of the print is low saturated and in general I felt it looked very decent and 'un-videoish'. I do remember hearing something along the lines you mention, but I feel it must be a comment on the bluring of the lines between the world of the main characters job (he is a TV presenter)/ the subject matter (video surveilance) and the 'real world'. Either that or in post they decided to go against their original intentions and go for a more filmic look.

I saw it tonight and had a similar impression than David: that they were not trying to hide the fact that they were shooting on video. I think it looked very videoish, especially the sunny day exteriors where they just let parts of the frame blow out. Also there is one diner scene with some six people and the close-ups have that typical video look to it.

All in all it's not a beautiful look, but it works very well for the story. The only time where the use of video disturbed me was for his childhood memories and a dream that he had. Here I'd say that film would have been more appropriate, since at least my dreams don't look like the evening news.
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#9 Alex Wuijts

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 02:28 PM

This was my favorite movie of 2005. Very intelligent and subversive storytelling. The choice of HD to complement the story to me was very understandable, but at the time i didn't think they were pushing the videolook. I immediately noticed it was video, but i felt they were trying to keep the highlights from blowing out in most shots. It makes perfect sense that they did however, i just don't have a trained enough eye.

How about that last shot? At times i'm still getting into heated discussions with friends. Not to get off-topic, but i personally feel the camera is literally crossing the border or 'fourth wall'. This time it's not the actors addressing the audience, but the camera haunting the characters, and in this sense it's some kind of ingenious variation on the 'technology gone rampant on people' genre. The only guilty person in Cache is the sadistic director of the film, who makes his characters run around like chickens without heads.
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#10 Max Jacoby

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 05:07 PM

The only guilty person in Cache is the sadistic director of the film, who makes his characters run around like chickens without heads.

Not jus the characters, but also the audience it seems to me, especially the last shot. And I'm not sure that I like this approach. That was the case for 'Funny Games' as well.

For me the film didn't work too well, because I knew already that there wasn't going to be an explanation to the events. Therefore I didn't feel any tension. I have a feeling this is a film only worth seeing once, because it deconstructs the rules of a typical thriller. But once you are aware of that, then there isn't too much point anymore to it, is there?
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#11 Alex Wuijts

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 02:18 AM

Not jus the characters, but also the audience it seems to me, especially the last shot. And I'm not sure that I like this approach. That was the case for 'Funny Games' as well.

For me the film didn't work too well, because I knew already that there wasn't going to be an explanation to the events. Therefore I didn't feel any tension. I have a feeling this is a film only worth seeing once, because it deconstructs the rules of a typical thriller. But once you are aware of that, then there isn't too much point anymore to it, is there?


i think you are certainly right about the audience, although i feel the more daring aspect is to have a director, or filmmaking instance or whatever, really playing with his characters like that. It's like the authors evil revenge, after being declared legally dead in filmtheory. But Cache doesn't push this theory, fortunately. It's really hermetic and consistent, but never intellectual. This is a matter of taste ofcourse, and i wasn't too familiar with his other films, except Funny Games, when i saw it.
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#12 Peter Egan

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 02:16 PM

This film is the ultimate exercise in manipulation disguised as a European arthouse film... but what an exercise it is! It's a complete mind-f***, it held me under its influence for days.

I have to admit, I saw it in cinema and it came as a complete shock that it was shot on HD :o I guess my eye has a lot of training to do.
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#13 Walter Graff

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Posted 20 February 2008 - 08:14 AM

" they didn't attempt to punch up the colors to compensate for HDCAM's 3:1:1 color"

And don't let anyone look at this 3:1:1 ratio as less than 4:2:2. It's not. It is all relative based on many parts of a pictures size and sampling rates of both luma and color in a complicated menu of options and results that Adam Wilt touches on here:

http://www.dv.com/co...icleId=55301757
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