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Film Vs. HD...again


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#1 Dominik Muench

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 03:47 PM

Hi guys,

i got this article a few weeks ago in an ACS newsletter, i dont know if this has been posted here before, if so i apologize, however, i think it is a very interesting read:



DIFFERENCES BETWEEN 'FILM' AND 'DIGITAL' CINEMATOGRAPHY

People are readily deceived by the term "Digital", and falsely
assume that Digital is superior to Film in the same way that Digital Sound /
Video is most definitely superior to Analogue Sound / Video. However, these
are not comparable. Digital Sound / Video is an electronic recording method
which is of higher quality than the Analogue electronic recording method.
Digital Cinematography is simply a higher resolution electronic Video
Recording. Film Cinematography however is NOT Analogue, but is a real
Optical Record formed by the original Rays of Light. Film is an entirely
unique recording medium that captures the very Light Rays which your Eyes
can capture for only a brief 1/10 of a Second. In many ways Film is
miraculous. Digital is promoted by manufacturers as being superior to Film,
but this is false. Not only is Digital inferior to Film, but it is also
monumentally more expensive than Film Cameras and Projectors.
The following are some important facts about the differences between Digital
Cinematography compared to Film Cinematography.

RESOLUTION
CAMERAS. The Resolution of Digital Movie Cameras varies, and it must be kept
in mind that these Digital Movie Cameras are primarily intended for use in
High Definition Television (HDTV) Productions -- not Theatrical Movies! Some
Cameras have 1.5 Million (1440x1080) Pixels, and others 2 Million
(1920x1080) Pixels which are an artificial electronic image. These
Resolutions pale in comparison even to the Resolution of top Digital Still
Cameras, and all of these Digital Cameras in turn pale pathetically compared
to the Resolution of Film! Film has a minimum Resolution of 6.9 Billion
Molecules of Dye per Square Millimetre (mm2). A 35mm Frame of Movie Film
(24mm x
12mm) has a minimum Resolution of 1.988 Trillion Molecules of Dye formed by
the original Rays of Light! [Specifically, 35mm Movie Film has the following
Resolutions -- 2.882633657184 Trillion Molecules of Cyan Dye (to Record Red
Light); 1.988010001152 Trillion Molecules of Magenta Dye (to Record Green
Light); and 2.627204157216 Trillion Molecules of Yellow Dye (to Record Blue
Light).] 35mm Movie Film is
958 Thousand times more resolute than Digital's 2 Million Pixels! An 8mm
Frame of Movie Film (6x4mm) has a minimum Resolution of 165 Billion
Molecules. The Resolution of Film is simply astronomical, and by comparison
the Resolution of Digital Cameras is utterly pathetic.
[The High Resolution of Film also enables you to appreciate the Third
Dimension of Depth. Monoscopic Cinematography is not entirely Two-
Dimensional. The higher the Resolution of the Picture, the greater the
ability to grasp the Third Dimension of Depth. The High Resolution of Film
enables the eye's ability to grasp the Depth of the Picture. The Low
Resolution of Digital undermines the ability to grasp Depth.]

PROJECTORS. Current Digital Projectors have a linear Resolution of 2 Million
Pixel Mirrors (2,211,840 to be exact) which is comparable to Digital Movie
Cameras. A Film Projector of course maintains the 1.988 Trillion Resolution
of the Frame of Film. As previously noted, a Digital Recording is an
artificial Electronic Record of an image while Film is a real Optical Record
formed by the original Light Rays. A Digital Projector has a complicated
array of 6.6 Million Tiny Mirrors which mix and combine 3 Light sources
(Red, Green & Blue) together for every single Pixel of the Picture in order
to produce the proper colour -- this is very complicated which is why
Digital Projectors are so expensive. A Film Projector, on the other hand,
simply uses a pure White Light which is then converted into the appropriate
colours by the Film itself -- this is a very simple and perfect process. It
is the Film which holds the complex Image on a real Record which uses real
Light, and this makes Film Projection very simple. There was simply no
reason for Digital Projectors to have even been developed in the first
place. Unlike Digital Movie Cameras which can be used for HDTV, Digital
Projectors have no use outside of Movie Theatres. The companies who wasted
their money on developing this product were simply foolish. This is just
another example of 'technologization for the sake of technologization', and
not for the sake of improvement. There's no point to complicating life with
hi-technology if that complication does not provide improvement, and Digital
Projection is not an improvement.

EDITING. When you edit a Movie with a good old-fashioned Film Optical
Printer, the 1.988 Trillion Resolution of Film is carried through to the
copied Prints. However, if you use Computer Special Effects and a Digital
Printer for editing, all you end up with on the copied Prints is 2 Million
or so Pixels (whatever the resolution of the Printer) of artificial colour!
The original 1.988 Trillion Resolution of the Film and the original colour
is LOST in any "Digital Computer" process.
This is the price to pay for any conveniences associated with Digital
Editing! If you wish to provide the movie-going public with the highest of
quality, you need to use the Optical Printer for editing and special
effects. Computerized Special Effects should only be used as a last resort.
If you need to use Computerized Special Effects, then Print the
computer-generated part of the Frame onto its own Film Strip, and use the
Optical Printer to combine that part with the rest of the Frame to produce
the Final Frame. This way, only the computer- generated effects part of the
Final Frame will be at the 2 Million Resolution -- the rest of the Final
Frame will be maintained at the original Resolution of Film.

COLOUR. While a Digital Movie Camera can only capture a Pre- Determined
number of electronic Artificial Colours, as noted Film Dye captures the
original Rays of Light in Every natural Living Colour.
Some manufacturers of Digital Cameras have claimed that their cameras can
capture millions of different shades of colour, but such a claim must be
viewed with skepticism. There have been dubious claims that Digital Still
Cameras can capture 16.7 million colours. It is highly improbable if not
impossible for an electronic light sensor to detect such a high number of
colours. The colour content of Digital Cinematography would be ultimately
determined by the Digital Projector. The manufacturers of Digital Projectors
have claimed that their Projectors can produce Trillions of colours, but
there wouldn't even be trillions of colours in nature -- so this claim is
ridiculous.

LONG-TERM RETRIEVAL. This is the worst Achilles' Heel for Digital
Cinematography / Photography. While Digital Cameras can only take a Picture
of an Electronic Image converted into a non-real Computer File Record, Film
captures the Actual Image on a Real Record which is there to be seen. A
Digital Record is nothing more than a high-tech modern-day Computer
Programme File on a modern-day Computer Hardware Disk, and both that
Programme File and Hardware Disk will become obsolete in the future. Since
Film is real, you have the image forever, and the Film Negative will last
hundreds of years with proper care. Unlike a Computer Disk, you can look at
a Film Negative and know what pictures it contains. Since Film is a
low-technology medium, it can be easily retrieved in the future. An
Electronic Record cannot be viewed without the modern-day hi-tech Electronic
Equipment required to view it! A Digital Computer File is even more
complicated to produce than an Analog Record. It will be a very serious
problem in the future to view Digital Video Programmes recorded in
modern-day formats when they are decades old and obsolete! Film can also be
easily recorded onto any electronic formats. On the contrary, different
electronic formats are not compatible with each other. To transfer old
Analog Television onto new HDTV requires, among other things, the image to
be horizontally stretched which distorts the image. There are no serious
transfer problems with Film. Even though a Film image may be stretched to
fully fit Analog TV, this is not the same as the problems with converting
two electronic formats.

The Movie-going public deserves the highest of quality in Movie
Presentations at their local Theatres. The Film Presentation provides the
highest of quality. This quality is far superior to any Digital
Cinematography / Projection Presentation. An electronic Digital Presentation
will never be able to even come close to the quality of natural Film -- not
even in 100 years. I previously noted how Digital Computer Editing reduces
the resolution of Film to that of Digital, but I also provided a very simple
solution to correct this problem. I also previously noted how the holes in a
Movie Screen deteriorate the quality of the picture, but this is also easy
to rectify. Some Executives in the Studios are inclined to embrace Digital
Projection in Theatres since it would be cheaper and less- expensive than to
ship out many Film Prints to the Theatres. Those of you in Hollywood who
value Movie-making as an Art, not a fast buck, must make sure that this does
not occur. Whether you be Cinematographers, Producers or Directors, you must
ensure that the movie-going public receives the highest of quality. A
conversion to Digital Cinematography would ultimately lead to the end of the
Movie
Theatre business as people would prefer higher quality television.
In closing, I welcome you to forward this Article on to other interested
persons.

Sincerely,

Mr. Terry Mester
Welland, Ontario, Canada
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#2 Matt Pacini

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 05:29 PM

I'm a film fanatic, so I'm certainly not arguing that digital is better here, but there is a lot of slanted info presented here.

First of all, he's using MOLECULES as if that's the smallest element that defines film resolution, completely ignoring GRAIN, which IS what determines resolution.
So right there, he's using misinformation to make his point.
And I've shot tons of Super 8, and it has it's points, but him saying an 8mm frame is many times the resolution of HD is just absurd.
I'm sure many who are more qualfied than myself, will chime in here with even better criticisms of this article.
Film is in fact better quality image than HD, but it does nobody any favors to use false arguments to make the point.

MP
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#3 Dominik Muench

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 05:54 PM

i wasnt so sure about the technical details either, but then...what do i know about all this technology stuff :/

but its good to know whats realistic and true in that article and what not.

and im a film fanatic too :)
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#4 John Allardice

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 06:21 PM

Blatant trolling...Not by you, Dominik, but by the original writer
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#5 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 06:32 PM

In a way molecular structure does deal with resolution. Silver Halide crystals are made from molecules, which are atoms bound into a defined structure.

Light photons strike the halide crystals dislodging electrons from the halide ions. Electrons group against silver ions forming neutral atoms, millions of neutral atoms group together forming black spots on each crystal, which together form an exposed image.

The more efficiently light photons are able to dislodge halide electrons to form with silver ions, allow atoms to form an exposed image on each crystal with less light, faster speed films can be made from smaller grain, more fine detail can be recorded on a faster speed of film.

Older film stocks are unable to record light as efficiently as newer film stocks which will leave more crystals unexposed. The solution is to increase light level or increase the size of the crystals which also allows for more course grain and less fine detail.

I don't think the article's comparison of molecules and pixels is valid. Pixels and silver halide grain are totally different in how they work.
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#6 Richard Boddington

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 06:39 PM

Bah! Screw the facts, let's round up all the HD people and put them on one of the many islands in Canada's high arctic. It will be a Spanish Inquisition of sorts for the entertainment industry :)

R,
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#7 James Erd

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 06:50 PM

I am also a fan of film, but idealizing it as the most superior medium for a filmmaker to use is a bit sketchy. I do most of my shooting these days on DV, primarily as a matter of economics, but the convenience of NLE is also a big plus for me.

>A Digital Projector has a complicated
>array of 6.6 Million Tiny Mirrors which mix and combine 3 Light sources
>(Red, Green & Blue) together for every single Pixel of the Picture in order
>to produce the proper colour -- this is very complicated which is why
>Digital Projectors are so expensive. A Film Projector, on the other hand,
>simply uses a pure White Light which is then converted into the appropriate
>colours by the Film itself -- this is a very simple and perfect process. It
>is the Film which holds the complex Image on a real Record which uses real
>Light, and this makes Film Projection very simple. There was simply no
>reason for Digital Projectors to have even been developed in the first
>place.

Film projection is not simple, it is not perfect, and it is not safe for the film. Every time a print is projected it is degraded. After so many runs it needs to be replaced. This makes film projection an expensive proposition which is one of the reasons theatre owners have been going digital.

>LONG-TERM RETRIEVAL. This is the worst Achilles' Heel for Digital
>Cinematography / Photography.

This is also an issue with film if memory serves me correctly. I think at this very moment there is an entire industry dedicated to the preservation and restoration of historic films. If film is so archival, why do we need archivist? Hmm, I think smell some vinegar in my film library...

>An Electronic Record cannot be viewed without the modern-day hi-tech Electronic
>Equipment required to view it!

At one time movie projectors were also considered hi-tech. A film with out a projector is really just a lot of tiny pictures shot in consecutive order.

Most of the reasons I like film are barely hinted at here. SO here they are.

1) Film emulsion is not distributed in neat rows and stacks, so actors are free to ware pin stripes, plaid, with out too much concern about aliasing. I know CCDs will catch up. It's just a matter of time and money.

2) Film has a soft knee, and an amazing amount of latitude. When I majored in photography I learned to control the contrast by push or pull processing. If the film I was using wasn't suited to the task I put in different kind. I could shoot in the most challenging lighting conditions and by using the zone system I knew I could still get good shadow detail and my highlights would not be blocked out.

CCDs on the other hand have a very sharp knee. When the highlights are blown out they are blow out, and you still don't get the shadow detail. Yes you can change the lighting but the tolerances are much tighter. Where you could change to a different film emulsion CCDs are a little less flexible. If you don't like your CCD go buy a new camera... If a new CCD comes out that you'd like to try... go buy a new camera.

There are some other reasons why I like film but it's more a matter of my esthetic sensibility at work than a technical issue. Film just feels like home, and there's no place like home.
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#8 Dominik Muench

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 06:57 PM

>LONG-TERM RETRIEVAL. This is the worst Achilles' Heel for Digital
>Cinematography / Photography.

This is also an issue with film if memory serves me correctly. I think at this very moment there is an entire industry dedicated to the preservation and restoration of historic films. If film is so archival, why do we need archivist? Hmm, I think smell some vinegar in my film library...



isnt that mainly because all the old films were shot on celluloid which is indeed not very long lasting ? the new filmstocks are much more durable i think, maybe john can help us out here :)
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#9 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 07:32 PM

This is also an issue with film if memory serves me correctly. I think at this very moment there is an entire industry dedicated to the preservation and restoration of historic films. If film is so archival, why do we need archivist? Hmm, I think smell some vinegar in my film library...


Film is good for archiving because of how simply it works. All you need to do is shine a light through a print and you have an image. This simple task transcends time.

Film is a physical medium and needs to be taken care of. Given enough time heat and humidity will destroy any physical medium. Hollywood studios were not concerned with archiving and preservation until the 90's.

Even though film will last a long time you still need someone who is trained to take care of it.

This makes film projection an expensive proposition which is one of the reasons theatre owners have been going digital.


Film is expensive for the studios, but digital is far more expensive for theaters

At one time movie projectors were also considered hi-tech. A film with out a projector is really just a lot of tiny pictures shot in consecutive order.


Without a compatible DVD player you cannot see anything from a DVD.
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#10 Keith Mottram

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 07:58 PM

i love jersey potatoes they're so much sweeter than other potatoes, they're like totally perfect for summer meals. i just love them and i just cant understand why anyone would want any other type of potatoe... unless maybe they liked baked potatoes? i mean jersey potatoes wouldn't bake as well, would they?
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#11 Matt Butler

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 08:02 PM

I know we've been circling around this issue for a while, but the historical perspective is that image presentation standards have beeen gradually declining over the decades and the *general public* don't really care.

We've been spoilt by Cinerama, 70mm anamorphic processes etc. that were state of the art in their time,
but now are unfortunately a unique anachronism to technological inventiveness.

Perhaps it's a generational thing, change is inevitable, home-cinema in Australia is booming, and when you do the maths, the cost for a family outing to the 'flicks (movies) is serious money.( car-parking, baby-sitter,
traffic - and you haven't even purchased the ticket yet!)

With no comparable reference, except for we privileged image gatherers, who are able to view our endeavours on laboratory standard projection set ups and screens, the *general public* have no chance.

David Mullen posted some nostalgic 3-strip grabs the other day, boy were those processes clean and sharp
but as other posters have commented far more eloquently, nothing beats a good story in any format.

just my two bob (shillings if I remember correctly)

cheers,

matt butler
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#12 Michael Collier

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 08:08 PM

There have been dubious claims that Digital Still
Cameras can capture 16.7 million colours. It is highly improbable if not
impossible for an electronic light sensor to detect such a high number of
colours.


this just points out how little he knows about the digital tech! (of course I side with his thesis, just not his method of proving this) 16.7 million colors is not dubious....its proven!! of course each sensor only can dicern 256 levels of greyscale, not a leap to assume that the chips standard deviation is less than 1/256 of the total signal voltage, so if each chip can give a full 8 bit resolution (and most can give 10-12, some even at 10bit log which can be converted to 16bit linear) x3 you get around 16million colors.

the problem he runs into is film can capture more colors because the COLORSPACE is greater. It can capture more in highlights and shadows. Digital has 16million, but due to the response of chips at low and high light levels, the 16 million are in the midtone range (midtone for what film would capture) this makes video higher contrast, higher saturation and less natural.



Continually he tries to make the point that film is 'Real' and digital is not real. I would submit they are both decidedly unreal. Thats what a picture is. Some system of representing the light focused on a plane over a short period of time. weather or not you can 'see' the image without equipment is a falicy of argument. 100 years from now, we may not know how to project a film with perfect registration and silent motion. It may be a lost technology. As far as digital goes, yes in the format its in its time is limited, but its very simple to transfer the data from one outdated medium to a new medium. Since data management is relativley simple, even if robust falure proof redudancy is needed, I would venture to say that in the near future, the data management cost for 100 years of storage would be similar to 100 years in a film vault. And at the end of the film vault, you still have some restoration to do with the film (we are starting to restore films shot in the 30s, 40s and 50s, so this claim 100 years storage on film is a dubious claim)

As tech shifts to new recording mediums you just have to maintain a copy of the film, and the codec used to store the video. If uncompressed is the goal (and it should be, as data capacity increases) then codec is as simple as defining the pattern of bits.
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#13 James Erd

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 08:15 PM

isnt that mainly because all the old films were shot on celluloid which is indeed not very long lasting ? the new filmstocks are much more durable i think, maybe john can help us out here :)


Yes I believe that's true, celluloid is fairly unstable. Acetate is better but still not perfect and polyester is probably the most stable.

Now as i did say I am a fan of film but I guess what I am suspicious of is the tone of the article, which seems to condemn the new medium on every count. We should keep in mind that digital is a very young medium, yet it is progressing at a tremendous rate. Film on the other hand is based on a mature technology, and for now I feel a superior one, but it is important to remember that the avenues for progress in mature technology tend to have been exhausted. Emulsion will get a little faster... the grain a little smaller... the color more stable and accurate, but film is pretty much what it was a few decades ago. Digital still has some catching up to do but I believe it will equal film in every way that counts with in my life time.

If we had shunned new new technology because it wasn't perfect we would still be making daguerreotype or Collodion prints, and getting blown to bits by photography. We progressed through each new photographic process until emulsions were fast enough for Edward Muybridge take several consecutive photographs of a horse in motion. Muybridge inspired Edison who invent 35mm film and thus our industry was born. ( a gross over simplification )

http://www.digitaljo...e/muybridge.jpg

At one time being a projectionist was a very hazardous occupation. Then they invented safety film. As far as new technologies go digital is fairly benign. I think we should embrace it even though my own hart is with film.
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#14 James Erd

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 08:34 PM

i love jersey potatoes they're so much sweeter than other potatoes, they're like totally perfect for summer meals. i just love them and i just cant understand why anyone would want any other type of potatoe... unless maybe they liked baked potatoes? i mean jersey potatoes wouldn't bake as well, would they?


Ah Good Point!

I like Maui Onions... They really are sweeter than other onions, but would they make good onion rings? [ place chin scratching emoticon here ] :lol:
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#15 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 12:17 AM

Film and video are two different mediums. I feel nither is "Superior". just like a truck isn't nessesarily "Superior" to a sportscar. If you need to haul lumber, do it with a truck, if you want to blast down a winding mountain road, I would damn well suggest you use a sportscar unless you want to end up sliding upsidedown off a cliff. Video will eventually become indistiguishable from film and probably make film obsolete the same way we don't ride horses into town to get supplies anymore. This isn't today and isn't going to be tomorrow but it will happen. right now true HD is far too expensive and not quite up to the level of film but If Lucas used it for the end of the Star Wars series, it ain't bad. This eventual transition is not a bad thing or a good thing, it is more an inevitable thing. But the grand lady Film still has a lot of arias left in her to sing and for right now she's the more stately medium. Digital, however, is the wave of the future.

With digital anything the filmmaker can imagine can be committed to film. Just think how disappointing Jurassic Park would have been had Spielberg gone ahead and made it with Claymation dinosaurs the why he had originally planned to. If you can't imagine it, just look at The Valley of Gwangi. It was a fun film but it never had the impact Jurassic Park did. The very best stopmotion film I ever saw was Jason and the Argonauts's skeleton scene done by Ray Harryhausen. It is an absolute work of art, yet still, I never completely bought it. there were too many very small details that weren't quite right and I could never fully suspend belief. Digital allows you to get everything absolutely perfect, or at least it will in the future. even now there are so many CG elements that are in films noone ever notices. A film that does this brillantlly, althought the story it's self left something to be desired, was "Forces of Nature" . There were so many CG elements in that film you litterally cannot tell where life quits and animation begins. My actual biggest fear is at some tme in the distant future, CG actors will replace live ones (Simone). They've already brought dead ones back from the grave to star in commercials and in a feature and put an actors's face on someone elses body and also a virtual body! I'm hoping individual personalities may be our one saving grace, unless a computer programmer figures out how to artifically create that. But then again, I've always been a little paranoid B)

Edited by Capt.Video, 07 June 2006 - 12:20 AM.

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#16 Kai.w

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 12:35 AM

This was a good laugh. He got so many concepts so wrong!
Really funny.
I don't even know where to start...
better not do at all.
So...aeh... who will win the world cup?

-k
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