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Miami Vice Reactions?


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#1 Chris Keth

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 01:58 AM

I just got back from seeing Miami Vice. I have to say that I'm both very pleased and a bit disappointed with it. The lighting was beautiful. It's nice to see someone who can and will work with hard light and who will let the screen be dark. I also loved the handheld work. Very exciting style but it also calmed down when it needed to.

Now for the con. I really hated the noise they allowed in some of the images. Some of it is so noisy I'd compare it to a Super 8 blowup to 35! I would have greatly preferred a more moderate levelof grain than Beebe went to for some of the movie. The other thing that bothered me is that, within a scene, some shots are much noisier than others. Even some shot-reverses had very different levels of apparent noise between them. Personally, I think a somewhat cleaner look would have been the way to go. If not cleaner, more continuity in the dirt was needed in my opinion.

What did everyone else who saw it think?
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 02:08 AM

I forgot to mention one thing. I, personally, would have shot on film simply because I like the look of film grain more than I like the look of digital noise. One could shoot on 5218 pushed a stop or two, rated at 800 or 1600 respectively and still have the low-light capability desired.

Just my two cents, please don't turn it into a digital vs. film war <_<
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#3 David Sweetman

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 03:04 AM

Just my two cents, please don't turn it into a digital vs. film war <_<


Heh, it's the shot heard 'round the forum.

Personally, I think this movie was the most fitting application of HD I've seen. I liked how some shots were noisy while others in the same scene weren't; it amplified the noise even more. It was kind of mesmerizing.
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#4 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 04:48 AM

Personally i loved how it looked and im not generally a fan of HD. Really enjoyed the movie too, even though the story was straightforward.
I didnt find the noise objectionable but i too would have preferred if it was more consistant on a shot to shot basis. I loved the revolution lens shots and particularly enjoyed that scene in the trailer park. Got to get me one of those A500 boats. And that Ferrari.
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 08:36 AM

Heh, it's the shot heard 'round the forum.

Personally, I think this movie was the most fitting application of HD I've seen. I liked how some shots were noisy while others in the same scene weren't; it amplified the noise even more. It was kind of mesmerizing.



I certainly agree with it being one of the best applications so far. I thought the inconsistancy of the noise was distracting :(
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 06:19 PM

One could shoot on 5218 pushed a stop or two, rated at 800 or 1600 respectively and still have the low-light capability desired.


Not really, though. This has already been addressed in the other Miami Vice thread, in this same conference. Underexposed-and-pushed film does not have the same shadow detail as gained-up video. Film gets more contrasty as you push it, so the blacks get plugged up even more. You wouldn't see into the deep shadows the same way you do with video.

I loved the way Mann and Bebe embraced a "modern" cinema verite approach with hand-held cameras, (sometimes) available lighting, and errant noise and contrast throughout the film. I think the use of video over film here was the right choice (for this movie). My only complaint about the mis-matched noise levels was also in reverse angles, because it called attention to itself within the flow of the scene, taking you out of the moment slightly. Otherwise I didn't mind that the texture changed throughout the film.

It's funny though, I just watched the TV special that NBC ran last week to introduce the movie and when they got to a segment about Mann using "digital cameras" they kept using shots of him with an Arri 435. :P
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#7 Krystian Ramlogan

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 08:28 PM

I've already said a bit on the movie in the other thread. But, I thought the movie was poor: story, acting, flow, pacing, etc. This movie didn't compare to the episodic series, in my opinion.

I thought HD was the best medium for this movie as well, but I felt a more coherent approach would have done the movie better. I have no problem with using smear, grain, and texture to tell the story, but I thought the cinematography should have been tighter, more subtle and allowed to help the story along instead of being a distraction - which is was at may points.

Anything else I have to say I'd said in the other thread.

K.

PS: I think the use of film would hvae resulted in a different movie; better, worse, the same...I'm not sure. But, I would have been interested in seeing what would have changed.
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#8 Morgan Peline

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 08:19 AM

Hi,

I really wanted to enjoy this movie I was a huge fan of the series when I was a kid and I really love Michael Man's movies especially Heat and Manhunter. However I thought this movie was a serious waste of my time all moody style over substance.

Like some overgrown big budget student film. Good looking moody strong silent types with big guns killing each other. If that's all I wanted I could have gone on to youtube- every second badly made short film would have been the same except with less money.

Badly written, no subtext, absolutely no characterization, big boats, big guns, big cars...yada, yada, yada, no proper story. Compare this tripe with something like Heat. Maybe I'm older and maybe the series was just as bad but it wasn't this vapid...

As for the HD, I thought it looked horrible. Really cheap and nasty, if that's th best you can do with an F900, thank god we've got the D20 and Genesis. They should have saved themselves a load of rental fees and shot on miniDV for all I could see - I thought the quality of the image was truely atrocious.

Anyway, rant over.

Suffice to say I really hated this movie...
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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 09:15 AM

Hi,

I haven't seen it yet and I'm not expecting much, but I can't see why it would be advantageous to use such a mixed bag of formats - wouldn't it just end up being a complete headache in post?


Phil
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 11:21 AM

Hi,

I haven't seen it yet and I'm not expecting much, but I can't see why it would be advantageous to use such a mixed bag of formats - wouldn't it just end up being a complete headache in post?
Phil


I guess it beats creating a headache on the set trying to shoot action on water with a Viper that needs to be tethered to a recorder (don't know why they rejected the use of the Venom flash mags). The F950 was mainly just to be able to use the T-block set-up and the F900 just for being untethered camera angles, and film for high-speed and being able to use the T-Rex probe lens. I think if they were willing to deal with the Venom they could have dropped the F900's from the package at least.
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#11 Chris Keth

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 12:13 PM

(don't know why they rejected the use of the Venom flash mags)



I still don't understand this. Isn't the whole purpose of those for situations when you can't or don't want to be tied to the recorder...like on a boat, for example? :blink:
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#12 Marty Hamrick

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 01:23 PM

I felt it worked.I found the overall feel to be distancing.Combination of video format and hard,contrasty lighting.It worked well for the feeling of gritty underworld, the distancing effect here is good.These are characters you don't want to feel close too.Very unlike the 80's show which went for glamour.Reality look this time around.Where I found it disturbing was in the scenes where the high contrast made it,for lack of a better expression, video "artificial".Particularly with the white boats against the blue water under direct sunlight and one shot of Li Gong with hard light slashes across her face.Very unflattering IMO, but yet keeping with the "reality" tone of the film.I would've been tempted to soften it up a bit here,because in the story he's supposed to be developing a love affair with her.As it was, I didn't really feel for them when it was revealed the love affair couldn't happen.Yet were we supposed to feel that way because we know from the jump it wasn't gonna happen?

The Colombian aerials were stunning though.Lush,jungle landscape,rich greens,deep blues,palm trees and waterfalls.Diffuse sunlight,video friendly.The gritty night scenes were interesting.Storm clouds jumping out in the BG,surreal.

Not a "pretty" film overall.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 06:01 PM

There's one shot of the white plane in soft cool light flying low over the swamps / jungles with a sunset sky in the background that is so sharp and clear as to look like 35mm anamorphic or 65mm. Yet there are other shots like during the final shoot-out that look like they were shot with a DV camera with the shutter turned off.

I think the inconsistency only really bothered me when I couldn't find a motivation, like a wide shot of a Jamie Foxx and his wife in bed being less noisy than the immediate pop-in to a tighter (noisier) angle in the same lighting.
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#14 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 06:08 PM

Poor effort from Mann. What worked in Heat I almost winced at here - all the thugspeak and trying to be serious and cool all the time - just felt really phony. Like a student film taking itself too seriously.

But the main problem is this: We're supposed to buy that these cops can fly Learjet's, Adam 500's (just to keep the type ratings going on those it'd have to be a full time job), powerboats and drive Ferrari's, beamers and whatnot. Fine, if the films tone had hinted at a Bond-esque toungue in cheek this wouldn't have been a problem. But the problem is it's dished out as reality, as happening for real, Discovery-style, immediate and on video. The format is doing this film a major dis-service.

Farrell and Foxx had zero chemistry as well. Story was half-baked and most of the time one couldn't even hear the dialogue (yes, Li Gong, I'm looking at you). When audible, it was mostly cringe-inducing.

Cinematography? Dion Bebee did a good job. Some gutsy, realistic stuff there that didn't prettify the world it was trying to portray. Nice use of primary colors at times. Just too bad it was wasted on a story that cried out for the opposite approach. And why were the shots so badly matched? When Colin sends off Li Gong at the end the film it goes from dusk then back to sunset/day then immediatley to night all within seconds. And that wasn't the only scene - the film was full of badly matched shots. Feels sloppy.
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#15 Dan Goulder

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 06:15 PM

I think "consistency" is a key word in evaluating image capture formats. One aspect of HD is that it can look perfect in one shot, then full of artifacts in the next. I think this is due to having a finite number of digital steps between "white" and "black". This also explains why digital falls off faster to black than film, which has more of an "infinite" number of steps from full white to full black, due to its being chemically responsive to light on an atomic level. The "true" resolution of film is probably immeasurable, or rather limited by whatever digital device is used to measure the resolution.
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#16 Tim Partridge

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 07:09 PM

I heard an interview on the radio with Mann and the interviewer was praising one image she thought was fantastically lit, really inspiring amid all of the low light stuff. It was something to do with a hotel exterior. After taking in the praise Mann then said it was actually the buildings own architectural light, the interviewer then sounding not at all impressed.
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#17 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 02:17 AM

Underexposed-and-pushed film does not have the same shadow detail as gained-up video. Film gets more contrasty as you push it, so the blacks get plugged up even more. You wouldn't see into the deep shadows the same way you do with video.

This makes me think....
Has anyone seen or shot film that was flashed and then pushed? It seems counter-intuitive, but I'm thinking maybe this would help lower contrast while also increasing speed. Thoughts?
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#18 Chris Keth

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 02:33 AM

This makes me think....
Has anyone seen or shot film that was flashed and then pushed? It seems counter-intuitive, but I'm thinking maybe this would help lower contrast while also increasing speed. Thoughts?


I did tests on 16 with exactly that strategy in mind. It's an interesting look. It kind of has a net effect of lowering color saturation overall, but I remember liking it. If I have the roll around still, perhaps I'll snip off a few frames and scan them to post. I ended up never shooting anything with that look but it was one of those things you earmark in your head for some future project.
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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 11:10 AM

I did tests on 16 with exactly that strategy in mind. It's an interesting look. It kind of has a net effect of lowering color saturation overall, but I remember liking it. If I have the roll around still, perhaps I'll snip off a few frames and scan them to post. I ended up never shooting anything with that look but it was one of those things you earmark in your head for some future project.


You'd be better off pushing a low-con film. Flashing would help only a little, it would have to be minimal, like 5 to 7% max, to improve shadow detail. So yes, you'd probably mitigate the increase in contrast of pushing by using low-con film and/or flashing it, but remember that pushing also increases the base fog level (i.e. blacks are less black) and flashing will only make that worse.
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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 02:31 PM

Hi,

Gyaaargh, what a complete train wreck of a movie. I don't know if it was the screen I saw it in, although they're usually OK, but the audio mix had the dialogue so subdued I could hardly make it out. I had no idea what was going on for most of the movie.

This was doubly disadvantageous given that it looked, I thought, like a badly-shot student movie that could afford a helicopter. Once more I find myself objecting subconsciously to the deification of experienced people - yes, Dion Beebe shot this movie, yes he's shot a lot of good looking movies, but it didn't stop this one looking like a complete piece of arse. It's about what I'd expect it to look like if I'd shot it, on one of my better days - and that's a grave insult to someone who's supposed to be at the top of the game.

In specifics: can we please ask Thompson to remove shutter angles larger than 180 degrees from the Viper, it looks like badly standards-converted NTSC. I've seen it on set, I've seen it in colour correction and in the cinema and it looks so horribly sitcom-like you expect every scene change to be accompanied by a guitar sting. Perhaps this is conditioning to mid-nineties American sitcoms which tend to look very smeary and nasty when converted to PAL, but the problem remains.

If we are shooting HDCAM, we do not do cinemascope - it looks crap. Interestingly it looked much more crap on this than it did on Star Wars, but then Star Wars was lit.

Also if we are shooting HDCAM, we do not expect it to intercut with more capable formats. It doesn't. It looks like total junk. It looks like high res miniDV. It is horrible.

If we're going to do intentionally rough handheld camerawork in an ENG style, with ENG shaped cameras, can I suggest we hire ENG cameramen to shoot it. Seems to me that a lot of this was shot by people who are probably poop hot on a geared head, but clearly haven't got a clue what they're doing handheld - unless they just intentionally cut in all the junk. And no, I don't mean it wasn't smooth, or it wasn't well framed, or it wasn't beautiful - it wasn't intended to be any of those things, and that's fine. It was just badly done.

Miami Vice looks like a student film, completely amateurish - I would be embarrassed to have my name on the credits. The only movie I've ever seen that went so clearly for style over substance and achieved neither.

Phil
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