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IRE/RGB maximum acceptable settings for film recording


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#1 Markford Astina

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 01:18 PM

Hi there,

We are about to do final color grading on our HDV feature shot on the Z1.

Now, when I created my trailer the Film Recorder person told me that I shouldn't have
pure blacks and whites on my color graded film

- meaning no RGB 255, 255, 255 or RGB 0, 0, 0

Now I know this holds true for broadcast quality material, since most crt monitors can't handle
these extremes - but I would think film is different, right?

Film, especially one that is headed for cinema projection would have a larger lattitude and would accept
these extremities well.

To get a clearer picture as to why I'm hesitant to take their word completely - is because HD/HDV/Video/Digital Intermediate to Film (via film recording) is still quite new to this country. This is only about the 5th transfer that this particular post house would be handling.

Anyways, with the trailer's first transfer - the Film Recorder guy messed with my levels - ending up in a pasty and milky picture with pale (light magenta) skin tones!

I quickly disapproved their transfer and had them re-transfer the whole trailer.

I had to sit down with them as they tweaked the colors/levels around.

It kinda sucks that I spend a lot of hours tweaking the picture so that it looks just right only to have to do it all over again (and compromise) just before they record it to film.

So anyways back to the main question - can film (unlike video) handle pure blacks and whites?
Am going for a high-con look and want to crush the blacks completely and blow out the whites.

Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
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#2 Stephen Williams

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 01:32 PM

Hi there,


- meaning no RGB 255, 255, 255 or RGB 0, 0, 0
.


Hi,

Your working in 8 bit and looking at a monitor! Film has a much wider range and color space.

Stephen
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#3 Michael Most

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 08:35 PM

It kinda sucks that I spend a lot of hours tweaking the picture so that it looks just right only to have to do it all over again (and compromise) just before they record it to film.

So anyways back to the main question - can film (unlike video) handle pure blacks and whites?
Am going for a high-con look and want to crush the blacks completely and blow out the whites.

Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


Well, my first thought is that you're making an awful lot of assumptions for someone who clearly knows little about film or the processes associated with it.

Film has a very different colorspace than video, and a different way of presenting it. The "hours" you spent tweaking the picture are useless unless you're doing it in a proper theater environment - thus simulating the viewing conditions for the film version - using proper film lookup tables - thus simulating the colorspace available on film. Altering video levels on a video monitor doesn't buy you anything if your intended product isn't video. There are many colors video can reproduce - in particular, very saturated colors, particularly reds and greens - that print film cannot (and, by the way, vice-versa). That's one of the many reasons there is a "look" to a film print that is different than a video presentation. The grey scale is also different, as is the brightness in common viewing conditions, thus making the film viewing experience considerably different. The simple answer to your question is no, there is usually no such thing as a "pure black" or a "pure white" on print film when projected. There is a gradual falloff at both ends of the scale, which also contributes to why film projection looks like it does. In addition, it would not be desirable to have such things when the viewing conditions are a dark room with a large screen, because it would ultimately be very uncomfortable for the audience. You can get fairly extreme - as evidenced by pictures such as "Domino" - but the only way you can do this reliably, and know what the result is going to be, is to do it in a proper digital intermediate environment, as I've already mentioned.

Next time, you should probably ask questions before you go about doing something you have no experience with, not after.
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#4 Markford Astina

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 11:53 PM

Michael, firstly I appreciate your reply, particularly the second paragraph.

But looking at your first and third paragraph/sentence - I think you have misunderstood my post.

Posted Image

It is to my impression that you think I was criticizing film's color space / rendition and how different it is to video and vice versa. This is not the case.

I am well aware that they are both different.

My problem lies with the inexperience of the post house and the reliability of their advise.

As I mentioned DI and or HD to film record is still quite a baby in this country (the Philippines) so there are no such facilities as you have mentioned available here, and even the knowledge of the operators here about the workflow, issues, technicalities, etc. is quite limited.

Otherwise I would have loved to have done my trailer for the film in such an environment.

Now given this limitation. (NO PROPER DI WORKSTATIONS / FACILITIES)
And given just the available equipment (VIDEO BROADCAST FACILITIES)

How do I go about grading my HDV feature so as to get as close to what I see on my video monitor
on the silver screen? This was the intented questioned of my last post.

Is the Local Post House's advise that I shouldn't go to the extremeties of RGB (0,0,0 & 255,255,255)
well founded? (They said that if I did RGB 0,0,0 for the blacks, it would be vlelvety and would stand out like a sore thumb as if you had filled it in with a black marker)

As I mentioned in my first post, of the reasons why I cannot take their advise at face value is the fact that they messed up the colors of the trailer (the Film Recorder tweaked the already graded colors of the trailer, without asking me first, and it came out as if the people were zombies - magenta skin tones - what in the world was the Film Recorder thinking?)

I know that I would probably not be able to get exactly what I see on my video screen - that is a given. But to getting as close as possible to it is the goal I'm trying to achieve.

What are the techniques, tips to achieve this?

Next time, you should probably ask questions before you go about doing something you have no experience with, not after.


We probably do things differently. I respect that.

The way I do things is:
Try before you buy, and then if there are questions that arise from your experience -go look for the answer.
This is not dissimilar to researching on your own, first searching posts before asking questions.

Doing it this way I will know the particular questions I need answers for.

The 'try' factor in this particular case was the 'grading of the trailer',

So out of that experience - certain issues came up and questions raised.

So now I am seeking answers before I do my final grading for the more important 'feature film'.

So in response to your last paragraph/sentence - yes I am doing exactly that - asking before I do something (the grading of the more important feature) before I go about doing something about it (but you see I do have had some experience with it - from the doing 'the trailer', and borne of that I know which particular questions ask).

And thanks to the availabilty of this site/forum and the people who make up this community, such as yourself, I am able to get credible and reliable answers that can arm me with that extra knowledge to get any of my projects done right.

Again, I greatly appreciate your response - although some parts of it were presonal remarks and, frankly, were quite unnecessary.
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#5 Markford Astina

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 12:09 AM

This was a Double post (please erase)

Thanks

Edited by Markford Astina, 09 October 2006 - 12:11 AM.

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#6 Stephen Williams

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 01:56 AM

Now given this limitation. (NO PROPER DI WORKSTATIONS / FACILITIES)
And given just the available equipment (VIDEO BROADCAST FACILITIES)

How do I go about grading my HDV feature so as to get as close to what I see on my video monitor
on the silver screen? This was the intented questioned of my last post.

What are the techniques, tips to achieve this?


Hi,

If you read Mike's post he has answered the questions, you cant achieve what you want in a video broadcast environment!

Stephen
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 04:56 AM

Hi,

Having spent quite a lot of time attacking DI software and film-grading tools with a blunt instrument and trying to make them break, I have to say I don't quite understand all the doom and gloom surrounding this sort of thing.

Mr. Most is, fundamentally, right of course. You can't grade on a computer monitor then expect to create a film print which looks identical. Filmed out without any adjustment, the result would probably be unwatchably horrible.

However.

If you have spent a lot of time grading your images to a result you find acceptable, and if they are reasonably consistent, then it should be possible, without a completely impossible amount of work, to find a solution in terms of an output LUT or a fairly brief, probably per-scene grading session which would allow it to be filmed out looking something like what it was intended to look like.

For many low budget or independent projects, the key is not to have a Truelight style, photon-perfect print emulation, but to have a reasonable representation of what was desired. It's been shot on HDV, it's never going to be the best technical result in the world, but it ought to be possible to get something reasonable and watchable without having to regrade from scratch.

Phil
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#8 Michael Most

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 08:28 AM

My problem lies with the inexperience of the post house and the reliability of their advise.


In that case, my advice would be to send it out of the country to a facility that has done a lot more of this type of work. It's a big world out there. There are facilities in your part of the world, particularly in Australia and India, that have done a lot of this type of thing. You could also send it to numerous facilities in the US, Canada, and Europe. If you can't physically go there, send a short clip (you could even email it, or upload to an FTP server) and ask for a test. Most facilities (including the one I work at in Miami) would likely be willing to do that for you. As for your specific look issues, less saturation is a typical consequence of going from video to film, particularly in highly saturated video colors, but also in fleshtones. Experienced facilities will usually attempt to compensate for this somewhat, but as I also mentioned, you must be prepared for a "different" look on a film print than you are used to seeing with the original video material. Similar (if done right), but different.
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