Jump to content


Photo

Optical printer in the digital age


  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 James Steven Beverly

James Steven Beverly
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4199 posts
  • Director
  • El Paso, Texas

Posted 26 November 2006 - 10:14 PM

How useful are optical printers in the modern age? Will they be around for a while?
  • 0

#2 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 26 November 2006 - 10:48 PM

How useful are optical printers in the modern age? Will they be around for a while?


There are still used for some basic work like blow-ups and reductions, optical fades, dissolves, step-printing, etc. Mainly because it still works out to be cheaper per foot than the digital method (scanning, recording, etc.) And the companies that own the optical printers made back their costs a long time ago.

"Capote" and "Girl with a Pearl Earring", for example, were Super-35 films blown-up to anamorphic using an optical printer. Even the original release of "Lord of the Rings" was done this way, since only 70% of the movie went through a D.I. (sort of the worst of both worlds, that footage going both through a D.I. and then through an optical printer blow-up using an IN/IP.)

Simple, low-tech, low-cost optical / photochemical processes will be around for a while.

Main problem with optical printing has always been generational loss thru using dupes, plus dirt & dust problems. Special effects companies got around the problem by using larger negative formats for efx work (VistaVision at ILM, 65mm at Trumbull's company, for example.) The idea being that a larger negative duped a few generations ends up about as grainy as normal 35mm. Of course, that doesn't take into account the loss of saturation and increase in contrast. Contrast problems were dealt with in different ways (pull-processing, flashing, using masks, etc.)

When scanning, recording, etc. get cheap enough per foot, optical printing will be nearly obsolete. For example, "Akeelah and the Bee" was the first film I've done, even though it didn't go through a D.I., where all the "opticals" (fades, dissolves, etc.) were done digitally instead of an optical printer or A/B roll printing.
  • 0

#3 John Holland

John Holland
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2248 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London England

Posted 27 November 2006 - 12:27 PM

So David , were happy with the end result of "opticals " being done DI ? afraid the film didnt have a wide release here , so not able to see it on a big screen , prob. not be able to notice anything on a DVD. John Holland , London.
  • 0

#4 Matthew Buick

Matthew Buick
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2345 posts
  • Student
  • Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Posted 27 November 2006 - 06:23 PM

There is a DIY Super 8 Optical Printer that you can build yourself for a few Quid, does anyone know how good this is for simple operations like titles ?
  • 0

#5 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 27 November 2006 - 10:01 PM

So David , were happy with the end result of "opticals " being done DI ? afraid the film didnt have a wide release here , so not able to see it on a big screen , prob. not be able to notice anything on a DVD. John Holland , London.


Yes and no. When only the "opticals" go thru a D.I., you can tell the 2K resolution limit more clearly when intercut with original photography, but then the same thing happens with duped shots. Plus I had to limit what I did digitally in color-timing to what I could match in normal color-timing with the non-digital shots, so I couldn't really play with gamma, for example, especially if the same shot was repeated in the normal material that didn't go through the D.I.

But it certainly was great to do long montage sequences with lots of dissolves digitally rather than the other ways.

But doing pieces of a film with a D.I. and the rest normally is sort of the worst of all worlds -- you can't use all the digital color-correction tools if you want to match the rest of the footage, and then you still have to splice the D.I. shots in and try and time them to match, etc. It's SO much easier when the whole movie is a D.I.
  • 0

#6 Matthew Buick

Matthew Buick
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2345 posts
  • Student
  • Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Posted 28 November 2006 - 03:24 PM

Please let me be very stupid for a minute, but, what is a D.I and a 2K?
  • 0

#7 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 28 November 2006 - 10:14 PM

Please let me be very stupid for a minute, but, what is a D.I and a 2K?


http://en.wikipedia....al_intermediate
http://en.wikipedia....play_resolution
  • 0

#8 Matthew Buick

Matthew Buick
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2345 posts
  • Student
  • Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Posted 30 November 2006 - 03:14 PM

Oh, right, thanks very much, David.
  • 0

#9 James Steven Beverly

James Steven Beverly
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4199 posts
  • Director
  • El Paso, Texas

Posted 02 December 2006 - 01:37 AM

I had one more question, how do you do an optical blow up of a tecniscope 2 perf using an optical printer? Do you need a 2 perf movement for the printer projector or can you adjust the optics to show 1/2 the frame on a 4 perf movement and project the anamorphic image onto the 4 perf frame of the projection print?
  • 0

#10 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 02 December 2006 - 02:09 AM

I had one more question, how do you do an optical blow up of a tecniscope 2 perf using an optical printer? Do you need a 2 perf movement for the printer projector or can you adjust the optics to show 1/2 the frame on a 4 perf movement and project the anamorphic image onto the 4 perf frame of the projection print?


You'd need a 2-perf movement - if you had a 4-perf movement with the optics showing half the frame, then you'd be skipping every other 2-perf frame because it would still be pulling down 4-perfs at a time. You also need an anamorphic printer lens to convert the image from spherical to anamorphic.
  • 0

#11 Dominic Case

Dominic Case
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1357 posts
  • Other
  • Sydney Australia

Posted 04 December 2006 - 10:06 PM

You'd need a 2-perf movement - if you had a 4-perf movement with the optics showing half the frame, then you'd be skipping every other 2-perf frame because it would still be pulling down 4-perfs at a time.

Hmmm. There would be a way round this.

You lace up the projector gate with frame 1 (perfs 1,2) centred in the gate, and you set the printer to expose each frame once, but pull the stock in the camera down by two frames (8 perfs) while pulling the source material down by four perfs (two frames). With no exposure for the inrtervening frame of rawstock.

At the end of the shot, you wind back to the beginning, re lace the projector gate 2 perfs later, with frame 2 in the middle of the gate, make sure you have returned to frame 2 (so far unexposed) in the camera, and repeat the process.

You either need a program on your printer to carry out this skip frame sequence, or you have to get familiar with a complex rythm of pushing buttons on your printer. More of a cha-cha than a quickstep I suspect, and it could get very repetitive on a long sequence.
  • 0

#12 James Steven Beverly

James Steven Beverly
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4199 posts
  • Director
  • El Paso, Texas

Posted 07 December 2006 - 11:18 PM

Thanks for the reply, Dominc, I thought if you can do all this wounderfull matte work (not that that had anything to do with your solution) on an OP there MUST be SOMEWAY to print 2 perf without the proper camera movements but in all honesty, unless I had a computerized OP, I'd be leary of trying to push the button that many times at the right time every single time. I'm just not that coordinated :D

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 07 December 2006 - 11:20 PM.

  • 0


Willys Widgets

Tai Audio

rebotnix Technologies

Glidecam

CineTape

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Technodolly

FJS International, LLC

The Slider

Rig Wheels Passport

Wooden Camera

Opal

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Abel Cine

Visual Products

CineLab

Aerial Filmworks

Metropolis Post

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Ritter Battery

Paralinx LLC

CineLab

Visual Products

CineTape

FJS International, LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Glidecam

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Metropolis Post

Tai Audio

Abel Cine

Opal

Rig Wheels Passport

rebotnix Technologies

The Slider

Willys Widgets

Ritter Battery

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Wooden Camera

Paralinx LLC