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Query about 35mm


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#1 David Samuels

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 10:57 AM

Sorry if I sound incredibly naive in my question! My technical knowledge is limited and I'm sure most of you here know a lot about this!

I want to know why films shot on 35mm that are made for the direct-to-DVD market look different from films shot on 35mm for theatrical release? For example, I just saw a horror film called ABOMINABLE which was shot on 35mm Eastmak Kodak film that's gone to direct to DVD. However, the film doesn't have the grain and appearance of film that you'd expect from 35mm, it has a sheen and gloss that looks more like video. I've seen the same thing with other movies shot on 35mm that bypass theatrical release. I thought a movie that's shot on 35mm should look the same whether it's for theatrical or DTV release. I don't mean in terms of lighting, filters etc - those are obviously aesthetic decisions made by the director and DP. I mean in terms of the visual "grain" and "texture." I read an interview with the director of ABOMINABLE in which he said, because of the low budget, they "never did make a print of the film." Does THIS explain the film's look? I always thought EVERY movie shot on 35mm has a final print. If they don't make a print, what do they do with the reels that have been shot during production? Are they developed in a normal lab?
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#2 Jaxon Bridge

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 12:28 PM

I'm not an expert on post-production processes which I believe are the issue at stake with your question, but I can offer some basics. Just because you shoot on 35mm doesn't mean it's going to look good after a transfer. There are a huge variety of processes to get a high-resolution video product out of a film negative. As an extreme example, suppose you took a 35mm movie but first transferred it to a low-resolution digital file for web viewing. Then you decided to make a DVD from the web version. It would look awful. Likewise, a low-budget production may not be able to afford the costs of creating a high-res master from which to dupe videos or compress the MPG for DVD. Resolution aside, there are also lots of coloring and other issues (which I'm mostly ignorant of) that affect how clean a video product looks. Compare a professional TV show shot on 16mm to a student film also shot on 16mm and then transferred to DVD. You might get a similar discrepancy.

p.s. -- "Anamorophic".. this forum's rules require that your display name not be a nickname, but a full first and last name. Please change it if you'd like your posts taken seriously.
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#3 David Samuels

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 02:59 PM

Thanks for the info.
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#4 Bruce Greene

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 05:07 AM

Sorry if I sound incredibly naive in my question! My technical knowledge is limited and I'm sure most of you here know a lot about this!

I want to know why films shot on 35mm that are made for the direct-to-DVD market look different from films shot on 35mm for theatrical release? For example, I just saw a horror film called ABOMINABLE which was shot on 35mm Eastmak Kodak film that's gone to direct to DVD. However, the film doesn't have the grain and appearance of film that you'd expect from 35mm, it has a sheen and gloss that looks more like video.



As the cinematographer of additional scenes - the "hunting for sasquatch" sequences (shot after the principal photography was edited) perhaps I can answer your questions...

The film was telecined from the original camera negative to a digitbeta master tape at low contrast. After editing, the low contrast master tapes went through additional color correction to what you see on the dvd. While at the post house for color correcting, I did not see anything unusual in the look or grain of the images. I will say this though: Release prints, in general, at the theatre may be many generations removed from the original negative and pick up contrast, grain, and resolution loss. Ironically, the video scan of the negative may be closer to the original look of the image. Also, the electronic color correcting of the film allows manipulation of the contrast and gamma curves of the film that cannot be done in optical film printing (unless a digital intermediate is made). This can give a different look than a direct optical print of the film.

And yes, for this film a print was never struck. The 35mm film went to lab for development and then to video transfer. My guess is that the original negative reels are stored in a vault somewhere in Hollywood. The brief theatrical release was projected on ....standard definition video.

There is a brief clip on my website for the curious -- www.brucealangreene.com

-bruce
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#5 David Samuels

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 03:24 PM

Hi Bruce, thanks for the answer! I didn't expect to get it from someone who worked on the movie (which I thought was terrific, by the way!).
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