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Mullen's work on The Quiet


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#1 Evan Winter

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 02:44 PM

Anthony, one of my best friends and a frequent collaborator of mine (he's produced two of my short films) commented on 'The Quiet' two days ago. He asked me if I'd heard of it and then proceeded to ask me if I knew it was shot digitally. I told him that I did. He asked me if I could tell by looking at it. He said that he didn't realize it was shot digitally until he did some research into the film. It didn't ever occur to him, while watching it on DVD, that he wasn't watching 'film'.

Now, I'm tempted to call Anthony a film-lover but perhaps he'd be better classified as merely disliking the 'lower quality look' of digital acquisition. He's seen Superman Returns, Fincher's Zodiac, Mann's Miami Vice/Collateral, and Apocalypto (among others). In all cases he recognized that the films had been shot digitally and expressed that while they may have worked visually for him to varying degrees he still, generally speaking, preferred film.

To make a long story short, David's 'The Quiet' was shot in a style that caused my film-literate friend to believe he was watching film. I thought this was interesting and thought I should post it. Especially since my friend's next question was, 'How did he do that?'

Evan
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#2 Max Jacoby

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 05:04 PM

In a theatre it's a lot easier to tell what format a film was shot on than on dvd.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 05:44 PM

I didn't do anything particularly for a "film look" -- it was generally shot at a T/2.8 on Panavision Primo zooms. I just lit it moodily.

The one thing, besides the lighting, may have been the use of smoke in many scenes, which may have helped reduced that video edginess/cleaness and perhaps created a little more separation & depth.
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#4 John Sprung

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 07:09 PM

David, was it Genesis, or one of the 2/3" cameras?



-- J.S.
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#5 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 07:25 PM

F900 if I remember correctly, so 2/3".
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#6 Jason Robert Tompkins

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 07:40 PM

In a theatre it's a lot easier to tell what format a film was shot on than on dvd.


I'll 2nd that. I'm very excited about all of the innovations in HD/2k/4k capture and exhibition, and by the time my feature-length directorial debut comes together it will probably be on one of these formats instead of film, but with the dynamic range being what it is, you can totally tell the source format of things when you're looking at a film print. When I saw Zodiac in theaters, as well done as the photography was, it was clear that the blacks were very crushed, and low light scenes were noisy (is it me, or is the Viper noisier than the Genesis or other HD cameras?), suggesting video capture.

Generally, I don't think it's very useful to expect HD to "look and act" like film, quality photography is about understanding the limits and advantages of your tools and maximizing.
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 03:05 PM

Viper is not the quietest camera out there.

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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 03:23 PM

I actually thought that "Zodiak" was particular clean-looking throughout, thanks to the money spent on hiring John Lowry's company (I think it was his) to use their noise reduction process (which is a little more sophisticated than what most D.I. suites have, which tend to just average frames and create a certain lagginess.)
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#9 Daniel Carruthers

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 07:47 AM

I thought the blacks in zodiac where the opposite of crushed, you could see right into them, it just takes a moment for your eyes to adjust.
if they where crushed they would just be a black blob with no detail in them. I thought the look of zodiac was one of the best Ive seen in a couple of years
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#10 Michael Nash

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 05:17 PM

I thought the blacks in zodiac where the opposite of crushed, you could see right into them, it just takes a moment for your eyes to adjust.
if they where crushed they would just be a black blob with no detail in them. I thought the look of zodiac was one of the best Ive seen in a couple of years


I agree, there was nothing in the contrast or blacks that signaled "video" to me when I watched the film print. I thought it looked great; very dark by design but showing the precise amount of detail in the shadows that you needed to see. The footage was of course color-corrected to look the way it did; not because the camera couldn't handle the contrast. The movie did have a distinct look that wasn't quite like anything else we've seen because it wasn't film, or even film through a DI. But I don't think it looked anything like "video" either.

Miami Vice on the other hand DID look like video most of the time, but again that was by design too. There they were trying to exploit the imaging qualities you can get from electronic capture vs. film, and it clearly showed. But I also loved it ;)

In both cases I think the difference from a normal film look came largely through the manipulation of the gamma curve, as opposed to what you would expect from a film print. In Zodiac the shadows were pushed down (but not crushed) for a dark, murky look; In Miami Vice they did the opposite and opened up the shadows for better visibility in night exteriors.
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#11 King J Greenspon

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 05:19 PM

I just watched the Quiet for the first time on DVD, knowing in advance that it was shot digitally. Usually this is something that I try to avoid, especially if it isn't HD. (I tried watching Sorry, Haters and I couldn't get through it.) However, I have to say that I was mystified at how fabulous The Quiet looked. I can't speak to what it looked like in a theater, but I rarely saw any digital noise, especially in the blacks.

Question: Did it take the DI to get rid of the digital noise or was it the way it was shot (lit)? Every time I've shot or been on a shoot (even with the F900) I've seen noise in the blacks. And I know a certain DP that's horrified by blacks while shooting with the HVX200.

This has been one of the reasons I push for film. The blacks. And of course the latitude. But with the way this film looked, I'm beginning to believe.

Any illumination into the subject I'd appreciate.

:blink:
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#12 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 07:33 PM

I share that fear of the HVX blacks.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 10:08 PM

I didn't do anything to avoid noise in blacks. That's usually only a problem if you underexpose too much and have to lighten the shot in post.

I did have some noise in the blues, visible in the film-out but hard to see on DVD. Underexposed blue moonlight basically in certain situations picked up some chroma noise.
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#14 Mitch Gross

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 12:37 AM

I've yet to see ANY video camera that didn't have noise in the blue channel. Sensors are starved for blue.
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