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"2001" in 70mm


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#1 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 03:38 AM

Hi all,

I saw "2001: A Space Odessey" for the first time on the big screen tonight (in 70mm), wow! I had previously found the film to be almost unbearably slow-paced when watching it on DVD but seeing it on a big screen has changed my perception entirely. My eyes now needed time to scan the frame and appreciate the fine details and textures now apparent on screen, so that the pacing of the sequences no longer seemed overlong but exactly right. I also found that with the increased resolution of the images, I felt as though my eyes needed to linger over the shots -- I was taking a greater aesthetic pleasure in the act of viewing which made the long duration of the shots almost necessary. The experience really struck home for me the relation of screen size and resolution to that of pace in cutting.

It's something Walter Murch brings up in his memoir on the craft of editing "In the Blink of an Eye", and also something which gets talked about a lot today in relation to overly fast cutting in modern films (cut on computer monitors rather than on a flatbed with a projectable print), but somehow it didn't occur to me that the corollary might be just as true.

Anyway, I had several questions about the film which hopefully someone here can answer:

1. How were those handheld shots onboard the Jupiter-bound space ship done, given the weight and size of the 65mm camera? There's one that follows Bowman out of the pod bay and tilts up 90 degrees as he climbs a ladder -- that Panaflex camera must have weighed a ton! I can't imagine holding that on my shoulder and then tilting straight up, I think most camera operators' backs would go out doing that.

2. There are several extreme CUs of HAL's "fisheye" which show reflections of Bowman but not the camera or lens. Do you think these were done by simply tenting the camera in Duvytene and shooting with a long lens, or is the reflection a superimposition done on an optical printer?

3. I noticed several shots in the Dawn of Man sequence which seemed to have a lot of grain and weak blacks in comparision to the rest of the footage. Were these possibly exposed darker and printed up because Kubrick later changed his mind for some reason, or was there simply not enough light on the set given the difficulty of lighting for the front projection?

4. I noticed that these shots were not very sharp either, which made me think they could have been taken with a soft-ish zoom lens -- maybe long prime lenses which covered 5perf 65mm were hard to come by? If so, I suspect that HAL's "fisheye" ECU was also taken with the soft zoom, as that shot is much softer and flarey than the surrounding footage.

5. The deeply saturated red-lit scenes on the Jupiter ship seem to be fairly sharp looking -- how did Unsworth/Kubrick avoid the "fuzzy red" effect? Or is this extra sharpness simply a by-product of shooting a larger negative, so that exposing only the red-sensitive layer of the emulsion is counteracted by all those extra film grains contributing to a well-resolved image?

6. I'm somewhat surprised that the wide lenses used on the Jupiter ship interiors had so much barrel distortion -- I thought that wide lenses in larger film formats had fewer problems in that regard? The wide lenses used on the Space Station interiors seemed more rectilinear, though some distortion might have been hidden by the curved floor.

Thank you.:)
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#2 Mark Dunn

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 05:20 AM

>1. How were those handheld shots onboard the Jupiter-bound space ship done, given the weight and size of >the 65mm camera? There's one that follows Bowman out of the pod bay and tilts up 90 degrees as he >climbs a ladder -- that Panaflex camera must have weighed a ton! I can't imagine holding that on my >shoulder and then tilting straight up, I think most camera operators' backs would go out doing that

The classic hand-held shot is the descent of the astronauts into the TMA-1 crater. Kubrick operated that himself, with the crew backstopping him so he didn't fall backwards. So your answer is, very carefully. I believe the BFC weighed 70lb.

Hal's lens in not an optical. There weren't any in 2001. Every composite was shot by multiple exposure. Jerome Agel explains it in 'The Making of 2001'.
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#3 John Holland

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 06:06 AM

I think you will find that the 65mm Panaflex used weighs about 25/30 lbs with a 500' mag .
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#4 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 07:19 AM

I saw "2001: A Space Odessey" for the first time on the big screen tonight (in 70mm), wow!


Ah, I envy you in CA regarding the ease with which 70mm projections are shown in theatres there. One must be very lucky to catch any screening of a Kubrick film here in London that is based on a good print (not even to think of 70mm projection).

There was a major retrospective in Zürich recently in combination with an exhibition of Kubrick memorabila (Arriflexes, scripts etc.) , and they beamed some films from the DVD consumer release... need I say more?

May I ask if it was a curved-screen Cinerama presentation or flat-screen?

I also have conflicting sources at hand whether the restoration Kubrick did on "2001: A Space Odyssey" in the early 1990s was entirely sourced from the 65mm Super Panavision 70 original camera negative? Could someone acknowledge or dispute the claims that some 65mm footage had apparently been lost at Warner and hence alternative 35mm source material had to be used - probably internegatives from the post-roadshow release period?

Thanks
(why is Kubrick always invoking more questions than answers? :) )
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 10:09 AM

I heard that there were a few damaged sections of the original negatived replaced with 65mm (not 35mm) dupes, hence the small jump in graininess in some scenes.

Also, the negative has aged, so any underexposed shots will have gotten milkier than they looked back in 1968.

The "Dawn of Man" sequence, and a few others, were shot wide-open, in this case, due to the light level output of the 8x10 slide projector used for the front projection, plus the film stcok was only 50 ASA afterall, plus you have the reduced depth of field of 65mm, plus the longer lenses used in the sequence.

Some shots in the movie used extremely wide-angle lenses -- you don't realize just how wide-angle they were because of the curvature of the set design, but some where nearly the field of view of the original "bug eye" Todd-AO lens, which had a lot of barrel distortion. See these frames from "Around the World in Eighty Days", shot in 65mm Todd-AO:

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Though I'm not sure they used the actual "bug eye" Todd-AO lens in "2001", but there are plenty of super-wide-angle large format lenses they could have used that have barrel distortion. The original aim of 65mm was to replace or compete with Cinerama's 146 degree field of view from three 27mm lenses on three 6-perf 35mm frames. I don't recall the focal length of the "bug eye" lens created originally to do this, but it must have been in the 12mm range. In Super-35, it would be something like a 6mm lens, almost fish-eye. In anamorphic, a 12mm-ish lens.
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#6 John Holland

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 10:13 AM

to rub salt into the wound i was at the opening night of "2001" at the Casino Cinerama in Old Compton St. London , middle of stalls 3/4 ways back perfect seat .what an experince , the images wow , but didnt understand it at all . think God had something to do with it ?
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#7 John Holland

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 10:18 AM

Panavision did have a 17mm lens for their 65mm camera system so could have been that .
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#8 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 10:33 AM

David:

Thank you very much for the clarification and time invested. Very enlightening indeed!

Not to troll off-topic here, but have you ever shot on the 65/70mm format (for test purposes only, as your filmography would make such a film project obvious)?

--

John:

I was just about to post that, but wanted to doublecheck on the "vintage" of that lens.

Oh, and the wounds are hurting even more now, thanks. Why does London not have something comparable to the "Cinematheque française"? It would snuggle well into Hampstead Village, next to the Everyman Cinema and Jonathan Ross's place.

My older brother saw "2001" as a young child (smuggled into the cinema by my parents 'cause of the rating) and that impacted on him so strongly that he started filmmaking himself. And I got the passion from him: so this film and Kubrick holds a special place. Well, at least I can say that Childwickbury House is located just a couple of minutes from my place :)
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 10:39 AM

Panavision did have a 17mm lens for their 65mm camera system so could have been that .


Knowing Kubrick, he probably also had medium-format still camera lenses adapted for the 65mm camera, especially probably the fish-eye lens used for HAL's POV.

In terms of the reflection of Bowman, I seem to recall seeing a black tented shape behind Bowman's head.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 11:04 AM

I realized that I'm probably thinking of "Apollo 13" in terms of the tenting for the helmet reflections. I looked at "2001" and the only reflections in HAL's eye of the actors looks like an efx composite, since they would be impossible to get on-camera -- when shooting a reflection in a dome dead-center in frame, the camera is always reflected in the center of the dome. You can't shoot from one side.

Here are some frame grabs. The first shows the use of a fish-eye lens. The second shows the barrel distortion of the super wide-angle lenses. The rest are HAL's eye without and with Bowman reflected. The last two are efx composites I believe. I just realized that the L-shape of the overhead lights reflected in HAL's eye for most of the movie is due to the camera blocking part of the lights.

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#11 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 12:41 PM

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That L shape seems to repeat as well, is that composite work or do you think they used some sort of mirror setup up behind the camera to get those multiple rows of lights in HAL's eye?

And Satsuki, where'd you catch it? Is it playing here in SF anytime soon ya think?
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#12 Mark Dunn

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 01:20 PM

I think you will find that the 65mm Panaflex used weighs about 25/30 lbs with a 500' mag .


Most of the production stills I've seen show an unblimped Mitchell. But I can't gainsay you.

I was lucky enough to see it on January 1st., 2001 in 70mm. at the NFT with two Kubricks in the audience. Marvellous.
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#13 Thomas James

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 01:55 PM

So with all of this talk that film is dead and will soon be supplanted by 4k video I wonder if this applies to a real 65mm film production like 2001 ?

Edited by Thomas James, 26 September 2007 - 01:58 PM.

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#14 Max Jacoby

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 04:13 PM

Panavision did have a 17mm lens for their 65mm camera system so could have been that .

BFC in Brussels have the camera with the fisheye lens that the HAL shots were done on. The camera itself is quite small.

The reason some of the dawn of man stuff is darker is because it is shot with front projection.

Kubrick had indeed some medium format lenses rehouses for 65mm use. You can see them in the Kubrick exhibition. Some of it was Nikon glass I seem to recall. The lenses were quite fast too for medium format. They also have the setup for the front-projection with a 65mm camera and a projector.
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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 04:53 PM

I'm always amazed at the overhead angles inside the little pod, lit mostly by the colored buttons -- considering the 50 ASA of the stock at the time, these scenes were clearly shot with a very fast lens, judging by the super-shallow depth-of-field. I know that they probably also put as bright a bulb as they could in the console switches, but still, it looks more naturally-lit than many modern sci-fi films do using 500 ASA film.

I seem to recall an MOS 65mm Mitchell around that period, sort of an Arri-2C on steriods -- I think some of the handheld stuff in "Patton" used it. But maybe it came out after "2001" was shot.

If I were doing a hyper-clean, sharp sci-fi movie today in the same style as "2001", and 65mm was not a possibility, sure, I'd be looking at the new 4K cameras like the RED or the Dalsa, and seeing if I could get it released in 4K digital and IMAX blow-ups.

It's too bad that 5-perf 70mm print projection has nearly disappeared -- we need it more than ever, and with 4K D.I.'s, it's more feasible than ever to make a 5-perf 65mm master for 70mm printing (and maybe it would goose Arri into finally building a 65mm Arrilaser recorder to go with their 65mm Arriscanner.)
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#16 Thomas James

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 05:18 PM

When the new high resolution anthropomorphic logarithmic polar digital sensors become available we will have true distortion free wide angle panoramic photography up to 360 degrees. Since this technology employs space variant pixels and since the pixels become progressively smaller along the radius as they aproach the fovea or nucleus of the sensor. A fish eyed picture can thus be unravelled merely by blowing up all of the progressively smaller pixels to all equal sizes and mapping them along a cylindrical plane.
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#17 Chris Keth

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 05:28 PM

BFC in Brussels have the camera with the fisheye lens that the HAL shots were done on. The camera itself is quite small.

The reason some of the dawn of man stuff is darker is because it is shot with front projection.

Kubrick had indeed some medium format lenses rehouses for 65mm use. You can see them in the Kubrick exhibition. Some of it was Nikon glass I seem to recall. The lenses were quite fast too for medium format. They also have the setup for the front-projection with a 65mm camera and a projector.


Does/did Nikon make medium format glass? I don't ever recall seeing anything of nikon make in between their 35mm SLRs and their large format lenses. I figured Kubrick to be a Hassy kind of guy. :P

Edited by Chris Keth, 26 September 2007 - 05:29 PM.

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#18 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 06:05 PM

And Satsuki, where'd you catch it? Is it playing here in SF anytime soon ya think?

It's at the Castro Theatre all day today... Try and catch one of the evening shows after work if you can -- it's definitely worth it. The Castro has a flat screen and not a curved Cinerama screen for those who haven't been there.

Thanks for the info guys! Awesome stuff.
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#19 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 06:22 PM

That L shape seems to repeat as well, is that composite work or do you think they used some sort of mirror setup up behind the camera to get those multiple rows of lights in HAL's eye?

I think those are reflections of the practical lights built into the set. The multiple reflections are probably from each of the lens elements in Hal's "fisheye." As David pointed out, the "L" shape is probably caused by the top of the camera's magazine. Now it seems very obvious, but I never thought about it while watching the film!

Does anyone know if a zoom lens was used in the production? Would any even have been available at the time that covered 65mm?

How about the sharp red-lit shots, how was that done?
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#20 John Holland

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 04:21 AM

I can remember one zoom shot , in thr zeo gravity toilet ,a zoom out from the instructions to include the actor , there was a 60-360mm Panavision zoom lens have no idea if it was used on this though. Cant help on the sharp red lit shots.
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