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David Mullen digital grading


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#1 andrew heggli

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 01:27 PM

This is a question directly to David Mullen, if its allowed on this site. Hope you have the time and are willingy to answer David, it would be very much appreachiated.

I was watching the LOTR exra material a few days ago and finally got the answer to how they got the colours and shine in some of the scenes.

now to the questions (anyone can answer really, but would like it if Mr. Mullen answered as well):

1. Are you familiar with digitalgrading?

2. How much does the DOP have to do with digital grading when used? Know that Andrew Lesnie was a part of the grading but it usually just the digital grader (?) thats doing the job?

Andrew
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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 05:17 PM

I'll let David relate his own experiences, but I can offer a general reply.

I think pretty much ALL filmmakers in this day and age are familiar with digital grading, since it's possible with everything from MiniDV on desktop workstations up through 35mm feature films. And TV material has been going through color correction in telecine for decades, long before DI's and desktop video became commonplace.

Professional productions use a "colorist" who is familiar with the tools and techniques of color correction. In feature films it is the DP's job to oversee the image quality all the way through to release print, and quite often the home video transfer. Every production is a little different but usually it's the DP and the director who have the largest amount of creative input in the grading, and the colorist works with them to implement the desired look. In other productions like music videos and commercials the colorist may have more creative freedom, or may receive guidance from other people like the producers or the ad agency.

It's a fairly hot topic actually as things are changing; DP's are trying to hang onto control over the image while also being fairly compensated for that work. It's not a perfect system.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 10:15 PM

Digital color-correction for theatrical features is just an extension of traditional electronic color-correction in video, like for movies shown on TV and DVD, TV shows, commercials, etc.

Just in the past, the quality was not high enough for theatrical projection because of the lower resolution of video formats, or if the resolution was raised to theatrical quality level, then the data management, processing, etc. was too difficult and expensive.

So as film scanning got cheaper and faster, and recording digital files back to film also became more affordable, what used to be done for brief digital efx shots -- scanning color negative, digitally color-correcting it, and recording it back to 35mm -- now was possible for entire features.

But the principles for color-correcting are similar to what has been around for decades in color-correcting for TV, and the same issues apply in terms of a DP's need to supervise the process.

Of course, the particulars of adjusting color for theatrical release (digital projection, recording to film, etc. )are different than the needs of broadcast video. And there are different color-correction technologies being used.

It used to be (and still is for people who don't do a D.I.) that a feature DP supervises the color timing of answer prints using photochemical methods (not digital) and then supervises the transfer of the final film (usually using a color-timed color IP made off of the negative) to video, if he is available.

But now with digital intermediates, the process is reversed -- you scan the film and then time it digitally from which you make both film elements and home video masters. So it's reversed in the sense that the electronic color-correction come first, not last. And the timing of the final film print is simpler because the negative you recorded from the digital files is color-corrected, so the print should be a one-light.
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 11:22 PM

You know it's actually considered quite bad form to address people directly on an internet forum.

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#5 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 12:36 AM

You know it's actually considered quite bad form to address people directly on an internet forum.

Phil


Agreed, it's a "forum" and there are lots of professionals on here, so it's probably more appropriate to leave a question open to everyone. As much as we all appreciate David's knowledge and advice, we should be accepting or at least respectful of everyone's opinions.
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#6 andrew heggli

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 05:24 AM

This is a question directly to David Mullen, if its allowed on this site.

now to the questions (anyone can answer really, but would like it if Mr. Mullen answered as well):


If i offended anyone i apologize, but that was not the point. And I did not exclude everyone else, (as can see in the second line of quote) i just thought of addressing Mr. Mullen because it seems he has worked on bigger projects than most of us. Thought maybe digital grading was only for the bigger projects, therefore i addressed him.

Thank you very much for the replies, everyone. They were very informative.

Andrew

Edited by andrew heggli, 05 October 2007 - 05:25 AM.

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#7 keith blake

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 02:15 PM

[quote name='David Mullen
Hi David,
I've been trying to reply to item you wrote on C.M.L. about Dougie Slocombe.
I worked with Dougie on many pictures as a 1st or 2nd assistant beginning in the sixties. On no occassion did he ever use a meter and I also never recall his gaffers using one either. The only time I saw him slightly stumped was shooting a t.v. set, when he set up a pup (1k) at about 10ft and aimed it at a wall next to the set. He knew inherently how many f'cs this was and after a little sqint gave me the stop.
He was so predictable with his stops that I would automatically set t4 inside and in sun t14. I think he was generous with his stops because he shot so many anamorpic pictures that he learnt in the early days that a bit of aperture helped, particularly with the early panfocals and zooms. Even in the early eighties when eastman color doubled its speed he still used no meter and yet came up with the same stops. I'm sure he knew that if the balance was right he could be a few stops out, although I doubt he ever was.
I have to say, not proudly, but on many occassions when I had asked for a smaller stop to cover a particular split, only to be told impossible, that I nicked a stop. It was never noticed in rushes, or by the lab, so I firmly believe that you can be two stops out either way and still get the print right
Best Wishes,
Keith Blake
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