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#1 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 10:29 AM

I watched Collateral recently and listened to Mann's commentary. He kept touching on how digital cams, specifically the F900, allowed him to do things that film wouldn't such as getting the background to be visible in shots so the viewer can see the whole city in all its glory at night (not the magic hour(s)). He said this wasn't possible with film because it would be impossible to get the city bright enough so that it appeared on film.

How true is that?

Edited by Jamie Lewis, 07 December 2007 - 10:30 AM.

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#2 Toby L Edwards

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 11:16 AM

Jamie'
It seems people who "like" Digital will say things like that. What they don't say is that most of the Movie looked quite flat. Check out the night shots on TAXI DRIVER shot on film 30 + years ago. To me there is no comparison, Film just looks better. I believe there are a few scenes in Collateral shot on Film (5218) because Digital just wouldn't work.
Anyway just my opinion


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#3 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 11:30 AM

Interesting that yu brought up depth. When I was watching some of the "in-cab" shots, and Foxx and Cruise were both in the shot and LA was the back drop I thought "wow, this shot looks as if it's got an infinite amount of depth and it goes on forever." Even though, the a great deal of the city was in focus, it still gave off an incredible amount of depth because of how everything was staged and blocked and I'm guessing the width of the lens.

P.S. I believe the only shots that were on film were in the club Fever and possible on the train/subway as they green screened a bunch of scenes in that setting.

Edited by Jamie Lewis, 07 December 2007 - 11:31 AM.

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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 01:01 PM

The "native" sensitivity of faster film and digital cameras are about the same, in that 320 to 500 ASA range.

When you underexpose and push film to compensate for underexposure, you get grain and you gain contrast because you're taking less information and increasing its density to compensate, and you lose some sharpness because you are only recording detail on the largest of grains.

When you underexpose and electronically boost digital to compensate for underexposure, you get noise but you don't get an increase in contrast nor a loss in sharpness (other than the lenses get less sharp from being shot wide-open.) With the 2/3" sensor cameras, you also have more depth of field compared to 35mm.

Of course, with 35mm you have more overall resolution than an HD camera.

But the fact that gain-boosted digital does not get contrasty means that it holds low-level detail like that atmospheric glow in the sky better than push-processed film. And with a 2/3" camera, it's more likely for the far background to be in focus when shooting close to subjects.
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#5 Max Jacoby

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 01:13 PM

I'm a big Michael Mann fan, and in my mind his last film films (Heat, The Insider and especially Ali) not only are way superior to his digital films (Collateral and Miami Vice), but they look also so much better. 'Ali' has some of my favourite photography of all time.
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#6 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 09:31 PM

I'm a big Michael Mann fan, and in my mind his last film films (Heat, The Insider and especially Ali) not only are way superior to his digital films (Collateral and Miami Vice), but they look also so much better. 'Ali' has some of my favourite photography of all time.


Amen. I felt like he was cutting off his nose to spite his face by shooting digital. Both films I didn't think those films felt or looked that good at all. But that was the intent, which I think is brilliant. The question is, would it have been a better film if it was shot amazingly beautiful? or would it have been the same "ok" movie, but with better looking photography?
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#7 A. Whitehouse

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 01:40 AM

Well he must like more than just the look he gets from shooting digital. At a guess he might appreciate the work flow and immediacy of shooting digital. He shoots a lot of takes so there would be a lot of film flying through that camera and maybe re load time wears on his nerves. Although I never really got this 'advantage' as you're rarely waiting long on a load especially on a film as big as this with truck loaders and full camera crews. It is impressive how much of that night glow is visible in Collateral and Miami Vice.
For my money (and I'm a really big fan, "Manhunter" and "Thief" FTW...) I enjoyed "Collateral", which had a lot of 35mm in it. But "Miami Vice" was let down by its script long before its look bothered me. What was the story with Paul Cameron on Collateral? I really like his work and it seems to me that they would have a natural dialog judging from their styles but it didn't work out?
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 03:56 AM

I thought collateral was interesting. It looked a lot like video; night ext is about the nastiest situation for video because you're opened wide up to see the city, so all the ultra-high-con points of light burn out. But that's intrinsic to the technology and I felt like they did succeed in realistically shooting a city at night.

I thought Miami Vice looked like arse; or, worse, parts of it did. Parts of it looked beautiful, then they'd go to F900 noisy, overcompressed wobbly-cam as operated by feature film oriented SOC members who don't really know how to operate an ENG style camera.

Phil
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#9 Tom Lowe

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 12:41 PM

Some of the shots in Miami Vice in the evening/twlight where you can really see the steel-blue sky glowing were very cool.

We can debate digital vs 35mm until the cows come home, but eventually the industry will move toward all digital, just like still photography.

Probably another 5 years max, is my guess.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 12:50 PM

Probably another 5 years max, is my guess.


That's a bit optimistic (or pessimistic...) -- you'd figure then that to get "all digital" in five years, you'd see close to 50% in the next two years, yet for studio features, the current number shooting digitally is well under 10%. Even the majority of high-end network TV shows and commercials are shot on film. I don't see even the beginnings of a stampede towards switching. Even an HBO series like "Big Love" would probably balk if I even suggested a switch to digital origination after two seasons of 35mm. And you'd have to believe for there to be "all digital" in five years, every powerful director in Hollywood would have to be convinced in that time frame to switch, forever - Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Coen Brothers, Michael Bay, Martin Scorsese, Chris Nolan, etc. Even your favorite, Terrence Malick. A bunch of very opinionated idiosyncratic people.
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#11 Hal Smith

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 02:04 PM

At least at the University where I'm associated silver isn't dead - in fact is making a comeback big time. One of their advanced students was tasked with a project to shoot portraits of various staffers working in the Communication Building. I was asked if I minded sitting for the project. I ended up sitting in a studio facing a very new looking 4X5 camera - shooting black and white - and was hand delivered a silver print a few days later. Nice lighting, he lit me with soft boxes left and right, about a stop hotter from my left. No key but the soft boxes were cheated a bit forward and were close enough to me that there's a noticeable amount of falloff.

Argentium Forever!
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#12 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 02:50 PM

I'm a big Michael Mann fan, and in my mind his last film films (Heat, The Insider and especially Ali) not only are way superior to his digital films (Collateral and Miami Vice), but they look also so much better. 'Ali' has some of my favourite photography of all time.


I believe 'Ali' had a brief digital scene where night sky could be seen.
In 'Collateral' the daylight scenes and interiors where there were no windows where the night cityscapes didn't show were on film.
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#13 Tom Lowe

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 04:34 PM

That's a bit optimistic (or pessimistic...) -- you'd figure then that to get "all digital" in five years, you'd see close to 50% in the next two years, yet for studio features, the current number shooting digitally is well under 10%. Even the majority of high-end network TV shows and commercials are shot on film. I don't see even the beginnings of a stampede towards switching. Even an HBO series like "Big Love" would probably balk if I even suggested a switch to digital origination after two seasons of 35mm. And you'd have to believe for there to be "all digital" in five years, every powerful director in Hollywood would have to be convinced in that time frame to switch, forever - Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Coen Brothers, Michael Bay, Martin Scorsese, Chris Nolan, etc. Even your favorite, Terrence Malick. A bunch of very opinionated idiosyncratic people.


I could be wrong. The switch from chemical film to digital is taking a whole lot longer than the switch with still cameras, and some photogs do still use chemical film.

I just get the sense that we will begin to hit the "knee" of an exponential curve in the next couple of years. The current cameras (Genesis, RED, Dalsa) won't be the reason, but the competition they inspire among the big players like Sony, Canon, Panasonic, Panavision, etc, will lead to a generation of cameras (2-4 years from now?) that will begin to replace chemical film cameras at a faster pace.

I won't be disappointed at all if Malick and some others still stick with film. Terry shot parts of The New World in 65mm, and there is no way that any digital camera is going to compete with that format anytime soon.

Plus I do have a great love for the look of 35mm film, as most of us cinema fans do.
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#14 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 04:44 PM

I thought collateral was interesting. It looked a lot like video; night ext is about the nastiest situation for video because you're opened wide up to see the city, so all the ultra-high-con points of light burn out. But that's intrinsic to the technology and I felt like they did succeed in realistically shooting a city at night.

I thought Miami Vice looked like arse; or, worse, parts of it did. Parts of it looked beautiful, then they'd go to F900 noisy, overcompressed wobbly-cam as operated by feature film oriented SOC members who don't really know how to operate an ENG style camera.

Phil


There were parts of Miami Vice that I didn't like either. But then there were spectacular shots such as the daytime "Cuba" shots. Those looked unbelievably gorgeous. The night scenes were nothing compared to Collateral's. They were way too grainy.
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#15 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 04:46 PM

Well he must like more than just the look he gets from shooting digital. At a guess he might appreciate the work flow and immediacy of shooting digital. He shoots a lot of takes so there would be a lot of film flying through that camera and maybe re load time wears on his nerves. Although I never really got this 'advantage' as you're rarely waiting long on a load especially on a film as big as this with truck loaders and full camera crews. It is impressive how much of that night glow is visible in Collateral and Miami Vice.
For my money (and I'm a really big fan, "Manhunter" and "Thief" FTW...) I enjoyed "Collateral", which had a lot of 35mm in it. But "Miami Vice" was let down by its script long before its look bothered me. What was the story with Paul Cameron on Collateral? I really like his work and it seems to me that they would have a natural dialog judging from their styles but it didn't work out?


Collateral I believe was 75% digital and 25% film and possibly more % towards digital. I forgot the exact numbers. Mann said there were very few scenes that were done on film.
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#16 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 04:50 PM

That's a bit optimistic (or pessimistic...) -- you'd figure then that to get "all digital" in five years, you'd see close to 50% in the next two years, yet for studio features, the current number shooting digitally is well under 10%. Even the majority of high-end network TV shows and commercials are shot on film. I don't see even the beginnings of a stampede towards switching. Even an HBO series like "Big Love" would probably balk if I even suggested a switch to digital origination after two seasons of 35mm. And you'd have to believe for there to be "all digital" in five years, every powerful director in Hollywood would have to be convinced in that time frame to switch, forever - Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Coen Brothers, Michael Bay, Martin Scorsese, Chris Nolan, etc. Even your favorite, Terrence Malick. A bunch of very opinionated idiosyncratic people.


I don't think there will all digital for a long time but if the 3D all these directors seem to be gung-ho about, it might happen sooner than later?
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#17 Logan Schneider

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 04:52 PM

As I understand it, many of those daylight shots were on film.

There is one scene that was shot on viper where the characters were standing in front of a wall of glass looking out toward the ocean. It took 3 18ks that were just 10 feet from the actors to even it out. ow.
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#18 Tom Lowe

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 04:58 PM

For me, Vice was all about those near-twilight sky shots!

Posted Image

I mean look at that sky!
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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 06:35 PM

Some of the aerials were also nice. Probably would have looked nice (or nicer) in 35mm too...

--

As for 3D, it's hard not to be cynical if you know your 3D history. I think it was the January 1953 or 1954 (?) issue of American Cinematographer that had the article titled "Is the Future of Movies 3D?" and it was the December issue that had the article "Is 3D Dead?"
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#20 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 06:43 PM

As for 3D, it's hard not to be cynical if you know your 3D history. I think it was the January 1953 or 1954 (?) issue of American Cinematographer that had the article titled "Is the Future of Movies 3D?" and it was the December issue that had the article "Is 3D Dead?"


That's pretty damn funny.

I haven't had the opportunity to see Beowulf in 3D but the average movie goers that I talk to, rant and rave about it. Sure it's CGI and I guess the real test will be with Avatar.
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