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"Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"


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#1 Peter Moretti

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Posted 20 April 2008 - 04:23 PM

I just finished watching "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" and I have to say it didn't look so good to me. There were a lot of blown-out highlights, the darks had little gradation and the characters regularly moved move from being lit to being essentially blackened-out.

Now I realize that some of these can be cinematic choices. "Dog Day Afternoon" intentionally went after natural light as much as possilbe and a documentary look. But "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" just looked like it was shot and lit by folks who were used to working with a lot more dynamic range.

But why wouldn't that be caught in the dailies? And I would imagine anyone working on a Sidney Lumet film would be of the highest caliber. So I finished the movie scratching my head.
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#2 tylerhawes

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 12:37 PM

HDCAM-SR doesn't "look" like anything, it's just a bit-bucket, same as DPX files.
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#3 Saul Pincus

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 12:52 PM

I just finished watching "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" and I have to say it didn't look so good to me. There were a lot of blown-out highlights, the darks had little gradation and the characters regularly moved move from being lit to being essentially blackened-out.


Peter, did you watch this on film or video?

I really enjoyed the feel of the film print; they seemed to be after a 70s-style look, as if they were trying to emulate flashing with stocks from that era. I rather liked it and thought it suited the story well.
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#4 Peter Moretti

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 10:16 PM

Saul,

I watched the DVD on a high def big screen tv that does a pretty decent job of reproducing what's on the disk. Perhaps the film print looked a lot better.

I realize what you are saying about the 70's look, but the film doesn't take place in the 70's. I'd place it more early 90's, e.g. ubiquitous cell phones. Even if a "French Connection" look was intended, a lot of times it just looked like poorly lit video. And flashing lifts the shadows, but what I watched had shadows that were pitch black.

So it left me not really sure how much of what I saw was intentional and how much was... something else.

Edited by Peter Moretti, 21 April 2008 - 10:18 PM.

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#5 Saul Pincus

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 09:51 AM

Saul,
I realize what you are saying about the 70's look, but the film doesn't take place in the 70's. I'd place it more early 90's, e.g. ubiquitous cell phones. Even if a "French Connection" look was intended, a lot of times it just looked like poorly lit video. And flashing lifts the shadows, but what I watched had shadows that were pitch black.


It sounds like there's world of difference between the film print and the DVD! I haven't seen the DVD yet, but the print did not showcase deep blacks ? and to nice effect, IMHO.
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#6 Serge Teulon

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 10:25 AM

It sounds like there's world of difference between the film print and the DVD! I haven't seen the DVD yet, but the print did not showcase deep blacks ? and to nice effect, IMHO.



There shouldn't really be that much of a difference.....
Saying that there are alot of people out there that don't really realise that their tv settings are completely out!
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#7 Dan Goulder

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 11:12 AM

There shouldn't really be that much of a difference.....

As the DVD was obviously struck from the video master, and not the film master, there can be a substantial difference.
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#8 Christopher Arata

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 02:01 PM

Maybe you noticed that because it was shot in HD, Genesis I believe.
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#9 Peter Moretti

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 03:21 AM

As the DVD was obviously struck from the video master, and not the film master, there can be a substantial difference.

I'm sorry, I'm still pretty new to all this. Are you saying that the DVD was mastered from a broadcast version of the cut that complies with Rec 709? Why would that be done if the material is to be played in a DVD player and not broacasted?

Thanks.
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#10 Dan Goulder

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 12:02 PM

I'm sorry, I'm still pretty new to all this. Are you saying that the DVD was mastered from a broadcast version of the cut that complies with Rec 709? Why would that be done if the material is to be played in a DVD player and not broacasted?

Thanks.

No. What you see on the DVD is pure video. What was seen in theaters was a transfer of that video to 35mm film, which generally includes an extra step of colorization done to optimize the image for theatrical projection.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 01:37 PM

No. What you see on the DVD is pure video. What was seen in theaters was a transfer of that video to 35mm film, which generally includes an extra step of colorization done to optimize the image for theatrical projection.


Usually it's the other way around -- you do the color-correction for the D.I. and film-out, and then that digital master is downconverted from 2K/4K to HD (although in this case, it was already HD), moved into Rec 709 color space / gamma encoded video... and quickly retimed for home video parameters.
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#12 Peter Moretti

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 03:55 AM

Usually it's the other way around -- you do the color-correction for the D.I. and film-out, and then that digital master is downconverted from 2K/4K to HD (although in this case, it was already HD), moved into Rec 709 color space / gamma encoded video... and quickly retimed for home video parameters.

David,

First let me say that it's an honor to have you reply to one of my posts. I've recently read about your work on "Big Love," e.g. indoors filiming of back yard scenes and accouting for positions of the sun. Really impressive. Okay, now that I was able to say that...

Perhaps what I saw was an issue with Rec 601 (SD) versus Rec 709 (HD) conversion and upconversion to HD. It seems like there are a lot issues regarding how the tv and dvd player are configured and connected that can affect what type of signal the tv expects and in turn what color and intensity the tv reproduces. But, to be honest, I kind of dobut it. It was just too extreme, IMHO, to be a conversion error, which are usually relatively minor, FWIU.

Have you had an opportunity to watch "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead?" The performances were excellent. I'm wondering if anyone else noticed a significant lack of lattitude.

I will be watching "Apocalypto" this weekend which was also shot on a Genesis.

Edited by Peter Moretti, 26 April 2008 - 03:56 AM.

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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 04:02 AM

I read somewhere that they deliberately made "Before the Devil Knows Your Dead" look harsh in exposure, with a lot of clippiness in the highlights. It was intentional.

I only saw five minutes of it in a second-run theater but the projection was so bad that I didn't stay.

There are a number of good-looking Genesis movies -- "Flyboys", "The Lookout", "Superman Returns", the movies Dean Semler has shot on the Genesis (Apocalypto, the upcoming Get Smart.) I saw some of "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" digitally projected and it looked great that way.

You can see some Genesis stuff in theaters right now: "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "21".
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#14 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 04:08 AM

You can see some Genesis stuff in theaters right now: "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "21".



I went to see 21 the other night, because i still hadnt seen that much genesis stuff blown up to print and i have to say i thought it looked terrible. The blacks all looked thin and the image generaly felt washed out. Lots of strobing and harsh clipped highlights as well. The few 35mm shots at the end of the film stood out clearly. IMO i thought Apocolypto looked much better.
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#15 Peter Moretti

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 03:37 AM

Hi,

I just finished watching "Apocalypto." In the beginning when there were high contrast shots, e.g. dark forest with light streaming through the leaves, the sunlight looked blown-out. And for most of the move, there was little detail in the shadows and backs, e.g. the characters' black hair appeared as black blobs.

That said, it look much much better than "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." I also wouldn't be surprised if the shots from when he first gets to the river with the waterfall were done on film. The bright, white-ish water had nice detail.

While overall looking good, there is no way the Genesis has the lattitude that film has. Of course no one is claiming that it does.

Edited by Peter Moretti, 30 April 2008 - 03:38 AM.

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#16 Peter Moretti

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 07:51 AM

I wasn't able to qualify my comment about the characters' hair in time. There were times when there was detail, esp. when it looked like some type of a hair light was used. But at other times there was a lack of variation in the hair.
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#17 Eric Moers

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 10:33 PM

I too was surprised by the lackluster quality of 'Before The Devil Knows You're Dead'. The movie as a whole stunk, and the lighting, framing, sets, and overall production were completely dull and totally forgettable. One scene that screamed "video" was when Ethan Hawk's character is driving away from the crime scene. Blown out lighting, video smear/blur...

I don't know how these guys can watch the dailies and think everything is A-OK. Funny enough, I decided to watch the 'Making-of' on the DVD, the producers and Sidney Lumet were raving about how they were able to set up shots and get scenes done at lightning speed. That left me thinking that maybe they should have thought things through more. I was amazed that it was a professional production. Definitely not one of the best looking HD pictures IMHO.
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#18 Max Jacoby

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 07:19 AM

Just read the article in the AC on the Genesis film in Dante Spinotti lit. He also seems to be fine with shooting with a 360 degree shutter. I seriously wonder how everyone thinks they can get away with that, even 270 gives noticeable smear.
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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 11:20 AM

Just read the article in the AC on the Genesis film in Dante Spinotti lit. He also seems to be fine with shooting with a 360 degree shutter. I seriously wonder how everyone thinks they can get away with that, even 270 gives noticeable smear.


I saw a little of that film and Spinotti uses the Genesis artistically, for interesting mood effects and nighttime ambience. It's not a straight-forward approach so I can accept the unique artifacts as part of the style.
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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 03:24 PM

Can't say I'm a big fan of long shutter smear - somehow, it starts looking to me even more electronic and plasticky, even though it's a purely photographic effect.

Matter of opinion of course.

P
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