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Kubrick and Eyes Wide Shut


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#1 anthony le grand

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 02:07 AM

Hi all,

I know that it's not the case for all of you, but Eyes Wide Shut is one of my favorite cinematography ever. Also, I'm asking myself questions about the colors and contrasts in this film.
Larry Smith said that they pushed the 5298 by 2 stops and underexposed it by only 1 1/3 of a stop.

Even if the film was pushed, the colors are not so saturated and the contrasts are quite soft, especially for the blacks.
Do you know how that was achieved? Is it only a result of the overeposure of the film or is there something else?
Did Kubrick used lon con filters like in Barry Lyndon (he also pushed the whole film by one stop and it's very soft)? Low con print stock?

Cheers!
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#2 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 08:50 AM

In my opinion, "Eyes Wide Shut" has a strong color saturation; take a look at the reds during the orgy scenes, the different colors of the christmas lights, Ziegler's pool table or the blue moonlight coming through the windows on night interiors.

I have seen it projected in 35mm a few times, and I own the Blu-ray as well, and I believe the soft contrast comes from the fact that they used a lot of practicals and very soft fill light, though some scenes are harder looking than others (i.e. Cruise talking to the daughter at his dead pacient's house). The blacks are very weak, and no black at all.

Definetly, some low-con filters were used here and there, mostly for night interiors (i.e. the ballroom at Ziegler's, but there also some glowing highlights in other scenes) and older lenses too, like Zeiss Superspeeds (which are not too sharp when used wide-open) and a Cooke 20-100mm zoom.
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#3 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 11:53 AM

Personally, I found the chosen approach to 5298 very suitable if not ingenious for the film's visual concept.

However, I found it very difficult to reproduce these visuals even the slightest (no doubt due to my cinematographic ineptitude), so beware if you want to recreate that look for a project of your own.

From all of Stanley's films, Eyes wide shut has the deepest colour saturation found throughout his oeuvre.

At the same time the idea was to keep the texture of the contrast not "soft" but rather "as least harsh as possible". That might sound like a semantic non-difference, but it actually were the subtleties in which Stanley thought for his "percepts".

The atmosphere this conveys really is so greatly deriving the mood that you can experience yourself in the upper societal echelons of NY or London or Vienna, it's almost like if you were there.

In that respect, EWS is a stroke of genius and maybe even underrated in some respects.
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#4 anthony le grand

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 11:59 AM

You're right that the saturation i still strong and the colors, I think, quite pure. I meant not "so saturated" compared to other films pushed by 2 stops which are more 'in your face'.
As you mentionned, the blacks are very weak but I guess it's a result of the overexposure. But it really participates to the dream-like aspect of the film.

The lights participate to the softness inside but i'm surprised to see that even for the exteriors, the result is quite soft. One example is when Cruise go to the mansion at day, colors like the greens are not very strong.

Thanks for the informations, especially for the lenses, I had no idea that they used Cooke lenses as well.
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#5 Xavier Plaza

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 12:00 PM

http://www.theasc.co...sword/index.htm
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#6 Max Jacoby

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 04:25 PM

I absolutely love the look of EWS! I have seen it 3 times in the cinema and the texture the grain adds it just gorgeous. Too bad the Dvd looks anything like it...
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#7 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 05:24 PM

The transfer done for the EWS DVD is terrible and doubtlessly the worst out of the entire original Kubrick Collection on DVD.

I got a mighty shock when I bought it as I expected it to be the other way around:
Although neither Kubrick nor Harlan nor any other member of the family participated in the supervision of it, I kinda believed that the talent and then-new technology involved with the transfer plus the wider latitude paired with a cautious respect for Stanley's work after his death would have assured a sterling outcome.

Well, as it happens to be: not at all!! 20-30 years older 2001 or Barry Lyndon got a better treatment despite featuring much more difficult cinematographic conditions for a transfer to DVD.

I was really saddened by that as I hoped to relife the same cinematic joy I had watching the film in cinema.

As I havn't shelled-out for a Blu-ray system, could anyone briefly comment - without going too off-topic - how the Blu-ray transfer and the DVD transfer differ visually?
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#8 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 05:45 PM

I agree about the DVD: while it looks pretty good, it doesn't represent the original look of the film. It looks too clean and has better blacks than the four different 35mm prints that I've seen of this film. The Blu-ray version is obviously sharper than the DVD and retains more film grain and texture, though it's not as grainy as the 35mm prints. I feel the blacks on the Blu-ray are not as deep, and thus closer to the theatrical version, and it's also framed at the film's 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio.
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#9 Max Jacoby

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 05:07 AM

I watched a bit of Clockwork Orange on HD DVD and it looks incredibly good. Can't wait to get a Blu Ray setup.
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#10 Walter Graff

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 07:43 AM

agree about the DVD: while it looks pretty good, it doesn't represent the original look of the film.


I'm glad you said this. I over the years have seen many a film both in the theater and at home and the differences in the looks of a projected film vs a video dub of a film can be staggering so any discussion of a film and it's look must include in the discussion the source. I did see this film both in theater and on video and found it quite a different experience. In the theater the film had far more death while at home that depth was translated to flat lifeless, colorless, almost "foggy" images.

I think one of the most recent films I saw in both contexts was Collateral. The difference was that it looked like it was two different movies when compared to me. The subtlety of the projection was completely lost on home video. The differences in formats used stood out like someone inserted shots years later in the theater presentation to the point of being jarring, but was lost for the most part on DVD in comparison.
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#11 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 11:42 AM

Just now on a trip to Berlin, I came across an independent theatre that showed EWS. Being reminded of this thread, I went in to doublecheck what we discussed here a while ago. Later at the rented flat, I watched the DVD file off my PowerBook on a Sony Bravia flat screen tv (renting holiday flats as accommodation is getting better and better than going to a soulless business hotel - and cheaper, too! :D ).

I just wanted to point out that what we had discussed so far from memory here is what I experienced again: the DVD version is not capturing at all what even a rather battered print showed. And this doesn't have anything to do with it being on a tv box and not on a huge screen. It's also not only due to the huge compression on the DVD that transforms some subtleties of cine-film into mere noise. But it's also a problem with the quality of the transfer to the DVD, as I posted earlier.

The print had a visibly grainy texture, yet also soft and aloof tones and a beautiful saturated colour palette without coming across all artificial (as you would find on oversaturated films, or with TechniColor - not that that would be bad, as that is artifical looking by intend!).

Thus Anthony's forest shot in daylight around the mansion gives a leafy green, and not an intense plastic xmas tree green that you are likely to find when Shrek himself does the DI of the generic teenage-Firstfu**/Slasher-Movie "in every multiplex now". On the DVD, the green comes out as a washed-up mix of grey-green with blobs of white.

The blacks during the night ext. shots on the DVD are way too dense than those on the print - I guess it's because the grains' movements lighten up those areas in the picture. This "greying unrest" goes bad on the DVD, as they probably chose to darken that area down to avoid noise. Unfortunately, this cleans up the entire visual experience as well, and it comes across occassionally like soft-to-foggy video footage.

Also, I guess the "blacktron"-mania of the current generation of blacker-than-black tv screens might have played in at depicting those blacks even darker than usual (just a guess, though, as I am not a home-cinema-hack anymore ... lost interest in that since that "HD ready" markting BS started). Anyway, maybe that's the difference between the dense blacks Ignacio described watching the DVD, and the depth that Walter found missing on it, too.

I really can't replicate that look at all with test reels and lab work, but I know they didn't doctore around "in post"... shooting all this in camera and with simple processing really is cinematography as art. Gosh, Kubrick was a master... -_-

Anyway, my scribble's just a personal closure with this thread B)



EDIT: some springcleaning done with grammar, typos and paragraphs ;) .
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#12 John Holland

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 11:57 AM

Grain is good , grain adds sharpness . Here ends the bloody crap about grain and oh my god grain like some wanky line from "Friends" or "Sex and the Ugly "
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#13 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 12:46 PM

:D

John, you are to film grain what Winston Churchill was to the Battle of Britain: drawing a line in the sand and saying: to here, and no further!
Thank the Gods for that! :)

A great week-end to you,

-Michael
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#14 John Holland

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 12:53 PM

Same to you Michael have two tickets for court one Wimbledon tomorrow , bet it rains . Take care .
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#15 Tom Lowe

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 01:24 PM

Such an underrated film. It's gorgeously shot.
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#16 freddie bonfanti

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 06:22 PM

i worked with Larry Smith as an electrician on his last feature "Bronson" and his lighting was brilliant...HMIs through the windows most of the time, no fill...simple but really effective
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#17 Michel Hafner

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 04:10 AM

It looks like the Blu Ray had some DNR applied, at least in some shots (shots with Marie Richardson).
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#18 K Borowski

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 10:55 AM

Same to you Michael have two tickets for court one Wimbledon tomorrow , bet it rains . Take care .


John: don't 'get near the pidgeons! :unsure:

Let us no if your pessimism was justified with an actual rainfall. . .
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#19 Max Jacoby

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 11:06 AM

Let us no if your pessimism was justified with an actual rainfall. . .

The weather is lovely at the moment in London.
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#20 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 04:35 PM

Same to you Michael have two tickets for court one Wimbledon tomorrow , bet it rains . Take care .


Hi John,

well, (as you said already, Max), unless London south of the Thames was in a different climate zone than my North London, your pessimism was crushed like a tennis ball that thought it could flirt with Venus Williams (who played Sanchez on Court One, didn't she? You lucky chap! :) )

Gourgeous weather all the way 'til today, making strawberries scream for cream. One just disappeared in me right now... (on sale at Lidl, what can I say in my defence?!)

I am sure you had a great week-end outing! Tomorrow: heavy rain. A round of sorrow for everyone who has exterior shots scheduled ;)

Cheers, -Michael
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