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35mm vs. Digital video


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#1 Benson Marks

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 09:12 PM

I am interested in making films that use realism as an artform. With this in mind, which of the two formats do you believe would be better for movies that use that kind of style?

I'm thinking digital, mainly because the sharp quality tends to show blemishes and wrinkles, which would be more like everyday life.

Whatever your opinion is, please post it. It would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Edited by Benson Marks, 04 October 2008 - 09:13 PM.

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#2 Paul Bruening

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 10:12 PM

I've always thought of video as being stark. I've always considered 35mm film to look closer to how the eye sees things. At least, compared to video.
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#3 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 09:03 PM

I would recommend as I always do, start and learn on film then and only then go to video after you've made the disciplines and good film making habits of shooting film second nature.
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#4 Simon Wyss

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 04:04 AM

Exactly. Humbly undergo the blood, sweat and tears of our tradition. It sounds horribly, I know. Look, Michelangelo did not cast cement, he worked on stones.
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#5 Jake Vander Ark

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 01:56 PM

Whoa, whoa, the guy asked a simple question... "which is closer to reality", not, "which format has more integrity".

To answer your question, aside from resolution which is closer to our eye (as Paul pointed out), I think video will get you what you want. You can use more practical light to expose an image, which will feel more realistic. Also, video usually has that documentary feel.

Jake
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#6 Serge Teulon

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 12:12 PM

The sensitivity boils down to the fear of losing film.
I think that 35mm is texturally is closer to reality than digital by quite a long margin.
The only thing that I can of right where it doesn't act like reality is the motion blur. My eyes don't motion blur when i turn my head. Be it slowly or quickly.
Keep to film for realism and digital for a "perfect" ambience.
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#7 F. Felix

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 07:25 PM

I'd humbly suggest that the argument about which image format "looks more like reality" is a little flawed. Yes, maybe film reproduces what the eye sees better, but does that actually matter?

Nothing else in filmmaking is about its actual representation of reality: it's about symbolism, interpretation & epistemology. I'd say that the look of video has become symbolic of reality through it's application to ENG & documentary, while the film look is representative of an idealized world.

Take a good hard look at your message, then choose.
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#8 Benson Marks

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 05:33 PM

I think I should use Wikipedia to tell others what I'm looking for, so here's what realism should be.

"Realism is a visual arts style that depicts the actuality of what the eyes can see. Realists render everyday characters, situations, dilemmas, and objects, all in verisimilitude. They tend to discard theatrical drama, lofty subjects and classical forms in favor of commonplace themes."

I hope this gives all of you posters a better understanding of what I'm looking for. Keep posting.
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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 05:41 PM

Either format can be used. the "realism," will come more through your production design, lighting, and basic story. I mean, Children of Men looked pretty damned realistic to me and it was done on film. On the same token, no one can argue that Iraq in Fragments didn't look realistic and it was done on the DVX.
Even the notion "what the eyes can see," is a bit empty; whose eyes are we talking about here? And what are commonplace themes? These are all subjective notions, you know. Go with what format your gut tells you the story calls for.
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#10 David Rakoczy

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 05:59 PM

Realism? Who's Realism?... Realism is in the eye of the beholder.

You have to 'define' your Realism. There are so many shades of 'gray' in this discussion... far too numerous to enumerate.

It is not a matter of 'keep posting'.. because this is an endless rabbit hole.. you post.. you define what you want in detail... not just Realism.. Naked Eye... but what 'you' perceive and want to share (in your vision).

Adrian is right on...
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#11 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 06:00 PM

I should also add, if gut fails.. well then what the budget dictates.
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#12 K Borowski

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 12:27 PM

I think that 30 fps is more realistic than 24. Of course, you can shoot 30 with film. Or shoot 48 or 60, the hard part is showing it. . .

I think that, even though tests say digital color is more "accurate", the way the testing is done doesn't take into account human perception.

Definitely, film does a better job at capturing more color than digital does. It captures a higher percentage by at least three orders of magnitude, the dynamic range that the human eye can see.

Digital is more neutral, more consistent color-wise, easier to use, but it just looks, well, ugly in certain circumstances.
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#13 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 01:49 PM

I don't know if i'd call digital more "neutral," Karl. If anything I find film more "neutral" in terms of how it records the image. But then again, that's all 'bout how we are defining that word.
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#14 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 02:52 PM

I have heard that the Discovery channel currently won't accept nature content shot on film or non 1080 60i HD because they think that format is the closest to "reality" as the eye sees it.

The original question was about dramatic content, I know, but I think the above speaks volumes about more "real" looking formats vs more film-like ones.

I prefer shooting film myself. It requires more experience and knowledge to handle and it is more challenging for me as a shooter . . .

Edited by Saul Rodgar, 11 October 2008 - 02:55 PM.

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#15 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 02:57 PM

Not to mention it is the medium the cinematographers I admire used to create timeless visuals.
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#16 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 02:59 PM

Personally i've always found that film sees closer to how i see. . . but maybe that's my own trying for it. I don't know; I often find HD video doesn't "look" real to me; it seems almost hyper-real. I'm no expert of course, and that's just my personal feel.
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#17 Benson Marks

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 09:41 PM

I have heard that the Discovery channel currently won't accept nature content shot on film or non 1080 60i HD because they think that format is the closest to "reality" as the eye sees it.

The original question was about dramatic content, I know, but I think the above speaks volumes about more "real" looking formats vs more film-like ones.

I prefer shooting film myself. It requires more experience and knowledge to handle and it is more challenging for me as a shooter . . .


This post just bugs me. Why would Discovery want their nature footage in the least realistic appearance possible anyway? Maybe I just don't understand it because of the way it was phrased, but then again, what does experience and knowledge have to do with the question I'm asking anyway? Could you please explain all this?

Edited by Benson Marks, 12 October 2008 - 09:42 PM.

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#18 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 09:46 PM

Aesthetics is often a matter of pure opinion, Benson. Though often it's complicated by economics.
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#19 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 10:26 PM

This post just bugs me. Why would Discovery want their nature footage in the least realistic appearance possible anyway? Maybe I just don't understand it because of the way it was phrased, but then again, what does experience and knowledge have to do with the question I'm asking anyway? Could you please explain all this?


OK, so it was wordy. I just meant that Discovery likes 1080 60i for its"realism." Which supports your claim that video shows life warts and all. The flip side is that it looks "TV video- like", obviously. So it is not for every type of project. In other words, one has choose the medium according to the thematic / aesthetic content of the piece.

The knowledge and experience part was alluding at the above posts by Simon and James.
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#20 Benson Marks

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 11:30 PM

OK, so it was wordy. I just meant that Discovery likes 1080 60i for its"realism." Which supports your claim that video shows life warts and all. The flip side is that it looks "TV video- like", obviously. So it is not for every type of project. In other words, one has choose the medium according to the thematic / aesthetic content of the piece.

The knowledge and experience part was alluding at the above posts by Simon and James.


Thanks for explaining to me. I must admit that understanding wordy stuff is a weakness of mine. Ah well, nobody's perfect.

Edited by Benson Marks, 12 October 2008 - 11:31 PM.

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