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The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons


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#1 Tom Lowe

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Posted 25 December 2008 - 11:25 PM

A wonderful, instant classic of a movie.

The photography and the film print I saw were beautiful. 99% of the audience would never suspect it was shot digitally. The sets and art direction are Oscar worthy, and then some.

The movie itself reminded me in some ways of the feelings I had watching Forrest Gump for the first time. It has that Great American Film feeling. The special effects with Pitt and Blanchet's aging were not only seamless, but borderline miraculous.

I highly recommend this movie.
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#2 Justin Hayward

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 01:08 AM

The movie itself reminded me in some ways of the feelings I had watching Forrest Gump for the first time.


Cause of the writer? You didn't think that out of the clear blue sky?
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#3 Nikita K Carpenter Jr

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 01:21 AM

I do concur.

I saw it earlier this evening and it gives that same feeling. I think it has to do with the successful transition between time periods. You get a chance to experience the environments the characters are in visually while not forgetting the action going on at hand.

In my opinion, it views like a novel, truly putting most of what you imagine on screen, especially when you don't know exactly how the adaptation will portray the next scene.
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#4 Tom Lowe

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 02:42 AM

Cause of the writer? You didn't think that out of the clear blue sky?


Ah, I had no idea the same writer worked on both screenplays.

I just googled around a bit and read an article that says the original idea for Buttons came from non other than F Scott Fitzgerald, and that the movie has basically been kicking around Hollywood for the better part of a century!
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#5 Alex Hall

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 03:53 AM

Saw this film tonight and I would recommend it to everyone. I really enjoyed the photography and as was mentioned before the special effects are seamless. The story kept me engaged for the duration. Beautiful film.
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#6 Allen Achterberg

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 04:48 AM

I just saw it. It was a very very good movie I thought. Amazing cinematography, VSFX and Direction. I don't think the audience would notice whether it was shot digitally, but they may have noticed some videoish moments. Not many however. I think 35mm would have better suited the theatrical release and supported the cinematography a little stronger, some of the images felt video and lifeless to me. But not to any extreme factor, subtle. But when on video DVD or Blue Ray, I think it will look just right for everyone.


Amazing! worth every dime! I've never seen Cate Blanchett look so effin hot! Ever!
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#7 Gus Sacks

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 11:32 AM

Amazing! worth every dime! I've never seen Cate Blanchett look so effin hot! Ever!


Right?! I don't know if a Classic Soft has ever looked better on HD, either.

There were a few moments where it felt like video, and then I could have sworn when (SPOILER?!) Benjamin was in India a few shots looked like film. Just saw the noticable grain and dust. Possibly they didnt have the support for the HD system (I believe they shot most of it on the F23, actually. They started with the Viper then moved on) out there.

Either way, yeah, really really liked it. That UBoat scene was better than most war movies.
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#8 Tom Lowe

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 11:58 AM

The India scene either had "film" effects added for a "flashback" type of feel, or as you suggested, it might have actually been shot on film. My guess is that they sent Pitt and a tiny crew there to grab those shots. Why drag a Viper all the way over there for a shot that is going to be run through heavy processing anyway. That's just conjecture, though.
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#9 Sean Azze

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 12:42 PM

I got the sense that Benjamin's travels through India may have been given a look to approximate films of the 80's, but I may just be seeing something that isn't there.

Either way, kudos to Mr. Miranda. I thought the film was gorgeous to look at, and specifically very soft, belying that it was a digitally shot production.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 12:53 PM

The AC article said that the director Tarsem happened to be travelling around the world while Pitt was overseas, so Fincher asked him to shoot Pitt in various overseas locations. Tarsem used 35mm film for those shots but I believe it was transferred to HD D5, which seems odd to me -- that's only 4:2:2 1080P. Considering that Warner MPI bumped the movie up to 2K for the D.I. work, so why not scan the 35mm footage in 2K to begin with? Unless D5 was just some sort of dailies format for their post workflow.
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#11 georg lamshöft

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 01:20 PM

I've also read that slow-motion scenes were made on film.

I'm sure it looks nice, but is this ("nice", "sharp enough", "not too much higlight clipping", "almost like film"...) really the right perspective for an extremely expensive Fincher-film with marvelous production-design? When a 4k DI from 35mm would be no problem at all and even bigger formats seem reasonable?

Anyay, can't wait to see this "film", most Fincher-movies were great!
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#12 Benson Marks

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 02:52 PM

I'm sure it looks nice, but is this ("nice", "sharp enough", "not too much higlight clipping", "almost like film"...) really the right perspective for an extremely expensive Fincher-film with marvelous production-design? When a 4k DI from 35mm would be no problem at all and even bigger formats seem reasonable?


Quentin Tarantino shot "Death Proof" with a Panavision Genesis camera even though he could've just as easily shot it on film.

Robert Altman shot "A Prairie Home Companion" on a Sony HDW-F900 digital cinema camera. He could've shot that one on film.

Even the great Francis Ford Coppola shot "Youth Without Youth" on a Sony HDC-F950. He could've shot that one on film, couldn't he?

Quite honestly, I think the average person could care less whether their favorite movie was shot on digital video or 35mm. As long as that person liked it, it doesn't matter.
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#13 K Borowski

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 03:39 PM

Quentin Tarantino shot "Death Proof" with a Panavision Genesis camera even though he could've just as easily shot it on film.

Robert Altman shot "A Prairie Home Companion" on a Sony HDW-F900 digital cinema camera. He could've shot that one on film.

Even the great Francis Ford Coppola shot "Youth Without Youth" on a Sony HDC-F950. He could've shot that one on film, couldn't he?

Quite honestly, I think the average person could care less whether their favorite movie was shot on digital video or 35mm. As long as that person liked it, it doesn't matter.


With respect Benson, as I like you a great deal, now you're pulling out Appeal to Authority, as it is so oft called.

I remind you that Tarantino also shot the entirety of "Pulp Fiction" on EXR 50D. I think of the three people you mentioned, only Altman had actually decided to abandon film in favor of video, as it fits his documentary style of long uninterrupted takes.

Once again, there is this perceived barrier that film imposes. It isn't film, it's money. Digital is not going to change that.

The reason why these threads engender such incredible hostility is not that there is a fear of digital, it is that there are many people who work very hard to get into this field (as I am doing), and we don't/didn't work hard to get here to only shoot "good enough."

I packed my bags and moved 500 miles away from my home to work with the best. That's why I get angry when I read posts like yours.
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#14 Nicholas Lee

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 03:43 PM

for those of you who wondered whether people in the audience didn't realize it was shot digital, you were right. i didn't notice at all. as a matter of fact, i was blown away by how good it looked. especially the shots on the dock/pier thing. where he takes his dad you know?

i'm pretty impressed that hd is starting to look this good...kind of scary. idk if you guys feel this way but when i read that it was shot digital my high regards of the movie were stripped haha. idk why...i thought this movie was an epic, giant production mega monster...and they shot digital?

i'm sure you guys can tell by now that i'm the furthest from expert, but why would they choose to shoot digital when i'm sure the budget was huge? are there perks other than set simplicity? well..i'm guessing the set is a lot simpler when it's digital anyways.

thanks
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#15 Shawn Martin

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 04:06 PM

Quentin Tarantino shot "Death Proof" with a Panavision Genesis camera even though he could've just as easily shot it on film.

Death Proof was 3-perf Super 35 on Fuji 8573. You're thinking of Robert Rodriguez' part, Planet Terror; that was shot with the Genesis.
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#16 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 04:15 PM

The reason why these threads engender such incredible hostility is not that there is a fear of digital, it is that there are many people who work very hard to get into this field (as I am doing), and we don't/didn't work hard to get here to only shoot "good enough."

I packed my bags and moved 500 miles away from my home to work with the best. That's why I get angry when I read posts like yours.



Film typically has a very large latitude and "mistakes" in exposure can be fixed with relative ease. Video typically has a narrower latitude so the skill and experience of a qualified Cameraman is necessary to get it right the first time. Why is there a constant superiority complex assigned to film when video requires MORE knowledge and control over the tools (camera, settings, lighting) than film, not less?

Just curious. :)

And if it means anything, I packed my bags and moved 2800 miles from my home and family to work in the big leagues with the best. And often, "the best" recognize that film stock and cameras and lights are merely tools to tell a story. I've seen more terribly movies (story and cinematography) shot with film than I ever have in video. Film is merely a tool just as electronic acquisition. In the hands of hacks, both can look equally bad. In the hands of the skillful, both can look excellent. :)
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#17 K Borowski

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 04:56 PM

And if it means anything, I packed my bags and moved 2800 miles from my home and family to work in the big leagues with the best. And often, "the best" recognize that film stock and cameras and lights are merely tools to tell a story. I've seen more terribly movies (story and cinematography) shot with film than I ever have in video. Film is merely a tool just as electronic acquisition. In the hands of hacks, both can look equally bad. In the hands of the skillful, both can look excellent. :)


I disagree that video is the most difficult medium to shoot Brian, I'd say that VNF-1 was ;-)

But yes, I've shot my fair share of video, and you are right in that it is very difficult to make it look good.

I also agree that film is just a tool. But would you have made that same 2,800 mi. journey if people weren't shooting with the best? This is why I decided against moving to LA. Were I making this decision 20 years ago I would've done it in a heartbeat. Now I am having to hedge my bets.

You are lucky that you didn't experience first-hand the chaos that engulfed still photography with a transition to digital. Hopefully the cinematography world doesn't follow in the same footsteps. It wouldn't be digital per se that would cause the chaos, rather people's stupid perceptions of digital and the level of skill it entails.

You and I realize that digital entails the same or greater amounts of work. The people balancing the budgets are going to try to find ways to slash budgets as much as possible and make people do as much work for as little money as possible.
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#18 Matthew Buick

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 05:08 PM

I'm going to see this movie possibly after the new year. Really looking forward to it.
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#19 Benson Marks

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 05:15 PM

With respect Benson, as I like you a great deal, now you're pulling out Appeal to Authority, as it is so oft called.

I remind you that Tarantino also shot the entirety of "Pulp Fiction" on EXR 50D. I think of the three people you mentioned, only Altman had actually decided to abandon film in favor of video, as it fits his documentary style of long uninterrupted takes.

Once again, there is this perceived barrier that film imposes. It isn't film, it's money. Digital is not going to change that.

The reason why these threads engender such incredible hostility is not that there is a fear of digital, it is that there are many people who work very hard to get into this field (as I am doing), and we don't/didn't work hard to get here to only shoot "good enough."

I packed my bags and moved 500 miles away from my home to work with the best. That's why I get angry when I read posts like yours.


Yes, and I admire you too. But, with respect also, I wasn't pulling out Appeal to Authority. I was just simply replying to Georg Lamshoft's question on why "Benjamin Button" was shot digitally when it could've been shot on film. So, I was taking examples of movies that were shot digitally yet could've been shot on film.

But since I'm involved in the argument, I think I'll have my say on this. I have to agree with Brian on this one, Karl. Digital also requires work. If it requires more knowledge and control over the tools, wouldn't that make it harder to work with than film? I also think digital can be money. Digital video requires a very expensive 35mm blow-up when it goes to the theaters. The same costly blow-ups that had to be used for 16mm are also needed for video. I've even heard that this blow-up could actually make a digital movie more expensive to make than a 35mm film (You'll probably need a distributor to pay for that costly transfer, and even that isn't simple, either).
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#20 Benson Marks

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 05:18 PM

With respect Benson, as I like you a great deal, now you're pulling out Appeal to Authority, as it is so oft called.

I remind you that Tarantino also shot the entirety of "Pulp Fiction" on EXR 50D. I think of the three people you mentioned, only Altman had actually decided to abandon film in favor of video, as it fits his documentary style of long uninterrupted takes.

Once again, there is this perceived barrier that film imposes. It isn't film, it's money. Digital is not going to change that.

The reason why these threads engender such incredible hostility is not that there is a fear of digital, it is that there are many people who work very hard to get into this field (as I am doing), and we don't/didn't work hard to get here to only shoot "good enough."

I packed my bags and moved 500 miles away from my home to work with the best. That's why I get angry when I read posts like yours.


Yes, and I admire you too. But, with respect also, I wasn't pulling out Appeal to Authority. I was just simply replying to Georg Lamshoft's question on why "Benjamin Button" was shot digitally when it could've been shot on film. So, I was taking examples of movies that were shot digitally yet could've been shot on film.

But since I'm involved in the argument, I think I'll have my say on this. I have to agree with Brian on this one, Karl. Digital also requires work. If it requires more knowledge and control over the tools, wouldn't that make it harder to work with than film? I also think digital can be money. Digital video requires a very expensive 35mm blow-up when it goes to the theaters. The same costly blow-ups that had to be used for 16mm are also needed for video. I've even heard that this blow-up could actually make a digital movie more expensive to make than a 35mm film (You'll probably need a distributor to pay for that costly transfer, and even that isn't simple, either).
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