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Film? What do you think?


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#1 Hunter Hampton

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 02:36 AM

The more I learn about how film works, the more I think that current "film look" techniques are going completely in the wrong direction. So I gave it a try!

This takes a lot of steps, but I basically used real film grain (from a kodak film), and reinterpreted the color channels as film would see it. (i.e. softer red layer, ect.)

I posted publicly on here because I wanted feedback about it, not that this is a solution because it would be so much easier and prettier to just shoot film- I just wanted to find a way to make digital stuff look better and get rid of plasticly grey skin tones.
(p.s. I shoot film regularly and I love it!)


This is a sort-of '18 and Potra400VC combo, (with s16mm sized grain):

Original digital file (not my image- I found it on flickr):
Posted Image

with the "real" film look process:
Posted Image


Am I getting closer to a better "film look"? (gosh I hate that word!) Should I stop trying? What do you think?
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#2 Gus Sacks

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 03:12 AM

I believe the film version would have just a bit more latitude than you have it there. By the contrast it looks like a little skip bleach was done to it. Not that I dislike it...
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#3 Hunter Hampton

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 03:22 AM

Currently thats one of the things digital cant win over film is latitude! This little demo is of course assuming that you were shooting a scene which fell into the range of the digital sensor. Thanks for the input!
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 07:30 AM

Hunter,
Personally I think you're a bit off in how you define a "film look." What is a film look exactly? Film has a wide range of looks which depends on each individual piece-- and in my own experience most people talking of "film look," are more about Depth of Field than color/contrast. That's just my own thought.
as for that experiment, I agree, I think the "film look," one is more digital looking in latitude-- though the colors remind me of Elite Chrome.
Just my 2 Cents.
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#5 Hunter Hampton

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 12:44 PM

Thanks for the tips. I dont know how to make a digital image look like color negative, but I think if treated the right way, a digital image can look similar to slide film. Yes, the look of film is so vast, I wasn't being very specific!
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#6 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 03:16 PM

I think the "film look," one is more digital looking in latitude


Funny, that the "film look" fix looks more "digital" in latitude than the original digital still. :lol: I know, the still is high resolution, while the comparable S16 size sensor wouldn't give you the same resolution as the digital camera . . .

But, I agree that different stocks have different looks. The second still does have more contrast and latitude than film would, but it so hard to say what is lacking to make it more film like, as different stocks look different.

Maybe spooling some cine 35mm stock on an SLR camera, and with the same lens, same lighting conditions and same subject, taking a comparable resolution (around 8-9 megapixel) digital still would give you an idea as to what to change in your tests. Of course everything will be stock dependent, but still.
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#7 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 03:39 PM

The detail on her cheek bone would still be preserved on film. In the "film look" version, it's completely clipped. You also have to consider which film stock you're trying to emulate. Low con, high con, fast, slow, 35 or 16?
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#8 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 03:48 PM

The second still does have more contrast and latitude than film would . . .


I meant more contrast and less latitude than film would. Gotta upgrade to the sustaining member acct. to be able to edit my posts beyond the 5 minute mark for regular members.
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#9 Hunter Hampton

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 04:08 PM

Thats a good idea about shooting side by side with a dslr and 35mm slr. That way I will have something to emulate instead of making it up! I was kinda going for a rich black- finished look on these, kinda like what a print may look like. Thanks for your feedback though- it really helps.
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#10 Ira Ratner

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 07:43 PM

I don't see how you can objectively judge any of this via a computer monitor anyway. Plus, it ain't moving.

Plus again, your subject here is posed as a still shot with a still backdrop.

I would like to see you do this in a more complex scene setting (like a beach, park, etc.), where all of the foreground and background elements come into play.
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#11 Simon Wyss

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 04:56 AM

Fully agree with and support Ira. If you already have that feeling about people wanting to bend film over to video just shoot film and project it in the dark. It can be 8 mm or 16 mm. Start all over again and again with black and white. It can be 35 mm. Try Gigabitfilm in 135.
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#12 Hunter Hampton

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 12:33 PM

Is this it?

Posted Image
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#13 wolfgang haak

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 03:14 PM

Hunter et.al. ,

do you mind if I play bad cop and ask a few questions?
Flickr... You are aware that flickr processes all uploaded files? Dropped are all your imbedded profiles, left is a pile of mystery meat - numbers without meaning.
Secondly, (I have to ask) is your computer/monitor profiled and calibrated, is your imaging software setup correctly?

I may make myself a touch unpoplular, but these are the sort of cruitial points that give digital imaging it's bad reputation. The sensors of of today's DSLR's go far beyond the hue range that can be displayed on any CRT/TFT screen. Mapping the (calibrated) sensor readout to Adobe RGB colourspace equals tonal compression/clipping. Mapping them to PhotoPro RGB captures the hue range (but requires at least 16 bit of information) , but there's not a screen out there that can show that range. With Photopro you clip the colours not in the file, but in output.

Most of today's sensor's capture 12bit of linar data, which is then down converted by an embedded chip using factory presets (These guess that they're looking at an average grey motive in an average lighting condition.)
Say a photographer complained about a lack of latitude and colour range in his film but had left the development of his roll to a corner lab that doesn't know what numbers and abbreviations on the tin mean - you would not be surprised if the result was disappointing.
But it is illogical to conclude that the film was at fault. It's more likely it's been used incorrectly. There's a host of things to know about films, and processing. And there is an equally confusing and sparingly documented mountain of technology to learn when it comes to digital images.

Just bear this in mind: If you checked this post whithin two hours of turning your computer on, then the internal working temperature, white point, SCD and brightness of your screen will have shifted in the time it took you to read this post. Never mind the cast from your blue/red/whatever t-shirt since you took your mid-grey jumper off!

I do not wish to to proclaim that one way of doing things was superior/more advanced/adventagous over another way of doing things, but I would say that with an equal amount of efford invested, the balance leans towards film. That means that there's a pile of things to consider before digital can start living up to its benefits.

Food for thought.
Wolfgang
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