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70mm Berlinale Retrospektive


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#1 georg lamshöft

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 05:54 AM

I've just seen "Lawrence of Arabia" for the first time (hey, I'm 24 ;-) in 70mm during the Berlinale. The colors looked a little bit artificial (well it's 47 years old) and the image stability wasn't as perfect as IMAX or digital projection but 90% of the film looked incredible!

No grain, fine detail way beyond every Blu-Ray I've ever seen (and the movie itself was good, too, at least the first part... :ph34r:) and I was really wondering what happened the last decades that even more expensive (Lawrence of Arabia cost 15Mio$ which are about 100Mio$ today) blockbusters of 2009 have inferior IQ (except for colors) !?!?!?! :blink:

I also attended a panel discussion with Tom Tykwer (in my eyes the best German director since Fritz Lang - he and Frank Griebe (DoP) shot about 7min of "the International" in 65mm) and Sepp Reidinger (ARRI). Basically he said that he had to fight with producers for every single 65mm-scene, even when ARRI and Kodak gave cameras and film stock at 35mm-rates, basically because the studio didn't want to pay for the >4k DI (they only used in 65mm/Vistavision-sequences) and used 2k für 35mm (this movie costs over 60Mio$ and Tykwers last movie made ~ 60Mio$ profit)!

I don't get it, it seems like these producers/studios want to cut costs at any cost while throwing away millions on other things, they propably would love to see every movie to get shot with an DP-owned prosumer-HD-camera... :unsure:
I fear that they will use the financial crisis as an excuse to cut costs even further, while having huge financial success with films like the "Dark Knight" (which proves to me that people still want to see real cinema!).

With digital post-production they can handle to whole process (recording format != presentation format) very flexible, they can shoot 65mm and do a chape 2k-transfer to 35mm/D-cinema, if the movie becomes a success they can show 70mm-prints or do a 4k/8k-scan! Many people said that the big blockbusters (like Ben-Hur, Lawrence...) are over but what's about "Titanic", "Lord of the Rings", "Dark Knight" - is there any reason to shoot those projects (only a few per year) NOT in 65mm?

Isn't it possible to use the big stars to force the studios to shoot in 65mm? I can imagine that Leonardo DiCaprio would insist on 65mm if Scorsese tells him he wants to shoot in this format, while Scorsese himself can't force the studios to do so?
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#2 Tom Lowe

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 10:28 AM

This is an old debate here. Lack of 70mm projection and stingy, sort-sighted thinking by the studios is your answer. But more interestingly, this debate is about to be eclipsed by technology. Red is soon putting out 6K Vista Vision digital cameras, and even 9K larger format cameras. I can't see producers hovering over a DP's shoulder saying, "Are you shooting 6K, or 5K?" I think directors and DPs will be handed back at least some control over resolution by these newer cameras. Of course, the post production budget will have to take into account a 4K vs a 6K post, for example, but at least the distribution issue won't be quite as significant a stumbling block as it is now, with the near total lack of 70mm projection venues. 4K at some point will become the projection gold standard, and whether one shoots at 4K or 6K or 9K will probably vary greatly from one feature to the next.
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#3 georg lamshöft

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 04:08 PM

But everything is available, NOW! The cameras, lenses, scanners... to capture supreme IQ, even the big projects with >>50Mio$-budgets are filmed in vast numbers!
Propably digital cameras will solve parts of this problem when bigger sensors/higher resolutions become available in the future, but it doesn't cost as much to film in 65mm (in comparison to 35mm) NOW, either and they don't make it anyway because there are cheaper ways! That's what's already happening with digital productions today: many 2k DIs, using 1080p-cameras (or interpolated 4k) for cinema - Why? Not because the technology delivers superior quality but it seems "sufficient" for most viewers...
60Mio$ alone from IMAX on Dark Knight, the most succesful movie they ever presented (not in the 70s, 80s or 90s but 2008)! NOW is the time to film 65mm!!!

I think that the extreme power the system has given to the big stars is the key for the artists (Director, DP...) to rule over the business-men. Instead of just complaining about the system, people could trick it (actors for example do that quite often, but it isn't done for technology, yet...). What about Christian Bale allowing Wally Pfister to shot the next Nolan 100% IMAX (you spend the additional million when you want Bale)? You know what happens if you upset him... :lol:

Yeah, I'm complaining alot, I'm sorry. But I won't accept that todays movies are filmed with inferior technology and that a film from 1962 I've seen with 24 should be the last "big" cinematic experience of my life...
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#4 Thomas James

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 08:53 PM

70mm may not be all that it is cracked up to be. According to John Galt of Panavision 70mm IMAX when projected does not quite match the resolution of true 4K digital projection. John also thinks higher frame rates are the future rather than increased resolution because of of motion blurring problems with low frame rates. Of course increasing frame rates has to be done with discretion. For example increasing framerates for the drama portion of the movie may make the movie look too much like video. But for the fast action portions of the movie increasing the framerate will do wonders for picture quality. Also more pixels should be dedicated for taking multiple pictures at different exposure levels so we can have a combined picture that eliminates blown highlights while allowing increased shadow detail.
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#5 georg lamshöft

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 10:25 AM

70mm as a presentation format might be really too expensive (=risky) for most movie theaters, but 65mm as a recording format seems to be ideal for big productions. The image quality is outstanding, we have high dynamic range, we can even increase the frame rate without too much trouble!
And with DIs (it can be presented and printed in any format) and lowered stock&rental-costs even the last arguments against 65mm have fallen apart while fighting home-cinema & blu-ray has become really important for the survival of cinema, but the industry doesn't seem to realize that.

John Galt seems to be a very skilled person, I've learned a lot about the details of bayer-filtering and MTFs from his presentations, but he is also a "digital man", that's his background, that's his job at Panavision. He sometimes uses "dirty tricks" to make digital look good (like comparing bad MTFs from high-speed-stock from a low-res telecine with Genesis) and I think that's also the case with his comparison of IMAX vs. 4k. To outperform a perfect 4k-projection with IMAX you only need 30lp/mm (70mm -> 4000lines picture width), I'm sure a bad print with a not perfectly calibrated projector could lead to this poor performance. I'm not sure what resolution the IMAX-sequences of "Dark Knight" had when I saw it in Berlin on a 21x28m screen, but it was definitely sharper than 4k (I'm comparing with a 2k-projection on a 14m wide screen at the same distance)!

I'm really excited to see the first 4k-cameras, Panavision already presented their sensor (Dynamax: developed in NY, made in Israel - not Sony anymore!!!) but it also shows the limits of digital sensors. The photosites have to be really tiny (4096x3072x3 = 37MPixels on a 18x24mm sensor!) which results in problems with noise and DR (digital cinema cameras with 4 times bigger photosites are already quite noisy in comparison to DSLRs and have much less DR than film) and even this sensor can "only" shoot 30fps - if filmmakers want the best quality, they still should go with 35mm for the next years or better: 65mm :lol: But the most important thing is: Don't let business-men decide which technology is used!
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