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my film is soft


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#1 Lee Young

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 02:28 AM

I just photographed a film for my friend and the DI we got back is soft. Now I know I couldn't have shot the whole film soft. The film was processed a week after it was shot. I also know that the lens is not the culprit because another production used it after us with no problems. Can a telecine make an image soft? Is that even possible? I don't want to jump to conclusions and start blaming the lab. Anyways, I'd appreciate some input here.

Camera-Arri SR
Lens-Zeiss 10-100mm 3.1
Stock-Kodak 50D, 250D, and 500t
Processing-FotoKem and Alphacine
Telecine-Cinelicious (2k)

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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 02:33 AM

Have a look at the negative with a loupe and a lightbox and that will tell you if it's the film or the transfer.
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#3 Lee Young

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 02:43 AM

Have a look at the negative with a loupe and a lightbox and that will tell you if it's the film or the transfer.


I forgot to mention that the film is in los angeles with the director and I am in Cleveland. I told him to look at the negative with a loupe and lightbox, but i was wondering, if his test confirms that the negative isn't soft, can the telecine possibly be responsible? Thank you for the swift post.
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#4 Chris Keth

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 03:19 AM

I forgot to mention that the film is in los angeles with the director and I am in Cleveland. I told him to look at the negative with a loupe and lightbox, but i was wondering, if his test confirms that the negative isn't soft, can the telecine possibly be responsible? Thank you for the swift post.


Yeah, it's possible. A telecine is essentially rephotographing your negative so if everything is not in proper alignment, you could feasibly get a soft transferred image. I believe you can also apply softening in the suite, though the operator would really have to be sleeping to allow that.
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#5 Stephen Williams

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 03:22 AM

What was the telecine used? A Rank with an old tube can look very bad.
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 07:34 AM

What aperture were you at mainly on the lens? Wider open a lot of lenses soften up a bit as well. Normally you want to be in the mid-ranges of a lens to get it really sharp. Now I know yours was a T3.1, but my own experience with a Zoom (I normally prefer primes) on a Cooke Optex conversion was fine except when I opened her up where she got a little bit softer and more nuanced as opposed to when I was down 'round a 4.
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#7 Tim Carroll

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 08:53 AM

I'd have to agree with Adrian, check the negative for sure, but I would suspect the lens.

Those older Zeiss zooms can be hit or miss. I've seen some very sharp and some not so sharp, especially wide open. It looks like a number of your shots were dimly lit, so I suspect you may have been shooting pretty open. Did the other folks who used the same lens shoot it wide open or stopped down? Those Zeiss zooms sharpen up pretty well when stopped down.

Also, was the camera FFD and ground glass (or fibre optics screen on an SR) checked before you shot? If those are slightly out, that could be your issue as well.

Best,
-Tim
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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 09:16 AM

Also very important, as Tim alludes to, is how you focused, by eye or by measurement. If it was all by eye, your diopter may have been off, if by measurement, the lens could be out of alignment ever so slightly as well; but i suspect it's just shooting WFO (Wide ******* Open). Doesn't necessarily look bad, some of the shots look pretty good. If you can figure out a way to get the sound-scape to complement the visual texture you've got on that neg, then it could be quite usable and interesting. When in doubt.. own the mistake/problems! (for example my -3 underexposure shot from films past....)
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#9 Lee Young

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 10:01 AM

What aperture were you at mainly on the lens? Wider open a lot of lenses soften up a bit as well. Normally you want to be in the mid-ranges of a lens to get it really sharp. Now I know yours was a T3.1, but my own experience with a Zoom (I normally prefer primes) on a Cooke Optex conversion was fine except when I opened her up where she got a little bit softer and more nuanced as opposed to when I was down 'round a 4.


I shot a lot of the movie at a 5.6. I've shot with this very lens before and had no sharpness issues. It's not as sharp as a prime, but it still looks a hell of a lot hetter than this. I do know what you mean though, there's a bit more softness shooting wide open. The stairs shot here was shot wide open.
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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 10:03 AM

Hmm.. should certainly be sharp round a 5.6. Seems to be pointing either to FFD, Telecine, or the lens getting whacked out of alignment. Best of luck with it, though. check with the loupe and you/director should be able to tell. On the plus side, if it is telecine, then you shoudl get a free retransfer if you can prove to 'em it's sharp on the film.
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#11 Lee Young

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 10:19 AM

I shot a lot of the movie at a 5.6. I've shot with this very lens before and had no sharpness issues. It's not as sharp as a prime, but it still looks a hell of a lot hetter than this. I do know what you mean though, there's a bit more softness shooting wide open. The stairs shot here was shot wide open.


I also focused the film both by eye and tape. There was no large difference. I also shot the film on the wide side, so most of the time everything was in focus anyways. When I looked at the moving images, I noticed that nothing is in focus. This is very very puzzling. We shot with the camera on two different occasions and checked the gate and ground glass each time. I don't know. Here is an example of a shot wide open at 75mm on another shoot only one week earlier. The wide of the boat was shot with a 10mm wide open.

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P.S. I don't want to seem defensive. You have all brought up valid points.
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#12 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 10:22 AM

I don't read you as defensive at all; you're just clarifying your other experiences with the lens.
It's an odd problem but seems to be pointing towards the transfer. But, without the loupe look no idea for sure. Perhaps, also taking it to a separate telecine machine (e. g. A Spirit if you haven't used that for the first transferr) and having them throw it up.
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#13 Stephen Williams

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 11:58 AM

Hi,

Are you sure that was not transfered on the Ursa Diamond?

Stephen.
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#14 Tim Carroll

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 12:07 PM

Have you shot with that camera and lens since the soft footage, and how does that look?

The fact that the earlier footage was sharp doesn't really address the issues of FFD, ground glass or even the lens. Any of those could have been knocked out of spec between your earlier shoot and the one that came out soft. If, on the other hand, the same camera and lens produced very sharp images right after your soft images, then I would suspect transfer issues, or if only one mag of footage came out soft, possibly a loading issue.

Stephen's question is an important one. On what kind of machine was the film transferred? I have seen really soft images coming from really sharp film, when transferred on an old Rank machine. And I use AlphaCine (they just moved by the way) for all my B&W processing, they do great work, but the Rank they have is very soft. Did you have the footage transferred at AlphaCine?

Best,
-Tim
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#15 Lee Young

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 12:47 PM

it was transferred on the ursa diamond. the footage before was telecined at alpha cine. There was a film shot on this camera after this and the footage was fine. I just don't have any stills from that production.
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#16 Stephen Williams

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 12:54 PM

it was transferred on the ursa diamond. the footage before was telecined at alpha cine. There was a film shot on this camera after this and the footage was fine. I just don't have any stills from that production.


Hi lee,

AFAIK that is an SD only telecine. It's a Rank, needs loads of maintenance & a new tube every 1000 hours. Fairly sure that's part if not all of your problem.

Best,

Stephen
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#17 Lee Young

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 12:59 PM

Hi lee,

AFAIK that is an SD only telecine. It's a Rank, needs loads of maintenance & a new tube every 1000 hours. Fairly sure that's part if not all of your problem.

Best,

Stephen



I'm sorry. I think I may have been unclear. The first set of images that are of concern were transferred on the ursa diamond. The stuff not of concern was transferred on the rank.
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#18 Lee Young

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 01:00 PM

I'm sorry. I think I may have been unclear. The first set of images that are of concern were transferred on the ursa diamond. The stuff not of concern was transferred on the rank.

here's a link to the process that was used
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#19 John Sprung

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 01:02 PM

I also focused the film both by eye and tape. There was no large difference.


In that case it still could be FFD, everything in the right place except the film. Perhaps the pressure plate not pressing hard enough.

Telecine is the other possibility. Normally, we have a telecine colorist watching everything, and it would take remarkable incompetence not to notice stuff being that soft. Certainly in dailies transfer, we'd expect to get a late night phone call the instant they knew that they couldn't get any better focus than that. If it's a telecine error, it's a real bad one. They should do it again for free, and probably even give you some extra work for your trouble.





-- J.S.
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#20 Stephen Williams

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 01:07 PM

I'm sorry. I think I may have been unclear. The first set of images that are of concern were transferred on the ursa diamond. The stuff not of concern was transferred on the rank.


FWIW the URSA Diamond is a RANK telecine, unreliable at best. Maintenance is key.
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