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High-budget look of "Inglorious Basterds" vs. lower-budget look of "Reservoir Dogs"


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#1 Matt Read

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 12:25 PM

I just saw "Inglorious Basterds" yesterday and while watching it, it occurred to me how much better it looks than Tarantino's earlier films, especially "Reservoir Dogs." Robert Richardson's work looks glossy and bold, almost like a comic book, with saturated colors and deep blacks, while Andrzej Sekula's work in "Reservoir Dogs" is lower contrast and lower saturation. I feel that Richardson's look is more expensive looking than Sekula's and I'm not sure how that expensive look is achieved.

Aside from the obvious differences in how they were lit, what has Richardson done in "Inglorious Basterds" that Sekula did not do in "Reservoir Dogs?" How does he get the saturated colors and deep blacks? Is it something in the color timing/DI? Is Richardson rating his film over or under what it's labeled as, while Sekula uses the suggested ASA? Is it that Richardson is shooting on a newer stock? Or is it more a matter of the production design? I'm sure to some extent, all of these things are involved in creating Richardson's high-budget look, but to what extent is each involved, what specifically is done and how does it affect the final look of the film?
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#2 John Holland

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 12:55 PM

I havent seen this film ! and dont think i will bother , but "Reservoir Dogs" was shot using daylight balanced film , ext and int . I thought at that the time had a very high saturated look! that was a long time ago . Try to stay away from any Tarantino films . And of course a different stock ! but if its Kodak , that interesting as their stocks have become less saturated ! Must be in the dreaded DI
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#3 Daniel Katz

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 01:18 AM

Both Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction were shot almost exclusively with 50D and from memory of when I saw them projected were very saturated and contrasty given Sekula's penchant for using open source lights near to his subjects. Its kind of hard to compare contrast and saturation from these two films but I doubt Inglorious was inherently more 'contrasty'. It certainly has a vastly different look and feel stylistically though.
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#4 Matt Read

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 02:18 AM

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  • Reservoir_Dogs.jpg

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#5 Alex Lindblom

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 02:33 AM

You also have to remember, that Dogs was shot with S35 and Bastards in anamorphic.
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#6 Matt Read

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 03:07 AM

I'm not interested in debating the faults or merits of Tarantino or his films. The questions in my original post neither asked for, nor warranted a personal opinion of "Reservoir Dogs," "Inglorious Basterds" or other Tarantino films. The only reason I brought these films up in the first place is because it provides a good basis for a comparison of cinematographic styles.

The above image is a frame grab from a DVD of "Reservoir Dogs." I feel it's a fair representation of the look of the film as an entirety. It also contains both shadows and highlights, but neither even begin to approach what I consider to be high contrast. The deepest blacks in the frame are found in the hair of the man to the right of Tim Roth's head, but they are fairly washed out. Additionally, the highlights in Tim Roth's hair and Harvey Keitel's face are a shade of gray rather than true white. I've never seen a print of "Reservoir Dogs," so I only have this DVD version to go off of, but to me it looks low contrast and low saturation.

I don't think that the differences between S35 and anamorphic would account for the differences in saturation between the two films. I can also understand there being some difference in contrast, but it would not create such a significant difference as I feel there is between these two films.

So again, I ask: what can one do to achieve a look more similar to "Inglorious Basterds" than "Reservoir Dogs?"
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#7 Richard Vialet

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 03:14 AM

That image example looks like it could've been a bad transfer...

The movies also have totally different locale's...Basterds has more "exotic" locations than Reservoir Dogs which mostly takes place in industrials areas of LA. So the design has A LOT to do with the differences in things like saturation and the appearance of "big-budget". A lavish Nazi premiere with deep reds in the decor will USUALLY look bigger budget than a long scene in some abandoned warehouse.

Check out these jpeg screengrabs from the blu-ray...i wouldn't say Reservoir Dogs is all that low-contrast:

Posted Image

Posted Image

Edited by Richard Vialet, 27 August 2009 - 03:17 AM.

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#8 Richard Vialet

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 03:21 AM

and thats not to say that the locations of one movie was better than the other. They're two completely different movies.

....And yea they were also shot on two completely different stocks and formats as others mentioned

Edited by Richard Vialet, 27 August 2009 - 03:24 AM.

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#9 monday sunnlinn

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 10:00 AM

I've only seen the "Basterds" once, but I think there was much more style added in the DI than reservoir dogs, which looked bleak on the standard def DVD, very grey, looking at the screen grabs from the blu-ray makes me think that they remastered it and added that contrast for the blu-ray. As for the Basterds, I think they really punched up the reds some in post for effect(those 'natsi' banners jumped right off the screen, so did the theatre owners red dress as I recall). The whole look seemed to be going after the recent, old-timey, war movie, epic look with the super contrasty, slightly underexposed, gritty colors, but with certain colors emphasized at certain times for effect.

as a personal note, I think the dialogue in this movie was probably some of the best I have seen in a long time...the opening conversation, wow...
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#10 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 01:40 PM

The appearance of saturation and desaturation can be equated to the two different lighting styles in this case. In fact I would equate most of the things you've asked too two different lighting styles.


Aside from the obvious differences in how they were lit, what has Richardson done in "Inglorious Basterds" that Sekula did not do in "Reservoir Dogs?" How does he get the saturated colors and deep blacks? Is it something in the color timing/DI? Is Richardson rating his film over or under what it's labeled as, while Sekula uses the suggested ASA? Is it that Richardson is shooting on a newer stock? Or is it more a matter of the production design? I'm sure to some extent, all of these things are involved in creating Richardson's high-budget look, but to what extent is each involved, what specifically is done and how does it affect the final look of the film?


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#11 Mei Lewis

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 05:36 AM

You also have to remember, that Dogs was shot with S35 and Bastards in anamorphic.


I'm new to all this. Is there some difference between the two formats other than aspecrt ratio and the way they flare?
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#12 Freya Black

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 06:52 AM

I'm new to all this. Is there some difference between the two formats other than aspecrt ratio and the way they flare?


Yes, anamorphic uses the full 35mm negative, so it is higher resolution and less grainy etc.
1.85:1 crops the negative.

The other possibility is that as they were shooting on 50D for the interiors, that they may have underexposed slightly or pushed the shots which can affect contrast. Lighting interiors to 50D is a bit more difficult than if you use a faster stock. Do the exteriors look more like you were expecting? What about Pulp fiction, how do you feel about that in comparison to IB?

love

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#13 Tim Partridge

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 07:28 AM

Surely it's down to the transfer. All images posted look totally washed out and not at all like the DVD I last saw (or even the VHS when it first came out).

I am probably the only person in the world who prefers the more graphic lighting style of Sekula for Tarantino's films.
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#14 blake williams

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 08:45 PM

Surely it's down to the transfer. All images posted look totally washed out and not at all like the DVD I last saw (or even the VHS when it first came out).

I am probably the only person in the world who prefers the more graphic lighting style of Sekula for Tarantino's films.


youre absolutely not the only one that prefer Sekulas cinematography in Tarantinos films. Both Dogs and Pulp fiction were visual masterpieces, whereas the "high-budget????" look of Inglorius basterds was an exercise in tedious imagery. But different strokes for different folks I guess
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#15 Daniel Jackson

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 09:58 AM

The look of Reservoir Dogs suits the style of the movie.
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#16 Brian Hulnick

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:16 AM

I love that gritty, dirty look of Reservoir Dogs. I don't think the movie would look as good all "polished up"
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#17 Matt Stevens

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 02:37 PM

The most widely available transfer of Res Dogs is screwed up. And the company that released it (I forget which one) refused to talk about it, let alone fix it.

There is a High Def release out there that looks perfect and i believe it was released overseas in HD-DVD.
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#18 Brian Hulnick

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 07:50 AM

The US one was released via Lions Gate. It's not perfect but I do believe the movie has never looked so good. There were issues with the 10 Year anniversary edition DVD where the blacks were very sullied and muddied.
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#19 Brian Hulnick

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 05:55 AM

Here's a review I found for Reservoir Dogs on Blu-ray.com. As I said not a bad image.

Reservoir Dogs Blu-ray,
Video Quality- 4 Out of 5

Lionsgate's BD-25 delivers a quality, 2.35:1, 1080p picture with rich, vibrant colors that trounce the DVD versions of Reservoir Dogs. While not a reference-quality Blu-ray, the entire viewing experience is transformed by the increased definition and resolution, greatly enhancing the thespian merits of the film. Watch the cast move about the set of the safe-house, an abandoned warehouse, with stunning presence, as if they are performing on a stage directly in front of us. Even when the scene shifts to Mr. Orange's cramped apartment or a diner or the office of mob boss Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney), the BD delivers a "you are there" quality.

The details reveal few weaknesses. Crimson blood and gory makeup prove to be quite realistic in the most violent moments. Watch the torture scene as Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) carves his prisoner, leaving the man's face dramatically altered. The crisp imagery communicates the brutality of the assault at its rawest. To Tarantino's credit, the camera pans away from the violence during the most intense moments of torture, when other areas of the warehouse come into perfect focus.

The video was not as solid or flawless as the best Blu-ray titles, such as Casino Royale, which uses the MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50. But Reservoir Dogs gives up surprisingly little and is not far from reference quality. Motion scenes, such as the outdoor foot chase when Mr. Pink is running from the police, makes the motion look a bit choppy. It was difficult to discern any artifacts. Overall, the picture was stunning and provided excellent depth, clarity and contrast.
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#20 Brian Hulnick

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 07:50 AM

Watched Reservoir Dogs on a 100" screen earlier and it does look a bit rough. But serviceable. Colors seem a little uneven at times and detail id not always good. But it's the best it has ever looked.
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