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A couple of questions about an issue of ASC


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#1 Dole Ames

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 04:45 PM

Hi everyone, I have a couple of questions and I'm not sure exactly where they'd fit so I'm going to ask them here...

1) In the ASC edition featuring There Will Be Blood, when asked why he doesn't use DI, Anderson said, "But at the moment I don’t really like DIs, and I’m not sure what the advantage to the process is if you’re shooting anamorphic."

Can someone possibly explain how shooting anamorphic could affect a DI? I don't know much about the process but assumed that it mainly affected color and lighting so I don't really know how shooting anamorphic would not fit into that...

2) In the same article, Robert Elswit stated that "Paul actually thinks using an 85 filter is bad! I’ve often explained to him that the stocks are designed to work with an 85, but he thinks that’s somehow interfering with the alchemy of Kodak. This time, though, he let me use an 85 when it was appropriate."

I'm still new to cinematography, but I thought that not using an 85 when you're shooting tungsten under daylight or vice versa was a death wish. I'm a big fan of Anderson and Elswit's work and I'm wondering if anyone has noticed any specific cases in any of Anderson's movies where an 85 was obviously not being used? I always thought that it would severely affect the lighting and the image but I've always thought that each scene in his films looked fine, and he seems to be someone adverse to messing with the image too much with special filters/DI/etc. I also thought that it was a given that an 85 is always used in the necessary situation. Is it a common thing to not use one?

Thanks for answering.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 05:09 PM

The general idea is that shooting anamorphic gives you this nice big negative (4-perfs tall) and nothing looks better than making a straight contact print right off of it. That's sort of a given. The issue is that most release prints are made from a dupe negative made from an IP made off of the original negative. So there is some generation loss but at least each generation can be contact-printed, not optically printed.

But some people feel that this still looks better than putting the film through a D.I., which is a transformative process, not a direct copy.

You see, if you shoot Super-35 for a 2.40 anamorphic release print, then you have to do a conversion step in the process, and often a D.I. is less grainy and dupey than doing it using an optical printer.

But if you shoot anamorphic, you are not forced into a conversion step, so the question is why do a D.I. unless there are a lot of visual efx to integrate and you plan on altering the look of the emulsion in some way? There is not a consensus answer to this. One could argue that if you can do the D.I. all in 4K and you can make all of your release prints off of the original negative that was recorded from the digital master, wouldn't this look better than release prints made from an IP/IN step?

Unfortunately, most smaller movies end up doing a 2K D.I., transferring this to interneg stock, and still having to make an IP and IN in order to make release prints from that. So that's sort of the worst of all worlds, lower rez D.I. combined with dupes. And that's how most movies are made these days! That's why the digital cinema version often looks better, even if the movie was done at 2K, because you are basically seeing the digital master being projected.

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The 85 filter thing is silly because you're going to need ND filters on the camera in sunlight unless you use 50D stock and don't mind stopping down to f/16 in direct sunlight. So there is often some glass in front of the lens (or behind the lens, as in the case of a Panaflex with a gel filter slot.) It's not degrading the image, it's just rebalancing the colors so that the correct proportion gets to the negative for what it's balanced for. On the other hand, it's not hard to time for a missing 85 filter. Film negative has a lot of color information and latitude, more than digital, so even if you shoot in daylight on tungsten stock without the 85, there is enough red information on the negative to balance the print. It's just that without the 85, your red record is a bit thin and your blue record is a bit dense (overexposed.)

"Barry Lyndon" and "Heat" are famous films that were shot on tungsten stock outdoors without the 85 correction. I do it on movies where I plan on timing day scenes on the cool side anyway (I wouldn't do it on a movie where I wanted warmish day scenes because of the correction needed to just get from blue to neutral, let alone past neutral into red.)
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#3 Dole Ames

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 01:12 PM

The general idea is that shooting anamorphic gives you this nice big negative (4-perfs tall) and nothing looks better than making a straight contact print right off of it. That's sort of a given. The issue is that most release prints are made from a dupe negative made from an IP made off of the original negative. So there is some generation loss but at least each generation can be contact-printed, not optically printed.

But some people feel that this still looks better than putting the film through a D.I., which is a transformative process, not a direct copy.

You see, if you shoot Super-35 for a 2.40 anamorphic release print, then you have to do a conversion step in the process, and often a D.I. is less grainy and dupey than doing it using an optical printer.

But if you shoot anamorphic, you are not forced into a conversion step, so the question is why do a D.I. unless there are a lot of visual efx to integrate and you plan on altering the look of the emulsion in some way? There is not a consensus answer to this. One could argue that if you can do the D.I. all in 4K and you can make all of your release prints off of the original negative that was recorded from the digital master, wouldn't this look better than release prints made from an IP/IN step?

Unfortunately, most smaller movies end up doing a 2K D.I., transferring this to interneg stock, and still having to make an IP and IN in order to make release prints from that. So that's sort of the worst of all worlds, lower rez D.I. combined with dupes. And that's how most movies are made these days! That's why the digital cinema version often looks better, even if the movie was done at 2K, because you are basically seeing the digital master being projected.

--

The 85 filter thing is silly because you're going to need ND filters on the camera in sunlight unless you use 50D stock and don't mind stopping down to f/16 in direct sunlight. So there is often some glass in front of the lens (or behind the lens, as in the case of a Panaflex with a gel filter slot.) It's not degrading the image, it's just rebalancing the colors so that the correct proportion gets to the negative for what it's balanced for. On the other hand, it's not hard to time for a missing 85 filter. Film negative has a lot of color information and latitude, more than digital, so even if you shoot in daylight on tungsten stock without the 85, there is enough red information on the negative to balance the print. It's just that without the 85, your red record is a bit thin and your blue record is a bit dense (overexposed.)

"Barry Lyndon" and "Heat" are famous films that were shot on tungsten stock outdoors without the 85 correction. I do it on movies where I plan on timing day scenes on the cool side anyway (I wouldn't do it on a movie where I wanted warmish day scenes because of the correction needed to just get from blue to neutral, let alone past neutral into red.)

Thanks for the response. I guess that's what I get for being someone with no 35mm experience at all...so shooting without an 85 and correcting in post will look almost the same as using an 85, just with a slight bluish hue (if originally you shoot tungsten outdoors)? And the opposite is also true then? That's good to know. Thanks a lot, David.
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#4 Ravi Kiran

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 05:07 PM

Unfortunately, most smaller movies end up doing a 2K D.I., transferring this to interneg stock, and still having to make an IP and IN in order to make release prints from that. So that's sort of the worst of all worlds, lower rez D.I. combined with dupes. And that's how most movies are made these days! That's why the digital cinema version often looks better, even if the movie was done at 2K, because you are basically seeing the digital master being projected.


Why do they do it like this? Is it faster/easier to make large numbers of prints through IP/IN versus making prints directly from the DI?
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 05:35 PM

Yes, as you're not relying on a film recorder to do it (which does somewhere like 6fps? I think.) instead of working off of a contact print.
I'm not sure if you could go right to an IN though and skip the IP, but people just tend not to.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 05:43 PM

Thanks for the response. I guess that's what I get for being someone with no 35mm experience at all...so shooting without an 85 and correcting in post will look almost the same as using an 85, just with a slight bluish hue (if originally you shoot tungsten outdoors)? And the opposite is also true then? That's good to know. Thanks a lot, David.


You can completely correct out the blue cast from shooting outdoors without the 85 on tungsten film. I only said that I do it when I want a cool cast because I don't have to completely correct out the blue, I can leave some of it in, so it's not as extreme a change in printer lights. But you can remove it completely. You may get some subtle tints in the shadows and whatnot that are not perfectly neutral but for the most part, it's completely correctable. It does mean, though, that your printer light values are more unbalanced, you may have a very low number for red, for example, and a very high number for blue. This just suggests you will have less flexibility making color adjustments in the red direction without getting more grain because your red information was underexposed by not using the 85 filter. Whereas if you had used the 85 filter, your printer lights would be more balanced and it would be easier to go one direction or the other, particularly it would be easier to time the image to look warmer than normal, more orangey, if the image on your negative was neutral rather than blue.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 06:10 PM

It's always a neg-to-pos-to-neg-to-pos system unless you use reversal film.

So you can record either an internegative (IN) or an interpositive (IP) from the digital master. It's the same film stock, it's just called an IN or IP based on whether there is a negative or positive image on it.

If you record an internegative, you can make prints right off of it. But if you record to acetate stock, there is a limit to the number of prints you can make before it starts to get worn (let's say, 100) and if you record to Estar stock, you can make more prints (let's say, 1000). But major releases often order 4000 to 6000 prints, so even one Estar IN is not going to do it.

Plus often the studio considers the film that comes out of the recorder to be a master negative, so they don't want to damage it.

Considering it costs about $10,000 to copy a 35mm negative to an IP and another $10,000 to make an IN off of that IP... versus, let's say, $50,000 every time you record a feature-length digital master to 35mm using a film recorder... you can see why the studios often go for the cheapest route, which is to transfer the master to film once ($50,000) and then make an IP and then IN off of that ($20,000), with another $10,000 for every extra IN they have to strike for every 1000 release prints.

The proper way to do it is to make one IN off of the digital master and store that as a archival copy. Then make as many IN's from the digital master as you need for release prints, so make six IN's in the film recorder to make 6000 release prints, for example. But that's seven IN's total, which is at $50,000 a pop comes to $350,000.

The second option is to make one IP off of the digital master, then contact-print as many IN's off of the IP as needed for making release prints. At least that eliminates one generation. Trouble with that, however, is that you can't make a one-light check print off of the IP to see how it looks, you have to first make an IN off of the IP in order to then make a print off of the IN! Most people like the option of making a few direct prints once they film-out the movie, so that means filming-out an IN, not an IP.

What really has to happen is the cost of film recording to drop, but that's not going to happen unless there is a major increase in the speed of the film recorders.
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#8 Joe Zakko

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 11:13 AM

I'm a big fan of Anderson and Elswit's work and I'm wondering if anyone has noticed any specific cases in any of Anderson's movies where an 85 was obviously not being used? I always thought that it would severely affect the lighting and the image but I've always thought that each scene in his films looked fine, and he seems to be someone adverse to messing with the image too much with special filters/DI/etc.

Elswit's not saying that they just shoot tungsten film outdoors and vice versa and leave it like that, they probably just fix it in post, or use the correct stock instead of filters. Unless I've missed something, I'm pretty sure that they've never done any shot that's extremely blue or amber, it's just uncharacteristic of Anderson's style.
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#9 Joe Zakko

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 11:20 AM

I'm pretty sure that they've never done any shot that's extremely blue

With the exception of certain shots in Punch Drunk Love
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