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#1 Tim Partridge

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 06:28 PM

Here are my opinions below:

I thought this was a fantastic film and all round powerful filmmaking from Fincher and company. I got carried away by the story very much, and I think the whole audience watching it with me did too. First class performances from everyone, particularly Justin Timberlake (feels almost surreal typing that). A very witty script that I thought played wonderfully to what I think is Fincher's sensibility for dry humour and clinical, Kubrick-like sense of coldness. Very refreshing to find what I feel is a film that presents a variety of events and perspectives from all of the different angles, without forcing you to root for one character. Everyone involved in this Facebook story seemed to have extreme highs and lows throughout the journey, and what a rollercoaster it is as an audience member.

From a technical stand point I thought this was very bold and stylised filmmaking, and the level of expert we all aspire to work towards. I thought to begin with that it seemed very restrained, with conventional performance coverage, less imposed visual flair and more of Fincher as a matured storyteller than stylist. Happily, I found that while Fincher is indeed a masterful storyteller capturing excellent performances, the film managed to subvert the work with so much intellectual form into the proceedings too.

The art direction seemed to be built almost entirely around horizontal, vertical and jagged lines throughout, from the window blind slats and trendy bar couches to computer screens, rectangular windows, office chairs, the blazers of the two rowing champions, the interiors of Facebook HQ... I hardly saw a curved object in the whole film, and I think this even extended to some of the casting choices with their gaunt faces. It appears very designed and angular, I am guessing to show the rigid, one track mind of the main characters and also illustrate the literal framework of the Facebook enterprise. It's all decorated in very muted neutrals that gave me a very bleak feeling watching the film, and along with the curve starved design an appropriately worrying lack of humanity.

The cinematography I thought was very, very brave (as is usual for Fincher), much of it looking extremely low light and shallow focus, with lots of background performances happening as bokah! There are some great scenes simulating darkeness seeming quite underexposed but never noisey, and with enough subtle lighting contrast to not look murky. I noticed as well that Jeff Cronenwerth seemed to use what looks like a hard key to model the actors, even though most of the scenes have a very soft and skirted, available light look. I noticed quite a few nose shadows that seemed to call attention to themselves, particularly in the opening shot at the bar table. I found the look very unflattering but incredibly interesting and bold. There's glamour in there too though, particularly a night club scene that seems to have been lit in very low light from under a glass table.

There's a very memorable boat rowing sequence set in England too, making use of the shift and tilt effect. Working with the angluar production design I mentioned earlier, it really did add a stunning miniaturised grid like effect, mesmerising with the symmetry of the rowing boats. It's like a literal stylised microcosm of Facebook making the world that much smaller.

I think this really is the kind of film Kubrick would have been making now had he been alive. It's gripping, wonderful cinema with a very relevant story that's as addictive as Facebook has seemed to be for many. Well worth having a look at, in my opinion.
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#2 Joe Taylor

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 09:57 PM

The rowing segment in England is a remarkable set piece that stopped the show-- in a good way. When I first saw it on the big screen, I though for sure that some of the shots, particularly the first, were achieved with miniatures. Because of the selective focus achieved in post, some of the shots look very much like the highly detailed dioramas seen on the covers of miniature railroading magazines.

Here is a link to that sequence posted on a52 visual effects website http://bit.ly/bNb0Xe
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#3 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 09:11 AM

I also think this is an amazing film in every aspect, from a technical level, to acting, script and directing.

Jeff Cronenweth's lighting is wonderful because it feels as natural as Harris Savides' work on "Zodiac", but he has added a more commercial look that makes everyone on screen look good without looking too "lit" or playing against the realistic approach of the director. Plus I've enjoyed a lot the quality of the 2K digital projection and having used the RED ONE with its original sensor, I can tell the new "Mysterium-X" version has played wonders in terms of low-noise in low-light situation.
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#4 georg lamshöft

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 03:30 AM

Mr. Fincher always puts a lot of effort into details - he is a visual artisan. But to be honest - technically - "Zodiac" and "Benjamin Button" weren't up to the standard of his previous films and "the Social Network" wasn't either. And despite the vastly different visual themes they all shared certain aspects of digital aquisition - he doesn't want digital look, he wants digital.
Sharp but not really detailed (tpyical for digital-sharpened images with high MTF at low frequencies but low MTF at high frequencies), desperate to hide limited DR (since when do you light for the camera and not for the scene?), bad tonal transition with weird skin-tones at times.
I saw it with 2k projection and the trailers from some 35mm-shot-movies looked more brilliant and detailed. Then I saw "Inception" on 70mm IMAX and I was spoiled... More detailed, barely any grain and rich-looking - all that on a 4 times larger screen!
Mr. Fincher seriously limits the quality of his work by his technical choices, I'm absolutely sure that even Super35 with a state-of-the-art 4k DI could have looked MUCH better. I will watch his future work on TV - that's enough (or maybe digital camera technology will catch up - because he obviously doesn't care).
I don't care if Mr. Soderbergh or von Trier choose the "digital revolution" because I don't care much for their (visual) work anyway - but Mr. Fincher? That hurts.
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#5 Matti Poutanen

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 07:34 AM

Mr. Fincher always puts a lot of effort into details - he is a visual artisan. But to be honest - technically - "Zodiac" and "Benjamin Button" weren't up to the standard of his previous films and "the Social Network" wasn't either. And despite the vastly different visual themes they all shared certain aspects of digital aquisition - he doesn't want digital look, he wants digital.
Sharp but not really detailed (tpyical for digital-sharpened images with high MTF at low frequencies but low MTF at high frequencies), desperate to hide limited DR (since when do you light for the camera and not for the scene?), bad tonal transition with weird skin-tones at times.
I saw it with 2k projection and the trailers from some 35mm-shot-movies looked more brilliant and detailed. Then I saw "Inception" on 70mm IMAX and I was spoiled... More detailed, barely any grain and rich-looking - all that on a 4 times larger screen!
Mr. Fincher seriously limits the quality of his work by his technical choices, I'm absolutely sure that even Super35 with a state-of-the-art 4k DI could have looked MUCH better. I will watch his future work on TV - that's enough (or maybe digital camera technology will catch up - because he obviously doesn't care).
I don't care if Mr. Soderbergh or von Trier choose the "digital revolution" because I don't care much for their (visual) work anyway - but Mr. Fincher? That hurts.


To say that Fincher "doesn´t care" about the image and to say that he is "a visual artisan" in a same post is kind of contradictory. I think that his caring lies somewhere else than "MTF at low frequencies but low MTF at high frequencies", which is pretty much insignificant when you start to weight different aspects of image acquisition choices (like the actual workflow on set and post, not just analyzing still frames with a microscope). The Social Network has around 1000 effects shots (http://digitalfilms....social-network/), and using digital capture makes a lot of sense then. I also have to say that I think that the visual effects work were absolutely perfect: for example not a second I noticed that the twins were played by one actor and they just inserted the his face to a body double. Also the low light levels Fincher seems to favor nowdays are not possible with 35mm (with such low noise/grain levels as seen on TSN).

Reduser.net has pretty decent thread about TSN, http://reduser.net/f...ad.php?t=36564. Especially posts by Michael Cioni from Light Iron Digital, who did effects work for the movie. Like the fact people seem to forget when using RED 4K for some 30 second Youtube clips or something, that TSN was finished in 2K because it just costs so much more and the bandwith and storage requirements with a film of that scale were just not feasible in 4K.

I saw a film print of the movie so I don´t know how it looks in digital projection, but I did not see the weird skin tones: I just saw choices made by the DP, director and the colourist, not shortcomings of the camera used. And I also liked the choices they did, as I think it looked beautiful and very appropriate for the subject matter. The cinematography was like Zuckerberg´s character in the movie: restrained, some kind of distant, observing, sharp and in a way almost clinical.
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#6 Matti Poutanen

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 09:22 AM

Except the incredibly hokey cgi breath when Zuckerberg and Savering are having a chat outside from the theme part, it was painfully obvious cgi.
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#7 georg lamshöft

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 04:10 AM

To say that Fincher "doesn´t care" about the image and to say that he is "a visual artisan" in a same post is kind of contradictory


I meant that he cares a lot about visuals (the artistic side) but doesn't care about the technical quality (resolution, DR, tonal transitions/reproduction) - I'm sorry if that wasn't clear.

has around 1000 effects shots...and using digital capture makes a lot of sense then


If it would have been a low-budget piece without the money to pay for a DI, it would make sense. But these movies are made with DIs anyway - the aquisition medium doesn't matter much - it's digital in the process anyway. I didn't notice much CGI but I didn't looked fo it, either.

I saw a film print of the movie so I don´t know how it looks in digital projection, but I did not see the weird skin tones


As I said, it was a very well shot movie (in an artistic way) and Mr. Fincher and his DoP clearly have the skill to light a movie well, propably better than many people using film. But whenever the scene got more demanding/complex, the technical quality was lacking, IMHO.
"Color reproduction" is an often misunderstood criteria, of course you can transfer nearly any tone/color into another with digital tools, so you can create "normal" skin tones with any aquisition medium when you put enough work into it. But how does it affect the overall tonal reproduction? "The social network" was a typical example, certain scenes looked well (just like heavily manipulated film) but others entirely fell apart (especially with natural light / high contrast).

Look at "Se7en" or "The Game" and tell me they don't look superior!? Or the NYC-credits from "Panic Room": rich, saturated, contrasty with lots of "depth" - there was not a single scene in "the social network" like that. It was mushy/low contrast by purpose or clearly lacked "depth" in high contrast scenes.

that TSN was finished in 2K

Well, we in Germany have 4k projectors but don't use them without the 3D-lenses resulting in 2k :blink: But I thought there was a 4k master (shot and projected in 4k? Anyway, even in 2k, the 35mm-films looked crispier.

Mr. Fincher shot his two previous films with a 2/3"-sensor-camera! It can barely capture 800 lines of information! Maybe it was even a good thing for "Benjamin Button", making the CGI less artificial looking...
He didn't care, he HATES film, He WANTS digital - at any cost.

Anyway, the movie itself was made very well. Nothing clearly stood out, but it was certainly better than his previous films. Mush less about "facebook" but an overall timeless statement about business, people and friendship.
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#8 Keith Mottram

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 12:00 PM

If it would have been a low-budget piece without the money to pay for a DI, it would make sense. But these movies are made with DIs anyway - the aquisition medium doesn't matter much - it's digital in the process anyway. I didn't notice much CGI but I didn't looked fo it, either.

Fincher shot his two previous films with a 2/3"-sensor-camera! It can barely capture 800 lines of information! Maybe it was even a good thing for "Benjamin Button", making the CGI less artificial looking...



From these two points you clearly have no idea about either Digital image capture or Digital post production... actually at a guess I'd say you do not know much about modern filmmaking full stop.

Cant anyone here accept the fact that some people prefer to shoot and post digitally, that it is an artistic choice and that Fincher is a highly experienced filmmaker and not some muppet who is doing what is cheapest/ newest/ or is some kind of digital fanboy....
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#9 Stephen Williams

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 12:38 PM

Mr. Fincher shot his two previous films with a 2/3"-sensor-camera! It can barely capture 800 lines of information! Maybe it was even a good thing for "Benjamin Button", making the CGI less artificial looking...
He didn't care, he HATES film, He WANTS digital - at any cost.


The Viper captures 3 x 9,200,000 pixels or 27,600,000 it's then down sampled. Ben Button looked pretty good to me.
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#10 Tim Partridge

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 03:01 PM

Mr. Fincher shot his two previous films with a 2/3"-sensor-camera! It can barely capture 800 lines of information! Maybe it was even a good thing for "Benjamin Button", making the CGI less artificial looking...
He didn't care, he HATES film, He WANTS digital - at any cost.



I think you should watch the interviews with Fincher about the film and his directorial approach, particularly when dealing with high take ratios and performances. This is just my opinion, but I am guessing that approach would be cost prohibitive with film, unless you have a Kubrick sized budget and schedule.
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#11 georg lamshöft

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 05:00 AM

Fincher cannot afford Film... Come on :lol:

Benjamin Button was propably as expensive as all of Kubricks films together... In the interviews I've read he complaint about handling or noise issues of the Viper, he had to order custom-made lightweight RED cameras for the boat-scenes... In my eyes it's quite the opposite, he goes through quite some trouble to shot digital and end up with this technical quality!?

Even HD-dailies from new video assists are not an issue with current 35mm-systems - another reason for him to shot digital I've read about.

I seriously think he shots the same reason Mr. Lucas uses digital: because film is outdated...

"Benjamin Button" was wonderfully shot and the horrible 35mm-print (5th or 6th generation?) didn't show any lack of detail from the camera - it was soft anyway.
The Viper uses lot's of photosites (I think it's not oversampling but a "coupling" of photosites?) to create a high-quality 1080p-signal, propably better than all the other 2/3"-cameras are capable of, but since alaising (AA-filter with 0 contrast at 1080 lines) has to be avoided much more than 800 lines of resolution with high MTF are not possible.
It doesn't look shockingly bad because we are used to bad 2k-telecine-DIs from 35mm and bad 35mm projection - but it has nothing to do with what's possible with 35mm itself, that would have been perfectly appropriate and affordable by any Fincher-project.

I'm sorry, I don't buy it - it was a huge disappointment, technically. Not as bad as "the Informant!" but it could have been so much more, IMHO!
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#12 Tim Partridge

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 06:26 AM

Fincher cannot afford Film... Come on :lol:



Check out Part 3 of Fincher's Director's Dialogue on the film. Multiple takes and the opening scene. In my opinion, I think it's probably easier to take that approach more often if shooting in HD, and I think, given his own directorial explanations, Fincher would prefer to "compromise" technical image quality by shooting HD (if he even sees it as a concern) if it means he can maximise the performances. Incidentally, I think the paying audience is more appreciative of performances and story than they ever could be about technical image quality.

I cannot comment on Button, as I have not yet seen it.
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