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Difference in digi cinematography v.s film


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#1 Jonathan Bel

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 01:49 PM

Hey fellas,

Just curious to know what things relate to lighting in digital cinematography as opposed to film. I'm film trained so I know what to expect with 35mm. There is obviously no color balancing or anything like that in the digi realm? So is it just a matter of lighting intensity a DP is focused on? Like lighting continuity and f-stop measurements? I'll be helping a DP this weekend with a HD camera, just want to know what to expect.

A side to side comparison would help

Thanks
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#2 Ari Schaeffer

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 01:54 PM

Dynamic range is a big one. As sensors get larger this seems to become less of a problem. I personally find that if I'm going to blow something out I'd rather be using film. The loss of detail is more organic and gradual vs digital clipping. It's a very minor thing in the grand scheme I guess.

The easiest way I can explain dynamic range and latitude is to think of it as the way to gauge what you can get away with. It's the range of exposure you have before your negative falls apart...by looking at the dynamic range of a film stock you would know that you could go 2 or 3 stops under exposed but still maintain detail, or 4 or 5 stops over exposed and still maintain detail...film stock has a lot of stops of latitude vs digital formats, though like I said the gap is shrinking by the day. The reason you'd want more range is it gives you more room to "work"...for a long time shooting digital seemed like shooting reversal film to me..very little leeway on exposure...

anyway, if you have any interest in cinematography at all, read up on dynamic range, sensitometry, and latitude...it's the basis of cinematography

there are a few other factors in film vs digital..

high speed photography and film being progressive (no blend frames)

critical focus and optical viewfinders vs lcds

i learned how to expose on film, and I'm not even that old, though my class was the first not required to cut on a steinbeck....i prefer film, but as a realist I know we'll get to the point where film shows are in the minority (you'd be surprised at how much is still shot on 35..hell, some current shows are done on 16mm)

there's something..unique.. about film itself. you could say it's the chemical reaction of the halide, and maybe the parallels to the similar reactions in the human eye with photorecptor cells to light...but it's just.....unexplainable..a different aesthetic. it's energy vs pixels...

i would shoot everything on film if i could....but i'm just a romantic like that

as a sidenote: you should place some kind of importance on getting good lenses! it doesn't matter what you're recording onto if your lenses are horrible pieces of junk

Edited by Ari Schaeffer, 10 January 2011 - 01:57 PM.

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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 02:06 PM

Lighting continuity and F stop and all the other mechanical things that go into the image are all the same for digital and film. The differences being Digital is often times more "conservatively" lit as mentioned as it doesn't necessarily have the same range as film (though which digital system you're on will effect this) and with digital, and a set up monitor, everyone on set can see how it's going to look. If you're helping out a DP then just keep your head about you, pay attention, anticipate what s/he might as for next, and always be ready to do what you're told without question (unless there is a safety concern).
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#4 Jonathan Bel

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 07:38 PM

Thanks fellas,
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 08:23 PM

On a fundamental level, lighting is lighting -- you want something to look like a Rembrandt or Caravaggio, you have a nice warm, soft side key, you know what I mean? You don't rethink that for digital, the concepts are all the same.

There are some mechanical differences, most digital cameras allow you to switch color temp balance, or white balance, allow you to use a 270 or 360 degree shutter, allow you to alter gamma, black level, etc. in-camera if you want. And there is the whole "light using a meter vs. using a monitor" issue.

And of course there is the dynamic range issue, more of a factor if shooting on a Rec.709 camera. That only affects lighting choices when the look is based around overexposure.

But overall, lighting is still lighting.
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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 09:05 PM

The other big difference is "Oops" vs. "Aw, S--t!"

With digital, you see what you're getting instantly on the monitor -- of course you must have a good monitor. If something's wrong, you say "oops" and fix it. With film, you don't get the bad news until tomorrow, after you've spent all the money.

That makes digital a whole lot easier, and an ideal learning environment from which to move up to film. Since you already know film, relax. This should be a piece of cake.




-- J.S.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 09:29 PM

The other big difference is "Oops" vs. "Aw, S--t!"

With digital, you see what you're getting instantly on the monitor -- of course you must have a good monitor. If something's wrong, you say "oops" and fix it. With film, you don't get the bad news until tomorrow, after you've spent all the money.


The downside though is that if you shoot a 20:1 ratio, not uncommon in digital, that means only 1/20th of what you shoot ends up in the final cut, so one problem with digital is that some people fixate on problems they see on a big HD monitor and waste time trying to fix everything rather than calculate what will appear in the final cut and what is likely to be cut.
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#8 timHealy

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 09:13 AM

There is obviously no color balancing or anything like that in the digi realm?



There will always be color correction regardless of the origination format
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 11:50 AM

There will always be color correction regardless of the origination format


I think he meant color temp issues, which still exist. And color-correction still exists.

The main difference is that film comes balanced for 3200K or 5600K, whereas a sensor has a native preference for something close to daylight, but depending on how they've done the circuitry, either it can easily be switched from 5600K to 3200K by playing with the RGB levels, or the camera has been balanced for 3200K (like with Sony 3-CCD camcorders) and generally filters are used to correct for 5600K situations, or the camera records a RAW output where the balance has been left at its native preference (near daylight) and color-balancing is done in post.
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#10 Scott Mohrman

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 08:40 AM

If you haven't watch if by now, check out Zacuto's The Great Camera Shootout 2010. They test for every mentioned above. Dynamic Range, Resolution, Low Light, Color, and Green Screen Keying.

There are benefits to both film and digital. Its not just about cost. There is an artistic choice to be made whether to shoot digital or film. Just because you can see your final image(in a calibrated monitor) with digital, doesn't mean you have to stop using light meters.
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