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Filtering techniques for cinematic / film look at digital cameras


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#1 Maximilian Hillmer

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 03:02 PM

In most digital camera systems the visual look is very adapted to the film material - eg with the ARRI Alexa.
However, the Alexa has nevertheless a digital look under certain lighting situations and also because of the ingenious algorithm can not do anything.
 
For my next feature film project I really want to avoid this because it absolutely does not fit into the camera concept.
Moreover, it would crash the visual perception of the antagonist.
For cost reasons, i can not afford to work with 16mm / 35mm film or use Cooke S4i / S3i.
 
 
And I've tried several things:
 
- Fine stockings over the lenses (ARRI / Zeiss Ultra Primes)
 
- Glass filter (smooth soft, etc.)
 
- ProRes 4444, ARRIRAW
 
- Log C (film matrix off) / log C (film matrix on) / REC 709
 
 
Perhaps you have already different experiences with the phenomenon of digital look and can give me some tips or a preferred way?
 
 
Film_Versus_Digital.jpg

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#2 Maximilian Hillmer

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 02:58 PM

I've just found a pretty good solution which fits perfect for my upcoming project.

 

http://www.maximilianhillmer.com


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#3 Randy J Tomlinson

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 10:29 AM

check your inbox. i sent you a PM


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#4 Philip Kral

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 09:08 PM

I hate to sound like a hard headed film guy, but are you sure you cannot afford film prices? The discussion comes up time to time about how expensive it really is (There was just one 2 days ago somewhere else on this forum). If your renting everything, sometimes Arri ALexa rentals cost the same in film stock.

 

Then again, if you have a killer deal (or know someone to borrow the Alexa from), and you do 20 takes a scene and your shooting in a weekend, maybe your right.

 

It all depends on your situation, I apologize in advance if you already calculated the cost a hundred times and can't make it work. I'm just speaking from the experience that many people are surprised to learn that the costs equal out sometimes (or are even cheaper). Just food for thought.


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#5 Christopher M Schmidt

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 10:45 PM

what was your solution? 


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#6 Maximilian Hillmer

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 03:04 AM

Thanks Philip. I know that the costs for film and digital equals out in some productions, but in my case that was a short.
It was much more expensive than the Alexa, which i also got cheaper than the list price.
Of course film would have been my wish, but it just was not possible.
I have for my next independent project some production companies so that I can turn on S16mm maybe 35mm.
But this project was not possible.

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#7 Maximilian Hillmer

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 03:26 AM

I want to make it clear that I did not want to imitate film but simply reduce the digital look / sharpness.

Which in my eyes don't look so organic and lively and that was a point in the project.

I  shot with Cooke S2, which i got really cheap to the alexa and i flatten the gamma curve a bit regarding to the standard settings.

Exposed 1 stop over and prefered a bit of low key. 


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#8 Randy J Tomlinson

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 12:05 PM

i'm confused. in your first posting you are talking about a feature film and now you say it was a short?

i concluded: because it is a feature, it made e you believe that "film" would be expensive (filmstock / developing / telecine) etc. and you tought that post would be cheaper if you have it digital. is that correct? but obviously you knew exactly that you DON'T want that digital look.

another thing which confuses me: why did you rent an alexa with cooke lense for a short? was it for prestige reasons? by no means i want to offend you, i want to find out why a student with a small budget goes to spend so much money on a project rather than using simple equipment to do a first project and learn from there? (babysteps)

 

however, maybe we can see the result. it maybe helps to understand. would be awesome to see what you've created :) ;)

 

cheers

randy


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#9 Maximilian Hillmer

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 04:12 PM

it was reduced to 30min because of sponsoring probs. but it was also a wish to realize the project

i couldn't foresee the ratio because it was a very precarious topic; at best, it would be a 5:1

but it could also be 20:1 ... So the decision for digital.

I got the Alexa from a friend for a few bucks and the Cookes very cheap... 

And what s in your eyes simple equipment? I also had my super 8 phase already

I will post a link when its finished ...


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#10 Alain Lumina

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 12:28 PM

I hate to sound like a hard headed film guy, but are you sure you cannot afford film prices?

 

Yes, I was looking at the digital formats you mentioned (4:4:4 etc) and on my own projects when I've added up

 

--the number of hard drives needed to store and to back up all the raw data and edits

-- The more expensive camera rentals

--The fact that processed film is its own 50-75 year backup so you don't need to keep refreshing hard drives with new ones

-- The fact that every few years you'll have to replace the hard drives the film is stored on for at least the next 5-10 years before

they find SSDs that don't deteriorate

 

..unless you have time to do high ratios ( which means more camera rentals?) film isn't much if any more expensive. 

 

Most of the Cinematographers I've read interviews with ( except Deakins who says he hates grain now) seem to say they like digital

as a defense for their jobs, they think that if they say they prefer film they'll be seen as uncooperative and backwards, and, the ultimate sin in Hollywood: Old. 

 

I remember one cinematographer who let it slip when they asked him about it that film as "far superior" then caught himself and backpedaled, it was pretty obvious he didn't want to get left behind when producers are making the decisions. 

 

Another thing with film is I've gotten far, far more experienced people willing to work for a given rate of pay when I'm working with film . There's a lot of very talented people -- usually older-- who see film as superior. 

 

The "upstart" is glamorized in America, but the reality is the average person with experience is better than the average person who view him/herself as an "upstart". Most upstarts just don't really know what they're doing. 


Edited by Alain Lumina, 13 October 2013 - 12:31 PM.

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