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Film look with digital?


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#1 Jordan Newell White

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:20 PM

If you shoot with digital cameras such as the Arri Alexa or the Red Epic (including the 6K Dragon), then how do you obtain that film look that you would get with 8, 16, and 35mm film, from Kodak? People out there sort of complain that digital "looks too clean and is not painting with light and shadow" or "is not art". Most movies and TV shows that don't choose film as their capture option choose Alexa, while Red gets shoved aside (ouch). If you look at the footage, it wouldn't really look like film or something, and in post production they give it that film look by doing color grading and adding film grain. What if that method still doesn't give you a film look? How can I have the film look if I shoot with an Arri Alexa and attempt to save thousands or millions of dollars on post production by creating the film look on set? I've seen Arri Alexa footage projected at my local NCG theater, as a movie, in 2K, and from what I can tell, by all means, the footage looks nothing like what you would get out of a phone or pocket camera, is that true? Well, I often want to shoot for a nostalgic look if I attempt to make a Christmas film in New England. Gremlins was given a nostalgic Christmas look because of the Christmas setting, why can't a Christmas film that is shoot with an Arri Alexa be given a nostalgic Christmas film look, or even a film look in general if the resolution is in pixels and not printed dots like on film or something? And people will still argue that film "is painting with light, Digital is not".


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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 11:25 PM

The easiest, and cheapest, solution would probably be to shoot on film; which often times is cheaper than digital.

But, let's say you're going the digital route-- well one of the biggest differences is in the resolution/sharpness. I like to say sharpness because I feel film has plenty of resolution left (though it's mitigated by the grain) so to take the sharpness off, you start reaching for diffusion filters. There's a good number of them and they help take the edge off-- much like lens adapters used to when you were going for the "film look," so long ago on the HVX ect.

The next problem is in how digital tends to handle highlights-- that is it tends to clip rather quickly instead of giving you the roll off you'd get with film-- so now you have to control your highlights which often means pumping in more light to the set to keep the contrast range restricted so that later on in grading you can roll off the top end.

Then you get into the nature/types of compression ect ect.

 

However, the big thing here is that there really is no "film look." Films look very different from one another which is a function of very many variables, tastes, and choices. A simple example is Munich and War of the Worlds (2005) both look very different though they both use many of the same film stocks, by the same director and DoP in the same year (though lenses were not the same, Cookes -v- Primos). Catch me if you Can and Minority Report would also be an interesting comparison (just had IMDB up for films from the same year ect.)

 

And finally, in the hands of talented individuals, you certainly could do a _____ feeling film on _____ format, it just becomes a question of how easily/economically/quickly you can get to the final "look." Hell you could even do a color film on black and white film stock if you took the time to later digitally color it all-- no one does it since it'd be a lot simpler just to shoot color film (and much cheaper!)-- though memory recalls there were some crazy times when we colorized black and white stuff.


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#3 Richard Boddington

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 12:14 AM

Never been a better time to shoot film.  Rentals on the gear are at rock bottom prices, and film stock is going super cheap!

 

R,


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#4 Freya Black

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 04:15 AM

Never been a better time to shoot film.  Rentals on the gear are at rock bottom prices, and film stock is going super cheap!

 

R,

 

Will you be shooting your next movie on film Richard?

 

Freya


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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 04:24 AM

 

However, the big thing here is that there really is no "film look." Films look very different from one another which is a function of very many variables, tastes, and choices. A simple example is Munich and War of the Worlds (2005) both look very different though they both use many of the same film stocks, by the same director and DoP in the same year (though lenses were not the same, Cookes -v- Primos). Catch me if you Can and Minority Report would also be an interesting comparison (just had IMDB up for films from the same year ect.)

 

 

While that's all true I think people notice that movies shot on film have their own look which movies shot on digital, even on the Alexa, just do not have. People have never been able to quantify exactly what it is, partly because there is a lot of factors but also I personally believe there is an unquantifiable factor. 

 

Having said that, film and video are starting to converge with movies shot on film looking more video like now they have been through a DI and are digitally projected, and video becoming a bit more film like via cameras like the Alexa.

 

It's still the case that people can see movies shot on film and can tell that they look different to movies shot on video however, (as a generalisation).

 

Freya


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#6 Tom Chabbat

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 11:01 AM

Each medium has something different to offer. What is great with film is that, if you don't use any Digital Intermediate and if the photography is well done, you don't need to grade it, the picture is beautiful as it is. In digital capture, the video files coming straight out of your camera are not really pleasant to the eye, so you must work some time in post production to grade it. You can put it this way : if you have more time than money, then you can go digital. If you have money and want to go fast, film is a great way to go.

I think trying to have a "film look" in digital is pointless, since the big advantage of digital grading is that you can take some time to explore and experiment whole new looks. Keep in mind that digital is only bits of information you need to tweak to obtain what you desire. And those bits are themselves the result of another tweak from multiple analog electric signals. Film is just an chemical analog response to light you can exploit as it is.


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#7 Jason Outenreath

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 04:17 PM

Two words: DaVinci Resolve.

 

You can do amazing things in post with digital now. I'm all for doing as much as possible in camera. But the game has changed in a lot of ways. Now there are instances where doing things to the eye/monitor can create a lot of limitations in post. The cinematographer's job has become much more involved in post now. It goes way beyond color timing. There's this huge resistance on the part of a lot of cinematographer's to embrace some of these post-tools available. It shouldn't be emasculating though, it's just one more tool in the tool-belt.


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#8 Freya Black

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 04:30 PM

Er Resolve isn't exactly new. People have been using it for a looooooong time to grade film.

Some of the newer options are definitely very cool tho.

 

Freya


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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 04:37 PM

I have been producing video that (uninformed) people have occasionally told me looks like film by using the "curves" filter in Premiere. Since the late 90s. 

 

None of this is actually new. It has been possible to grade and finish HD material on desktop computers since 1998 at the latest; the only thing was, nobody was actually doing it.

 

P


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#10 Richard Boddington

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 04:53 PM

 

Will you be shooting your next movie on film Richard?

 

Freya

 

Quite possibly, yes.

 

R,


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#11 Jason Outenreath

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 04:53 PM

None of it is brand new out of the box. But for the first time, these high end post services are affordable for the common man. That, coupled with the continuously higher bar with digital technology has made for new tools in the cinematographer's tool box.


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#12 Jason Outenreath

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 04:56 PM

How many people were using DaVinci when it first came out in 1984? A tiny fraction of the people who now use it either through personal puchases, or the blackmagic cinema camera (which includes the full version).


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