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The purpose of "better"


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#1 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 01:35 PM

I just left an extremely interesting seminar moderated by Curtis Clark, ASC, in which there was extensive discussion of high (or extended) dynamic range techniques. And then I went to Quantel's press conference, where there was much talk of ever higher resolutions and frame rates.

 

All of these things are, of course, nice. 6 and 8K pictures have lots of spare resolution. 16-stop images have lots of spare dynamic range. Nobody's complaining. But to me there's a question to be asked about why we want these things. I don't mean to presuppose any particular conclusion here - this is a genuine question - but are we chasing bigger numbers because we want the audience to see them, or are we chasing bigger numbers because it'll make it easier to achieve excellent results in terms of the output we already produce?

 

Do we want 4K (and 6 and 8) because we want the audience to see 4K images? There's no reason to assume they particularly need to, or are willing to pay for it. For decades, they've been watching decidedly sub-4K 35mm projection. I suspect most people, even most professionals, won't be able to tell the difference, especially given average projection quality outside the major cities. Or do we want 4K so we can stabilize and crop and reframe without loss of resolution, because we can apply gain in postproduction without the increase in noise becoming objectionable?

 

Likewise, do we want HDR because the audience wants to see, and is willing to pay to see, 16-stop images from 4000-nit displays, or are we doing it to ease the concerns associated with lighting - say - high-contrast mixed interior-exterior scenes?

 

Either might be fine, but even if we decide we actually do want to distribute and exhibit the higher grade stuff, is there at any point a limit to our desire? Do we want to be able to shoot a sunset and force the audience to don sunglasses? Visceral reaction might be nice to have as an option, but is the artform as it's developed right now something that is worth preserving, much as books have been preserved even now we can record the human voice saying the same words?

 

I'm not sure I actually want a cinema screen to look like a literal, stereo 3D, high dynamic range, wide gamut, high resolution window into another literal reality. People disliked Hobbit because it looked too real. Are we chasing the wrong things?

 

P


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#2 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 02:09 PM

I would suggest anyone who grew up using "Hardware" technology versus software based technology completely understands your point.

 

When I view your question in a strict media bubble, it becomes easier to answer with "why not" since there is always a new wave of spenders who want to jump in and purchase the best product possible. Probably the mindset is "if they keep making media better, what's wrong with that?"

 

However, if we view everything on an even keel, then I would ask, why the heck is anything more important than putting as much of our research resources into the creation of viable renewable energy that would reduce the world's thirst for petroleum and natural gas and probably eliminate at least some of the need for war over gas routes and petroleum drilling.

 

By attending new media hype conferences and such, are we inadvertently obfuscating attention away from the importance of renewable energy research which I think is the number one issue if the goal is to prevent a massive drop off in human sustainability at some point in the relatively near future. Or, is there no correlation?

 

Here's another example to consider. In California there is a huge central valley drought going on. Rather than spend a hundred billion dollars shoring up water conservation so that whenever it rains a portion of that water can be preserved, our politicians just approved a bullet train to go from Southern California through Central California and eventually SF area for that same 100 billion dollars.

 

What I personally don't like about all the constant media "upgrading" is that some meda stuff already made may not even work correctly, reliably, but worst of all, is obsoleted even if we are happy with it as new platforms are being created to top the one that sucked a lot of money out of the economy and never got up to speed.

 

I would suggest that media technology should be time framed. The media would have to have a viable shelf life of 5 years before a new media technology can replace it, and that support should continue for the prior media structure for another five years. This would allow anyone buying in to have a viable 10 year product run before buying into something newer and better.


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#3 aapo lettinen

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 02:10 PM

I think the main reason is to be able to fix more problems in post and therefore use less time on set fixing these things ("window gels?? just use hdrx" , "bad skin tones? just use secondary correction and some vfx", "camera shake? just stabilize in post",  "bad framing or unable to decide which framing is best for the story? just shoot a little wider and zoom + reframe in post"  :ph34r:  )

 

I think that's the whole philosophy behind Red cameras and some other raw shooting cameras: use 20% less time on set and 10x more time on edit  :lol:


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#4 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 05:42 PM

There is something to be said about movie magic which is why I'm an advocate for film acquisition. It has a quality that STILL has not been duplicated. There is more to a movie than resolution, film "sees" color differently. There is a separation from reality on screen that allows an audience to become immersed in a fantasy with an unconscious security that allows them to live in that world for an hour and a half. That's not to say bigger, badder cameras should be abandoned or have no place in an artistic endeavor just that their "look" might work well for a given film whereas lower resolution may work far better on other films. 

 

As for being able to simply zoom in on a portion of a wider image, why not just light 360 deg. and shoot a film in a panoramic view  then figure it all out in post. Who the Hell needs a director, just set up the panoramic camera change the lighting, eliminate the crew's images  and any unwanted elements, add the elements you do want and Whala! The editor and VFX people direct the film for you, Better yet, go with green screen, dress your actors and create everything else in the computer OORRR even better yet create EVERYTHING in the computer on a motion capture stage and let a intuitive computer array select all your shots, create them, render them edit them and the director could go play golf. I actually think that kind of "safety net" breeds laziness and is EXACTLY what Gordon Willis meant by "Dump truck editing". If you don't have your own vision, what's the point? "Fix it in post" should be a last resort, not a first choice.


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#5 Vadim Bobkovsky

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 04:33 PM

I think that's the whole philosophy behind Red cameras and some other raw shooting cameras: use 20% less time on set and 10x more time on edit  :lol:

 

That's pretty funny, especially knowing how guys like Scott or Fincher work. Fix all of it in post, yeah. Totally. Just because superior resolution, latitude and some other features allow certain tricks if necessary. I wonder if the joke still gonna be relevant when Arri comes out with the new 4K or 8K (IMAX) Alexas, which is obviously the camera for "real filmmakers" :D .


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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 05:06 PM

In the most general sense, I'm not sure what's wrong with deferring decisions from the cripplingly pressurised, time-limited and distracting environment of a film set to postproduction.

 

Recording the largest possible amount of information - with due deference to issues of practicality and workflow - is simply sensible. Deliberately choosing not to do that out of some ill-defined sense of craftsmanship is misguided. There's no point in pulling on hair shirts, here. There's no points for effort.

 

In a more specific sense, cameras like Red make us defer the postprocessing because it limits the amount of performance there really needs to be in the camera, or at least that was the original idea. That wasn't done because they thought it'd defer decisions, or because they thought it'd make things easier. That was done because it was a way to make the camera cheaper. But I digress.

 

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#7 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 07:19 PM

I think it's fine to pursue bigger and better but as long as it's done responsibly.  Red and Black Magic's decision to make their sensors upgradeable is following the logic of responsible design.  I wish more companies would follow suit and create a camera meant to last.  If computers and phones were also more easily upgradeable in terms of processors it would be a huge step forward. Same with consumer electronics like projectors, TV's.
 
We need to introduce more and more the idea of goods meant to last rather than stuff that's designed to be replaced with the "next best thing"  This may sound like treehugger nonsense but it's a very real problem when you think of where all of our cameras, computers and cell phones end up.
 
It's important to try to influence this sort of design whenever we can.  The obstacle is that responsible, ethical design does go completely against the fundamental driving principle of our money market economy, which is constant growth and constant turnover.  

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#8 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 03:55 AM

I find it most interesting that I can get a 4k BMC for less than an Arri SR3 and that camera is how old now? Better may depend on what you value.


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#9 Freya Black

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 02:54 AM

I think the resolution and dynamic range thing is all about trying to make video be film. At first people saw the problem as all about resolution (and shallow depth of field too). Now I think people are happy they have those things but it still doesn't really look like film, so they have moved onto dynamic range. Once they are happy they have dolloped on enough dynamic range they will move onto the next cure all magic ingredient.

 

Freya


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#10 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 03:13 AM

In the most general sense, I'm not sure what's wrong with deferring decisions from the cripplingly pressurised, time-limited and distracting environment of a film set to postproduction.

 

 

 

 

It really depends if the fixing in post is A & E (E.R. in the USA) or if it's a genuine part of the creative process. I was at an audio event about loudness metering and the dubbing mixers were saying that a lot of the their work with single shooter productions was about rescuing the sound and they were adding very little creatively to the final piece.


Edited by Brian Drysdale, 09 April 2014 - 03:14 AM.

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#11 aapo lettinen

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:06 AM

I find it most interesting that I can get a 4k BMC for less than an Arri SR3 and that camera is how old now? Better may depend on what you value.

you could also try Moviecam, not much more expensive than the 4k bmc  :lol:

http://www.visualpro...asp?ID=14&Cat=2


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