Jump to content




Photo

Panavision and the resurrecting of dinosaur technology


  • Please log in to reply
45 replies to this topic

#1 Tyler Purcell

Tyler Purcell
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2372 posts
  • Other
  • Los Angeles

Posted 07 June 2015 - 02:59 PM

panavisionlogo.JPG

 

The audience was eerily quiet as the first anamorphic 65mm footage was show in public since the format disappeared in the 60's. There was gate weave and flicker, showing how un-calibrated the Paramount theater projector was, from decades of not running this format. However, everyone was in awe of what was projected, the contrast, the color, depth of field, lens coatings and flairs, it was like watching an old film shot with modern stocks. The story behind this format being resurrected and how it may usher in a new era of large-format acquisition and distribution is very interesting.

 

Robert Richardson wanted to do something different for Quentin's new film. It appeared he was tired of the same old look. Whilst at Panavision he brought up this subject and was shown some older lenses for a more unique look. Unfortunately, every single lens that was brought out, still looked too damn good, too "modern" for Robert. As a last ditch effort to supply Robert with something unique, out came the old Camera 65 lenses from the way back of storage. Some may recall this format coming from cinerama when they switched from 3 strip 35mm to single 65mm acquisition. They developed a lens system which would allow them to retain the same ultra wide aspect ratio (2.76:1 with 1.25 squeeze) of their screens and use a single negative. Although the cinema version was short lived, it spawned two future systems; MGM 65 and Ultra Panavision.

Of course, Richardson fell in love with these lenses, mostly with the softness of the image which had a lot to do with the coatings. Our modern cameras and stocks are so good, it's nearly impossible to have good resolution without showing too many imperfections in the actors, sets or backdrops. In some cases, even out of focus areas are overly sharp with modern lenses, making it look unrealistic. These lenses allow the resolution to show through, but deliver a softer image throughout with out resorting to filtration. Plus, they have a much more artistic look in the out of focus areas. Of course, the other thing which was super important was anamorphic lens flairs. 

 

lensflair.JPG

The lenses had sat since the 60's and were completely frozen. Plus, the lenses were designed to be used with 65mm cameras, of which Panavision has very few of. The dynamics of the situation were about to be taxed further when Panavision explained there were zero projection lenses available to unsqueeze in the theaters. However, Richardson wanted to do a test with these lenses and show it to Quentin. So Panavision went ahead and took a few select lenses and started to experiment.

The first big hurtle was freezing the lenses. This was huge because back when they built them, they were using brass and aluminum with lithium grease. So the grease has turned into concrete and corroded the brass. This meant, the lenses had to be stripped down, but the only way of taking them apart is to get them to twist! So they tried everything and the only thing that worked was heat, lots and lots of heat. Eventually they freed the lenses up and could dismantle them. The second hurtle was the fact the elements had dots on them, typical stuff you see with glass that's been sitting for a long time. So the elements themselves needed to be re-worked with new coatings, comparable to the original. Finally, the original camera's weren't reflex, so the glass could protrude further into the camera. This proved to be a huge problem with modern reflex cameras, the glass actually touched the mirror! This forced Panavision to alter the final element and move it away from the mirror.

With lenses in hand, Richardson and a small team went out and shot some test footage in similar locations to where the film was going to be shot. The day of screening the footage was nerve racking for Panavision. They still didn't have a solution for projecting and they only had a few lenses. Of course, when Quentin saw the material, he was overwhelmed and the decision was made right then and there, to shoot his next film; The Hateful Eight, on Ultra Panavision 65.

 

locationproduction.jpg

Panavision spent the next few weeks rebuilding a total of 19 lenses, some of them with the older prism anamorphic element. They made special filters to go along with the lenses, matte boxes to hold those filters, they made a special 2000ft magazine for the sound camera since Quentin wanted long takes and even convinced Kodak to make those longer rolls of film. The final step in the whole process was to figure out the projection aspect. The workflow for spherical 65mm projection is straight forward and has been done on many films over the last few years; The Master, Interstellar and even Inherent Vice, all projected on 65mm Spherical. So projectionists have some experience with this format, but very few people have experience with anamorphic 65mm. The call went out and an expert was hired to come in and not only develop new projection lenses but also service the 50 theaters in the US who signed up for the 70mm release of The Hateful Eight. The projectors will calibrated to eliminate flicker, gate weave and reduce registration issues. Schneider got the contract to make the lenses and it appeared Quentin paid for them out of either the budget for the film or his own pocket.

Outside of a few production hiccups with principal photography related to the freezing cold, the 65mm cameras performed flawlessly in negative degree weather for the entire shoot. Sure, lens fogging was always a concern and needed to be looked after, but according to on-set reports, the camera bodies were perfect. Here in Los Angeles, the production was on freezing sound stages to mimmic the location shooting so everyone had actual condensation coming from their breath. Yet, those old film cameras, originally made for Far and Away in the early 90's, worked flawlessly.

What Robert Richardson and Quentin Tarantino have done is successful resurrect a film format which had long been since forgotten. In doing so, they've paved the way for future filmmakers to use this format since the workflow from production through distribution will be well established. There are already two major hollywood movies signed up for this new format, rumors are one will be PT Anderson's new film. At the same time, Panavision has been flooded with requests for budgets and timeframes/schedules. There has been financial battles as well, studio's battling with money to just get ONE of the 2 sound cameras before someone else get's them. This demand has made Panavsion contemplate building an all new silent 65mm cameras and they may do so if these films wind up being good money for them. They're also adapting the new Arri Alexa 65 to work with the new anamorphic glass, but there aren't any projection lenses being developed for digital projection. So there will be another huge investment to make that a reality. Rumors are that 35mm and digital releases of The Hateful Eight will be standard 2.35 anamorphic with black bars at the top and bottom.

After seeing the test footage, there was a rousing applause. It's apparent, everyone in the audience was stunned by what we had just seen. However, it wasn't over yet. The next thing we saw was a DCP version of the material and it really shows how far away digital projection is to film. The blacks were mushy and undefined, the highlights were clearly peaking and the whole image looked flat. All of that beautiful depth seen in the film projection was lost. It was a sad realization this format developed in the 50's, is still better then all the money we've thrown at conventional digital projection. Sure, laser projection is one step further, but at a huge cost and still lower resolution then 65mm prints struck off the original negative. Quentin's goal is to produce all 50 prints off the negative and deliver an amazing cinematic experience and bring people back to the theater.


Edited by Tyler Purcell, 08 June 2015 - 01:02 PM.

  • 4




#2 Bill DiPietra

Bill DiPietra
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2268 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • New York City

Posted 07 June 2015 - 03:29 PM

Very interesting, indeed...


  • 0

#3 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3081 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 07 June 2015 - 03:37 PM

Thanks for the write up, Tyler. I was at that presentation, the Ultra Panavision footage and projection was indeed impressive. Really interesting to hear Dan Sasaki talk glass and what I think he called the 'beauty abberration' that he built into the lenses. I believe he was referring to controlled field curvature.

It was funny to hear how he ended up selling Richardson on the old 60's prism lenses against his better judgement, not yet knowing whether he had enough working lenses to begin with or how much work was going to be involved to make the lenses production worthy. He then had to break the news to his boss and make sure it all worked out. I can relate. The dangers of nerding out at work...
  • 3

#4 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5195 posts
  • Director

Posted 07 June 2015 - 03:42 PM

Wow this movie will look awesome on everyone's iPad.

 

R,


  • 0

#5 James Compton

James Compton
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 291 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 07 June 2015 - 03:42 PM

 Great post. Just made my day. Thanks, Tyler.


  • 0

#6 Mark Dunn

Mark Dunn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2182 posts
  • Other
  • London

Posted 07 June 2015 - 05:23 PM

Wow this movie will look awesome on everyone's iPad.

 

R,

Saucy.

Have I really got to come to the US to see this in 70?


  • 0

#7 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5195 posts
  • Director

Posted 07 June 2015 - 06:40 PM

Saucy.

Have I really got to come to the US to see this in 70?

 

I'm just as sad as you at the truthfulness of this statement.

 

R,


  • 0

#8 Robin R Probyn

Robin R Probyn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1046 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tokyo

Posted 07 June 2015 - 07:32 PM

No No No.. are you kidding.. something like this must be seen on aMac Book..retina ..


  • 0

#9 Jeremy Cavanagh

Jeremy Cavanagh
  • Sustaining Members
  • 122 posts
  • Other

Posted 08 June 2015 - 09:28 AM

No No No.. are you kidding.. something like this must be seen on aMac Book..retina ..

You jest!

 

Shurely an Iphone, while sitting next to me on the train in London........


  • 0

#10 Kenny N Suleimanagich

Kenny N Suleimanagich
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 845 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • New York

Posted 08 June 2015 - 11:41 AM

Saucy.

Have I really got to come to the US to see this in 70?

 

 

I don't see why they couldn't ship a print and projection lens to Europe? I wonder which festival this will premiere at. Tarantino often premieres his films at Cannes. I wonder if that festival print/lens, if Ultra Panavision, would just be the European roadshow print. 


  • 0

#11 Mark Dunn

Mark Dunn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2182 posts
  • Other
  • London

Posted 08 June 2015 - 11:43 AM

Here's hoping, shame it's a western.

I haven't seen 70mm. since 2001. On 1/1/2001.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 08 June 2015 - 11:43 AM.

  • 0

#12 Tyler Purcell

Tyler Purcell
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2372 posts
  • Other
  • Los Angeles

Posted 08 June 2015 - 12:14 PM

Maybe the 50 screens includes Europe? 


  • 0

#13 Kenny N Suleimanagich

Kenny N Suleimanagich
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 845 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • New York

Posted 08 June 2015 - 12:59 PM

I know for certain that some European cities had 70mm release showings of "The Master" so the equipment is there. 


  • 0

#14 Damon Mosier

Damon Mosier

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 1 posts

Posted 08 June 2015 - 04:54 PM

To be fair, when they showed the digital projection (for the sole purpose of the ability to pause the footage), they turned off the house lights but inexplicably left the stage lights on! So the stage lights were absolutely contaminating the blacks of the image and making them look way more milky than they would have otherwise. That being said, I would still much prefer seeing it projected from film! I just wanted the discussion to be accurate haha
  • 0

#15 Valter Jaakkola

Valter Jaakkola
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Finland

Posted 08 June 2015 - 07:49 PM

I'm not sure if I'm a fan of Tarantino's movies but I guess I have to go to see this... Shame though all the theaters showing this are presumably only 2K in my country.

 

The two posted images really have sort of an "old" look to them, especially the colours (and maybe the vignettes a little bit too). Wonder if it's about the lens coatings. The flares are rather beatiful as well.

 

I wonder what is it that makes that kind of soft but detailed (good resolution) look. Of course film helps in the first place with its natural depiction of detail but maybe the lenses are a bit lower on micro contrast as well (or not on a high level at least). (On a side note I would guess the medium contrast, 20 cycles/mm perhaps (halfly guess), might be responsible for clarity in an image. However lower contrast here as well might help for a softer looking image, at least too much sharpness here easily creates a hard looking image and with sharpening it's easy to go to sickening levels.) Please comment and correct if I'm totally lost here.

 

Any kind of ideas on creating that kind of softer look with 35mm? Of course older lenses (wide open) will give a soft image but often with not that much detail. Would uncoated lenses be of any help here?

 

 

Oh how nice it would be to be able to try that format... Or even see it projected. Also of great interest will be the Hawk65 Anamorphic lenses. Maybe they are the European way for anamorphic 65mm if there is already a crazy high demand for those Panavision lenses in the US.

 

 

Valter


  • 0

#16 Keith Putnam

Keith Putnam

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • United States

Posted 09 June 2015 - 06:38 AM

"They're also adapting the new Arri Alexa 65 to work with the new anamorphic glass, but there aren't any projection lenses being developed for digital projection."

Unfortunately there's no such thing as an anamorphic DCP, so until DCI changes their spec there's little reason to develop an anamorphic projection lens for digital screenings.
  • 0

#17 John Holland

John Holland
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2197 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London England

Posted 09 June 2015 - 01:25 PM

Forget Digital projection the idea is to show it in selected Cinemas with 70mm projection . The DCP version will be cropped into what ever suits !


  • 1

#18 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3081 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 09 June 2015 - 06:02 PM

The two posted images really have sort of an "old" look to them, especially the colours (and maybe the vignettes a little bit too). Wonder if it's about the lens coatings. The flares are rather beatiful as well.


Dan Sasaki mentioned that the lenses were originally single coated with a warm color, and that when he needed to build additional lenses (19 were used in total) they contracted out the coating work to a company that would match their new coatings to the old lenses. Hence the consistent warm-colored flares. He also said Richardson specifically did not want any modern blue/green flares.
 

I wonder what is it that makes that kind of soft but detailed (good resolution) look. Of course film helps in the first place with its natural depiction of detail but maybe the lenses are a bit lower on micro contrast as well (or not on a high level at least). (On a side note I would guess the medium contrast, 20 cycles/mm perhaps (halfly guess), might be responsible for clarity in an image. However lower contrast here as well might help for a softer looking image,
 
Any kind of ideas on creating that kind of softer look with 35mm?
Valter


I think you're on the right track with lower contrast plus a larger negative. I actually find it's easy to make 35mm look too soft by today's standards, so I'm not sure you need to worry too much about that. You should shoot some tests. You can use old uncoated lenses shot wide open, soft frontal lighting, avoid edge lights and eye lights, diffusion, haze, underexposure or pull processing, and flashing to lower contrast. Though I would personally try to add more contrast, not less if already using old lenses. Otherwise you'll just end up with mush.
  • 0

#19 Doug Palmer

Doug Palmer
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 198 posts
  • Camera Operator

Posted 10 June 2015 - 03:54 AM

Camera 65.... does anyone know if it was actually projected anamorphically on to the original Cinerama screens back in the late 1950s ?  Before those screens diminished slightly I presume,  to accommodate the 70mm Cinerama frame.   Ben-Hur springs to mind naturally.  As a boy I only saw it at my local cinema in 35mm scope, but many years later saw it in 70mm Cinerama at Casino, London. Absolutely stunning as it was, I wonder if this version was projected 'normally'. That is, without anamorphic, and maybe losing some image at the sides.

It's fascinating this Hateful Eight adventure :rolleyes: and hope I get to see an anamorphic print somewhere someday.


  • 0

#20 Mark Dunn

Mark Dunn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2182 posts
  • Other
  • London

Posted 10 June 2015 - 04:10 AM

As ever, Widescreen Museum to the rescue

http://www.widescree...een/wingup2.htm

Seems the intention with Camera 65/ UP70 wasn't necessarily to project at 2.76:1 often but to have flexibility in print-downs. So Ben-Hur may sometimes have been projected in 2.76 but it was rarely seen that wide- it was masked down.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 10 June 2015 - 04:14 AM.

  • 1


Metropolis Post

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Ritter Battery

Tai Audio

Broadcast Solutions Inc

The Slider

Zylight

Pro 8mm

Aerial Filmworks

Abel Cine

Paralinx LLC

Visual Products

Glidecam

rebotnix Technologies

CineTape

Technodolly

Rig Wheels Passport

Metropolis Post

The Slider

Technodolly

rebotnix Technologies

CineTape

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Ritter Battery

Rig Wheels Passport

Willys Widgets

Zylight

Paralinx LLC

Abel Cine

Pro 8mm

Aerial Filmworks

Visual Products

Tai Audio

CineLab