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Spectre


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#1 Jay Young

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Posted 06 November 2015 - 11:59 PM

Having put off cinema viewing for a few weeks, I needed this weekend to catch up.  I saw Spectre tonight.

 

I haven't looked up the acquisition format, and I've read a little about the setup and filming.  However I don't know if it is a mixture of the Barco projectors and digital cameras used, but it seems like there is a mixture of odd choices going on. 

 

Some of the scenes were great, and looked great; they gave me that "I didn't know Downton Abbey was shot digitally until the third season" feel.  Then again, some of the static dialogue scenes looked exactly like they would have if I went to the local best buy to view the new 400" television and the workers had turned the oversampling all the way up to maximum.  Scenes with dark backgrounds seemed to scream digital much more than the scenes that had a lot of grey, muted colors, or bright daylight setups.  Those dialogue scenes always jarred me back to reality in a bad way.

 

The particular chase scene, involving lighting the whole of the river was very good, followed by an overly sharp dialogue scene.  I don't know that I can fault the cinematographer, as the lighting was generally very good - mostly soft, except for that one train scene where there were no lights in the desert but apparently a producer must have said " I need more motion here" or the like so they made it look like the train was moving past a whole city.

 

The opening long take, with no cuts, was unsettling, and maybe it was intended that way.   The miniature work was good, the story was not my favorite.

 

Perhaps it is the trailer that screened previous for "London is Falling" which setup my whole mood of general dislike for the cinema presentation; I have never seen a more fake looking explosion, it screamed digital and visual effects and I was set on point from that moment.   

 

Tomorrow I will go to see "Bridge of Spies" and I hope that it does not have the same oversampled effect in dialogue scenes of over-sharpness, and total reduction of motion blur.  If it does, perhaps its time to find a new cinema... again? 

 

I believe Spectre would benefit wholly from a celluloid print.

 

Thoughts?


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#2 Heikki Repo

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Posted 07 November 2015 - 03:57 AM

I haven't seen it yet, but most of it was shot in 35mm: http://www.indiewire...n-35mm-20151103


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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 04:13 AM

WOW what a horrible movie!

I hate to say it, but I was dismayed with everything about this film. Technically it was unimpressive, from the extremely flat coloring and DCP presentation, to the horrible green screen shots and even things like background music (on camera), score and sound mix. Either they were shooting so fast, they didn't have time to make it look good OR they just ran out of money. The end result is so unsatisfying in story and technical ability, it leaves the audience checking their watches and not even a single clap was heard after the movie, opening night at a packed theater.

I think Hoyte Van Hoytema is a pretty decent cinematographer. No disrespect, but he ain't no Roger Deakin's. When you watch 'Skyfall' you're seeing a master cinematographer, every little detail is perfect. 'Spectre' on the other hand is very messy, the look is all over the place. Some scenes are well lit, well shot and colored properly. However, the vast majority of the film is uninteresting visually. A lot of that is the coloring and digital projection which had very little dynamics in contrast/brightness or color. Some scenes were downright flat, as if they were shooting digitally and didn't bother making any corrections. Nothing "popped" on screen, nothing to make you go "wow, great shot" like in 'Skyfall'.

I thought 'The Fighter' and 'Interstellar' were "masterfully" shot however, two of my favorite Hoyte films. However, both films were done photochemically and projected on film. So perhaps Hoyte's problem is NOT his shooting, but whoever is helping him with the color in this digital age. I also feel following in the footsteps of Deakin's and 'Skyfall' may have been a bit much.

Over-all, it's unfortunate for us "film" guys, that 'Spectre' isn't a good representation of what film can do. It will come and go very fast due to how poor of a movie it is. I think a lot of people who aren't even educated in filmmaking will comment on the look of the film, which is sad. I expect more from Hoyte, 35mm, Sam Mendes and the James Bond Franchise. Where 'Spectre' isn't the worst of the franchise, it's pretty much at the bottom of the pile.

Unless you've got money to blow and 2hrs 25min to waste, wait for video, it will probably look better and you can fast forward through the dialog.
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#4 Jay Young

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 04:58 AM

WOW what a horrible movie!

Unless you've got money to blow and 2hrs 25min to waste, wait for video, it will probably look better and you can fast forward through the dialog.

 

I was hesitant to write also such a harsh critique, but now that Tyler has opened the door I can say that I truly did not understand why one scene would look great, and then the next would look horrid.  Now after reading about the mixed media usage on this production I understand what I was seeing; one scene would be fine, and the next was DIGITAL - like super in your face look at me I'm an Alexa turned up to 11 with images so beautiful they don't need to be matched!  

 

Do the Digital Information Technicians not watch films?  It seems to me that a histogram might be less informative than one first imagines. 

 

I'm glad you mention Tyler that it is unfortunate for us 'film' guys that this picture isn't a good representation, because its not.    I also agree that Interstellar is fantastic, it is becoming quickly my second favorite film of all time, and dare I say that my first is 2001: A Space Odyssey? 

 

Speaking of Hoyte, I read where he stated that he loves film, and loves digital too; perhaps he knows how to light for film and hasn't figured out the digital side of things yet?  I know I'm in the same boat - it takes a whole lot more testing for me to get a good digital image - but I also like it to look decent coming out of the camera.

 

Finally let me say that Octopussy was also not the best Bond film..... or was that Moonraker!


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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 06:25 AM

I had no idea London Has Fallen existed, but I greatly enjoyed the trailer, especially those parts where the world's ugliest city is explosively remodelled.

 

Woohoo, blow up that bridge! Who needs to get to Chelsea, anyway? Sloanes, that's who!

 

And then there was a trailer for Survivor, which also showed parts of our feeble excuse for a capital on the receiving end of high explosives, Hollywood VFX style. 

 

It's almost as if everyone in the film and TV has realised what a beautiful and enticing place London is, and... oh, no, wait, it's just that the UK government gave them a lot of money. Sorry about this, everyone. Eventually the tax fund will run dry, and you won't have to put up with it anymore.

 

P


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#6 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 12:51 PM

At least London has given Los Angeles a much neede break from being blown up all of the time!
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#7 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 03:03 PM

one scene would be fine, and the next was DIGITAL - like super in your face look at me I'm an Alexa turned up to 11 with images so beautiful they don't need to be matched!


Yep, that was one problem. The scene with Bond and Money Penny in his apartment was a great example, clearly it was WAY under lit on her angle, but his angle was fine. You could tell the digital stuff right away when it comes to bright objects like over-exposure especially reflections, like the few scenes with water. Heck even the snow stuff seemed over-exposed in a lot of places, just down-right flat and that was all 35mm.

Even the 35mm stuff was colored very flat, without a lot of dynamic range. There was no depth to the images either, they seemed so static and as I said earlier, uninteresting. Re-watch 'Skyfall' and you'll notice that every single shot has lots of dynamic range, every shot was interesting to watch as well. A lot of that is blocking, shot composition and lighting, which you could say is Hoyte's job, but maybe due to the speed of production and all the toys they had to play with, clearly someone was more interested in messing around then simply shooting a movie. This is the problem with new technology, everyone wants to play in the sand box and comes up with all sorts of excuses why they need to. Yet, 35mm still looks better... none of those "video" looking over-exposed areas, which I was SHOCKED about as I expected the Alexa 65 to look A LOT BETTER.

Also... digital motion blur vs film motion blur. Digital looks fine in bright situations, but the moment you use it's sensitivity at night for instance, the motion blur is so frustratingly horrid. It's like that in every movie and the moment you mix film motion blur in one shot with digital motion blur a few shots later, you notice right away how HORRIBLE the digital motion blur looks. In my eyes, it looks like 29.97 broadcast television, all of the "cinematic" look goes away and with the very flat colored image, it just looks like an HBO movie seen on a CRT television 20 years ago.

Do the Digital Information Technicians not watch films?  It seems to me that a histogram might be less informative than one first imagines.


I assume not, they're too busy making $5000 a week doing nothing but staring at a histogram/waveform monitor and telling the cinematographer they're over or under. They literally have more power on a digital movie then the cinematographer AND director combined. Just watch and listen to the making of most recent Mad Max movie. They're probably pissed most of the movie was shot in film because they don't have work on those days.

Speaking of Hoyte, I read where he stated that he loves film, and loves digital too; perhaps he knows how to light for film and hasn't figured out the digital side of things yet?  I know I'm in the same boat - it takes a whole lot more testing for me to get a good digital image - but I also like it to look decent coming out of the camera


Digital is easy to light because you've got an LCD monitor showing you exactly what it's going to look like. The DIT tell's the cinematographer what they can and can't do on a set with a digital camera. So instead of entrusting the exposure with the professional who in this case, has shot some amazing films, they trust some 20 year old, who's never shot anything in their entire life, to make critical decisions about the exposure of each shot. Plus as I said earlier, I think Hoyte was experimenting with the new Alexa 65 because there wasn't a single scene in the movie that "required" an ultra sensitive camera. In fact, the film was so stupid, they could have very easily pushed all the dark shots into light and nobody would have been the wiser. In an effort to make things easier? Maybe an effort to make things more realistic? They decided to under-light and use the sensitivity of the camera, which in my view is bogus.

When watching this poop, I kept saying to myself... I can't believe I'm still sitting here watching this crap. For me to say that about a Bond film, neigh a film shot on 35mm, neigh a film shot by the very cinematographer who made 'Interstellar' so flat-out amazing... I was shocked. 'Spectre' was beyond disappointing, technically, story, acting, location's, everything was flat, pandering to the lowest common denominator and uninteresting. Just when you expected it to turn around, you got more lowest common denominator crap.

:sigh:

If this is the future of digital technology, I have no interest in being involved. If filmmakers wanna make stuff that looks like 29.97 broadcast on a CRT monitor, they can go ahead and do that. I don't want to be apart of that movement.
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#8 John Holland

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 05:41 PM

Ok the story was full of holes ,but I really don't understand all this negative thing about how it looked !!!


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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 06:45 PM

Haven't seen it yet, but judging from the trailer, it seems similar to what Hoytema has done on other movies like "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", work near the toe of the negative, use smoke, etc.  I don't see the problem with that, it's not like every 35mm movie has to be shot the same way, nor every digital movie.  Hoytema is trying to create a mood, a feeling, not sell technology, film or digital.


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#10 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 06:50 PM

Hoyte is a dear friend of mine and he has a specific approach to cinematography. He loves the wide open, minimal depth of field and natural light look. Very talented he is and a joy to work with. I personally am looking forward to seeing Spectre.

G
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#11 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 08:03 PM

Hoyte is a dear friend of mine and he has a specific approach to cinematography. He loves the wide open, minimal depth of field and natural light look. Very talented he is and a joy to work with. I personally am looking forward to seeing Spectre.


And to clarify, I think his other work is spot-on. This film just doesn't come close for whatever reason.
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#12 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 08:11 PM

No worries Tyler. That's the beauty of this right? Everyone has a different taste for art. Like I said, I haven't seen it yet but being the Bond fan that I am, I know I'll enjoy it regardless.

G
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#13 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 08:26 PM

Interested to hear what you think! :~)
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#14 Justin Hayward

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 09:40 PM

In my eyes, 

 

I've never met anyone with an eye for bad cinematography work more than you, and I've met a handful of accomplished cinematographers.  


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#15 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 01:35 AM

The scene in the Moroccan hotel was unlike anything I've seen in Bond. Very austere, while playing with shadows quite a bit. A bit of it did look the way one expects an action movie to look, but small flourishes like that scene were especially interesting.


Skyfall had a richness to it that the story warranted. You sort of can't compare the two as they're very different films both story-wise and visually.
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#16 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 03:18 AM

I have to say, I much prefer both the story and cinematography of 'Skyfall' to this film. One aspect of Deakins's work that stands out to me in retrospect is his choice of interesting motivated light sources. In 'Skyfall' I especially love the Shanghai night interiors lit by the LED billboard, the Macau night exterior on a dinghy lit by floating paper lanterns, and the night marsh exterior lit by the burning mansion. The only scenes that I found memorable in 'Spectre' were the sunlit day exterior funeral among the columns and the watery night interior in the catacombs.
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#17 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 03:35 AM

'Skyfall' had such amazing "motivated" lighting with contrast, deep blacks and beautiful highlights. My favorite is the post-house fire at the end, using the fire itself as the only light source. It wasn't just a genius stroke by Deakin's, but it was required to make the ending dark and mysterious.

'Spectre's' dark and mysterious ending was over-lit, had no sense of contrast and neither did the actors or script.

Mind you, Deakin's is my favorite DP working today.
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#18 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 03:43 AM

'Spectre's' dark and mysterious ending was over-lit...


I don't agree that the bridge night exterior was over-lit, if anything I thought it was on the edge of being under-lit. But anyway, I thought it could have been more visually interesting if the main light source was something like a hot roving xenon beam from a police helicopter searchlight with inky blacks and glistening wet paving stones, with the fill source being the fiery wreck.
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#19 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 04:00 AM

Sorry... I was more referring to the MI6 destroyed building. Bond walking through the basement covered in wires and pictures of the bad guys from the last few films. Not only a ridiculous concept, but way over-lit. There was no motivation for the lighting and worst of all, every square inch was perfectly lit like it was a sound stage. Had it just been lit with his flashlight, that would have at least been better.

The helicopter crash was bogus, but it was lit fine.
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#20 Jay Young

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 05:53 AM

The helicopter crash was bogus, but it was lit fine.

 

Interesting.  I felt the Miniature work was pretty good, given that there hasn't been a lot of miniature work since producers discovered the computer was invented.


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