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Hateful Eight Experience


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#1 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 02:30 AM

I'm one of those strange ducks who likes old technology. Steam train's, old cars, analog tape recorders, 2 stroke engines and motion picture film. I grew up shooting films (and stll do today) on motion picture film and of course watching them on the big screen in the big city of Boston where I grew up. My dad was really into the movies and as a little kid, he dragged me to 70mm screenings of all sorts of things from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to Terminator 2. One of my favorite childhood memories is of my dad holding me up in the projection booth to look at the 70mm film on platter of Terminator 2, I was only 14 at the time. I'm the guy who is turned towards the projection booth, staring at the projectionist as he loads the film, waiting patiently to see it start, the rest of the audience wondering what this little kid was staring at.

So of course as a filmmaker in Hollywood, I've attended as many film screenings as I could and since film as a theatrical format is dead, whenever someone works up the gumption to release something on film, I'm there. Last year it was Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' and this year it's Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight', both projected in 70mm and both finished photochemically. What Quentin is doing with Hateful Eight and the revival of the 70mm roadshow screening, is quite impressive. Weinstein's have helped pave the way for Quentin's vision and after tonight's screening, I'm in awe of their accomplishments.

Since the Hateful Eight is as much about the format as the story, Weinstein's decided to have special screenings for academy members because DVD screeners, won't do it justice. As a consequence, there are two weeks of screenings on both coasts of the US and I choose the one at the DGA (directors guild of america) because I know how much they care for projection. The only negative thing about seeing the film so far before it's release date is that I'm unable to discuss the movie itself. This is eating me from the inside out because all I want to do is shout and rave about the details of this movie, but alas I can't. However, I do think it's ok to discuss the projection and what I saw on screen. Not to review the movie, but to simply explain what I saw for fans of the 70mm format, like myself.

Hateful Eight is being distributed and shown in over 100 theaters, half of which had 70mm projectors installed for the viewing. This is a huge challenge and the members of this forum may know that the great staff over at Boston Light and Sound (my home town) supplied the equipment and most of it will be shipped back to them after the screenings are over if there isn't another 70mm film to be shown in the next year. To help the projectionists in their task, the film will be shipped already spooled onto platters. This is not the first time this has happened, IMAX films have been frequently shipped this way. It helps with errors that may stem from poor splicing practices. As a consequence, one would assume the prints would be clean, without cigarette burns (change over cues) in the upper right corner at the end of each roll. However, this was not the case for my screening, more about that in a minute.

The DGA theater doesn't have a big screen for the size, it's very old school in that way. So the actual viewing experience wasn't optimal, but the projection sure was. The screening starts with an overture and a nice text card on screen saying just that. Reel one on projector A, had some gate wobble AND the right side of the frame was going in and out of focus very slightly, during the overture card. I was very concerned because at the time, I thought it was a platter projection and likewise it would be that way for the entire presentation. The beginning of the film contains some great exteriors and the issue continued for quite a while. However, the moment projector B kicked in, the problems went away and I never saw them again. My guess is, there was something stuck in the gate, preventing it from closing (squashing) the film properly and the projectionist fixed it because even the end credits were rock solid, no wobble or anything.

This might sound disheartening to some people, but the projection was so good, it looked like digital. I've seen some IMAX presentations like this before, where it's so crisp, so clean, so grain-less, you swear it's the best digital projection ever. Yet, this was the first 5 perf 70mm projection I've seen which could stand next to the very best IMAX 15/70 projection and hold it's own. Most of that comes down to the top-notch projection, which was flicker-free, rock solid stability and silent (no whirr of a projector in the background). The other part came from the filmmakers use of fine-grain stocks, like 50D for exteriors and 250T for a great deal of interiors. There were a hand-full of shots you could see grain, but the vast majority where smooth as silk. Unlike digital projection which leaves most content lifeless through raised blacks and crushed highlights, film projection doesn't do that. Plus, this being a brand new print, perhaps shown two or three times prior, it was in immaculate condition. The detail in every shot was outstanding. You could see strands of hair and sweat in close-up's. You could see the crispness of the layers of snow even though it was all white, there was still detail. One of the characters has a striped shirt on and even when there were dark scenes, you could differentiate between the brighter and darker sections of that shirt. To me, that's a great acid test for dynamic range and I was more then impressed. I kept saying to myself during the screening, if everyone saw it like this, there maybe a push for future 70mm releases.

If there was to be a complaint about the technical side of Hateful Eight, it would be the interior lighting of the main location. I knew it was going to be over-lit, thanks to the trailers and press stills, but it was way more over lit then I even expected. Table tops so bright, the actors faces were getting enough bounce for that to be the only light source. I understand the reasoning behind this lighting concept; it saved a lot of time and allowed the filmmakers to use slower speed stocks and lenses. However, it's my only real beef with the film technically and that's pretty good coming from someone who simply can't sit through our modern films due to how poorly they're made. Bob Richardson and his crew did a fantastic job at making a stage play interesting to watch on the big screen.

The only other technical thing to discuss is the use of those fantastic anamorphic ultra panavision lenses, which were re-built just for this movie. It was a clever idea to tell this story in 70mm Ultra Panavision because most of it takes place in one interior location. The filmmakers could use wider shots and achieve longer dialog scenes, which not only looks cool, but saves time. I think the standard 5 perf 70mm 2.20:1 aspect ratio, may not be quite wide enough for this movie. The unbelievable bit is how little those old lenses breathed and how little anamorphic distortion there was. I was more then impressed with the look, never noticing the anamorphic lensing. There were a few shots using diopters as well, pretty slick stuff and cool looking since nobody uses them anymore. Reminds me of films from the 70's ad 80's where you had to keep the lens wide open, but wanted less depth of field.

With all that said, Hateful Eight is a wonderful cinematic experience for the true cinefile. It was clearly made with the heart's of many others like myself, who strive to keep shooting film and keep it alive for future generations. The shooting crew, team over at Panavision, the great finishing guys at FotoKem and DGA projectionist, all did an amazing job making this film. Everything came together flawlessly, Quentin's vision (from the first time he saw that Ben Hur chariot scene) was a complete and utter success. He's proved without a shadow of a doubt, 70mm acquisition and projection can be better then digital. There wasn't a moment watching the movie where I was taken out of the action due to a problematic technical error, like so many modern films. Every frame was rich in color, painted with a master's paintbrush and projected with artistic flair of it's own. What Quentin has showed us with Hateful Eight is that, it takes a team of outstanding artisans both behind the camera, in the lab and in the projection room, to show something properly on the big screen. It doesn't require fancy modern digital technology to tell a story, it only requires technology from the 60's and a few people who care.

If you are a cinefile, take some time out to see Hateful Eight in 70mm before it's too late. Even if you don't like the story (not everyone's can of worms), go for the technical aspects alone and next time you see something digitally, just remember how flat-out amazing GOOD film projection is to watch.

Thanks for reading
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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 03:51 AM

Today was the first public screening of Hateful Eight in Southern California and boy was it exciting.

LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) decided to put together a Ultra Panavision show at their Bing screening room. Working with the wonderful Elvis Mitchell, today's screening was set into motion months ago. It was two road show films presented back to back; 'It's a Mad Mad World' and 'The Hateful Eight'. Of course, 'It's a Mad Mad World' is one of Quentin's favorite films, so he actually graced the audience with his presence. It was nice to finally shake his hand and talk about the film afterwards. Funny enough, very few people came for the 'It's a Mad Mad World' screening, it was pretty empty.

 

Picture of the film can's: 

madworldcans.jpeg

 

The evening started with a fantastic introduction by Elvis Mitchell. He discussed putting this show together and how exiting it was to see Ultra Panavision on their screen for the first time in a while. The overture was presented with the curtain down, unlike 'Hateful Eight' which has a title card. The 70mm print was clearly restored and had digital audio. The projectionists explained, they don't even have the capacity to run mag audio anymore. The curtain rose to a beautiful and crisp print. It was a tad bit dirty and the right side had a few cinch scratches on it, which is pretty typical from it being mistreated during the many screenings it's had over it's life. But over-all, the print was in exceptional and watchable quality, far better then I expected. The highlights were a bit yellow, but it had stellar dynamic range, deep blacks and a really nice color pallet. I had never seen the film before because I was told it was stupid and maybe at home it would be. However, in an audience full of cinephiles, laughing all together, it worked really well. I fully enjoyed the film and guessing who the myriad of cameo's were, was a lot of fun. For a film shot at the beginning of the 60's, it really held together nicely.

 

Projection Room between shows: 

 

projectionroom.jpeg


With all that said, the film was run A/B projectors with change over's every 2000 feet. During the 'It's a Mad Mad World', the lenses were out of focus. It was very clear to me, the issue I had seen at the DGA screening prior, was the same issue here. It's basically a blotch of fuzziness which stays in place, never in the dead center, just off to the left side most of the time. In the case of this projection, the lenses were pretty bad, I'd say a good 1/4 of the screen was flat out blurry. It really pissed me off because the projectors were working like a charm and I'm sure with spherical lenses, this wouldn't have been a problem.

Between the two shows, I went to the projection room, where the guys were hustling around testing different things to fix the lensing issue. Here is a video of the test loop they were provided by Boston Light and Sound,

 

http://tye1138.com/s...ht/testloop.MOV

 

... plus a still image of the out of focus range, clearly visible on the left side of center:

 

outoffocus.jpg


This is where I met Paul Smith from D-Mation, who was kind enough to talk me through some of their issues as they were in process of solving them. He's the go-to guy for large format in Los Angeles, he helped re-construct the sync Cinerama 35mm 3 strip projection system at the Cinerama Dome. He told me the lenses are coming from Boston Light and Sound messed up. They had four lenses to test and all of them had problems. He didn't quite want to admit it, but eventually he shook his head in agreement. I was really hoping for 'The Hateful Eight' presentation, the issues would have gone away.

 

audience.jpg

The theater was packed, but not sold out, for 'The Hateful Eight' screening. Quentin was nowhere to be found, though his car was still in the parking lot according to my friend who knows him well, so he may have peeked in at one point and left. Here is Elvis Mitchell's introduction to the show:

 

http://tye1138.com/s...ght/h8intro.mov

The moment the overture card came up, the focus issues were still there. I was immediately dismayed because yet again, the print looked amazing, not a single piece of dirt or scratch marks. It wasn't quite as vibrant as the print at the DGA, that COULD be simply due to the lumens, the lamps at LACMA seemed to be less consistent then the one's used at the DGA. Projector A was brighter then B and there was absolutely more lamp related wavering in brightness, probably needs calibration. However, the projection like 'It's A Mad Mad World' was fine, just the lensing was a problem. 'Hateful Eight' was shipped on 4000ft rolls, so they required less change over. Interestingly enough, the focus issue changed as the lenses got hotter. I think the lenses cooled down between the reel changes and when they got hotter again, they got out of focus more and more. The blur spot during the whole screening changed from being just a little pocket, left of center, to eventually being a good 1/2 of the upper part of the screen. So the text cards that come up during the film were blurry!

The audience loved the film, I really enjoyed it my 2nd time around and hopefully will see it again in a few weeks at the Cinerama Dome after Star Wars. I really want to see how Arclight will project it, if they will insure the lensing is OK. But this problem with the anamorphic lenses is huge and it's systemic. I've watched the movie twice now and BOTH times, there was a lens problem of one kind or another. Panavision sent out lenses to the DGA, so perhaps thats why they worked so well, but the standard 70mm theatrical experience won't have those lenses. After 'Hateful Eight' I went back to the projection booth to thank the guys and unfortunately, I got the cold shoulder. I had clearly outstayed my welcome, which is truly unfortunate because I really hadn't wrapped up our earlier conversation. The only thing I got was a business card and a hand shake. I guess what more can you ask for!

Never the less, the night was good and bad. I was frustrated because the projectionists seemed to think everything was ok, but as an audience member, it was soft and down-right blurry in some parts of the image. If I were there, I would have apologized to the audience at some point and explained this is NOT the way either of these two films look. In my opinion, the blurriness is unacceptable and if this is the kind of crap every theater has to go through to project this wonderful movie, I'm really scared it will be a deterrent for future use of the format.


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#3 Doug Palmer

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 05:51 AM

Tyler,  this is probably a daft comment..... I was just wondering if the lens problem they were having is something to do with the fact that the screen wasn't curved.  Were some of those old UP projection lenses set up for deeply curved screens like Cinerama ?  (Fond memories of seeing Ben-Hur this way many years ago)  But then it's off-centre as you say and strangely darker too...

 

Looking forward to seeing Hateful Eight in London and hope no similar issues.


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#4 Mark Dunn

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 06:18 AM

 I think the standard 5 perf 70mm 2.20:1 aspect ratio, may not be quite wide enough for this movie.

It's 2.2 (actually 2.21, as if you could tell the difference, it's 2" on a 40" screen) with a 1.25x squeeze, so 2.76:1.


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#5 Mark Dunn

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 06:41 AM

Edit: That's 2" on a 40-foot screen, of course.


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#6 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 12:38 PM

Tyler,  this is probably a daft comment..... I was just wondering if the lens problem they were having is something to do with the fact that the screen wasn't curved.  Were some of those old UP projection lenses set up for deeply curved screens like Cinerama ?  (Fond memories of seeing Ben-Hur this way many years ago)  But then it's off-centre as you say and strangely darker too...


Man, I wish that was the case. The out of focus streak was so random (per the picture above) it had zero consistency. Plus, these are all brand new lenses and they don't share the smilebox format. A few friends of mine went to 'The Hateful Eight' premiere at the only curved screen in LA and said it was consistently out of focus on the sides, which is typical for that theater.
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#7 Mark Dunn

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 01:26 PM

Thomas Hauerslev says that a flat screen is standard for UP70.

So much (haha) for seeing Hateful 8 in UP- the tickets at the Odeon Leicester Square, the only UK venue in 70mm, start at £20. Too much for me, even if it should be OK because they present 70mm from time to time, not just  a one-off.

Oh, I forgot, they haven't shown anamorphic 70mm. since 1966, and nor has anyone else. Hmm.


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#8 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 01:30 PM

That's right Mark and Panavision made the prior projection lenses. They shipped them in HUGE cases with foam packing, no way could the lens be disturbed.
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#9 John Holland

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 01:57 PM

I am seeing it Odeon Leicester Sq. 11th Jan . I have seen every Ultra Panavision 70 film projected in that  format apart from " Mutiny 0n the Bounty "  Most on a Cinerama screen apart from " The Fall of the Roman Empire " so will be interesting to see how this looks on a flat screen !


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#10 Mark Dunn

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 02:01 PM

I am seeing it Odeon Leicester Sq. 11th Jan . I have seen every Ultra Panavision 70 film projected in that  format apart from " Mutiny 0n the Bounty "  Most on a Cinerama screen apart from " The Fall of the Roman Empire " so will be interesting to see how this looks on a flat screen !

Do report back.

Maybe I'll treat myself to 2001 at the Prince Charles. Only £12.50.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 20 December 2015 - 02:02 PM.

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#11 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 02:54 PM

I've got say guys... And maybe I'm the only one but I can't stand Tarantino films. I have yet to see one I've even minutely enjoyed. I find them boring.

G
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#12 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 04:09 PM

I've got say guys... And maybe I'm the only one but I can't stand Tarantino films. I have yet to see one I've even minutely enjoyed. I find them boring.

G

 

Never been a big fan of his work either.  The last film of his that I saw in the theater was Jackie Brown (1997.)  But I'll make an exception in this case.


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#13 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 06:04 PM

Weird to hear about the focus issues. I didn't see issues when they screened Bob Richardson's test footage at Cinegear. Presumably they used the original Panavision projection lenses for that.
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#14 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 09:37 PM

Weird to hear about the focus issues. I didn't see issues when they screened Bob Richardson's test footage at Cinegear. Presumably they used the original Panavision projection lenses for that.


Yep they did!
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#15 Giray Izcan

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 12:20 PM

I'm not a huge Tarantino fan either. His movies are ok I think. My problem is that they tend to tell the story through excessive dialogue rather than just pictures - talking head films in other words. 


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#16 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 12:30 PM

My problem is that they tend to tell the story through excessive dialogue rather than just pictures - talking head films in other words. 

 

I wouldn't go so far as to call them "talking head films," be he definitely places more emphasis on the dialogue than the visuals.  But French New Wave films did much of the same thing and those filmmakers were probably his biggest influences.


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#17 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 02:04 PM

Well, Hateful Eight is MOSTLY dialog, even more then his other films, mostly because the location doesn't change much. Yes, it's even more dialog driven then his other films. Yes, MOST filmmakers can't stand his stuff. I actually like his stuff because I get it. He makes the movies HE wants to see and ya know what, good on him. There are only a few modern filmmakers who's entire career and success is based on personal films, he is one of the few. I'm a visual story teller, but I can appreciate his sometimes long-winded dialog scenes because they're cleverly written and generally hold my attention. Hateful Eight is no different, it has a great little story, a wonderful cast, it's very silly, shot extremely well, music is awesome and best of all, it's in Ultra Panavision 70mm. Honestly, it's a win-win, even though I don't think it's up to the caliber of Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Bastards or Django. Just go for the ride, go for the mystery and laughs. Don't pre-judge based on it being dialog driven, think of it as being a stage play shot on film.
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#18 Giray Izcan

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 02:15 PM

Maybe I should not have said talking head films, but his movies don't draw me in as much as let's say Scorsese movies. I like Tarantino movies , but can't say that I absolutely love them. 


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#19 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 08:59 PM

Still think Reservoir Dogs is the best.. 


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#20 joshua gallegos

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Posted 22 December 2015 - 09:07 AM

I didn't think The Hateful Eight was "silly" in any shape or form, the film is an operatic murder mystery/western, and it's certainly the best film of the year. In fact I think the best films of the year are Steve Jobs and The Hateful Eight, there's more to cinema than just beautiful images like The Revenant, and Lubezki tends to be way too artsy, so much so that his images become the main attraction of the film. Tarantino is the master of story structure, his ability to craft a story is matched by none and it just so happens that many so called "visual films" are heavy with dialogue. For instance Vertigo is riddled with dialogue, and it's mainly expositional, so is Citizen Kane and Casablanca. I certainly don't see how Cuaron or Inarritu are innovators of storytelling, I mean shying a way from dialogue would in a way be going back to the time of silent films. And how did Dicaprio survive that massive fall from a cliff??? The horse splattered its guts on the hard snow and strangely Dicaprio survived this 50 ft drop. 


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