Jump to content




Photo

Revenant/Mad Max prove digital is better?


  • Please log in to reply
178 replies to this topic

#1 Hrishikesh Jha

Hrishikesh Jha
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 44 posts
  • Student
  • Ottawa, Canada

Posted 01 March 2016 - 03:17 AM

Not yet another film vs digital debate but for a second if I can have your opinion. Saw the Revenant yesterday and was floored by the visuals. I have always loved celluloid but lately it looks like digital has finally upstaged film. Both Mad Max and Revenant were digital. 

Do you agree?

 

Usually I do not like the digital look and make every opportunity to point it out-the glossy, plastic video game like look. But very few movies(in fact just 3 till date: Apocalypto, Mad Max, and Revenant) shot digitally make me go "Yeah, there's a future here". 


  • 0




#2 Manu Delpech

Manu Delpech
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 289 posts
  • Director

Posted 01 March 2016 - 04:34 AM

You say not yet another film vs digital debate but that's exactly what's going to happen. Digital has not upstaged film, it never will. Mad Max Fury Road & The Revenant look great, so what? Sicario looks incredible as well, so does Straight Outta Compton, etc. The Revenant might not have been possible the way it's done on film, Chivo said that, digital is great for certain things when they fit your need (even though let's be honest, plenty of movies are planning to shoot film until the producers go "uh, nuh huh"), whether it is ease of use, how tiny the cameras can be, etc, etc.

 

I still feel like whatever they say (and Chivo said that too if I'm not mistaken), digital still hasn't film's dynamic range, sure, it's "better" in low light, in resolution (except for IMAX 70mm and 65), but there's nothing much to say here. I love The Revenant, it looks astounding, but to me, there's so much more life (even though the film feels so realistic) in Chivo's work on The New World for example. To me, it's very simple, celluloid is emotion, it hooks me in right away when a digital image doesn't, now, it can hook me in differently but not the way celluloid does. I feel like it also gives me that film,cinema feeling, that I'm  watching a film, there's that separation, it's so much more pleasant to my eyes and also it has so much more personality (even though some people would take offense to that,  but it's true for me), and is more interesting. Digital has that immediacy, realism, and real life feel to it overall that bothers me a lot, only a handful of stuff shot digitally I really dig.

 

But no, digital is not better, it's different, I'd be tempted to say like Nolan that film IS better though but it's not like it's a fact or can be proven, I'd say it feels better and looks better, but then again, the guy who likes his image squeaky clean, sharp from top to bottom will think it looks better.


  • 1

#3 Hrishikesh Jha

Hrishikesh Jha
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 44 posts
  • Student
  • Ottawa, Canada

Posted 01 March 2016 - 05:05 AM

"

 
I still feel like whatever they say (and Chivo said that too if I'm not mistaken), digital still hasn't film's dynamic range, sure, it's "better" in low light, in resolution (except for IMAX 70mm and 65), but there's nothing much to say here. I love The Revenant, it looks astounding, but to me, there's so much more life (even though the film feels so realistic) in Chivo's work on The New World for example. To me, it's very simple, celluloid is emotion, it hooks me in right away when a digital image doesn't, now, it can hook me in differently but not the way celluloid does. I feel like it also gives me that film,cinema feeling, that I'm  watching a film, there's that separation, it's so much more pleasant to my eyes and also it has so much more personality (even though some people would take offense to that,  but it's true for me), and is more interesting. Digital has that immediacy, realism, and real life feel to it overall that bothers me a lot, only a handful of stuff shot digitally I really dig."
 
I believe in these things except I am not as professional as you are. Mine are through the eyes of a viewer but a cinephile at that. On many threads on imdb and on youtube for various movies(Alien, Blade Runner, The Thing, Terminator, The Fly etc etc etc) I write the usual opinion: To me its a feeling. I love the look and "feel" of celluloid that I cannot find in digital. Digital looks glossy and plastic and video game like. Till date there are very very few movies I loved that were shot digitally. I loved Apocalypto, Collateral and now The Revenant. That's it. And the better digital gets the more further removed from the organic grainlike look of film it gets. I love early film stock of the 80s the most. The film stock of Alien/Blade Runner/Terminator are very enchanting. 
 
Unfortunately modern film stock, for some reason, looks very glossy too. I was shocked to find Jurassic World was shot on celluloid. It looks very digital like and clean. You might say there are so many CGI characters and all that color grading but I don't give a flying f**k, this isn't what film stock looks like to me.
 
I am shooting a feature here in India in the coming year. And I would love to shoot it on film. I am already talking to the Kodak office here.
 
Btw How was Christopher Nolan able to make a feature film(Following) shot on 16mm for only 10,000usd? I love that look also.

  • 0

#4 Freya Black

Freya Black
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4032 posts
  • Other
  • Right on the edge in London

Posted 01 March 2016 - 06:34 AM

Not sure what you mean by the visuals.

I watched the trailer and thought the first 40 seconds or so looked like ass but then the rest of it sort of looked okay but it wasn't changing my life. I know there are supposed to be some great cinematographic effects in the movie so maybe that's what you mean?

 

Freya


  • 0

#5 Freya Black

Freya Black
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4032 posts
  • Other
  • Right on the edge in London

Posted 01 March 2016 - 07:21 AM

I'm not sure there really is a film vs digital debate either entirely. Obviously Christopher Nolan is committed to a totally analogue based workflow as much as he can but I'm sure he even uses CGI from time to time and most people working with film also make extensive use of digital technology such as editing in NLE editors and DI and other digital stuff. I don't see film as being in conflict with digital technology as the two can work happily together.

 

Freya


  • 1

#6 Manu Delpech

Manu Delpech
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 289 posts
  • Director

Posted 01 March 2016 - 07:52 AM

I'm far from being a professional, I'm barely starting :D You and me are on the same page on what you're saying, that's exactly it. I disagree that the Vision 3 stocks look glossy though, depends on the movies, it's certainly cleaner than those old movies were for obvious reasons but most of those shot on 35 mm can still be very grainy, ie Man Of Steel, Out Of The Furnace, The Place Beyond The Pines, etc, that's off the top of my head because those are references of mine, but even stuff shot on anamorphic, the texture is everywhere. 

 

Obviously, 2 perf is the best I think for that extra thickness and grain, but I really don't find it to be glossy at all. Jurassic World looks squeaky clean but never in a million years would I think it's shot digitally, just like you wouldn't mistake the IMAX footage on Interstellar for digital. Even when minimizing the grain as much as possible (like Chivo does for example, his thing is to get as much low grain as possible for example on The Tree Of Life), you know it's film, it's not just the grain, it's the color rendition, it's the depth of the image, I find most digital to be really flat, but that's due to the nature of the film image, Carl on the forum explained this much better than I can in almost scientific terms. 

 

Cool for your feature, and I don't think we can really look at what Nolan did 20 years ago and try to replicate that, the costs weren't the same, Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter, Midnight Special, etc) did his first film Shotgun Stories 15 years ago or something for 50 grand on anamorphic 35 mm, David Gordon Green did the same for the same budget on George Washington, I don't think that'd be possible today even though the camera rental prices are surprisingly cheap and there are alternatives to get cheap Kodak film stock.

 

I know that I budgeted for a low budget short I'm directing this summer for 35 mm 2 perf, and it's much much cheaper than shooting on Alexa for example. Shooting an entire feature on 10 grand though today, even on super 16, unless you got a two person crew and nobody gets paid and you have like one or two actors, I don't see how that can be achieved.


  • 0

#7 Peter Bitic

Peter Bitic
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 120 posts
  • Student

Posted 01 March 2016 - 08:58 AM

I also don't like how the new movies shot on film look compared to films from 80s and 90s (not to mention the earlier ones).

 

I don't know if that is due to different stocks or color grading or both, but I feel that if you shoot on film you shouldn't do negative conversion digitally. You should print the film, grading it photochemically, which would then be considered a finished piece. To represent the finished movie digitally, you would scan it without doing any computer enhancements. The mindset should be the same as when you are scanning or photographing a fine art painting. This is a process that would have some integrity, not this fiddling with pixels, where you don't know where you stand.

 

And I don't care if you can do a digital negative conversion in a way that looks the same as a photochemically printed movie, the same way I don't care if you can make the digital footage look like it is shot on film. You shouldn't fake the physical process on a computer.


Edited by Peter Bitic, 01 March 2016 - 09:07 AM.

  • 0

#8 Manu Delpech

Manu Delpech
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 289 posts
  • Director

Posted 01 March 2016 - 09:05 AM

That's nice and everything but 99 % of the films out there do a DI, the photochemical finish is an awesome idea but from what I know about it, it seems it demands very consistent work as the possibilities for coloring are so basic. It's not faking the process, otherwise that's implying that all films shot on film and finished on a DI (which is practically all of them aside from Nolan's films or PT Anderson) are not representative of film? Film is film, whether you do a photochemical finish or a DI, sure, some will say and that's probably correct that the DI is still a translation but it being originated on film is not going to disappear because you do a DI.


  • 0

#9 Peter Bitic

Peter Bitic
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 120 posts
  • Student

Posted 01 March 2016 - 09:20 AM

It can be both: representative of film and faking certain physical processes. Movies finished on a DI of course are representative of film, but in my mind the DI damages the integrity of a movie in an important way. I feel the same about scanning the paintings and illustrations and messing with them digitally, often also using tools that emulate (fake) physical techniques (digital watercolors, digital oil paintings etc.). The result is that we live in a world where you don't really know whether what you see is the result of the physical processes, or if it is fabricated on a computer (often it is a mixture of both). That might be completely irrelevant to lots of people (and apparently it is, given that huge majority of films goes through a DI), but it is very important to me.

 

(And of course it is faking a physical process, if you try to convert a movie digitally in the way that would look the same as if it was converted photochemically.)


Edited by Peter Bitic, 01 March 2016 - 09:21 AM.

  • 0

#10 KH Martin

KH Martin
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 194 posts
  • Other
  • Portland, Oregon

Posted 01 March 2016 - 09:24 AM

 
 
Unfortunately modern film stock, for some reason, looks very glossy too. I was shocked to find Jurassic World was shot on celluloid. It looks very digital like and clean. You might say there are so many CGI characters and all that color grading but I don't give a flying f**k, this isn't what film stock looks like to me.
 

The 'improvements' in the film stocks over the last 15 years or so seem to have simply pushed it into more of a digital capture look in my opinion; I don't WANT to see that far into the blacks, I like them to have some mystery while the image retains snap. There's a mid-rangedness about everything these days that makes my eye go numb.  Then again, I'm a guy who hasn't shot Super8 or 16 (or anything else) this century, and my ideal means of capture for 85% of what I did shoot was Kodachrome, which is gone.


  • 0

#11 Freya Black

Freya Black
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4032 posts
  • Other
  • Right on the edge in London

Posted 01 March 2016 - 12:07 PM

Good to see the two versions of the thread have been combined into one.

 

Hrishikesh I'd still be interested to hear what it was you liked about the look of The Revenant.

I know there were some interesting cinematographic effects used in the movie and maybe those really connected with you?

 

Or was it something else?

 

In what way do you think digital "upstaged" film on the Revenant?

Perhaps you could elaborate a bit on what you liked about the look of the movie assuming it's the look you are talking about?

 

So far you have been a bit vague about what you actually liked about the movie that has lead you to make all your proclamations about "digital".


Edited by Freya Black, 01 March 2016 - 12:07 PM.

  • 0

#12 John E Clark

John E Clark
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 780 posts
  • Other
  • San Diego

Posted 01 March 2016 - 12:14 PM

Of the 'best picture' nominees, I only saw "Revenant" and "Mad Max: Fury Road" in theaters... I don't think I sat there for a minute think... 'gee is this Film film vs Digital film'... at all.. even though I know "Mad Max" was shot digitally, and even more... used various cameras such as the Blackmagics and Canons... that I've used... Didn't know what "Revenant" was shot on... nor did I care...

 

 

At this point, had I a 35mm film camera... it would join the Hasselblad and my 4x5 in the closet to be sold in the estate sale following my death... otherwise unused since being placed in the closet...


Edited by John E Clark, 01 March 2016 - 12:15 PM.

  • 0

#13 Tim Tyler

Tim Tyler

    Administrator

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1264 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Olympia, WA (US)

Posted 01 March 2016 - 12:23 PM

I'm removing the accusatory, name-calling posts. Please keep this conversation civil and polite. 


  • 1

#14 Freya Black

Freya Black
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4032 posts
  • Other
  • Right on the edge in London

Posted 01 March 2016 - 12:42 PM

Of the 'best picture' nominees, I only saw "Revenant" and "Mad Max: Fury Road" in theaters... I don't think I sat there for a minute think... 'gee is this Film film vs Digital film'... at all.. even though I know "Mad Max" was shot digitally, and even more... used various cameras such as the Blackmagics and Canons... that I've used... Didn't know what "Revenant" was shot on... nor did I care...

 

 

Why not?

 

You weren't bothered about the way the movie looked or you think that basically digital cinema cameras now have a look that is good enough? Or something else?


  • 0

#15 Tyler Purcell

Tyler Purcell
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2364 posts
  • Other
  • Los Angeles

Posted 01 March 2016 - 12:48 PM

One of the reasons both Mad Max and The Revenant look "good" digitally is that NEITHER FILM uses the color spectrum in a "normal" way. They both are highly manipulated.

The Revenant is a completely flat movie, it lacks typical dynamic range due to the almost constant cloud cover during shooting. This means the technology doesn't have to work quite as hard to reproduce the image.

Mad Max on the other hand, is a "tinted" movie and it's been heavily modified in post to create again, a flat look, but more at the top of the luminance level. They also added fake grain to the entire show, which kinda washes out most of the issues you'd see.

In terms of digitally manipulating motion picture film... I'm absolutely in the camp of the DI process changing the integrity of the format. Personally, I think the profession of cinematography itself has been dragged down through these digital tools. Cinematographers can now be lazy and shoot whatever they want because they know in post, they can fix the problems. Plus, we've over-complicated post production in a huge way. Adding more "Artists" and all sorts of headaches/cost, that doesn't need to be there. Yet, everyone does DI because it makes your film "pop" and that's the look filmmakers assume the audience wants.

When you watch movies like "The Hateful Eight" on 70mm, you start to realize these digital tools are unnecessary. That film was done completely photochemically and looked perfect. Even if your not a fan of the lighting or even movie, it very much validates photochemical finish in a way that even Nolan couldn't achieve. We need more filmmakers making products using the old school method and possibly developing new technologies to integrate more digital technology into the photochemical world. For instance, I have a white paper for a photochemical film printer which can generate mattes and color film at high speeds. Thus, making it much easier to use digital tools for color correcting film.
  • 1

#16 Freya Black

Freya Black
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4032 posts
  • Other
  • Right on the edge in London

Posted 01 March 2016 - 12:52 PM

This thread could also do with a lot less unsubstantiated declarations.

 

If you want to make dramatic statements or declarations of the state of cinema etc, then please provide some kind of context and supporting explanation of why you are making such statements. Too much flag waving and empty posturing going on in this thread.

 

Come on lets have an actual conversation and less name calling and stuff. :)


  • 0

#17 Ari Michael Leeds

Ari Michael Leeds
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 178 posts
  • Film Loader
  • Los Angeles

Posted 01 March 2016 - 12:56 PM

Sorry if I went too far, Tim.


I have never developed a thick skin for film bashing, film camera bashing.  Frankly, I hear so much of it that it gets me seeing red. 


Talking about retiring the film cameras is a cheap shot too.  When is the battle won for these guys, when there isn't a single foot of film coated in a year?


  • 1

#18 Hrishikesh Jha

Hrishikesh Jha
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 44 posts
  • Student
  • Ottawa, Canada

Posted 01 March 2016 - 12:58 PM

Good to see the two versions of the thread have been combined into one.

 

Hrishikesh I'd still be interested to hear what it was you liked about the look of The Revenant.

I know there were some interesting cinematographic effects used in the movie and maybe those really connected with you?

 

Or was it something else?

 

In what way do you think digital "upstaged" film on the Revenant?

Perhaps you could elaborate a bit on what you liked about the look of the movie assuming it's the look you are talking about?

 

So far you have been a bit vague about what you actually liked about the movie that has lead you to make all your proclamations about "digital".

 

Hey Freya,

When I said digital "upstaging" film I meant in general in the film industry. I am an ardent admirer of film and there have hardly been any film shot digitally which has really impressed me. I recently watched every Spielberg film and it only reinforced my belief that film stock simply has a different, and to me a better look. However few films have come by where I personally couldn't tell the difference. Apocalypto, Mad Max and The Revenant.

 

Revenant I saw yesterday and I will go again tomorrow for a second viewing, which is something I rarely do. 

I loved the overall cinematography is what I meant. Awe inspiring shots and swooping vistas, long tracking shots. It was very visceral and overwhelming. I also really couldn't tell that it was shot digitally. At least to me it looked very good. I will see closely tomorrow. The movie "flowed" and the horse back scenes, the battles, the bear scene-everything was very well filmed.


  • 0

#19 John E Clark

John E Clark
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 780 posts
  • Other
  • San Diego

Posted 01 March 2016 - 01:03 PM

 

 

Why not?

 

You weren't bothered about the way the movie looked or you think that basically digital cinema cameras now have a look that is good enough? Or something else?

 

I've not been to a film print presentation in several years. The last one perhaps was when the Harry Potter series was doing a 'marathon' before the premiere of the final installments. Some of the marathon presentations were Film film prints, and some where Digital projections... I could tell the difference, in the 2 popular areas... milky blacks for the Digital presentations, and sprocket jitter on some shots, and especially the credits.

 

In watching "Revenant" I was not aware of 'milky' blacks... or for that matter blown snow. If you have ever shot snow, even on 'cloudy days'... it is quite easy to get blocked up whites, or near silhouette trees...

 

So, for me, in terms of certain image defects, I did not see such, so I was not taken out of the film even momentarily due to such.


  • 0

#20 Ari Michael Leeds

Ari Michael Leeds
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 178 posts
  • Film Loader
  • Los Angeles

Posted 01 March 2016 - 01:06 PM

You didn't go to see H8ful Eight in San Diego?!?!


  • 0


Pro 8mm

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

Zylight

Visual Products

CineLab

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

CineTape

Technodolly

Rig Wheels Passport

Abel Cine

rebotnix Technologies

The Slider

Aerial Filmworks

Tai Audio

rebotnix Technologies

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Technodolly

Paralinx LLC

Zylight

CineLab

Aerial Filmworks

Visual Products

Pro 8mm

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

Ritter Battery

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

CineTape

Willys Widgets