Jump to content




Photo

When was the last time movie titles were done optically?


  • Please log in to reply
43 replies to this topic

#1 Peter Bitic

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

Posted 25 July 2016 - 06:35 PM

In any mainstream movie?

 

Does everybody just consider digital titles superior or is this phenomenom due to laziness?


Edited by Peter Bitic, 25 July 2016 - 06:35 PM.

  • 0




#2 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18788 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 July 2016 - 06:49 PM

The problem with movie titles using an optical printer to put words over an image was that the background image ended up being duped by two generations.  So I don't think anyone really felt that they were "superior" to compositing titles over picture digitally.  I remember watching many movies that had optical printer titles over the opening scene and you sort of waited until the titles were over so that the movie would stop looking grainy, which usually happened right after the "directed by" credit faded out and a new shot began.  

 

But also once digital intermediates became common by the late 2000's, there would have been no reason to do optical printer work for titles since you had a scan of the original negative anyway.

 

So optical printers started disappearing around that same time.

 

Pacific Title did most of the title work in movies for decades -- as the Wikipedia entry suggests, they went into hard times by the end of the 2000's.

https://en.wikipedia...le_&_Art_Studio


  • 0

#3 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11223 posts
  • Other

Posted 25 July 2016 - 06:55 PM

I can't see the argument for it being laziness. With practically all features now finished digitally even if they're not shot digitally, incorporating optically-originated titles would be an exercise in time wasting.

That said, a lot of people who do titles for things like trailers like to apply tiny amounts of softening and noise to titles, so they don't look so uncompromisingly razor sharp. Partly this is to match the Nyquist and optical limits of the pictures they're used alongside, but it may also be a reference to photochemical titles.
  • 0

#4 Peter Bitic

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

Posted 25 July 2016 - 07:23 PM

I think everybody would agree that optical titles and digital titles look differently (the former have lots of grain due to imperfect analog process, there is gate weave etc.) and there is also the "philosophical" aspect of something being done with analog processes rather than digital ones (regardless of being digitized in the end.). That's why I'm surprised that lately literally nobody (as far as I know) considered the former approach to be the right one for their movie.

 

IMO, purely from visual perspective, optical titles blend much better with movies shot on film.


Edited by Peter Bitic, 25 July 2016 - 07:25 PM.

  • 0

#5 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11223 posts
  • Other

Posted 25 July 2016 - 07:33 PM

I wonder if it was done for Hateful Eight. Wouldn't surprise me, and they'd have been careful to maintain the generation count. Plus, of course, it's 65mm anyway!
  • 0

#6 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18788 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 July 2016 - 07:37 PM

If you are talking about titles over a filmed image, I think digitally composited titles blend better with the surrounding non-duped shots because there isn't a jump in grain and contrast.  Not a lot of people think optical printer dupes were more "seamless" with non-duped shots compared to a digital composite.  

 

Maybe this is just an example of a generational difference, but back in the 1970's and 80's, you used to see the jump in grain and contrast (as well as more dirt and dust) indicating a duped shot and then wait for something to happen to explain why the image was duped, usually a title over picture.  That stopped happening once D.I.'s came along and those "opticals" were all of the same generation as the rest of the movie.  So I question the assertion that the duped shots "blended" better.

 

If you are just talking about titles over black, yes, sometimes the digital version is a bit too clean and sharp if followed by a film-shot sequence.  But even twenty or more years ago, most typesetting would have been done digitally anyway, just that before D.I.'s, the type would have been recorded out onto hi-con lithographs for rephotographing with a camera.

 

Now in the case of my project "The Love Witch" I had hoped that the budget would allow us to monkey with the titles and transitions to make them resemble old optical printer dupes, but we didn't really have the time nor money, and as for the transitions (fades and dissolves) which were done digitally and then recorded out to film to be cut into our negative (since we did a photochemical finish) the director didn't want them to look degraded in any way.  Not only could we not find an optical printer in order to try and do the title sequence on that, we couldn't afford to even A-B roll cut the negative to do the transitions in printing, because of the cost of making black leader for an A-B roll edit.


  • 0

#7 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18788 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 July 2016 - 07:40 PM

I'm not sure why the concept of "laziness" plays into this -- laziness on the part of who?


  • 0

#8 Peter Bitic

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

Posted 25 July 2016 - 08:04 PM

Yeah, I guess the "laziness" is not really the best word. Maybe I would have to say "budget considerations" or something like that. It's a fact that its easier and cheaper to do digital titles, and since nobody is doing optical titles I assume there has to be a certain percentage of filmmakers who would prefer doing optical titles but don't want to bother with them (or don't have the means to do them) or whatever. The only other explanation for the extinction of optical titles is that *everybody* thinks that digital titles are the superior option, which I don't think is true.

 

I think there are also lot's of filmmakers who don't even think about that and just default to digital titles without even considering alternatives.


  • 0

#9 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18788 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 July 2016 - 08:16 PM

What alternatives?  Do you know someone with an optical printer?


  • 0

#10 Peter Bitic

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

Posted 25 July 2016 - 08:37 PM

Unless I am mistaken, you don't need an optical printer to do optical titles (and yes, I mean beginning/end title sequence, not text over action).

 

You just need to be able to print text on some background and then shoot that with a film camera.

 

If the text is moving (like in Pulp Fiction intro for example), you print (or draw) text on transparecny sheets and shoot that like you would if it was animation (or move/zoom with camera)

 

You can do so much creative and visually rich stuff on your own, without optical printers.

 

(Unless, again, I am mistaken, and the term "optical title" necessitates use of an optical printer. I always assumed this was just a term to describe any analog process of shooting titles)


Edited by Peter Bitic, 25 July 2016 - 08:38 PM.

  • 0

#11 Peter Bitic

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

Posted 25 July 2016 - 08:43 PM

Also, there is a guy who made his own optical printer:

 

 

He is doing some interesting stuff with it:

 

 

I am not saying that every movie wants a look like that, but surely there are ones where doing stuff like this would be a better choice than just resorting to a computer.

 

Same can be said for modern animation I guess, where basically everything is now done through computer. Nobody is shooting actual cels over background with film (or digital) camera anymore.


Edited by Peter Bitic, 25 July 2016 - 08:44 PM.

  • 0

#12 Gregg MacPherson

Gregg MacPherson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1514 posts
  • Other
  • New Zealand

Posted 25 July 2016 - 08:49 PM

Peter,  I think "opticals" always meant use of an optical printer.  Titles done as opticals,  same..

 

David,  is that true,  there no optical services anywhere,  anymore?  I guess you had a good look for the Witch movie.  I know there are a few optical printers used by artists and fringe dwellers for private projects,  but I don't assume that they can take commercial jobs or work of any scale.

 

If anyone notices this thread and knows of optical printing services,  anywhere on earth, can they let us know...


  • 0

#13 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18788 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 July 2016 - 09:00 PM

Sure you can shoot artwork with a camera, I'm sure not sure why that is better if you generated your artwork anyway on a computer, as most typesetting has been done for decades. I trained as a back-up typesetter for an insurance company right after college in 1984... And by the end of the year, I was being trained to do it on a graphics computer to replace doing it the old-fashioned way. That was 32 years ago! I don't see a lot of people wishing that we printed with blocks of type. How many of us type on a typewriter instead of a computer?

I used to make my own titles for my Super-8 films, I'd typeset the text and send it out to get a Kodalith made so I could backlight them and get white letters on a black background. 10 years ago I tried to get a Kodalith made from my artwork and had to go to some ancient Russians working in a basement using an old press to print a newsletter for Russian immigrants. Today I'm not sure where I'd go but I suppose now there are some expensive digital printers that can make hi-con transparencies. But again, all I'd be doing is taking digital text and converting to a physical form and then shooting it with a film camera and then having to get the film scanned again! It's basically a very expensive form of film look processing.
  • 0

#14 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18788 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 July 2016 - 09:02 PM

I'm sure a few of the smaller labs left around have an optical printer gathering dust. And there are labs that specialize in restoration work and some of that involves using an optical printer.
  • 0

#15 Gregg MacPherson

Gregg MacPherson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1514 posts
  • Other
  • New Zealand

Posted 25 July 2016 - 09:05 PM

Peter, interesting as they are, these DIY optical printers are a separate thing

A few years ago there must have been a wave of DIY optical printers, mostly in 16mm I think. Dennis Couzin noticed and made a book about it all. Don't know the title off hand. Would love to read it. I didn't know Dennis at the time, so my one is not in there (humorous frown face).
  • 0

#16 Peter Bitic

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

Posted 25 July 2016 - 09:10 PM

Sure you can shoot artwork with a camera, I'm sure not sure why that is better if you generated your artwork anyway on a computer, as most typesetting has been done for decades. I trained as a back-up typesetter for an insurance company right after college in 1984... And by the end of the year, I was being trained to do it on a graphics computer to replace doing it the old-fashioned way. That was 32 years ago! I don't see a lot of people wishing that we printed with blocks of type. How many of us type on a typewriter instead of a computer?

I used to make my own titles for my Super-8 films, I'd typeset the text and send it out to get a Kodalith made so I could backlight them and get white letters on a black background. 10 years ago I tried to get a Kodalith made from my artwork and had to go to some ancient Russians working in a basement using an old press to print a newsletter for Russian immigrants. Today I'm not sure where I'd go but I suppose now there are some expensive digital printers that can make hi-con transparencies. But again, all I'd be doing is taking digital text and converting to a physical form and then shooting it with a film camera and then having to get the film scanned again! It's basically a very expensive form of film look processing.

You can still do everything the analog way (there are many niche companies that print using letterpress for example). You can also paint titles by hand like they used to do in olden days.

 

Why would you want to do that if you can do it more easily by a computer? Because the result is different (and the process is different if that kind of "philosophical" aspect is important to you).

 

Again, for many movies the digital version is the appropriate choice. But my point is that there have to be some movies that would benefit from non-computer processes, and nobody is doing that.

 

My question is whether that is because everybody just consider computer titles the best for everything (ie. disagree with me when I say that some movies should optimally use non-digital processes), or because there are some other factors responsible for that ("laziness", ignorance for alternatives, budget considerations, etc.)


  • 0

#17 Stuart Brereton

Stuart Brereton
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2574 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 July 2016 - 09:59 PM

But my point is that there have to be some movies that would benefit from non-computer processes, and nobody is doing that.

 

As you've stated in a previous post, optical titles have lots of grain, and often gate weave and other imperfections, so it's hard to see exactly what films would benefit from having them.


  • 0

#18 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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

Posted 25 July 2016 - 10:09 PM

Mono No Aware, a non-profit film education organization in Brooklyn NY, has an Oxberry optical printer that is fully functional and regularly used by the film community here.
  • 0

#19 Peter Bitic

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

Posted 25 July 2016 - 10:13 PM

As you've stated in a previous post, optical titles have lots of grain, and often gate weave and other imperfections, so it's hard to see exactly what films would benefit from having them.

Films that have lots of grain and gate weave and other imperfections.


  • 0

#20 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18788 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 July 2016 - 10:15 PM

If the titles have some sort of handmade artistic quality then I have no problem with them not being done on a computer but if we are just talking about some basic Times Roman white titles over black, then it's harder to see why doing them using analog methods for something to be shown digitally is worth the time and effort, but if someone is doing it for a personal project, then they should do what they want.

Now it is certainly possible to do titles badly, either on a computer or in a camera or in an optical printer, and badly done digital typesetting (usually bad because they are too low-rez with steppy edges) are particularly ugly. Film outs and print projection tends to soften that, but today you can't count on the softening of a film print.
  • 0


CineLab

Tai Audio

Aerial Filmworks

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC

The Slider

rebotnix Technologies

Zylight

Technodolly

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Visual Products

CineTape

Willys Widgets

Abel Cine

Pro 8mm

Rig Wheels Passport

Ritter Battery

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Paralinx LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Ritter Battery

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Zylight

Glidecam

CineTape

rebotnix Technologies

Tai Audio

The Slider

Abel Cine

Pro 8mm

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport