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Spielberg and HD?


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#1 Patrick Neary

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 12:29 PM

howdy-

the June issue of Wired has a good little interview with Steven Spielberg about "War of the Worlds" and in it, he mentions possibly doing the next indiana Jones movie in *gasp* digital (no specific format/system mentioned) About it, he says: "But do we want to evolve things to a clarity that is indistinguishable from real life? .......We're interpreters. If things get too clear, it won't look like there's an interpreter."

It's funny, because it's the first time I've heard anyone worry about the quality of digital being too good-

(Maybe future HD systems will have a "cine-alta" mode to knock the quality back down a bit!)
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 01:02 PM

Maybe he's refering more to the "real" look of video vs the "fantasy" look of film.

I've always believed that film helps the audience with their suspension of disbelief.

As for HD replacing film as a predominant medium for features, personally I'm still not convinced this will ever happen. Film has a beauty to it that just can't be replicated.

R,
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#3 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 01:19 PM

http://www.imdb.com/...999-08-12#film2

Spielberg Won't Shoot Films Digitally


Steven Spielberg has vowed to continue to make movies "the old fashioned way, " on celluloid rather than on hard disks. Speaking Wednesday night at the Smithsonian Institution's Baird Auditorium in Washington D.C., where he received the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal, Spielberg distanced himself from his longtime friend and sometime colleague George Lucas, who has announced plans to shoot his next Star Wars movie entirely on digital media. As reported in today's (Thursday) Washington Post, Spielberg told the Smithsonian audience: "I'm going to make all my films on film until they close the last lab down." The audience cheered.


Never say never, especially when George Lucas is the likely producer. ;)
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#4 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 07:20 PM

It'll be interesting to see what happens with the next Indiana Jones.

At this point creatively Spielberg and Lucas have gone in two different directions.

Part of the reason Lucas can crow about HD is that he's more rarely shooting in real locations.

Spielberg is much more of a locations director.

Lucas has been fully seduced and enchanted with an all CGI film.

Spielberg even being one of the vanguards of photorealistic CGI, does not use it excessively.

At this point how will they be able to work together?
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#5 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 07:58 PM

If Spielberg wants to shoot his next "Great" film on HD, let him. I dont think I have ever went to the theater to see a Spielberg film, and one of the only ones I liked was ET.

Personally, I dont see what is so great about Spielberg! Just because he has director more movies than everyone in Hollywood dont make him any better in my opinion.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 12:24 AM

He may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I think his films are practically filmmaking textbook. I learned so much about the mechanics of directing from his films, how to stage action for depth, how to cut, how to move the camera, how to use camera angles effectively, etc. He's like Hitchcock in that regard, regardless of whether you like the films.

"Close Encounters" was one of the first films I saw where I noticed the directing and cinematography; it's probably THAT film, along with "2001", that made me want to be a filmmaker when I was a teenager.

The use of the wide-angle scope frame, the tracking shots, the staging of extras, the use of near and far shots and moving the camera in or out, or people forwards or backwards, the rhythmic montage editing... it's like rising and falling music, like a symphony to me. Just rewatch the opening desert storm sequence in proper widescreen again...

Or study the staging and editing of the early scene in "Schindler's List" where Schindler gathers all of his money, puts on his best suit, and goes to the restaurant to seduce the Nazis into giving him a war contract. Just look at the shot where it looks like he is sitting at his table lusting after some young woman and the camera cuts to an over-his-shoulder shot and slightly tracks to reveal the young woman over one shoulder to a Nazi and his date over the other shoulder, and suddenly you're not sure what his intentions are.

I have a hard time understanding anyone who is dismissive of Spielberg's technical skills, his directing chops -- forget the scripts or the sentimentalism for a moment. Even Terry Gilliam once said that he didn't care for many of Spielberg's movies but he envied his directing skills. Even Truffaut said he was in awe of how Spielberg could design shots involving hundreds of extras timed to camera movements as easily as most people could stage a scene with two people.

What's interesing in comparing Lucas to Spielberg is that Spielberg has moved towards greater realism, even deliberate technical roughness, whereas Lucas has moved towards more "painted" and unrealistic, more theatrical, images. Lucas has moved away from film whereas Spielberg has been embracing the texture of film, even preferring older film stocks, push-processing, skip-bleach processing -- anything to remove the slickness of modern film, sort of an anti-digital look. So now that they've moved so far apart visually, it would be interesting to see what they decide to do for another Indiana Jones movie, a series that got more Lucas-ish with increasing efx compared to the original one, which had a National Geographic meets Film Noir look.
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#7 Saul Pincus

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 12:34 AM

"I dont think I have ever went to the theater to see a Spielberg film"
Not surprising. There have only been a small handful of them in your lifetime. Besides, he's produced more than movies than directed. What kind of films do you see in theaters? I mean, what kind of director do you want to be?

"Personally, I dont see what is so great about Spielberg!"
Dear god, please educate yourself.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Landon, in your lifetime isn't when Spielberg really made his mark. His best, most influential work was evident in the then-new level of science fiction, fantasy, action, horror and immesurably influential and inspired cinematic technique he brought to movies starting in the early 1970's. And you'll find his seminal work in this regard runs from around 1975-1982.

These days, Spielberg's impact as a director is identified mainly with historical subject matter, light and fluffy star-driven character studies, and the odd science fiction excursion. But that's not the meat on which he made his name.

Saul

Edited by Saul Pincus, 11 June 2005 - 12:36 AM.

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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 12:47 AM

Whenever I contemplate shooting a car dialogue movie, I look at "Sugarland Express" because it used every technique ever made up til then to shoot almost entirely in a moving car with multiple levels of action and dialogue going on. And in anamorphic! Again, it's like a filmmaking textbook. I think Pauline Kael called it the most auspicious first-time directing effort since "Citizen Kane", which is a bit much, but she certainly saw the talent on display.

"1941" is not a particularly good movie -- too pointlessly loud and silly -- but the Jitterbug Contest is an amazing bit of choreography of dance, camera movement, editing, and music. The whole movie is a visual joke about scale if you watch it carefully.
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#9 Saul Pincus

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 12:57 AM

Whenever I contemplate shooting a car dialogue movie, I look at "Sugarland Express" because it used every technique ever made up til then to shoot almost entirely in a moving car with multiple levels of action and dialogue going on.  And in anamorphic! Again, it's like a filmmaking textbook.  I think Pauline Kael called it the most auspicious first-time directing effort since "Citizen Kane", which is a bit much, but she certainly saw the talent on display.

"1941" is not a particularly good movie -- too pointlessly loud and silly -- but the Jitterbug Contest is an amazing bit of choreography of dance, camera movement, editing, and music.  The whole movie is a visual joke about scale if you watch it carefully.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


"Sugarland" is also filled to the brim with funky "70s zooms" - very unusual in the Spielberg canon. I wonder how much of that was Zsigmond's influence.

Saul

Edited by Saul Pincus, 11 June 2005 - 12:58 AM.

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#10 Krystian Ramlogan

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 02:52 AM

I've always found Spielberg films to have great instruction within them. You don't have to like the story or content, but the directing and visual appeal: composition, angles, shots, movement or camera and talent, have always been at the highest levels one can find anywhere.

Schindler's List was a great film, moreso because it was in Black and White. ET had a kind of childish exuberance to the film because of the work Spielberg put into it. The Color Purple is another example of great direction and understanding the material one is working with. Breadth and scope are words which easily come to my mind when I consider his body of work.

Certainly some of his films may not be always on the pinnacle of accomplishment, but he is certainly fearless in going into diverse material which many other acomplished filmmakers have not entered into. Name any up and coming director today (and even older one) and challenge their choice of material: how many are successful at translating material removed from what they got recognition for?

I'm not sure if I would say his recent material is not quite up to par with his ealier works simply because there is always something to take from his films, after all he does maintain a fairly high standard of work. As a student of film I have my favorites in all areas: directors, cinematographers, actors, actresses, editors, etc.

Spielberg deserves the credit and recognition he has garnered over the years, and there again you see his ability: longevity and fresh outlooks on material. Whether or not he does choose to use HD, I believe he would use it in his way, a way that makes sense to his particular sense of filmmaking. And that I would love to see, the way he would use it. Notwithstanding his love of the film medium I think it would be an interesting and reqarding experiment. We can all learn from those who have come before and their films are how we learn what they have learned and then progress.

I don't desire to be the next anybody myself, I'm fine being who I am as long as I do the best I can at all times. But, I certainly have learned a fair bit from Spielbergs' films. Kudos to him.
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#11 Max Jacoby

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 03:05 AM

He may not be everyone's cup of tea,

He's certainly not my kind of cup of tea. Despite his considerable technical abilities his films are to me the worst kind of button-pushing, manipulating your audience stuff. His films are very narrow-minded, there is only one point of view in them and it is his, and he forces it down your throat.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 03:44 AM

Maybe this is an age thing. In the 1970's, his work was considered very exciting and dynamic. Now after thirty years of Hollywood trying to make his style into an institution -- to the point where he even avoids a lot of his old tricks now -- it's hard to understand what made him so special. Seeing "Close Encounters" on the big screen was an eye-opening experience into the sheer power of filmmaking. I was in a daze for months after seeing that (and I saw it twenty times that year in the theater.) Same for when I finally saw "2001" on a big screen. Both are films that could not exist in any other art form.

I have no problem with the notion that direction is a form of viewer manipulation; the only issue is whether it is effective and appropriate for the material. I have no problem with a strong directorial point of view either; I actually LIKE the feeling that someone is in control over the whole thing. It's what makes "8 1/2" such a great film, or "Vertigo" or "Dr. Strangelove". Too many modern movies seem to have no strong directorial point of view at all -- they are just a string of fast-cut shots from a scene covered by multiple cameras. A computer could have directed half the movies out there today.
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#13 David Cox

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 03:54 AM

I think the different technical routes that Spielberg and Lucas have taken over the last few years comes back to the point that film makers must choose their shooting format based on the correct practical and scientific reasons, rather than emotion.

Shooting digitally has a lot of benefits if you have heavy compositing to do later, because the lack of grain and film-weave make the comps easier, faster and cleaner. (steadying film weave causes image softness as the software has to interpolate the image between pixels and grain is effectively a contamination of the blue / green screens when keying). So for a film like starwars, shooting digitally has a logical argument.

If you were shooting Indiana Jones today, given the likely locations of bright deserts with off-speed shots, film would most likely be the logical acquisition format. Clearly digital cameras of today would still struggle with all those highlights, although advances have been made in that area with Genesis.

I have heard and understand the view that digitally shot material looks "too real" on the screen and that many directors do prefer the audience to know they are looking at a screen rather than looking into a window on another world (like an Imax experience for example). I think this only applies to stuff shot and projected digitally though, because it is the film artefacts (grain / dirt) that provide this apparent barrier. This can be easily resolved though. If something is shot digitally but distributed on film, use a camera stock (faster / higher grain) to shoot your digital master back to. This will allow your images to inherit the proper grain structure. If you shoot on film and do a digital intermediate, you would normally shoot back to a slower, low grain IP stock to minimise grain build up. For digital projection, you can colour grade and add synthetic grain to recreate that screen feel. So it?s not really a problem - just an aesthetic choice that filmmakers should be aware they can make.

Personally I think this view will disappear over time as audiences get used to different looks. After all, that?s always happened. Look at film images of 50 years ago and compare them to those today. What will audiences expect our images to look like in 50 years from now?

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#14 Stephen Williams

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 04:06 AM

Shooting digitally has a lot of benefits if you have heavy compositing to do later, because the lack of grain and film-weave make the comps easier, faster and cleaner. (steadying film weave causes image softness as the software has to interpolate the image between pixels and grain is effectively a contamination of the blue / green screens when keying). So for a film like starwars, shooting digitally has a logical argument.
david cox

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<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi,

Film-weave should not be an issue with any pin registered camera scanned with a pin registered film scanner. Telecine-weave is another matter!

Stephen Williams Lighting Camerman

www.stephenw.com
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#15 coolbreeze

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 05:03 AM

Irrespective of what format they shoot on I'd be more interested to see what direction they take photographically. I find it hard to imagine an Indy movie without Douglas Slocombes beautiful anamorphic photography, and i wonder if Janusz Kaminski will try to emulate that or go in a different, more contempory, direction :(
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#16 David Cox

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 05:13 AM

Hi,

Film-weave should not be an issue with any pin registered camera scanned with a pin registered film scanner. Telecine-weave is another matter!

Stephen Williams Lighting Camerman

www.stephenw.com

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


It shouldn't be, but you always see it especially if you are combining two film elements because they weave against each other.
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#17 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 07:52 AM

Don't get me wrong, Spielberg is an OK director. I mean I just can't say I like his recent more contemporary films. . . Such as War of the Worlds, it just don't fit Spielbergs "Type of film", It has to be full of CG (Given the subject matter) and I never thought Spielberg understood enough about CG to make it useful.

Some of his earlier films are good, but do to my age about the only older films I remeber seeing from Spielberg where ET, Jaws and Close encounters of the third kind.

I never was a fan of the action packed Indiana Jones films...

The way I see Spielberg is like this: He was good in his day, but everyone has only so much they can give, and I think spielberg's bag of goodies ran out 15 years or more ago. He has turned inot "Just another big budget" director.
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#18 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 07:54 AM

Don't get me wrong, Spielberg is an OK director. I mean I just can't say I like his recent more contemporary films. . . Such as War of the Worlds, it just don't fit Spielbergs "Type of film", It has to be full of CG (Given the subject matter) and I never thought Spielberg understood enough about CG to make it useful.

Some of his earlier films are good, but do to my age about the only older films I remeber seeing from Spielberg where ET, Jaws and Close encounters of the third kind.

I never was a fan of the action packed Indiana Jones films...

The way I see Spielberg is like this: He was good in his day, but everyone has only so much they can give, and I think spielberg's bag of goodies ran out 15 years or more ago. He has turned inot "Just another big budget" director.

PS) You know the only reason Hollywood even still deals with him is because he's so powerful, and simply attaching him to a project is huge. I imagine his rates are overdrawn, and as I said earlier, his back of tricks has run out. Hollywood knows he's not that great anymore.
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#19 Jim Murdoch

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 08:32 AM

Don't get me wrong, Spielberg is an OK director. I mean I just can't say I like his recent more contemporary films. . . Such as War of the Worlds, it just don't fit Spielbergs "Type of film",

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


You don't think much of Spielberg's War of the Worlds?
Er dude ... it hasn't actually been released yet!
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#20 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 09:25 AM

"Sugarland" is also filled to the brim with funky "70s zooms" - very unusual in the Spielberg canon. I wonder how much of that was Zsigmond's influence.


My guess is that most of it was influenced by Zsigmond, who still likes to shoot his movies entirely on zoom lenses (even anamorphic), and at that time he liked a lot to zoom during shots. Take a look at his work for Robert Altman in the early 70's and you'll see plenty of zooms.

I'd be more interested to see what direction they take photographically. I find it hard to imagine an Indy movie without Douglas Slocombes beautiful anamorphic photography, and i wonder if Janusz Kaminski will try to emulate that or go in a different, more contempory, direction


Kaminski has avoided the widescreen anamorphic format to date and it seems that he prefers to work in Super 35 with spherical lenses ("Lost Souls", which he directed, "Minority Report" and "War of the Worlds" if it's a 2.35:1 movie). Plus over the last years he has developed a rougher style, with lots of overexposures, diffusion and grain often combined with pushing, negative flashing or even ENR, basically all photographic tricks to degrade image quality, so he would have to move in another direction if they want to shoot the new "Indy" movie in a traditional way.

Though I enjoy Kaminski's work I would love to see what someone like John Toll (who operated for Allen Daviau on some of the films he shot for Spielberg) would do in an "Indy" film.

P.D. The other day I was reading the AC article on "E.T." and Spielberg said on it that he first offered the movie to Bill Fraker, who was busy at the time, and later to Vittorio Storaro, who declined because of the union problems he had during the shooting of "One from the Heart". Spielberg and Storaro... that would have been interesting!
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