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Labyrinth and Neverending Story back in theaters; Grainy.


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#1 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 14 September 2016 - 11:12 PM

Just got back from seeing the 30th anniversary of Labyrinth in theaters. It was one of those 'fathom' events. 
 
Saw it in a nice new theater, one of the new Cinemark's with luxury loungers... Now, having seen Labyrinth tonight and Neverending Story last week, I have come to realize just how grainy some of the 80's film could be. 
 
Must be that I'm use to all the digital camera's and new fine film stocks, but seeing these older flicks projected on a 60 foot screen looked almost as bad as trying to watch an 8mm movie. In the bright areas, the grain was so noticeable as to be distracting.
 
Anyone experience similar things when watching older films projected, or is it just me. Not trying to start a film vs. digital debate, as even the newer film stocks seemed to eliminate this problem.
 

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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 01:58 AM

I've seen a few 80's films recently on 35mm with original prints and they were very grainy. I blame that on the printing technology at the time because the BluRay's look fine.

I saw the Jaws re-release in 4k, on a huge screen and it was beautiful, not grainy at all. I've also seen several re-releases on 35mm from various time periods and even they looked fine.

Fathom events is a 1080p Mpeg Transport Stream product, sent to theaters via satellite. I bet it's standard old MPEG2, 50Mbps 8 bit 4:2:2, same as broadcast television. I've seen many of those events and they all look like crap. Remember, the projector and playback system is balanced to playback DCP's, which are not REC709, like the MPEG stream. So a lot of the noise/grain you're seeing is simply the low quality presentation exaggerating the issue.

Labyrinth was remastered in 4k and the DCP looks amazing I've been told. I haven't had the chance to sit down and watch it, but maybe if it makes the rounds here in LA, I'll try.

Never Ending Story had some issues with the restoration and considering there isn't a 4k UHD version available, I bet there isn't a 4k version... which is unfortunate.

Here in LA, we have a hand-full of good theaters that run older movies weekly. So you can see remastered/restored versions of movies on the big screen, if that's your can of worms. I personally like to see movies the way they were presented originally. The problem with DCP's of old movies is that, the filmmaker never intended the movies to be shown digitally, so who is making sure the technical work is done properly to match the filmmakers vision. Micheal Mann recently commented about this, having watched a print of his movie 'Heat' and commenting on how much he enjoyed what it looked like on film in the theater, how the experience was so different then the digital version.
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#3 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 05:48 AM

From what I can remember Labyrinth A camera was a Arri BL4.. and mostly with a zoom on it..   and alot of really, really big  lights !..


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 08:49 AM

The early high-speed stocks like 5294 400T were on the grainy side unless heavily overexposed and printed down.  To some degree, film projection softens the grain a little whereas a digital transfer and projection can make the grain very sharp unless some judicious noise reduction is applied.  Of course, you can go too far with that -- some of the "better" blu-rays are in fact the grainiest because they don't do any noise reduction.

 

By 1990, you saw a trend (before high-speed stocks improved further) of some cinematographers shooting whole movies on the slower stocks -- for example, Robert Richardson shot most of the interiors for "The Doors" on 500T but decided on "JFK" to shoot as much of the movie as possible on 100T stock.  Same thing happened on "Batman Returns", "Howard's End", "Peggy Sue Got Married", etc.  Then Kodak came out with a 200T stock and most of those 100T cinematographers jumped on that -- Richardson used it for "Nixon", Tony Pierce-Roberts used it for "Remains of the Day", etc.

 

To some degree, I think a lot of people's reactions to seeing older movies on the big screen as looking grainy as simply that they've gotten used to the cleaner look of modern movies.  Of course, there can be external reasons why the old movie now looks grainy, depending on how it was restored and from what elements in the vault, etc.but I sometimes think people have a romantic view as to how these movies looked when they saw them decades ago, they remember them as being more sharp, less grainy, more vivid and saturated than they often were.

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