Jump to content


Photo

Pushing the technology of film negative - Interview with Linus Sandgren, FSF


  • Please log in to reply
13 replies to this topic

#1 Jay Young

Jay Young
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 483 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Lexington KY

Posted 06 March 2017 - 03:05 PM

Recently I was reading this article in which DP Linus Sandgren offers an in-depth look inside the making of the musical LA LA LAND and shooting it on film.

I encourage you to read the article and then post your thoughts. 

Linus says this quote:

In the industry now, there is a rush to develop digital technology. They are embracing it because it’s new, but if you want to work with perfection, you should probably go back to where we are with film cameras and perfect that. We can't forget that it's also an art form.

Which sent my head reeling...

 

I wanted to see how you all felt about the advancement of film negative technology. What is the next step?

 

Film cameras can do things that digital camera can not because they are analog devices. They can literally manipulate the image in ways that are impossible for digital, except inside a computer. The Arricam ST and LT and the Panavision Millennium XL2 are probably the most advanced electronic motion picture cameras produced to date.

The invention of the tabular grain structure, the continued evolvement of the Vision film stocks from Kodak that keep pushing image acquisition ability, modular transfer function, and latitude... it just keeps getting better.

 

So, what would you feel the next evolution in film acquisition might be? I for one am glad that cinematographers are interested in furthering the technology of the film medium, instead of focusing on digital technology which sometimes gives an image that is less than desired.

I am glad that the notion to make all digital footage look like celluloid has waned a bit, yet I am still waiting for digital camera manufacturers to understand that color is more important than pixels.

 

I posted this on Reddit, to which some commented there is an increased cost - people that use to work in the industry, that worked with film daily... Or that their films never looked as good as the digital images they can now produce.  Of course, in this sense good is subjective. 

 

And, while I agree that film should be a projection format, the current industry limits that support and art platform.  Still, if more cinematographers were to continue to push film, I wonder what the outcome would be.  I am glad that there are artists such as Linus who embrace the workflow and try to make it better. 

 

Thoughts?


Edited by Jay Young, 06 March 2017 - 03:05 PM.

  • 0


#2 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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

Posted 06 March 2017 - 04:37 PM

Share the reddit thread - I’m curious to see that feedback. 


  • 0

#3 Chris Burke

Chris Burke
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1668 posts
  • Boston, MA

Posted 06 March 2017 - 05:24 PM

Did I hear wrong that Daniel Craig asked for Spectre to be shot on film??? I can't blame him.  If stars of his caliber ask for it more and more..........


  • 0

#4 Adam Frisch FSF

Adam Frisch FSF
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2000 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, USA

Posted 06 March 2017 - 05:39 PM

I'm all for film and I think it tonally is superior to even the best digital stuff. That said, a roll of 400ft from Kodak is $500, add developing etc and it's a costlier format, no doubt. Yes, you do save on DIT costs, have lower rental costs etc, so it's not as big a delta as one would initially think, but it's still at a premium cost.

 

But the biggest obstacle is the change in on-set viewing. The clients and agency when I shoot a commercial are used to seeing a big HD image. Same for feature producers and financiers. Going back to viewing terrible SD video taps is not something that is easily done these days. You can't expect everyone to be as nerdy and committed as us. They're paying for it, they want to see what they're buying. That's where the resistance will come from.

 

Example: on a recent short I shot on my Aaton 35III, we needed to beam SD wirelessly as we were running all over a huge mountain. This proved an almost impossible task to do as there are no SD video transmitters anymore. And uprezzing SD to HD so you can beam it via Teradek, proved to be a huge hassle on set. The very few HD taps that are out there on Arricams etc are costly and prone to malfunction from what I hear from the rental houses.

 

So, why am I mentioning all this? I love film, but it's not ever going to come back and become the main format again. It will be a niche thing (a niche thing I hope can keep on using for a long time!). And that's ultimately where the development will end for film. Even if film use stayed constant at todays levels, I don't think that's nearly enough to sustain any real new development in negatives. Therefore, I don't think film quality will improve much.


  • 1

#5 Jay Young

Jay Young
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 483 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Lexington KY

Posted 06 March 2017 - 06:07 PM

Share the reddit thread - I’m curious to see that feedback. 

 

https://www.reddit.c..._film_negative/

 

 

 

 

In the article he said they viewed side by side tests of the digital / Film projection and preferred the film? Or, could not find a reason to shoot digital. 

 

I am fine with being a niche DP.   I'm going to keep pushing for the format, and keep the knowledge alive - someone has to. 


  • 0

#6 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3510 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 06 March 2017 - 07:01 PM

But the biggest obstacle is the change in on-set viewing. The clients and agency when I shoot a commercial are used to seeing a big HD image. Same for feature producers and financiers. Going back to viewing terrible SD video taps is not something that is easily done these days. You can't expect everyone to be as nerdy and committed as us. They're paying for it, they want to see what they're buying. That's where the resistance will come from.


Good point Adam. I have a B&W standard def tap on my Moviecam that I am exploring converting to HD with a machine vision camera. Hopefully it won't be too expensive. I think this is a critical step to address for the client/producer side.

It's probably less of an issue on big budget features where they never stopped shooting on film. I've noticed in BTS shots from 'The Force Awakens' that the 1st ACs were using TVLogic on-board monitors with the composite video input, so I guess even the brand new black Panavision cameras still have a standard def tap.
  • 0

#7 Albion Hockney

Albion Hockney
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 461 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • LA

Posted 06 March 2017 - 07:38 PM

I can't believe that they had SD video on the force awakens!

 

I remember seeing this in or around 2011 - seems reason enough to use them over panavision or anything else


Edited by Albion Hockney, 06 March 2017 - 07:40 PM.

  • 0

#8 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3510 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 06 March 2017 - 11:53 PM

But, the lenses Albion. The lenses!
  • 0

#9 Mark Kenfield

Mark Kenfield
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1018 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Australia/Wherever The Wind Takes Me

Posted 07 March 2017 - 12:42 AM

I can't believe that they had SD video on the force awakens!

 

 

Given how many shots I saw in the picture with buzzed focus, I'm not! :D


  • 0

#10 Keith Walters

Keith Walters
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2213 posts
  • Other
  • Sydney Australia

Posted 07 March 2017 - 01:11 AM

 

Film cameras can do things that digital camera can not because they are analog devices. 

ALL cameras are analog devices where it counts, which is the image capturing device or medium. In a "Digital" camera, the captured analog signal is immediately digitized and thereafter processed digitally. In-camera Digital processing is far more more flexible than the analog processing systems that preceded it, because making significant improvements to analog processing normally required hardware changes; with a digital processor it's most just a matter of software.

 

Digital cameras have gotten a lot better at disguising the many shortcomings of CMOS image sensors, but film emulsion is simply capable of doing a better job of capturing the initial information. You can do what you like with the images after the film has been processed and scanned, or the analog sensor images stored digitized and stored, but you can't put back what was never there in the first place.


  • 0

#11 Keith Walters

Keith Walters
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2213 posts
  • Other
  • Sydney Australia

Posted 07 March 2017 - 01:14 AM

 

Given how many shots I saw in the picture with buzzed focus, I'm not! :D

????
NOBODY would use a video tap to focus from.

You don't focus a Movie camera the way do a TV news camera, the focus puller generally works off pre-measured marks.

What do you think all those Sharpie-covered white discs are for?


  • 0

#12 Satsuki Murashige

Satsuki Murashige
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3510 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 07 March 2017 - 02:14 AM

Given how many shots I saw in the picture with buzzed focus, I'm not! :D


Huh. I didn't notice anything egregious. But then I only went to 2K screenings in non-IMAX theaters.

'La La Land' on the other hand...
  • 0

#13 Simon Wyss

Simon Wyss
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1348 posts
  • Other
  • Basel, Switzerland

Posted 07 March 2017 - 02:44 AM

There are a few old technical problems that never got entirely solved. One of them is sharpness, technical sharpness, the film is not perfectly flat and not exactly where it should be.

 

One film problem is image steadiness. With the small-gauge formats we have systematic cancellation of perforation deviations through standards, unified positioning distances. Not so with the 35mm film where cameras, printers, and projectors can be of very different designs. Generally the cameras’ precision is not transferred by printers. Projectors finally don’t have precision movements, the intermittent sprockets stand at various intervals from the aperture. It was just not possible to equip projectors with register pins due to the shrinking prints full of sticky tapes and worse. IMAX stood out of the mess and it offered very good steadiness because the projectors had a registering movement.

 

The widest opening angle of a film motion-picture camera shutter is 235 degrees, the Mitchell 16. Video begins with a 330 degrees equivalent and can go to 360 degrees in numeric modes. No black out

 

But film can be exposed without electricity, over indefinite time, multiple times. We can shoot backwards, no video camera can do that. Film cameras have rackover focusing systems or reflex viewfinders. We can use dull film to frame and focus directly on it. In this respect some old cameras outrival all the younger: the cinématographe Lumière, the Pathé industriel, Debrie’s Parvo. Reversal film can be projected. Projection can be beautiful due to light and optics.

 

One thing has been omitted until today and I wish it would be done with film. It’s the inclusion of the colour violet. Technically it would involve an extra layer with the taking film. The question is what would the complementary colour be in the negative-positive process? It doesn’t exist. A black-and-white image would possibly work, the corresponding layer on the projection film dyed separately?


Edited by Simon Wyss, 07 March 2017 - 02:49 AM.

  • 0

#14 Jay Young

Jay Young
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 483 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Lexington KY

Posted 07 March 2017 - 03:00 PM

ALL cameras are analog devices where it counts, which is the image capturing device or medium. In a "Digital" camera, the captured analog signal is immediately digitized and thereafter processed digitally. In-camera Digital processing is far more more flexible than the analog processing systems that preceded it, because making significant improvements to analog processing normally required hardware changes; with a digital processor it's most just a matter of software.

 

Digital cameras have gotten a lot better at disguising the many shortcomings of CMOS image sensors, but film emulsion is simply capable of doing a better job of capturing the initial information. You can do what you like with the images after the film has been processed and scanned, or the analog sensor images stored digitized and stored, but you can't put back what was never there in the first place.

 

I've yet to see a digital camera be able to shift timing or phase of the film pulldown and rotary shutter - those cameras that have a physical rotary shutter. Not that such a tool is always useful, but plenty of these digital cinema camera manufacturers seem to think that I need to record audio....  


  • 0


Rig Wheels Passport

Aerial Filmworks

Wooden Camera

rebotnix Technologies

The Slider

Visual Products

Technodolly

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Paralinx LLC

Tai Audio

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Ritter Battery

Metropolis Post

CineLab

Abel Cine

Willys Widgets

FJS International, LLC

CineTape

Aerial Filmworks

Rig Wheels Passport

CineLab

Paralinx LLC

Technodolly

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Ritter Battery

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio

Metropolis Post

CineTape

Visual Products

Glidecam

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

FJS International, LLC

Wooden Camera

rebotnix Technologies

Abel Cine

Willys Widgets

The Slider