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Could Digital Kill Film?


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#401 Samuel Berger

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 10:14 PM

One reason is that cinematographers back then lit a shot for the contrast range of the print stock, not the negative stock.

 

How exactly does that work? (I'm trying to learn 80's comedies lighting styles, as mentioned in its own thread)


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#402 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 11:40 PM

 

Is that also true for a change in look between films in the 60s and films in the 70s?

 

 

As I said, the reasons for the change are technical and stylistic, so yes, the changes between the 60's and 70's were technical and stylistic.

 

There are so many reasons for that change between the 60's and the 70's.  The 60's was the end of the studio era where a lot of stylistic choices were controlled by studio heads.  There was some pressure to also light and expose so that prints projected well in drive-in theaters, which had poorer screen brightness levels, so darkness was discouraged.  But also in 1968, MP color negative stock doubled in speed from 50 ASA to 100 ASA.  Cinematographers who began their careers in the 20's were finally retiring by the 60's and a new generation was emerging.  Glossy bug-budget studio projects were flopping and more idiosyncratic lower-budgeted personal cinema was becoming more profitable (particularly "Easy Rider").  The slicker hard-lit Technicolor look from the 50's was flipping to softer and softer looks by the 70's -- fog filters were in vogue, hazy photography, softer lenses and softer lighting, underexposure -- basically it was a new generation reacting against the aesthetics of a previous generation.  Filmmakers were experimenting.

 

You can sense the change in attitudes just by reading articles from the 70's -- for example, Bergman and Nykvist talking about avoiding compositions with foreground elements in the frame for "Cries and Whispers" because having depth like that was "old fashioned".  Today it's hard to understand having a reaction against using foreground elements in the frame but I think you have to imagine that what was an interesting stylistic approach in the 40's slowly became too much of a "rule" to follow, making filmmakers feel boxed in.  Every new style, if successful, first gets overused and exaggerated, then modified and formalized, integrated into the popular language of filmmaking, and then rejected by the next generation.  Movies go soft because people get tired of them looking sharp, then they go low contrast because people get tired of them being high contrast, and they get pastel because people get tired of them for being too saturated, etc.  Deep focus is trendy and the shallow focus is trendy.  And then it all flips again.  Tastes change.


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#403 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 11:48 PM

 

How exactly does that work? (I'm trying to learn 80's comedies lighting styles, as mentioned in its own thread)

 

You light within the roughly 10-stops displayed on the print rather than the 14-stops on the negative.  In a D.I., you can pull information when desired from the highest and lowest end of the exposed negative, and you can adjust contrast and saturation.  If you are shooting negative for a print, you have to work with the contrast of the print stock with limited ways of adjusting that.

 

The general result sometimes was just being more conservative with exposure and use of fill light, especially for more conservative filmmaking.  You get the look in camera because you are limited in photochemical post with the range of possible corrections.

 

But that's just one aspect of 80's comedy lighting.  That's a bit of a broad label anyway, there were different looks to comedies back then -- look at Gordon Willis' work on Woody Allen comedies, or Chris Menges' work on "Local Hero" and "Comfort and Joy", which have a low-key naturalistic quality.  They weren't "lit for comedy".

 

Also think about the lighting units back then, most of it involved classic tungsten lamp fixtures, some HMI's, though Kinoflos were emerging at the time.


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#404 Samuel Berger

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 11:51 PM

David, thanks for the teachings. :-) The thread that shows samples is here if you don't mind elaborating further. http://www.cinematog...showtopic=75739


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#405 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 12:09 AM

David, thanks for the teachings. :-) The thread that shows samples is here if you don't mind elaborating further. http://www.cinematog...showtopic=75739

 

I think you answered your own question, mainly what you see is a higher key-to-fill ratio, plus less reliance on available / natural / practical lighting -- when they needed light on something, they used a light, they didn't just put in a brighter bulb in a table light or move closer to a daylight window.


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#406 George Ebersole

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 03:55 AM

 

 

As I said, the reasons for the change are technical and stylistic, so yes, the changes between the 60's and 70's were technical and stylistic.

 

There are so many reasons for that change between the 60's and the 70's.  The 60's was the end of the studio era where a lot of stylistic choices were controlled by studio heads.  There was some pressure to also light and expose so that prints projected well in drive-in theaters, which had poorer screen brightness levels, so darkness was discouraged.  But also in 1968, MP color negative stock doubled in speed from 50 ASA to 100 ASA.  Cinematographers who began their careers in the 20's were finally retiring by the 60's and a new generation was emerging.  Glossy bug-budget studio projects were flopping and more idiosyncratic lower-budgeted personal cinema was becoming more profitable (particularly "Easy Rider").  The slicker hard-lit Technicolor look from the 50's was flipping to softer and softer looks by the 70's -- fog filters were in vogue, hazy photography, softer lenses and softer lighting, underexposure -- basically it was a new generation reacting against the aesthetics of a previous generation.  Filmmakers were experimenting.

 

You can sense the change in attitudes just by reading articles from the 70's -- for example, Bergman and Nykvist talking about avoiding compositions with foreground elements in the frame for "Cries and Whispers" because having depth like that was "old fashioned".  Today it's hard to understand having a reaction against using foreground elements in the frame but I think you have to imagine that what was an interesting stylistic approach in the 40's slowly became too much of a "rule" to follow, making filmmakers feel boxed in.  Every new style, if successful, first gets overused and exaggerated, then modified and formalized, integrated into the popular language of filmmaking, and then rejected by the next generation.  Movies go soft because people get tired of them looking sharp, then they go low contrast because people get tired of them being high contrast, and they get pastel because people get tired of them for being too saturated, etc.  Deep focus is trendy and the shallow focus is trendy.  And then it all flips again.  Tastes change.

 

I never saw "Cries and Whispers", and I hate to admit it, but the only part of "Easy Rider" I've ever seen is the famous intentional "lens flare" mistake ... part of that experimentation.  

 

I remember as a kid it was a strange time to go to the movies, because back then movies pre 1970 were night and day compared to stuff after 1970 1971 ... maybe as late as 73.  I mean I didn't think to ask about it then, but it did strike me as odd that stuff like "Marathon Man" looked radically different "Hello Dolly".  I think the last splashy film I saw from that era was "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory".  that had that traditional candy gloss look to it.

 

You could even see it in the still photography books.  I picked up the hobby around 1977, and at Tower Books they were still selling books from the late 50s up through the late 60s where you had clean cut American males with crew cuts talking about F-stops and focal planes.  And then next to them were the long haired full facial hair types talking about the basic, but offering different subjects to take pictures of.

 

Yeah, I remember those times, and there was also a lot of politics attached to the different artistic styles in media.  I think the dissatisfaction was just born out of that era or protesting everything.  

 

I guess the subject matters also dictated a more realistic style.  Again I remember sitting in front of the TV and wondering why the older movies being aired didn't look like the movies in the theatre.  

 

Interesting.

 

I think Disney was a holdout.  I remember seeing stuff like the Herbie films, the original Pete's Dragon or one of the re-released animated films, and it seems like even with new and faster stocks they were still flooding their sets with lights, and doing that very distinctive ADR in post which always made the films sound like they were recorded in a bathroom or something.  

 

Yeah, that was a time to be alive.  Very interesting.  Thanks for the reply.


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#407 fatih yıkar

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 01:22 PM

It's a bit odd to compare pre and post digital timing of movies shot on film from frame grabs from a digital transfer, which means that the "pre digital" example was also scanned and color-corrected digitally.

 

This is what I've been saying. There's simply no way of knowing what 'filmic' elements have been lost, if at all.

 

 Only thing i can do frame grabs in that situation, i can't say people go watch the scream 1-2-3-4, hostel 1-2, american pie 1-2-3-4 and see the difference, i have to show what i meant.

I notice every decades movies look change 60s,70s,80s,90s looking different than each other but none of this changes disturb me until the digital grading.After that i feel like movies start to look like music videos(which i like some some music videos), movies lost their significance,solemnity,intensity for me... 

 

David, i don't understand what is odd.I don't know how much this photochemical finish movies digitally corrected for blu-rays but they don't look like to me digital and i think they still have ''filmic'' elements Stuart  i mean when watching Godfather or scream from blu-ray or movies like that color,texture doesn't seem to me digitally as you seen from the screenshots this first(photochemically) movies has different texture and colors.

but unless a movie remastered like this i can't say they make so digital adjustment for blu-rays... bon-brute-truand-sergio-leone-blu-ray-2014-master4k-13-min.jpg


Edited by fatih yıkar, 11 November 2017 - 01:32 PM.

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#408 Ravi Kiran

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 01:49 PM

David, i don't understand what is odd.I don't know how much this photochemical finish movies digitally corrected for blu-rays but they don't look like to me digital and i think they still have ''filmic'' elements Stuart  i mean when watching Godfather or scream from blu-ray or movies like that color,texture doesn't seem to me digitally as you seen from the screenshots this first(photochemically) movies has different texture and colors.

 

The DVDs and Blu-Rays you say look filmic are digitally graded, even though the 35mm prints were photochemically finished. That means that if a digital transfer looks a certain way it is because of specific creative decisions, not inherently because of the tools.


Edited by Ravi Kiran, 11 November 2017 - 02:03 PM.

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#409 fatih yıkar

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 02:44 PM

 

The DVDs and Blu-Rays you say look filmic are digitally graded, even though the 35mm prints were photochemically finished. That means that if a digital transfer looks a certain way it is because of specific creative decisions, not inherently because of the tools.

If that's so, why the all the photochemical finish movies has a certain look (with a few exceptions) or why i never saw a movie digitally graded look like photochemical? 


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#410 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 02:49 PM

Movies finished on film with a cut negative are transferred to home video in all sorts of ways.  The cheapest and most common for older titles is to find a timed color interpositive element and scan that.  It takes minimal digital color-correction since it has already been balanced shot to shot, most of the work is probably compensating for the aging of the film element and cleaning up dirt & dust.  For elements that have color faded / shifted more, the amount of digital color-correction is more.  For older titles with some real budget for remastering, they will scan the original negative or sometimes the b&w separations, or make a new color interpositive and scan that, and usually they will scan at higher resolutions like 4K because the intent is to create a primary digital master for the movie for theatrical and home video / broadcast, not just a home video / broadcast master.

 

Older movies were shot and lit and exposed for finishing to a print though, and of course, they were shot on older film stocks and older lenses (contemporary technology for their time though).  I'm just trying to say that blaming digital tools entirely for the look of modern movies is very simplistic -- there is a laundry list of reasons why older movies look different than modern movies and I personally don't see a bright line where they suddenly crossed from being "cinematic" or "filmic" to not being that way.  To me, that's an entirely subjective and personal observation, which is fine, but since I can't quite see what you are seeing with your eyes, I can't really explain something that I'm not seeing... other than seeing the change over time of the look of movies due to technology, style, and fashion.  To my eyes, 1950's Eastmancolor movies look different than 3-strip Technicolor movies, but I wouldn't label one "filmic" and the other not.

 

And I certainly don't see a huge shift in look with modern movies shot on 35mm and finished with a D.I. such as "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" or "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" compared to their earlier counterparts other than some change in grain level and contrast and saturation. I certainly can't see a difference that can be labelled "filmic" versus "non-filmic", I just see differences because of time has altered our tools and our tastes.


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#411 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 03:33 PM

When I look at "The Empire Strikes Back" and "The Force Awakens" on blu-ray, for example, I am seeing a digitally color-corrected scan off of 35mm original color negative in both cases:

 

starwars_comparison.jpg

 

There are differences of course, "The Force Awakens" used a lot more mixed color temperatures in lighting, as is a more modern style. And it used Vision-3 500T 5219 instead of 100T 5247.  But I don't see enough of a change that makes one look "filmic" and the other not.


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#412 fatih yıkar

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 04:35 PM

And I certainly don't see a huge shift in look with modern movies shot on 35mm and finished with a D.I. such as "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" or "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" compared to their earlier counterparts other than some change in grain level and contrast and saturation. I certainly can't see a difference that can be labelled "filmic" versus "non-filmic", I just see differences because of time has altered our tools and our tastes.

 

David thank you for kind answer, i think i have to explain what i meant with more example, i will open a topic in 3 days and i hope i'm going to clearly show there my view about the difference finished with D.I movies.


Edited by fatih yıkar, 11 November 2017 - 04:36 PM.

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#413 Samuel Berger

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 04:36 PM

 

post-69480-0-18069500-1510424054.jpg

 

 

 

 

Yikes, they spilled beer all over the film!!


Edited by Samuel Berger, 11 November 2017 - 04:37 PM.

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#414 Ravi Kiran

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 06:31 PM

The look of movies change decade by decade, ever since the dawn of movies. Some reasons are technical, some are stylistic, but the basic truth is that time marches on and things change.  There is no doubt that 80's movies look different than 2000's movies but the reasons for that are many.  One reason is that cinematographers back then lit a shot for the contrast range of the print stock, not the negative stock.

 

In the early days of DI when movies were still mostly projected from film, were the print stocks a consideration in the DI suite?


Edited by Ravi Kiran, 11 November 2017 - 06:32 PM.

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#415 Bruce Greene

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 07:10 PM

 

In the early days of DI when movies were still mostly projected from film, were the print stocks a consideration in the DI suite?

Yes.  When grading the display/projector was corrected with a film print emulation LUT to show what the film print would look like.  There are different LUTs for different print stocks.  There could be additional photo/chemical timing of the negative to produce the final prints.


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#416 Prashantt Rai

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 02:53 PM

No dogshit. A video should be called video, not film. You don’t see a film on a monitor, be it a tube, an LCD or a LED array, nor in so-called digital projection. Tyler may have cited me, he is not to blame. I am the hardcore purist, if you want so.

 

Don’t lie with your words. A book is made from paper. An e-book is not a book and the e(lectronic) suffix doesn’t change that. It is simply disrespectful to give an electronic device the name of a professional and cultural achievement of half a millennium age. Same with film, the invention from 1887, you should know about.

 

Simon,

pressed the red down arrow by mistake. wanted the green up one. damn the touch screen. can administrators undo it please? :-)


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#417 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 05:05 PM

Almost anyone can undo the red arrow by firing a green one. So we can fix these small injustices or errors in the world... :)


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#418 Raissa Contreras

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 10:22 PM

Jon O'Brien - Interesting to hear digital referred to as an old guy's format! LOL. Vittorio Storaro shot Wonder Wheel and Cafe Society w digital so I thought of him after reading your comment. He's a brilliant cinematographer & both are beautiful but I have to say I like the look of Magic in the Moonlight better. I'm a film person tho I understand the advantages of digital and why it might actually be better sometimes. Still, I have always felt like a dinosaur. It's nice for someone to comment otherwise.

 

Would also like to say I thought Murder on Orient Express cinematography fabulous and loved that it was shot on film.


Edited by Raissa Contreras, 03 December 2017 - 10:30 PM.

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