I am nearly finished with my first short film! It was shot in S16 on Kodak Vision 3 500T and 200T. It was scanned at 2K at MetPost in NYC.
At this point I am not sure If I am trying to over reduce the noise, or if I am just smudging away grain((?)). I am still noticing what I believe is color noise (and perhaps other noise?) in some of the darker colors.
I have tried to use the qualifier to select the areas that I believe require additional attention from reduction. However, even with high amounts of chroma reduction I am seeing some blue
speckle. I fear I might be going too far. Is this something I will have to live with? I am also noticing what looks like white speckles dancing around in other areas. It feels too fast to be grain, but maybe I'm wrong!
Any and all feedback is appreciated. I have attached some screen shots, but if required make a small video clip of the scenes that stand out to me most.
The following link has 6 screen shots exported as JPEG stills from Davinci Resolve
The flat lighting in the scene is drawing attention to all the grain present in S16mm film-- that's really all it is, and because it's flat I don't think you'll get rid of it all. As for the white speckles etc, we'd need to see things in motion. Grain looks much worse, I've found in stills, most of the time. But if you're thinking you'll get your footage to look like it came off of an Alexa, well, not with S16mm film I'm afraid as the grain is pretty large in relation to what you're recording on the smaller gauge format.
what you're seeing is just from the flat lighting. If you have more contrast in the image on the day the grain would've been mitigated. The white flecks are a little bit of scratches or dirt on the neg, which normally you'd clean up after editing.
I was not referring to the dust, scratch (and thankfully not here: hairs) as I am aware of those areas. I did not have any software to handle that clean up as my footage is Prores 4444 and not DPX that Davinci requires for the job. I think I was confusing the grain with noise, although I am aware they are different. I appreciate your feedback!
No worries. And as for the speckles of white; just export that bit into after effects and you can clone brush away the white speck so it's not "white" for that frame, if you have to, and it'll be much less noticeable. Least that's how I did it in film school- I haven't had to handle that part of film post personally in a long time, thankfully (it's what i refer to as a "rick problem," rick being one of my very good friends and an amazing editor lol)
As people have said, the origin of the noise is the flat lighting.... but if you do want to try to reduce it, regardless, with this type of footage you'll probably get less smudged looking results using Temporal NR only.
Also, if your NR is doing weird stuff with chroma in the blacks, one easy set it and forget it solution for that is a timeline level qualifier targeting high saturation in low values, and turning the saturation way down. As long as you nail the saturation floor, it shouldn't affect your look.
Honestly, technically I don't see any issues. All I see is standard film grain and honestly, it's not even that much. Yes it's accentuated by the lighting which has forced you to do some grading, but no it's not anything unusual.
For me, I like nice and even lighting on faces because it helps to smoothen out the noise. If I have a high contrast ratio, I won't try to fight it, I will let things go dark, but that's hard to do with narrative where you need to see people's faces. Also if you want a higher contrast ratio on faces, don't under expose the darker side too much.
If you had separated your background from your foreground, that would have helped a lot. I think that's one of the biggest mistakes young filmmakers make; building depth.
Thank you for the feedback everyone, it is greatly appreciated! Unfortunately I only had the chance to read one book on film lighting before shooting the project. I guess the contrast was not high enough in my readings! I have read Kris Malkiewicz's Film Lighting. Are there any other books on depth and lighting that you can recommend? Now that this project is ending, I would like to start my next real soon! Thank you again!
The best book is the one you write yourself where you list all the things that went wrong and went right in your experience
Another thing is to watch other films and try to deconstruct how they are using light (not really what light they are using, but how they are using it) and then apply those concepts, when appropriate, to what you have at hand in terms of lighting and in terms of story.
The grain is the best thing about S16mm these days, it gives you a wonderful, unmistakable aesthetic. The last thing I'd be doing with it is grain reduction. If it's clean images you want, just shoot digital.
As for chroma noise, some scanners do introduce it. I've found it cleans up very easily in Resolve using just the chroma noise reduction tools.
I'd throw out there that these stills are pretty darn clean grain wise, and you'll need to remember that the grain varies across the frame based on brightness/darkness of a given spot.
I'd recommend trying Neat Video, IIRC they have a direct plug in for Resolve now. Its pretty amazing honestly, I've been able to do some nutty degrain, sharpen, regrain with upscales that look great. It may give you results more to your satisfaction.
I'd throw out there though, given the white walls you've got in the material, the grain will actually make the image less videoy and feel a bit more natural given the grain variance of the otherwise simple and constant background
The masters can use light to sculpt a scene and make it seem "natural" when it's anything but. You're definitely on your way and learning how light sticks to film so bravo.
A great colorist I've worked with for years said to me once, "get the light the way you like it, then double it." Not sure if that's scientific but if you can keep it in the same ratio but put more light on the scene it's much easier to remove light than add it in. Just because a stock says 500 doesn't mean it sees in the dark.
Lighting makes any scene come to life, film or digital. Love the idea of looking at a Vermeer and trying to achieve that. What wonderful practice that would be.
These were the scenes where it stood out to me most. Running time is about 17 mins, and there's a good portion of the film where there's a significant difference in visible grain. So, I am using that as reference to learn from. Thank you again, I will definitely use this information to my benefit moving forward!