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Tom Sigel talks Genesis


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#1 fstop

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Posted 15 July 2005 - 12:09 PM

I am two minds with this:

Firstly, I am INCREDIBLY excited about the Genesis camera and the evolution of digital cinematography- it's tremendously exciting, it's an often tabooed area that has yet to really spread it's wings and it's also inevitably the future of cinema (how's the last bit for sensationalism, purists? :P )-

Also, there's no tiptoeing around the fact that Newton Tom Sigel is a highly talented cameraman (though I tend to prefer his real world, intimate stuff over the standard look he gives/is asked to give VFX/superhero movies). I applaud Mr. Sigel for having the vision to embrace HD.

BUT-

To me, the Superman movies were about Christopher Reeve and the last time UK production talent fully dominated a Hollywood blockbuster. No, the comics have nothing to do with this and neither does any other incarnation of the man of steel, but when I think of Superman I think of classically trained, old school BSC cinematographers in the archaic "lighting cameramen" sense, loyalty to the past (what's a steadicam?) pre-Kino/eve of HMI high f-stop depth hard lighting and elaborate anamorphic compositions. Even the shoddily made Superman IV managed to hit that criteria (except for the "elaborate" part of the last point). Yes, I know my feelings are sentimental, dated, nonsensical as far as the movies characters and narrative are concerned- but I'd be lying to say it doesn't irk me that that level of UK film heritage has gone away.

Oh, and I can't stand team Bryan Singer's X-men movies and feel they were the wrong choice for yet another cheap looking production line studio superhero movie.

Anyway- here's what I'm whining about:

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#2 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 15 July 2005 - 02:20 PM

What? They shot that screentest in 65mm?

That's even cooler than those Alien tests shot by Brian Tufano [BSC] in anamorphic Panavision!

I'm pretty anxious to see the Panavision Genesis in action, but I doubt that the results will be sharper and cleaner than regular 35mm photography. Perhaps if they're shooting with a lot of greenscreens and CGIs in mind and they need a lot of composites the results could be more pleasing to the eye, but I still think that 35mm film had yet to be surpassed in terms of color, texture and resolution.

I love Geoffrey Unsworth's work in Superman -specially the foggy filtered Krypton scenes- as much as you do Tim, so Siegel will have to do something very special to haunt me with his images, analog or digital.

Edited by Ignacio Aguilar, 15 July 2005 - 02:23 PM.

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#3 Saul Pincus

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Posted 15 July 2005 - 06:11 PM

Yes, I know my feelings are sentimental, dated, nonsensical as far as the movies characters and narrative are concerned- but I'd be lying to say it doesn't irk me that that level of UK  film heritage has gone away.


I agree with you completely, and adore the Superman series for many reasons aesthetically, but you neglect to mention Batman Begins, a film that in my opinion does a fabulous job of combining current tastes with "old school" British film craftsmanship. I think you can feel it in every frame.

An issue I have with the last two Star Wars prequels, for example, is that despite Lucas' edict that they follow the stylistic plan of the previous films, they frequently feel composed for "recomposable" Super 35 rather than the more absolute dimensions of the anamorphic frame. Add to that a feeling that the live-action compositions are less precise - even on partial or full sets - and I sometimes get a feeling of stylistic disconnect (content assessment aside.) It doesn't have to be your approach, but really tight shooting schedules and multiple camera setups on dialogue really promote this.

I recall reading a story about Gary Kibbe's photography of John Carpenter's They Live where either Carpenter or Kibbe lamented the lack of "discipline" in the industry with regard to camera operation and composition, how he strove to be the ultimate craftsperson as an operator and was now concerned that as a DOP he would pass this legacy on. Craftspeople are no less caring today, it's just that it seems there's increasingly less and less respect for the "stagecraft."

Saul
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 July 2005 - 07:54 PM

The question though is how thriving is the "old school" of British production craft that made all those great war movies and sci-fi films of the 1960's and 1970's -- it seems a lot of those folks are retired or dead by now.

I would have agreed with you more back in the 1980's when Peter Hyams made "2010" in Los Angeles and the set reconstruction of the Discovery obviously sucked compared to what Tony Masters did for Kubrick in the original (on the other hand, Kubrick went way over-budget getting things up to his exacting standards.) It was clear in that film that the "magic" of the British production system and craftsmanship was missing in "2010".

But now, I'm not sure the same people are still working there in the U.K. I didn't think the quality of the sets in "The Phantom Menace" changed that much when they moved to Australia for the second two movies, for example. Did Stuart Freeborn do the Yoda puppet in "The Phantom Menace"? I hope not, because it was terrible compared to the one in "Empire Strikes Back".

For all you know, Australia & New Zealand of this decade may be what the U.K. film industry was in the 1960's and 1970's (I'm not talking stylistically, of course, but more about the level of craftsmanship and talent.)

Anyway, I'm pleased to read that Singer and Seigel are respectful of the original ("we have a standard to maintain") rather than thinking "we can do better than that old movie". Also, I think Seigel has a certain Unsworth quality to some of his work, slightly favoring the impressionistic and romantic. I can't be sure that Singer has the same epic sensibility that Donner tried to give the original.

It's interesting that they tested 65mm and then the Genesis -- maybe they were both disappointed with the graininess of "X-Men 2" (shot in Super-35) but didn't want to deal with anamorphic lenses again as with the first "X-Men".
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#5 Saul Pincus

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Posted 16 July 2005 - 02:10 AM

The question though is how thriving is the "old school" of British production craft that made all those great war movies and sci-fi films of the 1960's and 1970's -- it seems a lot of those folks are retired or dead by now.

True, but those folks had apprentices, so some of their methods survive.

Did Stuart Freeborn do the Yoda puppet in "The Phantom Menace"?  I hope not, because it was terrible compared to the one in "Empire Strikes Back".

No, Freeborn wasn't involved in the prequels. I believe it was Nick Dudman.

It's interesting that they tested 65mm and then the Genesis -- maybe they were both disappointed with the graininess of "X-Men 2" (shot in Super-35) but didn't want to deal with anamorphic lenses again as with the first "X-Men".

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Other than issues of economics and the thrill of being the first to use new technology, I just can't see how 65mm wouldn't be the ideal format, given the choice. But I'm not Singer nor Sigel... nor Mullen!

Saul

Edited by Saul Pincus, 16 July 2005 - 02:12 AM.

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#6 fstop

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Posted 16 July 2005 - 03:37 PM

Good call on Batman Begins. Alot of the same talent who brought that to our screens worked on the 1989 Tim Burton movie. It's not as sentimental as Superman though because a) the Batman movies were plot hole heavy and not particularly good to begin with compared to the first half of Donner's Superman and B) only Batman 1989 was shot in the UK.

The question though is how thriving is the "old school" of British production craft that made all those great war movies and sci-fi films of the 1960's and 1970's -- it seems a lot of those folks are retired or dead by now.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


No, it's all long dead. A handful of the older generation aside, most of the UK's DPs and other technical talent of today are from filmschool/promos and television. The Salkind Superman people were trained under the Kordas, Michael Powell, Kubrick and David Lean over many many years of working up the ladder. Then again, a certain MONSTER'S removal of the Eady Levy in the early 1980s more or less spelled doomsday for all of our great heritage.

This is my exact point about the Superman movies being part of an era, self-contained, and as I said, this is just me being sentimental. However, as this is all suppose to be franchise "revival" you can't escape the jarring, cringeworthy transistion. And that's just from BEHIND the camera!

I would have agreed with you more back in the 1980's when Peter Hyams made "2010" in Los Angeles and the set reconstruction of the Discovery obviously sucked compared to what Tony Masters did for Kubrick in the original (on the other hand, Kubrick went way over-budget getting things up to his exacting standards.)  It was clear in that film that the "magic" of the British production system and craftsmanship was missing in "2010".

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I dunno- I really liked Ron Cobb's stuff on Hyam's movie, and I love the fact that in many ways 2010 looked and felt nothing like 2001. Plus, if I wanted to see gorgeous Tony Masters design work circa 1984, I could just go and watch Dune. As for today...?

But now, I'm not sure the same people are still working there in the U.K.  I didn't think the quality of the sets in "The Phantom Menace" changed that much when they moved to Australia for the second two movies, for example. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I agree, though considering 90% of these new movies are shot in front of bluescreens, the comparison isn't exactly fair. I mean, they ended up shooting huge portions of the last two Star Wars movies at Britain's Elstree, Ealing and Shepperton studios, and it's all interchangable.

Did Stuart Freeborn do the Yoda puppet in "The Phantom Menace"?  I hope not, because it was terrible compared to the one in "Empire Strikes Back".

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Yeah it was Nick Dudman, and from what I remember being told when the movie was being made, that was a directorial decision that the make up people weren't happy about. The original maquettes that were on Nick Maley's Cinesecrets website around 1999 were something else, however. The problem stemmed from the fact that Freeborn's stuff was latex while Dudman was using translucent looking Silicone moulds. Of course, George Lucas chose to ignore all of the reasons WHY the Silicone Yoda sucked (design, continuity), and decided to expensively create a CGI Yoda that would emulate everything about Freeborn's latex puppet from 20 years ago.

For all you know, Australia & New Zealand of this decade may be what the U.K. film industry was in the 1960's and 1970's (I'm not talking stylistically, of course, but more about the level of craftsmanship and talent.)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Well, i think it's highly unfortunate that all of this undeniable great Aussie talent is being wasted on unambitious simulations of what was happening in the UK in the 60s/70s and 80s with these pretend Superman and Star Wars "movies". I also strongly doubt you are going to get message board geeks harping on in many years time about the baroque craftmanship involved in making Scooby Doo, Ghost Ship and the Matrix sequels, the same way you hear about 2001/Kubrick's movies, Indiana Jones, Original Star Wars, Salkind Superman movies, David Lean epics, etc. I dare say they'll still be harping on about the 60s/70s and 80s!

I don't think production values heavy Aussie genre efforts have really exsisted since Mad Max The Road Warrior, the one exception in my opinion being Babe Pig In The City -IMO vastly superior to the original and a technically outstanding movie that made use of a lot more Australian talent than the first one. Shame Joe Public doesn't have much time for George Miller these days- they'd rather watch Scooby Doo, or Ghost Ship, apparently.

Actually, Pitch Black was alot of fun, but even for that all of the money was being spent in LA and the UK where the VFX were being done. There's been lots of really good stuff made in Aus for TV though, such as Rod Hardy's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Sadly, even that stuff will only amount to cult following in the future.

Anyway, I'm pleased to read that Singer and Seigel are respectful of the original ("we have a standard to maintain") rather than thinking "we can do better than that old movie". 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I don't know, have you seen the new costume? It's like a bad, poor-man's faddy Spider-man aping outfit that design wise looks more like evil Superman from Superman III. I know Superman III isn't held in high regard, but then again, if Team Singer hold these movies in such high regard anyway, why the heck are they just remaking them in fan film form? More terrible is the fact that for the new movie Singer is using the never seen before Brando footage from Donner's never completed Superman 2- this will permanently deny a Donner cut Superman 2 release in the future. If Singer was such a big big fan of the movies with SO much respect, surely he'd go out of his way to get Donner's cut released, as oppose to spending the money on the Brando footage that he'll now ultimately be taking credit for?

Also, I think Seigel has a certain Unsworth quality to some of his work, slightly favoring the impressionistic and romantic.  I can't be sure that Singer has the same epic sensibility that Donner tried to give the original.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I certainly didn't feel any of that watching Blankman, X-men or X-men 2 (count them THREE superhero movies). I thought the Smallville TV show was comparitively much more cinematic. Shame nobody had the vision to go with one of those DPs.

Seriously though, I agree about the impressionistic/romantic end to some of his work. Blood and Wine, Fallen and the Usual Suspects all demonstrate this, and his work seems far more inspired doing those kind of movies rather than being "Mr. Formula Superhero movie". I doubt anybody WANTS to be the Danny Elfman of cinematographers.

It's interesting that they tested 65mm and then the Genesis -- maybe they were both disappointed with the graininess of "X-Men 2" (shot in Super-35) but didn't want to deal with anamorphic lenses again as with the first "X-Men".

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Kind of a cake and eat it approach? See, I guess that's another sign of the times: just look at the original Donner Superman, look at those overambitious, fall-apart Zoptic shots with grainy blown up 35mm background plates, all shot with variable anamorphic lenses that frequently (visibly) vignetted! Regardless, in their naivety nobody cared, they just aimed high and tried to make it work for they would NOT compromise the main unit's epic quality, which lead to the vast improvements on the sequels where they moved into Vistavision/ToddAO plates and eventually (on Supergirl) prime lenses to photograph process.

By contrast (assuming David's assumptions are correct) today the art of framing/designing sets for anamorphic is almost an urban myth so they do it badly on Xmen, they avoid it entirely when they fail and go super35 on X2, and then they want the resolution of anamorphic without having to work for it, so they try to cheat with 65mm-

If they are so faithfully dedicated to the look and feel of Richard Donner's Superman, why couldn't they have learned to shoot 35mm anamorphic comic book heroes properly with all of the hard work that entails?

It's just another big fat studio-pandering compromise, dancing on the grave of a time long long gone which should be left to rest. Can't we do something NEW? The way forward shouldn't be about BRUISING the past. It's so unfortunate that Mr. Sigel has so much obvious belief, vision and passion for HD and it's not being utilised for a much more worthy project.
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#7 fstop

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Posted 16 July 2005 - 03:59 PM

I can't edit, but I confused Ron Cobb with Albert Brenner and Syd Mead as designer of 2010! Apologies!
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#8 K Borowski

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Posted 16 July 2005 - 07:06 PM

I only had enough time to download about 1/2 of that little video blog on why they chose to shoot digital, but who the hell do they think they are kidding saying that 65mm convinced them to shoot on HD??? That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Also, saying that HD is a lot like film only sharper and without grain is total horseshit. 35mm looks bad if they shoot 500T pushed two stops, but if they take the time to light for slower film, such as 100 or 200T, they'd certainly get much better grain and higher resolution. And I don't know how many stops you'd have to push 65mm before it got grainy, so clearly, this guy is shaping up to be another George Lucas with all of this "I don't know why anyone shoots film when they can just use HD without any grain and such sharpness for capturing the color blue and an actor or two in front of a bluescreen". I bet HD does do better with a solid color, like blue or green ahem ahem ahem, but with real life backgrounds and things that have small details and textures, HD is nothing. The Genesis certainly is no better than a high-end digital SLR with the ability to capture images sequentially to the tune of 24+ per second, and I have NOT been impressed by digital SLRs at all in still photography. The skin tones and color reproduction are poor, the details are grainless, but also SOFT because there are no minute details being captured. They suffer from aliasing and jagged lines for anything going diagonally across the frame, so I really cannot begin to understand why they would choose to shoot a big-budget film in HD instead of the perfect format 65mm. Some of the greatest films of all time have been shot on this format, using 30 year old emulsion technology that still looks better than the best stocks in 35mm do today, so why shun this incredible technology for a hyped-up digital camera? This whole thing makes me hot under the collar. I am honestly afraid that cinematography is taking the same sharp decline that music took when digital assimilated that industry. God knows this may be the end of motion picture as an artform. It's been sick for a long time, I know, but this may be the final nail in the coffin. Some people liken digital to the same sort of improvement that sound movies were to cinema, but it is entirely different. We are taking a real step BACKWARDS when the image resolution of 1960s films is now going to be a lot BETTER than the resolution of our films today. When there are no stock concerns and film limitations, there is no drive to put the best possible use to filmstock. Unlimited takes and constantly rolling cameras are going to bring out less and less realistic performances because there is simply no sense of urgency when you can just tape over what you've shot already. This really scares me :unsure:

Regards.
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#9 Filip Plesha

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Posted 16 July 2005 - 07:30 PM

What? They shot that screentest in 65mm?

That's even cooler than those Alien tests shot by Brian Tufano [BSC] in anamorphic Panavision!

I'm pretty anxious to see the Panavision Genesis in action, but I doubt that the results will be sharper and cleaner than regular 35mm photography. Perhaps if they're shooting with a lot of greenscreens and CGIs in mind and they need a lot of composites the results could be more pleasing to the eye, but I still think that 35mm film had yet to be surpassed in terms of color, texture and resolution.

I love Geoffrey Unsworth's work in Superman -specially the foggy filtered Krypton scenes- as much as you do Tim, so Siegel will have to do something very special to haunt me with his images, analog or digital.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



what alien test shots are you talking about?
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#10 Filip Plesha

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Posted 16 July 2005 - 07:57 PM

I only had enough time to download about 1/2 of that little video blog on why they chose to shoot digital, but who the hell do they think they are kidding saying that 65mm convinced them to shoot on HD???  That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  Also, saying that HD is a lot like film only sharper and without grain is total horseshit.  35mm looks bad if they shoot 500T pushed two stops, but if they take the time to light for slower film, such as 100 or 200T, they'd certainly get much better grain and higher resolution.  And I don't know how many stops you'd have to push 65mm before it got grainy, so clearly, this guy is shaping up to be another George Lucas with all of this "I don't know why anyone shoots film when they can just use HD without any grain and such sharpness for capturing the color blue and an actor or two in front of a bluescreen".  I bet HD does do better with a solid color, like blue or green ahem ahem ahem, but with real life backgrounds and things that have small details and textures, HD is nothing.  The Genesis certainly is no better than a high-end digital SLR with the ability to capture images sequentially to the tune of 24+ per second, and I have NOT been impressed by digital SLRs at all in still photography.  The skin tones and color reproduction are poor, the details are grainless, but also SOFT because there are no minute details being captured.  They suffer from aliasing and jagged lines for anything going diagonally across the frame, so I really cannot begin to understand why they would choose to shoot a big-budget film in HD instead of the perfect format 65mm.  Some of the greatest films of all time have been shot on this format, using 30 year old emulsion technology that still looks better than the best stocks in 35mm do today, so why shun this incredible technology for a hyped-up digital camera?  This whole thing makes me hot under the collar.  I am honestly afraid that cinematography is taking the same sharp decline that music took when digital assimilated that industry.  God knows this may be the end of motion picture as an artform.  It's been sick for a long time, I know, but this may be the final nail in the coffin.  Some people liken digital to the same sort of improvement that sound movies were to cinema, but it is entirely different.  We are taking a real step BACKWARDS when the image resolution of 1960s films is now going to be a lot BETTER than the resolution of our films today.  When there are no stock concerns and film limitations, there is no drive to put the best possible use to filmstock.  Unlimited takes and constantly rolling cameras are going to bring out less and less realistic performances because there is simply no sense of urgency when you can just tape over what you've shot already.  This really scares me  :unsure:

Regards.
~Karl Borowski

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>




ok, you asked for it :D ,
make me look stupid, and guess which one of these pictures is digital SLR and chich one is still negative film (35mm):

Posted Image

Posted Image

Edited by Filip Plesha, 16 July 2005 - 08:01 PM.

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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 01:29 AM

I really cannot begin to understand why they would choose to shoot a big-budget film in HD instead of the perfect format 65mm. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I don't think they chose HD instead of 65mm. I suspect they wanted to shoot 65mm, hence doing the tests for the Warner Bros. executives in 65mm, but that idea was nixed at some point.

They've shot features together in both Super-35 and anamorphic, so perhaps they wanted to shoot in a format they haven't tried yet, I don't know, and 65mm being ruled out as too expensive or complicated, whatever, they looked at the Genesis and liked what they saw. But whatever the reasons, clearly a fine-grained look is what they are after and they didn't want to have to get it by shooting on slow film with more light and they didn't want to deal with the depth of field / focusing issues of shooting in anamorphic at wider apertures. Plus Singer is fond of zoom lens shots and they didn't like the quality of anamorphic zooms.

If you ever see Salvatore Totino's test of the Genesis versus 5218 / Super-35 in the low-light of the Louve Museum in Paris, you'll note that the Genesis handled the soft murky lighting without looking as soft and grainy as the film version. However, they still ultimately decided to shoot the movie on film for its texture -- but Ron Howard is considering using the Genesis for those museum scenes because he liked the way they looked in the test.
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#12 Max Jacoby

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 04:43 AM

Completely independent of the whole 65mm/Genesis issue, I do find this whole blog thing completely ridiculous. In my mind is just a marketing gimick, Singer should concentrate on making his silly movie instead of trying to sell it before it's even finished. And my god, did you see that shot from the movie at the end of the blog, where the camera dives down towards a news paper. Just another case of people having too much time and money on their hands and knowing what to do with it, which is also known as the 'X-Men 2 syndrome'.
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#13 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 08:45 AM

what alien test shots are you talking about?


I'm referring to Sigourney Weaver's screentest for the first film, which was shot on the real sets.

Edited by Ignacio Aguilar, 17 July 2005 - 08:46 AM.

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#14 Filip Plesha

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 08:50 AM

Oh, yea, those were as good as the real film. Really great. They had a story of its own, and a complete look of a finished movie.
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#15 Sam Wells

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 09:09 AM

Actually, Pitch Black was alot of fun, but even for that all of the money was being spent in LA and the UK where the VFX were being done.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Pitch Black was a lot of fun but the best part and IMO creepiest part of it was those burnt out 5245 (skip bleach on the NEG ??) daylight scenes.

The VFX seemed I dunno, generic. I thought "I've seen this before"

Don't you think the real test of the Genesis will be, can you take it out and shoot a sunrise over water or something - and just get it or will you need a bank of HD monitors in a viewing tent, a DIT to intervene, and $2,000/hr post workflow to duplicate what you could get with any EK neg picked at random and an Arri III ? <_<

-Sam

I'm starting to sound like Jim Murdoch, yikes
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#16 fstop

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 09:20 AM

The screentests for all of the cast of the original Superman were shot in 35mm anamorphic too by Unsworth himself. They must have spent hundreds of thousands if not millions on these screentests! The art direction left a lot to be desired though. I am wondering, seeing as the film was going to be 70mm for a whilewhether they were going to or did do any 65mm?

I really enjoyed what could be seen of the screentests for Helen Slater on Supergirl. They were photographed by Jack Lowin, who was a frequent second unit DP for Supergirl's cinematographer Alan Hume, on 35mm anamorphic. Unlike most screentests however these were art directed/costume designed on a VERY high budget, involving detailed cyclorama backings, set decorations and from what I remember TWO cameras!!

Can anyone recommend any good contemporary screentests?
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#17 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 09:40 AM

I've never seen it, but the famous Albert Finney's screentest as Lawrence of Arabia might have been shot on 65mm. Geoffrey Unsworth was the cinematographer and it was edited by Anne V. Coates.

I believe that Geraldine Chaplin's screentest for Doctor Zhivago was 1.37:1, though. It was shot on the real set by Manuel Berenguer, the second unit cinematographer and the first spanish cameraman to join the ASC.
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#18 fstop

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 10:12 AM

Holy smokes Ignacio :blink: - I was going to mention the Finney screentest because I have heard it WAS shot in 65mm! I had no idea it was Unsworth though! Wow!

Anyway, I wonder if we are reading out of the same book half the time! ;)

By the way, about Berenguer- do you know if he filled in many gaps while Roeg was being replaced by Freddie Young?
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#19 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 10:44 AM

Anyway, I wonder if we are reading out of the same book half the time!


Haha, it seems that we are both interested almost in the same subjets ;)

By the way, about Berenguer- do you know if he filled in many gaps while Roeg was being replaced by Freddie Young?


I believe Roeg was fired on friday, Berenguer shot with the first unit during that weekend and then Young took over on Monday. Perhaps David can tell us more about it.

Berenguer was a pretty good cinematographer. I believe that the helped to develop the split diopters used on King of Kings (Nick Ray, 1961), for which he was going to shoot 2nd unit. Franz Planer felt ill and had to be replaced by Milton Krasner, who shot most interiors while Berenguer ended up doing most of the exterior work. It was a Super Technirama movie and the first production Samuel Bronston did in Spain. Later he did 2nd unit for El Cid (Tony Mann, 1961) and co-photographed 55 days in Pekin with Jack Hildyard when Nick Ray left the production (Ray was replaced by Guy Green and Andrew Marton -the 2nd unit director- began shooting as 1st unit).

That lead him to shoot some films for Marton, including the original The Thin Red Line and he even photographed the 65mm film Krakatoa, East of Java, also shot here in Spain. He was a master of the Scope frame, as he proved with his compositions on the spanish film La Residencia -also known as The House that Screamed- (Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, 1969), shot with Franscope anamorphic lenses.

Later, he shot again 2nd unit for Freddie Young on Nicholas and Alexandra (Franklin Schaffner, 1971) and even for Lucien Ballard on an awful Charles Bronson vehicle called Breakout (Tom Gries, 1975). He shot too one of the most acclaimed spanish films of all time, Luis Garcia Berlanga's Bienvenido Mr. Marshall (AKA Welcome Mr. Marshall, 1952).
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#20 Michael Most

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 11:46 AM

They suffer from aliasing and jagged lines for anything going diagonally across the frame, so I really cannot begin to understand why they would choose to shoot a big-budget film in HD instead of the perfect format 65mm.  Some of the greatest films of all time have been shot on this format, using 30 year old emulsion technology that still looks better than the best stocks in 35mm do today, so why shun this incredible technology for a hyped-up digital camera?  This whole thing makes me hot under the collar.  I am honestly afraid that cinematography is taking the same sharp decline that music took when digital assimilated that industry.  God knows this may be the end of motion picture as an artform. 


Ah yes, "the sky is falling" approach.

First of all, a "perfect" format would allow portability as well as image quality, would be reasonably economical to shoot and process, and would have a support network through post production that is well established and seamless. 65mm has none of that. Cinematography and filmmaking in general are about more than just the maximum number of lines per millimeter. They're about having the tools to execute a modern cinematographic vision, and that means the ability to have multiple camera bodies, be able to attach them to various rigs without having to invent everything along the way, be able to hand hold them, be able to run for a reasonable running time, be able to control depth of field without needing an inordinate number of lighting units, and be able to get multiple shooting stocks for whatever purpose you need them for. With 65mm, at least 75% of these needs go out the window on a large scale production, in part because of the sheer physical size of the pieces, but also in part because it just isn't done very often, so the support network is not in place. The slavery to the notion that older stocks "looked better" than modern stocks is just not true. Shooting styles have changed, and with it the needs have changed. You couldn't do many of the shots that are done today with older stocks because older stocks were no more than 50ASA - slower, in most cases. Creative desires, and the need to tell more visually compelling stories, were what drove Kodak, Fuji, and Agfa to develop faster stocks that allowed such use. Many of the pictures shot in the "old days" may be quite pretty, but there's little visual subtlety to them, in part because with the amount of lighting needed to achieve a quality image, it was difficult to see the subtlety with one's eye. Almost every picture from those bygone eras, especially color pictures, displays a "lit" quality to it that makes it look, at the least, staged, and at the most, overdone. And, in the minds of most modern viewers, dated.

The gist of most of the critical posts here regarding "Superman Returns" is that it is a given that digital capture is inferior to film, and that Bryan Singer and Tom Sigel are either blind, dumb, or led by corporate propaganda. However, unless you are directly involved in the project, Tom and Bryan have two things that you don't: 1) Experience, and 2) Creative Intents. Tom Sigel is far too experienced and talented to be "snowed" by any corporate nonsense, and Bryan has a very clear vision. All comments made here are based on a lack of knowledge (i.e., you haven't seen any of their tests, and you haven't heard any of their creative desires) and ignorance of the creative intent and requirements. The conversation often sounds like the conversations I had to have with producers and editors back in the mid-80's, when I had to talk them into trying electronic editing systems rather than continuing to cut on film (I was a post supervisor at Lorimar at the time). With few exceptions, they didn't understand why we were making the change, didn't want to make the change, and seemed to think that the end product would ultimately suffer - all of this prior to having any experience with it. Tom and Bryan have seen things that you haven't, and know things that you don't. They've based their decisions on this knowledge and experience, and at this stage of the game, it is very presumptious to question that judgement until the final product is available for all to see.
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