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Old March 12th, 2013, 10:11 AM   #1
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Best Examples of Digital vs. Film

I mentioned on here that I recently purchased a new television (after a burglary) and decided on plasma (Panasonic ST50). I’ve always heard the comparisons of plasma’s superiority in absolute picture quality and struggled with the decision to deal with the pitfalls of plasma ownership.

Wow! I am blown away by the quality compared to my old 40” Samsung 1080p 60hz LCD (circa 2008 – which was a $1,150 Amazon priced set; not the cheapest available). The new set is 50” too which makes a little better use of the higher resolution of Blu-ray as well.

Anyway, obviously frequenting this site means I have some interested in digital video and it struck me that I might ask you guys since you are the experts. I’ve seen the documentary Side by Side and I’m a subscriber to HDVideoPro and Videomaker – so, I catch a lot of the comparisons of film to digital, but never really had the opportunity to make comparisons at home on a higher quality television (with some generic calibration settings and Disney WOW Disc).

I go to the theater quite a bit and the theater that I prefer has top quality equipment, but somehow going once a week or less compared to in home viewing doesn’t seem to provide the same experience of comparison if that makes any sense. Never in the same seat – possibly not even on the same screen. IMAX screen, Grand Auditorium, ‘Directors Suites’, one of the smaller regular screens, etc. I feel like I’m now having the opportunity to more critically view a lot of movies on a consistent setup for comparison.

I gather that the process of transfer to Blu-ray introduces its own set of issues that could compromise quality (or enhance/bolster it possibly). I see a lot of talk on the AVS forums about these processes to be clear. I’m not really identifying with them yet by name, but apparently the enthusiasts really have a few pet peeves with some of the processes. DNR? (Dolby Noise Reduction back in the day – B/C for your cassette tapes if you had a nice deck; my Nakamichi TD 1200II had both)

Anyway, sorry for the long post, but what it boils down to is that I might finally be able to see the nuances of film’s color and black levels, etc. compared to digital and I thought I might ask here what digitally shot movies are available on Blu-ray release that might best represent the capabilities of digital to mimic the warmth, etc. of film’s colors – even if it was by the hand of a colorist in post possibly?

I noticed that Avengers (mostly digital) had what I considered to be an appealing color palette that struck me as being themed with a ‘comic book’ scheme possibly. I’m not sure that even it was on par with the nuance of warmth that I keep hearing that film produces. Savages; which I gather might have utilized a modification of ‘film’ process to produce exaggerated contrast and saturation – just blew me away with how colorful it was. Dark Shadows had some impressively contrasting splashes of color against an otherwise generally dark theme – also shot on film I notice.

So, what would you all consider to be the best examples of what digital can do (even with post correction techniques) that replicates film’s best qualities that are available on Bluray? More in terms of the warmth of colors than black levels/dynamic range which I seem to notice are often the primary topic discussed. My apologies if some of my terminology is misinterpreted. I think you might get what I’m asking though.
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Old March 12th, 2013, 04:36 PM   #2
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Re: Best Examples of Digital vs. Film

Excellent quite recent examples of film: Samsara, perhaps the most visually stunning film I've ever encountered. Shot on 65mm vision2 and vision3 film by an absolute expert in the format. A more conventional, but still visually stunning film shot on 35mm vision3 is Cloud Atlas. A truly beautiful film. Both of these examples show that Kodak's vision3 films are the pinnacle of chemical film. Pictures like these show what it can do, which is pretty amazing.

Excellent quite recent examples of digital: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, shot on Red Epics. A smaller (but not lesser) scale can be seen in Game of Thrones, captured using Arri Elexa cameras.

While different, the digital capture pictures aren't lesser to my mind. IOW, none of the recent crop of digital capture pictures have pulled me out of my "suspension of disbelief" to call attention to any kind of visual flaw.

There's a whole lot more to making a good cinema experience beyond just the camera -- without first class lighting, set decoration, sound, locations, costumes, a first class script, actors, direction, cinematography, .... what have you got? The cameras themselves are just such a small part of the whole.
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Old March 14th, 2013, 02:21 PM   #3
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Re: Best Examples of Digital vs. Film

I think I’ve seen Samsara mentioned over on AVS – I’ll have to check that out (which looks like that means purchasing it as I don’t see it widely available) I appreciate the suggestions. I was sorry that I missed The Hobbit in the theaters frankly just to see the 48fps thing on the big screen.

I’m not really asking about suggestions in regard to script, acting, etc. – more purely from the aspect of what digital can do at its best vs. film in terms of where film fans seem to gloat that film is like oil paints vs. crayons or whatever; you know.

I rented Skyfall the other night and while it was masterfully done; it makes me wonder just what all of those same scenes might have looked like on film now that I’m finally seeing these movies where the warmth and richness can be reproduced in a consistent setting. All of those night scenes with the brilliantly rich lights and colors and reflections – they looked beautiful, but what would they have looked like on film?

On the other hand; Resident Evil; Retribution seemed like it played well with digital – as do a number of others I’ve seemed to note where the strengths of digital seemed to play well for the story. After watching Resident Evil I had to question if they employed any special lighting techniques to illuminate her character so well and in a manner that it appeared as though it captured her with exceptional clarity and detail. IDK; that’s just what I noticed.

I watched Gone last night and the sort of dreary Portland weather and the story seemed to probably actually be enhanced by whatever lack of rich color film might have captured. I seemed to notice that even the ‘sunny’ days were purposefully toned way down in favor of that dreary look.

I purchased Avatar and Hugo and others for that matter to check out the new 3D. I wouldn’t say that I noticed Hugo being ‘dreary’ nor many of the others for that matter. Avatar seems more of a feat of CG than anything and an impressive one at that without a doubt. I’m not particularly interested in all of the CG wonders of picture quality that seem to top the ranks of all the lists for that matter (I did enjoy Avatar). Toy Story, Cars, etc. don’t really do much for me personally. If I had kids I would definitely own them.

I’m probably just rambling on; I work at a computer all day and have downtime to sit here and create these verbose postings that don’t really say a whole lot with all of the endless details while I wait for something to pop up that needs to be tended to.

If anyone else cares to chime in; feel free.
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Old March 14th, 2013, 05:49 PM   #4
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Re: Best Examples of Digital vs. Film

Check out Once Upon a Time in Mexico. As far as I know it was one of the first HD movies shot. Always a classic.
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Old March 20th, 2013, 08:22 PM   #5
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Re: Best Examples of Digital vs. Film

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Excellent quite recent examples of film: Samsara, perhaps the most visually stunning film I've ever encountered.
I have it on Blu-Ray still shrink-wrapped. Really looking forward to seeing it, but most likely I'll have to wait until after NAB... yes, that busy.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 06:50 AM   #6
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Re: Best Examples of Digital vs. Film



...just saying ;-)
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Old March 22nd, 2013, 08:02 AM   #7
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Re: Best Examples of Digital vs. Film

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
I have it on Blu-Ray still shrink-wrapped. Really looking forward to seeing it, but most likely I'll have to wait until after NAB... yes, that busy.
Ordered that yesterday myself.
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Old March 23rd, 2013, 09:44 AM   #8
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Re: Best Examples of Digital vs. Film

Is that Side By Side movie already out? I'd like to check it out.
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Old March 23rd, 2013, 11:20 AM   #9
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Re: Best Examples of Digital vs. Film

It's on Netflix
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Old April 12th, 2013, 12:20 AM   #10
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Re: Best Examples of Digital vs. Film

Well, I didn’t exactly get the response that I was looking for here, but I’ve since discovered the value of Redbox and done some independent research into this lol. $1.63 a night per Blu-ray is pretty dirt cheap.
After viewing Hitchcock this week; I think I’ve found what I might consider a reference for what digital can do. Not only just what digital can do, but as featured in a recent HDVideoPro magazine – what digital can do by Light Iron with a one man crew for post/workflow (whatever the terminology is) on set, etc. (I might imagine this opinion wouldn’t be well received by those employed in the industry supporting post otherwise, but honestly – just really impressive to me as a layperson having a casual interest in this topic).

Good evening, tonight we have a case of on-set workflow: Hitchcock

http://www.hdvideopro.com/post-produ...etiquette.html

I suppose for me; the epitome of what it can do is to mimic a film look and feel. I personally thought Hitchcock pulled it off with aplomb. Not to dismiss the films that go other directions in their choice of styling. I was just personally impressed by the effort to mimic film with this one. Maybe not the deep/rich nuanced tone of film, but a fabulous color palette that didn’t look like it was contrived and given an amazing post tweak.

Kudos to the Red Epics on this one too may be in order. I might have believed it was shot on film and had some of that noise reduction that I keep hearing about over at AVS forums if it weren’t for it having such overwhelming clarity and sharp detail.
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