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Old May 7th, 2003, 10:01 AM   #1
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video vs film

At the risk of sounding like a total moron, I have a simple question some of you techie types might be able help me out with. We seem to be making great strides towards matching the frame rate of film with video and ever increasing the resolution to give a crystal clear picture, but I don't hear anything about simply trying to increase the 2/3 in. CCD's size to match that of 35 mm film. Is there work being done on this that I'm just unaware of, or would it not help to increase the size of the CCD's to give a less 'sterile' video look? I'm sure I'm over simplifying this and I would appreciate any education on the subject you techie types are able to give an up-and-coming type like me.
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Old May 7th, 2003, 11:39 AM   #2
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Work is being done on larger CCD chips, but this is not going fast
because it is very very expensive. Some more expensive cameras
already have these chips, but lower end models don't. Now
ofcourse this will increase the resolution and therefor it will hold
better up to film, but the most important part is bandwidth.

Film has way more bandwidth. It can show a much broader
range of colours and much broader range of levels (how bright
a colour is -> exposure) than video (besides the resolution).
All this together with the things you have already mentioned
make the image (technically) superior.

BUT, a lot is also in things like:

- set design
- script quality
- lighting and cinematography
- music and sound

etc. etc.
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Old May 7th, 2003, 12:01 PM   #3
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Michael,
Dalsa, a Canadian CCD company, recently announced a camera with just such a film-size CCD feature. I've not heard much more about it and doubt that Dalsa will make much headway with it. A full camera like this is outside of their core competency.

Ultimately, I do not think such a direct analog will be necessary. Film operates in the chemical world and video in the electronic world. Signal processing, rather than acreage, will lead the way to better video imaging...with one caveat. To achieve parity with film, video cameras may also need to adopt more film-like lenses. The size of the frame enters into this aspect of camera design, since film's relatively shallow depth-of-field depends, to a large extent, on this characteristic.

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Old May 7th, 2003, 12:36 PM   #4
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I spent some time talking to the Dalsa folk and staring at their (then non-functioning) camera at NAB. It is a great step in the right direction, and the footage that was being displayed impressive, but as Ken points out they may not have what it takes to take this camera to maturity. The good sign is that they are working with some highly respected & knowledgable individuals from the film world (Denny Clairmont and Joe Dunton) on the design, so at least it will be as "film friendly" as possible (hence the optical viewfinder/relay system, and the compatibility with PL mount lenses). It is, however, a behemoth.

Given that film technology continues to progress, with 35mm lenses being trotted out on a regular basis, it only makes sense that digital cinematography will adopt the same target size to allow compatibility on at least that level.

The biggest issue right now is handling all that raw data--but the good news is, as we all know, that data storage is one of the fastest evolving factors in the electronic world. I still find it hard to fathom that I have some 400 gigs of storage under my desk.
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Old May 13th, 2003, 04:28 AM   #5
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Don't forget about the Mini35!

http://www.mini35.com
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Old May 16th, 2003, 12:20 PM   #6
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My thought

Digital is better than film in almost everyway. Cheaper, easier to edit, holds up better over time. The only downside is image quality. That is a very important detail, but a detail none the less.

There is a market for film quality DV.
Any electronic device can be made to function better.

The rest is only a matter of time.
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Old May 16th, 2003, 01:12 PM   #7
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<<The only downside is image quality. That is a very important detail, but a detail none the less.>>

Image quality is the ONLY factor that is relevant to the viewer. All others are only important to the filmmakers themselves. This makes it hardly a detail!

Imagine you order a steak at a fine restaurant. Instead of carefully cooking a delicately marinated filet of top grade beef from milk-fed cows (I'm vamping here, I don't even eat meat), the chef pops a freeze-dried packet into a microwave, and you are delivered a plate on which lies something which looks pretty much like a steak, kinda smells like one, doesn't REALLY taste that much like it. But you are paying full price as if it were the filet mignon. You complain to the chef, and he shrugs his shoulders and says "listen, it's a lot easier for us to make! You don't like the way it tastes? Details, details!"

Of course I'm exaggerating to make a point. A lot of the viewing audience doesn't know digital from film from a hole in the ground.

Nevertheless, we still like to eat a hunk of raw cow rather than freeze-dried packets.
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Old May 16th, 2003, 01:30 PM   #8
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One of the elements about film vs digital that kind of gets glossed over in these discussions, is the "fluid" storage nature of film emulsion over "Fixed" storage nature of CCD matrices.

It's a VERY subtle, but distinct difference that leads people to sense the image as different, without understanding why.

On a CCD, there are EXACTLY XXX number of pixels in EVERY frame of film, capturing their information on precisely the same spot every 60th (or 24th) of a second. (That's why you get a "speck" on an image when a bad pixel goes out.)

With film, there is a flow of emulsion, with varying ammounts of GRAIN distributed over the same real-estate (Assuming that ccd and film frame are the same). These BILLIONS of pieces of grain are never in exacty the same spot, frame to frame. This lends a very subtle quality to the film and projected image, that registers in our mind with a certain quality - Some say "dreamlike", some say "more Lifelike", some say "Less mechanical" than video... whatever.

In addition to capturing VAST ammounts of data, imagine "Pixel shift" technology that literally moves them around in the frame... An emormous task indeed.
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Old May 16th, 2003, 01:46 PM   #9
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I think that the Dalsa camera is the proper approach. It uses a sensor with an approximate area and pixel count of 4x CineAlta. Since CineAlta is using 3 monochrome sensors, prism, etc., the cost may actually be less for the 1 CCD camera (for the sensor portion), or it would be about equal. You will have the DOF of 35 mm film, will be able to use 35 mm lenses. The 8 meg pixel resolution can be scaled down -- we could have output e.g. 720p, 1080p, and so on. Storage is no problem at all at 2 meg (1080p). Russian Arch was made that way -- the camera fed HD arrays for over 1-1/2 hr. I would certainly prefer a 1 large CCD camera to 3 small CCD camera. The way they make CCDs is that they make many on the same waffle. So there would be less CCDs from the same waffle. If you end up with couple dead pixels, you may use these CCDs for a less expensive camera and will be able to fix it up in the processor. For more dead pixels you'd have even less expensive camera with 1080p max output. I'd take that one over CineAlta SR anytime.
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Old May 16th, 2003, 02:01 PM   #10
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Right now people expect the film-look - the distinct look of 24 fps crystals on acetate. Overtime as high def becomes more common and as digital distribution begins to catch on people will come to appreciate the "digital look".

I have been watching "films" shot on video, often with my wife. I pay close attention to the color depth, depth of field and that sort of thing and she just watches the movie. I will often ask her about the color or the clarity of a scene and her response is, usually, "I didn't notice." The better the movie, the more likely she is to get caught up in the story and the characters and the less likely she is to pay any real attention to the picture quality itself.

As far a making a CCD 35mm to match a film camera, that is really comparing apples and diodes. One process is chemical involving crysals and the other is electronci involving one and zeros.
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Old May 16th, 2003, 03:55 PM   #11
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Charles, it is a detail.

Yes, an important detail, but poor quailty is only a detail. If you look at the early work done in film by,(I am going to murder the spellings of the names)Melies and Eisenstine these films are in no way hindered by the low production quality. A good story is REALLY the most important detail.

And lets face facts, by the time a film reaches your local movie house, it isn't the same way it looked when it was shot. Video holds up better over the long haul.

I compare it to the music CD. I am sadly old enough to remember when a record was black and made of a strange black material sort of like plastic, dern memory keeps going on me. When CDs came out I heard the same complaints against them that you hear against DV. True music people wanted nothing to do with them. Now, they are the only choice. Once the quality of DV is improves, 35mm will go the way of the rotary phone.

It is just a matter of time.
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Old May 16th, 2003, 05:06 PM   #12
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"Now they are the only choice"

Not so, and there is a contingent of people who prefer vinyl. Just as there are musicians who prefer "tubed" amps. The mediums provide seperate qualities. To "Videophiles" and "Audiophiles" that can tell the difference... it is worth the effort.

Content no doubt, trumps quality everytime however. Does anyone complain that the Zapruder film is "Not Broadcast Quality" and therefore undeserving of airtime?
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Old May 17th, 2003, 12:22 PM   #13
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Actually the early films of Eisenstein were gorgeous to look at---beyond that, its not a good comparison.
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