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The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


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Old September 18th, 2002, 01:45 PM   #31
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DocuWild:
"It's the end result that counts."

I whole heartedly agree with that statement.

stephenvv:
Yes of course I wouldn't say Citizen Kane is unprofessional, hence my question of why DoF (and lenses) is in your "qualities" list. I do believe it is an esthetic quality so perhaps that is what you mean.

You wrote:
"Now, if you deinterlace or shoot progressive, add grain, change gamma curves, adjust color rendition, it may start to actually look like somewhat like low-rez film. But then, you could lose the short DoF and still look somewhat like low-rez film."

I don't know what you mean by that. Mainly, current stock video cameras do NOT have a short DoF. No where near 35mm lenses (at the same distance to subject and view angle).

My main reason for discussing this is my surprise over the crazy excitement over the panny 24p miniDV camera. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea. But I'd really rather have a camera that can do the DoF of 35mm. Because with the panny you're still going to get what I believe is a traditionally flat looking video image.

Of course the option to do both is even better. And perhaps that's my point. There are so many things that affect your image. 24p in my opinion will hopefully go away, and make room for the screaming fidelity of 60p or dare I say higher. Watching the film Brainstorm really showed the difference. Even though the print I saw was at 24fps the Showscan shot images were that much more vibrant even after the pull down.

Yes staging and lighting helps, but it can only go so far, especially when you shoot in small areas.

Just my opinions.
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Old September 19th, 2002, 09:12 AM   #32
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I teach photography and digital photography at a local school. When my digital photo students attempt a head and shoulders portrait they are surprised by the extreme amount of DoF comparred to 35mm film. They used the same lights, filters, printing etc. and the comment I always hear is it doesn't look like film. The digital camera produced a great 8x10, proper focus, exposure, composition, sharpness, you name it, but it doesn't look like film to them. Why? The background is not out of focus. People notice that, and to their eye it doesn't look like film.

Now go to still pictures moving at (pick your favorite film speed) 24fps. Depth of field is now irrelevent? It is only a technique and is not an intrinsic part of the medium. I don't think so. To the guy sitting in the chair, watching the film on a screen, DoF is part of the look. He may not know what to call it, but when its different, he knows its not film.

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Old September 19th, 2002, 11:13 AM   #33
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<<<--
Now go to still pictures moving at (pick your favorite film speed) 24fps. Depth of field is now irrelevent? It is only a technique and is not an intrinsic part of the medium. I don't think so. To the guy sitting in the chair, watching the film on a screen, DoF is part of the look. He may not know what to call it, but when its different, he knows its not film.

Jeff -->>>


Jeff:

Did you not see my post about Citizen Kane (and a number of other films shot with extreme deep DoF). Why do they still look just as much like film as those with short DoF?

It is a technique, not a instrinsic part of the medium.

Super 8 has much more DoF than 35mm at the same focal length.

So, I reject completely that it's part of medium.

It is part of the "look" but that is "professional look" not "film look", thus this thread.
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Old September 20th, 2002, 05:12 AM   #34
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Justin Chin,

"Brainstorm really showed the difference. Even though the print I saw was at 24fps the Showscan shot images were that much more vibrant even after the pull down."

The scenes you are referring to in Brainstorm was shot in 70mm. That is why they look so incredible. The rest of the film was shot in 35mm. The frame rate was 24FPS the entire time. If you really want to see something incredible, you should see it projected in 70mm.

Charles Papert,

"I was somewhat concerned that the 30 fps would not look good intercut with the 24 fps, but I can't say that viewing the final cut, I can discern which is which--and I'm looking very closely, believe me."

It would drive me nuts, and in watching music videos that do this it DOES drive me nuts. Yes I can tell that both frame rates are shot on film, but that 30FPS footage still has that cheezy video look of motion, and that I do not like. Consider this, I used to be into video heavily in the 80s and early 90s. I got out of it and got into film because I had enough of the crappy quality. Only over this last couple of years have I started to get back into video because the quality is finally reaching a point to spark my interest again. With that in mind, I never bothered to check out a DVD image until about 2 years ago. When I saw it it looked great to me. Then a friend pointed out the artifacts in the image. Now it drives me crazy! I feel this is really a similar thing here. You are not bothered with the motion look of 30P and can't tell the difference. Trust me, the day you do you will NOT like your 30P footage any more.

As for the general "more is always better" argument that we are "downgrading" to 24P, that is just nonsense. It's an aesthetically pleasing look of motion. 18FPS is too slow, 30FPS is too fast. Granted those are my opinions, but that is how I feel.

Now why are there so many arguments on this forum about 24P vs. 30P? I don't see why people will bust their butt in trying to make their footage look like film when they can effortlessly obtain the same motion look just by shooting in 24P. Shooting in 24P does not mean you can no longer light your shots the way you want. Shooting in 24P does not mean you can no longer control the depth of field any more. Shooting in 24P just takes the videoish motion out of the image and makes your job that much easier. Granted it will still have a video look to it if it is not lit and shot properly, but shooting in 24P knocks out a big chunk of what makes video look like video. So why all of the anti-24P on this forum???
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Old September 20th, 2002, 01:59 PM   #35
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I can't really understand what the debate is all about.

DV vs. 35mm negative? One reel of 35mm will buy you all the stock of DV tapes you need for a whole feature + your camera setups will move faster EVEN if you light the show like a pro...

So DV will look like s-16mm if shot correctly and postproduced correctly. No doubt about it. I've shot hundreds of music videos on 16mm and my two latest using the PD150P and MB. Wich looks more like 35mm? The ones shot on DV, of course... How come? Because video brings an amount of control on set that demands a lot of financial resources if you do it on film.

I think this debate is utterly pointless. As pointless as debating the fact that films shot with a deep DoF on 65mm (Contact) looks a hell of a lot like 24p HD when viewed on a DVD. If you'd insert 24p footage into that film with the exact same lighting I'd doubt you'd see the difference (when viewed at home)...
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Old September 21st, 2002, 06:05 PM   #36
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****
Did you not see my post about Citizen Kane (and a number of other films shot with extreme deep DoF). Why do they still look just as much like film as those with short DoF?

It is a technique, not a instrinsic part of the medium.

Super 8 has much more DoF than 35mm at the same focal length.

So, I reject completely that it's part of medium.

It is part of the "look" but that is "professional look" not "film look", thus this thread.
**********

If filmmaking is "telling an action which happens inside a space", then professionality to me meens to use all the tools we have to do that. As the screen is flat we have to "fake" the depth. To my knowledge there are only 3 things which helps us in doing this:
- clever positioning of lights
- clever use of lenses (DoF)
- clever use of dolly to change the architectural references

Concerning Citizen Kane: it is an excellent exsample to show how IMPORTANT the controll of DoF IS. I haven't seen anybody posting something like ONLY shallow DoF would be professional. What to my knowledge everybody is saying is, that we NEED the CONTROLL on DoF!!! To make it shallow or not whenever we want it. Video doesn't allow this controll today!

And 24p, 25p, 30p,60p may help to change in the feeling, but doesn't realy influence the storrytelling if screened on the same speed back again, but the above 3 points all do influence the storrytelling.

Also two pennies on the term film. I'm not American so please forgive me, but some considerations I still think I'm able to do. In the most countries there doesn't exist the term "motion pictures" but only film. People go to see a film and rent a video (even if DVD)!!! And to my big sorprise the same happens also here in LA.

I don't think our duty is to educate people to say well I saw the FILM Episode I, and then two years later, wouw this "DLP 3chip" Episode II was indeed exciting?!?! It is the "film" Episode II what people went to see, and not a bit and byte flow from a Harddisc!

I hope I wasn't agressive in this reply, I wish a good weekend to everybody
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Old September 21st, 2002, 06:27 PM   #37
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I think the term movie and film are qolluialisms. Here in Florida everbody says do you want to rent a movie. Of course it's not a movie (film) it video, or DVD. It's becoming like Jello and gelatin, Klenex and facial tissue etc. The terms film, movie, video are all becoming genericized. After all, film has only been around a little over 100 years, I don't expect it to be here in another 100.

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Old September 21st, 2002, 06:32 PM   #38
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I would almost suggest that the meaning of the term "film" has quietly evolved to include digital storytelling. In other words, it seems "film" has evolved (or devolved, depending on your point of view) to include visual storytelling regardless of format.

For so many decades, visual storytelling with *motion* on a mass media scale has been achieved *exclusively* with film, a chemical emulsion process. And I can certainly understand why a purist would want to keep a distinction between film and other media.

I wonder though if it's even important, because the purist is in a slim minority these days. What matters is the audience at large, what are they calling it. To them, I think it's still a "movie."

I used to ask my friends, "what do you feel like seeing, a film or a movie?" A film was always something artistic and significant. Usually it was something old and foreign but not always. A film is Bergman, Truffaut, Renoir; Cinema Paridiso, Como Agua Para Chocolate, Powaqqatsi. A movie is Spielberg, Zemeckis, Bruckheimer; Apollo 13, Seven Years in Tibet, Pretty Woman. Just about everything that's mainstream American is a movie. Just about every text I had in film school was a film (but not always). I've always thought that movies were to make money and film aspired to acheive artistic significance.

But now since it's no longer all done with film, what do you call it? I have a feeling it's still going to be called film in many circles. Can't think of any examples at the moment, but aren't there already a lot of instances of things still being referred to by a previous existing technology, even though it's being done by another technology? Take AT&T, for instance... "Telegraph" is still part of their name. For a long time, radio was called "wireless" because a society thriving on wired communication didn't know what else to call it.

All of this, including this debate, is what I think might be indicative of a paradigm shift in progress.
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Old September 22nd, 2002, 05:00 PM   #39
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2 unsolicited cents from a beginner:

These usually friendly incendiaries end up serving a Greater Purpose: beginners of all types come to forums like this scavenging for info pro/con on every topic imaginable-- by reading the back-and-forth an aspirant gets more diverse tech grounding here than a school curriculum (using perhaps one format exclusively-- film over video etc) could ever provide-- how we newbies apply lessons from such debate is another story...

I feel lucky to even be here, at this time, shooting a feature on DV. In between the natural joy-hells of pulling off a shoot i'm always kicking myself that it took this long to get to this point. ("I coulda had 4 features under my belt by now!")

I could have easily ended up being the local Film Supremacist guy hoarding Bolexes and cases of out-of-date 16mm stock waiting...waiting...for that 'one day' when it would all come together ("I need an Angenieux! I need a magazine! I need three magazines! I need a barney! I need a Nagra! No, I need a DAT! I need a budget! I need a crew! I need a lab account! I need therapy!...) (Wait-- i WAS that guy! Anyway...)

We all want the best available, and most of us want what is'nt available. So we try and balance it out somehow. I made the simple reckoning that my DV work is not going to be a series of test strips to be shown to an ASC convention, but rather the best-executed, best-shot, best-lit, best-audio'd complex of *storytelling* imagery i can obtain at this time. Sure, i want 'cinematic' composition as much as anyone, and with my XL lenses and camera strategies i like what i'm achieving. Is my stuff going to fool Justin with his God's-own Mini-35 rig (which i WANT)? Will Roger Deakins, Robby Muller, Gordon Willis or the beatific ghost of Nestor Almendros be fooled by my camouflaged electronic images? Not by a damn sight. But they would probably each give a figurative tip of the hat to us all for going after the challenge, limitations be damned. The rest of it --including what we *call* our work-- will work itself out. (ref: Chris' 'paradigm shift')

Regardless the venue, the format, or the target audience-- we're trying to *tell* someone about something we (or the client :)) deem worth telling. I feel like all other considerations, techincal, photographic, whatever, derive from this.

So, to my droves of fellow beginners: scour these pages and learn from the debates. There are hundreds of years of cumulative knowledge & experience here. The solution to *your* particular issue awaits...

Let's get to work!

Best to all,


Michael Pace

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and trying to wrap a DV feature _________ (film/movie/artifact/project/element/video/picture-show, whatever...) in Florida
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Old October 26th, 2002, 08:47 AM   #40
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Since after reading all this frame mode stuff. I went out and tried it. (I just never got around to doing it yet) It looks pretty cool! So two question and I'm sure they have been ask before, sorry.

1. If you shoot in frame mode does it edit the same? Right now I have a iMac with iMovie. I hope to get Final Cut Pro soon.

2. If you did shoot something in frame mode can it be transferred to film? I read somewhere that it can't.
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Old October 26th, 2002, 05:10 PM   #41
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If you shoot frame mode (eg. canon's) you can 1:1 the progressive frames. Only if you shoot PAL and can live with mucking with the audio to adjust for the difference in frame rates.
Basically, not a clean operation.

Still, according to the senior lab technician at the place I work (Rainmaker Digital Pictures), it works out best if you shoot 60i with 1/60 shutter speed, as the machines for translating use the 60 time slices per second to rebuild 24p (and do an excellent job I might add). He also advises to NOT use frame mode when shooting, as there is not enough time slices to rebuild 24p. If you really want the best footage to put to film, shoot 24p native (eg sony FW900 or PanaDVX100) or shoot 60i. Now, if you just have coverage that you need without audio, then by all means, you can 1:1 30fps photography. I've done it before, mainly when I know I don't need audio sync and want a fast shutter speed.

If you can find it, goto the newstand and pick up the issue of RES with Steven Soderberg on the cover. In there is a detailed description of all the hassles of dealing with PAL footage with audio resync'd to 24p. If I recall correctly, FCP and Cinema Tools required some customization by Apple to deal with it. You'd figure there'd be a preset for doing this sort of thing. Guess they'll have that out later. ;)

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Old October 27th, 2002, 09:16 AM   #42
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at the risk of moving away from the original topic...

What you call 'not a clean operation' (I'm guessing you're talking about the time-stretch of the audio to accomodate the transfer from 25 to 24 fps and vice versa, is a standard procedure in PAL country.

EVERY motion picture that ends up being broadcast in PAL or on a PAL DVD is sped up from 24 to 25 fps, processing the audio to the same speed, without a change in pitch.

I don't know why this wouldn't be a clean operation. For people using PAL equipment, the transfer to film would be quite straightforward. No need to edit at 24fps, just do everthing at 25 fps and in the lab they'll take care of the transfer. As a matter of fact if you do bring a 50i tape to the lab, they'll de-interlace it to 25p anyway, before transfer.

The advantage is that there's no need to tamper with the fields, introducing 2to3 or 3to2 pulldown.

Not that I'm advocating shooting PAL in an NTSC world. For most people that would probably be very inconvenient. For NTSC transfer to film, most labs prefer 60i.

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Old October 27th, 2002, 09:18 AM   #43
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... which is why the PAL version of that new Panasonic 24p camera will only shoot 25p.

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Old October 28th, 2002, 01:57 AM   #44
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The word 'film', has many meanings, but the word derives from a 'thin layer of material'. Now that in the common conversation we mean 'motion picture' when we say film, means we've pretty much hijacked the word from it's original meaning. And I don't see a problem in having that meaning evolve to accomodate for new technologies.

As a matter of fact, the carrier that contains the magnetic material on DV tapes could be called 'film' also :-)

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Old October 28th, 2002, 08:37 AM   #45
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If a production is shot on video, transferred to film and distributed to movie theaters, why would it not be a "film." Or if it's shot on film and goes straight to video distribution only... when would it stop being a film.

The term "film" has transcended its technical definition to encompass visual storytelling by a variety of media, a lot of it electronic these days. Besides, as Barend correctly points out, tape itself is -- technically speaking -- a type of film. There's no chemical emulsion involved, but it's still film. It's all motion pictures no matter how you slice it. The general public, the people who are your potential audience, certainly aren't going to argue about it. And that's all that counts.
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