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The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


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Old October 1st, 2005, 10:19 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash Greyson
Film forgives this more than video. Part of the reason they went with digital Yoda was because the puppet looked terrible in HD.
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Now when you say film forgives fake sets more than video, what do you believe accounts for that? the 24fps motion that makes things feel less real? the grain? the resolution? dof?

I have heard other people say film is more forgiving to sets, but I dont think ive ever heard a convincing reason why that might be. 24p motion (with more motion blur and more stutter) can be achieved on video, so that might be why 35mm film footage was more forgiving than an xl1. Also shallow depth of field is a likely reason, since out of focus backgrounds are more likely to be assumed to be real for the lack of visible flaws. but also something like shallow dof can be achieved on video with larger chips or larger apertures. shoot on f4 on 35mm? so shoot at f1 on a small chip or f4 on a digital cinema camcorder like the d-20 or origin or genesis. neither of these things are inherent to video. And if perhaps the reason is grain or image softness, both of those things can be added to video as well, you can always downres, soften, or add a grain filter, so it seems like it makes sense to start with a high-res, grainless image.
I've seen 35mm film footage that was not forgiving the set it was shot on, and personally i like that video provides greater flexibility and ease at a lower price. even if it currently comes with a slightly higher contrast (lower lower exposure latitude) image.
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Old October 2nd, 2005, 11:20 AM   #17
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Noah, the closest I think I can come to explaining why film makes certain things look better than video is--because it does. Much in the same way that old analog equipment (tube etc) is still used in the audio world for it's warmth and presence, the photochemical process of film has an undeniably different look than digital video. Whereas audio technology has progressed to the point where it is possibly to digitally emulate the analog gear to a point where only the most trained ear can detect the difference, there's still a way to go in the digital video world. 24p helps a lot; increased latititude and resolution HD is a big step but there's still a quantifiable difference in feel between the media.
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Old October 2nd, 2005, 10:28 PM   #18
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Good call Charles... it just does. As you mentioned, old analog gear of all kinds has inherent warmth that digital is just void of. We are getting closer but I describe it sometimes like getting a hug from a robot. ProTools HD is pretty close to getting the warmth of analog in the sound world.



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Old October 2nd, 2005, 11:44 PM   #19
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ash and charles,

it just does? could you elaborate on that? I do not believe I agree with you and you are not providing very convincing arguments to help me see otherwise. I just sounds like the current arguments are "professionals in the past have said film looks better than video" and "I am used to seeing film so it makes me feel warmer and fuzzier".

When it comes down to it, i find it difficult to make generalizations or even categorizations about analog/film vs digital. After all light doesnt travel in bits so even a ccd is an analog device that has to send analog voltage levels to an analog-digital-converter right? is using a DI (another ADC, just later in the workflow) as "bad" as digital aquisition? if its not, why? if its not just the exposure latitude then what is it?

Perhaps photographers/cinematographers have learned to love grain, in the same way i imagine some audiophiles love the sound of records. But not everyone loves grain.
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Old October 3rd, 2005, 03:17 AM   #20
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Actually, technically, light does travel in bits. Though they may be in such small variances, quantumly speaking, that the difference cannot be detected by the CCDs.

For specificity's sake.
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Old October 3rd, 2005, 09:31 AM   #21
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Noah,

If it doesn't look better to you then it doesn't. No problem. No one is trying to convince you that your tastes should change.
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Old October 3rd, 2005, 09:48 AM   #22
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dj,
That's true, I suppose anything can be translated into bits theoretically. So does that mean when we capture digitally we are converting a digital signal to analog and then back to a much thinner digital signal? Now if that doesnt sound like a way to lose information :)

Barry,
thanks, i know, but i had a friend of mine me he thought film is easier on sets than video and I asked him why and he just said he heard it somewhere. I'm just trying to get to the bottom of it.
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Old October 3rd, 2005, 03:17 PM   #23
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I don't know how much help this will be but...

Digital audio is said to be "cold" and "sterile" next to analog gear. This isn't really true, however, it is just that digital audio represents what it there, nothing more and nothing less. Analog gear adds harmonics and distortion that sounds good to human ears, and we perceive it as "warmth." Maybe the same thing happens with film and video?
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Old October 3rd, 2005, 10:23 PM   #24
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Film being easier on sets:
Just guessing here, but it may be partially due to film's increased depth of field. In film, backgrounds would look more out of focus than in video. So imperfections in the set will be less visible.

It could be that set people working on film have more experience working (than people working on video shoots). The difference may be some correlation that has nothing to do between film vs video.

2- Not sure here, but I think film has less high contrast/high frequency detail than video. Video typically has some edge enhancement that creates those sharp, crisp lines. I don't think film does that.
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Old October 3rd, 2005, 10:37 PM   #25
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Glenn is probably on to something with #2 (certainly there is truth in #1 in that 2/3" video has greater DOF than 35mm, and video arguably always looks better with soft backgrounds). I also believe that edges don't seem to smooth out the way they do in the film medium, and that edge enhancement may well have something to do with that.

A high-resolution (i.e. Viper, Dalsa etc) HD image can look "shockingly" sharp, yet it is still only approaching the resolution of film numerically speaking. The way in which an imager will translate light into information vs. the reaction of silver halide is hard to quantify, many have tried but words cannot always do an image justice. In the same way that once can look at a CGI effect as coming off as "fake", yet another might look quite real, HD can render a painted setpiece as looking like what it is rather than what it is supposed to be. Consider the now-virtually lost art of matte painting. A skilled artist could replicate the way that details in a landscape would fall off the way that film emulsion would do; that same matte painting used in the digital medium may not be convincing at all.

Noah, this issue is not about "I think film looks better than video"...it's about playing to the strengths of each medium. And as an FYI to any and all; the film "look" isn't really about grain any more, since late model stocks have all but eliminated it if that is the desired result (i.e., it is now largely a choice).
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Old October 3rd, 2005, 11:15 PM   #26
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What blows me away with movies, is the color saturation. Be it film or video, the colors in What Dreams May Come and Wizard of Oz are breathtaking. It was the same with the really old Cinescope films.

The difference between film and video? You have to digitaly add scratches to video ;)
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Old October 4th, 2005, 12:09 AM   #27
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I love digital and shoot EXCLUSIVELY digital. I agree that it is not about one being better, just them being different. Video will never look exactly like film and vice-versa. My original point is that you cant simply swap out the film cameras for HD cameras, the sets wont look right, the make-up wont look right, etc. Having shot a boatload of DV on music video and movie sets, I can tell you that even DV exposes things in the sets and make-up that film smooths out.

Even if you match the resolution, film is inherently flawed. There is grain, softness, warmth, etc. Call it what you want but it is the same reason a synthesized violin doesnt not sound the same as the real thing. In order to get closer you have to duplicate the random variations and imperfections...



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Old October 4th, 2005, 10:30 PM   #28
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Hd

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emre Safak
Amen, brother, amen.

People rave about film because they do not know how to color correct digital video.

I shot a short on the Sony HD-F900. Due to limited budget, I didn't spend enough time planning my lighting. (I had plenty of lights and generators at my disposal) As a result of that, my HD project didn't turn out looking like film at all. It looked more like a really sharp video. To make the long story short, I believe lighting, not color-correcting in post, is the key to making a project look more filmlike. Lighting for video, as I later discovered, is harder than lighting for film.
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Old October 5th, 2005, 05:06 PM   #29
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I've been watching some movies online and I was shocked at how much they looked like video even though they were shot on film.
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Old October 5th, 2005, 05:13 PM   #30
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DOF makes a huge "impression " difference between 35mm, HD, SD, hand size camera's .. use a mini 35 on SD or HD ( 2/3" CCDs) and it looks much closer to DOP of 35 = totally different image out of same camera ...

and lets not forget that lighting technique is geared to film .. we know how to light for film because it's been around XX years ... we then use same techniqes for HD BUT HD is different so it looks different or it bring out the defects/oddity of 3 CCD HD camera's.

back in the 70's lighting was completely different for FILM and video .. when you shot film you did X .. shot video you did Y ... today with the improvement in SD camera's you can use many FILM lighting techniques on video lighting but there are still differences .. same with HD ... a lighting cameraman has to know those differences and come up with solutions. for a 1 chip HD camera you might do X and for a 3 chip HD you might do Z ...
it 's all learning your equipment ...

filmstocks back in late 60's early 70's were very contrasty .. over the years kodak has been able to tune the stocks to the feedback they received from cameraman ... many video manufacturers never talked to cameraman till the late 90's ...
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