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The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


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Old May 10th, 2003, 09:01 PM   #31
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Hey Charles,

Good points. I however believe that any time you transfer optical medium to electronic, it is no longer film, it is video. So once you do it with film, you are able to add video special effects to film. The video does not have to be on tape; it can sit on hard drive. So some of these new film effects are actually video effects. So video is more advanced in this area. The new Viper and CineAlta SR: people think of it more as film than video, but it is video. So video can help improve the film look. We need to give video credit.

Super 8 has similar DOF as 1/3" CCD, 16 mm similar as 2/3" CCD.

With electronic cinema you don't have to wait for the next day to see what exactly you have shot. Video assist is great but not enough. Good DP can envision how a scene will look like, but on a complex scene you can never bee sure. I think that the ability to see the image right there and replay it right there will allow quicker DP work, actors confidence, etc. So although the electronic media is cheaper, you may need less takes and at the same time may do more takes without any film waste. I think that the instant image preview through review is the biggest plus of electronic cinema -- or actually video that is outgrowing film.

These are my 2 cents.
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Old May 10th, 2003, 09:27 PM   #32
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Your clarification about electronic=video: understood.

One thing I am very curious about is how the "Director's Friend" type consoles as used with raw data cameras will affect things. As a DP, having to work with an engineer on set to "dial in" an approximate look for everyone else's benefit may be time consuming (not generally part of the film process, for instance) and still that won't be the final look of the project. Yet the afore-mentioned mucky-mucks (or at the very least, the director) will likely continue to ask "is it going to look like that?" When you've given the AD notice that the set will be lit and ready in 8 minutes, and you've still got plenty of notes to give to the gaffer, key grip, operator, dolly grip etc., it's a real drag to have to spend that precious time playing the politics game over the nuances of the image on the monitor. Been there...

I think we agree that digital is ultimately the medium that will replace film, although I suspect that my timeframe is a bit longer than yours. I have had the discussion with my colleagues that we are in the middle of a technological transition, the likes of which has not been seen in this business since the coming of sound. At that time, the relatively mobile and compact (and noisy) cameras were suddenly being enclosed in soundproof "iceboxes" that eliminated their mobility and slowed down the production process (see "Singing in the Rain"). Stringing cables and dealing with bulky HD video village setups that have to be sealed from external light is reminiscent of this, as well as the sheer size and weight of the Panavised CineAlta and Dalsa cameras (the Viper, as seen at NAB with its onboard digital recorder, is looking pretty good in this regard!). It's an awkward time, and it will be quite a while before the process is streamlined enough to really see a time savings, in my opinion. But as I said, I think we agree that it will happen.

Cheers,

Chas
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Old May 10th, 2003, 09:58 PM   #33
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I don't know if someone said this before me but I've heard a saying once that really made me realize why I love film more than video:

Video is what the eyes see,
Film is what the mind sees.

I thought it was both interesting and true :)
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Old May 11th, 2003, 03:56 AM   #34
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Charles,

This is what I think.

I see major technology changes roughly every 1/4 of the century. 1st was the talkies, then color film and B/W TV, then color TV. Now is the dawn of HD era.

VHS has been around couple of decades and I think that it was the worse thing that could happen. I wish it never happened. I wish we still had people using Super 8 for home movies. These two decades were the dark ages that took us 50 years back. I hate TV and everything about it; hardly ever watch it. It's low quality image, not mentioning the junk produced for TV. All this DV through Digibeta stuff is for me nothing more than the necessary evil. It keeps us in dark ages. At the time VHS ruled we saw the whole culture go down. A lot of changes happened in the society during that time period.

Now we are coming out slowly from the dark ages. Couple decades ago a student filmmaker shot on positive Super 8 stock, did basic cuts, added sound, and had a product that could be projected to a good size screen. Someone came out with an automatic editing system for Super 8 for some $3K couple decades ago. Then the Super 8 era and the whole culture ended. Drugs, rap, gangs, materialism, Jerry Springer and Howard Stern. The man regressed to being an ape again. Now he will have to learn again how to walk straight. Will he ever? Probably not, except the word I hate -- video -- will be replaced by HD, which too is video; I just don't want to think of it as such. The word video leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Anyway, it took about 3 years to come with new generation of CineAlta (SR). At he end of the 3 years CineAlta basically replaced film for the low-end indie production. In 3 years we will have matured products of the Dalsa-type technology with 8 M pixel progressive scan. Sony will have mature 8 M pixel projection technology products. It will be 2006. At that time CineAlta SR will basically replace high-end indie productions. In 2009 the 8 meg resolution formats will replace studio film production. At the end of the decade film will be history. That is my prediction.

HD will get smaller and better and the production will change. Now we are at the beginning when man is learning to walk straight again. The viewfinders on the HD cameras are so pathetic. You can't overcrank CineAlta, the latitude is poor; the CCD's can't handle typical highlights.

I'm sure glad that the SD technology is going to the end. The better HD monitors have a very nice picture. You can create art with HDTV. What can you create with SD? A truly pathetic compromise. It is as if you'd give Michelangelo a house painter's brush and told him to paint Mona Lisa.
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Old May 11th, 2003, 07:11 AM   #35
 
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I don't think the discussion is whether film is beautiful, or not...clearly it is. Video has slightly different visual qualities. In the scientific fields, for true reproduction, video beats film hands down. The ability to "adjust" the raw image is where the art comes from. Recording the raw image is art, but, it's also a step in the process. If the image is "pre-disposed" to a certain look, part of the creative process has been taken away from the artist. And therin lies the rub. If the "film look" can be added in post, what a great choice to have. But, I've seen film that was quite ugly(my subjective opnion) and would have been more suitable with the video look. One film, was a story of recovering drug addicts in a half way house. Beleive me, the grainy, romantic look was out of place in the harsh reality of this story.

So, the question becomes, is video a suitable replacement for film? Is something being lost in the trade? In a way, it's like asking, what's better, The Eagles or Steely Dan? Is there an answer? I'm sure someone will pick one of the two and try to say one is better than the other. Video can get better, it's not there yet, but, it's coming.

For someone to say "Video is what the eyes see, Film is what the mind sees", is really being somewhat arrogant. I think the more appropriate way to put it, is as follows:


"Video is what MY eyes see,
Film is what MY mind sees".

I don't beleive it's right to presume, nor to speak, for all of humanity. The beauty and mysticism to art is the old saw..."beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder".



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Old May 11th, 2003, 08:26 AM   #36
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<<<-- Originally posted by Bill Ravens :
For someone to say "Video is what the eyes see, Film is what the mind sees", is really being somewhat arrogant. I think the more appropriate way to put it, is as follows:


"Video is what MY eyes see,
Film is what MY mind sees".

I don't beleive it's right to presume, nor to speak, for all of humanity. The beauty and mysticism to art is the old saw..."beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder". -->>>

I wasn't trying to be arrogant at all. What I mean is that I believe that they both are great formats... they just look different. Video is great for sports, documentary and news content as well as for films and especially to learn how to make films and such because it costs so much less. However, I truly believe that film has its charms and it is still the format I long for.

Video has a somewhat "voyeur" feel to it because of the frame rate and saturation of the colors... this is why I say it is what the eyes see... this can change however depending on the person who uses it of course.

*I* believe that film tends to intensify the beauty of what it captures. This is true for pictures aswell... it's because of the quality of the lens and the film itself.

Here is an example. Have you ever seen a making of featurette on a movie? If you have, you'll notice that most of these making of's are made with video cameras. When your behind the scenes, it is obvious that the props ( of let's say a medieval movie ) look like kind of cheesy... statues are made out of plastic, etc. Now when you watch the movie on film... you never have a doubt as the statue is made out of plastic because the grain of the film, lens etc makes all the difference in the world. I find that it creates an image of what you would have in your dreams. Anyways, this is just me.... I didn't want to be arrogant at all.... grrr
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Old May 11th, 2003, 08:34 AM   #37
 
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LOL....Kevin, I wasn't trying to critize your comments. You make some really valid points. I really love film for its beauty and romantic pathos. I envy those who can afford to use it. I also love video for its reality...its ability to reproduce in painful detail. I love it for its simplicity in getting the image in a distributable format...and for me, that's DVD. I can soften, warm and manipulate video in post so that none but the experienced eye can tell it from film. There's not much I can do about DOF issues...oh well, I pray for a prosumer CCD in a 35mm format that's affordable. HAhahaha, I'm not holding my breath, but, without hope, what have we got?

Thanx for your perspective.
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Old May 11th, 2003, 08:38 AM   #38
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Hehe, it's all good, Bill :) Geez, I'd be up for an affordable 35mm format dv camera too! hwee :)
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Old May 11th, 2003, 10:09 AM   #39
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A thought in the back of my mind has been everyone assuming film standing still. Kodak's new Vision2 motion picture film is a new standout. But has film reached it's physical limits? After all, it is a chemical process of molecules.

Electronics is also a chemical process of molecules. If Kodak came out with a new film with twice the quality (whatever that would be) of current negative film, how would that change things?

CCDs are playing catchup with film but would there be a wall to hit making it too expensive or impractical?

Special effects for film are frequently shot in a larger format, like VistaVision or 65mm. These are scanned at a much higher resolution, like 2K to 4K, in order to apply effects. The only video camera I'm aware of that can shoot like that costs as much as a film camera but storage of the data is a big problem.
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Old May 11th, 2003, 12:58 PM   #40
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"Electronics is also a chemical process of molecules."

In electronic systems it is physical movement of electrons, not chemical process of molecules, but it does not matter. Film is better than film now. Video will be better than film in the future.
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Old May 11th, 2003, 01:15 PM   #41
 
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The limit to video CCD's, right now, is the size of the photolith that they can make to dope the silicon chip. Latest technology in chip manufacturing is about 13 microns...soon to be nanometers. The limit, of course, is the ability to dope a single silicon molecule, then CCD rez density(to coin a term) will beat that of film.

The cost factor is simply set by the non-recurring cost of engineering and the chip yield. Obce the non-recurring is recovered, the price becomes sheer profit and the cost will fall. For this to happen, there has to be quantity manufacture. That's why current HD cams are so expensive...VERY limited production and the non-recurring is still being recovered. Also, as the precision needed for manufacturing goes up, the number of rejected parts goes up. This failure rate gets passed into the purchase price. So, the chip yield has to get much better for prices to drop. Look at whar's happening with LCD screens...price is dropping as manufacturing yield goes up and non-recurring gets paid off.

The marketplace will always respond to demand....so, get out there and start buying those $60K HD cams.
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Old May 11th, 2003, 02:00 PM   #42
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Right, Bill. And a photolith is a film process. (Or am I wrong?) This would mean the the width of the channels is limited by film. Or perhaps you could just say film for movies can be improved.
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Old May 11th, 2003, 02:15 PM   #43
 
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LOL...well...ummm...errr

yes and no....it is film, but, the photolith image is produced in a very large size, then shrunken down to the micron size. The analogy is like taking a vector graphic design and shrinking it. The limit to how small it can be shrunken is actually determined by the wavelength of light used in the "enlarger" to print the image on the silicon. These days UV light is used to photoetch the silicon because it has the shortest wavelength. Light passing thru a small slit is "diffraction limited", which a a function of wavelength. You know those fringes you get when you stop down too far? Same thing, only on a scale of angstroms.
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Old May 14th, 2003, 07:28 AM   #44
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To me, I don't try to replicate "film" as much as I do "cinema". I love theatrical movies. Why? The quality of the image, the sound, the great experience brought together by the entire production... not what it was shot on.

Why is it so appealing to most? Well you first have to go back and realize that our entire modern society is based on visual quality. Things that look good, do better. From women to food to movies to cars.. people want what looks better to them. The cinematic "image" is appealing to most because of the image quality. Not because it was shot with "35mm 3-perf film" or what-have-you but because of the resulting image caused by the method.

Take "Mr. Deeds" for instance. Great movie. The image quality in that was great. Warm colors, awesome DOF, great lighting, high quality. It's professional. Now you go to any movie, you see the great look&feel produced, and then you go back to see your home movies that look.. well.. MUCH less appealing than that movie you just say... now you know why people want to emulate movies.

I personally, couldn't care less if something I shoot looks like it was shot with film, as long as it impresses those that see it. As long as it looks good, or as long as it looks far from 'home video'

http://www.entityinspiration.com/vous.jpg
an example still from one of the scenes in an upcoming project.
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Old May 14th, 2003, 11:40 AM   #45
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Nice shot Kevin!
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