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Old May 21st, 2002, 03:26 PM   #76
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<<<-- Digital projection may allow a greater opportunity of theatrical venues for more indie films, but the marketplace will eventually decide if that is sustainable or such projects are better suited for IFC or the Sundance Channel. -->>>

Hillary,

most of the world don't have IFC or the Sundance Channel. I know I don't. Do not forget that the BIG $$$ could never be made without your foreign markets. Perhaps you could even get the opportunity to watch some foreign films that you would never have the opportunity to watch otherwise. Some very great films are made without even a thought of the American "domestic" market today. Digital video breaks down all boundaries in distribution.

atomicworkshop,

I'm with you bro. The asteroid chase scene was absolutely smashing! As was the Jargo Fett/Obi Wan "rain fighting" scene. I wish all films could be like that... Of course a film that has 100% FX shots is going to have some shots that are weak. But who cares about those? :-)
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Old May 21st, 2002, 04:06 PM   #77
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<< Hillary: "For it to truly be considered "progress," there really should be improvement. " >>

How shall we measure "progress"? Is subjective image quality the only measure of progress?

<< Hillary: ""Good enough" just isn't." >>

It's a darn sight better than "not at all", which reflects the distribution opportunities that the majority of independent movie projects face today.
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Old May 21st, 2002, 05:15 PM   #78
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<==As for the CG and animation, it's ridiculously bad==>

jeez, if that is bad CG, i would like to see whats good!

I know when i first saw the image from the DLP in the theaters,
despite the all technicall aspects and the "not good enough for big time"
bandwagon, I thought the image quality was nice...not "the best it will
ever get", but it was really nice! definatly made for a clearer picture.

those of whom think this picture quality was poor, then im missing out on something big that none has told ME about. I know its not up to 35 or 70 mm
standards, yet for what it was it was superb! I wouldnt want to see a 35mm
film projected digital, I would beleive that the format it was shot in should be the format it should be played in. ...fair enough.

Im not a "film tech" nor "picture quality anylist" but i do know as a movie goer
and videographer i think the DLP picture was great.

Theres plenty of films out there shot on digital with a "technically poor" picture, though portrayed a flawless peice of motion picture.
Isnt that what counts???
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Old May 21st, 2002, 05:24 PM   #79
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Guys help me.. where and when should I look for those artifacts?

The only Fx flaws I noticed were the bad compositing of the bomb assassination on Amidalas double in the beginning of the movie and the scene with the pear, where there was virtually no motion tracking. And in a couple of scenes the CG actors moved, well, like CG actors.

The movie looked a bit soft, but overall still better than most 35mm presentations.

As I am no cinematographer like most people aren´t I think most people will see it like I saw it.

IMO this whole quality thing is never going to be a big issue among "normal" people, just like the articles in American Cinematographer it is only a matter for few trained professionals, who might, like a violin player might have a perfect hearing, have a "perfect seeing" that comes from education and the knowledge how these things are done.
The mass audience won´t see these flaws unless you freeze the frame and tell them where to look for the mistakes.

So is digital filmmaking/projection going to come? A matter of artistry, money and time.

Artistry because many FX and image processing are easier accomplished when the source material is digital and 99% of the FX today would not be possible with chemical filmprocessing. How many layers can you do on film-stock?

Money and time because time is money. Not having to wait for the dailies for example saves a lot of time and money. And money makes the world go round. And all the money points have already been mentioned here before.

So I think this (temporarily) step back in resolution is worth the change from a hundred year old technique that has no advantages exept resolution.

my 2 cents.

Oh, yeah... I liked the movie a lot.

Cheers,
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Old May 21st, 2002, 07:51 PM   #80
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Martin,

I'm all for expanding venues for filmmakers, especially independent producers. However, theatrical distribution is a business and if people won't come to see independent projects on a regular basis, then it cannot sustain itself, and screens will be reserved for films with greature production value and mass appeal. Enter your projects in film festivals. If it has commercial appeal, you may just have the next "El Mariachi" and be on your way to a career within the industry (if that's what you want). Regardless of format, if you want anybody to see your project on more than one festival screen, you'll need a distributor. And in reality, the life of most such projects is much longer on video anyway. A favorite director of mine, John Waters (whose films have never been defined as the hallmark of any kind of quality) has great difficulty in getting his films on many screens, especially around here and I live not very far from his hometown. I must resort to seeing his films (produced on 35mm) ultimately on video. Regardless of this new technology, home video will still be the primary venue for independents.

Ken,

I believe the above reply to Martin can partially respond to your last question to me. Don't misread me, I'm not trying to blast the opportunities for indies to get their work seen. I'd like lots of people to see my stuff too. But I've sat through lots of amateurish work that should never see the light of any projector again. Forgive me if I don't feel that just because you shoot in a digital format, and a theatre is equippeed with a digital projector, it will be easier from a distribution standpoint to have your work seen. Technically possible, but your work has to be good enough to convince someone other than an arthouse manager it should be seen by the masses.

My stance is that it's premature for the major Hollywood filmmakers to adopt a format that is not up to par with current motion pictures when they can darn well afford it. George Lucas does not have to work in miniDV (or HD for that matter). If we accept this (sub)standard now, there will not be any business incentive for them to improve the system. And before long, the difference between seeing a movie in a cinema will be barely distinguishable from seeing the same movie in your home theatre (except for the people talking on their cell phones).

And your question regarding subjective image quality being the only measure of progress; Considering that we're discussing the projection of moving images, I'd have to say it's right up there on top. What good is the most advanced 21st century technology if it cannot match the current (regardless if it began in the 19th)? If you're dazzled with the bells and whistles of all things digital, more power to you, but when I go see a movie, I'm looking at the picture on the screen, not the machine in the booth. I've worked on 35mm productions and never got the warm fuzzies from the knowledge that I'm watching "Spider-Man" in the same format.

I just think that the industry standard should be able to project pictures with at least 4k of data per frame (equivalent to 35mm film). CGI is great, although as far as special effects are concerned, we've just replaced one kind of fake with a new kind of fake. But when scanned to film (for as long as that will be), it shouldn't be done at the usual 2k. I have no doubt that digital will become the standard. From many standpoints it makes sense, as long as we don't have to do with less than we've had before.

That's not asking too much, is it?
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Old May 21st, 2002, 10:16 PM   #81
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This string has a life of its own! Great dialog here.

Peter & Ken, while you will both get a lot of naysayers, you guys are right on. I think, very early in this string, I mentioned something about the bottom line will be the driver, and digital will be the last one standing. As the technology matures, digital will be lots less expensive to produce.

The typical teenager (or Star Wars groupies like us) won't give a whit about film vs digital. They will stand in long lines, pay their money and cheer. And they'll leave satisfied......
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Old May 21st, 2002, 11:51 PM   #82
 
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I find it rather curious that the technology du jour is flogged and flailed to the extent that it is. I wasn't old enough to be conscious when motion pictures became "talkies" but the naysayers of the time decried the insult to art. So it is. Nothing ever stays the same, and technology is certainly not an exception. Next years' digital will be better, and in a few years it will rival celluloid. Lucas is either a fool or an extremely brave man...maybe both. But, he's on the cutting edge....not stuck in old ways that are dying. I'm all for art and all for quality.....but, Hillary's point is well made...it's profit and finances that makes "pictures". BUT, there will ALWAYS be a dollar in MY wallet for ART. And, yes thank you very much, I WILL spend it at film festivals....I will NOT spend it on some of the pap that's currently being sold as entertainment, produced by the marketing machine that is Hollywood. There will always be a difference of opinion, and thank God for that. There will always be indies, and thank God for that....and for those who do it for the love of it rather than for the $$$$'s.
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Old May 22nd, 2002, 12:07 AM   #83
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<< Bill: "BUT, there will ALWAYS be a dollar in MY wallet for ART. And, yes thank you very much, I WILL spend it at film festivals....I will NOT spend it on some of the pap that's currently being sold as entertainment, produced by the marketing machine that is Hollywood." >>

Boy, I'll second that in a heartbeat! In my book, well-done is well-done, regardless of format, medium or budget.
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Old May 22nd, 2002, 05:04 AM   #84
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Bill,

you have a real valid point there.

Hillary,

You wrote:

"If we accept this (sub)standard now, there will not be any business incentive for them to improve the system."

As Bill pointed out sound on film was a real technological step back. The cameras became crude and held secondary to the audio system. In the beginning the cameras had to be hidden in a man sized blimp houses (they had to fit the operator in there) and could not be moved. Before this directors experimented a lot with dollys, cranes and hand held work. All that had to stop. Not much of a chance for visual storytelling that way. Also color introduced these kinds of problems. The three strip process was extremely cumbersome. The same applied to the CinemaScope process (huge lenses/weak light/hard to focus). This did not however prevent the technology to improve. There was potential in sound on film and color films. There is potential in HD.

And if technology was following the "step up" principle all the time we'd all be shooting Showscan or Imax in 16 channel stereo. 60fps 65mm looks much much better than 24fps 35mm so why are we not using it all the time on everything we shoot? Why did we step down to 35mm once we had invented 65mm? I made a 35mm feature for under $300, 000 so I know Hollywood productions could afford 65mm. And why are we stepping down to NLE's? A Steenbeck provides us with a much better feel for the actual film material. AND it's non linear.

In the end it's all a matter of what's most effective to storytelling and saving $$$. George Lucas has some nice points on the process of working in HD. How the material is "now" and there is no need for dailies. What you see is what you get. That's creative control - and what filmmakers are always been striving for. George Méliès would have loved HD. Once in a while I like to step down to his level and watch 9,5 mm circa 18fps films of hand tinted black and white. They are still magic.
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Old May 22nd, 2002, 07:21 AM   #85
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Let me re-state that I'm not against new technology. It's just irresponsible for people like George Lucas to mis-represent both old and new technologies to make the horse he bet on appear faster.

Frankly, I'm excited about the POSSIBILITIES that this new technology has to offer. As long as the powers that be see a rea$on to improve the current standard to equal or surpass 35mm, perhaps with some kind of dimensional effect, I'll be there! And some of my favorite films are foreign, and ragged, sometimes crude (technologically and/or artistically), and often unpopular. Kevin Smith's "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy" do not need a large format to be the kind of entertainment it is, but "Lawrence of Arabia" wouldn't be the same movie if done in video. As Marshal Macluhan once wrote, "The medium is the message."

Martin,

Sound on film may have made the industry stumble artistically, but it wasn't really an issue of a backward technological step in the static camera (that was introduced by producers who believed that all audiences wanted was to hear people talk incessantly). It didn't take long for practices such as dubbing and sound effects to become commonplace. The early sound films of Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Shoedsack (sp?) with many moving camera shots, attest to that. Any "step back" technologically with the development of sound was the loss of the silent apeture to the academy apeture as the picture had to give up area on the film to make way for the optical soundtrack. The intital way to compensate was to adopt 65mm as a standard (yes, the wide gauge came twenty years before it's golden age). Unfortunately, the lack of public enthusiasm for these productions combined with prohibitive costs to theater owners already in a depression-era debt paying for the sound equipment put an end to 65mm for the time. Ongoing improvements in filmstock kept 35mm viable.

The switch from nitrate to tri-acetate filmstock around 1950 was a genuine improvement. It probably saved a lot of lives by reducing the fire hazard from nitrate. However, there was a different look to a nitrate film that safety doesn't have. Such nuances I'm willing to do without in favor of safety issues. And of course the possible archival instability of poorly fixed and stored safety film is now a problem, but hey, it saved money to do it that way, so it's okay.

The three-strip Technicolor cameras were more cumbersome than their monochrome counterparts, and the added cost (and discomfort) from the extra lighting necessary for proper exposure wasn't gleefully endured. However, Technicolor ADDED something not available before, full-color to motion pictures. That was not a step backward. Regarding Technicolor, the step backward came when the popularity of the "then new" Eastmancolor print film phased out the old, outdated dye-transfer printing. Films shot with those old cumbersome cameras (which negatives are intact), and those printed in dye-transfer (which have color separations) and the dye-transfer prints themselves, are in a reasonable good archival state. Eastmancolor negatives themselves and subsequent prints are notoriously prone to fading. It's a shame that few current filmmakers avail themselves to Technicolor's revived dye-transfer service. Then again, Technicolor sees the $$$ and is at the forefront of digital as well. There are those who are concerned with the archival stabilitiy and long-term retrieval of digital information, but that's a different Pandora's Box.

The reason that we don't see everything in the showscan format is that since 35mm is the accepted standard, the wide-gauge is reserved for special venues. Obviously, if you can tell your story with 12,000 feet of film, why use 40,000 of film twice as wide? Some viewers have reported that the unusual look of the Showscan format was distracting enough to forget the story (like a really funny commercial can be good without making the viewer remember the product being sold).

CinemaScope (the poor man's Cinerama) did suffer from some theaters trying to do too much from the 35mm frame. Worse yet was widescreen (the poor man's CinemaScope) which reduced picture quality by cropping off the top and bottom of the Academy frame in a pseudo-scope. The increased enlargment from smaller image was even weaker and grainier. Keep in mind that current DLP doesn't quite match this in resolution. I projected with the old Bausch & Lomb Cinemascope lenses, and with proper illumination, the images are stunning. New anamorphics produce even better images. And Cinemascope had 4 magnetic tracks of discreet sound on the film. When presented properly at its best, a good experience, as it uses area of the film unused since the introduction of sound.

As far as regular 65mm/70mm; there are those who appreciate the larger image, but those were originally distributed to take advantage of the six discreet soundtracks contained on magnetic stripes on the film. The introduction of digital sound effectively killed 70mm distribution, as such immersive sound was now available on 35mm. There are exceptions; There were a few 70mm prints struck of TITANIC, and though it was filmed in Super 35, viewers report an increase in picture quality (they said even the CGI looked better!).

As far as editing options, that's all a matter of personal tastes. I don't necessarily like linear video editing (as compared to film on a flatbed) but since I don't have any project requiring film, no need for the Steenbeck. The last 16mm I shot was transferred to video for editing anyway.

Again, I'm not trashing new options, as long as presentation quality doesn't dip below what we're used to. There are those who believe it's been trashed enough as of late.

BTW, George Melies was a genius!
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Old May 22nd, 2002, 08:14 AM   #86
 
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I submit to you, Hillary, that sometimes a step backwards has to be taken in order to step forwards two steps. My opinion is that this is what is happening with digital. There is a possibility, as you said, that technology will get stuck because of economics...and we'll have to suffer the long term reduction in image quality...but, I doubt it. In the end, wherever that happens to be defined, image quality will be better than it has been. It remains, only, for those of us committed to the beauty of celluloid technology to accept that change is inevitable, and better is only a matter of time. Many times, where technological progress is concerned, "better" really means "different". Not better or worse, just different.
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Old May 22nd, 2002, 03:55 PM   #87
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>>60fps 65mm looks much much better than 24fps 35mm so why are we not using it all the time on everything we shoot?<<

Because 60fps looks too much like video. Not in resolution, but in framerate and the way things move onscreen. Why they don't shoot more movies in 65mm 24fps is beyond me, but I'm sure it has everything to do with money since everybody is damn cheap.
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Old May 22nd, 2002, 03:55 PM   #88
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But the advancement in digital is not all loss. The image quality may perhaps be a small step back (if your taste is in jitter and micro scratches). This is going to change rapidly. The new Feveon CCD provides three times the resolution of todays CCD's. The upsides are enormous. I think the overall quality of the content in Episode II (compared to Episode I) is largly thanks to HD. George Lucas pacing of the story is excellent and I think that is because of the working methods. It will be interresting to see how it will effect James Camerons work. I know digital video really brought the quality out of Lars Von Trier as a director. The "what you see is what you get" approach that HD brings is a real power factor in filmmaking. Filmmakers used to be painters that had to wait twelve hours to see what happened to that stroke they just performed on the canvas. Now there is no more waiting. Your original is right there. So if HD will give us better direction and greater content - is it really a step back?
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Old May 22nd, 2002, 04:05 PM   #89
 
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Of course, you're right, Martin. My reference to "a step back" was only in regards to that esoteric quality of celluloid that seems so difficult for current video to mimic....I think it's mainly a quality of film's latitude, combined with lighting and shutter speed. My only real complaint about current video technology is the "poor" latitude....it's MUCH easier to get hot spots than with film....and the depth of field is significantly more with DV. One has to be more careful how attention is drawn to the key image in a frame, because focus is not such a variable with aperture in DV.

Here's a thought....maybe Lucas did most of his sets digitally so he didn't have to worry about latitude...stage contrast and lighting.

Last edited by Bill Ravens; May 22nd, 2002 at 04:26 PM.
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Old May 22nd, 2002, 04:26 PM   #90
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<< Bill: "....and the depth of field is significantly more with DV. One has to be more careful how attention is drawn to the key image in a frame, because focus is not such a variable with aperture in DV." >>

To that end, it was interesting to read Justin Chin's post yesterday about his first mini35 adapter work. Just goes to show that there's no obstacle that persistence...andd a few thousand dollars...can't overcome. ;->

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2106
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