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Graeme Nattress January 2nd, 2006 03:31 AM

When you read "making of" stuff on 28days, it's very apparant they deliberately degraded the image quality. I've seen quite a few PAL blowups to film, and they don't look anywhere remotely as bad as 28days.


Dave Ferdinand January 2nd, 2006 03:56 AM

Maybe those blow ups weren't so cropped as 28 Days? Not trying to start a dispute on this subject or anything, I really wouldn't mind if they had indeed reduced the quality for effect but from what I know they didn't.

I can't find the other interview I read but he something similar to this:

(from this link)

RES: What about disadvantages?

Boyle: Picture quality, especially on wide shots. We were fortunate; on the whole we got away with it. When you dwell on a wide shot, the human eye is so extraordinary that it goes to where it is interested on that big screen and it zooms in, just like that zoom in on the video game. Halo! If the eye is interested in that picture and if the detail isn't there, it looks a bit ****ty. Whereas on film, you can go in that close and there's enough detail there so it is still acceptable. That's the only major disadvantage. I am not sure if DV would work for period films as there is something completely modern about its feel and about it as a recording or capturing process. If you did a Jane Austin novel or great period piece, I don't know what it would look like; it might feel very odd.

On the other interview I'm pretty sure it was the DP saying that this picture quality achieved shooting with video would only suit this project itself for style purposes, and he didn't like the idea of using it for other films...

I think it was Steven Soderbergh's project Full Frontal that had heavy manipulation of XL1 footage in order to make it looks worse.

Graeme Nattress January 2nd, 2006 03:59 AM

Well, the fact that "sharpness" was applied before scaling up to film, and the visual appearance was that bad (compared to decent PAL to film I've seen) must mean they deliberately reduced the quality. I did read they cranked up the sharpness for an edgy look (ie crap look). Well, they could just have no idea on how to get a decent film out from video, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they wanted an edgy look....


John Mercer January 2nd, 2006 04:55 AM

"When you read "making of" stuff on 28days, it's very apparant they deliberately degraded the image quality. I've seen quite a few PAL blowups to film, and they don't look anywhere remotely as bad as 28days."

I have the DVD (love the film) and nowhere on it in either the commentary or supplemental materials does say anything about "deliberately degrading" image quality. I think Dave is right that Boyle has gone on record saying that DV has a documentary immediacy about it that lends a reality feel to horror that perhaps 35mm couldn't achieve, but this implies it is already degraded - you don't have to do anything to DV except blow it up to 35 in order to degrade it - yes I know everyone has seen 'fantastic' blow-ups from DV but really NTSC and PAL rez compared to 35mm originated footage?

As I say on the DVD to me (entirely subjective I know) it looks very very good, considering, and I know they went to some lengths with the long shots of London by stitching various takes together, to improve resolution at MPC (Moving Picture Company) of London. They used a PAL XL1 (not XL1s) with an adaptor I believe from Optex (not the mini35) to use 35mm lenses and this helped too. There was also some very nice filter work.

Thankyou Dave for correcting my budget error - but $8 million is still more than a low independent. It seems that this comparatively modest budget for Hollywood (not for mainstream British) and the very brief availability of major London locations also informed the choice of cheap DV - Boyle could use many cameras at the same time to cover many angles - very expensive in 35mm or even 16mm especially when as he did you have 15 or more of them.

Basically Danny Boyle with writer Alex Garland made a couple of experimental DV shot dramas for BBC - the strangely titled "Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise" and "Strumpet", where they liked the medium very much and felt it could have a place in feature production. My point was that unlike say Steven Soderbergh's "Full Frontal" which used the same XL1, but drawing attention to its degraded qualities, 28 Days Later used DV as a legitimate production choice and gave it the best shot, so to speak. Compare those two films - same camera - and tell me which one looks the most degraded.

BTW Happy New Year to you too Shannon - and everyone else too of course.

Graeme Nattress January 2nd, 2006 10:43 AM

All I remember seeing in the cinema was big, inch thick "sharpness" halos around the actors as they stood against the sky. Looked like it had been drawn in with a kid's crayon.

Maybe they did think that they were treating the DV to give the best quality possible, but got it wrong. The film print we saw in Canada on previews was blinkin awful.


Boyd Ostroff January 2nd, 2006 12:24 PM

It's funny how "28 Days Later" keeps coming up around here. I saw it in the theatre and enjoyed it, but it did have a harsh look. FWIW, here's an article that discusses the choices:



In order to maintain the integrity of Alex Garland's script, the filmmakers opted for MiniDV, a format at the lower end of digital video's resolution scale. The advantage of MiniDV, however, was that its inherently small cameras could be set up quickly, which proved key to pulling off the stunning shots of deserted London. "If I had shot those on a big negative, it would have looked absolutely stunning," Dod Mantle reflects. "It was extraordinary to see those city streets deserted. I knew how beautiful those could have been, but we made an artistic decision and I stood by it.

Choosing the MiniDV format wasn't just about logistics. Its harsh imaging characteristics corresponded well with the film's subject matter. "I saw an artistic, logical justification for shooting this film on this format because it was a very violent script - very disturbing, gritty and anarchic," Dod Mantle observes.

Graeme Nattress January 2nd, 2006 12:32 PM

Boyd, I guess it's a controversial topic. But an interesting one. I guess 99% of the people in the cinema didn't notice the poor picture. I've lost count of the times I've seen out of focus films and nobody complains - apart from me, and the odd two or three wanting their money back. The percentage who notice is awfully slim....


John Mercer January 2nd, 2006 01:06 PM

"The percentage who notice is awfully slim...."

Thank you Graeme ;) - I did 'notice' - that was my whole point - DV looks s*!t blown up to 35mm and projected on a big screen IMO. In the cinema it looked very very soft but not because focus was out but because of this recipe: take the nice but quite soft XL1, add Frame mode to it, lots of filters then crop it to 1.85:1 while blowing it up to 35mm; sit back and enjoy the golf balls - you end up with less than 50% vertical resolution of a PAL XL1.

On the DVD, on a TV it looks quite nice and well shot, with a great feel about it (well to me anyway) - infact some of the vistas of London do look quite 'beautiful' to me - what I can't understand, if Dod Mantle "...knew how beautiful those could have been, but we made an artistic decision and I stood by it." then why did he use nice sepia grad filters on some of the shots. Maybe when it was slated for picture quality in the cinema a bit of disingenuous damage limitation was in order?

My whole point was that in 28 Days Later DV was afforded the sort of production values it rarely gets - whatever look they were after or achieved it was shot using gibs, 35mm lenses, cranes and tracks etc. on a good size budget movie - it was not exclusively hose-piped handheld like an 'am-cam' on auto-focus and exposure - DV was given some professional respect and to paraphrase, 99% of the cinema going public would have no idea that a prosummer format was used unless they read it in the various reviews - my wife simply cannot tell the difference between SD and HD and doesn't care either (I'm not implying she's simple BTW :) )

It is an interesting and controversial discussion and I think we're saying almost the same thing, but if we're not forgive me and I'll agree to differ.

Shannon Rawls January 2nd, 2006 01:32 PM

28 Days Later looked better then Open Water.


However, my dad (a school teacher), bought both movies and was entertained.

Catch my drift?

Graeme Nattress January 2nd, 2006 03:11 PM

Oh yes, script is number 1....

But I can't help but think that the lack of education of the public with regards to quality of production, and visual quality is something that will change over time. Originally, widescreen was bad because you lost the top and bottom of the picuture, but the education got out and people, on the whole, now "get" widescreen. DVD has taken over VHS, and again, I think people "get" the better quality.

But how long will it be before people spot and complain of MPEG macroblocks on broadcasts? Or other more subtle picture annoyances?


Barry Green January 2nd, 2006 03:59 PM


Originally Posted by Graeme Nattress
All I remember seeing in the cinema was big, inch thick "sharpness" halos around the actors as they stood against the sky. Looked like it had been drawn in with a kid's crayon.

Maybe they did think that they were treating the DV to give the best quality possible, but got it wrong. The film print we saw in Canada on previews was blinkin awful.

Agreed 100%. I saw it on the big screen, and I was mortified at the edge-enhancement halos and the overall blurry look. Granted I was sitting in the sixth row; I found that if you sit in the back of the theater it improves the look drastically, so I would wager that that's why we have disagreement over how it looked -- to a large degree it depends on where in the theater the observer was sitting.

Ash Greyson January 2nd, 2006 05:32 PM

Remember, there was more than one version of 28 Days Later... they released an alternate ending in some markets I believe. The version I saw was very good, better than most DV stuff I have seen blown up... WAY better than Madhot Ballroom, Murderball and Open Water. Maybe everyone didnt get the same prints? I dunno but I saw nothing that was atrocious.

As to the fact that they intentionally degraded the image? That is just false. If you read the article linked above you can see they went to extreme lengths and thru multiple tests to get the best image possible...

ash =o)

Graeme Nattress January 3rd, 2006 01:58 AM

Perhaps we did see different versions. I can't believe anyone who saw what I saw would like the quality of the blowup.

As for intentionally degrading the image - sharpening in camera, or sharpening before blowup, which must have been what they did to get the inch wide halos that both Barry and I saw, is in my book, intentionally degrading the image......


Barry Green January 3rd, 2006 02:37 AM

Yeah, I didn't quite get it. I read the article, and they made a point of using high-def prime lenses -- obviously they were going for the best image they could get. Yet the edge enhancement was downright objectionable, and all wide shots were extremely blurry. I came out of that theater quite disillusioned, if this was the best that a DV blowup could look.

Not long thereafter I had DVFilm blow up some of my stuff and we screened it, and I'd say it looked at least twice, if not 4x as sharp as 28DL. Then I saw November in the theater and (other than the horrible 4:1:1 red in the darkroom scene) I thought it looked completely passable.

But what I saw in the theater had massive halo'ing, especially around the downtown london buildings where they met the sky. It was distracting. And the entire show looked out of focus. Only on the close-ups did it look borderline acceptable.

Graeme Nattress January 3rd, 2006 02:48 AM

Barry, sounds like we saw very similar things. I think if you fire up the DVD, you'll also see the very bad haloing also - the infamouns Gibbs Effect.....


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