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Saving Private Ryan


J. Søren Viuf
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To those more knowledgeable than myself:

 

I am certain that this has been discussed ad naseum prior to my joining of this site, but I have heard many different opinions about the Saving Private Ryan war footage, and I was wondering if someone could pet the issue to rest for me. How did they do it? 'It' being the hyper-realistic, intense "strobe" effect.

 

Thank you,

 

J. Soren Viuf

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To those more knowledgeable than myself:

 

I am certain that this has been discussed ad naseum prior to my joining of this site, but I have heard many different opinions about the Saving Private Ryan war footage, and I was wondering if someone could pet the issue to rest for me. How did they do it? 'It' being the hyper-realistic, intense "strobe" effect.

 

Thank you,

 

J. Soren Viuf

It was done with a small shutter angle, IIRC 60 degrees. That doesn't give you enough motion blur to create the illusion of motion, so you see it as a rapid sequence of sharp still images.

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You'll also see it in many other films, such as "Heat" (Robert De Niro picks Val Kilmer up off the street after he's shot), and it's thoroughly overused and abused in "Feast" and "Dawn of the Dead."

 

It's a great effect when used in moderation and in the right circumstances, but unfortunately Saving Private Ryan seems to have overly popularized it, despite having used it appropriately and effectively, in my opinion.

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Is it possible to imitate in digital post?

 

JSV

 

Not so much in post, because what you're seeing is the lack of motion blur in each frame. It's harder to remove motion blur than it is to add it.

 

But shooting it digitally only requires that you increase the shutterspeed. I recall "SPR" used 90 and 45 degree shutters, which cuts the shutterspeeds to 1/2 and 1/4 normal, respectively. In 24P video you would use 1/96 and 1/192 shutterspeeds, or round off to 1/100 and 1/200.

 

Remember that every time you cut the shutterspeed in half you lose one f-stop. So a 45 degree or 1/192 shutter loses 2 stops at 24fps.

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You're going to make an F900, or worse look like grainy, contrasty 35mm WWII era footage? Good luck.

 

Don't tell me, a filter to "add grain to the perfection of the digital image" and a technicolor LUT is all that is needed.

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a technicolor LUT

 

Wow! There's a Technicolour Lens!?! I really really nedd one of those things.

 

Could anyone tell me what would happen to an Kodachrome/Monopack if I filmed through one of these lenses? I know that Three Strip Technicolour and Monopack have different colour biases, I am hoping to exacarbate the slightly psychedelic look this film is famed for.

 

Thanks. :)

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Kaminski also added to the mix by having the multicoating removed from the lenses used in the famous beach landing... I went to the actual beaches in the summer and you can see how little cover those guys had when they hit the beaches... A great uncle of mine drove one of the landing craft and had to watch helpless as the soldiers he droppped off were cut down one after another. He would never speak about it...

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Wow! There's a Technicolour Lens!?! I really really nedd one of those things.

 

Could anyone tell me what would happen to an Kodachrome/Monopack if I filmed through one of these lenses? I know that Three Strip Technicolour and Monopack have different colour biases, I am hoping to exacarbate the slightly psychedelic look this film is famed for.

 

Thanks. :)

 

A 'Technicolour' LUT (Look Up Table) is not a lens. In it's most basic form, a LUT is a cheat-sheet - kind of like a multiplication table with all the answers on it, saves having to work it out in your head, or in this case get the computer to calculate it.

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You're going to make an F900, or worse look like grainy, contrasty 35mm WWII era footage? Good luck.

 

Don't tell me, a filter to "add grain to the perfection of the digital image" and a technicolor LUT is all that is needed.

 

Making a good quality HD image look more gritty is easy -- it's trying to make HD look like "perfect" film that can be difficult...

 

Besides, the question and reply was about shutterspeeds only.

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The standard SRII has a fixed shutter. There may be some out there that have been modified to include an adjustable shutter. The SRIII has a range of set angles between 90 and 180. The Eclair NPR has a manually adjustable shutter. There may be some other 16 cameras as well, just can't think of them off the top of my head.

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Making a good quality HD image look more gritty is easy -- it's trying to make HD look like "perfect" film that can be difficult...

 

Besides, the question and reply was about shutterspeeds only.

 

It's funny you should say that. Even when the shittiest 3 megapixel digital SLRs first hit the market, people were saying they were "better" than 35mm, even though you can pul at least 6 megapixels worth of information out of the fastest, grainiest modern 35mm color film.

 

Film isn't perfect, it has a randomized pattern with distinct grain (you can even see it on the 35mm shows in pseudo HD (not full HD) now. I for one don't like grain unless it's for effect or I'm shooting shots for a newspaper (then 3200 speed film is great!), but the slight level of grain in the slower stocks still is far less of a problem to me than pixelation, bad colors, or blown-out, smeary highlights.

 

Again, I've seen the opposite with ease of adding grit too. With Sci-Fi's thinly disguised Iraq War political speakout, Battlestar Galactica, they were forced to go to HD by the channel (THANKS SCI FI!) and despite trying to do their best to simulate the pushed 35mm they used in the pilot, it looks like noisy video, even in standard def.

 

Then again, I stare at pictures up close probably 20+ hours a week, so I'm probably more nitpicky than someone that just sees films in theatres or shoots them. Most people don't pause frames of 35mm on the screen or develop and print their own movies or time them.

 

IDK though, I guess the"grainy" aesthetic represents reality to many people because it is still a holdover from the 16mm newsgathering/documentary days. Now I'd think that digital maybe would be more appropriate for the "live coverage" look that some of these shows are after. I'd hate to see The Shield shot digitally though. Like I said, I'm a huge fan of grit in the photojournalism I shoot too, so I think film still has a real organic edge that can't be simulated digitally. It's much akin, at least to me, with the music industry's practice of "recording in the red" when analogue tape was still the gold standard there. It's slightly unrealistic, but it has a pleasing sound to it. So too, the grain that "Private Ryan" typefied, through the whole intricate combination of bleach bypass, selective color filtration so that only the blood was recorded "correctly" on the negative, small shutter angles, and out-of-sync shutter a look that is obviously still very popular because of "Ryan" having pulled it off so well. This is probably the 10th "Private Ryan" thread I've seen.

 

Now be honest everyone, you're really interested in the film because *MATT DAMON's* in it. . .

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By the way, you don't need expensive equipment to produce that strobing effect seen in 'Saving Private Ryan.' Some super 8 cameras have a variable shutter. I paid $150 for my first super 8 camera (a Canon 1014 Autozoom Electronic with variable shutter) together with a projector.

 

To be honest, I didn't like the use of a narrow shutter angle in the first battle scene in the beginning of 'Gladiator.' It just looked a bit odd to me. I would have preferred that they shot the footage with a regular shutter angle.

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By the way, you don't need expensive equipment to produce that strobing effect seen in 'Saving Private Ryan.' Some super 8 cameras have a variable shutter. I paid $150 for my first super 8 camera (a Canon 1014 Autozoom Electronic with variable shutter) together with a projector.

 

Who said you needed expensive equipment here in this thread?

 

IDK why you'd want to shoot S8 for a serious production, 16mm is a much better choice. My old beat-up Auricon has a really nice adjustable shutter that can be adjusted up and down during filmming, although it is a bit awkward to do so.

 

~KB

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"Who said you needed expensive equipment here in this thread?"

 

All the camera equipment mentioned previously in this thread would be considered quite expensive....compared to super 8.

 

"IDK why you'd want to shoot S8 for a serious production..."

 

Who said one needed to use a narrow shutter angle for a serious production? I was assuming that the original poster simply wanted to know how to acheive this effect. Though I guess I shouldn't even mention the use of S8 in so-called serious productions such as 'JFK', 'Natural Born Killers' and 'In My Image' - an independant feature film shot mostly on S8.

 

"My old beat-up Auricon has a really nice adjustable shutter..."

 

Out of curiosity, what frame rates does that Auricon have? Sounds like an interesting old camera you have.

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"My old beat-up Auricon has a really nice adjustable shutter..."

 

Out of curiosity, what frame rates does that Auricon have? Sounds like an interesting old camera you have.

 

Original Auricons are 24 fps with an AC sync motor and optical sound recorder.

In later models the optical sound head was replaced with magnetic.

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IDK though, I guess the"grainy" aesthetic represents reality to many people because it is still a holdover from the 16mm newsgathering/documentary days.

 

I don't know that the grain in SPR had anything to do with "reality," although it may have called to mind newsreel footage of the war. I think the grain added a "texture" that simply feels more rough, and therefore appropriate to evoke the hash conditions of the battlefield. I think the whole look was designed more to evoke a feeling and association, using familiar visual cues only as a basis.

 

I don't know what techniques they use to add noise/grain to Battlestar, but there are some pretty good post processes available that can add grain to a digital image to help it intercut with film (BTW: link).

 

I don't think HD can be made to look exactly like film, but if you're going to create a stylized look anyway then it's not hard to come up with something effective with high-end digital tools. Especially once you pull out the color, the limited color depth of HD compared to film goes away. B&W HD can look pretty sweet if done right, although again, not the same as film.

 

As for making something look "real" -- that's open to interpretation. You could say that the look of The Shield isn't trying to be "real," it's a drama that uses some cinema-verite techniques for emphasis. Compare that to Cops which is as "real" as it gets, photographically speaking. If you want to imagine Shield on HD, take a look at Rescue Me.

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I don't know that the grain in SPR had anything to do with "reality," although it may have called to mind newsreel footage of the war. I think the grain added a "texture" that simply feels more rough, and therefore appropriate to evoke the hash conditions of the battlefield. I think the whole look was designed more to evoke a feeling and association, using familiar visual cues only as a basis.

 

I don't know what techniques they use to add noise/grain to Battlestar, but there are some pretty good post processes available that can add grain to a digital image to help it intercut with film (BTW: link).

 

As for making something look "real" -- that's open to interpretation. You could say that the look of The Shield isn't trying to be "real," it's a drama that uses some cinema-verite techniques for emphasis. Compare that to Cops which is as "real" as it gets, photographically speaking. If you want to imagine Shield on HD, take a look at Rescue Me.

 

Thanks Mike, that was an interesting article. I think I need to overcome my initial objection to shows/movies that "misspell" words and watch an episode. When's Num3rs on, and which network plays it?

 

Grain, to me, feels more real than something that is pixelated. Of course, a sharp, grainless image, be it film or digital, is closer to reality, but along with 30 fps frame rates and small shutter angles, I think grain too adds an air of realism, again because of what I've been conditioned to, seeing old newsreel footage, shooting sports pictures on 3200 speed film, moreso than your digital artifacts.

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  • 2 years later...
Not so much in post, because what you're seeing is the lack of motion blur in each frame. It's harder to remove motion blur than it is to add it.

 

But shooting it digitally only requires that you increase the shutterspeed. I recall "SPR" used 90 and 45 degree shutters, which cuts the shutterspeeds to 1/2 and 1/4 normal, respectively. In 24P video you would use 1/96 and 1/192 shutterspeeds, or round off to 1/100 and 1/200.

 

Remember that every time you cut the shutterspeed in half you lose one f-stop. So a 45 degree or 1/192 shutter loses 2 stops at 24fps.

 

Thankyou. I am putting together a music video and the client wants that effect in their video.

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I don't know that the grain in SPR had anything to do with "reality," although it may have called to mind newsreel footage of the war. I think the grain added a "texture" that simply feels more rough, and therefore appropriate to evoke the hash conditions of the battlefield. I think the whole look was designed more to evoke a feeling and association, using familiar visual cues only as a basis.

 

I don't know what techniques they use to add noise/grain to Battlestar, but there are some pretty good post processes available that can add grain to a digital image to help it intercut with film (BTW: link).

 

I don't think HD can be made to look exactly like film, but if you're going to create a stylized look anyway then it's not hard to come up with something effective with high-end digital tools. Especially once you pull out the color, the limited color depth of HD compared to film goes away. B&W HD can look pretty sweet if done right, although again, not the same as film.

 

As for making something look "real" -- that's open to interpretation. You could say that the look of The Shield isn't trying to be "real," it's a drama that uses some cinema-verite techniques for emphasis. Compare that to Cops which is as "real" as it gets, photographically speaking. If you want to imagine Shield on HD, take a look at Rescue Me.

 

What is the best way to do B&W in HD? I am sure that you are not referring to hitting the desaturate button in FCP. I have tried to do it in the EX camera but the results were not what I wanted to see.

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