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What happened to look of movies


fatih yıkar
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but conversely, I always have an intellectual reaction against any argument that art was better in the past. Plus I work in the present so if present cinematography isn't good, then what does it say about me?

 

Please David dont take anything personel, i think you're really underrated cinematographer...

i called bad when i compare them the old ones, of course interstellar or breaking bad,westworld not looking bad but okay for me..

 

I only watch your three movies entirely love witch,Jennifer's Body,The Quiet and take a look at The Astronaut Farmer,The Smell of Success i like them all but i also take a look Twin Falls Idaho,Daddy's Girl,The Perfect Tenant and Teacher's Pet(aka Devil In The Flesh 2) even the low resolution i love them, they got that intense looking i said. Especially Teacher's Pet i wish we can see them in blu-rays high resolution ...

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You have to realize that a lot of the modern look of films, television, and commercials is due in no small part to advances and modern tastes in digital color grading.

 

With a purely photochemical workflow, from shooting to print, you just can't alter the base image that much. This means that most films exposed, processed, and printed normally from the same era looked relatively similar to each other, just due to the limitations of the medium.

 

There was no ability to crush the blacks, bump up the saturation, push shadows/midtones/highlights in different color directions, add a tracking vignette, gradient, or power window.

 

With pure film workflow, you really had to work hard with lighting and filters to get a unique look. A few films used flashing, bleach bypass, cross process, and did optical printing tricks, but those are the exceptions. It's really impossible to overestimate how much of an impact digital post production has made on the art of cinematography.

 

It's like the difference between photography before/after Photoshop. It's not really the same craft anymore.

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and did optical printing tricks, but those are the exceptions.

 

I have always been currious whether anyone ever attempted a crazy thing like contrast masking or somethging of that sort in an optical printer, like was normally done in a darkroom. Are you talking about crazy effects like seen in "2001" where they'd invert one color layer, or something more akin to what I just said?

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I don't completely disagree with your premise -- every decade of cinema looks different than the surrounding one, and it's always a combination of technique, style, taste, and technology. You can't really put the finger on one thing though of course there have been some bigger leaps in change, it doesn't happen on a smooth gradient over time.

 

I'm as big a sentimentalist for past cinema as the next cinephile but knowing that aspect of my character, I fight against living in the past too much (and that gets harder as I get older and find the past more interesting) -- but conversely, I always have an intellectual reaction against any argument that art was better in the past. Plus I work in the present so if present cinematography isn't good, then what does it say about me?

 

I don't think Kodak is to blame -- if I shot a movie today in 2-perf Vision-3 and pushed everything 1-stop, I think the look would be similar to the older EXR stocks of the 90's. A much bigger issue issue is that modern tastes have changed on so many levels. That's why when I did "The Love Witch" I tried to think like a cinematographer would have in the 1960s, I tried to not have a modern sensibility.

 

For what its worth coming from me I thought you shot 'The Love Witch' spot on....you nailed the lighting style and colour palette of the genre the film was set in (thanks to Kodak stock)....the colour temp of the light, the flattering yet hard edged facial lighting....looked like straight of a 1960s TV movie......chapeau.......oh and the lead actress was perfectly cast and she certainly had a spell over me!!!!

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Yes, Love Witch was amazing! I wish I could see a print of it; it would only accentuate the effect. But even the bluray looks amazing. Seems you had everything perfect, except of course the filmstock, which gave a slightly more realistic/modern color rendition than the old 5251 would have.

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Yes, Love Witch was amazing! I wish I could see a print of it; it would only accentuate the effect. But even the bluray looks amazing. Seems you had everything perfect, except of course the filmstock, which gave a slightly more realistic/modern color rendition than the old 5251 would have.

 

I think only us like-minded people around here will appreciate how excellent the lighting was and the choices made - like using film, lenses etc to make it look like it did....I think its an honour for us to has ASC's in this forum to be honest

Edited by Stephen Perera
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Seems you had everything perfect, except of course the filmstock, which gave a slightly more realistic/modern color rendition than the old 5251 would have.

 

I'm don't how you can be sure how 5251, which was discontinued in 1968, compares with modern stocks like vision 3, except in terms of grain. There are simply too many variables.

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I'm don't how you can be sure how 5251, which was discontinued in 1968, compares with modern stocks like vision 3, except in terms of grain. There are simply too many variables.

 

I didn't say how exactly 5251 would perform. All I'm saying is they are different products, separated by decades of research dedicated to getting more realistic color rendition. Those early materials, like the old Kodacolor negatives, and cinema products like 5251, had a pretty distorted way of seeing color compared to modern products. Sometimes it's difficult to articulate what one is seeing. One particular thing I do see in almost all telecined or printed materials from that time is a lot of development inhibitor artefacts sometimes (though rarely) to the point of dancing halos on the edges of objects, usually directional; in the direction opposite to the transport of the film in the processing machine. Why that happened I have no idea as agitation was always the best in motion picture processing machines compared to still image processing. This sometimes gives the objects that "outlined" feel. I don't see such things to that extend in modern materials.

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I didn't say how exactly 5251 would perform. All I'm saying is they are different products, separated by decades of research dedicated to getting more realistic color rendition. Those early materials, like the old Kodacolor negatives, and cinema products like 5251, had a pretty distorted way of seeing color compared to modern products.

Well, actually, you did say that modern stocks had more accurate color reproduction than 5251. i don't believe that's there's necessarily any proof for your assertion that older stocks 'had a pretty distorted way of seeing color'. Unless you have shot those stocks, and printed them, there would be no way of knowing how much of their look was intrinsic, and how much was down to the medium in which you viewed them. Old films were printed on old print stocks, which were telecined to varying degrees of success for television. Very difficult to say how the original neg looked.

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There are plenty of brand new scans done of original negatives of 60s films. The entire early James Bond films collection for example is sourced from OCN scans on a high end Imagica scanner. I'm not saying this makes for any sort of "proof", just mentioning it as an example of "how a negative looks like", give or take some color tweaks.

 

As far accuracy of color reproduction goes; well Kodak, Fuji, Agfa and other manufacturers have been trying to improve that for decades. The orange mask itself was invented because the dyes are not "pure" enough, and it has been 50 or more years of Kodak trying to minimize unwanted color absorbtions even with an orange mask in place. They must have had SOME progress, enough for us to assume that Vision 3 has "cleaner" color reproduction even without a test. That and the fact that we have eyes and can see this.

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I have always been currious whether anyone ever attempted a crazy thing like contrast masking or somethging of that sort in an optical printer, like was normally done in a darkroom. Are you talking about crazy effects like seen in "2001" where they'd invert one color layer, or something more akin to what I just said?

There are some simple things you can do like make a black and white duplicate of a color negative, and then print them together to selectively reduce saturation. If I remember correctly, Caleb Deschanel did this on 'The Natural'. There's one long dolly shot of the baseball team listening to the national anthem that starts in black and white and transitions to full color.

 

You can also make a mask to selectively affect colors, which is basically how blue screen composites were done on film.

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There are plenty of brand new scans done of original negatives of 60s films. The entire early James Bond films collection for example is sourced from OCN scans on a high end Imagica scanner. I'm not saying this makes for any sort of "proof", just mentioning it as an example of "how a negative looks like", give or take some color tweaks.

 

If this is 'how the negative looks', then why does every new transfer look different in color and contrast from the previous one?

 

You could also point to examples of old (and not so old) films that have been newly rescanned and digitally graded to look completely different than the answer prints made for the original theatrical release. 'Star Wars', 'Blade Runner' and 'Se7en', to name just a few.

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Michael Chapman Talks Restoring ‘Taxi Driver’ and the Problem with Modern Cinematography

https://thefilmstage.com/features/michael-chapman-talks-restoring-taxi-driver-and-the-problem-with-modern-cinematography/

 

excerpt below:

 

 

"That might answer this next question: are there film artists, particularly cinematographers, working today who you like? It seems there’s a glut of good ones.

Yeah. But they seem, to me, to be imitating each other all the time. It all looks the same to me, pretty much. They’ve worked out a style with digital; they’ve worked out a style of how to do flashy, nice things, but it all looks the same, whoever’s shooting it — it seems to me, by and large. I mean, big-time movies do it. There are obviously small, independent movies that look different. But there seems, to me, to be a certain style which has pervaded the major-movie industry. So I can’t really tell the difference between this guy and that guy, by and large; they look pretty much the same."

Edited by Wiliam Cardoza
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If this is 'how the negative looks', then why does every new transfer look different in color and contrast from the previous one?

 

You could also point to examples of old (and not so old) films that have been newly rescanned and digitally graded to look completely different than the answer prints made for the original theatrical release. 'Star Wars', 'Blade Runner' and 'Se7en', to name just a few.

 

These are stylistic differences that go in the domain of grading. When I use the word "look", I use that word to mean; underlying image characteristics of a certain medium. So when I see the old and new edition of Graduate on bluray; what I'd say is: the transfer looks very different and the color grading is very much different; but I can still see the "look" of old filmstock (and lenses) in both versions.

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These are stylistic differences that go in the domain of grading. When I use the word "look", I use that word to mean; underlying image characteristics of a certain medium. So when I see the old and new edition of Graduate on bluray; what I'd say is: the transfer looks very different and the color grading is very much different; but I can still see the "look" of old filmstock (and lenses) in both versions.

Right, but again, how much of the 'look' is actually the lighting, production design, wardrobe, locations, lensing, filtering, lab work, optical work, etc.? Not to mention, your particular display device, the digital workflow chain, the type of scanner used, choices made in terms of sharpness enhancement, noise reduction, and compression.

 

It's all so mixed together that there's no way to say for sure that you 'can see the look of the camera original filmstock' from a Blu-Ray. If you're not watching the film on a calibrated P3 monitor in a dark room, then what you're seeing is likely already quite different from what the colorist saw in their suite.

 

The closest you can probably get to that would be to compare an original print off the o-neg to a new print struck from the the same source, off the same projector back-to-back. But of course, you have to take into account fading and damage to the film, and the difference in available print stocks. The print stock was always part of the look.

 

Also realize that films which intended to change the look of the o-neg through post techniques like different print stocks, bleach-bypass at various print stages and various optical tricks won't look the same when the original negative is scanned because those elements of the look were added later in the chain, and would have to be re-created digitally.

 

For example, on 'Se7en', Dariusz Khondji intended to use ENR Technicolor process on all the print stocks, which basically desaturates the colors, adds grain, and crushes the blacks by leaving some silver in the print. It also makes the image darker. So he also used a Panaflasher and lots of fill light on set to make sure shadow detail didn't completely disappear.

 

When scanning the o-neg, the filmmakers added that some of that contrast back in, but instead of just desaturating they went for more of a modern color pallete. Consequently, there are more 'Fincher greens', cold blues, dirty yellows, and vivid reds than there were in the film originally.

 

So - when you watch a Blu-Ray, how can you sure that the green of Kim Novak's dress in 'Vertigo' is the product of the camera film stock and not one of one of these other processes? Honestly, I don't think you can. If you watched a projected print side-by-side with the Blu-Ray, that would be the best you could do. But how many of us have the chance to do that?

 

The bottom line for me is, if you want to appreciate film and 'the film look', watch projected prints at revival theaters. Digital display is something else entirely. Great for enjoying movies in your own home. But it's a fundamentally different experience from watching actual film projection...

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Subjectively to my eye, when they started doing digital intermediate, something seemed to change in the cinema viewing experience. The colours did not seem quite right and the sharpness seemed to be a bit off. Maybe it wasn't but that was my observation.

Probably the colours were more "right" than in the traditional all-film process to distribution print. The perceived "sharpness" might have been conveyed by all the defects including white dust and whiskers off the negative and dancing processing bands down the image which made it onto the prints in earlier days.

I do not miss some of the prints in which there seemed to be spill of light within the print film itself from highlights to the adjacent image.

To be honest, the story ruled. It was only when I was playing projector operator at a local outdoor cinema using old carbon arc lamps and trimming the focus that I started taking notice.

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You have to realize that a lot of the modern look of films, television, and commercials is due in no small part to advances and modern tastes in digital color grading.

 

With a purely photochemical workflow, from shooting to print, you just can't alter the base image that much. This means that most films exposed, processed, and printed normally from the same era looked relatively similar to each other, just due to the limitations of the medium.

 

There was no ability to crush the blacks, bump up the saturation, push shadows/midtones/highlights in different color directions, add a tracking vignette, gradient, or power window.

 

With pure film workflow, you really had to work hard with lighting and filters to get a unique look. A few films used flashing, bleach bypass, cross process, and did optical printing tricks, but those are the exceptions. It's really impossible to overestimate how much of an impact digital post production has made on the art of cinematography.

 

It's like the difference between photography before/after Photoshop. It's not really the same craft anymore.

 

+1

 

Sat nailed it. I think the changing 'look' (as it were) is really more a function of the development of the Digital Intermediate at the turn of the century. The fundamental change that development wrought to our ability to control things like contrast and colour separation in our images, has seen a big shift in the way cinematic images are rendered.

 

Obviously the development of digital, with it's incredibly high sensitivity, and the ability that has given us to capture lighting situation that simply weren't possible before (without huge lighting/power resources at least), has created a shift of it's own.

 

But big, tentpole films shot on film in 2017, don't end up looking all that fundamentally different from those shot digitally. And I agree with Sat, I think we can largely link that back to the DI process.

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Right, but again, how much of the 'look' is actually the lighting, production design, wardrobe, locations, lensing, filtering, lab work, optical work, etc.? Not to mention, your particular display device, the digital workflow chain, the type of scanner used, choices made in terms of sharpness enhancement, noise reduction, and compression.

 

It's all so mixed together that there's no way to say for sure that you 'can see the look of the camera original filmstock' from a Blu-Ray. If you're not watching the film on a calibrated P3 monitor in a dark room, then what you're seeing is likely already quite different from what the colorist saw in their suite.

 

The closest you can probably get to that would be to compare an original print off the o-neg to a new print struck from the the same source, off the same projector back-to-back. But of course, you have to take into account fading and damage to the film, and the difference in available print stocks. The print stock was always part of the look.

 

Also realize that films which intended to change the look of the o-neg through post techniques like different print stocks, bleach-bypass at various print stages and various optical tricks won't look the same when the original negative is scanned because those elements of the look were added later in the chain, and would have to be re-created digitally.

 

For example, on 'Se7en', Dariusz Khondji intended to use ENR Technicolor process on all the print stocks, which basically desaturates the colors, adds grain, and crushes the blacks by leaving some silver in the print. It also makes the image darker. So he also used a Panaflasher and lots of fill light on set to make sure shadow detail didn't completely disappear.

 

When scanning the o-neg, the filmmakers added that some of that contrast back in, but instead of just desaturating they went for more of a modern color pallete. Consequently, there are more 'Fincher greens', cold blues, dirty yellows, and vivid reds than there were in the film originally.

 

So - when you watch a Blu-Ray, how can you sure that the green of Kim Novak's dress in 'Vertigo' is the product of the camera film stock and not one of one of these other processes? Honestly, I don't think you can. If you watched a projected print side-by-side with the Blu-Ray, that would be the best you could do. But how many of us have the chance to do that?

 

The bottom line for me is, if you want to appreciate film and 'the film look', watch projected prints at revival theaters. Digital display is something else entirely. Great for enjoying movies in your own home. But it's a fundamentally different experience from watching actual film projection...

 

I don't see anything here I'd disagree with. I'm not sure I was trying to assert anything other than one can see scans of original negatives on bluray; that you aren't necessarily seeing a contact or optical copy of these materials (like an IP). And yes, you can scan a negative on many scanners and grade it differently in many ways; but some qualities of the film image always come through except when some sort of heavy processing is used for whatever reason.

Edited by Edgar Nyari
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You have to realize that a lot of the modern look of films, television, and commercials is due in no small part to advances and modern tastes in digital color grading.

 

With a purely photochemical workflow, from shooting to print, you just can't alter the base image that much. This means that most films exposed, processed, and printed normally from the same era looked relatively similar to each other, just due to the limitations of the medium.

 

There was no ability to crush the blacks, bump up the saturation, push shadows/midtones/highlights in different color directions, add a tracking vignette, gradient, or power window.

 

With pure film workflow, you really had to work hard with lighting and filters to get a unique look. A few films used flashing, bleach bypass, cross process, and did optical printing tricks, but those are the exceptions. It's really impossible to overestimate how much of an impact digital post production has made on the art of cinematography.

 

It's like the difference between photography before/after Photoshop. It's not really the same craft anymore.

 

As far as i understand what you said, D.I give an opportunity to cinematographers makes lots of ability to change images like (crush the blacks, bump up the saturation, push shadows/midtones/highlights in different color directions, add a tracking vignette) but i don't think same way. Nowadays movies looking to much similiar to each other, to me before D.I every movie has unique look and there was so much diversity between movies..

Maybe the D.I makes cinematographers lazy, you said 'you really had to work hard for unique look'' so they didn't have to work hard anymore because they can change everyting in post and when they making changes in post actually you are doing the same thing to other cinematographers did.

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As far as i understand what you said, D.I give an opportunity to cinematographers makes lots of ability to change images ... but i don't think same way. Nowadays movies looking to much similiar to each other, to me before D.I every movie has unique look and there was so much diversity between movies..

Maybe the D.I makes cinematographers lazy, you said 'you really had to work hard for unique look'' so they didn't have to work hard anymore because they can change everyting in post and when they making changes in post actually you are doing the same thing to other cinematographers did.

I don't think DI or digital grading has made DPs lazy, but it has meant that they have a lot less personal control over the final image. It is often 'cinematography by committee' these days. So perhaps you are seeing more commonality of grading trends in mainstream work? Also, because a lot of current releases belong to a series or a 'cinematic universe' these days, some of this sameness is intentional.

 

There are only a few DPs who I think have consistently maintained a signature look - either because they command full control over the grading phase so the final film reflects their original intent, or because their camera and lighting choices are so distinctive that even aggressive grading cannot fully obscure their work.

 

I don't think it's really a budget thing either - while the top guys like Richardson, Lubezki, and Deakins have complete control over their medium, I think if you also look at relatively low budget films like David Mullen's 'The Love Witch', 'Ida', and 'It Follows', those films also look totally unique in this current era.

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I'm not sure I was trying to assert anything other than one can see scans of original negatives on bluray; that you aren't necessarily seeing a contact or optical copy of these materials (like an IP). And yes, you can scan a negative on many scanners and grade it differently in many ways; but some qualities of the film image always come through except when some sort of heavy processing is used for whatever reason.

I thought your argument was that you could see the inherent look of the original camera film stock by watching a Blu-Ray? I just don't think that's true in most cases. But that's only my opinion.

 

Technicolor, reversal, or B&W? Sure, those are probably distinctive enough to tell. But color negative? Do you remember those promo DVDs that Kodak and Fuji used to publish when a new series of stocks came out? Unless the colorist was specifically trying to show the difference between stocks by keeping everything exactly the same, those differences would not survive a simple creative grade.

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