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Dune : Alexa LF to 35mm to DI


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Hello Everyone,

I'm going to watch Dune tomorrow (the trailer looks fantastic) and I came upon this article in THR that says that Greg Fraser shot the film on the Alexa LF (Arriraw 4.5K) and then printed it onto 35mm and rescanned it to a 4K DI.

Edit: here's the link to the article (forgot to include): https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/dune-cinematographer-denis-villeneuve-movie-1235011592/
 

Quote

 

Fraser shot Dune on the Alexa LF, ARRI’s large-format digital camera, but Villeneuve then transferred the image onto 35 mm film which was then scanned back into digital.

“So the image you see on screen has been through an emulsion…it’s a beautiful melding of digital and analog,” noted Fraser. “Where Denis is super smart is in being open to the idea that you can easily combine digital and analog and sometimes you can use that to get a result you have never seen before.”

 

 

My impression of Digitally captured images printed onto film and then scanned back has so far been unimpressive and generally seems like an unnecessarily complicated process. I mean why not just shoot on 35mm film directly? Especially with a 165 million dollar budget?

Now if someone as highly regarded as Fraser is doing it, there must be good reason. Anyone knows why?

Thanks,
Gautam

Edited by Gautam Valluri
Forgot to include link
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On 9/15/2021 at 2:34 PM, Gautam Valluri said:

Hello Everyone,

I'm going to watch Dune tomorrow (the trailer looks fantastic) and I came upon this article in THR that says that Greg Fraser shot the film on the Alexa LF (Arriraw 4.5K) and then printed it onto 35mm and rescanned it to a 4K DI.

Edit: here's the link to the article (forgot to include): https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/dune-cinematographer-denis-villeneuve-movie-1235011592/
 

 

My impression of Digitally captured images printed onto film and then scanned back has so far been unimpressive and generally seems like an unnecessarily complicated process. I mean why not just shoot on 35mm film directly? Especially with a 165 million dollar budget?

Now if someone as highly regarded as Fraser is doing it, there must be good reason. Anyone knows why?

Thanks,
Gautam

The mind truly boggles......I didn't like the 'flavour' of the newer Blade Runner at all.....Deakins and his Arri Alexa love just didn't get the 'flavour' of the original, in my opinion as old enough to remember seeing the original, notwithstanding the epic sets and lighting and whatever you care to mention done before the camera 'rolled'

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@Gautam ValluriHave you seen Guava Island and the S2 finale of Atlanta? The filmouts are very impressive there and look unlike anything you can get by simply adding grain in post. 

As for Dune, I was astounded to read that because I've seen the two trailers in Pro Res quality and it just doesn't feel like a filmout at all. So either they didn't have it ready for the trailers or they printed on some kind of print stock which yields little results apparently. I remember reading David Sandberg saying they tried it on Shazam but the benefits were not there (so undoubtedly, they must have tried on print stock).

 You really need to print to actual camera stock. 

Edited by Manu Delpech
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Interesting. Knowing Greig, it'll look spectacular regardless, but when we now have flim emulation software as exceptional as "Filmbox" - which can make properly exposed digital, almost indistinguishable from real, scanned celuloid. It seems unnecessary to go to the extra expenses/trouble.

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On 9/20/2021 at 7:07 PM, Manu Delpech said:

@Gautam ValluriHave you seen Guava Island and the S2 finale of Atlanta? The filmouts are very impressive there and look unlike anything you can get by simply adding grain in post. 

As for Dune, I was astounded to read that because I've seen the two trailers in Pro Res quality and it just doesn't feel like a filmout at all. So either they didn't have it ready for the trailers or they printed on some kind of print stock which yields little results apparently. I remember reading David Sandberg saying they tried it on Shazam but the benefits were not there (so undoubtedly, they must have tried on print stock).

 You really need to print to actual camera stock. 

I think it's highly possible (and reasonable) that they'd separate the grades for the trailers (which will mostly be seen online) from the filmout used for the DCP - which actually has enough bitrate to show the grain structure, without it being compressed into mush.

I've started doing the same on my own meagre projects, for exactly that reason.

Edited by Mark Kenfield
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Yeah the Pro Res trailers just have the usual Alexa LF noise like grain. Honestly, no software is ever going to make it look nearly indistinguishable. 

Filmout is as close as it gets but it will always look different if you actually capture it on film. A lot of people won't be able to see the difference though.

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11 hours ago, Mark Kenfield said:

Interesting. Knowing Greig, it'll look spectacular regardless, but when we now have flim emulation software as exceptional as "Filmbox" - which can make properly exposed digital, almost indistinguishable from real, scanned celuloid. It seems unnecessary to go to the extra expenses/trouble.

You know, if you have the budget and support, wouldn't you want to try something new? I mean how many can say they used literally celluloid to treat their final print? What treat that would be.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

More info from ICG Mag:

https://issuu.com/icgmagazine/docs/october2021/32

 

"There was one new step added to postproduction, an innovation that first occurred to Fraser while shooting Vice. “I thought that after the DI, we could spin the final out to film before scanning neg back in,” he says. “The idea was to see if that got us back some of the intrinsic beauty of film, specifically its contrast range and how it exposes highlights. We discovered that it also served to take the digital edge off the bright sun highlights.”

Cole and Fraser had tried the approach before on a music video. “We found shooting to a digital negative that has the exposure level of 1 ASA, like a dupe stock and with the smallest possible amount of grain, was very similar to what true 15-perf, originated-on film looked like when you put them up on IMAX screens,” the colorist reveals. “It wasn’t about grain per se, but all the aspects that one might describe as film artifacts: interlayer halation, the nonlinearity of density across the frame and even allowing some dust to come through. The weave, blur, and slight density breathing of film – the latter is something we had tried emulating digitally – were organic qualities that in the past we did everything possible to mitigate against, but here we were trying to bring them to the fore since they don’t exist in digital. They added a sense of life, especially in the 1:1.43 aspect ratio, and that includes the many VFX shots, which, while they were the best I’ve ever seen, still benefited from this.”

Posting Dune at FotoKem – a film lab still prospering in the digital era – was key to working out those methodologies. “We’d take it as far along in the DI as possible, then scan out to film and match it back,” Cole adds. “The negative was not a printing stock. It was a nonprintable digital negative, optimized for this specific process, and used as a data storage device. Scanning it back in afterward used scientific procedural processes to bring the image back into ARRI’s Log-C world. I had to employ the same lookup tables used for the creative DI. This also accounts for all the film quirks, and matches that procedurally; and I’d do a trim pass after that, just for a final polish, the last two percent.”"

 

I guess this explains why it doesn't feel like a filmout to me though I only saw the trailers in Pro Res quality. They really went for a specific look. By the way, they tested 35mm film (too grainy they say 😄 and a problem since they had a bunch of IMAX formatted footage planned) and 65mm film that apparently had issues with the grit and sand. Villeneuve thought film was too nostalgic too? What a bummer.

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sounds very interesting...and to me...whatever keeps the film stocks available to buy for nobody's like me in 16mm format is to be applauded and pursued as art is art is art.....

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