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David Mullen ASC

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Everything posted by David Mullen ASC

  1. My career was such a gradual trajectory in terms of crew and budgets that there were few “jumps” involved, it’s just a matter of scaling up and down for the most part. And the bigger things get, the more help you have, the more things get delegated, it’s not like you are personally instructing 50 people for each set-up. One of the bigger jumps happens when doing mostly location work with a mix of available light to doing soundstage work and recreating natural daylight on a large scale.
  2. It's not as simple as that, resolution is more than pixels for one thing, but also regarding film, there is the difference between the optimal scanning resolution (in theory, it should be twice the actual resolution of the piece of film) and the actual resolving power of the film. Super-35 seems to resolve about 3K to 3.5K, meaning it should be scanned at around 6K to 7K. (Certainly a 4K scan doesn't mean the image is resolving 4K -- if it did, there would be aliasing visible). 5-perf 65mm being twice as wide would therefore resolve around 6K to 7K, and IMAX being three times as wide would resolve around 9K to 10K. But there are other factors that affect resolution, from lenses to image contrast, etc. Plus grain size is a visual clue about origination size, something that a digital image lacks, making it harder to pick out a 2K digital image from an 4K digital image, compared to picking out a 16mm image from a 35mm image.
  3. With great difficulty? There's no trick, it's just hard work doing it by eye and trying to seal the space of any drafts. Outside, it's near impossible to contain haze.
  4. I mean, if those interiors look "lit" what about these from "Henry V"?
  5. The truth is that in some ways, the "realistic" lighting today of movies set in castles of the Middle Ages, for example, still cheat a lot of light (though soft and underexposed) because in reality you aren't going to get a nice Vermeer-like soft key light from a narrow vertical window slit in a stone wall... These old buildings limited windows and window sizes for many reasons so we are forced to make-up soft off-camera keys from one side when in reality there was no source like that. But as long as it "feels" real, it's OK. But yes, these old movies were more "lit" -- partly for convention's sake, partly because of the slow speed of film stock. Plus by the 60s/70s, directors often insisted on using zoom lenses for everything, which limited you to an f/4-5.6 split on most anamorphic zoom lenses. Lots of other reasons as well. And they simply had different priorities back then and different ideas of what was "realistic". And cinematographers then and now had to collaborate with directors and producers who had their own ideas and aesthetic values. Probably back then when a producer spent a lot of money on costumes, they expected the DP to throw some light on them, and same for an expensive actor. Also with movies still being released in drive-in theaters back then, really dim photography was discouraged by the studios. The convention of blue moonlight predates cinema -- lantern slide shows often tinted moonlit illustrations blue to symbolize night, and silent movies tinted moonlight scenes blue in printing. Of course, these were black & white movies where it was harder to sell a day-for-night shot as being moonlit without the benefit of a color clue like blue, assuming you didn't want to grossly underexpose the scene to sell it as being night. Later in 3-strip Technicolor movies, you saw blue used for moonlight to contrast with orange fire or candle light, particularly in the work of Leon Shamroy. But it was also a convention in illustration and painting - the mix of blue and orange for some night scenes in "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938) was taken from children book illustrations by N.C Wythe and Howard Pyle.
  6. Photographed by Geoffrey Unsworth. Panavision anamorphic / Kodak 5254 probably. I find Geoffrey Unsworth and Ossie Morris interesting because they both came out of Technicolor studio work in the 40's/50s but also worked with smoke and diffusion, more and more over time, to break up that slick Technicolor look. They ended up creating, in the 1970s, sort of a hybrid style with elements of both the hard-lit glamour approach of the studio era and a contemporary softer, more natural, or at least, more painterly look. Though one can argue that the softer, diffused look is also a callback to the 1930's era. "Cromwell" for the most part does not have the fog-filtered smokey look of "Cabaret" and later works; it clearly falls into what you'd expect for a big-budget studio period film, particularly the scenes in palaces of King Charles I, where colorful opulence was the main visual effect. Many scenes are semi-hard-lit but mixed with a few scenes with softer lighting. But one scene near the end, as Parliament meets in a small room to discuss signing the death warrant for Charles, is fascinating to me because Unsworth used smoke and low-contrast soft lighting to create a painterly Dutch Masters effect, and being soft-lit, it also feels more contemporary. It is also closer to what David Watkin had already been doing in period movies like "Charge of the Light Brigade". Here are some frames from that scene:
  7. I would have guessed a 9.8mm Kinoptik, which I guess is the same lens as a Century Tegea, but I didn’t think he’d use an adapter…
  8. If all you want is more saturation, I'd shoot close to correct colors and then add more saturation in the digital color-correction. What happens when you shoot without the 85 correction in daylight is that the blue layer is overexposed compared to the red and green layer, as opposed to each layer being more balanced. If you were printing the negative, you get somewhat more saturated blues and greens compared to reds. I found that when doing the correction digitally, you get a somewhat brown-ish tone by taking out all of that blue by adding orange. If you opt to leave it on the cooler side, you're OK though, it looks fine but the skin tones can seem a bit paler.
  9. As Phil says, color prints do not have silver in them (unless a special process is used like ENR or skip-bleach). In development, as exposed silver halide turns into silver, an equal amount of color dye is formed. The bleach step converts that silver back into silver halide and then the fixer & wash steps remove all silver halide. So the recovery of silver from color film already has happened at the lab. Someone listed the alternatives to silver here, but I suspect the fact that metallic silver is black and silver nitrate's reaction speed to light is faster than with other metallic compounds' is probably the reason for silver being used. https://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/101417/what-metals-have-been-used-in-photography
  10. I saw a demo of Live Grain once but otherwise I’ve never compared or tested any of the various grain simulation softwares.
  11. I was just disputing the notion that there is no science behind the notion that the grain in the image is specific to the image itself on film -- of course it is. As for practicality, viewer perceptibility, etc. that is a whole different issue. I don't have an issue with adding grain to a digital image for creative reasons.
  12. With film, image detail IS the grain, it’s not like noise in digital. The image itself is made of grains. It is also tied to the image in that grain in the shadows has a different grain structure than in the highlights because the smaller, slower grains did not get exposed in the dark areas so get washed away in development. This is the approach of the Live Grain process, it uses scans of over and underexposed film stocks to map the grain over the digital image based on the luminance values in the frame. Despite having an anti-halation backing, there is still some halation on film, more so with black & white film since it doesn’t use rem-jet. In color photography, you often see a red-ish or brassy edge around a bright warm highlight. With b&w film, you get a halo ring around points of light. Of course, it is debatable whether that artifact is desirable or not.
  13. Fuji made 65mm stock as a special order - the 3D IMAX movie “Wings of Courage” was shot on Fuji. But I don’t know about “Samsara”, I thought Fuji had gotten out of selling movie color negative stock by then. Just because something has nice blues and greens doesn’t mean it was shot on Fuji, plus you’re talking about something digitally color-corrected.
  14. It was shot on tungsten balanced color negative and being on stage, likely tungsten light was used, but I don’t know if any blue gels were used to cool off the light. “Sleepy Hollow” for example shot a lot under tungsten space lights and added the coolness in post timing.
  15. I’m sure there is some green in the paint job - green is one of those colors that turn olive brown in warm light / timing, but cyan in cool light / timing. It also has the advantage of being opposite the magenta in skin tones so easy to separate when digitally color-correcting.
  16. Depends on how much of a zoom-in there is… a very short and slow one, the post digital zoom will look more “perfect” in the move, it’s hard to start a super-slow creeping zoom flawlessly with a motor on a zoom lens. Not impossible though. But at some point, the more you zoom-in, the post digital zoom will show artifacts — if it is something shot on film, the grain will be getting larger, and whether shot on film or digital, the resolution will be dropping.
  17. I have no idea. What’s the native ISO of my Nikon Z6? It might be as low as ISO 200. It doesn’t really matter, what matters is choosing an ISO that gives you the balance of noise versus highlight protection you want. For many digital cinema cameras, that’s in the ISO 400 to 800 range even if the “native” sensitivity is much lower — but the noise of the system is low enough for the recommended EI to be higher.
  18. But if you move in closer with a 50mm lens on the IMAX camera then all you have to do is move in the same amount on a 35mm camera and use a 17mm lens and you’re back to getting the same image, just a different depth of field. The sharpness of IMAX comes from using a larger negative, it’s not the focal length and camera distance that creates the extra resolution of IMAX.
  19. Again this is a misunderstanding of how lenses work. You want to put on a “shorter” lens and move closer, fine, you can do that in any format. Perspective is determined by subject to camera distance, not by the focal length. If you like the perspective of being three feet away from the object and you like the field of view of a 50mm lens in IMAX, you can match that perspective and field of view in regular 35mm by picking the equivalent focal length and being the same distance — the only difference will be depth of field, which also may or may not be possible to match. Just watch the video I posted. Or read this: https://www.yedlin.net/NerdyFilmTechStuff/LargeFormatMisconceptions.html
  21. Dual-ISO cameras are becoming more and more common, like with the Sony Venice. The Alexa sensor though chose to have dual analog gain outputs on each photosite in order to create more dynamic range by combining the signals rather than a high-ISO option. But that sensor design is also a decade old. Currently the trend is to lower noise in the sensor to improve dynamic range rather than use ARRI's approach. However, every test I've seen still shows the Alexa to have the best roll-off in the overexposure range, which makes it resemble film the most.
  22. Sure, any studio feature back then would have shot wardrobe and make-up tests so the cinematographer would have also shot some basic exposure tests at the same time or during the camera prep. I did it all the time even on low-budget movies that I shot on film. But once you got into production, it was experience, metering, and knowledge gained from tests, plus modifying one's exposure approach as dailies came back and the printer light values were analyzed. Back then, Kodak was updating their 35mm color negative motion picture stock about once every five or six years so you had some stability for a time before you had to learn the next stock, but then starting in the 1980s you had multiple stocks to deal with.
  23. Yes, longer lenses have larger projected images... but a longer lens designed specifically for a small format like Super-8 or 16mm still might not necessarily cover a large format like IMAX.
  24. That essay shows a total misunderstanding of optics, the fact that you need longer focal lengths to achieve the same field of view of shorter focal length on a smaller format AT THE SAME DISTANCE does not mean you are focusing closer or getting tighter with more detail or any of that. The only thing that using the longer focal lengths gives you in IMAX is less depth of field. That may give you the illusion of more detail since less of the frame is in focus, so what's left in focus pops out more. IMAX has more resolving power because the negative is larger -- if the film and lens resolves "x" lines per millimeter, then more millimeters means more detail. Other than the difference in lens designs here -- the large-format DNA primes used in this test have more corner fall-off, the real difference once you match field of view and distance is depth of field, which you can then match by stopping down the lens on the larger format:
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