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Edward Butt

Will digital ever be as good as film

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film excels…at high budget effects movies..Transformers…the NEW STAR WARS…(just checked TOTAL RECALL, great looking effects and SKIN TONE)

 

ANALOG looks much better when projected with DCP..

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I think a good deal of that has to do with the FXs being physical and real -v- rendered. Look at Moon for a more contemporary example.

 

I thought so too at first, and it is certainly true in the case of Star Wars anyway, but if we look at LOTR, there was a good deal of digital FX in them.

 

With a few exceptions, namely the infamous "Legolas-jumps-on-horse", that looked horrendous because the animation was off, the LOTR films looked great (Gollum, The giant talking and walking trees, the ghosts from the third instalment, the creatures seen here and there, etc...) while the goblins and orcs from The Hobbit look extremely fake.

 

I particularly hated that Goblin king from the first hobbit film, and that white orc who is shaping up to be the big villain of the new trilogy, but looks like he is made of PVC.

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as for FX i must say i really dont like all this new digital stuff. the more realistic it looks the worse. i mean 3D models generated and placed into film.

in the 70' or 80' they had to create life size models or miniatures, as example, the huge city in blade runner was made by modelbuilders, or all the stuff in aliens, they had to create these monsters and place an actor into it.

nowaday they do nearly everything with maya or other 3D programms. it looks nice, tough. but still... in my opinion it kinda distorts the craft of film making. it's not the same anymore. 30 years ago you had to really work to create something.

 

here is some sony F65 footage which is really sweet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWwmIwxd4YA

 

cheers. may the force be with you :)

 

EDIT: have a look at the early CINEFEX books and you know what i mean.

Edited by Randy J Tomlinson

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presumably because Reuel prefers shooting anamorphic.

 

Though the higher DR part i don't see reason for. 14 stops is on par with film

I thought it had less than that...proves what I know...

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I think that Reuel's enthusiasm for cinema and film-making occasionally leads him to speak outside of his experience, and offer opinions about cameras he has not yet used.

Unfortunately you are correct. Although, I do think it would've made more sense had Sony included a 4:3 sensor considering how many digital films are being shot using anamorphic lenses right now.

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Not sure how he would have a point necessarily. How would shooting on film be beneficial special effects wise? Especially considering the amount of clean up needed from celluloid scanning for proper compositing.

Clean up?

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Besides dirt and dust removal, and maybe stabilization, often visual effects compositing requires grain removal and then re-application of grain in order to get all the layered elements, some completely digital, some film elements, to have the same level of grain over the final image.

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Interesting read.

David pretty much summed up my opinion with his, "Two ships," comment. The technology is here via the Arri Alexa and the Dragon.

The current debate reminds me of the Vinyl vs. CD debate in the late '80s. Digital prevailed. But, you can still find vinyl nowadays. It's a niche market. I believe film will find its own niche market.
Paramount has recently made "the big move" to stop distributing film prints.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-paramount-end-to-film-20140118,0,806855.story#axzz2qmWm9lBE

Edited by Brett Bailey

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The current debate reminds me of the Vinyl vs. CD debate in the late '80s. Digital prevailed. But, you can still find vinyl nowadays. It's a niche market. I believe film will find its own niche market.

Paramount has recently made "the big move" to stop distributing film prints.

 

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-paramount-end-to-film-20140118,0,806855.story#axzz2qmWm9lBE

 

In my experience it's CD now that is at least in a sense under threat of disappearing. If one wants digital music one can either stream it or download it directly to one's player, why buy any media. Vinyl on the other hand has made a comeback to many department stores here in Finland. Not a surprise really, it's different media compared to digital...

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Unfortunately you are correct. Although, I do think it would've made more sense had Sony included a 4:3 sensor considering how many digital films are being shot using anamorphic lenses right now.

 

There's no need for 4:3 to shoot anamorphic in the F55 and F5. All you need to do is calculating your new field of view. There's even a desqueeze option in the EVF settings.

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...will be on replicating the qualities of film, for one thing because those qualities will become forgotten about largely.

 

Freya

I doubt that, Freya. There is a large and growing academic field surrounding Film Studies.

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I doubt that, Freya. There is a large and growing academic field surrounding Film Studies.

 

I understand that most film studies departments have already done away with their film projectors and are projecting off DVD.

 

...and it's amazing how fast people have already forgotten what film projection looked like.

 

I think you are right tho that Film Studies departments will talk about film and how it was different in the same way as people look back at 3 strip technicolor now tho. It will be a historical thing.

 

Freya

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I recently saw "Her" at the theater which was shot and projected digtally. It was a totally different experience and not in a good way. It just felt like a larger version of 24P mini DV that you would see digitally projected at a local film fest. In other words, it totally lacked the feel of a real theater experience.

 

Film keeps improving too with finer grain and more dynamic range, and scanning technology is evolving too. I see it getting better, smaller, and more affordable. How or if film continues to improve or change is in question. I would personally like to see something different than just performance improvements... like a scanner friendly reversal film.

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I recently saw "Her" at the theater which was shot and projected digtally. It was a totally different experience and not in a good way. It just felt like a larger version of 24P mini DV that you would see digitally projected at a local film fest. In other words, it totally lacked the feel of a real theater experience.

 

Film keeps improving too with finer grain and more dynamic range, and scanning technology is evolving too. I see it getting better, smaller, and more affordable. How or if film continues to improve or change is in question. I would personally like to see something different than just performance improvements... like a scanner friendly reversal film.

Interesting, personally I think digital projection makes FAR greater a difference to the viewing experience than the difference between shooting film or digital (on current digital cinema cameras). I love digital projection - no more putting up with filthy, scratched-to-buggery prints that just look horrid, everything looks great!

 

The first digital projection I saw was Tony Kaye's black and white abortion documentary, it was shot in 35mm and scanned and projected in 2K, at that point in time it was a revelation, the single most impressive cinema experience I'd ever seen - it was pristine, and all thanks to not having a shoddy release print to contend with.

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Appreciation of a movie's visual aesthetics has to evolve beyond simply being based on whether it looks like it was shot on film, as if that were the primary definer of whether it is any good or not -- or conversely, that if it looks like it was shot digitally, it therefore doesn't look good. What I noticed about "Her" was that it has a creamy, low-contrast, soft, shallow focus, "clean" look, partly possible because it was shot on the Alexa. You wouldn't have gotten such a wide dynamic range image with such shallow focus on a prosumer DV camcorder, so other than the fact that the image lacked grain, I can't see why it should remind anyone of a Mini-DV movie.

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Appreciation of a movie's visual aesthetics has to evolve beyond simply being based on whether it looks like it was shot on film, as if that were the primary definer of whether it is any good or not -- or conversely, that if it looks like it was shot digitally, it therefore doesn't look good. What I noticed about "Her" was that it has a creamy, low-contrast, soft, shallow focus, "clean" look, partly possible because it was shot on the Alexa. You wouldn't have gotten such a wide dynamic range image with such shallow focus on a prosumer DV camcorder, so other than the fact that the image lacked grain, I can't see why it should remind anyone of a Mini-DV movie.

Beautiful. Well said and fully agree.

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I love digital projection - no more putting up with filthy, scratched-to-buggery prints that just look horrid, everything looks great!

 

I`ve been going to movies since I first saw Star Wars as a young boy in 1978 and I`ve never experienced this at any first run theatre. I can count on one hand the number of times I wanted to see a movie and there was a sign warning the print was damaged and a new one was coming but until then if you want to see the movie you have to put up with a line. Granted, when I saw a movie six weeks into the run it might not have looked good as it did the first Friday, but the difference wasn`t really noticeable most times and adjectives like filthy, scratched to buggery and horrid would not be appropriate to describe the condition of the print.

 

I have watched some rough prints like an original run of engagement print for Emmanual, but I expect that and even then I am often surprised by the quality of some old prints when I go to my rep theatre. Matter of fact, the 35mm print for The Shinning was so pristine last fall that I had to ask the programmer if a digital copy was used instead.

 

Just as pro film enthusiasts have exaggerated some of the differences between print and digital I commonly find the same is true of digital enthusiasts when describing film projection. No, it didn`t or doesn`t look that bad most of the time.

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It can depend where you're based.

 

In the UK we commonly used to get prints that had already been run in the US, and they were too often in fairly poor condition. I spent some time working as a projectionist for a venue with both commercial releases and a resident film club, and as such I saw all kinds of stuff, from black and white academy (we had to manually walk masking in) with variable density sound right up to modern DTS prints. We even showed a rare dye-transfer print of Funny Girl after Sony's 2001 restoration. Projection and sound was our baby and we worked hard to do it properly, down to previewing prints on the afternoon of a one-night film club show to head off any problems.

 

Much of it comes down to handling - platters aren't kind - but after something's been made up and broken down a few times it does inevitably start to get very bad around the splices. Our projector had excellent steadiness - it wasn't used nearly as much as it would have been in a first-run multiplex and was in superb condition - and we actually found some prints that were less steady than the projector. You can easily tell on film club stuff because they do a lot of foreign language stuff with subtitles laser burned into it, and the subtitles were often steady, whereas the frame itself wasn't. No, I didn't believe it at first, either, but it was true.

 

In the main, having no axe to grind and no more particular enthusiasm for either technology more than the enthusiasm I have for theatrical presentation in general, digital is generally better. It is brighter because of the lack of shutter and the lower effective f-stop through the optical system with the big micromirror devices used in good projectors, even with much less powerful lamps. The lamphouse is intentionally defocussed slightly in the digital projector that recently replaced the 35mm (don't worry, it went to a good home) otherwise it's excessively bright. Steadiness is perfect. There is no dirt or flicker and there are no scratches, no splices, and subtitles don't cause a problem.

 

About the only things you can get wrong with digital projection are focus and lamp maintenance. In fact, lamp setup can be even worse, since the 3-chip optical system in a big DLP projector is in my view a bit more sensitive to misalignment, which can cause strange colour shading problems as the light can fail to make it through the dichroic RGB splitter setup properly. But it isn't difficult to get right enough to avoid obvious problems. Places that fail to do so are either lazy or trying to cheap out on lamp replacements. It is distressingly common, but it isn't that much more of a problem than it ever was.

 

I have seen 35mm projection at the arclight on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and at the Paramount preview theatre on their lot as well as from LocPros in test suites and on location all over the place. I have projected hundreds of prints of all vintages. I've worked with 2, 4 and 6K film scans and examined them in minute detail as part of critical test procedures. I've shot 35mm and 16mm and 4K.

 

And honestly - in terms of base technical specifications, certainly as regards projection, digital is generally better.

 

Sorry. But it really is.

 

P

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Appreciation of a movie's visual aesthetics has to evolve beyond simply being based on whether it looks like it was shot on film, as if that were the primary definer of whether it is any good or not -- or conversely, that if it looks like it was shot digitally, it therefore doesn't look good. What I noticed about "Her" was that it has a creamy, low-contrast, soft, shallow focus, "clean" look, partly possible because it was shot on the Alexa. You wouldn't have gotten such a wide dynamic range image with such shallow focus on a prosumer DV camcorder, so other than the fact that the image lacked grain, I can't see why it should remind anyone of a Mini-DV movie.

Digital aquisition AND digital projection are very new to big theaters, and to me the aesthetic that goes with it is more reminiscent of it's 10 year evolution in the indepentent circuit, going back to 24P DV. People have been shooting and projecting digitally for years for better or worse. Now that the chain is finally up to par for the big screen, I find it disappointing because i was expecting something more than just technical advances in resolution and dynamic range. I had higher hopes since the theater I went to had just upgraded to digital projection. I can't say if they skimped on their projector or the Alexa was a focator too, but the image was very transparent, low density and more consistant with a power point presentation than a Hollywood film. I did really enjoy the movie itself. But evolving to find something aesthetically pleasing is less likely than finding it more acceptible once it's been diluted, or after all else is unknown or fogotten. Example: I switched to smoking electronic cigarettes 2 weeks ago. They are not nearly as pleasing as a real cigarette but do the job. I've started to forget how a real cigarette tastes and have become content with the electronic version. I don't mind weaning myself to an electronic version of something for my own benifit, but I don't care for Hollywood trying to wean me onto an electronic version of their product for their own benifit.

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I`m fine with the opinion digital projection is better, but I`m not fine with the over exaggeration of the viewing experience for the audience member. At least in Canada and US.

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