Jump to content
Tyler Purcell

Panavision and the resurrecting of dinosaur technology

Recommended Posts

panavisionlogo.JPG

 

The audience was eerily quiet as the first anamorphic 65mm footage was show in public since the format disappeared in the 60's. There was gate weave and flicker, showing how un-calibrated the Paramount theater projector was, from decades of not running this format. However, everyone was in awe of what was projected, the contrast, the color, depth of field, lens coatings and flairs, it was like watching an old film shot with modern stocks. The story behind this format being resurrected and how it may usher in a new era of large-format acquisition and distribution is very interesting.

 

Robert Richardson wanted to do something different for Quentin's new film. It appeared he was tired of the same old look. Whilst at Panavision he brought up this subject and was shown some older lenses for a more unique look. Unfortunately, every single lens that was brought out, still looked too damn good, too "modern" for Robert. As a last ditch effort to supply Robert with something unique, out came the old Camera 65 lenses from the way back of storage. Some may recall this format coming from cinerama when they switched from 3 strip 35mm to single 65mm acquisition. They developed a lens system which would allow them to retain the same ultra wide aspect ratio (2.76:1 with 1.25 squeeze) of their screens and use a single negative. Although the cinema version was short lived, it spawned two future systems; MGM 65 and Ultra Panavision.

Of course, Richardson fell in love with these lenses, mostly with the softness of the image which had a lot to do with the coatings. Our modern cameras and stocks are so good, it's nearly impossible to have good resolution without showing too many imperfections in the actors, sets or backdrops. In some cases, even out of focus areas are overly sharp with modern lenses, making it look unrealistic. These lenses allow the resolution to show through, but deliver a softer image throughout with out resorting to filtration. Plus, they have a much more artistic look in the out of focus areas. Of course, the other thing which was super important was anamorphic lens flairs.

 

lensflair.JPG

The lenses had sat since the 60's and were completely frozen. Plus, the lenses were designed to be used with 65mm cameras, of which Panavision has very few of. The dynamics of the situation were about to be taxed further when Panavision explained there were zero projection lenses available to unsqueeze in the theaters. However, Richardson wanted to do a test with these lenses and show it to Quentin. So Panavision went ahead and took a few select lenses and started to experiment.

The first big hurtle was freezing the lenses. This was huge because back when they built them, they were using brass and aluminum with lithium grease. So the grease has turned into concrete and corroded the brass. This meant, the lenses had to be stripped down, but the only way of taking them apart is to get them to twist! So they tried everything and the only thing that worked was heat, lots and lots of heat. Eventually they freed the lenses up and could dismantle them. The second hurtle was the fact the elements had dots on them, typical stuff you see with glass that's been sitting for a long time. So the elements themselves needed to be re-worked with new coatings, comparable to the original. Finally, the original camera's weren't reflex, so the glass could protrude further into the camera. This proved to be a huge problem with modern reflex cameras, the glass actually touched the mirror! This forced Panavision to alter the final element and move it away from the mirror.

With lenses in hand, Richardson and a small team went out and shot some test footage in similar locations to where the film was going to be shot. The day of screening the footage was nerve racking for Panavision. They still didn't have a solution for projecting and they only had a few lenses. Of course, when Quentin saw the material, he was overwhelmed and the decision was made right then and there, to shoot his next film; The Hateful Eight, on Ultra Panavision 65.

 

locationproduction.jpg

Panavision spent the next few weeks rebuilding a total of 19 lenses, some of them with the older prism anamorphic element. They made special filters to go along with the lenses, matte boxes to hold those filters, they made a special 2000ft magazine for the sound camera since Quentin wanted long takes and even convinced Kodak to make those longer rolls of film. The final step in the whole process was to figure out the projection aspect. The workflow for spherical 65mm projection is straight forward and has been done on many films over the last few years; The Master, Interstellar and even Inherent Vice, all projected on 65mm Spherical. So projectionists have some experience with this format, but very few people have experience with anamorphic 65mm. The call went out and an expert was hired to come in and not only develop new projection lenses but also service the 50 theaters in the US who signed up for the 70mm release of The Hateful Eight. The projectors will calibrated to eliminate flicker, gate weave and reduce registration issues. Schneider got the contract to make the lenses and it appeared Quentin paid for them out of either the budget for the film or his own pocket.

Outside of a few production hiccups with principal photography related to the freezing cold, the 65mm cameras performed flawlessly in negative degree weather for the entire shoot. Sure, lens fogging was always a concern and needed to be looked after, but according to on-set reports, the camera bodies were perfect. Here in Los Angeles, the production was on freezing sound stages to mimmic the location shooting so everyone had actual condensation coming from their breath. Yet, those old film cameras, originally made for Far and Away in the early 90's, worked flawlessly.

What Robert Richardson and Quentin Tarantino have done is successful resurrect a film format which had long been since forgotten. In doing so, they've paved the way for future filmmakers to use this format since the workflow from production through distribution will be well established. There are already two major hollywood movies signed up for this new format, rumors are one will be PT Anderson's new film. At the same time, Panavision has been flooded with requests for budgets and timeframes/schedules. There has been financial battles as well, studio's battling with money to just get ONE of the 2 sound cameras before someone else get's them. This demand has made Panavsion contemplate building an all new silent 65mm cameras and they may do so if these films wind up being good money for them. They're also adapting the new Arri Alexa 65 to work with the new anamorphic glass, but there aren't any projection lenses being developed for digital projection. So there will be another huge investment to make that a reality. Rumors are that 35mm and digital releases of The Hateful Eight will be standard 2.35 anamorphic with black bars at the top and bottom.

After seeing the test footage, there was a rousing applause. It's apparent, everyone in the audience was stunned by what we had just seen. However, it wasn't over yet. The next thing we saw was a DCP version of the material and it really shows how far away digital projection is to film. The blacks were mushy and undefined, the highlights were clearly peaking and the whole image looked flat. All of that beautiful depth seen in the film projection was lost. It was a sad realization this format developed in the 50's, is still better then all the money we've thrown at conventional digital projection. Sure, laser projection is one step further, but at a huge cost and still lower resolution then 65mm prints struck off the original negative. Quentin's goal is to produce all 50 prints off the negative and deliver an amazing cinematic experience and bring people back to the theater.

Edited by Tyler Purcell
  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the write up, Tyler. I was at that presentation, the Ultra Panavision footage and projection was indeed impressive. Really interesting to hear Dan Sasaki talk glass and what I think he called the 'beauty abberration' that he built into the lenses. I believe he was referring to controlled field curvature.

 

It was funny to hear how he ended up selling Richardson on the old 60's prism lenses against his better judgement, not yet knowing whether he had enough working lenses to begin with or how much work was going to be involved to make the lenses production worthy. He then had to break the news to his boss and make sure it all worked out. I can relate. The dangers of nerding out at work...

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

Wow this movie will look awesome on everyone's iPad.

 

R,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow this movie will look awesome on everyone's iPad.

 

R,

Saucy.

Have I really got to come to the US to see this in 70?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

Saucy.

Have I really got to come to the US to see this in 70?

 

I'm just as sad as you at the truthfulness of this statement.

 

R,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No No No.. are you kidding.. something like this must be seen on aMac Book..retina ..

You jest!

 

Shurely an Iphone, while sitting next to me on the train in London........

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saucy.

Have I really got to come to the US to see this in 70?

 

 

I don't see why they couldn't ship a print and projection lens to Europe? I wonder which festival this will premiere at. Tarantino often premieres his films at Cannes. I wonder if that festival print/lens, if Ultra Panavision, would just be the European roadshow print.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's hoping, shame it's a western.

I haven't seen 70mm. since 2001. On 1/1/2001.

Edited by Mark Dunn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To be fair, when they showed the digital projection (for the sole purpose of the ability to pause the footage), they turned off the house lights but inexplicably left the stage lights on! So the stage lights were absolutely contaminating the blacks of the image and making them look way more milky than they would have otherwise. That being said, I would still much prefer seeing it projected from film! I just wanted the discussion to be accurate haha

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure if I'm a fan of Tarantino's movies but I guess I have to go to see this... Shame though all the theaters showing this are presumably only 2K in my country.

 

The two posted images really have sort of an "old" look to them, especially the colours (and maybe the vignettes a little bit too). Wonder if it's about the lens coatings. The flares are rather beatiful as well.

 

I wonder what is it that makes that kind of soft but detailed (good resolution) look. Of course film helps in the first place with its natural depiction of detail but maybe the lenses are a bit lower on micro contrast as well (or not on a high level at least). (On a side note I would guess the medium contrast, 20 cycles/mm perhaps (halfly guess), might be responsible for clarity in an image. However lower contrast here as well might help for a softer looking image, at least too much sharpness here easily creates a hard looking image and with sharpening it's easy to go to sickening levels.) Please comment and correct if I'm totally lost here.

 

Any kind of ideas on creating that kind of softer look with 35mm? Of course older lenses (wide open) will give a soft image but often with not that much detail. Would uncoated lenses be of any help here?

 

 

Oh how nice it would be to be able to try that format... Or even see it projected. Also of great interest will be the Hawk65 Anamorphic lenses. Maybe they are the European way for anamorphic 65mm if there is already a crazy high demand for those Panavision lenses in the US.

 

 

Valter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"They're also adapting the new Arri Alexa 65 to work with the new anamorphic glass, but there aren't any projection lenses being developed for digital projection."

 

Unfortunately there's no such thing as an anamorphic DCP, so until DCI changes their spec there's little reason to develop an anamorphic projection lens for digital screenings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Forget Digital projection the idea is to show it in selected Cinemas with 70mm projection . The DCP version will be cropped into what ever suits !

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The two posted images really have sort of an "old" look to them, especially the colours (and maybe the vignettes a little bit too). Wonder if it's about the lens coatings. The flares are rather beatiful as well.

 

Dan Sasaki mentioned that the lenses were originally single coated with a warm color, and that when he needed to build additional lenses (19 were used in total) they contracted out the coating work to a company that would match their new coatings to the old lenses. Hence the consistent warm-colored flares. He also said Richardson specifically did not want any modern blue/green flares.

 

I wonder what is it that makes that kind of soft but detailed (good resolution) look. Of course film helps in the first place with its natural depiction of detail but maybe the lenses are a bit lower on micro contrast as well (or not on a high level at least). (On a side note I would guess the medium contrast, 20 cycles/mm perhaps (halfly guess), might be responsible for clarity in an image. However lower contrast here as well might help for a softer looking image,

 

Any kind of ideas on creating that kind of softer look with 35mm?

Valter

I think you're on the right track with lower contrast plus a larger negative. I actually find it's easy to make 35mm look too soft by today's standards, so I'm not sure you need to worry too much about that. You should shoot some tests. You can use old uncoated lenses shot wide open, soft frontal lighting, avoid edge lights and eye lights, diffusion, haze, underexposure or pull processing, and flashing to lower contrast. Though I would personally try to add more contrast, not less if already using old lenses. Otherwise you'll just end up with mush.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Camera 65.... does anyone know if it was actually projected anamorphically on to the original Cinerama screens back in the late 1950s ? Before those screens diminished slightly I presume, to accommodate the 70mm Cinerama frame. Ben-Hur springs to mind naturally. As a boy I only saw it at my local cinema in 35mm scope, but many years later saw it in 70mm Cinerama at Casino, London. Absolutely stunning as it was, I wonder if this version was projected 'normally'. That is, without anamorphic, and maybe losing some image at the sides.

It's fascinating this Hateful Eight adventure :rolleyes: and hope I get to see an anamorphic print somewhere someday.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As ever, Widescreen Museum to the rescue

http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/wingup2.htm

Seems the intention with Camera 65/ UP70 wasn't necessarily to project at 2.76:1 often but to have flexibility in print-downs. So Ben-Hur may sometimes have been projected in 2.76 but it was rarely seen that wide- it was masked down.

Edited by Mark Dunn
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting article, but torture to read. Poorly and awkwardly written, with too many errors to correct, but I did anyway.

it's "flares," not "flairs."

"hurdle" not "hurtle"

"nerve-wracking" not "nerve-racking"

"was shown" not "was show"

 

"in the '60s" not "in the 60's"

 

"uncalibrated" not "un-calibrated"

 

"more distinctive" not "more unique"

 

"last-ditch effort" not "last ditch effort

 

"3-panel 35mm" not "3 strip 35mm" (Cinerama)

 

"65mm film" not "single 65mm acquisition"

 

"ultra-wide" not ultra wide

 

"Todd-AO" not "the cinema version"

 

"caused by the coatings" not "which had a lot to do with the coatings"

 

"Our modern cameras and stocks are so good, they reveal imperfections in actors, sets, and backdrops" not

 

"Our modern cameras and stocks are so good, it's nearly impossible to have good resolution without showing too many imperfections in the actors, sets or backdrops."

And what the hell do these sentences mean?
"In some cases, even out of focus areas are overly sharp with modern lenses, making it look unrealistic." (What? If they are out-of-focus, they are not sharp).

 

"These lenses allow the resolution to show through, (What?)

 

"but deliver a softer image throughout with out resorting to filtration." (What?)

 

"Plus, they have a much more artistic look in the out of focus areas.' (What?)

 

"Of course, the other thing which was super-important was anamorphic lens flares." not
"Of course, the other thing which was super important was anamorphic lens flairs."

"'60s" not "60's'

 

"of which Panavision has very few" not "of which Panavision has very few of"

 

"The dynamics of the situation were about to be taxed further" (What?)

"Panavision explained there were no theatrical anamorphic projection lenses" not
"Panavision explained there were zero projection lenses available to unsqueeze in the theaters."

"hurdle" not "hurtle"

"So the grease has oxidized" or "The grease has hardened" or "The grease has turned to varnish" not
"So the grease has turned into concrete and corroded the brass."

"hurdle" not "hurdle"

"cameras" not "camera's"

"so the rear lens elements protruded excessively, and occluded the camera mirror shutter" not
"so the glass could protrude further into the camera. This proved to be a huge problem with modern reflex cameras, the glass actually touched the mirror!

"nerve-wracking" not "nerve racking"
"2000-ft" not "2000ft"

"figure out projection" not "figure out the projection aspect."

"straightforward" not straight forward"

"The Master," "Interstellar" and even "Inherent Vice," not "The Master, Interstellar and even Inherent Vice,"

"The Hateful Eight" not The Hateful Eight

"The projectors were calibrated" not "The projectors will calibrated"

"negative-degree" not "negative degree"

"mimic" not "mimmic"

"their breaths" not "their breath"

"Far and Away" not Far and Away

"successfully resurrect" not "successful resurrect"
"well-established" not "well established"

"Hollywood" not "hollywood"
"P.T. Anderson's" not "PT Anderson's"

"time-frames / schedules" not "timeframes/schedules"

"There have been financial battles as well" not "There has been financial battles as well"

"two sound cameras before someone else gets" not "2 sound cameras before someone else get's"

"ONE of them" not "ONE of thethem"

"Panavision" not "Panavsion"

"So there will be another huge investment." not "So there will be another huge investment to make that a reality."

"It's apparent the audience was stunned by what we had just seen." not "It's apparent, everyone in the audience was stunned by what we had just seen."

"it really shows how inferior digital projection is to film." not "it really shows how far away digital projection is to film."

"We sadly realized this format, developed in the '50s" not "It was a sad realization this format developed in the 50's"

"but at a huge cost, and yet lower resolution than 65mm prints, struck from the original negative" not
"but at a huge cost and still lower resolution then 65mm prints struck off the original negative."

"Quentin's goal is to produce all 50 prints from the negative, and deliver an amazing cinematic experience, and bring people back to the theater." not
"Quentin's goal is to produce all 50 prints off the negative and deliver an amazing cinematic experience and bring people back to the theater."

MUST WASH EYES - TOO MANY TYPOS - TOO LITTLE SCHOOL

 

 

  • Downvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

....and too much time on hands.

One gives a little leeway to what is in effect a blog post which Tyler must have been typing almost from his seat.

Some of your quibbles are matters of style, some are Americanisms and some are just plain wrong. None of them adds anything at all to an excellent, timely, accurate and informative report.

 

Tyler, thankyou. Keep up the good work.

Edited by Mark Dunn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting article, but torture to read. Poorly and awkwardly written, with too many errors to correct, but I did anyway.

 

it's "flares," not "flairs."

 

"hurdle" not "hurtle"

 

"nerve-wracking" not "nerve-racking"

 

"was shown" not "was show"

 

"in the '60s" not "in the 60's"

 

"uncalibrated" not "un-calibrated"

 

"more distinctive" not "more unique"

 

"last-ditch effort" not "last ditch effort

 

"3-panel 35mm" not "3 strip 35mm" (Cinerama)

 

"65mm film" not "single 65mm acquisition"

 

"ultra-wide" not ultra wide

 

"Todd-AO" not "the cinema version"

 

"caused by the coatings" not "which had a lot to do with the coatings"

 

"Our modern cameras and stocks are so good, they reveal imperfections in actors, sets, and backdrops" not

 

"Our modern cameras and stocks are so good, it's nearly impossible to have good resolution without showing too many imperfections in the actors, sets or backdrops."

 

And what the hell do these sentences mean?

"In some cases, even out of focus areas are overly sharp with modern lenses, making it look unrealistic." (What? If they are out-of-focus, they are not sharp).

 

"These lenses allow the resolution to show through, (What?)

 

"but deliver a softer image throughout with out resorting to filtration." (What?)

 

"Plus, they have a much more artistic look in the out of focus areas.' (What?)

 

"Of course, the other thing which was super-important was anamorphic lens flares." not

"Of course, the other thing which was super important was anamorphic lens flairs."

 

"'60s" not "60's'

 

"of which Panavision has very few" not "of which Panavision has very few of"

 

"The dynamics of the situation were about to be taxed further" (What?)

 

"Panavision explained there were no theatrical anamorphic projection lenses" not

"Panavision explained there were zero projection lenses available to unsqueeze in the theaters."

 

"hurdle" not "hurtle"

 

"So the grease has oxidized" or "The grease has hardened" or "The grease has turned to varnish" not

"So the grease has turned into concrete and corroded the brass."

 

"hurdle" not "hurdle"

 

"cameras" not "camera's"

 

"so the rear lens elements protruded excessively, and occluded the camera mirror shutter" not

"so the glass could protrude further into the camera. This proved to be a huge problem with modern reflex cameras, the glass actually touched the mirror!

 

"nerve-wracking" not "nerve racking"

"2000-ft" not "2000ft"

 

"figure out projection" not "figure out the projection aspect."

 

"straightforward" not straight forward"

 

"The Master," "Interstellar" and even "Inherent Vice," not "The Master, Interstellar and even Inherent Vice,"

 

"The Hateful Eight" not The Hateful Eight

 

"The projectors were calibrated" not "The projectors will calibrated"

 

"negative-degree" not "negative degree"

 

"mimic" not "mimmic"

 

"their breaths" not "their breath"

 

"Far and Away" not Far and Away

 

"successfully resurrect" not "successful resurrect"

"well-established" not "well established"

 

"Hollywood" not "hollywood"

"P.T. Anderson's" not "PT Anderson's"

 

"time-frames / schedules" not "timeframes/schedules"

 

"There have been financial battles as well" not "There has been financial battles as well"

 

"two sound cameras before someone else gets" not "2 sound cameras before someone else get's"

 

"ONE of them" not "ONE of thethem"

 

"Panavision" not "Panavsion"

 

"So there will be another huge investment." not "So there will be another huge investment to make that a reality."

 

"It's apparent the audience was stunned by what we had just seen." not "It's apparent, everyone in the audience was stunned by what we had just seen."

 

"it really shows how inferior digital projection is to film." not "it really shows how far away digital projection is to film."

 

"We sadly realized this format, developed in the '50s" not "It was a sad realization this format developed in the 50's"

 

"but at a huge cost, and yet lower resolution than 65mm prints, struck from the original negative" not

"but at a huge cost and still lower resolution then 65mm prints struck off the original negative."

 

"Quentin's goal is to produce all 50 prints from the negative, and deliver an amazing cinematic experience, and bring people back to the theater." not

"Quentin's goal is to produce all 50 prints off the negative and deliver an amazing cinematic experience and bring people back to the theater."

 

MUST WASH EYES - TOO MANY TYPOS - TOO LITTLE SCHOOL

 

 

 

If there's one thing in this forum that I simply cannot stand, it's pointless, condescending posts such as these. The last three words of your post wreak of nothing but ignorance & vitriol.

 

Tyler has made numerous posts in here that others (myself included) have found to be very helpful. So thank you, Tyler.

 

The lesson here is that if you don't have anything worthwhile to contribute to this forum, then stay off of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Glenn Brady

There’s much useful information on this forum, but, like Sam, I find the bad spelling and poor syntax used by many contributors a needless distraction. That many posts are made hurriedly and without much attention to the rules of grammar is clear, but I have to wonder if they’d be written correctly even if those posting weren’t in a hurry.

 

. . . and it’s ‘reek,’ not ‘wreak’.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



  • Paralinx LLC



    The Original Slider



    Wooden Camera



    Serious Gear



    Rig Wheels Passport



    Abel Cine



    Glidecam



    FJS International



    Visual Products



    Just Cinema Gear



    Ritter Battery



    Tai Audio



    CineLab



    Metropolis Post



    Broadcast Solutions Inc



    Gamma Ray Digital Inc



    New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment



    Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS



    G-Force Grips


    Cinematography Books and Gear
×
×
  • Create New...