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Hello everyone!

Recently I started to re-watch Rome (2005) and I noticed (at least in the first season) that in almost all night scenes, when you see the bokeh effect of the background lights, you can noticed the blades from the diaphragm. I don't get why they do this (I was researching, and were different DP working with different directors so is kinda a esthetic choice).
Is not because they want to preserve the background in the shot, because in most of them, the background is a plain wall with a candle or torch. So... I don't know why they choose that "looks". Is there any reason?

Anyone have information about this? or maybe noticed when you saw the show? I don't know what camera they use, or the film stock, but I also noticed in some night scenes a significantly amount of grain/noise.

I'll post a screen (sorry for the quality) of what I mean, but you can see it in almost every night.


post-73684-0-34461800-1519252091_thumb.jpg

Thanks for the information!

Edited by Giacomo Girolamo

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Sorry if I don't express myself in the right way. What I mean is that, in low light situation, if you don't need to have the background in focus, generally you don't get a lot (or don't get) blades on the bokeh, because the diaphragm is kinda way open. So the bokeh is pretty smooth. That's what I see in lots of historical movies or series, but in Rome, the bokeh shape has a lot of blade, and generally (but not always) lots of grain.

 

So I ask to myself, why they don't open a little bit more the diaphragm, so they reduce the noise and get a nicer bokeh?

 

 

That's my question. I thought that maybe has to be with the camera they use, or the lenses, but I don't really know.

 

 

Thanks for the answers and for share your knowledge!

Edited by Giacomo Girolamo

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Cooke S4s (if that's what they were) are wide open at f2. Many DPs prefer to shoot at a deeper stop than that, even for night scenes. Sometimes it's because they need a deeper stop for difficult focus pulls, and sometimes it's just because they prefer the look. In this case, with firelight in the background, it may have been necessary to shoot at around f2.8 or f4 to make sure the flames didn't just reproduce as white.

 

I haven't seen the show, so I can't comment on the grain.

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Sorry if I don't express myself in the right way. What I mean is that, in low light situation, if you don't need to have the background in focus, generally you don't get a lot (or don't get) blades on the bokeh, because the diaphragm is kinda way open. So the bokeh is pretty smooth. That's what I see in lots of historical movies or series, but in Rome, the bokeh shape has a lot of blade, and generally (but not always) lots of grain.

 

So I ask to myself, why they don't open a little bit more the diaphragm, so they reduce the noise and get a nicer bokeh?

 

 

That's my question. I thought that maybe has to be with the camera they use, or the lenses, but I don't really know.

 

 

Thanks for the answers and for share your knowledge!

It's a style used in the late 60s and throughout the 70s.
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That weird blade reminded me of how awful the out of focus points of light would look with my old Sankyo Super-8 camera. When depth of field issues raised their heads, starfields, instead of just looking soft, bloomed into geometric nightmares that looked more like something out of THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN. Got to the point real fast that anytime I shot a space scene, I'd do it on a borrowed Cannon, or even a GAF (they at least had Chinon lenses, though the near-focus was something like 7'.)

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Also, don't forget, on film, as Rome was, you'd really want to be around a 4 to make sure your ACs had a fighting chance of keeping focus. It's not like they had 19" HD monitors to pull off of, they'd be measuring out the distances, and the change of a few inches could mean a blown take (which you'd not really find out about for certain till well after). So we'd often want to have a bit of safety in the frame and not be throwing your Acs under the bus.

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