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chauncey alan

Difference between s16 Blow Up to 35 and native 35

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Hello,

Hopefully an interesting question and not pure amateur hour ! 

More art less matter than the title: 

Can I achieve the feel and look of native 35mm when shooting on super16 (to blow up) ? 

Ideally a three part answer: 

A) Yes or no

B) The inherent limits of s16 to 35 vs native 35 

C) Bringing out the cook book with the old recipes of how different cameras, lenses, stock etc will produce such an effect and from there to infinity and beyond!  

As always thank you for your time! 

You are a treasure trove!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by chauncey alan
more information available making question more interesting

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No, grain size is a factor because of the smaller S16 neg  and if you want a really shallow DoF.

You can have a visually great S16 film, but they are different.

 

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A) No

B) Steadiness is better with 35, cameras with register pins provided. Unsteadiness is distributed over a longer piece of film holding the image. Additionally, positioning errors are less magnified from 35, equal screen sizes compared.

C) Dangerous ground for answering; some would speak of a typical 35 look but could never define it clearly. What we can do is divide the historical development into distinct optical and presentational periods. The pioneers, mostly trained photographers or vaudeville entrepreneurs tried out everything thinkable. With films from between 1888 and 1928 speed is erratic, aspect ratios wild, lighting chaotic, lenses everything from two- to six-elements systems. A certain standard had come along with the Tessar lens, orthochromatic raw stock, the 3-to-4 image aspect ratio, and carbon arc lamps. Then the talkies cemented frame rate, camera movements, indoor lighting level, normal focal length a little shorter. The next period must be labeled color with the inlay of the série noire, both streams in the light of high-intensity carbon arcs. Modern documentary production established itself during the thirties. The last major change to the 35 look came with wide screen presentation, xenon arc light, and coated lenses throughout. 16 to 35 was done since 1923 but Super-16 was not practised until 1970.

You cannot play 16 as big as 35. When a 16 original is enlarged to 35 grain is, too. As a matter of fact today’s colour stocks are more finely grained than the films of the fifties, Kodachrome being the exception that proves the rule. The worst time in terms of colours and pictorial quality were the late seventies. Lighting practice got a little sloppy then.

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That said 

City of God

Last King of Scotland

Constant Gardener 

All intercut Super 16 with 35mm and depending on shot size its not always obvious which is which. I saw city of god  on 35mm and the mixed formats didn't jump out at me -looked pretty consistent.  The lack of sharpness of super 16 is more visible on wider shots - so a film like City of God, shot in bright sunlight, with high contrast images in enclosed locations - its harder to spot the difference between the two formats. 

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Check out First Man (2018), S16 intercut with mostly 2 and 3 perf 35mm. I saw it on the big screen (digital) and it all looked fantastic. I've also got it on Blu Ray. The first part of the movie is S16. Looked just slightly grainy but great in the theatre. The rest of the movie is mostly 2 perf 35mm. The S16 was particularly good for the cockpit shots and when they filmed in the command module/LEM. Walking on the moon set was shot in 65mm. But if you mean making 35mm prints, super 16 might be quite grainy. Then again, it's certainly been done with success. Modern audiences, accustomed to crystal clear digital imagery, might take a while to acclimatize to it.

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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I bet you could make a super-16 blowup look like some kind of 35, but you'd have to posit some fairly extreme circumstances. I once spent a lot of time working with super-35 scans from 500-speed stock, and it was neither quiet nor high in resolution. Shoot 50-speed 16 on very good lenses, scan that, and I suspect you could easily exceed it.

So if you want to shoot the same stock in the same light with the same lenses at the same stock and somehow magically have it match, no. Otherwise, maybe.

But frankly, digital cameras significantly exceeding the performance of 16mm are now trivially available.

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A) Absolutely not, super 16 has an entirely different look and feel to 35mm. Not only in the grain structure, but also in the field of view. 

B) For a photochemical process from Super 16 to 35mm, you're looking at doing an A/B roll super 16mm negative cut, which is expensive, very very very expensive. Then doing an optical blow up to 35mm IP. You will then strike an IN with soundtrack in 35mm to which you will strike prints from. Nobody really does Super 16mm negative to answer print with soundtrack anymore. So to add soundtrack, you need to do the more conventional blow up, then IP and IN route, which is very expensive. If you were just shooting 4 perf 35mm, you could add the soundtrack to your answer print, without making an IP or IN, WAY lower cost in the long run. Plus cutting 35mm negative is way easier and cost effective. 

C) There is magical formula. For me, if you shot 50D and long lenses, you'd probably do OK to mimic what long lenses and 35mm COULD do. However, it would be difficult to do that and make something appealing to watch. 

Remember, the photochemical process is very expensive. It's far easier to scan your film and record it back to 35mm on the output side. You will have less noise, a crisper image and retain much of the "filmic" value. Where I do love a good photochemical finish, it's become too expensive to do it these days. If you don't care about a 5.1 digital soundtrack, recording back to film is not that expensive. 

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4 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

But frankly, digital cameras significantly exceeding the performance of 16mm are now trivially available.

Exceeding in what way? If you are going for a specific film look, why pick a digital camera? Which digital camera produces a film look without having to tweak the images in post? Honest question.

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5 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

A) Absolutely not, super 16 has an entirely different look and feel to 35mm. Not only in the grain structure, but also in the field of view. 

 

Technically, the grain structure is identical, as the emulsions are the same. What differs is the size of the grain due to increased magnification. While this might not be an issue when viewing at low resolutions, it would be very obvious in a projected print.

Field of view can be matched simply by switching lenses. What may be impossible to replicate is the depth of field of 35mm.

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1 hour ago, Uli Meyer said:

Exceeding in what way? If you are going for a specific film look, why pick a digital camera? Which digital camera produces a film look without having to tweak the images in post? Honest question.

To jump in...

I guess in the sense that super 16 isn't technically a great image, unless your very careful it risks being a bit grainy and low res.

A mid range digital camera would vastly exceed it in resolution and close to match in latitude. 

Although the digital camera lacks the "film look" - a lot of (most) lay people when shown an A/B comparison of 16mm vs 4K digital on a big screen would state that the digital was better quality, due to the general flaws that are part of the super 16 look. 

So if you want to shoot 16mm it should be about embracing its "flaws" and texture.

Buuut the OP was kind of hinting that he wanted to see if 16mm could be made to look like 35mm, e.g better then it is.

If your trying to make 16mm take on the qualities of 35mm e.g sharper, less grain, less DOF, more resolution, better image stability - then those qualities could be easier achieved on a digital shoot. Its more budget friendly then film. I'd suspect the OP wants the quality of 35mm but has a 16mm budget - so digital isn't a daft option in that case. Even requiring post tweaking.  

 

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29 minutes ago, Phil Connolly said:

To jump in...

I guess in the sense that super 16 isn't technically a great image, unless your very careful it risks being a bit grainy and low res.

A mid range digital camera would vastly exceed it in resolution and close to match in latitude. 

Although the digital camera lacks the "film look" - a lot of (most) lay people when shown an A/B comparison of 16mm vs 4K digital on a big screen would state that the digital was better quality, due to the general flaws that are part of the super 16 look. 

So if you want to shoot 16mm it should be about embracing its "flaws" and texture.

Buuut the OP was kind of hinting that he wanted to see if 16mm could be made to look like 35mm, e.g better then it is.

If your trying to make 16mm take on the qualities of 35mm e.g sharper, less grain, less DOF, more resolution, better image stability - then those qualities could be easier achieved on a digital shoot. Its more budget friendly then film. I'd suspect the OP wants the quality of 35mm but has a 16mm budget - so digital isn't a daft option in that case. Even requiring post tweaking.  

 

 

A beautifully shot image on 16mm compared to a beautifully shot digital image will look different. I don't think every lay person would necessarily go for the latter, although the latter is what most people are used to looking at.

I would suggest to the OP that if your budget limits you to 16mm and you want to shoot film, embrace it for what it is and use it that way. As Phil said. If one could make Super 16mm look like 35mm, there would be no need to shoot on 35mm. The question maybe is "How To Make The Most Out Of 16mm"?

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51 minutes ago, Uli Meyer said:

 

A beautifully shot image on 16mm compared to a beautifully shot digital image will look different. I don't think every lay person would necessarily go for the latter, although the latter is what most people are used to looking at.

Of course and "better" is a subjective term - mostly related to the talent behind the camera. There are some amazing looking super 16 films, I think Brian Tufano's work on Adulthood (for instance) is great.

But on technical grounds - if your going for a glossy "Hollywood" look the 16mm format could work against you. The next short I'm working on, in an ideal world, I'd shoot anamorphic 35mm - because I want that look. If I couldn't afford 35mm, I think I could get closer to that "look'" shooting digital vs 16mm. 16mm would be nice, but its a very different look. Maybe I could approximate it by shooting 50D, 1.3X Hawks, 4K scan with high end noise reduction etc... but I'd be jumping though a lot of hoops that would only take me so far.

16 mm does demand more precision and its a less forgiving format to work in. Its not always help for to say "well Black Swan was super 16 and it looks great" - it looks great because of Matt Libatique.

I'm the external examiner for UK cinematography degree, they shoot both super 16 and digital for their short films. Of course these students have less experience then working professionals. But there is a clear difference between their digital results vs film - the digital looks objectively better. 16mm rewards a higher skill level. 

Same if you look at lots of British TV from the late 90's early 00's - Spooks, Hustle etc... Pretty grungy looking 16mm, not great. Now the beeb is shooting on the Alexa and similar shows look marginally better 🙂 

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3 hours ago, Uli Meyer said:

Exceeding in what way?

Sharpness, steadiness, quiescence, sensitivity.

Quote

If you are going for a specific film look, why pick a digital camera?

Because it's vastly cheaper.

Quote

Which digital camera produces a film look without having to tweak the images in post?

None, though I'm not really sure of the relevance of the question. All images from all cameras are tweaked in post.

There's also a bit of a concern that modern, low-contrast film stocks often lack the look that people are actually looking for in film. I have seen this disappointment in people's faces; they shoot film and they get something that looks, before tweaking, like log video. A lot of modern stocks are very, very low in contrast, at least when they're scanned for maximum dynamic range, and will need as much tweaking as anything else. I think this is a mistake on Kodak's part; where is the punch and contrast behaviour of Kodachrome in the modern stock selection? But I digress.

Look, I'm not blind to the differences, but even quite low cost digital cameras (I'm thinking Ursa Mini) are now sufficiently good that they should not present a serious impediment to anyone getting results they like, results that stand up to more or less anything that has ever been shot by anyone. If a very well-funded production wants to shoot film for any reason at all fine, no objection. But too often, smaller shows sacrifice far too much to feed a film camera that simply isn't going to make that much difference, and that's a terrible idea.

P

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3 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

Sharpness, steadiness, quiescence, sensitivity.

Because it's vastly cheaper.

None, though I'm not really sure of the relevance of the question. All images from all cameras are tweaked in post.

There's also a bit of a concern that modern, low-contrast film stocks often lack the look that people are actually looking for in film. I have seen this disappointment in people's faces; they shoot film and they get something that looks, before tweaking, like log video. A lot of modern stocks are very, very low in contrast, at least when they're scanned for maximum dynamic range, and will need as much tweaking as anything else. I think this is a mistake on Kodak's part; where is the punch and contrast behaviour of Kodachrome in the modern stock selection? But I digress.

Look, I'm not blind to the differences, but even quite low cost digital cameras (I'm thinking Ursa Mini) are now sufficiently good that they should not present a serious impediment to anyone getting results they like, results that stand up to more or less anything that has ever been shot by anyone. If a very well-funded production wants to shoot film for any reason at all fine, no objection. But too often, smaller shows sacrifice far too much to feed a film camera that simply isn't going to make that much difference, and that's a terrible idea.

P

If it doesn't make any difference, I totally agree. Absolutely no point in shooting film if you can't get anything out of the medium that is different. I want to stress that I don't think film is generally "better" than digital. But I love the look and feel of film when it is used for its unique properties. In which case it is worth the inconvenience and expense, at least from an artistic point of view.

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10 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

Technically, the grain structure is identical, as the emulsions are the same. What differs is the size of the grain due to increased magnification. While this might not be an issue when viewing at low resolutions, it would be very obvious in a projected print.

When you magnify the grain structure changes, it increases in size. 

10 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

Field of view can be matched simply by switching lenses. What may be impossible to replicate is the depth of field of 35mm.

The level of distortion changes tho, so even if you COULD match the depth of field, it would still look pretty different. 

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8 hours ago, Uli Meyer said:

A beautifully shot image on 16mm compared to a beautifully shot digital image will look different. I don't think every lay person would necessarily go for the latter, although the latter is what most people are used to looking at.

I would suggest to the OP that if your budget limits you to 16mm and you want to shoot film, embrace it for what it is and use it that way. As Phil said. If one could make Super 16mm look like 35mm, there would be no need to shoot on 35mm. The question maybe is "How To Make The Most Out Of 16mm"?

I agree. It's not 35mm, so why pretend it is? 

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22 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

When you magnify the grain structure changes, it increases in size. 

The grain size changes, yes, but its structure does not, unless you are using a very broad definition of structure.

22 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

The level of distortion changes tho, so even if you COULD match the depth of field, it would still look pretty different. 

This has been discussed before, both here, and on other forums. There is no difference  in the geometry of two frames with identical FoV, but different size formats. I’ve posted examples of this before, as has David Mullen, and Adam Wilt, both on CML and ProVideoCoalition. Individual lenses may represent space differently to each other, but that is down to their design, not the format you are using.

Each of these three frames is a different format, shot from the same position, with focal lengths chosen to match FoV. As you can see, they are almost identical in their geometry.

618B929A-1B10-4F6B-99B8-31D1EDF9478E.jpeg

88919F3E-412E-4EC4-85AC-CADE040C8EA7.jpeg

424A638D-3B14-4E71-97B1-6E501A813D75.jpeg

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OP, take a look at some of the best looking super 16 out there, One Tree Hill (on Hulu if you want to get optimal quality and then again it's compressed and still looks AMAZING), Steve Jobs (first act), The Newsroom (Aaron Sorkin's HBO show, the pilot is shot on super 16), that's the best 16mm I've ever seen.

Then watch The Place Beyond The Pines or Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, American Hustle which are shot on 2 perf and very recent and same deal, some of the best 2 perf I've seen. The difference is HUGE there, the gain in clarity and resolution alone, the grain structure and look of it, the sharpness. 

Then let's not even talk about 3 perf and beyond. 

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On 6/11/2019 at 8:06 AM, Uli Meyer said:

Exceeding in what way? If you are going for a specific film look, why pick a digital camera? Which digital camera produces a film look without having to tweak the images in post? Honest question.

None 😄

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13 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

The grain size changes, yes, but its structure does not, unless you are using a very broad definition of structure.

When you increase the grain size, then the structure is more noticeable which means the perceived structure does change compared to larger formats where it's nearly imperceivable compared to the narrow gauge format. 

13 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

This has been discussed before, both here, and on other forums. There is no difference  in the geometry of two frames with identical FoV, but different size formats.

Maybe I've just not had the capability of using 150 thousand dollars worth of primes before. On my lenses, there is a pretty significant difference between a 9.5 super 16 lens and a 24mm super 35mm lens when it comes to image geometry. 

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16 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Maybe I've just not had the capability of using 150 thousand dollars worth of primes before. On my lenses, there is a pretty significant difference between a 9.5 super 16 lens and a 24mm super 35mm lens when it comes to image geometry. 

Matching the FoV of 9.5mm on s16 would require a 20mm (actually 19.4) on s35mm, not a 24mm. Going the other way, and matching the 24mm s35, you would need to use a 12mm lens on s16, not a 9.5mm. That is why you are seeing a difference. If you don’t use the appropriate focal lengths, then FoV will never match, no matter how expensive the lens. When the correct focal lengths are used, FoV matches, the geometry is near identical.

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11 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

Matching the FoV of 9.5mm on s16 would require a 20mm (actually 19.4) on s35mm, not a 24mm. Going the other way, and matching the 24mm s35, you would need to use a 12mm lens on s16, not a 9.5mm. That is why you are seeing a difference. If you don’t use the appropriate focal lengths, then FoV will never match, no matter how expensive the lens. When the correct focal lengths are used, FoV matches, the geometry is near identical.

I thought the magnification was 2.88x 

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