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Nicholas Lorini

Steve Yedlin Display Prep Follow Up

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I'm sure many of you are aware of Yedlin's progress with image processing in the post pipeline. His latest video, released a couple weeks ago, dives further into the concepts with more explanation of the technical aspects of this process. I'm still wrapping my head around things and there doesn't seem to be anyone else but Yedlin talking about it at this level.

I'm wondering if we can start a conversation here to further demystify what he is up to. 

Sorry if this seems vague but I really don't know where to start. It's all very interesting and appears to be important to the future of the craft and this forum is packed with wisdom and experience.

Here's a link to the Follow Up: 

http://www.yedlin.net/DisplayPrepDemo/DispPrepDemoFollowup.html

Thanks, 

Nick

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Holy shit. Knives Out was digital?! 

I was banging on about how cool it was that they were still able to shoot celluloid on a film like that.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, I've known since I first saw the DisplayPrep demo that Yedlin could make Alexa completely indistinguishable from film, but that was on tests I played out on my 4k monitor and 50" Plasma. I knew it, but maybe I didn't quite believe it initially.

That it's so utterly convincing on the big-screen seals the deal as far as I'm concerned.

Wow.

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I figure there's probably always going to be at least a little something that separates the people who shoot STAR WARS from the rest of us plebs 😆

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2 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

It's fascinating work that he's doing, but also a little frustrating for those of us that don't have his skills with coding.

Cool work but very much a secret sauce 

I wish he'd release a product that contains his code... I think he'd sell many

 

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Knives Out looks like digital to me,  heh, and I saw it in theaters. Even the trailer I could tell, the grain structure, the way the faces are rendered, all that is different with actual film.

I saw some checked mark folks retweeting this article on Twitter and of course there were immediately nonsensical responses. It's interesting but dangerous imo. Can definitely tell on The Last Jedi the difference between 35mm film and Alexa footage as well as the two intercut. Film cannot be replicated by its very nature, how can you replicate something that is organic? 

Sure, you can get convincing results that will fool a few people but that's it. If Yedlin's theories and work were so convincing, then Spielberg, Scorsese, Nolan, PTA, Tarantino, Linus Sandgren, Van Hoytema, etc and more would just drop film?! 

You can see Yedlin's "secret sauce" LUT on display on other films like Danny Collins or San Andreas and it just looks like plain old digital, it just does, with added grain. And it's a whole lot of work to make something look like an approximation of what film is when you can just shoot on film and it's the real deal. Not to mention, who the f will have the time and money to spend in the DI suite on trying to make digital look like film?! It's so nonsensical but it will convince some people, heh. 

Edited by Manu Delpech

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On 2/8/2020 at 3:26 PM, Manu Delpech said:

Knives Out looks like digital to me,  heh, and I saw it in theaters. Even the trailer I could tell, the grain structure, the way the faces are rendered, all that is different with actual film.

Manu, you're a self confessed film purist, so you have a vested interest in being able to tell the difference. Are you sure you could still tell if you didn't already know in advance?

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I didn't know Knives Out was digital before seeing the trailer though. Ding ding. I know some big time DPs and else can't tell the difference, I don't know what to tell you. Very few people would still shoot on film if you could really make something look completely like film. There have been attempts, The Irishman is very convincing, Indignation too. But I find that when it's most convincing most of the time, although there's still a difference (and Prieto said so, he had ILM make it look as close to the 35mm template as possible, that when he edited the film, he could feel the difference between digital and film), is when you have a film mainly shot on film, some of it digitally (usually at night) serving as the basis or template and then the colorist has to match the two as closely possible. 

You can certainly intercut night stuff shot digitally with film very well, I feel it's where it can be the most invisible, day stuff? Forget about it. But I'm such a nerd that I feel that unless you have a really good reason to shoot low light digitally, like you don't have the budget for the lighting (and yet you have the budget for an additional digital camera package, go figure ^^), then it's kind of cheating in a way. 

One thing though that I've always found weird is that Prieto doesn't match the digital low light, experimental stuff on Wolf and Silence with the 35mm film, leaves them squeaky clean and it is jarring although I adore the work. 

Edited by Manu Delpech

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His demo looks impressive but it's really just a shot matching demo and it's not too hard if you have both 35mm and digital footage side by side, especially if you're the one who shot both.

Would be interesting to see a test with a different person shooting the 35mm and he shoots the digital version of a scene. Then have him put his secret sauce but without having him look at the film reference.. just his sauce.

I would also suggest more challenging scenes this time with some colors,  some mixed color temperatures and a night setup where you see car headlights / brake lights. 

Then we we could really see what the secret sauce can do.

 

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Bingo, Yedlin shoots the most boring demos. Let's imagine for example if Linus Sandgren shot American Hustle, Joy, or La La Land both on the Alexa and 35mm film. And he is always an advocate of film's superiority. He couldn"'t do it, no one could make them look the same. 

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Just watched knives out. Yedlins tests looked way more like film that the movie. To me it looked super digital with overly sharp grain. All the interior shots had very digital looking blown out windows. Kind of surprised me given the hype. 

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On 2/9/2020 at 3:47 AM, Robino Jones said:

His demo looks impressive but it's really just a shot matching demo and it's not too hard if you have both 35mm and digital footage side by side, especially if you're the one who shot both.

Would be interesting to see a test with a different person shooting the 35mm and he shoots the digital version of a scene. Then have him put his secret sauce but without having him look at the film reference.. just his sauce.

I would also suggest more challenging scenes this time with some colors,  some mixed color temperatures and a night setup where you see car headlights / brake lights. 

Then we we could really see what the secret sauce can do.

 

That makes absolutely no sense. The entire point of a controlled test is that it's controlled. The shots and conditions are repeated so you can see and judge the actual differences between them. 
 

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50 minutes ago, Mark Kenfield said:

That makes absolutely no sense. The entire point of a controlled test is that it's controlled. The shots and conditions are repeated so you can see and judge the actual differences between them. 
 

Yes we’ve all seen his controlled test.. nice demo.

The point is, in real life, when it’s not controlled, can his proprietary algorithms faithfully emulate film? I don’t think so.

Knives Out doesn’t look like it was shot on film, and he used his algorithms on it. Even Rian Johnson gushed about it, here’s the clip https://youtu.be/69GjaVWeGQM?t=1313

So I guess to faithfully emulate film on a digital show you need to shoot film side by side? That’s actually not a bad idea, hire a still photographer that shoots film reference for all setups and spend the money matching in post. ..or just shoot on film.

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Just shoot on film. Let digital be digital, and film, film. I'm going ahead with 35mm here in Australia. I must be one of the last.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Dominik Bauch said:

Just watched knives out. Yedlins tests looked way more like film that the movie. To me it looked super digital with overly sharp grain. All the interior shots had very digital looking blown out windows. Kind of surprised me given the hype. 

I don't want to be mean but it's all nonsense (Yedlin's theory). As said, Knives Out doesn't look like film, I saw it in the trailer, and for some reason, the grain wasn't at all visible in the movie theater (and I was sitting close to the screen), so it bothers me that Yedlin is continuing with this approach and singing its praises and then Rian Johnson literally said that Yedlin told him that he had MORE trouble making film look like film (can you believe this?) than making digital look like film. Some people are fooled though. (doesn't mean much really)

I now see that the 4K Blu Ray has issues with the grain and screencaps show a very electronic looking grain, I asked Yedlin who doesn't know, he hasn't even seen the 4K disc. 

 

As Jon says: SHOOT ON FILM if you can. Enough with the cheating, the trickery, why lose all this time trying to make digital look like film if you can do it for real, no cheating and guess what, it'll look like the real thing because it is. Yedlin's "secret sauce" has been used before on San Andreas, Danny Collins and TLJ and you can just see through it. It intercuts well on TLJ but pixel peeping shows how different the grain structure is, the rendering of the faces, etc. 

Edited by Manu Delpech

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On 2/8/2020 at 11:37 AM, Manu Delpech said:

Very few people would still shoot on film if you could really make something look completely like film. There have been attempts,

Or they shoot on film as a workflow choice as opposed to the actual look. After dealing with a few sets where the musical artist was also the music video director.. and needed 6 takes with playback for literally every single little shot.. I was thinking "man if we shot film we'd be gone in like half the time"

That being said, are you a billionaire or something? Why do you wanna shoot film so bad? Arri Alexas are cheap now.

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I feel like people have not followed the whole thread of yedlins thinking.  He explains very clearly that he is not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. Of course the digital footage doesn’t look perfectly like film. His goal in the experiment was to show you can take two very different cameras with quite distinct looks between them, and using some science we can make them close enough that the audience will not question it if we intercut between them. 
 

Ultimately his wish seems to be inspiring a paradigm shift in how we think about cameras.  As long as the lens and sensor are capable of gathering enough data then you can, using a reference from another camera, get “that look”. 

By detaching the idea of look from the hardware we free ourselves to become more creative.  35mm film Vs a digital camera is just one example that excites him because he loves the look of film before it has been heavily processed, the natural look you get from developing the negative.  

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12 hours ago, Max Field said:

Or they shoot on film as a workflow choice as opposed to the actual look. After dealing with a few sets where the musical artist was also the music video director.. and needed 6 takes with playback for literally every single little shot.. I was thinking "man if we shot film we'd be gone in like half the time"

That being said, are you a billionaire or something? Why do you wanna shoot film so bad? Arri Alexas are cheap now.

Without some serious advances in technology and sensor and processing speeds were not going to see a product that can stand up to actual celluloid.  We are close, and cameras like the Alexa paint an incredibly film like picture. Close enough to satisfy the audience.  But our ability to sample the light coming through the lens is just not even close to dense enough to truly emulate film and the chemical analog process. 
 

it is of course a case of exponential advancement.  The close you get the smaller the increase in noticeable quality and it gets exponentially more difficult and expensive to get that result.

I love shooting on Alexa and after a lot of other cameras it feels satisfying to have a sensor so capable, but given opportunity and the right project that can really benefit from it, I’d choose film any day. 

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18 hours ago, Max Field said:

Or they shoot on film as a workflow choice as opposed to the actual look. After dealing with a few sets where the musical artist was also the music video director.. and needed 6 takes with playback for literally every single little shot.. I was thinking "man if we shot film we'd be gone in like half the time"

That being said, are you a billionaire or something? Why do you wanna shoot film so bad? Arri Alexas are cheap now.

Film is important to me and I don't want to ever have to shoot digitally. I have a love for celluloid I'll simply never have for digital, all my favorite films are shot on film (not an accident), it's not just the texture which is incredibly important (and a reason why I overall don't like digital, it's too often flat, clean, soulless), I have an emotional attachment to it. There's some great work being done digitally but there's not one time when I'm watching something shot digitally (even when it's a well done facsimile of film) where I'm not distracted or thinking "I wish this was shot on film". 

I've said it before and don't want to go into another debate, there's a soul, life and inherent texture to film that is incredibly vital to me, and I won't lie, when something is shot on film, it increases my excitement and it always bums me out whenever some directors cave (or they don't have a choice for that particular project) and give in to digital. I might have to do so some day, I hope not. 

It also matters when you shoot on film, no one cares that something is shot on the same boring digital camera that everyone uses. I love it when directors make the effort of shooting on film, NOT that directors shooting digitally are lazy, but you know what I mean. 

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Oh no not the film V,s Digital thing again... I thought I already gave the definitive answer here ..  

Yes digital can look just as good as film .. or better.. if it suits the film .. and anyway who cares .. the lighting / sound track / directing  / acting / and most of the script is what matters ..  

Why spoil ever single film you go to see.. when the most important thing to you is what its shot on..   its like going to a restaurant and being worried about the window frames ..  chill Winston .. enjoy the damn film 🙂 

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