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Dylan Gill

Anamorphic on digital missing something

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Hi all. I will start this opinion off with the preface that I know next to nothing about cinematography, I just know when I like what I see. 

I was watching the film Annihilation, and there was something about the images that I've noticed in other digital 2x ana films. There were flares and other characteristics but the inherent creamy yet sharp of anamorphic 35mm was replaced with an intense sharpness that I find kind of off putting, especially on faces.

Films with this ultra sharp look would be Annihilation, Chappaquiddick, The Equalizer 2, John Wick/Atomic Blonde. 

Films that seem to get the old look closer, just on my eyes are Three Billboards and A Star Is Born. The former owing a lot to Panavision glass I would reckon. 

And then of course there are hybrid ones like Scorsese's films with Rodrigo Prieto, where he mixes anamorphic film and digital extremely well (Wolf of Wall Street, Silence) where I only know which scene was which due to interviews, or some things like night scenes in Wolf where it is obviously spherical/digital/green screen. 

Is digital more of a spherical format? It seems it 'take better' to digital sensors, and anamorphic seems to really take to 35mm film. Or am I totally off my rocker? 

 

 

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If you’re saying that anamorphic lenses are sharper than spherical lenses just because they are on a digital camera rather than a film camera, then I’d have to disagree with you.

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33 minutes ago, David Mullen ASC said:

If you’re saying that anamorphic lenses are sharper than spherical lenses just because they are on a digital camera rather than a film camera, then I’d have to disagree with you.

No, that's not what I'm saying, obviously they are used a lot to soften the image up. Hard to explain, kind of like how analog tape can take a really hot signal that distorts in a (sometimes) pleasant way, where if you recorded the same to digital, it would just break up. 

The anamorphic look still looks good on digital, but since it was inspired by using the entirety of a film negative vs a digital sensor, it seems like the whole image breathes in an organic way on film (and sometimes digital too) where the background and foreground are almost glued together. 

I notice a much clearer distinction on digital anamorphic films, almost a spherical look until a insert where you get the classic dof, then it snaps back to a very clean picture when you are on a more balanced shot. 

Hard to explain because the differences I'm seeing aren't scientific and I can't define them. I just think it looks tremendously different, while still carrying the same artifacts. 

Edited by Dylan Gill

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Maybe your responding to the lack of grain on digital vs film? Grain can put a bit of snap into the image and maybe that counter balances the slight softening effect of anamorphic's 

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This brings up old memories and threads (old threads are painful, like Jon Snow you know nothing and you can’t spell, honestly I still can’t) I know because I started a thread in 2004 about the flatness of Stuck on You and Mystic River (really have to re-watch that one)This was before the digital revolution and the existence of Arri Master anamorphics and Angénieux Optimo anamorphics.

So even if you can ascribe the “flatness” of John Wick 2 and Star Trek Beyond to the Arris and Optimos A2S and perhaps the digital capture, it doesn't really tell the whole story.

You bring up Silence (mostly shot on film) if you compare it to The Mission it’s very clear that something has shifted, there is a sense of 3D space in older anamorphic films that we have lost. Or at least had lost...

...Because if you look at Rouge One shot on a Arri 65 and old Ultra Panavision 70 lenses, it has some of that old school 3dimensional feel to it, And Black Monday shot on Sony Venice and Panavision T-series is clearly the best anamorphic and digital combination so far, so maybe we have finally turned a corner.

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I would like to add that the appearance of sharpness or detail can also be the result of digital post processing.  And so it becomes more difficult these days to watch a completed film and make accurate judgements about the lenses used.

I guess what I'm saying is that to make accurate judgements about the part of the look contributed by the optics, it is necessary to compare/test the optics with all post processing standardized to eliminate other variables.

Something such as light fall off towards the sides and corners of the image can make a big difference in the feel of the lens ... but this effect can also be easily added or subtracted during color correction.  Even a "defocus" vignette is easy to do as well.

I guess what I'm saying is that the impression of "intense sharpness" might well be a digital post effect rather than from the lens itself.

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13 hours ago, Phil Connolly said:

Maybe your responding to the lack of grain on digital vs film? Grain can put a bit of snap into the image and maybe that counter balances the slight softening effect of anamorphic's 

Maybe

11 hours ago, Alex Lindblom said:

This brings up old memories and threads (old threads are painful, like Jon Snow you know nothing and you can’t spell, honestly I still can’t) I know because I started a thread in 2004 about the flatness of Stuck on You and Mystic River (really have to re-watch that one)This was before the digital revolution and the existence of Arri Master anamorphics and Angénieux Optimo anamorphics.

So even if you can ascribe the “flatness” of John Wick 2 and Star Trek Beyond to the Arris and Optimos A2S and perhaps the digital capture, it doesn't really tell the whole story.

You bring up Silence (mostly shot on film) if you compare it to The Mission it’s very clear that something has shifted, there is a sense of 3D space in older anamorphic films that we have lost. Or at least had lost...

...Because if you look at Rouge One shot on a Arri 65 and old Ultra Panavision 70 lenses, it has some of that old school 3dimensional feel to it, And Black Monday shot on Sony Venice and Panavision T-series is clearly the best anamorphic and digital combination so far, so maybe we have finally turned a corner.

I haven't seen Rouge One since it came out, will have to take another look. It seems like we have a similar feeling but in reverse. I do think it can look phenomenal though. 

5 hours ago, Bruce Greene said:

I would like to add that the appearance of sharpness or detail can also be the result of digital post processing.  And so it becomes more difficult these days to watch a completed film and make accurate judgements about the lenses used.

I guess what I'm saying is that to make accurate judgements about the part of the look contributed by the optics, it is necessary to compare/test the optics with all post processing standardized to eliminate other variables.

Something such as light fall off towards the sides and corners of the image can make a big difference in the feel of the lens ... but this effect can also be easily added or subtracted during color correction.  Even a "defocus" vignette is easy to do as well.

I guess what I'm saying is that the impression of "intense sharpness" might well be a digital post effect rather than from the lens itself.

I've had defocus vignette's added to both shorts so far. It's crazy what you can do these days. Everyone also wants to emulate film too. Both colorists on the most recent project used them. 

 

By the way, what the hell is Flame works? I keep hearing about this but have no idea what it actually does? 

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On 7/25/2019 at 5:57 AM, Dylan Gill said:

... the inherent creamy yet sharp of anamorphic 35mm was replaced with an intense sharpness ...

For movies in the theater I prefer the look of anamorphic 35mm. I think if a director is setting out to make a movie that really stands out visually, then I don't think anyone would dispute that anamorphic 35mm film certainly has a wonderful, interesting look which is difficult to define or explain scientifically ... if filmed by a great DP who has shot a lot of film, of course. Anamorphic 35mm is a proven performer, and cinema organically grew out of film and film projection. In the cinema at least, digital has sought to emulate and catch up with 35mm film. Film already works, because the cinema is inherently film. Digital tries to catch that success. Says it all of course.

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