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Alex Anstey

"The cinematographer of Knives Out wants to end the film-vs.-digital debate”

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5 hours ago, JD Hartman said:

Lets celebrate that he's not in the USA.

What a pathetic thing to say.

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6 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Right, so why the F are you even here talking about this? What does this conversation have to do with you? 

These forums are open to all members to contribute. It’s not up to you to decide who posts and who doesn’t.

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34 minutes ago, Uli Meyer said:

What a pathetic thing to say.

Its an odd thing for an adult , even using the term loosely , to post .. and very far from the actual topic at hand .. but given the state of the place, under its current administration, its a very strange thing to say ... 

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10 hours ago, JD Hartman said:

 Lets celebrate that he's not in the USA.

Really, JD? We expect that kind of crap from Tyler, but I thought you were better than that.

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7 hours ago, JD Hartman said:

He has to post snarky comments somewhere.

  Lets celebrate that he's not in the USA.

While where at it I’ll celebrate I’m not there as well! 

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8 hours ago, JD Hartman said:

He has to post snarky comments somewhere.

  Lets celebrate that he's not in the USA.

BTW for the record .. nothing snarky, its a joke based on Tyler,s snarky comment that I'm a  " videographer " and therefore excluded from the conversation ..

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On 7/31/2020 at 12:36 PM, Jon O'Brien said:

I still can't really figure out your, Robin's and Phil's viewpoint on this. You say that someone who pretentiously brags about the format as the first thing they do is going to be showing something that's worthless dross. But it's an odd thing to get your goat, if you know what I mean. An odd bee to have in your bonnet. Really, an odd thing that definitely gets your knickers in knots. Now, I know, you don't like to realise this about yourselves. But I must say it, guys. You sound irritated by people who shoot film. 

It's just so obvious.

... And someone needed to tell you.

 

I guess we can't choose what hill to die on.

I'm not irritated by people that shoot on film. Just the people that think shooting on film is somehow better or valid. 

There does seem a strange orthodoxy on these pages and a reverence to the "old ways"  that's disconnected to the way most productions work. Shooting format is fetishized at the expense of the wider discourse around filmmaking.

But your right I shouldn't let it bother me, cinematography.com has become a bit of a crazy place and I shouldn't be contributing to the crazy. Digital doesn't need me defending if.

I wish you all good luck, but I think I should go cold turkey and step away.

See you at the Oscars 

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15 minutes ago, Phil Connolly said:

I guess we can't choose what hill to die on.

I'm not irritated by people that shoot on film. Just the people that think shooting on film is somehow better or valid. 

There does seem a strange orthodoxy on these pages and a reverence to the "old ways"  that's disconnected to the way most productions work. Shooting format is fetishized at the expense of the wider discourse around filmmaking.

But your right I shouldn't let it bother me, cinematography.com has become a bit of a crazy place and I shouldn't be contributing to the crazy. Digital doesn't need me defending if.

I wish you all good luck, but I think I should go cold turkey and step away.

See you at the Oscars 

The lunatics have taken over the asylum .. its what I was saying last year .. they go off their meds too early and all sorts of weirdness erupts .. its a shame as its always the usual suspects .. but seems nothing to be done about I guess ..  can be amusing.. but ultimelty sad ..

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You know, I tell photographers who have no history on photo forums to go straight to cinematography forums. Why? Because forums like this one are full of people who are helpful and not unduly critical. I'm not the only photographer who has noticed this.

In addition to that, you get to learn cinematography techniques and maybe different ways of thinking about light. There's everything to gain.

It's rare that you get bitter DPs on cinematography forums. Yeah, it can happen, but mostly, DPs are professional and yet also relaxed. They'll give your ideas and questions, no matter how naive they might be, a fair hearing.

My point here is that I hope that people lay off the snarkiness. It's not necessary. Be passionate, by all means, but I don't think that personal attacks are useful.

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On 8/1/2020 at 7:10 PM, Robin R Probyn said:

WTF !..And your a feature film DoP..     ??  alot of irony in you, of all people on this forum, posting this  ...  Im just stating my opinion that film days are numbered .. it wouldn't matter what job I did .. Im not basing it on my personal taste ,  I think its of little importance in the making of a good film, just purely as an economic observation .. Im not a stills photographer but it would have been simple to comment on the way film went in that job..  sorry if its bad news 

Not really, I'm a storyteller. I like to tell stories using the visual medium, mostly true stories (documentary). I'm not a camera man for hire, though I do go on many shoots, the bulk of those are people I'm friends with and only go because they need a specific skill like Steadicam or Film shooting. 


You can state your opinion, but it's completely irrelevant. You don't work in the part of the industry that would use film, nor in a country that has any film support. It's like me telling you what QXD cards to use on the FX9 and what shop to buy them at in Japan. I got no idea because I'm not a videographer and I don't live in Japan. When I rent video cameras, they come with cards and that's about the end of my knowledge because I don't shoot with camcorders. 

Look, today is today, tomorrow is tomorrow. Who would have thunk in 2020 that Vinyl Records would be a thing? Who woulda thunk in 2020 we would still be mining coal and burning it to heat our houses (my parents still do) and power our steam trains. Who woulda thunk in 2020 we'd still be using internal combustion vehicles, when the electric car has been around for over 100 years? I mean it's great to predict the future, but we don't know the future. For all we know the chemicals made to manufacture and process film are banned world wide? For all we know, the US dollar ceases to exist, the country goes bankrupt and the global economy crashes. We'll be damn lucky to have food, let alone cameras. 

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On 8/2/2020 at 3:11 AM, Phil Connolly said:

There does seem a strange orthodoxy on these pages and a reverence to the "old ways"  that's disconnected to the way most productions work. Shooting format is fetishized at the expense of the wider discourse around filmmaking.

I mean you're right about that. There is a certain preservation of the old way of filmmaking that is completely disconnected from the ways modern productions work. When you work day in and day out a certain way however, don't you long for a different way of working? I sure do! I'd die to have three assistants and cut on a flatbed, but that's impossible these days. I'd die to have a steam powered car for that random day when I'm tired of driving around my BMW. I'd love to go back to a time when internet wasn't a thing and I could just use my laptop for writing scripts, not discussing things online. 

Preserving the old way of doing things is a wonderful thing, it's just fantastic to show up to a film set and there be NO monitors anywhere. No video village, no cables, nothing. Just a camera on a dolly, with a big battery and a camera operator who you trusted to get the shot right. No committee sitting behind you. The director standing right next to the camera. No replay abilities. No money for multiple takes. A tape measure and a skilled eye/hand for a focus puller and a well lit scene using tungsten lights. Man, that's a breath of fresh air when ya get an opportunity to be on one of those sets in 2020 because frankly, modern sets are so busy, too many people, too many cooks in the kitchen. I'm tired of people watching my shot from 50 feet away giving me instructions through a headphone. I'm not shooting a television show, I'm shooting a movie for gosh sakes. 

Let me say this much, are movies better today than they were 20 years ago? No... not really. We've had some great scripts sure, but there is so much content these days, it's overwhelming. Good stuff flies right by, sometimes without even recognizing it exists. This is the "democratization" that digital has brought us. With lower cost storytelling, all of a sudden everyone can tell stories and that's great and all, but it also means you push out the would-be storytellers who really have great things to say, but can't get any eyes. 

So many of us harken back to the old days of working, not for quality reasons, but for the fact our product will for sure get eyes, simply because it says "Shot On Film" 

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Shooting format isn't fetishized here. I don't agree.

Film very nearly died. It's showing some signs of life. People who want to see film survive become passionate in pointing out the many charms of film.

What's become clear is that many 'digital' people, not all but many, people who totally believe in the total professional ascendancy of digital (which is the truth in the actual industry: digital has totally triumphed and is the 'big thing' in town now) are clearly irked that film is surviving and is being passionately defended. That's the bit that's odd.

What on earth is the problem? Film is surviving and a few people are passionate about it? What am I missing here? That's not a fetish. That's what's called ... um.... liking something. Being keen about something. Um ...............

No more to add, mein friends. It's all been said.

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Posted (edited)

There's two saxophone teachers in town. They live next door to each other. One of them is slightly irked by the other. Or perhaps more than slightly. The other's just starting out and is keen and isn't irked by the other teacher. Just wants to get to work and is passionate. The irked one gets snarky sometimes and says the other sax teacher is a charlatan and a joke. Maybe gets very personal and says to the other teachers in town that his 'competitor' was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. The sax teacher who's irked feels threatened somehow, professionally, by the other teacher. But consider this. That town is pretty big, and there's lots of keen students. The other sax teacher is a hard-working person who just gets on with the job and couldn't give a hoot who of the two of them is the big name in town. That's why it's odd about the one who is irked. He's actually showing that he's got a chip on his shoulder. That's the bit I don't get. Why on earth would someone who has absolutely won (digital has won!!) and is a complete professional get irked. But I see this very thing happening a lot in the world. People get funny about their patch of turf. So, I did write some more, after all.

And, so who's the best saxophonist, of the two? Do you think the little flower out in the garden knows?

I might write a little book about it. Or make a film.

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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7 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Not really, I'm a storyteller. I like to tell stories using the visual medium, mostly true stories (documentary). I'm not a camera man for hire, though I do go on many shoots, the bulk of those are people I'm friends with and only go because they need a specific skill like Steadicam or Film shooting. 


You can state your opinion, but it's completely irrelevant. You don't work in the part of the industry that would use film, nor in a country that has any film support. It's like me telling you what QXD cards to use on the FX9 and what shop to buy them at in Japan. I got no idea because I'm not a videographer and I don't live in Japan. When I rent video cameras, they come with cards and that's about the end of my knowledge because I don't shoot with camcorders. 

Look, today is today, tomorrow is tomorrow. Who would have thunk in 2020 that Vinyl Records would be a thing? Who woulda thunk in 2020 we would still be mining coal and burning it to heat our houses (my parents still do) and power our steam trains. Who woulda thunk in 2020 we'd still be using internal combustion vehicles, when the electric car has been around for over 100 years? I mean it's great to predict the future, but we don't know the future. For all we know the chemicals made to manufacture and process film are banned world wide? For all we know, the US dollar ceases to exist, the country goes bankrupt and the global economy crashes. We'll be damn lucky to have food, let alone cameras. 

.. equally  you work on the very fringes of the film /tv industry and no where near the main stream ..  hustling for short ends out of peoples fridges .. shooting micro budget productions, doing 10 jobs..   in that sense Im working  much more in the main stream than you ..and actually all my work used to be film ! .. my first days pay as a cameraman with with an Aaton... docs music video,s were all film ..I was camera assiant on film for 7 years, never went near a digital camera  ..   and that changed very quickly . filmed died .. simply stated again what Im saying is this is very likely to happen to the main stream feature film/ CM / big budget TV show market .. which is not your world either.. I mean there is hardly an argument .. its already happened .. neither of us are in that world so your opinion is in no way better informed than mine .. its just your personal; taste .. which isn't the topic ..

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

.. equally  you work on the very fringes of the film /tv industry and no where near the main stream

I mean I think most creators work on the fringe of the industry they're associated with. Be it drawing, sculpting, composing, novelists, screenplay writers, wood workers, metal workers, etc, the vast majority of creatives are not "mainstream". Then again, what defines mainstream? To me, it's all about eyeballs and honestly if you take that into perspective, you'd see some youtubers destroy the broadcast TV and even some first run film releases, on views and repeat channel viewers. So does that make them less successful as filmmakers because they don't use the traditional, and failing distribution methods of broadcast TV and theatrical? This is why I only really care about eyeballs in the long run. 

21 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

hustling for short ends out of peoples fridges

That's the fun part tho! Ordering film from Kodak is boring. Getting that shipment of 5217 and opening up those 10 year old cans that were frozen for its entire life. Shooting that stock and having people go WOW that looks different, what did you do? All of that is worth it in the long run, especially if you trust your negative sources. Obviously if you're shooting long form, you wouldn't risk it, but most of us shoot short form on a regular basis; commercials, music videos, promo's, etc. I mean, imagine being able to shoot 35mm for half the cost of 16! I mean who wouldn't want that? 

Ohh but yes, I use new stock when I shoot 16. Too risky for not enough cost savings. 

21 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

shooting micro budget productions

Oh yea I mean, on average I make $500/day labor and $850 with camera. For a multi-day commercial, music video or promo, that's peanuts. I've been on shoots where the G&E rental was $10k for the day. Are they micro budget? Yep! But man that's the fun part about it. Taking little bit of money and making a product that looks like it was made with much more. 

21 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

doing 10 jobs

Oh 10 jobs on set! Absolutely. Between the commercial gigs I do on a regular basis,  I also do some pitshit shoots on film. A lot of times it's with actor/filmmaker friends who want to shoot on film. Other times, I'm go out on a real paying job as "the only crew" outside of the sound guy and maybe a PA. Yea you heard me right, imagine shooting a 17 page script that's all dialog, with 4 company moves, in one day, on 35mm, by yourself. Then imagine showing up and the director is the star and they've never directed before. So suddenly I was arguing with him about lighting/lensing AND trying to figure out the blocking and directing the cast/performances. It pushed me to my limit for sure, but honestly, it was a lot of fun. I can't wait to edit and show ya'll. 

21 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

my first days pay as a cameraman with with an Aaton... docs music video,s were all film ..I was camera assiant on film for 7 years, never went near a digital camera  ..   and that changed very quickly . filmed died

I worked in both worlds, broadcast television and film, at the same time. So I was already very familiar with ENG cameras by the time film faded away. I worked on digital nearly exclusively from 2003 through 2014. The difference is that by 2014 I was already tired of digital, it didn't interest me anymore. I met people who got $100k loans to buy fancy digital cameras and they were living job to job barely making rent payments and I didn't want to be that guy. So I went with a different approach. I went to specialize in shooting on film, a format that as you put it, died years ago. Entry into shooting on film in 2015 was way less than any decent digital package and a few short years later, my idea has worked. I have a pretty self sufficient business that rents film cameras and that extra income allows me to make my own short subject films ON film for no cost out of my pocket. I feel bad for my friends who invested heavily in digital, many of them have lost their shirts as those cameras have lost value AND usability. At the same time, pre-covid, I've been so busy I've had to raise my prices and the clients keep coming. 


 

Edited by Tyler Purcell

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2 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

I mean I think most creators work on the fridges of the industry they're associated with.

That’s a good one. I like glitches. Nothing against anybody, just made me giggle.

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13 minutes ago, Simon Wyss said:

That’s a good one. I like glitches. Nothing against anybody, just made me giggle.

HAHAHAH yes I like fridges too! 😛

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6 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

HAHAHAH yes I like fridges too! 😛

We all might be working on fridges pretty soon , but lets get back to the original post .. and Yedlins work ... 

https://www.polygon.com/2020/2/6/21125680/film-vs-digital-debate-movies-cinematography

Check out his scans between s35 and Alexa again... I defy anyone can claim to see a difference ..

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

Check out his scans between s35 and Alexa again... I defy anyone can claim to see a difference .

As discussed before, Yedlin's color science is NOT available to the public. Nobody has yet to copy his work. 

As discussed before, Yedlin's videos do not include extreme highlights, which is where film shines. Also, his film scans don't appear to be HDR, so they are very limited in dynamic range and he's compensating for that by shooting everything with low dynamic range. Today everyone scans in HDR and the difference is night and day, MUCH better dynamic range in the black's. 

As discussed before, Yedlin's videos do not show resolution, he doesn't believe in 4k. When shooting on film, high resolution scans really make the grain pop and help to separate the formats better. With a 2k scan like Yedlin likes, you won't see that.

The great thing about film is more about the workflow anyway. How you can't just run the camera all day and figure it out in post. How film makes everyone on set, make less mistakes because they know it's money running through the camera. How crews that shoot on film, generally rehearse and prep more, making the shoot faster AND in some cases, the product better. Now obviously one can argue that using those same tricks on a digital shoot is possible, but NOBODY DOES! Heck, I don't either. I love shooting the rehearsal without anyone knowing, but can't do that on film. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

As discussed before, Yedlin's videos do not show resolution, he doesn't believe in 4k. When shooting on film, high resolution scans really make the grain pop and help to separate the formats better. With a 2k scan like Yedlin likes, you won't see that.

I don’t think this is accurate. http://www.yedlin.net/ResDemo/index.html
 

Mr. Yedlin does care about resolution, or as he terms it, capturing more information. He just doesn’t believe that cameras marketed as ‘4K’ or ‘8K’ are necessarily capturing more information than a camera like the Alexa in ARRIRaw 3.2K. He’s saying, if you care about high resolving images then test for yourself and don’t rely on marketing. That’s a very different philosophy from, ‘just scan it in 2K, nobody can tell the difference.’ 

Like you, I prefer shooting on film over video in many cases too, but let’s not misrepresent other people’s opinions to make our own case.

One other point on Mr. Yedlin’s ‘film look’ special sauce - he’s developing for a specific look that is to his particular taste. It’s only one interpretation of how the scanned film image can look, as he shows with the film scan results from different vendors. Even if he released his secret sauce as a plug-in, everyone else’s results would not match his, as the input source would be different.

All this to say, his tools are very particular to his own way of working. And I suspect that most people who are willing to go thru the trouble of shooting on film these days are after more than just a ‘film look’ plug-in. They want the actual physical experience of it, and believe that in some way it alters the final captured image for the better. Personally, I believe that they are right. Mr. Yedlin clearly does not. But there is no right answer here, we are all different people with varying tastes and ways of working. As long as we are all happy with our final images, who cares how we got there? 

Why can’t we all just leave it there? Asking for a friend.

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7 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

We all might be working on fridges pretty soon , but lets get back to the original post .. and Yedlins work ... 

https://www.polygon.com/2020/2/6/21125680/film-vs-digital-debate-movies-cinematography

Check out his scans between s35 and Alexa again... I defy anyone can claim to see a difference ..

Just pointing out, the point of his test it to show that the formats can be matched exactly with his tools for these particular setups

If someone wanted to, they could easily make the film look distinct by introducing a bright specular source into the setup to get mirror shutter flicker or gate flare. Or have a large box truck speed by to show the minimal rolling shutter on the Alexa. Or aim a flashbulb into the lens to show the half shutter frame.

Mr. Yedlin doesn’t do that here because he wants to show the matching results under typical conditions. I’m assuming that this is because he doesn’t want those artifacts, so he would avoid those situations on set for his movie. But those differences do exist, and can be brought out if you wanted them. And some people do.

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Was listening to Roger and James Deakins’s podcast yesterday, and on a recent episode with Greig Fraser, Mr. Fraser mentioned how his young 2nd Unit DP on a recent project was raving about film. He watched some of her celluloid-based projects, and said they ‘looked like crap.’ He went on the clarify that the images were grainy, underexposed, and generally rough looking. 

Now, I’m sure he didn’t mean anything personal by it and he seems like a pretty decent fellow, but I was a bit taken aback. He called her out by name. I happen to know this DP as we were camera assisting around the same time, and I find her work inspiring. It is rough and wild, in a Chris Doyle sort of way. That’s what’s beautiful about it to me. 

This episode sort of made me realize why some older DPs don’t like film. When there was no choice in formats, they were trying to avoid grain, flares, underexposed shots, accidents and surprises of any kind, etc. What they really wanted was a clean, safe, digital alternative, whether they knew it or not. That’s what the Alexa gave them. 

But that’s not what many of us liked about their work when we were film students in school.

We liked Harris Savides’s scratched up negative in the title sequence of ‘Se7en.’

We liked Chris Doyle pushing his Fuji film stock and shooting handheld chase sequences at 6fps in ‘Chungking Express.’

We liked Janusz Kaminski sucking the color out of his film stock with ENR and de-coated lenses and throwing his shutter out of sync on ‘Saving Private Ryan.’

We liked Matthew Libatique shooting pushed reversal 16mm black and white to a Seurat-like grain level in ‘Pi’ and Paul Cameron’s cross-processed hand-cranked footage in ‘Man on Fire.’

And yes, we liked handsomely shot films like John Toll’s ‘The Thin Red Line’ and Deakins’s ‘Shawshank Redemption’ too.

Those films all had balls. The images were sensory and impressionistic. They felt like dreams. And that is mostly missing nowadays. I think that’s what most people itching to shoot on film are looking for.

Anyway, here’s the episode: https://teamdeakins.libsyn.com/greig-fraser-cinematographer

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Just pointing out, the point of his test it to show that the formats can be matched exactly with his tools for these particular setups

If someone wanted to, they could easily make the film look distinct by introducing a bright specular source into the setup to get mirror shutter flicker or gate flare. Or have a large box truck speed by to show the minimal rolling shutter on the Alexa. Or aim a flashbulb into the lens to show the half shutter frame.

Mr. Yedlin doesn’t do that here because he wants to show the matching results under typical conditions. I’m assuming that this is because he doesn’t want those artifacts, so he would avoid those situations on set for his movie. But those differences do exist, and can be brought out if you wanted them. And some people do.

The issue is that his demo now appears on "mainstream" sites (see the Polygon article)  and a lot of people who read the article won't have the education or experience to know or understand what you listed above. 

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"...as Yedlin tells Polygon, when screened in theaters to an array of industry professionals, almost no one could tell the difference."

So if Yedlin went a little further with his test and shot the points you listed out, and I would also add to your list a shot of cars at night with red tail lights and front lights so you see the nice orbs that only film can do - maybe everyone in that theatre would have picked up the film immediately? His demo is fine but anyone can do that. The setups are flat and the challenge is fairly low. Personally I prefer shooting on film because I get inspiring images to work with out of the box. You get what some people call "the film look" or "filmic" (guys always get blasted on here when mentioning these terms) with amazing skin tones and color separation plus you have a nice physical backup as a bonus 🙂

night.thumb.jpg.d7ecf3ad5f90f22a577179fdb468ebc4.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by Robino Jones
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8 minutes ago, Robino Jones said:

The issue is that his demo now appears on "mainstream" sites (see the Polygon article)  and a lot of people who read the article won't have the education or experience to know or understand what you listed above. 

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"...as Yedlin tells Polygon, when screened in theaters to an array of industry professionals, almost no one could tell the difference."

So if Yedlin went a little further with his test and shot the points you listed out, and I would also add to your list a shot of cars at night with red tail lights and front lights so you see the nice orbs that only film can do - maybe everyone in that theatre would have picked up the film immediately? His demo is fine but anyone can do that. The setups are flat and the challenge is fairly low. Personally I prefer shooting on film because I get inspiring images to work with out of the box. You get what some people call "the film look" or "filmic" (guys always get blasted on here when mentioning these terms) with amazing skin tones and color separation plus you have a nice physical backup as a bonus 🙂

night.thumb.jpg.d7ecf3ad5f90f22a577179fdb468ebc4.jpg

 

 

 

Yes, although as with the earlier ‘La La Land’ example I posted on Page 2 of this thread, I think some of the film stock’s ability to retain the color of the red tail lights also has to do with its relative lack of sensitivity.

If you shot a long exposure still on the same 5219 stock to match the ambient exposure level of something like a Varicam 35 at 5000 ISO (pretty typical for a modern night exterior scene), then I think you might find that the 5219 also will not hold color well when the red tail lights are grossly overexposed to the same degree. I don’t know that for a fact, but it should be tested. 

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