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Looked great to me, and fairly high in contrast in a number of scenes. It's not ALL high-contrast, there are natural variations.

Having worked with Fincher on FIGHT CLUB, everything he does is fastidious and calculated.    G

Interesting that you assume that they tried, and failed. And that neither Fincher nor Messerschmidt has any knowledge of historical lighting techniques. It seems highly unlikely that a filmmaker

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8 minutes ago, David Mullen ASC said:

What I saw was much grainier on Netflix.

The version I saw had no visible grain, just like the photo I've posted.

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The clarity and the sharpness of the picture was a dead give away for me and added fake grain well looked fake. After watching the Lighthouse for example, it is clearly digital or at least for me. It is fine that it is. Instead of trying to mimic film, it is OK to embrace and explore digital as its own language and look in my opinion. Or just shoot film I guess.

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19 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

I've seen pretty much all his movies, but I don't believe that the fact that he chooses dark, dramatic material means that he is incapable of anything else. 

That's your opinion and you're entitled to it. 

19 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

You're very quick to criticize other filmmakers

I'm not the only one criticizing the film. In fact, I read a few negative reviews before even watching it. There are also a few guys on this very thread, throwing the film under the bus. Yet you pick on my criticism, even though I was one of the few who enjoyed the film. 

19 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

whose talent and achievements far outstrip your own.

What an asinine statement. 

 

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1 hour ago, David Mullen ASC said:

I don’t get the “plasticy” comments — that usually describes something clean, shiny, and hard — not something soft and grainy.

I’ve heard the term used to describe skintones and other areas of fine detail after excessive noise-reduction has been applied, where that detail gets averaged out and no longer looks lifelike - hence ‘plastic’ like a mannequin. Personally, I don’t think that’s the case here though.

I think maybe some people are reacting to the digital diffusion - it seems similar to the ‘black halation’ diffusion effect that you created for your film ‘Big Sur,’ at least to me. Of course it worked wonderfully there.

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7 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

I'm not the only one criticizing the film. In fact, I read a few negative reviews before even watching it. There are also a few guys on this very thread, throwing the film under the bus.

I didn’t like it, mostly for script and story reasons. Some lighting and blocking choices seemed out of place to me, that’s all. I also qualified that by saying I might not have been in the most receptive mood when I turned the film on. 

I wouldn’t characterize that as ‘throwing the film under the bus’ or as a personal attack on the filmmakers. The film just wasn’t for me.

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On 12/7/2020 at 10:42 PM, Soren James said:

I'm a celluloid freak too, and yes - its one step off from *totally* fooling me.

Then you probably don't know what black and white negative looks like. Watch "Lighthouse" and come back to this thread. 

On 12/7/2020 at 10:42 PM, Soren James said:

 The staging is terrific, inspiring, and borderline intimidating. The lightings gorgeous.

Yep, it's a very well made movie. It's what happens when you have a decent/compelling script, plenty of money and time, matched with great filmmakers and talented cast. It's a formula which sometimes doesn't work, but Fincher doesn't really let the audience down. 

On 12/7/2020 at 10:42 PM, Soren James said:

 Doesn't look plastic at all to me.

The film grain helps, but even in 4k it still had a layer of plastic in my eyes. 

On 12/7/2020 at 10:42 PM, Soren James said:

Yeah, personally, I might dig more of Pawel's aesthetic on Cold War, or Alfonso's on Roma - since those used digital B/W to achieve a look film B/W could never get. But that's Coke vs. Pepsi. For the story? For the way he works? Makes perfect sense.

I mean Fincher can't work on film again. His and many other directors workflows are too tied to digital cinema. I don't blame them at all, the benefits of getting closer to perfection outweigh the arguable "look" differences. It's that perfection that a lot of people complain about, because reality is, the world isn't perfect. So people now build-in purposeful mistakes into their movies to make them seem less perfect, like digital camera shake and noise. All to circumvent how "perfect" cinema has gotten. 

I'm not complaining about the movie, it's just my explanation on why people may feel the way they do. 

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46 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Yet you pick on my criticism

Others were criticizing the film, you were criticizing the filmmaker. You accused Fincher of a lack of range, of unwillingness to take risks, and of ignorance about classical lighting technique. It seems to be a common refrain from you, that you know better than other far more accomplished filmmakers.

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2 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

Others were criticizing the film, you were criticizing the filmmaker. You accused Fincher of a lack of range, of unwillingness to take risks, and of ignorance about classical lighting technique. It seems to be a common refrain from you, that you know better than other far more accomplished filmmakers.

Oh so critics who do it for a living, who have never shot a single frame in their entire lives, don't get hate mail, but I do? 

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Yeah and also, I have seen the Lighthouse, and love it. Like I said. One step removed from immediately being apparent as celluloid - which the Lighthouse certainly was.

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On 12/9/2020 at 5:32 PM, Uli Meyer said:

The version I saw had no visible grain, just like the photo I've posted.

I'd suggest either your stream was throttled or you have noise reduction enabled on your TV. It's quite the grainy movie.

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I just pulled "Mank" up on my laptop through the Netflix website and you might be right, the web version is less grainy than what I saw on my 47" HD screen using the Amazon Fire Stick. Now both are streaming versions so maybe it's simply the size of my TV set that makes the grain more visible. I pulled the web frame and then did a version where I added grain that was more like what I saw.

mank1.jpg

mank2.jpg

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2 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

I just pulled "Mank" up on my laptop through the Netflix website and you might be right, the web version is less grainy than what I saw on my 47" HD screen using the Amazon Fire Stick. Now both are streaming versions so maybe it's simply the size of my TV set that makes the grain more visible. I pulled the web frame and then did a version where I added grain that was more like what I saw.

mank1.jpg

mank2.jpg

Interesting. I watched ‘Mank’ on my aging 50” Panasonic Viera plasma tv thru a 4K Fire Stick and didn’t see any film grain at all. It definitely helps the look from appearing too smooth. I wonder if they have two streaming versions of the film depending on the bandwidth available? 

I still don’t care for the digital lens flares, but that’s a different topic...

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10 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

I just pulled "Mank" up on my laptop through the Netflix website and you might be right, the web version is less grainy than what I saw on my 47" HD screen using the Amazon Fire Stick. Now both are streaming versions so maybe it's simply the size of my TV set that makes the grain more visible. I pulled the web frame and then did a version where I added grain that was more like what I saw.

mank1.jpg

mank2.jpg

I just received a BAFTA screener and low and behold, there was the grain. Just to double check, I switched on Netflix. It looks like the grain-less version has been replaced with the grainy one. Is it possible that they started streaming a version before any grain was added? I've only been looking at versions of it on my 52inch TV.  Looks less plastic now but there is something about the pin sharp detail that feels digital. I'm saying that without putting a judgement on it or commenting on the film as a whole.

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This is becoming an interesting development with streaming. There are so many devices each with their own operating systems and various internet speeds that streams show better/worse/different qualities. A byproduct of streaming compression is noise reduction. Some devices are faster computers, some are slower. Some programs are faster than others even on the same device (ie web browser vs DaVinci)

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Wasn’t this also Netflix’s argument against film acquisition, that real film grain would cause havoc with their compression algorithms and force them to use more bandwidth for streaming? Why would that be different with artificial film grain? 

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Not just Netlix, all streaming companies AND broadcasters don't like grain but will put up with it for creative reasons.  Amazon Studios asked me if I was planning on adding grain to "Maisel" originally when I shot the pilot because that would entail extra costs because the HDR version has to use a different level of grain than the SDR version -- HDR (combined with 4K UHD resolution) makes normal grain "sizzle" and become more obvious, so it has to be treated differently.  Amazon had a 35mm film series at the time and were dealing with this issue when making the 4K HDR masters. This was a separate issue from the compression problems with grain.

This is one reason I prefer watching blu-rays, they are fine with grain.

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If a project shot on film and needed an HDR grade, how would they correct the "sizzle" from the grain? Denoise and then add grain?

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Noise/grain reduction isn't all or nothing, they probably just pick a degree of reduction to where the grain felt similar to the normal SDR master and was less distracting.  For digitally-shot productions, they pick a different level of grain for each master.

I suppose some would be tempted to degrain an entire film-shot movie and add back the level of artificial grain desired. Fincher used to do this for his later film-shot movies and early digital movies, use Lowry Digital's film restoration software to degrain and regrain to a consistent level rather than see shot by shot variations due to exposure.  It's controversial, but some restorations of classic movies were done like this, I think I read somewhere the restoration of "Roman Holiday" involved degraining the whole movie and then adding grain back over it. This was probably done because optical dupe elements inserted into the movie had aged at different rates, or with some old movies, the restored cut comes from bits and pieces of reels or shots from different sources of different quality levels.  If you see the blu-ray of "The Robe", an early Eastmancolor movie, the opticals had to be de-grained in order to match the rest of the footage better, whereas they probably matched better back in 1953 but now those dupes have aged worse than the rest of the negative.

If you watch the first blu-ray of "Space: 1999" that came out, their few opticals now stick out because they were done on CRI stock, which turned out later to have terrible archival qualities.  The surrounding 5254 camera negative looks great in HD.

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Very interesting. Restoration of old prints or remastering becomes a whole new problem, as you said. Let alone adding the streaming byproduct after the fact.

It's also an interesting artistic choice. Degrain/noise an entire movie and add in the noise/grain.

I think it's getting harder to keep the image consistent from format to format now. The Blu-ray looks great, but people are streaming it. The 70mm print looks amazing, but the blu-ray just quite can't compare.

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On 12/17/2020 at 9:39 PM, David Mullen ASC said:

If you watch the first blu-ray of "Space: 1999" that came out, their few opticals now stick out because they were done on CRI stock, which turned out later to have terrible archival qualities.  The surrounding 5254 camera negative looks great in HD.

I'm probably one of a handful of people here that remember 'Space 1999' at all......let alone ranked it as one of my faves series on TV with Martin Landau and Barbara Bain!!! used to watch it on my small B/W TV in my room in the mid to late 70s...also loved Battlestar Gallactica and Dr Who.....but the first was Star Trek original series...also in BW....I was shocked to see it in colour on US Netflix hahahaha wtf

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On 12/9/2020 at 8:25 PM, Stuart Brereton said:

Others were criticizing the film, you were criticizing the filmmaker. You accused Fincher of a lack of range, of unwillingness to take risks, and of ignorance about classical lighting technique. It seems to be a common refrain from you, that you know better than other far more accomplished filmmakers.

......can't get beyond the fact I'm finding MANK boring as f**k hahahah....I've tried watching it 4 times now and fallen asleep every time.....I'm stuck at home with Covid......so perhaps I have lost my sense of taste and thats why I don't like it? hahahahaha

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On 12/17/2020 at 12:26 PM, AJ Young said:

If a project shot on film and needed an HDR grade, how would they correct the "sizzle" from the grain? Denoise and then add grain?

Scan in HDR, then selectively de-noise just certain levels of black. Not a big deal. But having bought a bunch of UHD BluRay's of older movies, they don't seem to be doing much NR at all, I'm kinda shocked how bad some of them look honestly. EXR was a pretty stock, but grainy! The modern Vision 3 films look really good with HDR and UHD BluRay releases. 

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  • 1 month later...

Watching the film now in a high quality and it has plenty of grain, especially in dark scenes.They probably kept part of the 3200 ISO noise. I love black and white, and it looks stunning to me, though still not as good as real film. Something with the contrast is off, maybe because of the HDR treatment. Cannot root for the character of Mank, but I am very interested in a behind-the-scenes look of making movies. Day-for-night scenes are obvious, but look totally appropriate for the story; and even intentional rear projection driving still look better than green screen. Hope the beautiful exteriors were real (they did use red and orange filters, so maybe?) And yes, I read they were applying black halation effect in post; it looks interesting, though I wonder how it all would look with optical filtration?

I find the old film artefacts cute and the ring flares gorgeous (though just as fake - no lens produces ring flares at deep f-stops). Obvious CGI (coin, zoo animals) and fake flares do make me sad. There is some magic in not having all things under control...

 

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