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7 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

Raymond, looking at the film shot at 3:25, and the equivalent Alexa shot at 3:04, I'd say that the Alexa has the flat look of highlights that have clipped and been brought down to compensate.

True. The comparison is unfair here because the Alexa footage was clearly botched in exposure and in grading. 

I wonder if you ever watched the Parachute experiment. What are your thoughts on that?

https://vimeo.com/search?q=PARACHUTES von Wendy Pillonel

 

 

 

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Seriously? Aren’t you tired of the old ‘film vs digital’ debate yet?

I get the feeling Stuart, that fact-based responses by experienced cinematographers like yourself and Satsuki are somehow not welcome in this thread.    Well, points for self belief I gues

It's irritating because it's been essentially the same argument over and over since at least 2008. Nothing new is ever said. No-one ever changes their mind. A complete waste of bandwidth. At leas

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11 hours ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

I'm pretty sure you can emulate halation. At least in Baselight you can.

But not with a LUT, which was the point. Halation emulation requires targeting the pixels around areas of bright highlights, which requires masking and compositing. See Ryan’s post above. 

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11 hours ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

The wedding shots were not to my taste. The second two were okay, but the lens ruined them for me. The final ones were very nice indeed.

Well, as I keep saying, this is simply about taste at the end of the day.

If you like some film-captured images but not others, doesn’t that tell you that it’s not the capture medium you’re responding to? 

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12 hours ago, Raymond Zananiri said:

Is that something that could be done in post?

Basically what Stuart said. Don’t clip your highlights and add lighting to compensate so that you capture all the data in the scene in-camera. After that, you can look at color space transforms, halation emulation, grain emulation, etc. 

I posted the sample frames above to show what I believe to be some of the unique signatures of film capture, namely: 

1. Smooth gradual tonal transition to clip point. Notice that all of the situations are extremely challenging for digital sensors with their hard clip points - near white tablecloth, white paper cards, and reflective dishes in full midday sun - overexposed front-lit white shirts and skin tones - glass bottles, white shirts, and skin tones under dappled foliage - shooting faces against bright windows - several stops overexposed white windows.

In none of these images do highlights (speculars notwithstanding) ever approach a true white, compared to the white of the forum page. This gives the impression of ‘creamy highlights’ (cream=off-white), even if very little to no highlight detail is present. Now, this is a ‘taste’ thing, so you can always push the white point closer to 100 IRE in grading if you prefer. But to me, this is a unique fingerprint of film capture, due to the separated capture and scanning processes.

The only way to truly emulate this with digital capture is to not clip your highlights so you don’t get the hard transition edge, then use curves to feather the top of the S-curve to mimic this look. Easier said than done in many situations.

Projected prints are of course an entirely different story - ‘white’ is as bright as the projector lamp reflected off the movie screen allows for in that case.

2. Color saturation in the shadows - look at the skin tones and deeper saturated colors in the lower midtones and Zone 2-3 areas. Depending on the lens’s contrast and lighting, of course. The trade-off is visible film grain, especially with 500T (more digitally-orientated folk may say ‘noise’ - you either love it or hate it). 

With digital capture, you tend to get less color saturation in the deep shadows, as fewer and fewer bits are captured. The only way to combat this is to ‘expose to the right’ and give extra exposure to the shadows. But then you are in direct conflict with #1. So until there is a digital camera that captures enough light data to do #1 & #2 simultaneously, I don’t think it will be possible to emulate film perfectly.

Maybe the Alexa 65 does it - I wouldn’t know and don’t expect I will ever be in a position to rent one. That’s why I own a Moviecam and an Arriflex instead...

Edited by Satsuki Murashige
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11 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

The only way to truly emulate this with digital capture is to not clip your highlights so you don’t get the hard transition edge, then use curves to feather the top of the S-curve to mimic this look. Easier said than done in many situations.

Most of the film emulation conversation is about creating a magic button which automatically corrects hasty lighting and exposure, low budget and bad cinematography and outputs the glamorous "film look" of the 70's and 80's. Everyone can see what is the problem with that approach when discussing about a look of a feature film instead of just learning to do one's job properly so that one does not need to rely on the engineers and post fixes to make content watchable🙄

 

btw. , Look Up Tables (LUTs) are just a way of transforming values to another values in a predictable manner. They are not specific to cinematography, they are used in all types of signal processing in everyday applications. Most of the stuff they are used for does not involve any digital imaging or anything audiovisual whatsoever. They are just used whenever they are the most practical way of transforming values to other values in computing.

LUTs can be complex or very simple depending on how many values need to be mapped to different values. The simplest Look Up Table could look basically like this, mapping input values from 0 to 20 to output values of from 0 to 20:

0 = 0

1 = 0 

2 = 1

3 = 2

4 = 5 

5 = 5

6 =6

7 = 7

8 = 9

9 = 10

10 = 10 

11 = 11

12 = 12

13 = 13

14 = 15

15 = 16

16 = 17

17 = 17

18 = 19

19 = 20

20 = 20

 

One can add more levels of precision and more dimensions of mapping the input values to the output values ( for example  100, 200, 015 = 101, 220, 022  ; 101, 200, 015 = 108, 221, 019  mapping the 3 dimensional input values to 3 dimensional output values to map for example a color value to another color value) but it does not change the working principle of it. It is just a table which contains information what type of output value a certain input value will generate. 

Making a 3D LUT out of Resolve takes something like 15 seconds. I actually use the option quite often to transfer basic colour grading information from Resolve to Premiere Pro if there is a technical reason why this is the most practical way of working. Grading the clip in Resolve, outputting the 3D LUT, then importing that LUT to the clip in Premiere timeline using for example Lumetri to import the lut to the clip. That transforms the basic grade (colour mapping information) between the programs but does not transfer anything else like the previously mentioned halation effect or anything similar. a LUT just maps input values to output values and nothing more

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I agree it's a matter of taste. The clipping motorcycle headlights could be mitigated in post with a Lum vs sat adjustment. It was likely a choice to leave it as-is or simply not a priority to correct it.

I remember in 2006 I had a dvx100a and was looking for the "film look." But around then Miami Vice, Speed Racer, Tim and Eric, Inland Empire, etc. were embracing a "digital" look. And there was some wild digital color grading then, too. 

So it's a little disappointing to me that my favored digital cinema camera is the Alexa because I think the look is closer to a film emulation than it is to "digital as digital."

The LF in particular is a bit cleaner and the image has more of the characteristic of reversal film or video than color negative, but overall I would argue Arri's success comes from taking a fairly conservative approach, bucking the trend those first few "digital as digital" shows took in favor of something more familiar. 

I guess what I'm getting at is: I like the Alexa best as a digital camera, because it looks the least like a "digital camera."

So maybe I don't like how digital looks. Or maybe if I wanted a "digital look" I'd pick up a PD150 or HVX200 and shoot in 60p. 

But of course that assumes you want to "see" the medium rather than see a purely transparent version of what's in front of the camera. I'm fond of grainier film stocks, older lenses (Cooke S2/S3, Baltars, etc.), diffusion filters (Classic Soft in particular), etc. but not taking it too far or it gets too fuzzy. And there are aberrations (chromatic aberration) I can do without and I like their absence in S2/S3s and Signature Primes alike. Barrel distortion doesn't bother me, and I think Shane Hurlbut even favors it a bit because it pulls the center of the frame forward and emphasizes it.

This sort of puts my tastes at odds with Deakins' tastes and maybe closer to Kaminski's or some of the younger generation shooting S16. But I have more respect for Deakins' work in a lot of ways and am consistently impressed by it. I liked those weird early digital shows so my preferences tend more toward "interesting" than "perfect" but Deakins is as close to perfect as it gets imo and very consistently, too.

I think Karim's tastes are probably similar to Deakins' and maybe even further in that direction toward transparency and technical perfection, but it is (imo) ultimately still a matter of preference. It's probably just a matter of tone but questioning the post team's competency and intent in not correcting barrel distortion (which, fwiw, Fincher adds in post, so it's obviously to someone's taste) reads differently from saying you don't like it. 

Also there is a physical limitation in CCDs and CMOS sensors alike that at 18% gray (or 18% linear saturation) there are 2.5 stops of dynamic range above that. This is why digital cameras are 800 ISO or whatnot; most of them are pushing the curve digitally or combining signals from different ISO as with the Alexa. With film, you can add finer grain as with Vision 3 (which not everyone prefers to Vision 2) but with digital as resolution increases full well capacity decreases. There have been a number of attempts made at alternate sensor designs or readout, from the F35 to Fuji's Super CCD to the Black Magic 12k or Red's HDRX, but it seems like highlight detail just isn't a priority for most shooters. So it's not that people aren't trying, it's just not the top priority right now.

Although with HDR screens becoming more popular (I was lucky enough to see a 10K nit demo and it's stunning) and resolution maxing out, this might change and a tendency toward neutral cinematography might win out. Hopefully the younger generation embracing film and vintage lenses and the even-younger generation pursuing neutrality and resolution will both have voices in the future.

There are a few other good "film emulations" out there, but of course the issue persists that you need to light like you're shooting film. With a t2i or dvx100 I had to light more like I was shooting film than I would with an Alexa! Also, I'm foremost a hobbyist and not a pro shooter so my strong opinions are just opinions, too. 

Edited by M Joel W
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if you open a LUT file with a text editor it can look like this (just a cube file I exported quickly from Resolve to test it. just a small part of the file, not going to post it all to flood the thread heh)

TITLE "Generated by Resolve"
LUT_3D_SIZE 33

0 0 0
0.00114443 0 0.000396735
0.00216678 0 0.000595102
0.0037995 0 0.000610361
0.0184024 0 0.000518807
0.0331426 0 0.00030518
0.0492103 0 3.0518e-05
0.0692149 0 0
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One does not write the values by hand to the LUT file so it is not "complex" to make them and it is easy enough for anybody to try it

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5 minutes ago, M Joel W said:

I guess what I'm getting at is: I like the Alexa best as a digital camera, because it looks the least like a "digital camera." So maybe I don't like how digital looks. Or maybe if I wanted a "digital look" I'd pick up a PD150 or HVX200 and shoot in 60p. 

that is probably one of the largest reasons why Alexa has been so popular: it does not have much of a look of its own so it is acceptable for everybody. A major selling point for the producers too (economical, reliable and does not have a distinctive look which someone could dislike. Otherwise said, everything a producer could want from a camera)

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8 minutes ago, aapo lettinen said:

that is probably one of the largest reasons why Alexa has been so popular: it does not have much of a look of its own so it is acceptable for everybody. A major selling point for the producers too (economical, reliable and does not have a distinctive look which someone could dislike. Otherwise said, everything a producer could want from a camera)

And it shoots ProRes! Post loves it, too.

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15 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

5219 500T, Atlas Orion 40mm anamorphic.

DFA73515-7E6B-4E76-AAFC-A475F1EB71D0.thumb.jpeg.40c1332b9c75c7f6ce36afdeda9d173f.jpeg

1156048E-272C-45FE-B48F-FA8E155EF0D7.thumb.jpeg.41dc786fef75bc9c219b8a2fa26bce1a.jpeg

For comparison: 

Alexa Mini (3.8K, PR422HQ), 25mm Cooke S4 Mini, 1/8 Schneider LowCon 2000

Graded: 

0FFB0A55-AED6-4357-8A99-D0DED16762C0.thumb.jpeg.169268ec96cebff37e2297b4c149f97e.jpeg

Log-C: 

259C36AB-18F8-49D3-B001-DBBAAB0D2260.thumb.jpeg.7ff1ae28676b9586bc95d269c1df8431.jpeg

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19 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

I mean young people are the future and many more of them are interested in this subject than older people. 

Young person here: they don't care about film. They barely care about lighting their god damn shots

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Same project, clipped highlights. 

Alexa Mini (3.8K, PR422HQ), 25mm Cooke S4 Mini, 1/8 Schneider LowCon 2000

Graded: 

688E22E0-2EBD-47DC-B817-AD65B3E59471.thumb.jpeg.6dcc54f8235d9f403ab518fdd641e5f2.jpeg

Log: 

C1DBD72F-6A37-4FE0-BCE7-98992D2FA150.thumb.jpeg.d836d93fc87a6248607253ae24022361.jpeg

You can see that once the highlights are clipped, there’s not much you can do. This frame is from a circling Steadicam shot, so with the camera constantly moving it is less objectionable than a static frame, at least to me. 

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15 minutes ago, Max Field said:

Young person here: they don't care about film. They barely care about lighting their god damn shots

Have you asked anyone?

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7 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Have you asked anyone?

I've taught 1 on 1 workshops to over a hundred 30-unders regarding basic cinematography tech. Anything outside of a DSLR scares away about 85% of them (even C-stands upset them, dude). Nowadays kids filmmaking (usually just youtubers or tiktokers) are trying to do it cheap and fast, there was no phase of their life where they were forced to use film so they don't really romanticize it.

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8 minutes ago, Max Field said:

I've taught 1 on 1 workshops to over a hundred 30-unders regarding basic cinematography tech. Anything outside of a DSLR scares away about 85% of them (even C-stands upset them, dude). Nowadays kids filmmaking (usually just youtubers or tiktokers) are trying to do it cheap and fast, there was no phase of their life where they were forced to use film so they don't really romanticize it.

I've noticed this, too. My friends over 30 are likely to be film nuts but below that age less so?

I think it has to do with when film was transitioned out at schools and with the initial digital to film transition. That was around 2006-2008 as I mentioned and anyone who was shooting before then I think is likely to be more nostalgic than those who've never shot film.

I want to romanticize it and say YouTube creators at least focus on content rather than fetishizing "vintage" aesthetics, but have not really found this to be the case except in rare circumstances, and in those circumstances it's primarily about providing a platform for a personality.

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15 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

And over 100 years of film, and it still can’t capture shadow detail properly. You have a huge double standard here.

That's nowhere near as objectionable as ratty highlights. I'd like it fixed, anyway. I think it can be done easily with b&w film, but then you'd be making it more expensive.

4 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

But not with a LUT, which was the point. Halation emulation requires targeting the pixels around areas of bright highlights, which requires masking and compositing. See Ryan’s post above. 

I see. But I was led to understand that you can emulate halation with Baselight's native scripting language. 

4 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Well, as I keep saying, this is simply about taste at the end of the day.

If you like some film-captured images but not others, doesn’t that tell you that it’s not the capture medium you’re responding to? 

No. I think you might have done something to the wedding shots. If not, something went wrong somewhere. The anamorphic shots were ruined slightly by the lens aberrations. In any case, none of those photos were challenged in the way that I described in the original post.

1 hour ago, Max Field said:

Young person here: they don't care about film. They barely care about lighting their god damn shots

Phew! There is a bit of that philosophy going around. I'm all for ambient light if that's what you want, but you do still have to think about it.

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1 hour ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

I think you might have done something to the wedding shots. If not, something went wrong somewhere. The anamorphic shots were ruined slightly by the lens aberrations. In any case, none of those photos were challenged in the way that I described in the original post.

You’re entitled to your own opinion.

B40DA3B6-B72F-4758-8EC0-2A4D16BBFD64.jpeg.1f08895289a6cc5f9a1f14a721c75c22.jpeg

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if the images look nice for a person then it is only because they were shot on one's favourite capturing medium. And if they are not pleasing enough then it is only because the person shooting the images made a mistake and somehow made them look bad. 

I have been listening this type of stuff for 25 years too. The camera is talented, not me... because the camera can make good images by itself and if the image happens to look bad it is caused by me making a mistake. Poor me didn't have the magic button which would have automatically made everything look Hollywood by adding the standard "film look" over it  🤗  

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2 hours ago, Max Field said:

I've taught 1 on 1 workshops to over a hundred 30-unders regarding basic cinematography tech. Anything outside of a DSLR scares away about 85% of them (even C-stands upset them, dude). Nowadays kids filmmaking (usually just youtubers or tiktokers) are trying to do it cheap and fast, there was no phase of their life where they were forced to use film so they don't really romanticize it.

Yea but you're talking about youtubers and tiktockers. 

I'm talking about kids who have been shooting stuff since they were old enough to hold a camera. Out here, they literally are your neighbor. 

If you visit the Facebook (shot on film) groups, for both stills and motion picture, you'll see an ever present theme of young people. 

I also taught high school and college level courses on the subject. The enthusiasm is palpable, the cost drives people away. 

 

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Just now, Tyler Purcell said:

The enthusiasm is palpable, the cost drives people away. 

And with our economy on the verge of collapse, you're implicitly saying film is gone for good? I appreciate the look of it in high saturation circumstances but motion picture film is way too expensive for enough people to care about bringing it back.

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32 minutes ago, Max Field said:

And with our economy on the verge of collapse, you're implicitly saying film is gone for good? I appreciate the look of it in high saturation circumstances but motion picture film is way too expensive for enough people to care about bringing it back.

 I'm talking pre 2020. Can't really take thus economic downturn into account.

Film came back after Kodak filed bankruptcy and the worst recession since the Great Depression. 

Film came back after all the major rental houses dumped their film cameras, now most of them re-purchased and are renting non-stop. 

Film came back after nearly every lab closed down. Now we have 7 labs in the US and three new labs in Europe. 

Now it's a regular occasion to show 70mm prints of major releases in over 10 screens nationally. We will see the films we missed in 2021 on 70mm this year at some point, those prints are made and are sitting at the theaters. 

I mean do you really think a measly pandemic and economic collapse is going to change anything? If it's lasted this long, I don't expect it to go anywhere anytime soon. Sure prices will go up very slowly year over year due to hyperinflation, but it's here to stay. 

 

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

Film came back after nearly every lab closed down. Now we have 7 labs in the US and three new labs in Europe.

Do you have a list of the 7 film labs in the US? I’m only aware of Fotokem and Cinelab. Thanks!

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38 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Do you have a list of the 7 film labs in the US? I’m only aware of Fotokem and Cinelab. Thanks!

I found 6..

 

http://colorlab.com/contacts.html

 

http://www.cinelab.com/

 

https://www.fotokem.com/#/

 

https://www.spectrafilmandvideo.com/Lab.html

 

https://www.kodak.com/en/motion/page/kodak-film-labs

Kodak = 2 Labs in USA

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

there are more than three motion picture labs in Europe, it should be around ten or even more.

Kodak has a cinema tools app with a lab locator (yes, labs in 16 European countries, some countries have more than one lab)

edit: oops, Tyler said three new ones, not three in total, my bad

Edited by David Sekanina
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7 hours ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

No. I think you might have done something to the wedding shots. If not, something went wrong somewhere. The anamorphic shots were ruined slightly by the lens aberrations. In any case, none of those photos were challenged in the way that I described in the original post.

I would say the last wedding shot (with the couple drinking the red drink) was very challenging. They are backlit by the sun with no fill used in front (as I could tell from the reflection of their sunglasses). It is quite remarkable that we are able to see that much detail in the shadows (their faces). That is one amazing thing about color negatives: scenes with characters moving from sun to shadow and still looking really good, without any iris change. 

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