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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » The quality of grainy film lately. (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: The quality of grainy film lately.
Scott D. Neff
Theatre Dork

Posts: 919
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Oct 1999


 - posted 05-03-2002 09:18 PM      Profile for Scott D. Neff   Author's Homepage   Email Scott D. Neff   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've noticed lately that the majority of films are coming out looking washed out and grainy. I noticed Aaron Sisemore complaining about the look of SW:EP2 in the Reviews Forum, and it reminded me of my annoyance with this lately.

Changing Lanes, Murder by Numbers and yes, Star Wars: Episode II are all recent examples of movies that just looked grainy. Is this the latest style in filming? Soft focus? Different film-stock in production or exhibition? Or are more and more people using digital to film more parts their films lately?

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Miguel Angel Martorell
Film Handler

Posts: 81
From: Valencia, Spain
Registered: Jan 2002


 - posted 05-03-2002 10:08 PM      Profile for Miguel Angel Martorell   Email Miguel Angel Martorell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Besides of films shooted in digital video there is a great amount of movies shooted in the f&$&$&$% Super 35 system and they are very grainy. Ali, Panic room, LOTR, Harry Potter, Black Hawk... I´m not an expert but basically Super 35 is a way of getting a wide screen but without anamorphic lenses during the filmation. In the laboratory the film is blown up and deformed to be projected in scope ratio. In this process the 30% or so of the frame shooted at 1:1,33 ratio is unused so the definition decreases and the grain increases.

I hope Super 35 die....(at least in major productions)


Un saludo

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Scott D. Neff
Theatre Dork

Posts: 919
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Oct 1999


 - posted 05-04-2002 01:02 AM      Profile for Scott D. Neff   Author's Homepage   Email Scott D. Neff   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Super 35 eh? Those movies you listed off are EXACTLY the problem I speak of... so it MUST be Super 35. Did Super 35 just become Hollywood's favorite? I mean -- where did it come from that it just became so prevalent right NOW?

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Paul G. Thompson
The Weenie Man

Posts: 4718
From: Mount Vernon WA USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 05-04-2002 01:29 AM      Profile for Paul G. Thompson   Email Paul G. Thompson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Scott, I noticed that also. If you look closely at the credits, some of the letters are blotched together, just like a lousy television picture with no resolution.

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Aaron Sisemore
Flaming Ribs beat Reeses Peanut Butter Cups any day!

Posts: 3061
From: Rockwall TX USA
Registered: Sep 1999


 - posted 05-04-2002 03:16 AM      Profile for Aaron Sisemore   Email Aaron Sisemore   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Super 35 has been around for decades, it just has in the past 10 years become very popular to use as a shooting format (James Cameron is a big supporter of the format) as you can make 'scope' or flat (in almost any aspect ratio) prints from a S35 negative. it blows up to 70mm pretty well too.

Many S35 films actually DO look pretty good, I think the lab work and the shooting stocks play an important role in the final product's quality.

-Aaron

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Miguel Angel Martorell
Film Handler

Posts: 81
From: Valencia, Spain
Registered: Jan 2002


 - posted 05-04-2002 07:14 AM      Profile for Miguel Angel Martorell   Email Miguel Angel Martorell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Seven is shooted with Super 35 and as far I can remenber it hasn´t so many grain but all the film was very dark. Maybe the laboratory may improve the quality of a Super 35 print but after all is a blow up and always is gonna be worse than an anamorphic print.
IMHO the Super 35 is a format for low budget movies but in major films has to be forbbiden.
One of the explanation of it´s use is that a Super 35 film is easier to light than a Scope film (anamorphic lenses need a lot of light to obtain a good picture so Super 35 means a lazy cinematographer).

I can´t imagine why the academy awarded LOTR in best cinematography or any other title filmed with Super 35.

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9470
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 05-04-2002 09:21 AM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Super35 (grain-O-ramma) is just beefed up techniscope with out the direct to matrix printing that helped them hide the smaller neg area


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Joe Beres
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 606
From: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 05-04-2002 09:26 AM      Profile for Joe Beres   Email Joe Beres   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think many of the films that you guys are talking about were intended to look grainy. In fact, I would argue that there is a small-scale trend towards grainy prints that began (not historically, but in recent years) with Eyes Wide Shut. Eyes Wide Shut was very grainy and I'm quite sure it was meant to be so. In my opinion, that aesthetic worked very well with the content of the film.

Changing Lanes was also intentionally grainy. I would assume that they used graininess to try to further attempt to give the film an edgy, cinema verite aesthetic. In my opinion, Changing Lanes failed in this respect. See my post in the reviews section for my entire rant.

I haven't seen EPII yet, but in that case, it sounds like it may have been a lab problem or some issue that arose with the digital to film transfer. Blackhawk Down, Seven and Panic Room were also most likely intentially grainy. I say intentionally as I can't speak for these filmmakers, nor have I read anything that would validate my statements.

But let's remember that we are talking about professionals that are working with enormous budgets here. Yes, Super 35 will tend to yield a more grainy anamorphic image, but these people have and know the ways to avoid the grainy look of the final print: slower, finer stocks, more light, etc. If they didn't want their films to look like they do, more often than not, they wouldn't. I am exaggerating a bit to make my point, as I am sure that even in the super high budget world of Hollywood, things don't always come out the way they intend, but more often than not, these filmmakers and cinematographers have access to the money and tools they need to achieve whatever look the want to.

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5200
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 05-04-2002 09:30 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It is not so much the Super 35 as it is the mass produced release prints, made at super high speeds (you can't be running printers at near real-time speed if you need 3000 prints to meet a release date deadline and have only a month lead time). And then there is the problem that has been created a kind of bad by-product of the fast film stocks now available, n that their availability takes pressure off the young lighting directors to use conventional key, back, and fill lights as was done for decades. With fast stocks they can get away with cheap down and dirty lighting techniques. They can use much less in the way of heavy duty lighting which would normally allow slower, finer grain stocks to be used with their deep, rich color saturation and very fine grain. A very traditional filmmaker, Richard Haines (not sure if he visits this forum, but posts regularly on the 35mm Forum), has some wonderful rants about how the new crop of directors have pretty much abandonded the conventional way films were lit, thus producing this current crop of murky, sometimes gray and desaturated films.

Also evidently they now use mulitple internegatives that make the final release prints more generations away from the camera negative than was done in the past -- a great contributor to the degraded look of today's films, according to Haines.

We just ran two "show prints" of MOULIN ROUGE and SW Ep 1 (I believe these are struck directly from the camera negative or at least from an internegative closer to the camera negative than the mass produced regular release prints. They were gorgeous. You could almost believe you were watching technicolor or 70mm, the sharpness is that dramatic over conventional release prints. And once you see a show print next to a regular print, you will immediately see how impressive 35mm technology really is.

Using digital elements is not helping matters either. I just saw LORD OF THE RINGS (yah, I know, I am not enamored of seeing films when they are first released -- I wait until they are just about played out so I am guaranteed a good seat -- almost like a private screening!) and the insertion of digital effects was about as obvious as day and night-- now we are in focus, now we are not. It's great that CGI can do anything the imagination can congure up; now all they need to do is to figure out how to get it in focus.

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Ken Lackner
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1885
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Sep 2001


 - posted 05-04-2002 10:23 AM      Profile for Ken Lackner   Email Ken Lackner   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What is a "show print"??

------------------
This one time, at Projection Camp, I stuck a xenon bulb....

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16269
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 05-04-2002 11:01 AM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Super 35 can and does look really good. With todays modern Kodak fine grain film Super 35 when done right looks alot better than anamorphic ever could. There is far more depth of field, better contrast, and when done right no more noticable grain than any other format. One may forget that a film, or given section of a film was supposed to look grainyat the choice of the Cinematographer or Director, Again, anything that was not intended with this format, and anything that looks bad falls back into the labs fault catagory. Also lack of interaction between the Lab, Cinematographer, and Director can cause this fault. Most Cinematographers I've worked with despise the average high speed print that is kicked out of a lab. With a few exceptions, it does not represent what their work was intended to look like. If you have seen as many films dailies as I have that originated in Super 35 you would all be blown away! Many looked like they were shot in 65mm.
Mark @ GTS

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Michael Barry
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 584
From: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Registered: Nov 1999


 - posted 05-04-2002 11:05 AM      Profile for Michael Barry   Email Michael Barry   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ken,

A 'show print' is a print which has been assigned for special screenings and is usually technically superior to the general print run of a given title.

The higher quality can be achieved, for example, by printing directly from the camera negative, and/or by very careful lab work.

Of course, general print runs can also be of excellent quality (minimal loss in steadiness and sharpness) when all the printing steps are done accurately. Sadly, this is not always the case.

High-speed printing is often cited as the reason for poor quality general release prints, but this isn't so. Very high quality high-speed contact prints can be made once the internegative elements have been produced correctly.


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Paul G. Thompson
The Weenie Man

Posts: 4718
From: Mount Vernon WA USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 05-04-2002 12:47 PM      Profile for Paul G. Thompson   Email Paul G. Thompson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Very short throw houses with huge screens add to the problem. If some of the prints are run on a smaller screen, it is tolerable, IMHO.

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Darren Briggs
Master Film Handler

Posts: 371
From: York, UK
Registered: Dec 2001


 - posted 05-04-2002 05:42 PM      Profile for Darren Briggs   Author's Homepage   Email Darren Briggs   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree that most Super35 originated prints look grainy, but there are some good ones too, Oceans Eleven i beleive was shot in S35, and that looked great, Terminator 2 was a great looking film too. James Cameron seems to like a good picture as both T2 and Titanic were released in 70mm , so why not spend some of his budget on the 65mm film stock and pay the shite actors a little less?
Darren

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Tao Yue
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 209
From: Princeton, NJ
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 05-04-2002 11:35 PM      Profile for Tao Yue   Author's Homepage   Email Tao Yue   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
I agree that most Super35 originated prints look grainy, but there are some good ones too, Oceans Eleven i beleive was shot in S35, and that looked great

Ocean's Eleven? That was one of the grainiest films I've ever seen (other than mid-1930s black and white). Granted, I've read on this forum that the graininess was intentional, and the film is otherwise well photographed, so I'd agree that it looked fine. But if you're looking for a Super 35 film that doesn't exhibit graininess, Ocean's Eleven is not the best example.

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