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Author Topic: 4K Series at Pacific Film Archive
Lincoln Spector
Film Handler

Posts: 44
From: Albany, CA, USA
Registered: Mar 2012


 - posted 12-16-2013 05:14 PM      Profile for Lincoln Spector   Author's Homepage   Email Lincoln Spector   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Over the last couple of weeks, I attended all but two screenings at a Pacific Film Archive series on Sony 4K restorations. Since I went on a press pass, I was obliged to write about them (but NOT obliged to be nice in what I write).

In case any of you are interested, here are my articles:

http://bayflicks.net/2013/12/06/dcp-grover-crisp-bonjour-tristesse-at-the-pfa/

http://bayflicks.net/2013/12/07/taxi-driver-alamo-bay-and-4k-digital-projection-at-the-pfa/

http://bayflicks.net/2013/12/16/finishing-up-the-pfas-4k-series/

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Terry Lynn-Stevens
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1081
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Dec 2012


 - posted 12-16-2013 07:57 PM      Profile for Terry Lynn-Stevens   Email Terry Lynn-Stevens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Lincoln, great write up and very interesting. My only real issue is with the following statement:

quote:
" A DCP should be "the best print you’ve ever seen."
I don't really agree with that, film seemed to display some better color and from what my eyes saw there were more shades of different colors as well. Blacks and dark scenes also tended to look better on film. I think DCP color reproduction is limited, perhaps someone else can confirm that.

A nice write up [beer]

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Lincoln Spector
Film Handler

Posts: 44
From: Albany, CA, USA
Registered: Mar 2012


 - posted 12-17-2013 11:08 AM      Profile for Lincoln Spector   Author's Homepage   Email Lincoln Spector   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I don't agree. I think digital CAMERAS are still more limited in color and contrast than film, but not projection.

The cinematographer on Alamo Bay said that with the DCP, the film finally had the look he wanted, with a level of shadow detail he couldn't get in film prints. And Steven Soderbergh has said that when he finished making a film, he would watch the DCP and it looked great. Then he's watch the 35mm answer print and be disappointed.

Of course, I know of other filmmakers who say the opposite.

Lincoln

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Steve Kraus
Film God

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From: Chicago, IL, USA
Registered: May 2000


 - posted 12-17-2013 11:44 AM      Profile for Steve Kraus     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Sure, because the film output from digital post production requires duplication, even if only from film-out negative to an answer print. And for general release prints it was likely film-out to interpositive to multiple dupe negatives to release prints. As film-outs would come down in cost (or would have if film projection wasn't going away) they might shoot out multiple negatives but it's still one level of duplication. Meanwhile, on the digital side, leaving aside the projector's limitations on black levels, and a small amount of data compression, pretty much the full resolution makes it to the screen. So of course the film projection is going to look worse.

Where this is especially annoying is when the movie is actually shot on film but goes through 2K post production. A purely film finish goes through all those generations but there is so much resolution on the negative of a well-photographed film that with decent lab work, the general release prints can look great. Sure, some of us got to see EK prints right off the camera negative but that wasn't the norm for most people. Now, with digital post, the resolution takes a huge hit when scanned at 2K and then, for film prints, is still subject to all those resolution-robbing duplication steps while the digital cinema gets the full 2K resolution without them. It stacks the deck against film! The proper comparison would be a full film finish.

I do believe digital has a reduced color gamut but within that it's certainly going to be easier to get the precise color you want. Normal theatre maintenance never included measuring color balance of the light off the screen we must concede that so long as someone properly shot the color when the projector was installed (and it's checked periodically) digital is ahead of film on that.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

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From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-17-2013 11:56 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What Steve said.

Also, there is not one specific way to produce a DCP. A DCP produced from a DI (scanned from the camera negative) will beat out a DCP produced from an IP. This is why the director who prefers the DI approach will probably be happier with his DCP (vs. 35mm prints) than the director who takes a photochemical approach.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10621
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 12-17-2013 12:34 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The DI work-flow is at the root of why I thought it was a waste of time searching out 35mm film-based shows. If a DI is involved then the viewer might as well watch the finished digital file via digital projection.

35mm film projection is only worth pursuing if the film involved was created via old school film in-film out techniques. The only way digital could possibly make it worth it is if the DI was produced at a much higher resolution than what is available through digital projection, such as a 6K or 8K DI. Such things are extremely rare.

Another variable to consider with DCPs: they're not encoded the same way. It's obvious some movies are using far more severe levels of lossy data compression in their DCPs versus that of other movies. One 2 hour movie's 2K DCP can be over 200GB while another 2 hour 2K DCP can be only 50GB. Another difference could be in color depth. A movie with 12-bit color will require 50% more storage capacity and bandwidth than one with 8-bit color.

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Terry Lynn-Stevens
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1081
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Dec 2012


 - posted 12-17-2013 02:54 PM      Profile for Terry Lynn-Stevens   Email Terry Lynn-Stevens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Lincoln Spector

The cinematographer on Alamo Bay said that with the DCP, the film finally had the look he wanted, with a level of shadow detail he couldn't get in film prints. And Steven Soderbergh has said that when he finished making a film, he would watch the DCP and it looked great. Then he's watch the 35mm answer print and be disappointed.

Of course, I know of other filmmakers who say the opposite.

I think a lot of people get too caught up in the whole 2K-film out-answer print etc etc. The essay writing on DI's and film outs is a bit ridiculous and is over used. I also think folks pay too much emphasis on straight resolution as well.

Yes, scanning 4K is much better than a 2K scan, my 4K restoration of some of the James Bond movies look pretty good on blu-ray and much better than some of the new blu-ray releases. So the original scanning of 4K helps it.

From everything I have seen, digital projectors are very limited in color reproduction compared to 35mm analog. There is just something different about what a digital projector can reproduce and what a 35mm projector can show. I am fortunate enough to be able to see both 2K and 35mm back to back, and from my eyes the 35mm wins every single time.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6787
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 12-18-2013 07:26 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This thread vindicates exactly what John Pytlak predicted in the early '00s on this board, when digital theatre projection was only just taking baby steps, and for most of us was still science fiction: there'll be "digital done right/wrong", just as there is with film. With film, the technical variables that affect the viewing experience are:

1. The quality of the cinematography and post-production in the first place
2. The photographic and audio quality of the print.
3. Architectural features of the theatre itself
4. The quality of the projection and sound gear in the theatre
5. The competence and skill with which that gear is operated and maintained.
6. The competence and skill with which the print has been handled from new, until and including its projection in the presentation you saw.

Replace "print" with "DCP" in 2 and delete 6, and digital is the same deal. The only thing that has really changed is the economics.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10621
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 12-18-2013 12:49 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Terry Lynn-Stevens
I think a lot of people get too caught up in the whole 2K-film out-answer print etc etc. The essay writing on DI's and film outs is a bit ridiculous and is over used. I also think folks pay too much emphasis on straight resolution as well.
There is no substitute for high native resolution. Something natively produced in 4K resolution is going to look better than something produced in 2K and merely upscaled to 4K. If resolution wasn't important we would still be watching anamorphic DVDs upscaled on our HDTV sets.

It should be said there are many variables in production, post production and exhibition that can rob image detail. The choice of cameras, lenses, lighting, camera settings and settings on the captured data all have an effect on resolution. The way that captured video data is manipulated in post production will affect detail, particularly if any steps (or additinal steps) of lossy compression are being applied. The way the DCP is encoded will have an effect. JPEG2000 is a lossy compression format and it's obvious no two studios are using it the same way. Finally there's the movie theater itself. The way the theater and booth is designed can greatly affect how the projector and screen line up with each other. Keystone correction can affect image quality. How good is the projector? How good is the lens on the projector?

No one has to worry about a brain wrap with digital, but there's still plenty of ways for digital to be done wrong or at least not as good as it should be.

quote: Terry Lynn-Stevens
I am fortunate enough to be able to see both 2K and 35mm back to back, and from my eyes the 35mm wins every single time.
If the 35mm print and DCP are sourced from the same 2K master there is no way for the 35mm film print to "win," provided if the setups for film projection and digital projection are properly configured and working optimally. If digital is losing in that scenario then something is wrong with the digital setup. Film projection has an advantage of showing deeper black levels than current digital projection standards. However that advantage is offset by generational loss in going from a 2K digital source and between at least 1 or 2 film duplication steps before the release print is produced.

In a pure film-in/film-out production & post-production process it's possible for 35mm to beat 2K quite handily in terms of resolution, color depth and black levels. But it requires the practice of film done right at every step of the production, post-production and exhibition process in order to win the contest.

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Lincoln Spector
Film Handler

Posts: 44
From: Albany, CA, USA
Registered: Mar 2012


 - posted 12-18-2013 03:35 PM      Profile for Lincoln Spector   Author's Homepage   Email Lincoln Spector   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've often said that with digital, a bad projectionist ruins the show. But with film, he or she also ruins the print.

OTOH, with digital, a bad transfer ruins every "print" for who knows how long.

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Terry Lynn-Stevens
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1081
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Dec 2012


 - posted 12-18-2013 09:07 PM      Profile for Terry Lynn-Stevens   Email Terry Lynn-Stevens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
This thread vindicates exactly what John Pytlak predicted in the early '00s on this board, when digital theatre projection was only just taking baby steps, and for most of us was still science fiction: there'll be "digital done right/wrong", just as there is with film. With film, the technical variables that affect the viewing experience are:
I think with digital projection, it is easier to cut corners and make lousy presentations. Factoring out the operator, my big problem is the older equipment vs the newer equipment and it looks to me like it is easier to put the wrong type of projector in the wrong type of theatre. Most 35mm theatres that were set up well trump a lot of digital projection set ups that I have seen. Getting close to the screen on any of 2008-2010 installations in my area leave a lot to be desired. 3D auditoriums are way too dim and way too under-lit. The only digital projection I am big fan of is the IMAX projections as there seems to be an overall consistency with them. It does not beat 15/70 but that is a whole different argument.

Catching Fire was pretty good in digital IMAX, I was stunned to see how good some of the images were in some scenes and then in other scenes the images did not look as good. The 1.9 sequences were nothing special.

When it comes to consistency, yes digital projection is good, but the poor guy at my Cineplex today could not get Anchorman 2 started for the first show, that probably would never of happened with 35mm. They lost the show.

quote: Lincoln Spector
with digital, a bad transfer ruins every "print" for who knows how long.
From what I have seen in a lot of A, B comparisons is that lower res and dark images in movie scenes project better in 35mm than 2K digital. The 35mm prints of Skyfall, Intouchables (French Movie), and The Master looked very good in 35mm and were not bad in 2K DCP when they were moved over. The dark scene is where digital really struggled.

quote: Steve Kraus
I do believe digital has a reduced color gamut
The color gamut is reduced in digital, film is far wider, perhaps infinite.

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