13 votes

Film: the reason some of the past was in HD

21 comments

  1. [11]
    dblohm7
    Link
    Film has been an unfortunate casualty of HD hype, unfortunately. Most people do not have an inkling of just how high the resolution of a digital display needs to be to reach parity with 35mm film....

    Film has been an unfortunate casualty of HD hype, unfortunately.

    Most people do not have an inkling of just how high the resolution of a digital display needs to be to reach parity with 35mm film. They've been sold the benefits of moving from low-res analog to high-def digital via the transition that happened with home video, and applied that to film.

    Both film and digital each have their own advantages, but thanks to the marketing of consumer electronics, that seems to be lost on the general public.

    6 votes
    1. babypuncher
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      4k seems to reach about parity. I don't think filmmakers have been fooled into thinking digital cinema magically offers more visual clarity than good old fashioned celluloid (although some modern...

      Most people do not have an inkling of just how high the resolution of a digital display needs to be to reach parity with 35mm film.

      4k seems to reach about parity.

      They've been sold the benefits of moving from low-res analog to high-def digital via the transition that happened with home video, and applied that to film.

      I don't think filmmakers have been fooled into thinking digital cinema magically offers more visual clarity than good old fashioned celluloid (although some modern high end digital cameras arguably do provide more resolving power than 35mm). What really happened was digital production got cheap and easier, and offered other benefits over film. Many of the benefits of shooting on 35mm disappear completely once it has been scanned into a digital intermediate anyways.

      Shooting a scene, and having it available in the editing bay 15 minutes later rather than waiting on development and scanning can be a huge deal. Digital cameras are also significantly easier to shoot with, as they are smaller, lighter, and don't require bulky moving parts.

      35mm was never a practical option for the consumer market to begin with. A print of a single 2 hour movie would cost upwards of a thousand dollars, not to mention cost of the projection equipment, and the space needed to use it.

      8 votes
    2. pseudolobster
      Link Parent
      I always wonder how Star Wars Attack of the Clones will look in 20 years. It was one of the first big, arguably culturally significant movies that was limited to 1080p. There's a good documentary...

      I always wonder how Star Wars Attack of the Clones will look in 20 years. It was one of the first big, arguably culturally significant movies that was limited to 1080p.

      There's a good documentary about the movie industry's transition to digital called Side By Side. It's produced and hosted by Keanu Reeves, and he interviews over a dozen of Hollywood's biggest directors about how they've had to change their whole process in the switch to digital.

      6 votes
    3. Akir
      Link Parent
      Sure, film still has some advantages, but digital offers so many advantages to production (especially with modern blockbusters where everything is a special effects CGI shot) that it easily...

      Sure, film still has some advantages, but digital offers so many advantages to production (especially with modern blockbusters where everything is a special effects CGI shot) that it easily outweighs the benefits of film. Keep in mind that virtually all actual deliverables for the final film will be digital anyways, and the home markets are still generally limited to 1080p.

      5 votes
    4. [5]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      With photography, at least, there is a bit of a hipstery resurgence of film cameras the same way vinyl made a comeback with music enthusiasts and watch people still love their mechanical...

      With photography, at least, there is a bit of a hipstery resurgence of film cameras the same way vinyl made a comeback with music enthusiasts and watch people still love their mechanical movements. I think we’re at a point where specific forms of “old school” tech is a way for people who really love a specific hobby to feel something. Maybe it’s a sense of connectedness to the mechanics or physicality of what they’re doing or a connectedness to tradition around it.

      4 votes
      1. [4]
        pseudolobster
        Link Parent
        Christopher Nolan still loves shooting on film, and IMHO it's worth it. The IMAX scenes in Interstellar really stand out. This isn't a hipster thing, it's a quality thing, and an archival thing...

        Christopher Nolan still loves shooting on film, and IMHO it's worth it. The IMAX scenes in Interstellar really stand out.

        This isn't a hipster thing, it's a quality thing, and an archival thing for if and when we have higher resolution displays available. Here's a stunning comparison between a 1080p frame of Interstellar vs an 8K scan of the same frame. It's worth pointing out that 8K frame is severely compressed by imgur, and it could probably even be scanned at a higher resolution than that and still get even more detail.

        6 votes
        1. [3]
          babypuncher
          Link Parent
          Interstellar is unique. The IMAX scenes were shot on enormous 65mm film which has many, many times the resolving power of 35mm. The cameras necessary to shoot 65mm are enormous, noisy, and...

          Interstellar is unique. The IMAX scenes were shot on enormous 65mm film which has many, many times the resolving power of 35mm. The cameras necessary to shoot 65mm are enormous, noisy, and inherently limiting on what kind of lenses you can use. Not to mention the monstrous cost of both the film and the equipment.

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            pseudolobster
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Unusual, yes. Unique? No. The Hateful Eight was filmed entirely in 70mm Panavision a year after Interstellar. There are actually quite a few movies that have had shots filmed on 65/70mm film since...

            Unusual, yes. Unique? No. The Hateful Eight was filmed entirely in 70mm Panavision a year after Interstellar.

            There are actually quite a few movies that have had shots filmed on 65/70mm film since Interstellar. Here's a list from wikipedia:

            • Jurassic World (2015) - selected scenes
            • Dunkirk (2017) - Panavision System 65 (non-IMAX scenes)
            • Murder on the Orient Express (2017) - Panavision System 65 (Arri Alexa 65 also used)[9]
            • The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018) - Panavision System 65[9]
            • The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (2018) - selected scenes[9]
            • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) - Panavision System 65[9]

            Going back a few years before that and ignoring Nolan films, you've got Gravity and Snow White & the Huntsman.

            Then if you look at hollywood films shot partially in IMAX 70MM over the past decade, not including Nolan films, you've got:

            • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
            • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
            • Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
            • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
            • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
            • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
            • Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
            • First Man (2018)
            • No Time to Die (2020)
            • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
            • Tenet (2020)

            The last three haven't even been released yet.

            I think it's fair to say not only is 65/70mm film, with its giant noisy cameras not dead, but it still has somewhat widespread use for certain types of scenes.

            Point being, even in 2019, directors still semi-frequently use 1950's technology in a non-hipster way. They do so genuinely trying to the the best picture, and aren't doing so for a snapchat filter type effect.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_70_mm_films
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_IMAX_films#Films_shot_partially_with_IMAX_70mm_cameras

            3 votes
            1. babypuncher
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              Ultra Panavision 70 is not the same format as IMAX 70mm. The latter has three times as much surface area because a single cell spans 15 perforations instead of 5. Most films shot on actual IMAX...

              Ultra Panavision 70 is not the same format as IMAX 70mm. The latter has three times as much surface area because a single cell spans 15 perforations instead of 5. Most films shot on actual IMAX cameras only shoot some scenes on the format, because of the aforementioned difficulties. The relative rarity of the format makes it unique.

              Here is a comparison of several different film cell sizes, including three different "70mm" formats. I also never said that such formats are dead, simply that they are not common. The list of movies shot on these formats in the last 10 years is a tiny fraction of the total output of the industry.

              I guess my point is that "archival purposes" isn't a good reason to shoot on large format film. These are just another tool in the filmmakers toolkit, not the end-all-be-all of shooting formats.

              2 votes
    5. [2]
      vivaria
      Link Parent
      For anyone curious about what this is, I found this link: https://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/film-resolution.htm It's... complicated! Lots of variables in the process from light to lens to film to...

      Most people do not have an inkling of just how high the resolution of a digital display needs to be to reach parity with 35mm film.

      For anyone curious about what this is, I found this link: https://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/film-resolution.htm It's... complicated! Lots of variables in the process from light to lens to film to scanner to digitized image.

      [...] you'd need a digital camera of about 87 x 2 = 175 MP to see every last detail that makes onto film. That's just 35mm film. Pros don't shoot 35mm, they usually shoot 2-1/4" or 4x5."

      The gotchas with any of these systems is that:

      1.) It takes one heck of a lens to be able to resolve this well.

      2.) It takes even more of a photographer to be able to get that much detail on the film, and

      3.) If you want to scan the film and retain this detail, you need one hack of a scanner (320 lpmm = 8,000 DPI).

      This is why every time higher-resolution film scanners came out back before amateurs could afford DSLRs, we saw more details where we though we wouldn't see any. Consumer 35mm scanners hit 5,400 DPI (Minolta) before the amateurs went to DSLRs [...] 5,400 DPI is equal to 212 pixels per mm, or 0.045MP/mm^2. Thus a 35mm slide, scanned on that Minolta 5400 scanner, yielded 39MP images

      8K displays (33MP) wouldn't even be able to display these 39MP images, let alone display the theoretical upper limits. But, then you get into display size and our perception of pixel density and etc. and what's important gets fuzzy.

      2 votes
      1. babypuncher
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        The methodologies for determining the digital "resolution" equivalent of 35mm are pretty widely debated. This guy created his own metric (Apparent Image Quality) and worked out values for a...

        The methodologies for determining the digital "resolution" equivalent of 35mm are pretty widely debated. This guy created his own metric (Apparent Image Quality) and worked out values for a variety of digital cameras and film stocks. His results seem to suggest 35mm can range from 7mp to 16mp in terms of resolving power, but things get funkier when other aspects of image quality get factored in to the final AIQ. Granted, he did only look at two 35mm stocks from a single manufacturer.

        There's a certain point, when digitally scanning film at such high resolutions, that you are just capturing additional details of the silver halide granules themselves rather than the light data they are representing. I think we are well past that point by the time we get to 8K. To say that a digital camera needs to exceed 8K in order to match the resolving power of 35mm seems a bit absurd to me, based on my subjective experience.

        A test I might propose would be something like the eye test your optometrist gives you. I would photograph a sign showing progressively smaller print on it with various 35mm film stocks and some digital cameras, and see where the print becomes indecipherable on each sample.

        4 votes
  2. [7]
    JXM
    Link
    Technology Connections is probably my favorite YouTube channel. He’s so good at breaking down extremely complex concepts into easy to understand explanations. Plus, his sense of humor is right up...

    Technology Connections is probably my favorite YouTube channel. He’s so good at breaking down extremely complex concepts into easy to understand explanations. Plus, his sense of humor is right up my alley.

    I work in video production and we have a large archive of VHS tapes, BetaCam cassettes, DVDs and digital files. It’s always fun to see how those formats worked on a technical level and how much we’ve advanced video technology in the last 50 years.

    5 votes
    1. [5]
      mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      BetaCam was successful in the professional market. I wish the video talked about that. The history of BetaCam (and other pro/semi-pro formats) could be a great video in itself. I commented about...

      BetaCam was successful in the professional market. I wish the video talked about that. The history of BetaCam (and other pro/semi-pro formats) could be a great video in itself. I commented about that in the video, hopefully he'll make it!

      4 votes
      1. [4]
        JXM
        Link Parent
        Betacam was so successful that it’s only in the last decade that local television stations have moved away from the format for sending, receiving and archiving spots.

        Betacam was so successful that it’s only in the last decade that local television stations have moved away from the format for sending, receiving and archiving spots.

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          Akir
          Link Parent
          Betacam was really more of a brand name. It covered about a half dozen formats.

          Betacam was really more of a brand name. It covered about a half dozen formats.

          1 vote
          1. JXM
            Link Parent
            We’ve got a smattering of all of them. Our earliest digital archives are on BetaCam tapes.

            We’ve got a smattering of all of them. Our earliest digital archives are on BetaCam tapes.

          2. mrbig
            Link Parent
            If that is true, a history of these licensing deals would also be interesting!

            If that is true, a history of these licensing deals would also be interesting!

  3. [2]
    Adys
    Link
    I started watching Technology Connections after discovering it the other day on Reddit. What a fucking outstanding channel. The videos on CDs, DVDs and VHS are some of my favourites. I'm not done...

    I started watching Technology Connections after discovering it the other day on Reddit. What a fucking outstanding channel. The videos on CDs, DVDs and VHS are some of my favourites. I'm not done binging yet.

    2 votes
    1. ainar-g
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      While you're binging, I seriously recommend his LaserDisc series (no, it's not about DVD or CD-Video) as well as his ongoing CED series. Pre-CD video-disc formats are fascinating. EDIT 2020-01-02:...

      While you're binging, I seriously recommend his LaserDisc series (no, it's not about DVD or CD-Video) as well as his ongoing CED series. Pre-CD video-disc formats are fascinating.

      EDIT 2020-01-02: Fixed the CED playlist link.

      1 vote
  4. mrbig
    Link
    Wow, what a great channel. Thank you for that.

    Wow, what a great channel. Thank you for that.

    1 vote