Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Event Horizon

I went to Edinburgh recently and watched many HD shorts and around 10 HD features. It's clear that either the DP's aren't in on the grade - or they're all meatheads - which of course many of them aren't. Given that the understanding of many DP's is shoot straight and sort it out in post, tomorrows brave new world producers will go straight to DVD and make a fast buck (HD DVD of course) and exclude the DP. Ok so projection won't be the main issue - but being in on the grade will.

The other thing that's been nagging at me is the debate on HD projectors and suddenly I caught site of this being a completely misleading argument. The implication when getting in to the argument is that we project because we always have and so why shouldn't we now ? But of course that's Victorian thinking. Projectors will go in the long run for certain applications. HD projectors are real expensive and will be even when mass produced - so why not invest in a wall of light given that one of the flat screen technologies will sooner or later be able to give the tonal range of the eye on a bright summer's day, with more range than the eye can distinguish at night, with as many colours as the eye can distinguish too. And of course with a light - you can switch it off and black will be black instead of dark grey as it is now.

Cameras will of course follow suit until they can reproduce an acceptable tonal and colour range, and storage will improve until we get away from compression issues.

Then - what will happen to the architecture of exhibition ? Same old issue - the Victorians set the trend and we simply refine what they invented - but how will we watch Ultra Ultra UHDV ?

But how will we watch Ultra Ultra UHDV ?

On the underside of low lying cloud looking out of our windows (big big projection)? Or inside a headset specifically geared to our own particular retinal patters - there's a kind of isolation in both futures.

UHDV - does anyone know what's happening there ? Or HD DVD is anyone across that ? I've got a 4 camera HD DVD to do at the end of the year in CANDLELIGHT !!!!! Real candlelight with no additional lights. Has anyone shot for the incoming platform or been thinking about what it might mean to shooting for it ?

So what's left? Cinematography/Photography. And what I'm seeing going on is that the artists amongst us always have an extended palette in that their innovatory tendencies achieve results that many others eventually follow. For me Conrad Hall pioneered low light scenes with extreme overexpose in some part of the frame to make the audience feel the affect of bright sunlight.

The art here was taking the limitations of the technology and using it to maximum emotional and story effect. So right now, lots of DP's can achieve the semblance of great lighting - I'm seeing examples of it all over the place - but somehow it just feels like pushing a button on the graders desk (no insult meant to graders here, because when a grader is good, he or she is an artist - period). In other words there are tricks we can all pull to get the wow factor going in the audiences head, except overuse is dulling the palette. This whole e-mail may be the product of doing too much HD lately - now I really really want to shoot film for the next drama.

I have no answers, only questions. I enjoy the technical rap that goes on in this strand - not so keen on the bust ups - but I was just wondering if anyone’s imagination was getting fired up when trying to peer over the edge of the event horizon?

Terry Flaxton

>Given that the understanding of many DP's is shoot straight and sort it >out in post....

I think you're misinterpreting that method. "Shoot straight" simply means that in camera adjustments should be kept to a minimum, and that any specific look creation should be done in post. This is exactly the same thing, in concept, to film shooting, in which the stock's characteristics are known. In film, you control the image primarily by lighting and exposure, although filtration obviously enters into the equation. Specific pre and production processes such as in camera flashing are sometimes done, but not often. In general, "look creation" such as bleach bypass, push and pull processing, cross processing, and other methods are all post processes.

The idea is that extreme looks created by such processes are not always desirable in the context of the finished, edited piece, and while they might be used, it is not always good practice to get locked into them - particularly in light of the fact that the more extreme the look, the less latitude one has to change it if necessary, either because of second thoughts or continuity issues. "Shooting straight" has nothing to do with creative composition, set design, and lighting. It simply is referring to using the electronic camera without applying non-standard biasing during production, in order to capture the most information in the most useful way. It doesn't mean flat lighting, and it doesn't mean middle of the road exposure - unless, of course, one wants to do just that.

Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles

Terry Flaxton writes :

>The other thing that's been nagging at me is the debate on HD >projectors and suddenly I caught site of this being a completely >misleading argument.

I don't agree that tradition is the argument. I project because it's extremely worthwhile to see the footage filling a similar field of view as the final presentation. Impression of shot size is the most obvious thing - too many movies look and are cut like TV shows from video dailies only. And even with a standard def source, you'll see stuff you'd never notice on a monitor.

I think it's well worth projecting HD even sub-HD on a motel-room wall, if that's all that's available. There are plenty of excellent, highly portable 1K DLP projectors under $2K.

Tim Sassoon
SFD Vfx & creative post.
(watching the A&E Fireball XL5 box set! In third grade I had the lunchbox, model, etc.)

Tim Sassoon writes :

>I don't agree that tradition is the argument. I project because it's >extremely worthwhile to see the footage filling a similar field of view as >the final presentation.

Yeah - 'course. My point Tim, was not whether it's worth seeing images large or small - of course, the larger the better in a sense, and I whole heartedly support the recognition that the cinema image is different from the tv image. In fact, High Def may increase the "creep" of TV thinking into cinema.

The point I was trying to make was given IBC is happening and everybody's out there being wowed by incremental increases in the technology, then the bigger picture is on the back burner. Maybe just maybe there'll be a 'cloth' developed that is made up of light emitters of some kind so that projection becomes unnecessary for some applications - grey projection is grey and black is black and I'm always after black...

Tradition sits astride much innovation.


Terry Flaxton

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