Originally Posted by Rob Hahn
The old fashioned way _ I write 'em down! :-)
So I watch each film and look at the black level, white color, saturation, etc. I adjust each parameter until it looks right to my eyes, then I write down all the settings on a note app on my phone. That's it. How do I know what settings to use? I don't. It's just a taste thing. Being a cinematographer, I have my opinions about picture quality and adjust to my liking. I've done a lot of telecine myself so I know the leeway a DP uses when doing the transfer with a colorist. You sit there with the guy, and say "Hey this needs some contrast, but you know it's a little green, so let's just add some red, so we'll kill two birds..." You can even separate these settings based on the viweing room ambient light settings. This tweaks cataloguing system I tongue in cheek dubbed CINERAMAX INSIDE, because essentially it is like having me acting as the projectionist performing the above described adjustments in bespoke fashion.
Meaning that instead of just increasing the contrast, you learn that if you add red, the picture automatically gets a little contrastier. Also, when you add red, you find you may have to back off on the overall color saturation a bit... There are tons of tricks like this - the point being when you do a transfer you're constantly bending the rules. There's no 'right' way.
So I take artistic license when I adjust the settings on my pj. Of course, I have no idea what the DP intended when he did his transfer. Usually my reference settings work for many movies - I _always_ start with the calibrated reference settings. But if the image looks a little milky, or the white level is too hot, I'll fiddle with it until it feels right to me. It's actually a fair amount of work, but it's worth it...
I've seen many prints struck off the original negative and that's something you never forget. I remember specific films, the way they looked when they first came out, like 2001 or Close Encounters. Being a DP, I'm attuned to the way these films looked - not just the way they were shot (lit) but what the prints looked like. They're kind of seared into my eyes - I use those memories as my reference for settings on the pj. Probably not accurate, but I've never heard anyone complain about the way a movie looks on my screen. :-)
I was going to answer: One of 2 ways.
The old fashioned way( as explained by Rob).
Or by exploiting the Kaleidescape data mining functions.
You can create playlists to catalogue similarly benefitable by like-adjustments movies into groups. The system then tells the display how to display the preset according to these tweaked settings. Is it as good as the overkil approach above? I find it so 98% of the time.
But the ease of use factor is night and day. You should need no more than 6-8 presets to cover most libraries.
With all respect to Rob being a DP, and all the considerations and study that goes into it, everyone that sees my settings is always very impressed how I can make a movie look better than in every other presentations they have experienced. Mine is the photorealistic approach and quite frankly to me is the correct immersive approach. I even change the aspect ratio just to be more immersive 2.0. Like Vitorio storaro recommends.
In my systems all of this process is automated with Kaleidescape and Crestron and it has been honed in on several multimillion dollar top flight systems over a decade. But how about the Content Cretors intentions? Everytime I have had an a list actor, producer, director sample one of my moon of Saturn presentations they always comment they have never seen such image and sound quality even in Hollywood. I even have a letter from Brian Grazer complementing one of my systems performance.
So it works. During the NAB future of cinema conference I pretty much told the content creators that they need to start making creative decisions not based on the least commion denominator (cinemas) that they should be optimizing the masters for the very best presentation in Dolby Cinema theaters and other high end 6p laser systems, whcih of course translate nearly into a perfec master for large screen OLED's.
Bad Robot's Ben Rosenblatt took a liking to my comments and after a show of hands admonished 200plus movie theater execs that they needed to start exhibiting my level of passion for the presentation so that he could sleep better at night knowing that his films be shown in their best light.
SO YOU DON'T have to take the way a movie looks or sounds sitting down, if it is not exploiting the limits of our high end systems, the creative community LOVES TO HEAR FROM US and take into serious consideration for their next projects. With high end home cienmas becoming so sophisticated, this feedback loop on quality exhibition best practices is an essential comunication line through SMPTE symposiums to keep the content getting better and better. At least technically.
So I am thrilled that Rob is relying on his golden eyes to conduct artistic licensed improvements, as i said IT IS THE ONLY WAY.
For those that sit through a movie relying on a coldly calibrated display device a la ISF settings untouched, I like Rob, pity the fool.