Originally Posted by Thunderbolt8
then all discussion with the direction like "looks more natural to me" from people here or in reviews are obsolete as well.
The sleeper has awakened! Unlike most reviewers and critics. Yes Thunderbolt, 9 times out of 10 films are so colour-graded that any detached comment on 'accurate skin tones' or 'reduced tonal range' or even 'very cg-looking' and definitely 'too soft' or 'too grainy', 'too green' etc are completely redundant. They're also literal and technically-minded criticism on choices made for aesthetic and emotional-logic reasons. Apples and oranges.
The only way these have ANY meaning is if the comparison is made with the original theatrical presentation - and where picture sharpness/softness is involved then with a great print at a reputable theatre or say an answer print rather than the usual deplorable on-one-reel out-of-focus-fest at the multiplex. Or input by the original creative team.
The thing is everybody expects that technically films will look sharper and more grain-free and more 'natural' than ever in these hi-tech days. When actually the reverse
is sort of true - digital technology has freed creative people up to be MUCH more daring with colour palettes than ever was possible with simple optical lab techniques. Directors are putting a past side-effect of film - grain - to creative use and utilise grain now for a patina and texture that has an emotional point and furthers the narrative and tone. Sure film is getting less 'realistic' but many (even on this forum) don't actually notice how visually stylised the thing is because the TONE of the scene is working on them. Less realistic, but more effective
. How many noticed the extreme cross-processed look rife in the nineties and still in use in a more green-tinged fluoro-lit way by genre directors and especially Michael Bay today? Not many of you. Transformers sure as hell doesn't have a single shot where the skin-tones haven't been beefed up like an early 80s sunbaked Penthouse photo. And ironically the reason the effects look so great in that film isn't actually technically-based at all but to do with lighting and colour characteristics!
And 'reality' seems to be pretty subjective. Effects shots are often done 'flat' and THEN graded to match (with a digital process too) so it's getting a bit fuzzy when people criticise 'unrealistic skin tones' when the live actors' faces are completely colour-graded to a purplish-blue. The funny thing to me is that 9 times out of 10 when people criticise an effect for 'not looking real' they're actually talking about movement. And when I try to teach people to draw the biggest hurdle is getting through to them in making them draw what they actually
see instead of what they think
they see. Which is sort of the opposite but related to a lot of what I read here on the forums. People will make redundant arguments that go on for pages when if they thought about the original intent they'd arrive at a defensible conclusion so much quicker. This is one area where having a technical forum can fall short - don't get me wrong though, I'm so happy I discovered AVS!
One of the few times reviewers have noticed that directors have done this on purpose was with 300. Because they were being bashed in the face with the stylisation. But that was done in service to the look and feel of the comic's palette. Ironically they shot it on film and added the grain in after because that was the best technical solution to all the slo-mo needed. But they never would have got that literal grittiness and colour without grading it digitally.
The sharpness thing is also hilarious to me, as anyone with the slightest bit of film knowledge would know there's been intentional softness and 'uneven sharpness exhibited throughout the film' for oh, about a hundred years now. Every single time there's a shot of a woman, in fact. Vaseline, soft focus, a stocking over the lens, more front-based lighting, and on and on. I'm not just talking b&w and noir, either. Bay may not do that per se, but the amount of bounce light he throws into the actress' eyes and multiple shadows to play up eyelashes and so on is ostensibly the same thing.
It's weird to come on here and see so many intelligent people saying things about 'disappointing' BDs like Chunking Express. And not a single critical person asking themselves WHY it looks that way. Is it a horror movie? A gritty drama? Or romantic, with maybe a hazy reverie feel? Could it possibly be that it was SHOT that way? On PURPOSE? I say weird because without knowing it these intelligent people are ostensibly wanting the same HD video-ESPN-broadcast looking picture as all the idiots in the Best-buy who bitch about film grain and get excited about 200hz rather than 24fps playback and never ask themselves if the latest film-based drama SHOULD look like that. And yes, there's the problem that especially with older movies we may not be able to find out the original intention. Hell, even if we have Gordon Willis who worked in such a way that an accurate restoration IS possible, there are STILL people that cry foul! The strange thing is that in all these cases everyeno is missing the big picture (literally and figuratively speaking) because they're looking at the BD or DVD or HDTV with a magnifying glass rather than stepping back and thinking "wait, we've forgotten that the picture or sound is translated from a DIFFERENT source, so maybe our laser-like gaze should focus on that so we know what the end product SHOULD look like"! Keep in mind this isn't ignoring absolutely quantifiable factors like macroblocking and fringing etc that definitely are to do with the final media/transfer. Which is one of the greatest services of these forums and the big reason I come here. So don't misunderstand, I love you guys for that! But the things I'm talking about here seem to get all mixed up with that, which is why I made the initial crack.
Just in case people may jump to the wrongheaded conclusion that I'm making excuses, I'll make it even clearer. The promise of HDTV and HD media such as Blu-ray is that now we can have the most ACCURATE version of the original presentation ever. Not sharper, cleaner, dirtier or softer. ACCURATE. And if C Express was originally meant to be that way (and by extension, even Wall-E with it's soft lenses & narrow D.O.F.), then that's the way it SHOULD be, whether we can measure it on our meters or not.
Cheers Thunderbolt, and cheers everyone. Hope you all took this in the good-natured way in which it was intended, if you made it this far.
P.S. My good humour doesn't extend to Neanderthals who write off all foreign cinema and anything in B&W or with a subtitle though. I'm not sure if that's jingoism about America's 'right' and 'ownership' of film (animation is even worse), or just plain moronic myopia...