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Director of Photography vs Picture Quality

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
High Definition format brings such a clear / highly detailed picture that it's becomes easy to mistake a conscious / non conscious decision made by a Director of Photography to use a certain lighting has bad picture quality transfert.

Take Sky Captain has an exemple. The movie has over-saturated white contrast to create a softer image. Some might say the image is not has sharp has other transfert but this is what a intentional visual effect. Other movie like UltraViolet is using high contrast of certain color to create a similar soften image.

I think we should judge Picture Quality transfert base on a numerous of point but we also have to take in mind the Director of Photography intention.
post #2 of 43
Sky Captain is an easy case, because it's so obviously an artistic choice to make the movie look like a moving Hurrell photo. Tougher cases are things like We Were Soldiers---the Dien Bien Phu flashback is appreciably softer than the rest of the movie. Intentionally so? I guess, but it's hard to say for certain.
post #3 of 43
It has very little to do with the director of photography. Has more to do with the Director's vision and the color grader in post production.

Sure, the Director has his vision before anything is shot (most of the time it's done in pre-vis if that option is available) and many times the DoP is in the loop on the plan of post production (so blacks aren't crushed, etc.) But, when it comes to things like Sky Captin (which was all chroma key'd actors with visual effects) and UltraViolet, these "looks" are created in post AFTER the footage is shot.
post #4 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ckenisell View Post

It has very little to do with the director of photography. Has more to do with the Director's vision and the color grader in post production.

Sure, the Director has his vision before anything is shot (most of the time it's done in pre-vis if that option is available) and many times the DoP is in the loop on the plan of post production (so blacks aren't crushed, etc.) But, when it comes to things like Sky Captin (which was all chroma key'd actors with visual effects) and UltraViolet, these "looks" are created in post AFTER the footage is shot.

WoW, I wouldn't go posting something like this any place where DOP hang out.. To place the skills required to get the "director's vision" on film down to the level of the "camera guy" is insulting to every DOP out there.

b2b
post #5 of 43
I predict that DOP's will start showing less "artistic intent" and start making more movies that compress and sell well on electronic media.

- Tom

Hint: Electronic softening, strange lighting, and coloring can give the same looks of unreality but still compress much better than excess grain.
post #6 of 43
Someone should have sent that memo to Michael Mann before he shot Miami Vice. I've never seen so much grain on-screen since Collateral. His discs are going to give the compression artists a run for their money!
post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Innerloop View Post

Someone should have sent that memo to Michael Mann before he shot Miami Vice. I've never seen so much grain on-screen since Collateral. His discs are going to give the compression artists a run for their money!


I thought Collateral looked pretty darn good on SD DVD.
post #8 of 43
You can see this kind of thing in a lot of the reviews so far. There is talk about uneven transfers where so many of the scenes look great but certain ones don't and they can't tell if it's intentional or not but chalk it up to bad authoring, the format or anything else other than intent. Similar to the early days of DVD, we're again in a situation where the armchair directors are talking about the quality of things who odds are haven't seen the film theatrically and maybe only on DVD.

And no, the irony is not lost on me, as I review myself though I do err on the side of directors intent more often than it being an authoring issue based on what I know of the folks who work on these shows. But take things like films that are supposed to be grainy, or that you get people wanting to do HD reviews who've never been exposed to HD before their Toshiba player came in, or someone whose only exposure has been HD video and not film. A lot of stuff just isn't going to look right or as expected.
post #9 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Innerloop View Post

Someone should have sent that memo to Michael Mann before he shot Miami Vice. I've never seen so much grain on-screen since Collateral. His discs are going to give the compression artists a run for their money!

If there is grain in Miami Vice, it was added in post, because Miami Vice was shot on HD.
post #10 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Beveridge View Post

You can see this kind of thing in a lot of the reviews so far. There is talk about uneven transfers where so many of the scenes look great but certain ones don't and they can't tell if it's intentional or not but chalk it up to bad authoring, the format or anything else other than intent. Similar to the early days of DVD, we're again in a situation where the armchair directors are talking about the quality of things who odds are haven't seen the film theatrically and maybe only on DVD.

And no, the irony is not lost on me, as I review myself though I do err on the side of directors intent more often than it being an authoring issue based on what I know of the folks who work on these shows. But take things like films that are supposed to be grainy, or that you get people wanting to do HD reviews who've never been exposed to HD before their Toshiba player came in, or someone whose only exposure has been HD video and not film. A lot of stuff just isn't going to look right or as expected.

I think we are all going to be in for some big shocks to find with HD discs we will discover which studios have the highest commitment to film preservation, rather than what codecs are used and on what format.

b2b
post #11 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by suprmallet View Post

If there is grain in Miami Vice, it was added in post, because Miami Vice was shot on HD.

Nonsense. Digital cameras have noise too. It's not film grain per se, but you can certainly characterize it as "grainy" noise. It's certainly there on many shots in collateral.
post #12 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post

Nonsense. Digital cameras have noise too. It's not film grain per se, but you can certainly characterize it as "grainy" noise. It's certainly there on many shots in collateral.

Are you sure you are seeing noise from the digital source in Collateral and not some type of artifact from the transfer? If so, how do you tell the difference?
post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Tomlin View Post

Are you sure you are seeing noise from the digital source in Collateral and not some type of artifact from the transfer? If so, how do you tell the difference?

Google for it and you can find an article on one of the film sites about how Mann kept beating-up on the DoP until he came up with he wanted. And it was a "grainy" look coming out of the digital cameras they used. They even developed some new light sources using flat plastic sheets to give the weird greenish glow for some of the car interior shots.

b2b
post #14 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Tomlin View Post

Are you sure you are seeing noise from the digital source in Collateral and not some type of artifact from the transfer? If so, how do you tell the difference?

It's a good question. I don't know for absolute sure that all of the noise in the film is necessarily from the camera itself. However my main point here was to refute the claim that digital cameras are inherently "grain-free" in the sense that there is no noise which might be characterized as "grainy noise". There is a great deal of noise in low-level lighting that a digital camera will capture. Based on basic inference that much of the noise seen in something like Collateral is in those low-level shots, its not a far stretch to attribute that to the capture device. In addition we have statements by the DP and such about just that grainy noise that is present.

I'm not here to tell anyone that the noise in Collateral is for sure from the video camera, but certainly video cameras are not immune from noise. I think an intelligent and fairly educated assumption would be that much of those night shots with noise in Collateral is very naturally from the camera. We've all seen dozens of night-time shots from television cameras that exhibit similar noise, so it's not something totally new or out of the blue, either. This being said, I have no comments at all about grain or noise in Miami Vice because while I'm itching to see it, it's not out yet where I am!
post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post

It's a good question. I don't know for absolute sure that all of the noise in the film is necessarily from the camera itself. However my main point here was to refute the claim that digital cameras are inherently "grain-free" in the sense that there is no noise which might be characterized as "grainy noise". There is a great deal of noise in low-level lighting that a digital camera will capture. Based on basic inference that much of the noise seen in something like Collateral is in those low-level shots, its not a far stretch to attribute that to the capture device. In addition we have statements by the DP and such about just that grainy noise that is present.

I'm not here to tell anyone that the noise in Collateral is for sure from the video camera, but certainly video cameras are not immune from noise. I think an intelligent and fairly educated assumption would be that much of those night shots with noise in Collateral is very naturally from the camera. We've all seen dozens of night-time shots from television cameras that exhibit similar noise, so it's not something totally new or out of the blue, either. This being said, I have no comments at all about grain or noise in Miami Vice because while I'm itching to see it, it's not out yet where I am!

You can read all about Collateral here.

http://www.theasc.com/magazine/aug04...ral/page1.html

b2b
post #16 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post

It's a good question. I don't know for absolute sure that all of the noise in the film is necessarily from the camera itself. However my main point here was to refute the claim that digital cameras are inherently "grain-free" in the sense that there is no noise which might be characterized as "grainy noise". There is a great deal of noise in low-level lighting that a digital camera will capture. Based on basic inference that much of the noise seen in something like Collateral is in those low-level shots, its not a far stretch to attribute that to the capture device. In addition we have statements by the DP and such about just that grainy noise that is present.

I'm not here to tell anyone that the noise in Collateral is for sure from the video camera, but certainly video cameras are not immune from noise. I think an intelligent and fairly educated assumption would be that much of those night shots with noise in Collateral is very naturally from the camera. We've all seen dozens of night-time shots from television cameras that exhibit similar noise, so it's not something totally new or out of the blue, either. This being said, I have no comments at all about grain or noise in Miami Vice because while I'm itching to see it, it's not out yet where I am!


No question about it, digital cameras have noise. In fact, this is probably the main area where comprehensive digital camera reviews concentrate most of their attention.

Whether the noise/grain in Collateral was intentional or not (and it looks like it was based on the article posted by b2b) I think it looks fantastic on DVD. I can only anticipate how great it will look in HD. Michael Mann has a look to his movies that I just love.
post #17 of 43
I definitely agree, I saw collateral twice in the theater, and the DVD is excellent. It's on the reference DVD list too. The only gripe I have is a very slight bit of edge enhancement, but it is very very minor and nobody has ever noticed it that I've read about anyway. It's significantly less than the EE on the Insider, which again besides the EE is an excellent transfer. I haven't seen collateral in HD, but I'm sure it looks excellent, at least that's what I hear.
post #18 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post

I'm not here to tell anyone that the noise in Collateral is for sure from the video camera, but certainly video cameras are not immune from noise. I think an intelligent and fairly educated assumption would be that much of those night shots with noise in Collateral is very naturally from the camera.

Agreed. I've seen many exterior news spots that were grainy/noisy from the lack of proper lighting (and/or camera settings).
post #19 of 43
I haven't noticed any edge enhancement on The Insider and i'm viewing on a 106 inch projection screen indeed Bjoern Rays excellent website stated it was one of those rare transfers which didn't have any edge enhancement....are you sure its not your equipment ? I have saw myself that if i turn the sharpness up on my projector it merely adds edge enhancement effects.....not saying i'm right and i would have to check again as it's been around about a year since i watched it so maybe it does but i can't recall ever seeing it.

I have a question for those with high definition players.....are film titles anamorphically enhanced like present dvd releases and if not what impact does this have on picture quality and does this mean we have to use the zoom feature on projectors ? If they are not anamorphically enhanced is there some plausible explanation for why they aren't ?

My other question is this....is it true that you will soon be able to get the full Dolby 5.1 Tru Hd sound from the 6 channel analog outputs as long as your receiver has 6 channel inputs with the announced firmware 2.0 release for September...because if so i consider that excellent if you are getting the full bandwidth and not some modified version of it and can receivers with 6 channel inputs handle the full Dolby Tru-HD spec ?
post #20 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by FoxyMulder View Post

...can receivers with 6 channel inputs handle the full Dolby Tru-HD spec ?

It wouldn't matter. It's analog at that point. Doesn't have anything to do with the True-HD spec.
post #21 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by FoxyMulder View Post

I have a question for those with high definition players.....are film titles anamorphically enhanced like present dvd releases and if not what impact does this have on picture quality and does this mean we have to use the zoom feature on projectors ? If they are not anamorphically enhanced is there some plausible explanation for why they aren't ?

High Definition is natively 16:9. There is no need for 16:9 enhancement as found on DVD with either HD DVD or Blu-ray.
post #22 of 43
Perhaps he was referring to the different ascpect ratios. 2.35:1, 1.85:1 etc.
post #23 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ckenisell View Post

Perhaps he was referring to the different ascpect ratios. 2.35:1, 1.85:1 etc.

Since he used the term "anamorphically enhanced", I would think not.

However, it is unfortunate how the term "anamorphic" has been confused regarding whether it applies to DVD authoring vs how a film was originally shot.
post #24 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by FoxyMulder View Post

I haven't noticed any edge enhancement on The Insider and i'm viewing on a 106 inch projection screen indeed Bjoern Rays excellent website stated it was one of those rare transfers which didn't have any edge enhancement....are you sure its not your equipment ? I have saw myself that if i turn the sharpness up on my projector it merely adds edge enhancement effects.....not saying i'm right and i would have to check again as it's been around about a year since i watched it so maybe it does but i can't recall ever seeing it.


Yes, I'm quite sure it's not my system. I'm using an HTPC out to a CRT projector, and there are no sharpening filters anywhere in the chain. Sharpness and resolution test patterns from Avia PRO are rendered with no ringing whatsoever.

You can see the EE probably the most egregiously (and it's hardly egregious at all as far as titles with EE go, it's actually quite minor) on the palm tree scene. There's a scene where Russell Crowe goes outside while I believe he's attempting to decide whether to go to court to testiy or not, and there's a daytime shot of a lawn and a palmtree in the middle as he looks out to the water, and the palmtree has some pretty obvious ringing on the boundary between it and the sky.

Still, the insider is an excellent transfer, high-bitrate, and besides I just really really love the film. As far as EE goes in titles, it's quite minimal, but it is there.

The ringing in Collateral is even less, and I'm not really sure if it is EE or not, but I posted a blown up screengrab from the ending sequence on the train I believe in the reference DVD thread. Due to the fact that it is SO minor in Collateral, I still voted for it as a reference DVD.
post #25 of 43
I remember seeing some at that scene you point out with the palm tree too so you are correct........and yes an excellent film.

My comments on the anamorphic enhancement on high definition dvd was misguided....I don't understand why they couldn't provide an 21:9 enhancement so the format would be future proof but i guess five or six years from now we will start to hear about the next high definition format ( which probably does everything this one should do but they pushed this one onto consumers a year too early )

So i guess the only way to get the best from Dolby Tru-HD is to wait for a second or even third generation player ?

Does anyone else think dts might now be finding itself pushed aside at least as far as HD DVD goes because although i was a fan of the format on regular DVD i just can't see the need to waste space on it when you have Dolby Tru-HD in the specs and being used and have any movies featured dts yet ?
post #26 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by FoxyMulder View Post

My comments on the anamorphic enhancement on high definition dvd was misguided....I don't understand why they couldn't provide an 21:9 enhancement so the format would be future proof but i guess five or six years from now we will start to hear about the next high definition format ( which probably does everything this one should do but they pushed this one onto consumers a year too early )

As a 2.35:1 Constant Height Projection user, I would have certainly appreciated some form of 20:9 or 21:9 enhancement, but the fact is that the studios' 1080p HD masters use square pixels without any form of anamorphic enhancement. What you get on HD DVD and Blu-ray is what's on the master. The studios would all have to start using new mastering processes for non-square pixels and remaster their entire title catalogs yet again. That just doesn't seem feasible.
post #27 of 43
Another popular misconception is that HD is inherently grain free and that
film is inherently grainy.

Nope.

Quote:
Originally Posted by suprmallet View Post

If there is grain in Miami Vice, it was added in post, because Miami Vice was shot on HD.

Nope.
HD is not noise free.
Noise in MIAMI VICE was from production HD cameras.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post

Nonsense. Digital cameras have noise too. It's not film grain per se, but you can certainly characterize it as "grainy" noise. It's certainly there on many shots in collateral.

Good point.
Digital noise / compression artifacts can look like film grain.
COLLATERAL has some digital noise shots . . . more so in MIAMI VICE.
PLUS, in addition to the noise there is a temporal shift that caused motion artifacts in some shots in both films to really look like video.

Most of the time what manifests itself as "film grain" on a movie transfer
is compression artifacts growing around the grain. This can come from
a bad film print and/or poor IE bit starved compression.
Quote:
Originally Posted by trbarry View Post

I predict that DOP's will start showing less "artistic intent" and start making more movies that compress and sell well on electronic media.

Spoken like a true computer person; you make "artistic intent" sound like a bad thing, Tom.

I certainly accept that any new medium, or component of any new medium,
wants to be acknowledged and accommodated . . . TO SOME DEGREE.

That said, the tail does not have the right to wag the dog.

As our good friend VC-1 compression guru "amirm" has said in the Industry Insiders Thread,

it is the job of the encoder to reproduce the source not to change the source.
If the encode isn't working you change and/or vary the encoder . . . you
don't change the source. . . . and you certainly don't accept the encoder changing the source.
Quote:
Originally Posted by trbarry View Post

Hint: Electronic softening, strange lighting, and coloring can give the same looks of unreality but still compress much better than excess grain.

In a word; no.

All those effects [ I assume you are referring to HD origination ] can be as difficult if not MORE difficult to encode than film grain.

I don't think that's the point.

The point is that any reasonably competent film or video cameraman can make
a clean image that is "easy to compress" . . . . altho I do think the term "EASY to
compress" is a bit of an oxymoron. Ask our friend compressionist "Cjplay"
also in the Industry Insiders Thread.

The trick is to make an artistic image that works on film AND on digital . . .
and it seems that the better directors and DOP's are doing just that.



Circling back to my lead sentence; the misconception that HD is grain free and
film is grainy.

Most of the time what manifests itself as "film grain" on a movie transfer
is compression artifacts growing around the grain. This can come from
a bad film print and/or poor IE bit starved compression.

CAPN's TIP for TELLING FILM GRAIN FROM DIGITAL NOISE / COMPRESSION ARTIFACTS

-- film grain is of uniform size and position within a given frame. It does MOVE
between frames but it is still the same size and position.

-- digital noise / compression artifacts can be of varying size and positional
density with in a given frame.

-- digital noise / compression artifacts can tend to "cluster and grow" around
different areas in the frame . . . and the "growth" can be of different sizes.

CAVEAT; like all tips there are exceptions.

This is all changing pretty quickly.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Tony Scott and Paul Cameron are doing with
Genesis HD on DEJA VU and what David Fincher is doing with UNCOMPRESSED Viper HD on ZODIAC. The little I've seen looks very impressive

NOTE; not to suggest that Michael Mann and Dion Bebee are not terrific
filmmakers . . . . MIAMI VICE was simply not to my particular taste. . . and it WAS noisy here and there.

Respectfully submitted,

CAPTAIN CELLULOID; DGA: IGC, IATSE
Film Guy Using Digital To Make Film
post #28 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by captaincelluloid View Post

Another popular misconception is that HD is inherently grain free and that
film is inherently grainy.

Nope.


Nope.
HD is not noise free.
Noise in MIAMI VICE was from production HD cameras.

Good point.
Digital noise / compression artifacts can look like film grain.
COLLATERAL has some digital noise shots . . . more so in MIAMI VICE.
PLUS, in addition to the noise there is a temporal shift that caused motion artifacts in some shots in both films to really look like video.

Most of the time what manifests itself as "film grain" on a movie transfer
is compression artifacts growing around the grain. This can come from
a bad film print and/or poor IE bit starved compression.

Spoken like a true computer person; you make "artistic intent" sound like a bad thing, Tom.

I certainly accept that any new medium, or component of any new medium,
wants to be acknowledged and accommodated . . . TO SOME DEGREE.

That said, the tail does not have the right to wag the dog.

As our good friend VC-1 compression guru "amirm" has said in the Industry Insiders Thread,

it is the job of the encoder to reproduce the source not to change the source.
If the encode isn't working you change and/or vary the encoder . . . you
don't change the source. . . . and you certainly don't accept the encoder changing the source.

In a word; no.

All those effects [ I assume you are referring to HD origination ] can be as difficult if not MORE difficult to encode than film grain.

I don't think that's the point.

The point is that any reasonably competent film or video cameraman can make
a clean image that is "easy to compress" . . . . altho I do think the term "EASY to
compress" is a bit of an oxymoron. Ask our friend compressionist "Cjplay"
also in the Industry Insiders Thread.

The trick is to make an artistic image that works on film AND on digital . . .
and it seems that the better directors and DOP's are doing just that.



Circling back to my lead sentence; the misconception that HD is grain free and
film is grainy.

Most of the time what manifests itself as "film grain" on a movie transfer
is compression artifacts growing around the grain. This can come from
a bad film print and/or poor IE bit starved compression.

CAPN's TIP for TELLING FILM GRAIN FROM DIGITAL NOISE / COMPRESSION ARTIFACTS

-- film grain is of uniform size and position within a given frame. It does MOVE
between frames but it is still the same size and position.

-- digital noise / compression artifacts can be of varying size and positional
density with in a given frame.

-- digital noise / compression artifacts can tend to "cluster and grow" around
different areas in the frame . . . and the "growth" can be of different sizes.

CAVEAT; like all tips there are exceptions.

This is all changing pretty quickly.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Tony Scott and Paul Cameron are doing with
Genesis HD on DEJA VU and what David Fincher is doing with UNCOMPRESSED Viper HD on ZODIAC. The little I've seen looks very impressive

NOTE; not to suggest that Michael Mann and Dion Bebee are not terrific
filmmakers . . . . MIAMI VICE was simply not to my particular taste. . . and it WAS noisy here and there.

Respectfully submitted,

CAPTAIN CELLULOID; DGA: IGC, IATSE
Film Guy Using Digital To Make Film

Very nice post.

I especially appreciate the "CAPN's TIP for TELLING FILM GRAIN FROM DIGITAL NOISE / COMPRESSION ARTIFACTS".

Thanks.
post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by captaincelluloid View Post

Spoken like a true computer person; you make "artistic intent" sound like a bad thing, Tom.

Only when it is just used as an excuse to maintain the status quo.

Quote:


That said, the tail does not have the right to wag the dog.

Most dogs only think they don't wiggle when they wag. But watch them.

Quote:


The trick is to make an artistic image that works on film AND on digital . . .
and it seems that the better directors and DOP's are doing just that.

We are certainly in agreement there.

- Tom
post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Tomlin View Post

Very nice post.

I especially appreciate the "CAPN's TIP for TELLING FILM GRAIN FROM DIGITAL NOISE / COMPRESSION ARTIFACTS".

Thanks.

You are most welcome . . . thanks for the feedback.

Forgot to mention a mnemonic device to help tell grain from artifact;

GRAIN IS GRANULAR

Digital artifacting is frequently square-ish but can be other shapes as well.

best,


-30-
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