Screened this over the weekend via UHD disc, Samsung 9500, calibrated RS640, 120" AT scope screen, viewed from 14.5'.
I don't mean to be rude, but I'm taking everybody here to the filmmaking school house a bit here. I hope you will learn something from this and enjoy.
Disclaimer: I am highly biased regarding PQ because of my career as a feature film camera operator and DP on just this type of film/genre. Part of the job is sitting in screening rooms watching dailies (in the photochemical era, and on calibrated transfer room monitors in the digital age). The point is that I have a bias, but immense experience at judging PQ and finding a balance of what the DP intended/did and what he actually achieved on the screen. So, in some ways I'm hyper-critical of PQ, but also quite tolerant of creative elements and some human error. I did not work on this movie. Wish I had. Would have been a blast!
Since the MI movies are still shot mostly on film, I'll mostly address that perspective, technology, and protocols.
An overage of grain in dailies and/or poor contrast in dark scenes indicates a problem. It is highly likely that the lab will even have notes/comments on this with the dailies report. It's rare that a lab malfunction or error causes a problem. But they will provide notes on things they see (dirt, hair in the gate, scratches, soft focus, edge flashing, etc.). The lab provides dailies, whether projected or digital, with predetermined grading. Shots that have the exposure nominal to that grading look great. Those that don't indicate a problem. Most typically that is underexposure of the negative. That is why sets that have low APL don't look very dark when you are on them. There's quite a bit of light everywhere. The contrast ratio of all that lighting is carefully set/controlled so that virtually all parts of frame are exposed (virtually no part is truly dark)...which will render actual density on the negative. You do not want a "thin" negative. When shot properly, the grading in dailies (and final grading) will have lots of latitude so that it never looks muddy, grainy, noisy, etc.. That technical latitude gives the filmmakers the most creative latitude to manipulate the images in post.
Do DPs sometimes take too many risks with their lighting? Yes. That brings us to my impressions of PQ on MI Fallout after screening.
Having heard that there were PQ issues with this movie, even though from folks not in the film business, I was on high alert for problems as I screened this with some family and friends. When a scene is dark/low APL, and there are a number in this movie, my eye takes overall assessment, but also looks to specifics such as dark areas of the frame, grain level in dark and light areas, and focus. The only place that focus can be judged precisely in in the eyes of the actor. If I see that it is out of focus, I can also tell you "where" focus is...whether in front or behind the eyes. This is an acquired skill most critical on closeups. I can whisper to the camera assistant (AC) who is pulling focus. My technique is to whisper "Closer, closer..." or "Deeper, deeper..." When I quit whispering it means the focus is back on. This helps the AC not only recover, but re-calibrate his mental and lens references on the fly so that he is more likely to be accurate the rest of the shot. At the cut, I inform the director that we were soft on the whatever lines, but good by these lines (or vice versa if focus is good for a while then is lost somewhere along the way and not corrected). He can then judge if he needs to shoot another take of the entire scene, or do a pickup that can be cut in where the problem occurred.
I saw absolutely nothing objectionable throughout this movie with regards to black crush, muddy blacks, excessive grain, or compression artifacts. It was flippin' gorgeous throughout! Focus was unacceptably soft and embarrassingly bad on two shots. They were soft and lasting most of the shot. They were of Rebecca Ferguson (Ilsa) and I can't remember the scene, and Michelle Monaghan (Julia). Michelle's closeup in her final scene with Cruise in the hospital tent was pretty bad (in my world). It was behind her at her ear. Occasionally she would lean back just enough for it to look good. The operator nor the AC caught it. Very embarrassing in dailies...and jobs can be lost for such. Considering this movie was shot anamorphic for the most part, and it is so long and action-filled, it is astonishing that there are not lots of focus misses or buzzes. There just are none except as mentioned.
As for a judgement of focus/sharpness on a global scale, there is some more tough love for me to dish out here. This movie had no such global focus/softness issue. Does it meet the expectations of "sharpness" of each and every one of you? Clearly not...but that is not the goal of the filmmakers. The film stocks and lenses used are capable of great sharpness. It is entirely likely that some softening filtration may have been used on the shoot, but it is more likely this day and age that a global creative subjective level of sharpness was chosen in the grading for the 4K DI. As OC as I am about such PQ things, there is nothing objectionable about the "sharpness" of this movie. It fits perfectly. Yes, the IMAX shots/scenes jump off at us with the incredible resolution and contrast of such a large negative, but that's why they shoot just some scenes that way. If you dislike the level of "sharpness" in this movie, you have unrealistic and misguided expectations. Go ahead and speak your mind, let your wallet speak for you, or become a powerful filmmaker yourself so you can make the creative and technical decisions.
As for HDR, I am equally OC about the effectiveness of HDR because it is extremely dependent on good scene to scene grading. It seems that so many folks expect some kind of huge bang out of HDR...or it's not good. That you don't notice "IT" is the whole point of HDR. Although elements in a frame (darker areas and brighter areas) can be assessed, it is holistically...overall realism and impressive photographic quality...that make HDR more than just a gimmick. This movie is a superb example of that. So many scenes are just crazy gorgeous because of the fantastic grading for HDR. Dark scenes such as the underground one that lead up to and include the demise of Alec Baldwin's character, and the darkly contrasty house interior where Ilsa and Benji fight for control of the last nuke are superbly balanced in a way that is almost unattainable without HDR. Another wonderful example is the scene where Hunt and Ilsa meet and speak extensively in the shade between two rows of trees. The contrast between what can be seen beyond in full sunlight, the darkness of the trees, and the perfect lighting of their faces (in middle tones) is exquisite...due to superb HDR grading.
Personally, I would love to see any movie of this kind shoot completely in 65mm spherical (SuperPanavision) and delivered with at least a 4K UHD/HDR DI. The new Murder On the Orient Express did so to a great extent and was gorgeous. Unfortunately, it's very expensive to do so.
The filmmakers delivered MI Fallout with gloriously gorgeous PQ. I can't speak for what some folks are seeing. It may be that state of the art direct view and state of the art projection deliver two different pictures. SMPTE specs for direct view provide a much higher reference white luminance. Does that come with a downside that reveals grain/noise? The JVC calibrated to provide at least the minimum nits spec, proper black level, and gamma may provide a significantly different image. Is that image "superior" to direct view? All I can say is that I viewed it via JVC front projection, and I regard the PQ as stunningly gorgeous.
If you haven't watched the extras, do so. There is just no film franchise in the industry being made like these. I would love to have worked on this movie, but I can say that had I worked on it, I would be extremely proud upon the screening this weekend.
P.S.- The audio mix was off the chain! Amazing!
My $.02. Cheers.
Last edited by Cam Man; 02-18-2019 at 01:03 PM.