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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just think, Jar Jar in HD :)

http://www.starwars.com/episode-ii/n...s20030407.html


New Generation of HD for Ep III

April 07, 2003



Continuing the pioneering efforts to expand digital cinema, Lucasfilm will use the latest Sony HD cameras and equipment to capture the images for Episode III when principal photography begins this summer.

Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones broke new cinematic ground as the first major motion picture to be shot entirely on high-definition (HD) digital cameras, without traditional film.


Now, the next generation of HD -- part of Sony's CineAlta family of products -- is ready for use. These include Sony's HDC-F950 HD camera, the HDCAM SR portable (SRW-1) and studio recorders (SRW-5000), and specially formulated BCT-SR series videocassettes. Plus8Digital, the digital motion picture technology rental company, will supply the cameras and equipment to Lucasfilm while Fujinon will supply all the camera lenses.


"Episode III will break new ground with the help of this new 4:4:4 RGB 24P CineAlta camera and HDCAM SR recording," said Producer Rick McCallum. "Sony continues to help us push the frontiers of digital motion picture production." McCallum and the Episode II production crew saw the latest advancements in camera technology by the time Attack of the Clones was in post-production. These refinements were applied to visual effects miniature photography in Episode II, paving the way for the next generation of cameras for the next installment of the saga. "We judged this to be the new high-performance bar for the entire production of our final Episode III," said McCallum.


The new image-gathering equipment offers even more cinematographic versatility. The second-generation HDC-F950 captures uncompressed images at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 in 4:4:4 RGB. It also adds a new "under-cranking" feature, allowing picture capture-rates from one to 24 progressive frames-per-second.


"Lucasfilm has championed digital motion picture production, producing compelling work that offers dazzling imagery and sets significant industry benchmarks," said Larry Thorpe, Senior Vice President for Content Creation Systems at Sony Electronics' Business Solutions and Systems Company. "The combination of the HDC-F950 camera and HDCAM SR recording provides direct benefit for principal photography, the shooting of miniatures and HD blue/greenscreen compositing that are central to the Star Wars saga."


Star Wars Episode III is scheduled to begin principal photography this June at Fox Studios Australia.
 

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Just wondering how good can 1920x1080 look on a movie screen??


I mean those things are huge compared to our RPTVs and front projectors.


I could be wrong, I didnt see EP II in the theater, but just seems like that when you blow it up that big you are going to have issues.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by dirk1843
Just wondering how good can 1920x1080 look on a movie screen??


I mean those things are huge compared to our RPTVs and front projectors.


I could be wrong, I didn't see EP II in the theater, but just seems like that when you blow it up that big you are going to have issues.
There are 2 problems to me. 1) Is that only about 817 lines of resolution are used because it is hard matted to 2.35. G.L. should insist on a 1080x2538 CCD camera and recording system or Panavision type lenses. 2) Is 24fps (inherent to all film and used for post production comparability) speed is too slow and should be a minimum of 30fps or better yet 60fps.
 

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It did look good. Just don't sit too close to the screen.


The colors were especially sharp and constant . It's clear movies shot digitally are meant to be seen that way.
 

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William - they may be using an anamophic lens on the camera so that the full vertical resolution of the imaging chips are utilized.


Ron Jones
 

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William,


I am glad that you mentioned the "hard matting" issue. Based on my observations of the documentaries that came with the Ep II DVD, I concluded that they were matting the HD 1.78 image to get the 2.35 print. But everyone kept saying "anamorphic lenses" so I kept my mouth shut - thinking they had seen something I missed.


If they are planning on hard matting again, then what are good are these new cameras? It sounds like more of the same as before. They and the consumer need HD cameras that shoot natively in a 2.35 ratio (as you described), or at least something close to it (e.g., 2.20). Until then, movies shot in HD and presented in 2.35 seriously sacrifice image quality, giving the whole concept a black eye in the public.


Bear in mind, I'm not for a wholesale move to shooting feature movies in HD instead of film, but if you're going to do it, do it right - without sacrificing detail to achieve the desired aspect ratio.


-Reagan
 

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I had heard previously that Episode 3 was going to use 2160/p24 digital cameras. This was to improve the picture way above that previously done. I guess that this is a change to that plan.


Rick R
 

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Ron,


If they are using anamorphic lenses, I'd be glad to hear it, but as I said above, it didn't appear to be the case in Ep II - look at the director's monitors during shooting (which presumably capture the native signal from the HD camera) and you can't see an anamorphic squeeze but you can see planned masked areas. I could be wrong (it's happened many times before) and I'm certainly hoping for the best.


-Reagan
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Reagan
Ron,


If they are using anamorphic lenses, I'd be glad to hear it, but as I said above, it didn't appear to be the case in Ep II - look at the director's monitors during shooting (which presumably capture the native signal from the HD camera) and you can't see an anamorphic squeeze but you can see planned masked areas. I could be wrong (it's happened many times before) and I'm certainly hoping for the best.


-Reagan
Anamorphic lenses were not used on Ep II and don't think there are any plans to use them on Ep III. Hope I'm wrong about Ep III though.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by dirk1843

Just wondering how good can 1920x1080 look on a movie screen??


I mean those things are huge compared to our RPTVs and front projectors.


I could be wrong, I didnt see EP II in the theater, but just seems like that when you blow it up that big you are going to have issues.
Thanks to dparker for the post. A little rusty at contrasting e-cinema versus OTA/cable/satellite HDTV, but here's a few of the differences. That 4:4:4 RGB means that Sony's new HDCAM with special cassettes, or a hard-disk recording system, captures camera red, green, blue outputs directly at full fidelity. [See Glimmie's correction , next page.] Compression, standard with TV productions, often involves filtering and reduced resolution. Instead of the 4:4:4 encoding fidelity for every pixel with this latest e-cinema technology, we're getting 4:2:0 signals at home (and DVDs). That means half the color pixels on each scan line, plus all the color pixels on alternate scan lines, are filtered away. This helps squeeze HD signals into OTA 6-MHz broadcast channels. Your STB then tries to 'reconstitute' (interpolate) the missing color information. Also, other filtering for OTA, not needed for e-cinema, trims the luma (B&W) portion of the signal from a theoretical 1920 active (visible) pixels, perhaps achieved with oversampling, to possibly 1400 pixels, with still further reconstruction filtering in STBs reducing resolution an additional 5-17%. Result: that familiar-sounding 1200-pixel resolution in homes, although a type of oversampling (not >1920) might be one source of apparent sharpness differences in home HD.


Also, e-cinema data is 10 bits per pixel, providing four times as many gray levels as the 8 bits for home HDTV. And while the color gamut of home HD is restricted to that of CRT phosphors, the gamut of e-cinema recordings is wider and more saturated for richer colors. E-cinema has also been using a form of wavelet compression for delivery to theaters that avoids macroblocking problems often seen with MPEG-2 digital compression. Wavelet compression must also eliminate some image details, but the result is said to be 'smoother' than MPEG-2.


E-cinema projectors mostly combine three Texas Instruments' micromirror chips (DLP). Early models used 1280X1024-pixel chips, sometimes with anamorphic lenses to stretch images horizontally to wider theater aspect ratios. T.I. has upgraded resolution with chips for e-cinema closer to ~1920X1080 (actually, 2048 horizontally; see pp4-6 in this 2+MB-pdf article ). With a 2005 release date for espisode III (see here , more theaters should have enhanced-resolution projectors. Last year, from the reviews here, most of those who saw the Episode II production in theaters seemed impressed. Many thought e-cinema images bettered the film format, although the setups in individual theaters played a role. -- John
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Nice explaination John. I never realized there would be so many differences. I wonder how this will affect the future HD home release of this film (assuming there will be one). Will they have to develop new processing techniques to convert an e-cinema film for home consumption? What trade-off's are they willing to make to put it in home format? Interesting stuff.
 

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I saw Ep. II in a theater that was showing it projected both ways: DLP as well as film.


I went all the way to the front row of each theater to looked at them carefully. The digital was definitely the cleaner one. Close up you could see a 'screen door' effect (I guess due to the DLP elements), but these were much smaller than the grain and noise present in the filmed version.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mike_jensen99
Why sticking with 24fps? Is it a technical limitation in cameras or paradigm?
Both. The Sony cameras are designed for use at 24p (although they can also do 25p, 30p, and 60i), 24 fps is a standard projection frame rate (the picture will have to be distributed on film to most of the theaters in the world, regardless of what Rick McCallum is saying now), and there is a worldwide infrastructure based on that frame rate. Because of the, shall we say, liberal use of visual effects (EVERY shot in a Star Wars movie is a visual effect shot) it is necessary to shoot progressive, so 24p is the logical candidate. Plus, most filmmakers (including George) happen to like the look it provides.


The new Star Wars movies are perhaps the worst example of digital cinematography because there is very little original cinematography in them. The vast majority of the so-callled principal photography on these movies consists of actors on blue screens and partial sets. These movies are primarily miniatures and, to an even greater extent, CGI creations. Personally, I though the last one should have been submitted for Best Animated Motion Picture. Although even in that category, I wouldn't have voted for it......
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by dirk1843
Just wondering how good can 1920x1080 look on a movie screen??


I mean those things are huge compared to our RPTVs and front projectors.


I could be wrong, I didnt see EP II in the theater, but just seems like that when you blow it up that big you are going to have issues.
I don't think it's too bad, because of many of the advantages that John mentioned above, but it does have limiatations.


Imagine those 1920x1080 images cropped in from the sides to create a 1.66 aspect ratio, scaled up to infinity, shot back out to film and projected on an IMAX-sized screen as Lucas did with Ep. II. Yuck yuck yuckity yuck.


Using Hogan's Heroes on HDNet as an example, we've seen the benefits of capturing on film for use by a later, greater technology. Capturing at 1920x1080 has the same future disadvantages that sitcoms shot in video in the 80s. It won't ever be able to take advantage of a better medium in the future. Granted it still looks great on our HDTVs now, and even digitally projected in many theaters, but technology just gets bigger and better. Just prior to me being laid off from my previous employer, we were testing a prototype 3840x2048 camera for Olympus.
 

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Yeah, that 1920x1080 looks like crap from a non-digital projector, thanks to the low resolution. And when I saw it projected from a digital projector, I saw pixels occasionally (though the picture was nice and bright and free of the normal film deterioration). I'm with Ebert - I think everybody should drop digital projectors, and move to a 48 fps, 70 mm system for the theaters.
 

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Thanks John. I also enjoyed that description of the details in digital video recording. Watching the digital projections in the newer Boston theaters, I do notice the pixel structure if I look closely, but the contrast range is so impressive (better than film?) that it doesn't detract from the movie. The 24fps rate in both projected film and digital still bothers me in fast pans, but my eyes are getting old. I have noticed, now that I'm in the habit of a 10 ft screen at home, that I'm a lot fussier about projected films in theaters, finding many that look pretty sloppy.


Bill
 

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Thanks for the refresher on 24fps. Film projectors are setup for 24fps, but they shutter each frame twice right? I suppose 48fps is still odd for compatibility with video. Is there a reasonable way to capture/master at 30 fps (giving video a cleaner look) and then printing out 24fps for film distribution? Video distribution would not only be native but also higher frame rate?
 

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I agree that Digital projectors are not the future.. they have their applications but they are too limited still. I too could see the pixels when I watched Star Wars II. Granted on moving scenes and backgrounds it wasn't as noticeable but on text and sharp lines you could see the jagged edges of the pixels. If I am going to agree to a new film format I want it to be better in every way not worse in some.
 
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