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You've seen Skyfall. Now do you believe in digital?

Now do you believe in digital?  

15 members have voted

  1. 1. Now do you believe in digital?

    • Yes
      12
    • No
      3


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It seems like Deakins, who has been an incredible advocate for digital, has finally struck the right chord with audiences all around the world. Everyone from the film critics to grandma are praising the beauty of Skyfall. And not beautiful in that fad sort of way. No, people are calling this film beautiful in the stand the test of time sort of way. A benchmark for cinematography.

And it was shot digitally.

Even the "digital can't achieve the unique film look" (which Deakins rightfully claims is a load of fluff) camp is silent.

So my question is...now do you believe?

Oh and here's a good interview with Deakins.

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I tend not to know or think about what format a film was shot in before I see it.

A movie looking good or bad has nothing to do with analogue versus digital. It's how the chosen format was used.

In music, there are brilliant analogue recordings and brilliant digital ones. Both have their "finger prints" I guess. And their advantages and disadvantages.

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Of course it is. Digital is endlessly versatile. It gets a bad reputation because A. when the format was first used in cinema's (AOTC for instance) the resolution was 1920 x 1080, significantly less then 35 mm film. Many DP's didnt really know how to film in digital yet, so there was a learning curve. The ease of digital meant many film makers started using digital grading and other gimmicks.

If you know how to take full advantage of the benefits of a format, and minimize the downsides then you can do brilliant things, Regardless of it being digital or analogue.

Up until this thread I had no idea Skyfall was digital, I simply dint think about it.

Stating digital looks worse is not stating a fact, just your own personal preference at best, or personal bias at worst.

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Of course it is. Digital is endlessly versatile. It gets a bad reputation because A. when the format was first used in cinema's (AOTC for instance) the resolution was 1920 x 1080, significantly less then 35 mm film. Many DP's didnt really know how to film in digital yet, so there was a learning curve. The ease of digital meant many film makers started using digital grading and other gimmicks.

I can imagine all that scaring some away from digital.

I'm getting interested in this kind of stuff lately.

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Digital is vastly cheaper, film is more expensive and more time consuming.

But film looks much better (IMHO) but it's a debate nobody will ever agree on.

Digital is without film grain. One needs to artificially add grain to trick people into thinking that they are watching film. Also, since it never leaves the digital domain, there is almost no quality loss when transferred/converted to the Blu-ray format. As a result, digital film (Pixar, Avatar, Hell On Wheels, etc.) looks spectacularly sharp and clear on a HD screen.

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I've never really had a problem with digital and I didn't even know Skyfall was shot digital. When done well, I have no quips.

Admittedly, I was a little bit worried when I heard The Hobbit was being shot digitally. But its visual problems will likely lie in the oversaturation of artificial colours.

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Admittedly, I was a little bit worried when I heard The Hobbit was being shot digitally. But its visual problems will likely lie in the oversaturation of artificial colours.

I will never be satisfied until I see a big fantasy adventure film that looks like The Tree of Life. Or Apocalypse Now. Or Barry Lyndon.

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I know David Fincher has been a big advocate for digital photography, but his results have looked mixed. Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Zodiac, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo have that gorgeous film-like quality. But The Social Network looked like a DTV movie, and ugly at times. It's all contingent on the camera (Red, Arri, CineAlta) and how it's used.

But The Dark Knight Rises was a stunningly shot 35mm pic. I don't know how different it would've looked if Nolan and Wally Pfister had used digital cameras, but the feel of the movie is what really sells the 'film is still viable' option.

I'm open to using both formats. I've really liked the consistently amazing output the Arri Alexa has done, it looks closer to the 35mm look I like than some of the movies shot on Red.

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Star Trek (2009) was filmed on 35mm anamorphic, then scanned and edited in post. ILM had to fake the artifacts of 35mm film so their digitally produced footage would match. It really is an artistic decision as to whether one goes for digital or film stock, and what kind. I personally thought The Social Network looked good, and had a specific style. If a film is meant to look like old-style film, the adjustments are to be made, but in general, digital has the capability for increased image quality in many ways. I think there is a need for both.

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I've found the biggest problem with digital is that until very recently it has instantly aged the films it was used on. Take Episodes 2 and 3 of the Star Wars prequels. They were shot digitally in the time when shooting on digital meant you were stuck with a resolution of 1080 (actually less because of the aspect ratio they were finished in). It doesn't matter what they do to those films, they'll never have any more available information to make 4k masters or even higher for future release formats. They're stuck in 1080p. Now take a film shot in the 1930's- The Wizard of Oz. They've already done an 8K re-master of it and it still looks great. 35mm can be scanned at anything up to 8k and still reveal more detail and give the people working on it more visual info to work with. It's becoming less of an issue though now that digital cinema cameras are starting to capture images at 4 and 5K. Not that resolution is all that matters - you still need someone with talent and that knows how to handle the format.

I agree though, Skyfall looked stunning.

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As long as it looks great, what's the problem? For all I know, Matt C might be disappointed because of the diffused look of the film, which is an artistic choice and not the result of digital film.

Some of the scenes scattered throughout look very good and filmlike (like the end scene with Eisenberg and Mara). But the look of the movie is all over the place, the diffused lighting and filters just make the movie look unappealing and the image looks a little too clean (betraying its digital origin). I don't know if it would've looked better had Fincher used 35mm or a different digital camera, it just wasn't a visually pleasing film for me.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was a completely different story. It looked filmlike and beautifully shot from start to finish. Add in Fincher's aesthetic touches and the wintry Swedish setting -- you have a match made in heaven. That pic, plus Skyfall and The Avengers are the game changers of digital looking as good as film.

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I've found the biggest problem with digital is that until very recently it has instantly aged the films it was used on. Take Episodes 2 and 3 of the Star Wars prequels. They were shot digitally in the time when shooting on digital meant you were stuck with a resolution of 1080 (actually less because of the aspect ratio they were finished in). It doesn't matter what they do to those films, they'll never have any more available information to make 4k masters or even higher for future release formats. They're stuck in 1080p. Now take a film shot in the 1930's- The Wizard of Oz. They've already done an 8K re-master of it and it still looks great. 35mm can be scanned at anything up to 8k and still reveal more detail and give the people working on it more visual info to work with. It's becoming less of an issue though now that digital cinema cameras are starting to capture images at 4 and 5K. Not that resolution is all that matters - you still need someone with talent and that knows how to handle the format.

I agree though, Skyfall looked stunning.

We'll probably end up with cameras able to captures images at 8K or more.

But I imagine there must be a point where more resolution becomes irrelevant or indistinguishable.

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There are a lot of other technical advantages of digital film that are beyond what the spectator see. We're talking about no more waiting for the film to be exposed, no more "lets hope tomorrow's dailies are good to decide of reshoots". It's all instantaneous for the director. He can have monitors giving him the complete look of the scene. Even more, with CGI, he can have previz of the final result of a scene in real-time while he shoots a scene! All this makes the differences even more important for digital shoots. It gives producers more leravage over the control of a film shoot, less chances of errors. It gives directors exact feedback on what he shoots. It gives DP exactly what the viewer will see in a cinema.

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Some of the scenes scattered throughout look very good and filmlike (like the end scene with Eisenberg and Mara). But the look of the movie is all over the place, the diffused lighting and filters just make the movie look unappealing and the image looks a little too clean (betraying its digital origin). I don't know if it would've looked better had Fincher used 35mm or a different digital camera, it just wasn't a visually pleasing film for me.

It's possible that Cronenweth decided to give each time period a different look (The days of Harvard vs. The professional years). It's even possible that he gave each of the main characters a specific tint. I still wonder whether some of your disliking hasn't got more to do with the 'boring' setting and the sets. I clearly saw the work of Cronenweth and Fincher. In fact, it's the same team behind the look of Girl With A Dragon Tattoo. Personally, I prefer Cronenweth's work for The Social Network. I thought it was one of the best elements of the film.

BTW, did you, by any chance, watch the film on a LCD screen? When I'm in the stores, I always have the feeling that the cold backlighting of LCD can give movies a video-ish look.

Alex

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The Social Network would not have been nearly as engrossing if it had not been shot the way it was.

Dragon Tattoo looks good too, though more conventional.

The great thing about digital is that it can look exactly like film if the director so desires. But it can also look and feel completely different. Its a very versatile medium, which in the hand of many director will be used badly, like CGI has been used badly. But in the hands of a master it can look stunning.

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Dragon Tattoo looks good too, though more conventional.

To tell you the truth, even though I'm a Cronenweth fan , the photography of Dragon Tattoo didn't make much of an impression on me. I simply don't remember it. Of course, some would call that a good thing.

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It's possible that Cronenweth decided to give each time period a different look (The days of Harvard vs. The professional years). It's even possible that he gave each of the main characters a specific tint. I still wonder whether some of your disliking hasn't got more to do with the 'boring' setting and the sets. I clearly saw the work of Cronenweth and Fincher. In fact, it's the same team behind the look of Girl With A Dragon Tattoo. Personally, I prefer Cronenweth's work for The Social Network. I thought it was one of the best elements of the film.

BTW, did you, by any chance, watch the film on a LCD screen? When I'm in the stores, I always have the feeling that the cold backlighting of LCD can give movies a video-ish look.

I didn't see it on an LCD screen. When it was showing at the theater I work at two years ago, I saw sections of it -- and it still looked kinda drab and clinical in places. (This is digital projection at 2K as well.) When I saw the entire movie on FX a couple months back (on a 17 inch regular TV), it still didn't look that different than the theatrical showing.

The great thing about digital is that it can look exactly like film if the director so desires. But it can also look and feel completely different. Its a very versatile medium, which in the hand of many director will be used badly, like CGI has been used badly. But in the hands of a master it can look stunning.

Oh definitely. I remember a recent digital convert (Dean Semler) and most of his digitally-shot movies looked ugly -- but that was due to his using the Panavision Genesis camera (he's switched to the Arri Alexa now). Date Night was the worst offender, the images looked like a camcorder during the night and dimly lit bedroom scenes. Just ugly.

I did like the approach Rodrigo Prieto and director Kevin McDonald used for 2009's State of Play, where they used digital to represent the politic-driven scenes and used 35mm anamorphic for the media scenes. I didn't notice the difference.

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Everyone from the film critics to grandma are praising the beauty of Skyfall. And not beautiful in that fad sort of way. No, people are calling this film beautiful in the stand the test of time sort of way. A benchmark for cinematography.

They are? I don't see anything particularly outstanding about this film's visual, I'm afraid. It's nice, but certainly no benchmark. Otherwise I'd have felt compelled to mention that aspect: http://www.jwfan.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=20559&st=5320#entry860863

Lee - who these days has nothing against Digital.

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Prometheus looks weird in really dark scenes where that digital grain appears that looks more like digital compression artifacts. Digital doesn't fail quite as beautifully as film.

That's due to bad compression. I saw it too but I streamed the movie. Streaming in HD is not the same as Blu-ray.

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