The Force Awakens

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by paul_noble, Dec 30, 2015.

  1. My son and I went to see "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", this past weekend.
    In the closing credits, it was noted that the film was shot on Kodak movie film. This is a bit ironic, because "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" was, I believe, the first major movie to be shot entirely on digital.
    Perhaps the fact that it was shot on film has something to do with something a lot of people are saying about the latest installment in the Star Wars franchise: it is very remeniscent of the original trilogy. It has the same feel as Star Wars: A New Hope from 1977.
     
  2. I still have to go (but seeing it in original language is hard where I am, so I need a bit of patience). For all I've read, though, the similarities between the story-line of A New Hope and The Force Awakens are so much, that the new film seems simply modelled after the original. At least, that's what most reviews told me :)
    Frankly, I doubt how many people will really notice the recording medium; most people do not care and/or do not take notice (they're watching a movie, after all). Even if you show a still image, most people will not distinguish easily between digital and film, if both are done right. So with moving images, I think the likelihood is even less.
     
  3. I think the look of the film was probably due to the more limited use of SGI than the previous 3 SW films, which
    resulted in a more realistic and grittier look to the world they created. Besides, the film was mastered in digital
    and is mostly shown in digital theaters.
     
  4. Yes, I was much more aware of the use of practical (rather than CGI) effects in many key scenes than I was of the original recording medium.

    As for the plot ... of course it's reminiscent of the original. That's very deliberate, I'm sure. It's meant as an homage to the original, and as a bridge between those earlier movies and the new block of three under Abrams' stewardship. I enjoyed it, familiar-feeling plot elements and all. Daisy Ridley is a delight.
     
  5. As well as I know it, many directors like film, and others like digital. It probably does depend some on the actual subject, though.
     
  6. I see the difference between the two mediums which is why I shoot film. Personal taste.
     
  7. The colorist (color timing/grading) also influences the overall look of film. I still can't see a difference between digital vs film though upon close examination of the linked Kodak blog there's the tell tale sign of a slight green bias to bone hued neutral highlights vs desaturated cobalt blue shadows such as the opening scene of inside a dark ship in the Star Wars trailer.
    I saw this color combination with Ridley Scott's Alien and Stanley Kubrick's 2001 all shot in London studios. And what seems too much a coincidence is Harrison Ford's skin color is a perfect CCchart Lab readout of around L55, a25, b25,. Makeup I'm guessing had a lot to do with that because his neck is the typical rose hue which didn't get makeup. I'm going by Apple Digital ColorMeter CIELab setting sampling the photos in that Kodak blog.
    Now I don't know if those slightly green biased warm neutral hues are on account of the old lenses used, the type of lighting or the color grading but I find that too much a coincidence that it matches the other films shot in London studios back in the '70's so it's either intrinsic within the physical nature of negative film or it was intentionally color graded to look that way.
    Quinten Tarantino's "Hateful Eight" is shot on film and with the original lenses used to shoot Ben Hur but some of the skin tones are quite jaundice from what I'm seeing in the trailer.
     
  8. Digital capture is very clean cut, sharp, too perfect, not as nuanced. Film is deep, gradiated, seems to have more soul.
     
  9. Alan, have any film capture examples that show this deep, gradiated and soulful look?
     
  10. Tim: Check my FLickr site and tell me if you see a difference between my digital and film shots. Maybe it's an illusion in my mind.
     
  11. Also, the creatives decided to rely much less on CGI and instead went back to building sets and using puppets which is a large contribution to recapturing the "look"of the first film.
     
  12. Tim: Check my FLickr site and tell me if you see a difference between my digital and film shots. Maybe it's an illusion in my mind.​
    Since I already color corrected a portrait of your wife shot on Velvia a while back and you didn't seem to think it looked right, I'm not going to put much faith in you seeing deep, gradiated and soulfulness in a color film substrate. Editing that Velvia portrait was not easier, better or any of the aforementioned attributes than working on a digital version. In fact working on digital captures has WAY more color information than editing film.
    And seeing a "difference" between the two image capture/processing formats doesn't count as a plus either.
    The one thing that chafes my hide is the orange/teal color grading trend that ruins both film and digital movies. There's already a backlash online about that.
     
  13. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    A variety of sources predict that movie film usage from Star Wars and others, will put Kodak "in the black" in 2016. Good news!
     
  14. Tin: I appreciate your working on my wife's portrait. Of course, Velvia was the worse film for me to use for portraits as it's so saturated and difficult maybe impossible to get the flesh tones right.
    Just curious why you think that seeing a difference between digital and film isn't a plus? It gives a photographer options. Isn't having differing results valuable?
     
  15. The Phantom Menace was 35mm.
    Eps. II and III were digital. Lucas
    actually went backwards, not forwards,
    by choosing digital cameras. The
    current digital cameras are fine but the
    early ones were less efficient on set
    than film cameras.

    Tim, I still cannot agree with the
    assertion that film and digital look the
    same. But you are 100% right about
    that asinine orange/teal look. Nobody
    likes it and it certainly will not enhance
    ticket sales. It's a worse fad than
    shallow DOF.
     
  16. "Nobody likes it and it certainly will not enhance ticket sales."

    The Force Awakens has set the record for biggest opening, and in less than two weeks, it was already the 10th highest-grossing film of all time. I wonder how it would have done without that awful color look that nobody likes.
     
  17. Yes, Velvia to prove authenticity for skin tones is not the best fulcrum to a point. Fortunatley there are other films for that.
     
  18. I'm going to make a sweeping, unsubstantiated claim...

    The cinema-going public couldn't give a hoot whether or not a movie has been shot on film. They are there for the story, not for the soul of the recording medium.
     
  19. I'm going to make a sweeping, unsubstantiated claim...
    The cinema-going public couldn't give a hoot whether or not a movie has been shot on film. They are there for the story, not for the soul of the recording medium.​
    Of course that's true, but those of us here do care about such things. I only brought it up because I noticed the Kodak logo in the closing credits.
    Another, slightly ironic thing. When George Lucas made "The Phantom Menace", he had to have Sony develop special video cameras, whose frame rate matched that of film, because the completed movie would have to be transferred to film for exhibition, because, at the time, there were still many theaters that had not yet converted to digital projection.
    Now, in 2015, "The Force Awakens" was shot on film, but had to be transferred to digital, because the studios have completely stopped distribution on film. All theaters have converted to digital projection. This, BTW, spelled the death sentence for a few drive-in theaters that were hanging on by a thread and couldn't afford the cost of a digital projector.
     
  20. Colin, Good point and in agreement from one who prefers film.
     
  21. Whatever. Digital projection renders this all a bit pointless. All I know is that the coating alleys are still cranking out film stock--good news for still film shooters.
     
  22. I only brought it up because I noticed the Kodak logo in the closing credits.​
    Which is now the only way for me to see if a movie was shot on film. In fact the movies I knew going in were shot on film were actually surprisingly worse looking not because it was film but because the color grading style and contrast reduced color detail (monochrome skin) and sucked the life out of the overall look.
    All theaters have converted to digital projection. This, BTW, spelled the death sentence for a few drive-in theaters that were hanging on by a thread and couldn't afford the cost of a digital projector.​
    This is a poignant story of one of them just north of my Texas town that has a happy ending..
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZO58OcTKzg
     
  23. Which is now the only way for me to see if a movie was shot on film. In fact the movies I knew going in were shot on film were actually surprisingly worse looking not because it was film but because the color grading style and contrast reduced color detail (monochrome skin) and sucked the life out of the overall look.​

    I don't know about that, and don't know what you base it on. I saw previews for the new Coen bros. movie, shot in film and the color, at least to me, was beautiful.
     
  24. I don't know about that, and don't know what you base it on. I saw previews for the new Coen bros. movie, shot in film and the color, at least to me, was beautiful.​
    I based it on what it looks like. I saw the same Coen bros. movie preview, too, and I agree it looks beautiful but so were other movies shot digitally such as "It Follows" and many more... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_shot_on_digital_video_prior_to_2015
    And then there's Fargo Season 3 shot digitally and where the warm yellowish orange and teal color grade actually looks great...
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2802850/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt
     
  25. Don't think I made any sweeping statements about the efficacy of digital or film,other to say that I gave an example of a movie that doesn't look worse for being shot in film stock. I suppose poor color grading can effect both film and digitally shot material.
    Tim, how do you like some of the work of Wong Kar-Kai and his DP Christopher Doyle if you've seen them. I love the color space he creates in some of those movies like "Days of Being Wild" and "Happy Together" We may just be talking about subjective values in color space maybe you don't
    Why don't you give some examples of films where the color treatment killed if for you.
     
  26. Why don't you give some examples of films where the color treatment killed if for you.​
    I'ld like to do that very much, but after finding four different color appearances of several video trailers vs stills from "The Force Awakens" online I'm beginning to think there's not even color process control in the digital realm. The images posted on the Kodak site don't match the trailer AND THAT'S FILM!
    I saw "A Walk In The Woods" at the theater which folks online swear it was shot on film but I'm finding it was shot digitally, but in the theater the colors in some of the scenes look over cranked and fake looking, not a good look conveying the beauty of hiking in the mountainous wilderness. Online some of the high rez stills look even worse.
    Now I just saw on Blu Ray "The Master" shot on 65mm film and chemically color timed and it's gorgeous viewed on my Sony Blu Ray and my eyeball calibrated 32" Samsung HDTV but I'm not attributing that to the film substrates. However, the online screengrabs from the Blu Ray viewed up close is quite shocking how LoFi it really is...
    http://img.blu-raydefinition.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/The-Master-BD_15.jpg?1902c1
    I'm only trying to show you how difficult it is to point to one thing that makes one recording format better over another going only by looks.
    I'll have to go look up some of the movies you mentioned and find the Blu Ray screengrabs because those movies didn't play in my local theater.
     
  27. OK, I found a movie (Star Trek Into Darkness) shot on film that was ruined by color grading. Here's a Blu Ray screenshot...
    http://img.blu-raydefinition.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-3D-BD_21.png?1902c1
    More screengrabs from this site:
    http://www.blu-raydefinition.com/reviews/star-trek-darkness-blu-ray-3d-review.html?fdx_switcher=true
    In the theater the skin tones were even worse in fact a bit grotesque showing over clarified skin texture to where you can see the rose colored capillaries and pores of the actors mainly the lead males with a cold cyan blue tint on everyone's skin. The Blu Ray screengrab linked above shows the monochrome skin and of course the weird teal/bluegreen cast. What is with this teal color? Why do graders think this looks cool? It's downright irritating.
     
  28. So basically your beef is the treatment of the media in post, not the media itself since there instances you like and those you don't. That makes sense, not everyone is going to like how different people make post-processing choices.
     
  29. I never said I had a beef with film. I just don't see what others see in the medium that imbues special qualities over digital considering all the variables applied to both formats to change their look.
    And you can't get the people who will only shoot film like JJ Abrams and others to explain why it's a higher quality medium according to how he describes it here... http://www.digitalspy.com/movies/news/a488648/star-treks-jj-abrams-i-havent-shot-a-film-in-digital/
    He says he loves the warmth? There's warmth in Star Trek? Where?
     
  30. Technically the reasons for Film as described by:
    http://www.japancamerahunter.com/2014/06/film-news-adox-interview/
     
  31. That delusional Adox whacko "interview" dates from mid 2014.
     
  32. Interesting Adox interview. I'm going to have to allow some time and give that a good read.
    Aside from that I've just been dropped jawed watching the Twilight Zone marathon on Syfy channel, the ones shot on film (not kinescope) and it's clearly been restored both in audio and picture quality, however, it's quite disturbing looking from its stark realism and lack of motion blur. I can see all the actor's pores and wrinkles as if I'm watching a live play in high def. It looks like it was shot with a HD digital video camera at 60fps similar to the one's used on Home Shopping Network. Didn't know you could make film look like it was shot at that frame rate. Has anyone noticed this?
    Maybe this is old news but I haven't watched a Twilight Zone episode in over a year and the last time I remember, I may have been watching it on my old 35in CRT Toshiba tube TV and not my current Samsung 32in. Samsung. It's quite unsettling not seeing the high contrast slightly soft picture and transistor radio sounding mono audio now replaced with what seems 3D detailed clarity in stereo. And the movement of the actors resembles motion smoothing. It's downright distracting.
    It changes the whole feel of the entire series in a way I've never experienced with any restored 2D medium. Restored technicolor movies during the TZ years aren't this sharp and hyper dimensional.
     
  33. Just read the Adox interview. Never heard of this company.
    Wonder why the European Commission wants to take away their hydroquinone?
    If they do as they have planned that’s the end for analog photography in general.​
     
  34. C Watson - Delusional? The owner of the Adox
    film company is delusional? How so exactly? I'm
    curious to see how your knowledge of film dwarfs
    his.
     
  35. In the days of the Twilight Zone, there's more to reproduction than film and, or digital remastering as to the look of the overall scenes. Restoration can't fast forward lens technology. The lenses in those day were so inferior to what came just a period later. Just distortion alone in a dead give away.
     
  36. Don, I'm not following you. Are you saying prior to TZ restoration to Blu Ray which were digitized directly from the original negatives what I was seeing was the result of inferior lens technology?
    What I'm seeing on my eyeball calibrated 720p HDTV looks like they filmed it with far superior lenses than you suggest. Below is a shot I took after I added dynamic contrast, maxed out gamma to dynamically brighten (Blu Ray version is low contrast and quite dark with skin tones at Lab luminance of around L*40 but full of detail).
    Here's a link to the Blu Ray screenshot to show how dark it is... http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=22438&position=6
    00dfKx-560039084.jpg
     
  37. Here's the Samsung added settings to the Blu Ray screenshot of Jack Klugman on the phone...
    00dfL2-560039384.jpg
     
  38. Certainly these images are quite stunning and as one who watched these movies upon release and throughout the rerun years, they didn't look like this, and the evidence of distortion and other anomalies was just so obvious in the rerun years. It was practically a historical guide as lens tech evolved. So as I'm aware software systems in modern DSLRs, Mirrorless cameras and post desktop computers readily correct for lens defects.
     
  39. I liked the look of the new star treks. But I like muted color spaces.
     
  40. AJG

    AJG

    Just as with still photography, post production and presentation are crucial. When I worked as a film projectionist 30 years ago, we used xenon arc bulbs rated at 2000 hours. Long before they burned out, they changed color to a heavily green output. The interesting thing about this was that the black and white films we showed looked a lot worse to the eye than color films did, even though you might expect the opposite. It was particularly obvious since we were running 35 mm projectors the old fashioned way, changing over from one projector to another at the end of each 20 minute reel so that you could really see when you went from an old bulb to a new one at the change over. You won't see this in a current commercial theater, since even film projection in commercial settings long ago went to platter projectors where the entire movie is spliced together and runs through one projector for the entire show.
    Back to the present--I'm sure we've all seen power point presentations on non calibrated projectors where the factory settings were for maximum contrast in order to make reading type easier, with the resulting soot and chalk look for photographic images. Knowing how some commercial theater chains are run, it wouldn't surprise me if the theater projectors are never calibrated, and we're back to the bad monitor problem that drives serious photographers nuts. So even if the original product (shot on film or digitally) achieves metaphysical perfection, there are still a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong.
     
  41. So even if the original product (shot on film or digitally) achieves metaphysical perfection, there are still a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong.​
    I've seen this first hand at my local digital projection movie theater with movies produced in the UK such as "The Woman In Black II". For some reason the dynamics get severely compressed in blacks and highlights to where it's like viewing the movie through sunglasses.
    This is what this movie should've looked like... http://www.fatmovieguy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/The-Woman-in-Black-2-Angel-of-Death-Trailer.jpg
    This is what I saw in the theater... http://muse.ifmradio.co.za/images/the-woman-in-black-2-angel-of-death-trailer-2--crop-u35538.jpg
    I could barely make out facial features because it was so flat, dim and dark. "The Man From Uncle" (produced in the UK) had the same problem.
     
  42. The Rifleman series is another that has been playing lately and there to my point particularly with indoor shots where a wide lens is required, those lenses were sloppy then and have come a long way since.
     
  43. Also, Perhaps printing on film for archival properties is a factor for this movie.
     
  44. C Watson - Delusional? The owner of the Adox film company is delusional? How so exactly? I'm curious to see how your knowledge of film dwarfs his.
    Please. He's deeply into fabulism about film, especially b&w film, as regards scanning and digital reproduction. His company is a small player in a declining residual market. Tell me it's growing and show me some data. It's 2016, too.
     
  45. Twilight Zones on SyFy did look good (saw a few when I wasn't watching football). However six episodes were done on
    videotape so don't know if they got any improvement. I remember the episode called "Twenty-two" was done on video.
     
  46. This is how I remember the TZ series looked back in the '60's viewing on CRT TV's and in reruns all the way up to the '90's thereabout. http://cdn1.thr.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/675x380/2015/08/the_twilight_zone_season_1_still_h_15.jpg
     

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