Purpose of film copies release

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  • #214874
    jeff791107
    Participant

      Dear all the masters,

      Some movies are shot on film, then the film negatives are scanned for DI process. During screening, they are shown by digital projection and film print copies. I’ve personally seen both film print and digital screening of the movie [DUNKIRK]. The film print had fewer details in the shadow and some scenes (soldier falling into the sea) had color inconsistencies between consecutive shots. The version of the film print I saw was from the first show on the first day at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Despite digital projection looking very good, many digitally remastered versions of old films have demonstrated better color depth than the original copies. So, what is the purpose of film copies releasing in theater?

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    • #214875
      Roger Deakins
      Keymaster

        That’s a good question.

        • This reply was modified 8 months, 4 weeks ago by Roger Deakins.
        #214881
        dmullenasc
        Participant

          “Dunkirk” is a separate issue, it’s not a re-release of an old movie — in this case, as with most Nolan films (except “Tenet” for some reason, I think he had to use a D.I. to make the release date) he doesn’t go through a D.I. because he wants to be able to contact print the 15-perf 65mm IMAX footage and show that print in IMAX film theaters. This meant that the 5-perf 65mm footage in “Dunkirk” was optically blown-up to 15-perf 65mm so it could be cut into the IMAX negative.  So if you see the 15-perf 70mm print of “Dunkirk” you are seeing it as Nolan intended.  Yes, film prints have more contrast to them, giving them rich blacks but less shadow detail, which you can see happening in the film prints of “Oppenheimer”. To talk about color depth in this case is a bit misleading — a film print uses subtractive color (YCM) and a digital projector uses additive color (RGB) so a digital projector can increase saturation without decreasing brightness. But in terms of the color depth, a movie that goes through a D.I. that is intended for both digital projection and a DCP uses a Kodak Vision print emulation LUT in the D.I. session in order to not create colors outside the range that can be shown in a film-out that is printed on Vision print stock.

          Now as for old digitally-restored movies, yes, you can wonder what the point of a film-out would be other than the fact that unless the digital theater has laser projection, a film print has better blacks and contrast. But laser projection is taking over so that soon won’t be an issue.  If one was a purist, I could see making an effort to see film prints made from film masters, but to insist on seeing a film print of a film-out from a digital file seems a bit pointless. In general I prefer digital projection of film restorations done digitally; however I do like seeing prints of film masters, like new 70mm prints of old 65mm movies that haven’t been digitally restored, or archival 35mm Technicolor dye transfer prints, which I feel have their own unique look — the print itself is part of the experience, especially if the movie was shot in 3-strip Technicolor.

          #214888
          dmullenasc
          Participant

            “a movie that goes through a D.I. that is intended for both digital projection and a DCP” — I meant a movie intended for both digital projection (DCP) and a film-out for print projection.

            #214937
            jeff791107
            Participant

              Hi David,

              I’m appreciated your patient explanations and guidance.

              I am confused of what you said about the digital projector. Could you explain the theory of why the additive (RGB) color can increase saturation without decreasing brightness?

              #214938
              dmullenasc
              Participant

                It’s just the nature of additive versus subtractive color — if you want to make a primary color deeper and more saturated in a film print, it needs more dye so it gets denser, letting less light through. You want to make a primary color more more saturated with a digital projector you let more of the pure red, green, or blue light through. You can go even further with RGB  lasers as a light source.

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