Film Print in the Digital Age (2 replies and 4 comments)
As of now, the 4 ways I can think of how movies are shown to an audience are:
1. Shot digitally, DI, "projected" digitally (Streaming, Digital Theatre Projection). Pure digital workflow.
2. Shot on film, telecine into DI, "projected" digitally (Streaming, Digital Theater Projection). Hybrid workflow.
3. Shot digitally, printed onto film, projected on film in theater. Hybrid workflow.
4. Shot on film, color timed/DI, printed and projected on film in theater. Film workflow.
Do any productions shoot on digital, color/DI, print to film then telecine back to a digital file for release?
In my mind, an Alexa and 35mm negative are going to be very similar in terms of DR, color reproduction etc. so the difference tends to come down to added grain and maybe softer/bloomy highlights.
As long as film is involved in either the negative or printed stage, will the look of the final deliverable really be much different than if you shot everything with negative film stock?
You could shoot something digitally, color grade it—grade it in log for a log output—print it to film and then telecine it back to a digital file, but this will likely not achieve the "look" you, I think, desire. It will add a "weaving" motion to the image, a slight bit of "bloom" and grain, and, of course, it will apply the color and contrast characteristics of 2383 Kodak print film over your digital image.
The look will be different than if you shot everything on negative stock because the "look" depends on having both a negative—with its properties; its color and tonal characteristics—mated to the color and tonal characteristics of the print film. Without both being "printed" together, the look won't be the same.
To get a more "accurate" look, what you would do is match the digital footage to the negatives film scans, grade with "offset" printer lights in a now matched and equivalent "cineon log" gamma under a print film emulation LUT—we'll call this the "PFE LUT." When the grade is completed, you will remove the LUT so that it is ready to be printed—and then, in your case, scanned.
Still, the above steps are unnecessary if the goal is to achieve a "film accurate" display—keeping the PFE LUT as the "Show LUT" or final adjustment in the chain of adjustment nodes for the color grade will achieve a cleaner, more consistent result without the cost of scanning or doing a telecine of a print—which is never done; not normally, anyway.
A better strategy would be to match the digital footage to emulate the film: color and tonal characteristics and the spatial characteristics: halation, grain, and weave—and grading the footage under a PFE LUT. This will recreate, in a "generally" accurate way, the look of contact printed film. Minus the process of matching the digital footage to the film negative scans, this process of grading under a PFE LUT is how most movies shot on "film" are color graded—traditionally, anyway, since the DI. With the DI, the colorist was able to grade under a PFE LUT provided to them by their film lab—that would, for the most part, closely match the print film they'd later print to—and then color grade under that LUT. If the film was to be displayed digitally, the PFE LUT or an equivalent LUT meant for display would remain. If it was to be printed to actual print film, the LUT would be removed, with the actual print stock taking its place in completing the look.
I hope this is helpful!
"The look will be different than if you shot everything on negative stock because the "look" depends on having both a negative—with its properties; its color and tonal characteristics—mated to the color and tonal characteristics of the print film. Without both being "printed" together, the look won't be the same."
Maybe we're talking about 2 different things, but I don't necessarily agree. Or at least, the look between negative + print stock and digital + print stock will be nearly indecipherable without being aware of the production pipeline.
My post is more in regards to a 1:1 comparison between shooting negative stock and grading/delivering in digital format vs. shooting digital and then printing to Kodak print stock then telecine for digital delivery.
Gate weave etc. generally comes from projecting film, not from in-camera or telecine process. Not trying to replicate the look of projected film, but more about achieving the aesthetics of film we all enjoy but without having to burn through a production budget by shooting 35mm negative.
A film like "Joker" was shot on Alexa 65 but had a 35 and 70 film print run so the print took on the characteristics of film. Eschewing the side conversation about sensor size and LF lenses, I doubt anyone would be able to tell in the theater if it was shot on film and projected from a film print vs. shot digitally then printed and projected on film.
Forgive me for any of the assumptions I make here, with regards to "Joker" and how it was color graded—I may be incorrect in how I describe the process; much of what I am saying derives from the "ASC" magazine coverage of the film:
I would disagree that the two different looks would be nearly indecipherable, for this reason: the digital footage would have to be treated with, at the very least, a film negative emulation of some sort before being printed to film. For example, "Joker" was treated with a film negative emulation LUT—specifically attempting to emulate "Eastman EXR 200T 5293" color negative, after which it was printed to Kodak 2383 for theaters in 35mm and 70mm. And for the digital version, the process was likely the same—instead of it being printed, it was likely paired with a PFE LUT for Kodak 2383—and then finished for the various display formats that are available. This process is different than taking a digital camera's native color and gamma properties and printing it to film; the negative emulation was needed in order to properly pair it to the print film; this includes both the PFE LUT and the actual print film.
Gate weave is present in both the negative frames as well as the projected film—when viewed together, the effect is more noticeable. It is still present in the negative frames, however.
I will post a few photographic examples to help explain my point—which I hope will be helpful!
We had this discussion in audio - i.e. analogue tape v. digital. We got over it and today everything is digital.