Posts Tagged ‘dorecting’

by Joe Giambrone

 

(Article is from May 2013, and newer camera models release constantly. The principles remain the same.)

So you’re confused by all the choices, and you don’t know what they really all entail?  Differences in cameras may not seem all that important, until you look carefully, as audiences tend to do when the image is thirty feet tall.

A Little How-To

Note: Images were grabbed from the net to illustrate the points in the text.  Don’t’ take them as the end-all.  As any cinematographer who cashes checks will likely say: “Test.”

Section One: People With Bucks

Okay film, glorious 35mm Kodak or Fuji filmstock.  Here’s why:

Inception used 35mm + 65mm Kodak Vision3 250D 5207, Vision3 500T 5219 INCEPTION

Promised Land used 35mm Fuji Super F-64D 8522, Eterna Vivid 250D 8546, Eterna Vivid 500T 8547promised-land06

The Wrestler used 16 mm Kodak Vision2 200T 7217, Vision3 500T 7219 the-wrestler-3

All-time favorite film stock
35 mm, Eastman EXR 500T 5298Eyes-Wide-Shut-1999-BluRay-720p

Rolling film is expensive, and sometimes the directing style dictates lots of footage, always running improvisation.  Digital can be more amenable to that situation.

Dynamic range is important for capturing smoothly rolled off highlights, before they overexpose to pure white.  This single factor is perhaps the most crucial ingredient for achieving a digital camera look that mimics real film.  Kodak Vision 3 is rated at 13 stops according to the company.  Every F stop of dynamic range doubles the amount of light captured.  Thus, a digital camera with more dynamic range requires a lot more data storage as well as a sensor that is capable of capturing such high contrast of light in the first place.

A unique characteristic of film is the grain structure in the crystals, which comprise the image.  This grain also helps soften the areas of pure whiteness that occur when a part of a negative is blown out to overexposure.  Grain adds a subtle texture to the frames as they flow by at 24 frames per second, which is often lacking in digital footage.  Grain is sometimes mimicked to make digital footage look more like film, but it seldom achieves the total look of actual film, which responds uniquely to light that hits the various layers of emulsion.  Grain can also be too heavy in the case of low-light or underexposed film.  For low-light night shooting, a digital camera with a more sensitive sensor may make more sense.

Film grain also changes depending upon the size of the negative, as an 8mm image blown up to the same size as a 35mm image would show magnified grains.  A happy medium is 16mm, with 4 times the resolution of 8mm.  Well shot 16mm film provides a medium level of grain to the image consistent with crime and grindhouse horror cinema.  For example, The Walking Dead series has been captured on 16mm Kodak film (7219).

Click and zoom in to see the grain BDDefinitionWalkingDead-1-1080

Top-Tier Digital Cinema Cameras

These can be rented by the day, week or longer.

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