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IronFilm

Geoff Boyle: "F**k The Numbers"

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i thought that was cool~!

as a fine artist, ill avoiding criticizing the validity of the names he mentioned as examples, or the frame to painting direct analogy, bc its nitpicking, and i really like Geoff's point in principle

ive said the same thing essentially, maybe playing devils advocate, trying to open peoples minds

how much dynamic range does this image have? i must have a RED® camera with at least 15 stops

autumn-rhythm.jpg

 

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It seems like the main message here is "If you learn the real skills of cinematography then the quality of your images will far eclipse all the high tech features, megapixels, and technical specs of the modern digital video age."  And it's true - great craft and artistry will win out over tech specs.

But I also think this is message overlooks some obvious realities about the nature of amateur and hobbyist videography - that tech specs often do increase image quality at relatively low cost.  Sure I could spend many months and even years learning great portrait lighting techniques so I can light a interior people shot really well, or I could buy a 50mm f/1.4 lens, slap it on my high-ISO/low-noise full-frame 4K camera, do a basic rule-of-thirds framing with existing ambient lighting, press the touchscreen focus with face detect and boom, I now have a fairly professional looking shot with creamy bokeh and sharp eyes in focus.

So sure it could be a much better image if I go much deeper into learning cinematography, beyond basic and overused techniques like point-of-focus shots.  But the shortcuts and some of the tech specs that enable them can be very high bang-for-buck for us hobbyists and amateurs.  Even more so if you're a vlogger or hobbyist that shoots run-and-gun or only with natural/available light under uncontrolled situations and you don't have the opportunity to do lighting setups or carefully framed shots.

I think Boyle's message is still correct and can even inspire us shortcut-happy hobbyists (I am firmly in this category) to go deeper.  But it does miss the point for a huge chunk of the videography audience, since few of us have the time or commitment to achieve the level of artistry he's calling for.  Technology has enabled us to generate images that make us and our fans/friends happy, often with an investment that matches our commitment or resources.  All of us are trying to maximize our return on investment, whether that's in time, money, or stress/difficulty spent learning a technique or tool, and technology has definitely escalated the return on investment ratio.

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He does say things that makes sense. 

Though I wish he used examples of extremely low budget films instead of classics with reasonably large budgets and big stars in them, to drive home the point. And, if he showed films either shot on 16mm film or DSLRs with almost no budget (and pretty terrible dynamic range), he could drive his point deeper without sounding like Spielberg Making a $100 film by asking for favours.

Maybe if he use Paranormal activity as a reference point, or something else like that, one could connect with him more deeply.

 

I agree with him though, about not chasing numbers wrt to dynamic range and a few other things. 

Don't even obsess as much about cinematography, and concentrate on first the story and then the sound, and then everything else.

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Since when have bayer sensors been a problem?  I have taken lots of pictures with my Nikon D80 that I have come back to and went wow, that looks amazing, and back then I didn't shoot raw cause I only had 2GB SD card.

He goes on that numbers don't mean anything and yet he completely dissed anything "modern" with high "pixel count" as being not good enough? a step backward?

I thought he meant to make a point that content was the important part but it was kinda lost when he pretty much went to spec war film vs modern, which on paper had the better spec(k). (pun intended) Oh and you also need to shoot on Cooke. Not cookie or cake.

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I agree with Geoff Boyle, and this discussion is so timely for me as I am looking to buy a new camera, primarily for stills.

I've been looking at many of the portfolios from the Magnum Photographers and what strikes me is the poor technical quality of many of their images. Many are slightly out of focus, have blown highlights, low resolution or been shot on low quality cameras.

I haven't found a single mention of a camera on the Magnum Photographers web site. To them, the camera is just a tool. What counts is getting the image, capturing the moment. Creating awesome content.

I've spent hours comparing tech specs, reading reviews and comments, watching YouTube videos, trying to find the best camera and the best deal. Sure, that is important, but my time would be better spent studying great photographers and their images, and learning from them. Then grabbing almost any camera and shoot as many photos as possible to improve my technique and learn to see better.

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1 hour ago, Geoff CB said:

Honestly really makes me want to rebuy a D750 and shoot in 1080p. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love your Sony work, but there really was something special about your Nikon stuff... specifically that video you took on the beach with the Tokina (Angenieux) 28-70mm. 

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8 hours ago, tellure said:

I think Boyle's message is still correct and can even inspire us shortcut-happy hobbyists (I am firmly in this category) to go deeper.  But it does miss the point for a huge chunk of the videography audience, since few of us have the time or commitment to achieve the level of artistry he's calling for.  Technology has enabled us to generate images that make us and our fans/friends happy, often with an investment that matches our commitment or resources.  All of us are trying to maximize our return on investment, whether that's in time, money, or stress/difficulty spent learning a technique or tool, and technology has definitely escalated the return on investment ratio.

I think you summed it up very well.  You see so many false arguments on the internet.  I could have every fancy scope on the planet and an experienced DP could light and shoot a scene before I could even have all my equipment turned on.  We use tech to give us a fighting chance.  No one is saying it is a substitute for talent or experience.  As hobbyists we know our limits.  I don't have a focus puller living in my basement.  So DPAF has appeal to me.  If a Hollywood DP said he can't shoot a movie without autofocus yeah I would be a bit incredulous.  But Joe hobbyist?

5 hours ago, DevonChris said:

I've been looking at many of the portfolios from the Magnum Photographers and what strikes me is the poor technical quality of many of their images. Many are slightly out of focus, have blown highlights, low resolution or been shot on low quality cameras.

I haven't found a single mention of a camera on the Magnum Photographers web site. To them, the camera is just a tool. What counts is getting the image, capturing the moment. Creating awesome content.

I've spent hours comparing tech specs, reading reviews and comments, watching YouTube videos, trying to find the best camera and the best deal. Sure, that is important, but my time would be better spent studying great photographers and their images, and learning from them. Then grabbing almost any camera and shoot as many photos as possible to improve my technique and learn to see better.

I don't know about that.  There have always been two kinds of photographers out there.  You just have to decide which type you want to be.  I dare anyone to show us ANY published Ansel Adams work that has "poor technical quality".

Ansel did it all.  If you are a more limited artist then make peace with it and put out technically poor work.  As you stated you can be quite successful without being very thorough or thoughtful about the technical process.

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6 hours ago, Geoff CB said:

Honestly really makes me want to rebuy a D750 and shoot in 1080p. 

As I guy with a Nikon lens collection already, the further its price drops, the more I get tempted to buy it...

But what do you think about say the Nikon D7500 instead?

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3 hours ago, Damphousse said:

There have always been two kinds of photographers out there.  You just have to decide which type you want to be.  I dare anyone to show us ANY published Ansel Adams work that has "poor technical quality".

Ansel did it all.  If you are a more limited artist then make peace with it and put out technically poor work.  As you stated you can be quite successful without being very thorough or thoughtful about the technical process.

I'm gonna call both/and here. There are no two types; we are snowflakes. We are all limited in different ways: some in our ability to master technical details, others in composition, in content, others still in understanding what makes a good image on an emotional level. There are simply an incredible number of levers to pull to create a stunning image: lens and camera choice, f/stop, filtration, lighting, subject, location, subject distance and on and on. The process is inherently imperfect and complicated by the huge number of decisions there are to make. What I like about Geoff's talk is that he doesn't choose one or the other. Yes, the talk is called "fuck the numbers," but then he goes on about an 8K scan of a classic film negative and the resolution in the chainmail of a costume in a terrible movie. Understanding the process of image-making is messy. It is a journey. Over time our attempts to master as many of these levers as possible will show on the screen but we will all have strengths and weaknesses.

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Not this stupid binary argument.

ZERO... Only content matters, lighting and talent

ONE... I must shoot 4K, RAW, RED, 240fps.

The guys in the ZERO camp would be fucked if the script called for slow-mo.

The guys in the ONE camp do need to use more talent sometimes.

And the ZERO camp needs to realise that anamorphic lenses sometimes do their oh-so-wonderful scripts and lighting much more justice than spherical.

Always, you need both the talent and the specs, one bit without the other is pointless.

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Geoff is completely wrong.  The numbers are absolutely critical.

We have far too much dynamic range, resolution, reliability...  and even colour!!

I did an experiment on Instagram for a while of trying to capture the most evocative images, and luckily if you're suffering with too much image quality then don't worry - there's an app for that!!

12558325_904878452964343_729402156_n.jpg

This is one of my most liked photos from the campaign, using an app called Tintype to simulate those glory days where images had soul and nostalgia!  Sometimes I had to use two apps to also blur the middle of the frame as tintype didn't do that.

IIRC tintype also had a shooting feature where you were limited to taking a photo every few seconds, it would apply the filters in random ways with random amounts, to simulate the unreliability of early processes.

It was far from an exhaustive project but I did discover that the lower the image quality the more feeling the images seemed to have.  I'm sure there are exceptions in this and I'm sure there's a sweet spot too.  But, luckily for us the tools we have available in post are wonderful and can save your footage from "the prison of the pristine" (to paraphrase morpheus).

(in the spirit of AND thinking, this post is completely serious, as well as being complete satire...)

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7 hours ago, IronFilm said:

As I guy with a Nikon lens collection already, the further its price drops, the more I get tempted to buy it...

But what do you think about say the Nikon D7500 instead?

Cant do away with a Full Frame sensor at this point, I've fallen in love with the aesthetic. 

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1 hour ago, squig said:

D750, pfft. The D90 is the shizzit.

haha, that was "my first" ever video camera I ever used! As I owned a Nikon D50 which couldn't do video at all, but my girlfriend (still with her!) has a D90.

So for the first 6 months or so of my film studies I bounced between using my gf's D90 or my sister's T2i. Until finally I purchased my own Panasonic GH1

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9 hours ago, Raafi Rivero said:

There are simply an incredible number of levers to pull to create a stunning image: lens and camera choice, f/stop, filtration, lighting, subject, location, subject distance and on and on.

Yes, there is a lot to know for someone new to this. 
Thus I feel a person needs to first become "unconsciously competent" (after first going through the earlier phases of "unconsciously incompetent" and "consciously incompetent" and "consciously competent") before they can say "fvck the numbers!"
 

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1 hour ago, IronFilm said:

haha, that was "my first" ever video camera I ever used! As I owned a Nikon D50 which couldn't do video at all, but my girlfriend (still with her!) has a D90.

So for the first 6 months or so of my film studies I bounced between using my gf's D90 or my sister's T2i. Until finally I purchased my own Panasonic GH1

The D90 was my first V-DSLR. It has a very cool lo-fi look, the heavily compressed M-JPEG makes the colors bleed and creates an interesting look. The rolling shutter is hideous, but I soon discovered you can use a tripod with a center post to get a pseudo steadicam effect by opening the legs and holding it by the center post.

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