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Video Compression Kills Grain :(

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Got a chance to see some modern stuff projected tonight. Damn man, celluloid is amazing, too bad it looks like shit online.

Seeing real grain dancing on a screen is amazing.

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

If you saw light being projected through film running through an actual film projector, then yeah, it's a lot different.

I always have to remind myself that many people in media careers these days never saw that sort of stuff.

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15 minutes ago, Luke Mason said:

We spend a lot of effort to emulate filmic colours and grain using digital, maybe in a few hundred years, we would start to emulate the clean sterile digital look.

My understanding was that trends in fashion and music are often working in 20 year cycles.  For example, in the 70s the music was very analog, then in the 80s synthesiser technology became cheap enough for the masses and we got electronic music like Human League, then the 20-year cycles kicked in and the 90s took 80s electronic sound and brought back the 70s influence with bands like The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim working out how to integrate the two approaches, and then in the 2000s things swung back to re-integrating the 80s again, and then in the 10s (or whatever the hell this decade is called) I lost track of what was going on..  the clothing fashions seemed to follow this path too.

I have no idea about how it works in film, but it may be similar.  In a sense 20 years is about a generation, so it might be linked to that?

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6 hours ago, kye said:

My understanding was that trends in fashion and music are often working in 20 year cycles.  For example, in the 70s the music was very analog, then in the 80s synthesiser technology became cheap enough for the masses and we got electronic music like Human League, then the 20-year cycles kicked in and the 90s took 80s electronic sound and brought back the 70s influence with bands like The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim working out how to integrate the two approaches, and then in the 2000s things swung back to re-integrating the 80s again, and then in the 10s (or whatever the hell this decade is called) I lost track of what was going on..  the clothing fashions seemed to follow this path too.

I have no idea about how it works in film, but it may be similar.  In a sense 20 years is about a generation, so it might be linked to that?

I think this is more analogous to the move from tape to CDs. There was a big push to add the perceived warmth of tape to the sterile digital CDs.

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Modern codecs actually have options for preserving grain, even at low bitrates. If you encode with ffmpeg/x264, the "-tune grain" preset does exactly that. 

Unfortunately, online video hosters such as Vimeo and YouTube recompress your footage without that optimization.

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I think everybody in the world would still be shooting film other than news groups that need a super fast turnaround. But Film cameras, good ones are heavy as heck with the bigger reels on them, and the killer was the cost of the film and the development cost. And editing was not fun either. It was all big and clunky, but sure I don't think you can beat it if you can stand all the cost and hassle it invoked.

It was scary as hell shooting it. You Never knew what you really had untill you got it back, and you never even knew if it was ruined until they called you to say, well it is all blank, sorry, but you still owe us the development cost LoL!! Oh yeah it was Really fun times back then. Hell no I am not going back. Color was not too bad to shoot, now B&W it had better be spot on, or your goose was cooked.?

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21 hours ago, kye said:

My understanding was that trends in fashion and music are often working in 20 year cycles. 

(...)

I have no idea about how it works in film, but it may be similar.  In a sense 20 years is about a generation, so it might be linked to that?

Like we saw in the thread/video F*** the numbers!, a film from the 50s or 60s could top 8k RED footage with ease, quality-wise. But that's only because analog film is still seen as the superior medium. Digital is limited in unexpected ways, heavy compression being the worst. Apart from that, it's quite impressive how far we came within one decade. A 35mm mass print, projected with the average projector to the average (white) screen, showed comparatively poor quality, resolution 1k, around 4 stops dynamic range, many charming artifacts added like dust and scratches.

With digital HDR and HFR and of course ever higher resolution, the image quality could be far superior to analog film. But it might take another generation before 24p die, and the reasons for that are not *just* nostalgia.

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1 hour ago, Axel said:

Like we saw in the thread/video F*** the numbers!, a film from the 50s or 60s could top 8k RED footage with ease, quality-wise. But that's only because analog film is still seen as the superior medium. Digital is limited in unexpected ways, heavy compression being the worst. Apart from that, it's quite impressive how far we came within one decade. A 35mm mass print, projected with the average projector to the average (white) screen, showed comparatively poor quality, resolution 1k, around 4 stops dynamic range, many charming artifacts added like dust and scratches.

With digital HDR and HFR and of course ever higher resolution, the image quality could be far superior to analog film. But it might take another generation before 24p die, and the reasons for that are not *just* nostalgia.

I agree that we're making large strides and will continue to do so.

I've been into high end audio for over 20 years and I see parallels between the audio analog vs digital debates and the film ones.  In some ways digital audio is quite far ahead of film, and if I extrapolate from that then my predictions for digital video are that:

  • Digital will keep getting better
  • Eventually it will reach thresholds where the engineers say that anything beyond that is imperceptible
  • After that there will be people who say that analog is still better, and the engineers will tell them that they're either suffering from bias or that they are in love with the deficiencies of analog
  • Digital development will stop or be severely limited once the engineers suggest things aren't perceptible anymore
  • The connoisseurs will still pursue higher performance digital but they will be a tiny percentage in a minority that make up a tiny industry so will struggle to make headway
  • and to make matters worse for the connoisseurs there will be people who like analog because of it's nostalgia and the engineers will not distinguish between the two groups

There are examples of this on this forum already:

  • discussing the benefits of RAW (which are real, but are very very niche at this price point)
  • discussion of things like Motion Cadence which not only can't be measured but no-one seems to understand what might even be involved, so is ripe for the engineers to say doesn't exist

and in digital video we're a long way away from the limits of human perception:

  • 14bit RAW might be approaching it but after grading it might not be there
  • 4K is only beyond perception if viewed on a screen occupying a minimum percentage of the angle of vision (ie, only not visible if screens are too small or too far away) and only if they haven't been stretched or processed in post (eg, digital stabilisation) and if used to capture 360 video is woefully inadequate when viewed with goggles
  • 24fps is linked to the minimum frame rate for humans to observe continuity of motion rather than a slideshow, no-where near the limits of human perception which are being explored by computer games and are upwards of 100fps (IIRC)

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3 hours ago, KnightsFan said:

Compression also hurts digital noise. Noise from uncompressed Raw files looks great; it's only after compression that it becomes video-y.

Only Alexa's digital noise comes the closest to film grain, the others have blotchy, chromatic unpleasant noise patterns, even uncompressed

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15 hours ago, webrunner5 said:

It was scary as hell shooting it. You Never knew what you really had untill you got it back, and you never even knew if it was ruined until they called you to say, well it is all blank, sorry, but you still owe us the development cost LoL!! Oh yeah it was Really fun times back then. Hell no I am not going back. ?

I always hear comments like this, but I’ve never heard an actual story of anyone having a “it was all blank sorry” moment.  This seems like the modern equivalent of forgetting to load a card into a digital camera. You’d have to either have very serious mechanical error, severe under exposure, or be uneducated in the process, all of which are preventable... especially since the room for error with negative film is extremly high.

I recently shot a short piece on a Bolex Rex 4. The scanning prices have dropped recently and the 4k scans available now are really nice and affordable. 

ProRes LT to Vimeo has worked pretty good for me in the past. Film grain holds up really nice in my experience.

 

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Very nice work there @BenEricson ???

The stylising elements were done really nicely, strong but coherent and adding to the package instead of distracting.  Was the WB differences in some shots from filming or done deliberately in post?  I thought it added to the aesthetic, thus maybe added.
I also very much liked the style and editing.  I'd assume the transition shots between the two sections where you pan left/down and then pan left/up from the water was planned and deliberate, and it was subtle but so nicely done.

I used to write electronic music with a guy who was a master of subtlety and would just nail things but in a very understated way and in a sense this video reminded me of that.

What were you riding while filming?  and how large / cumbersome was your rig?  I used to be a skater a long time ago and watched a lot of videos and some of the most incredible efforts are by the DoPs who have to keep up while still getting the shot.

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@BenEricson

Sigh. That's analog to having wine served from bottles with cork instead of Tetra Paks.

I told one story already. We had a very worn print of Time Of The Gypsies in the cinema where I was projectionist. A thick layer of scratches, rumble in the (analog) audio, hundreds of splices. It was a morning performance for two school classes, kids of fourteen, fifteen. I was certain, they wouldn't stand it. Much to my surprise, they were deeply immersed. Their faces were red, their eyes shone when they gathered in the foyer afterwards. Sure, it's an unbelievably good film, but I think the presence of he medium added, well, something. 

Did you read Flicker

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8 hours ago, Axel said:

A 35mm mass print, projected with the average projector to the average (white) screen, showed comparatively poor quality, resolution 1k, around 4 stops dynamic range, many charming artifacts added like dust and scratches.

This is what many folks leave out of the equation regarding the "film" look. 

Unless you were at a premier, (and even then) you were going to be looking at some pretty crusty film print IQ back in the day. 

I saw most of my films at the local $1-"second-run"-theater, so I was watching projections that were laughably beat up.

Anyone from a smaller town Midwest USA can tell you what those prints looked like at their local theaters by the time they rolled around. 

Digital may be inferior to film in source  acquisition in some ways, but digital projection is pristine through the distribution chain. 

...and I haven't even mentioned regional TV stations that broadcast their "Movie of the Week" through a one light 16mm telecine projector, hooked up to a tube camera, and transmitted to home CRT television set with 240 horizontal lines of glorious NTSC RF resolution.

What people did with analog film and electronic tech was pretty wild looking back on it.

 

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3 minutes ago, fuzzynormal said:

What people did with analog film and electronic tech was pretty wild looking back on it.

You're not wrong - electronic tech and computers that make calculators look advanced took us to the moon!

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13 hours ago, Luke Mason said:

Only Alexa's digital noise comes the closest to film grain, the others have blotchy, chromatic unpleasant noise patterns, even uncompressed

I'm not saying it looks like film grain, but digital noise seems fine to me before compression.

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On ‎7‎/‎1‎/‎2018 at 8:18 PM, andrgl said:

Got a chance to see some modern stuff projected tonight. Damn man, celluloid is amazing, too bad it looks like shit online.

Seeing real grain dancing on a screen is amazing.

Real life does not have grain, so why would high quality imaging have it? Grain is an artifact of inadequate technology, both now and in days gone by. Eventually it will be gone. The presence of grain does not make footage "superior".

15 hours ago, Axel said:

With digital HDR and HFR and of course ever higher resolution, the image quality could be far superior to analog film. But it might take another generation before 24p die, and the reasons for that are not *just* nostalgia.

Specifically, we need to wait for the generation who grew up with analog as the primary viewing medium to die off. Only then will modern media seem "normal". Off course, by then the deficiencies of current digital media will be seen as "filmic" and "superior" to whatever replaces it ;)

13 hours ago, kye said:
  • 24fps is linked to the minimum frame rate for humans to observe continuity of motion rather than a slideshow, no-where near the limits of human perception which are being explored by computer games and are upwards of 100fps (IIRC)

Specifically, minimum fps is dependent on the actual motion in the footage. If you have objects whizzing by, or you do rapid pans, you HAVE to have high frame rates or it will look complete crap. Shooting at 24 fps actually imposes a lot of limitations of what and how you can shoot, limitations that increasingly disappear at higher frame rates.

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