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The Aesthetic


kye
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We're all talking about aesthetics.  

We're talking about aesthetics when we talk about the "look", but we're talking about it when we talk about specifications too.  

A debate rages about what is "enough" resolution, "enough" sharpness, "nicer" bokeh... what is "cinematic"...  what is "visible"...  what is "practical".  

This thread is a reality check against the warped concepts that stills photographers and their camera-club specifications-obsessions have given us.  Because, for the most part, better objective measurements are mostly worse subjectively.  It's our imperfections that creates our humanity, and it's analog imperfection that creates emotional images.

Baseline

First, let's establish a baseline.  Here are some test images from ARRI that are designed to showcase the technology, not a creative aesthetic.

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Note the super-clean image, lack of almost all lens-distortions (except wide angle distortion on the wide lens, which is actually super-wide at 12mm).  If you were there, this might be what it actually looked like.

Those were grabs from a 4K YouTube upload, but lots of trailers aren't uploaded in 4K, so here is a still from 1080p Youtube video that ARRI uploaded in 2010.

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Now, without further ado....

The Aesthetic - The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

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These are obviously very distorted, and I chose frames that were especially so.  This should instantly disavow you of the idea that somehow Netflix demands "pristine" images - these are filthy as hell, but this is appropriate to the subject matter, which is about witchcraft, the occult, demons, and literally, hell.

Whenever I hear someone say "oh I can't believe how terrible that lens is - look at the edge softness" I just laugh.  The person may as well be saying "not only don't I have a clue about film-making, but my eyes also don't work either..  please ignore everything else I say from now on".  

The Aesthetic - Sex Education

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A show with a deliberately vintage vibe, the look is suitably vintage, with some pretty wicked CA.  One thing that's interesting is the last shot, which was either a drone with a vintage lens on it, or it was doctored in post, because it has pretty severe CA - look at the bottom right of the frame above the Netflix logo.  Also note how nothing looks sharp - the first image should have had something in-focus, but softness of this level is deliberate because once again, the last shot is a deep-focus shot with a stopped-down aperture and should be super-sharp but isn't.

The Aesthetic - No Time To Die

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Some shots are softer than others, but note the amazing barrel distortion and edge softness on the middle two shots.  In case you missed it, here's the star of this $400M movie in a pivotal scene from the movie:

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Are there lenses that could have made this shot more "accurate"?  Sure - just scroll up to the ARRI shots which look pristine (and they're ZOOMS!).  This was deliberate and is consistent with the emotion and narrative.  The Aesthetic.

The Aesthetic - The Witcher

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Sharp when it wants to be, oversharp too - see the second image, but with anamorphic bokeh for the look.  Ironically, a fantasy story of witchcraft and monsters, using cleaner more modern looking glass.  The complete opposite approach of Sabrina.  

Note on the second-last image the vertical anamorphic bokeh, and then look at the last image and note the "swirl" in the bokeh.  I doubt this was accidental.

The Aesthetic - You

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Sharp and clean when it wants to be, and other times, really not.  Appropriate for the subject matter.

The Aesthetic - Squid Game

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Clean, sharp but not too sharp, neutral colour palette, but note the vertical lines on the edges of the frame aren't straight?  Subtle, and perhaps not deliberate, but picture it in your mind if they didn't flare out..  it makes a difference, deliberate or not.

The Aesthetic - Bridgerton 

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Clean, spherical, basically distortion free, but sharp?  No.  Go look at that Witcher closeup again for some contrast.

The Aesthetic - The Crown

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Clean and relatively distortion free, but lots of diffusion, haze, and low-contrast when required.  The Crown is a masterpiece of the visuals matching the emotional narrative of the story, which is made extra difficult as the story is set in reality, and the emotional tone is so muted that had lesser people been involved in making it any subtleties may well have simply been bland rather than subtle but deep.

The Aesthetic - Mindhunter

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Perhaps the most interesting example here.  After looking at the previous images the above might seem completely unremarkable, except that this look was created in post.  

and I mean, completely in post:

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More here: https://filmmakermagazine.com/103768-dp-erik-messerschmidt-on-shooting-netflixs-mindhunter-with-a-custom-red-xenograph/#.YftoaC8RrOQ

and here: https://thefincheranalyst.com/tag/red-xenomorph/ (there's a great video outlining the lens emulations in post in this one).

That's enough for now.  Hopefully now you can appreciate that "perfectly clean" optically is actually only perfect for "perfectly clean" moments in your videos.  Sure, if you're out there doing corporate day in and day out then it might seem like "clean" is the right way, or if you're in advertising or travel where neutral reigns, but when it comes to emotion, it's about choosing the best imperfections to suit the desired aesthetic.

 

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EOSHD Pro Color 5 for Sony cameras EOSHD Z LOG for Nikon CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Ironically almost none of those examples were shot on ARRI cameras:

Sabrina - RED Helium

Sex Education - Sony Venice

Witcher - RED Monstro / Alexa LF

Squid Game - RED Monstro

Bridgerton - Sony Venice

The Crown - Sony Venice

Mindhunter - RED Helium

All high above 4K resolution cameras. 

So perhaps we can conclude 6K/8K high resolution capture does not necessarily equate to over sharp/clean footage. And that great IQ results can be achieved outside of the ARRI CS realm.

Maybe the key to that million-dollar budget Netflix show aesthetics evoked here isn't about ARRI color science at all but rather the incredible top budget cine glass from Cooke, Zeiss, Panavision, Arri, Leica, Angenieux etc. Without even getting into staging/lighting and post/grading skills.

Just some food for thought..

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6 hours ago, Django said:

Ironically almost none of those examples were shot on ARRI cameras:

Sabrina - RED Helium

Sex Education - Sony Venice

Witcher - RED Monstro / Alexa LF

Squid Game - RED Monstro

Bridgerton - Sony Venice

The Crown - Sony Venice

Mindhunter - RED Helium

All high above 4K resolution cameras. 

So perhaps we can conclude 6K/8K high resolution capture does not necessarily equate to over sharp/clean footage. And that great IQ results can be achieved outside of the ARRI CS realm.

Maybe the key to that million-dollar budget Netflix show aesthetics evoked here isn't about ARRI color science at all but rather the incredible top budget cine glass from Cooke, Zeiss, Panavision, Arri, Leica, Angenieux etc. Without even getting into staging/lighting and post/grading skills.

Just some food for thought..

To be fair they are mostly Netflix shows which rarely use ARRI. But the question is how necessary is resolution if you are just going to soften everything. At the end of the day though more resolution is the way forward. Arri is finally going to put out a 4k camera. That to me is a statement. If ARRI is good with 4k that kind of speaks for the narrative industry.

8k is oddly more useful for doc style stuff or run and gun shooting, though as shown here it gets a lot of attention for high end narrative. To be fair if RED put out a 6k full frame camera I think it would see just as much use as the Monstro. The Monstro is RED's best camera in terms of dynamic range and color reproduction (maybe topped by the Raptor??). So its kind of the natural choice to go with it for that reason.

I am still content with 2k capture though my style is definitely classic cinema.

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9 hours ago, Django said:

Ironically almost none of those examples were shot on ARRI cameras:

Sabrina - RED Helium

Sex Education - Sony Venice

Witcher - RED Monstro / Alexa LF

Squid Game - RED Monstro

Bridgerton - Sony Venice

The Crown - Sony Venice

Mindhunter - RED Helium

All high above 4K resolution cameras. 

So perhaps we can conclude 6K/8K high resolution capture does not necessarily equate to over sharp/clean footage. And that great IQ results can be achieved outside of the ARRI CS realm.

Maybe the key to that million-dollar budget Netflix show aesthetics evoked here isn't about ARRI color science at all but rather the incredible top budget cine glass from Cooke, Zeiss, Panavision, Arri, Leica, Angenieux etc. Without even getting into staging/lighting and post/grading skills.

Just some food for thought..

Please point to the one that NEEDED 4K.  or 6K.  or 8K.  or 12K.

Lots of talk about cameras around here, and lots of talk about cameras needing more resolution.  Meanwhile I'm watching the content that is the best of the best and barely seeing a frame where the minuscule amount of detail 4K provides wasn't completely overwhelmed by the lens properties, either physical or virtual.

The desire for finer detailed images from non-cinema cameras is opposed to having emotional images, and comes at the cost of things that would actually make a difference

The people who talk about more resolution being better fall into two camps: those who are making images like the above and feel that a bump in resolution might be slightly advantageous, or the people who don't understand that images like the above exist and talk about resolution like its an end-goal in itself.

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3 hours ago, TomTheDP said:

To be fair they are mostly Netflix shows which rarely use ARRI. But the question is how necessary is resolution if you are just going to soften everything. At the end of the day though more resolution is the way forward. Arri is finally going to put out a 4k camera. That to me is a statement. If ARRI is good with 4k that kind of speaks for the narrative industry.

Well ARRI already have the 4.5K LF & the 6K Alexa65. So to me that statement was already made a while ago.

8 minutes ago, kye said:

Please point to the one that NEEDED 4K.  or 6K.  or 8K.  or 12K.

Well technically they all needed to be above 4K as their Netflix original content minimum requirements.

This is why so many Netflix DPs dropped the Alexa for RED/Venice. Changed the whole game.

There are real benefits to higher resolution too.

Now wether or not this matters to you the end user watching a show on your 7" iPad is a different story.

 

5 minutes ago, kye said:

The people who talk about more resolution being better fall into two camps: those who are making images like the above and feel that a bump in resolution might be slightly advantageous, or the people who don't understand that images like the above exist and talk about resolution like its an end-goal in itself.

You're always trying to pigeonhole people in two categories it seems. Very black & white logic. 

Higher resolution is simply an inevitable reality. Tech moves forward. So do requirements. 

That doesn't mean you are directly concerned or that non +4K footage has become obsolete.

Cinema is still 2K, terrestrial FHD and everything goes on the internet..

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1 hour ago, Django said:

Well ARRI already have the 4.5K LF & the 6K Alexa65. So to me that statement was already made a while ago.

They're both FF aren't they?  The ARRI website lists the ALEXA Mini (not LF) as being 3.4K, so I'd imagine that Tom was referring to 4K on S35.  That's the standard for cinema, still.

1 hour ago, Django said:

Well technically they all needed to be above 4K as their Netflix original content minimum requirements.

That's a BS criteria that has nothing to do with imaging.  

Again, please point to the one that NEEDED 4K.  or 6K.  or 8K.  or 12K......   for anything relating to the actual image.

1 hour ago, Django said:

Now wether or not this matters to you the end user watching a show on your 7" iPad is a different story.

It certainly won't matter to anyone watching on my 7" iPad as I don't have a 7" iPad.  (You keep making statements referring to my behaviour, and getting it wrong.  Are you secretly bugging someone's house, and thinking it's mine?  Very strange!)

It also doesn't matter to me watching content on my 32" UHD display at about 5' viewing distance.  When I was sizing my display before buying I reviewed the THX and SMPTE cinema standards and translated their recommended viewing angle to my room so that I'd have the same angle as sitting in the diamond zone in the cinema.  The two standards were a bit different, so I chose a spot about half-way between them.

At this distance, under controlled conditions, the difference between 2K and 4K high-bitrate images (ie, not streamed) is not visible, yes I performed my own tests and shot my own footage as well as watching comparisons from others.  With streaming content there is a huge difference between a 2K stream and a 4K stream due to the bitrates involved, but switching between a 2K source and 4K source is not visible, even when the stream is 4K.
Yes, my display is colour calibrated.  Yes, my display is set to industry cinema brightness.  Yes, my room is set to industry standard ambient light levels and is also colour calibrated.
These were tests using high-resolution lenses and controlled conditions, not the kind of images shown above, which obscure and de-emphasise resolution deliberately for creative purposes.

So, no, it's not visible to the faceless people somehow watching my non-existent 7" iPad, it's not visible to me in a highly calibrated environment with a cinema-like angle-of-view, and it's basically not visible to people who are watching a 4K TV that isn't within arms reach.

It's only visible to people who pixel-pee instead of thinking about the creative aspects.

1 hour ago, Django said:

Tech moves forward. So do requirements. 

Yes, it does, and yes, they do.

I've done as many blind camera tests as I can find, and done them properly under controlled blind conditions.  I did so because I was genuinely interested in learning what I saw, not what I think I saw based on my own prejudices.

I learned two things:

  • I judge a cameras image based on its colour
  • This technique has, without fail, ranked more expensive cameras above cheaper cameras

So, back to the tech.  It's been a decade since we had OG BM cameras and the 5D with ML, but no improved colour science in the sub-$4K price range.  None.  Zero improvement.  In a decade.

Your statement is correct "Tech moves forward. So do requirements".  Unfortunately, the number one consideration I have, and the consideration that accurately predicts the price of the camera (unlike other considerations from others) hasn't improved.

It's not like it couldn't be done.  ARRI improved the colour science of the Alexa, which was already worlds-best, but we're still stuck with 5D level colour.

You appreciate resolution and so it looks like the tech is improving, and it has - DSLR sized cameras went from 2K RAW to 8K RAW is a 16x improvement.  
I value colour, and DSLR sized cameras haven't made much progress at all.  The R5C and R3 look like 5D images, with a ton more resolution and a touch more DR.  I'm not asking for a 16x improvement, I'm asking for a 2x improvement, or a 3x improvement.

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49 minutes ago, kye said:

That's a BS criteria that has nothing to do with imaging.  

Again, please point to the one that NEEDED 4K.  or 6K.  or 8K.  or 12K......   for anything relating to the actual image.

Do you even read the articles that you link to?

Messerschmidt: We shot 6K 2:1 with a 5K center extraction. This method gave us tremendous freedom in post for stabilization and re-framing when necessary. The editors work with a lot of split screens, so having the extra room to reframe and adjust in the cut is very helpful in that process.

also:

In addition to giving Fincher another crack at getting the exact composition he wants, it allows for the elimination of imperfections in the operating of the camera.

“If you are shooting an actor sitting up from a chair and the operator tilts up with him, you might do 10 takes of that and the operator might keep the headroom perfect for six of them, but if they chose for editorial a take where the operator clips the headroom it can be fixed in post,” said Messerschmidt. “Same thing for stabilization – rolling on a slightly bumpy floor or doing a crane move where the crane has a little wiggle in it or whatever, being able to take that out in post very much informs David’s aesthetic. It lets the show maintain that very ethereal, almost robotic look, letting the camera be anonymous in the storytelling process.”

49 minutes ago, kye said:

It certainly won't matter to anyone watching on my 7" iPad as I don't have a 7" iPad.

I was speaking of your average Joe, not necessarily you.

49 minutes ago, kye said:

You appreciate resolution and so it looks like the tech is improving, and it has - DSLR sized cameras went from 2K RAW to 8K RAW is a 16x improvement.  
I value colour, and DSLR sized cameras haven't made much progress at all.  The R5C and R3 look like 5D images, with a ton more resolution and a touch more DR.  I'm not asking for a 16x improvement, I'm asking for a 2x improvement, or a 3x improvement.

Here you go again pitting one against the other. In your b&w mind one is either pro something or against the other. You cannot seem to fathom a person can value multiple aspects of IQ. Filmmaking is more complex than just resolution & color science you know. It’s not just one or the other. I shoot all types of resolutions, it depends on the project and the budget. I shoot all kinds of brands/codecs/sensor sizes etc. Whatever I feel fits the project. That how pros think and work. Enthusiasts come up with these dead-end theories and tend to clinch to one side.

You seem quite obessesed with color science, especially from ARRI. You keep claiming nothing has improved in that department in over a decade “none” “zero”. Sorry but that’s just plain incorrect, you musn’t have been following much. Canon/Sony/BM keep updating their CS. Canon offers you classic eos cinema color matrix or neutral which is ARRI inspired. Sony has had Venice’s S-Cinetone trickle down to FX/Alpha range. BM are on Gen5 of their CS.

Furthermore, the biggest improvement relative to CS in recent mirrorless tech is 10-bit Log & RAW. These types of codecs finally allow footage shot on hybrids to get proper color grading treatments, and potentially compete/match with big boy ARRI/RED footage.

If your complaining about CS in 2022 on a latest gen Canon/Sony/Nikon/Panny/BMD you perhaps should start taking a look at your grading skills.

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I had been thinking shooting 8K for 4K/2K was useful for special purposes.
Such as unmanned cameras covering a live event, and selecting the region of interest later.
Or clean greenscreen composites.

Here’s another: cropping into 8K as a way of lens shifting to adjust for perspective, as
done in large format view cameras. Again, a special situation, not standard procedure.

But here is a possible case for “standard procedure” 8K: future-proofing for “full field of view”
displays, such as the Apple VR headset, and other as yet unknown future full visual field projection technology.
I think such technology is inevitable.

One feature that seems almost certain given the plethora of leaks is the MR headset’s dual 8K displays. At 7680 x 4320 resolution, that’s four times as many pixels as a 4K screen and significantly more pixels than any other commercially available device.” ….https://www.techradar.com/news/apple-vr-headset

To be prepared for VR & other future surround use, in 8K I would shoot a wider angle view than necessary, keeping the usual main action in the center “2k or 4K area” of the frame,
and cropping it for standard TV & projection use, for now.
Later, for wider field displays, I’d have the original 8K master with the extra “surround” image area.
This would not be difficult for my family/travel/nature subjects since there is no limitations due to lighting, sets etc.
 
Remember the small central “standard” field of view that some Omnimax films started with?
Then the movie would expand out to the full field of vision of the entire Omnimax dome
screen, for dramatic effect. Will the entire last century of films look “small” to future generations?

I have no specific plans to get an 8K camera in the near future, the above is just conjecture, food for thought.

But I am looking forward to a good hi-res 3D headset, I hope Apple pulls it off.

                                                                                                                               

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So in conclusion. It doesn't matter what resolution you shoot at because what matters most for these kind of productions is the lens choices, lighting, set production, camera positioning and movement, and talented colorists.

Those professionals could take a 2K image and a 6K image and make them look the same. Except the 6K image, in their own words, allows them more flexibility in post, including...omg...reframing the source material in post 🤯.

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4 hours ago, Django said:

Do you even read the articles that you link to?

Messerschmidt: We shot 6K 2:1 with a 5K center extraction. This method gave us tremendous freedom in post for stabilization and re-framing when necessary. The editors work with a lot of split screens, so having the extra room to reframe and adjust in the cut is very helpful in that process.

also:

In addition to giving Fincher another crack at getting the exact composition he wants, it allows for the elimination of imperfections in the operating of the camera.

“If you are shooting an actor sitting up from a chair and the operator tilts up with him, you might do 10 takes of that and the operator might keep the headroom perfect for six of them, but if they chose for editorial a take where the operator clips the headroom it can be fixed in post,” said Messerschmidt. “Same thing for stabilization – rolling on a slightly bumpy floor or doing a crane move where the crane has a little wiggle in it or whatever, being able to take that out in post very much informs David’s aesthetic. It lets the show maintain that very ethereal, almost robotic look, letting the camera be anonymous in the storytelling process.”

Lens emulation is essentially a VFX operation, so happy to acknowledge that extra resolution is useful in that case.  

In terms of how much I've read that article, my answer is that I've read that article more than you have.  This is because I have attempted lens emulations in post myself, quite a lot actually, and that article (and the excellent accompanying video which shows the node tree in Baselight) was one of the rare examples I could find of someone talking about the subject in really any useful detail at all. I've read it many times, watched the video many times, taking notes and following along as I went, experimenting and learning.  Studying.

It's a fascinating topic, and quite a controversial one judging from the response I got on another forum when I started a discussion around it.  I won't link to it out of courtesy to Andrew, but googling it should yield results if you're curious - the ILM guy spoke about how they go about emulating lenses for matching composites in VFX and even shared a power grade he mocked up for the discussion, very generous and always fascinating to get to see the workings of people with deep expertise.

You still haven't pointed out a shot in the above that requires a high-resolution, except for the one VFX example I included.

4 hours ago, Django said:

You seem quite obessesed with color science, especially from ARRI. You keep claiming nothing has improved in that department in over a decade “none” “zero”. Sorry but that’s just plain incorrect, you musn’t have been following much. Canon/Sony/BM keep updating their CS. Canon offers you classic eos cinema color matrix or neutral which is ARRI inspired. Sony has had Venice’s S-Cinetone trickle down to FX/Alpha range. BM are on Gen5 of their CS.

I'm obsessed with colour science in this discussion because it's the weak link of cameras, and they're not really improving it (don't confuse change with progress).

Canon can add as many versions as they like to their colour science, but the R3 RAW images were the splitting image of 5D3 ML RAW files, which I see quite regularly.  That level of colour science was very good in 2012, but still isn't ARRI 2012, let alone ARRI 2022.

Sony have greatly improved their colour science, absolutely.  They took it from "WTF" to "Canon 2012."  It's an improvement to their previous cameras, but doesn't surpass what I've been able to buy all along from other brands.

BM changed sensors from Fairchild to Sony, which was a large step backwards, and have improved their colour science up to version 5, which is now about the same level as Canon 2012.  Still not like the images from the Fairchild sensor.

Your point about people watching on iPads reinforces my argument for colour science - the smaller the image is the less resolution matters, but it doesn't diminish the importance of colour science.

4 hours ago, Django said:

Furthermore, the biggest improvement relative to CS in recent mirrorless tech is 10-bit Log & RAW. These types of codecs finally allow footage shot on hybrids to get proper color grading treatments, and potentially compete/match with big boy ARRI/RED footage.

10-bit LOG and RAW is great.  The best cameras in 2012 had RAW, and 10-bit Prores which is aesthetically nicer than h264/5.  No improvement there, just a decade of manufacturers playing catchup.

It's an interesting statement that recent mirrorless can compete or match ARRI or RED.  My grading experience with the files says no, but ok.

4 hours ago, Django said:

If your complaining about CS in 2022 on a latest gen Canon/Sony/Nikon/Panny/BMD you perhaps should start taking a look at your grading skills.

My grading skills, yes, let's get personal!

You are ABSOLUTELY right that the weak link is my colour grading skills.  Absolutely.  If I had the total cumulative colour grading knowledge that ARRI have devoted to colour science, my grades would be as good as ARRI.  Yes, that's definitely true.  

The problem is that there's no-one on earth who can claim that.

Are you familiar with the path that ARRI have taken with colour science and the involvement and experience of Glenn Kennel?  If not, it's a fascinating topic to read more about.  Colour and Mastering for Digital Cinema by Glenn Kennel is hugely useful, and the chapter on film emulation is spectacular and was a revelation, and released several years prior to the first Alexa.  ARRI have probably devoted 100+ years of expert development into their colour science since then.  

So when someone points an Alexa at something and records a scene, then takes it into post and applies the ARRI LUT, they're bringing hundreds of years of colour science development to bear.  and no, when someone shoots a scene with a Canon camera and then I bring the footage into post and apply the Canon LUT, my skills are not sufficient to bridge the difference.  That's the job of the manufacturers.  But when I pull in Alexa 2012 footage and Canon 2021 footage into Resolve, apply the manufacturers LUTs, the Canon 2021 doesn't look as nice as the Alexa 2012.

Like I've heard the colourists say many times, they can't work miracles, so unless you're shooting with the best cameras (which they mostly specify as ARRI and RED) you can't expect them to deliver the best images.

37 minutes ago, Video Hummus said:

So in conclusion. It doesn't matter what resolution you shoot at because what matters most for these kind of productions is the lens choices, lighting, set production, camera positioning and movement, and talented colorists.

Those professionals could take a 2K image and a 6K image and make them look the same. Except the 6K image, in their own words, allows them more flexibility in post, including...omg...reframing the source material in post 🤯.

Yes, that's right.  The resolution doesn't really matter unless you're doing VFX, which lens emulation in post is definitely an example of.  It's 2D VFX instead of 3D VFX, but it's an effect, and it's digital.  

Not sure what your point is here.

My point is that higher resolutions are a niche thing, and I wish that the manufacturers would focus on things like colour science, which isn't a niche application and applies to all images.  Sadly, the resolution obsessed videographers keep buying the manufacturers BS so the manufacturers aren't encouraged to actually make progress that applies to everyone.

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Kye just one question and please don’t take this personal. How much have you

 

1. Tried to actually create a specific ‘aesthetic’ (let’s focus on that for a second and ignore all other considerations to a production, some of which might be more important than that aesthetic) in a real world scenario by:

- Conceiving a type of look you want up front, often in coordination with clients and collaborators that may have wishes or needs that differ slightly or massively from your own taste or initial instinct, 

- going about selecting the tools that you need for achieving this. Keep in mind that you will need to test this equipment because some ideas that you had up front that seemed great or that you’ve heard about as performing X might not actually create the effect that you thought they would in practice. Sometimes locations or the camera/lenses that you preferred will not be available due to whatever reason. You will still be expected to achieve the previously agreed upon look. Quitting because you couldn’t get an Alexa will never get you another job again.

- actually creating  the look on set and MAINTAINING it across different shots that may be shot days apart. Remember that you might have less time in the schedule than you thought or that conditions changed beyond your control, you will still be expected to come close to your initial idea otherwise your look won’t match.

- gone into a grading suite with a colorist and perhaps even a client and graded a large project in a very limited amount of time. Keep in mind that you will not be able to try fifty different experiments just for giggles because you will get fired.

 

vs. 
 

2. Downloaded some clips off the internet and played around -however skillfully or elaborately- with the footage on your pc.

Because everything I’ve seen from you  around here -and I might be wrong- indicates to me that you fall squarely into the second category. There’s nothing wrong with that and I do not mean to gatekeep or to shit on the enthusiasm for the craft that you regularly display on here (which is AWESOME!), but I am a little astounded by the confidence and boldness at which you make some claims.

Please reflect upon your skill and experience and consider displaying some humility (know what you DON’T know), especially when looking at your experience (enthusiastic amateur filming their family on vacation) versus that of Django (working professional that has actually used some of the equipment that you make such confident assertions about). 

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5 hours ago, Django said:

Here you go again pitting one against the other. In your b&w mind one is either pro something or against the other. You cannot seem to fathom a person can value multiple aspects of IQ. Filmmaking is more complex than just resolution & color science you know. It’s not just one or the other. I shoot all types of resolutions, it depends on the project and the budget. I shoot all kinds of brands/codecs/sensor sizes etc. Whatever I feel fits the project. That how pros think and work. Enthusiasts come up with these dead-end theories and tend to clinch to one side.

In a sense there are two fundamental approaches, and two fundamental looks.

The first combination is to get an organic look by doing it in camera.  This used to be the only option before the VFX tools really became available, and would involve choosing the production design / lighting / filters / lenses / camera / codec to be the "optimal" combination to render the aesthetic.  It's still the default approach and will be for a long time to come I would suggest.

This is really the scenario that we're talking about here, and where I question the "more is more" mentality that people have, because it just doesn't line up with the images above.  Sure, you can shoot a vintage zoom lens on a 12K camera, but if your target aesthetic is the 1940's then the lens won't resolve that much, and so there's no advantage the the resolution over shooting in 2K Prores, but you'll pay for the resolution choice with storage costs and media management and processing time.

The second combination is to get an organic look by doing it in post.  This is really only feasible recently due to the availability of VFX tools, and would involve choosing an authentic production design / lighting but using filters / lenses / camera / codec to be the highest optical resolution possible, so that the target aesthetic can be created in post.

This is the scenario of Mindhunter, and is what I would call a specialist VFX application.  The advantage is that you can control the look more heavily, but it's a lot of work.  This is why the UMP12K exists.

The last combination is to get as clinical / modern a look as possible.  This will require the most resolution and highest resolving lenses possible.  This creates soul-less images and probably none of us here are interested in this.

So the two fundamental approaches are "cameras and lenses should be neutral and technically perfect" and the other approach is "cameras and lenses should be pleasing and technically imperfect, in the ways that I choose".  
You keep saying I have a black and white view, but I'm not sure what the third option would be - some people want "the right amount" and other people want "more more more more more more more".  I would imagine that this will eventually plateau and those people might say "enough already" when we're at 200K or something stupid, but in the meantime it just gets less and less practical for the majority of people.  ....and yes, I do believe that most people don't want more pixels, but are forced to buy cameras with more pixels in order to get the minor upgrades to the things that they actually care about.

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36 minutes ago, seanzzxx said:

Kye just one question and please don’t take this personal. How much have you

 

1. Tried to actually create a specific ‘aesthetic’ (let’s focus on that for a second and ignore all other considerations to a production, some of which might be more important than that aesthetic) in a real world scenario by:

- Conceiving a type of look you want up front, often in coordination with clients and collaborators that may have wishes or needs that differ slightly or massively from your own taste or initial instinct, 

- going about selecting the tools that you need for achieving this. Keep in mind that you will need to test this equipment because some ideas that you had up front that seemed great or that you’ve heard about as performing X might not actually create the effect that you thought they would in practice. Sometimes locations or the camera/lenses that you preferred will not be available due to whatever reason. You will still be expected to achieve the previously agreed upon look. Quitting because you couldn’t get an Alexa will never get you another job again.

- actually creating  the look on set and MAINTAINING it across different shots that may be shot days apart. Remember that you might have less time in the schedule than you thought or that conditions changed beyond your control, you will still be expected to come close to your initial idea otherwise your look won’t match.

- gone into a grading suite with a colorist and perhaps even a client and graded a large project in a very limited amount of time. Keep in mind that you will not be able to try fifty different experiments just for giggles because you will get fired.

 

vs. 
 

2. Downloaded some clips off the internet and played around -however skillfully or elaborately- with the footage on your pc.

Because everything I’ve seen from you  around here -and I might be wrong- indicates to me that you fall squarely into the second category. There’s nothing wrong with that and I do not mean to gatekeep or to shit on the enthusiasm for the craft that you regularly display on here (which is AWESOME!), but I am a little astounded by the confidence and boldness at which you make some claims.

Please reflect upon your skill and experience and consider displaying some humility (know what you DON’T know), especially when looking at your experience (enthusiastic amateur filming their family on vacation) versus that of Django (working professional that has actually used some of the equipment that you make such confident assertions about). 

I shoot travel, run and gun, guerrilla style, in available light, no re-takes, for personal projects, but within that context, I've done both.

I have a target aesthetic that I want to achieve with my work and I know it mostly up-front, although the location does influence it.  The quality of the light is one thing I try to capture and emphasise in post, for example.  

I own all my own equipment, but am pushing it to the limits and sometimes beyond.  I'm consistently trying new equipment, techniques, and balancing various trade-offs.  For example, with my GH5, I traded auto-focus capability for 10-bit internal files.  This means I am manually focusing live in unpredictable environments.  I have ordered a couple of lenses even this week to trial, and will sell a few pieces of gear once I've fully tested them.  

I have no control over what I shoot, but absolutely want to create continuity in the edit between days and locations.  In addition to this, I mix footage from three types  of cameras across 3 different brands, and shoot in different frame rates which have different codecs.  These all have to match in the edit and are sometimes intercut.

I haven't been in a colour suite in a professional sense as I do everything and am the client as well as entire production team, but I can colour grade fast.  I've taught myself to colour grade by essentially making myself study.  A senior colourist told me years ago that there is no shortcut, and that "it takes 10 years to get a decade of experience".  I took that to heart.  One exercise I did, which is relevant to your question, was I pulled in about 200 random shots (representing a ~10 minute edit) across all the footage I have, including over a dozen cameras and dozens of locations, and then graded it under a time constraint, perhaps equating to something like 30s per shot.  I did this exercise many times.  The first "set" of times I did this, I did the entire grade using only a single tool.  I did the whole thing using only the LGG wheels, then only the contrast/pivot/offset controls, then only curves.  I can't remember if there were others - I can't think of any 🙂 Then I looked at the footage and studied what I liked about each look.  How well the footage matched, how easy they were to use, etc.  Then I did the exercise again, using whatever tools I wanted.  I studied the results again.  Then I did it again, this time with a target look.  I did warm, dreamy, vintage, modern, etc etc.  Studied the footage again.  

That really covers both 1 and 2, because I've graded as many different types of footage as I can get my hands on, including my own footage as well as downloaded footage, both from the manufacturers themselves, as well as independent cinematographers uploading source footage for people to play with.  

I don't post much of my own work here because its of my family and friends who mostly don't want to be shared publicly online to people they don't know.  I do make de-personalised versions of the edits sometimes, but TBH the last thing I want to do once I've finished an edit is to pull out the shots featuring the people I know and then re-cut the whole thing again.

I've posted 35 videos to YT since Jan 2021, but almost all are private.  They are a mixture of finished projects, equipment tests and colour grading tests.

But just for fun, here's one I quite like:

 

 

36 minutes ago, Simon Young said:

@kye You’re the guy who wrote that the “new” canons have “clay like skin”? That statement alone kind of disqualifies you from any serious color science debate, no matter how many lengthy posts you write with images from high end productions shot on high res (lol) pro cinema cameras.

No actually, someone else said it, another person agreed, and I mentioned it.

My comments were reserved to Canons compressed codecs, not their RAW files.

Obviously colour is a matter of perception, taste, but it's also a matter of culture.  Colour grading in other countries is often done quite differently, if you're not aware of this then do a bit of searching - it's quite an interesting topic.

I could say the same line back to you - if you're not seeing the difference between Canon colour science and ARRI colour science then "That statement alone kind of disqualifies you from any serious color science debate"!!!!  

Of course, this kind of "I hereby declare that your opinion isn't valid because it isn't the same as mine" is the challenge with these conversations, and sadly, its normally the fanatics that want to cancel you because you have a more nuanced opinion.  

"You don't think Canon is perfect?  Well, you obviously failed second grade math and were locked out of home by your parents - be gone heathen!"

"You think we don't need 24K? Well, you obviously don't understand film-making, and progress is progress so get out of the way, and don't you know that there was once a situation where that came in handy, and don't you know that your computer will be able to handle those files in the year 2048 anyway...  so, how about that new lens that is so optically perfect the factory keeps muddling up the lens housings for the finished lenses lol lol lol".

At the end of the day, I just see that the equation doesn't add up...  people are watching 2K masters shot on vintage lenses in cinemas, but if you question why the average Canon user needs 8K then somehow "it's the future" is meant to mean something, but I look at the average image and resolution above 4K is about as relevant to creating them as the colour of the tripod was on set.

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yeah my ears are burning bc of the 'clay' skin tones comment

i agreed with that 100%, like i said, and now im not doubling down, im tripling down~!

• 5d mark 2 color was amazing, less realistic, more green and magenta (im not a scientist lol dont ask me), vs...

• 5d 3 color which was amazing, warmer and prolly more accurate, but then

• 5d4 came out and their color went to shit. 'flat' skin tones? yes, it looks like the men are wearing foundation

but mind you, im ONLY TALKING ABOUT SKIN TONES, and crazy as it may sound, for my artistic purposes ~im happy to grade the heck out of everything else in the image~

neon grass/etc was common back in the day for canon, but id gladly wrangle the rest of the image for skintones which show blood and skin translucency better. its a huge way that we show emotion~! *no one actually cares what color a tree is* – you can make it teal. but if a persons face is teal they look sick (not sick cool but sick ill lol)

i will power window the entire shot around the skintones. is that a practical workflow? no, its far from ideal, its time consuming. and ofc im speaking about creative 'artistic' filmmaking, not a product shoot where you need color accuracy and immediate turnaround. clearly. i get all that

im just saying that there IS a difference in canon color from the 5d4 on, and i dont think that its an improvement. idk if its better at shooting a color chart, i respect the need, i just personally dont care...

so am i imagining all this? maybe its a dream

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11 hours ago, Django said:

Well ARRI already have the 4.5K LF & the 6K Alexa65. So to me that statement was already made a while ago.

True however ARRI had no choice but to make the LF 4.5k and the LF 6k. They use the same sensor in every camera and that was the only way to do that.

Their new S35 camera is a brand new sensor and they chose to go 4k over 6k or 8k. That to me is a statement and I don't think anyone will question it. Of course they might now put out a full frame 6k and large format 8k camera. That will be interesting to see.

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39 minutes ago, TomTheDP said:

True however ARRI had no choice but to make the LF 4.5k and the LF 6k. They use the same sensor in every camera and that was the only way to do that.

Their new S35 camera is a brand new sensor and they chose to go 4k over 6k or 8k. That to me is a statement and I don't think anyone will question it. Of course they might now put out a full frame 6k and large format 8k camera. That will be interesting to see.

It will be very interesting to see.  Who knows how much of a limiting factor their sensor has been up until now.  Obviously it's excellent, but it's also positively ancient in tech terms.

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