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Martha Marcy May Marlene: bad grading or bad projection?

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Paulo Jan
Martha Marcy May Marlene: bad grading or bad projection?
on May 20, 2012 at 8:07:00 pm

Hi all:

Just saw today "Martha Marcy May Marlene" (yes, it got released late here in Spain), and was surprised to see that the black levels in many scenes were incredibly inconsistent. While some shots (like the one of the protagonist listening to the song that the cult leader writes for her) show some really nice contrast and rich blacks (good grading there), other shots (in particular the shooting lesson) had some really muddy, raised blacks (which almost looked like dark greys).

I just downloaded the trailer from Apple's website to have a look, but didn't notice anything weird (the shooting scene had the blacks quite... black, as they were supposed to look), so I'd just like to confirm from someone who has seen the film whether you saw the same thing, or it's just a bad print, a bad projection... (BTW: it would have to be a bad print in any case, right? A bad projection can't arbitrarily change the contrast levels from one scene to another... or can it?)


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Scott Roberts
Re: Martha Marcy May Marlene: bad grading or bad projection?
on May 21, 2012 at 6:07:00 pm

I haven't seen it since it was in theaters last year, and I remember the cinematography/color had a very distinct, gritty look. But I don't recall it being noticeably inconsistent or anything. If I watch it again, now I'll definitely be looking for it, though!

My hunch is a potentially bad print of the film.


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Paulo Jan
Re: Martha Marcy May Marlene: bad grading or bad projection?
on May 21, 2012 at 9:10:53 pm

Thanks for the response. The thing is, though... Today I had a look at the trailer again in a decent monitor (unlike yesterday), and I definitely saw the defects (?) I was talking about. The trailer is at:

http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/fox_searchlight/marthamarcymaymarlene/

Compare the blacks at, say, 2:03 (a nice, contrasty shot) with the ones at 1:33 (the shooting scene) or at 1:06. Though now that I see it again, my impression is that it's mostly grain due to underexposure. Mmmm... I'd love to know whether they had any lighting at all in those scenes, or shot only with natural light.


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