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Mike Garcia
Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 5, 2011 at 5:47:59 pm

The sony f 23, a professional movie camera, shoots in full 1080p. But how does that look good in theaters due to it not being 2k or 4k? I didn't know that there are camera's like the sony f 23 and panavision genesis that only shoot in 1080p, because I thought movie's had a higher resolution like red in 2k, 4k, or 5k, why would they shoot in just 1080p?


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Kevin Cannon
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 5, 2011 at 7:55:51 pm

Check this out, it's a really comprehensive study by Arri about 2K and 4K systems used in motion picture with theatrical distribution:

http://www.arri.com/?eID=registration&file_uid=3525

One issue it covers is how close the audience has to sit to see a resolution difference between HD, 2K and 4K - a lot of people don't like to sit close that close (though the Arri study thinks that "limit of visual perception" is much higher than 4K, others disagree.)

A lot of other factors - bit depth, color accuracy, high quality image-processing, lack of artifacts, noise, or compression can be more important than resolution to the look of the final, and the Genesis, f23, f35, and Alexa tend to excel there more than "4K cameras"...

Also, there are no truly 4K or 5K cameras out there - the RED only gets to that resolution through post-process debayering. It's chip has a bayer-pattern sensor where each pixel of the image has only a Red, a Green, or a Blue photosite. Whereas the Genesis only has 1920 pixels in width, each one has a red, green, and blue photosite. So in terms of the actual photosites, there's not a large difference - obviously Panavision is disappointed that most people take RED's resolution claims at face value...

The Arri report concludes that the only way to really get 4K all the way through is shooting 35mm, but we'll see how things progress...

KC

prehistoricdigital.com
hardworkingpixels.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 6, 2011 at 5:58:50 am

All the technical reasons aside (and all the good information above), the aesthetic answer to the question "But how does that look good in theaters ...why would they shoot in just 1080p?" is simply that often times 1080 is "good enough."

True, the Genesis is technically "only" an HD camera... but it's a darn good one, and many bigshot DPs say its latitude and colorspace puts higher-res cameras like the RED to shame. A number of times I've watched a film in a theatre, only to be surprised by the "Panavision Genesis" bug at the end of the credit roll. Often I had no idea it wasn't real film. Roger Deakins just shot "True Grit" on 35mm, but when he went back to do some pickup shots he shot those with the Arri ALEXA (which is 2.88K, higher than 1080 but lower than RED) and it cut together with the real film just fine (and he also said that "Grit" was probably the last feature he would shoot on real 35mm film).

The only way to get really really high resolution (actually much much higher than 4K) is with a project that is shot on film, edited on film, and projected on film. That rarely happens anymore. Virtually all feature films now go though a DI (digital intermediary) stage where all the post production and editing takes place. Sometimes 4K DIs are used, but the majority of films are edited using a 2K DI. Simply because it looks "good enough," and the visual (not the technical) difference in the 2K and 4K DI is minimal, if visible at all.

On top of that, if you're watching a film in a theatre that has digital projection (as more and more are now), well some of those theatres are equipped with 4K projectors, but the majority of them are 2K projectors. And some are 1080 projectors.

So, for all the banter about 4K, 5K, and beyond... and people almost religiously clamoring for higher and higher resolutions, the simple (and some would say sad) fact is that in many cases it just doesn't make all that much difference... visually.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mike Garcia
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 6, 2011 at 6:28:46 am

one more question, since 1080p is the highest consumer tv that can be owned, how would something that looks good on a 4 or 5 foot screen, look so good on a multiple foot movie screen in cinema's? If a blu-ray movie, outputted at 1080p, playing on a 1080p tv, look just as good on a regular movie screen? And what about a imax screen since the new transformers is coming in imax too but shot using a f23 1080p camera?


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Kevin Cannon
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 6, 2011 at 5:16:06 pm

Well the screen is bigger but you don\'t sit six feet away. The farther you sit or the smaller the screen, you won\'t be able to perceive differences in resolution.

But ultimately when Transformers comes out, you can sit up-close in IMAX and decide if it was the right choice. But Avatar had a similar IMAX 3D release from 1080p cameras, with few complaints and an Oscar to boot.

prehistoricdigital.com
hardworkingpixels.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 6, 2011 at 5:31:24 pm

[Mike Garcia] "since 1080p is the highest consumer tv that can be owned, how would something that looks good on a 4 or 5 foot screen, look so good on a multiple foot movie screen in cinema's? I"

It's because you have to think not about the actual size of the screens, but the apparent size of the screens in relation to how far away you are from them.

Do this... if you have a large-screen television in your living room, sit at a normal distance, extend your arms, and visually "measure" the size of the screen with your hands. Then do the same thing the next time you go see a movie in a theatre. Depending on where you sit, your home TV might actually look even bigger. That's how the cinema screen can look just fine. Now, this doesn't apply if you are one of those people who sit in the front row, of course. If you were to walk right up to the movie screen in a theatre that has a digital projector (I've done this), you can see the little red/green/blue blocks that make up the picture, just as if you were to get up close and examine your TV screen. But from a proper distance you can't see it.

The reverse is true for home screens as well. Across the room from me right now is a 55" television. But the notebook computer that's in my lap right now actually has an apparent bigger screen because it's closer.



[Mike Garcia] "what about a imax screen since the new transformers is coming in imax too but shot using a f23 1080p camera?"

IMAX is a bit of a different animal. If you've ever seen a regular feature film on an IMAX screen, you know that whatever the original acquisition format of the movie (whether it be real film or digital), you know that doesn't look nearly as high-res as a real IMAX movie. A real IMAX film is shot with 65mm film that actually runs horizontally, not like 35mm film which runs vertically. Ergo an IMAX frame is several several times bigger in surface area than an 35mm frame. Also, some IMAX films are produced at 48fps, twice the speed of the usual framerate. So, real IMAX films, as far as resolution goes, blow conventional films out of the water... even those shown on an IMAX screen. The vast vast majority of feature films that advertise "Now in IMAX," or "See it in IMAX," are not real IMAX films at all... they are simply films shown in an IMAX theatre on an IMAX screen. Sometimes some of them will include a bit (maybe a special effects sequence or an action scene) that actually is IMAX... but virtually none of these films are actual IMAX films, shot with an IMAX camera in the jumbo IMAX format.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Frank Nolan
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 6, 2011 at 8:05:20 pm

[Mike Garcia] "If a blu-ray movie, outputted at 1080p, playing on a 1080p tv, look just as good on a regular movie screen? "

No it would not, if it was projected from a blu-ray player. The compression that goes into making a blu-ray DVD would become more obvious if projected on a large movie screen.
However if the movie was projected on a large screen from the original 1080p file it would probably look better than the blu-ray version on the TV.



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Richard Herd
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 7, 2011 at 8:27:49 pm

Here's a good article: http://magazine.creativecow.net/article/the-truth-about-2k-4k-the-future-of...

and: http://www.panavision.com/media-center

It's also a mistake to only measure video resolution according to picture size, because really it is an electronic signal, and there's a few ways to measure that, weird things like 4:4:4:4 and 4:2:2 and YUV or RGB and so on.


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Bruce Greene
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 7, 2011 at 11:24:30 pm

I know many of you won't believe me, but here goes...

I've shot a number of projects on my 720p Varicam (720x960 pixels).

I've projected them in large theaters on high quality 2k projectors. They look as detailed as any 35mm print at the multiplex. And, overall, better than film projection.

I just spent a few weeks color grading a REDone movie from the 4k files. They are much more detailed than my Varicam or even a Sony f35. But one thing was obvious: There are very, very few frames, maybe one of every 15 or so, that is sharp. This is due to motion blur and imprecise focus. And my focus puller was very good. Zoom into the 4k image and what looked like good focus, well, just isn't perfect with depth of focus less than 1/2 inch.

It's no surprise then that a 1080p movie is more than detailed enough for today's mulitplexes, especially compared to the 2k DI film prints that regularly screen.

We just did a test screening of a blue-ray from the 720p Varicam on a large screen. No one will know that it was not a 1080p original, really. And no one will say it looked softer than a normal film at the cinema.

OK, now let me have it :)

Varicam/Steadicam Owner
Los Angeles, CA
http://www.brucealangreene.com


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Kevin Cannon
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 8, 2011 at 5:06:08 am

"OK, now let me have it :)"

Since you asked!

I've shot a number of projects on my 720p Varicam (720x960 pixels). I've projected them in large theaters on high quality 2k projectors. They look as detailed as any 35mm print at the multiplex. And, overall, better than film projection.

If the prints in your multiplex are a few generations removed from the DI (interpositive/internegative etc.) the effective resolution can deteriorate pretty quickly - but a showprint of the same movie well projected might reveal a lot more detail. And watching dailies printed right from the camera negative show just how much detail 35mm has a capture medium...granted that detail that will get lost in either a normal DI or photochemical process, but it's nice to know it's there.

"There are very, very few frames, maybe one of every 15 or so, that is sharp. This is due to motion blur and imprecise focus."

Well, blurry things and out of focus things benefit from higher resolution and less compression as well... and 1/2" DOF isn't a feature of the format, just a cinematography choice...

"We just did a test screening of a blue-ray from the 720p Varicam on a large screen. No one will know that it was not a 1080p original, really. And no one will say it looked softer than a normal film at the cinema."

The last few times I've encountered 720p footage intercut with 1080p or 2K (usually from the same cameras as a speed effect) it stood out a lot. Perhaps it benefits from not being compared side by side, or some highly effective up-resing. But from the material I've shot and colored, I think there's a significantly greater perceivable difference between 720p and 1080p than say 2K and 4K. Somebody sitting 10m away from a 12m wide screen should be able to make out a pixel every 3mm (according to Arri) or 4,000 pixels wide... so all of these should be within the boundaries of human perception...

But there are a lot of other factors - Pixar rendered their first Toy Story theatrical release at sub-HD resolutions to dedicate more time and money to anti-aliasing, and it holds up great...

prehistoricdigital.com
hardworkingpixels.com


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Karen Jackson
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 10, 2011 at 9:47:31 pm

This is a bit of a deviation - does anyone know how you up-res from an Alexa camera (2.88k) to IMAX (which I believe is 7k)? And how much does it cost?


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Todd Terry
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 10, 2011 at 10:04:43 pm

[Karen Jackson] "This is a bit of a deviation - does anyone know how you up-res from an Alexa camera (2.88k) to IMAX (which I believe is 7k)? And how much does it cost?"

What you're asking about is "DMR"... which is IMAX's Digital Media Remastering. Maybe that's 7K, I don't know... I've don't know the exact specs on it.

A true IMAX film, is of course much much greater than 7K resolution because a real IMAX film is real film. I'm not sure of the "supposed equivalent resolution" because celluloid film isn't really measured in terms of "K," but some cinematographers have said by their best guesstimate that real 35mm film is probably in the equivalent of 20+K range as far as true resolution goes. Considering the IMAX frame is several times bigger than a 35mm frame (I haven't done the surface-area math, but my pull-it-out-of-my-ear guess is that it is six or seven times bigger in area), then the resolution would be that same multiple x the resolution of 35mm film (if you are comparing the different formats with the same filmstock).

How much does it cost? Don't know, but you can bet it's not cheap... striking any real film print (which real DMR does) is never an inexpensive proposition. You'd have to ask the lab... which is probably only IMAX itself (I'm not sure if any other labs can do their proprietary upconversion).

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Kevin Cannon
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 10, 2011 at 11:12:35 pm

No need to guesstimate - the Arri study at the top of the thread measures the ideal 35mm exposure on a 200 ASA stock, saying that the smallest resolvable detail is .006mm large on the negative...

Super 16mm is 12.35mm x 7.42mm or 2058 x 1237 "points"
Super 35mm is 24.92mm x 18.67 or 4153 x 3112 "points"
65mm is 52.48mm x 23.01 mm or 8746 x 3835 "points"

and Imax would be 69.95mm x 52.48mm (if the aspect ratio is 1.5 on the neg) so something like 13119 x 8746 "points".

but since the grains move around, the digital grid should be twice as fine... so 20k is an overestimate for 35mm film, but there's definitely a difference between 4K, 8K, and potentially 10K scans...

But my understanding is that digital IMAX projection is just two 2K projectors overlapping...so certainly not an equivalent to IMAX film projection...

KC

prehistoricdigital.com
hardworkingpixels.com


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Tim Kolb
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 29, 2011 at 2:23:26 pm

Just stumbled on this thread so I'm a bit late to the topic...

I think what Kevin mentions is the key to what "looks good" on a movie screen. Film has the resolutions that film advocates usually quote...out-of-the-camera. After a couple stages of re-imaging (inter-negs, etc) to get through a traditional film edit, and then get to a distribution print, that film has gone through several generations of degradation.

The "organic" (if I may use an over-used term) look of film has a lot to do with the varying grain structure. Digital pixels can look a bit antiseptic because the "dots" are in a fixed grid, and film seems somehow more "natural" because of the somewhat random distribution of the grain structure from frame to frame.

That's all great, but once you start to make those film copies, the next piece of stock has different random grain distribution...in digital, each pixel this generation correlates to a pixel (assuming you're not scaling) in the next generation...in film, nothing says that film grains would line up the same way, and in fact they almost never do. The detail in film drops off through this process.

Panavision did a really informative lecture on MTF some time ago. In the later parts I think many may say they make a bit too much of an effort to push the Genesis over the RED, but the rest of the material is really very informative.

John Galt's statement regarding distribution prints for theaters was rather telling...the target for MTF on distribution prints roughly equates the cycles per millimeter to 1000 TV lines if you can truly make this comparison "apples and somewhat different apples" which is also up for debate.

If you can get the dynamic range to perform adequately through the use of the right camera and informed post, HD resolution just shy of 2K should actually easily put up -at least- the resolution that 35mm film would in the theater.

Now...we haven't even addressed the fact that contrast plays a lead role in human perception of "sharpness" and having really good contrast at a lower limiting resolution will always look "sharper" to a human viewer than very high resolution alone (and any of us who have ever aimed a camera at a resolution chart know that the highest resolution a camera/lens system is capable of is imaged at almost zero contrast).

Whether or not you feel the aesthetic is adequately comparable is an artistic viewpoint and will depend on who had influence on the production, the relative projection systems, and the viewer's eye of course...

You can talk specs, but very few of us actually viscerally respond to resolution...

TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Todd Terry
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 29, 2011 at 3:07:25 pm

All Tim's observations are good and true... especially about film looking more "organic" due to the varying grain structure.

But keep in mind that generations of film on top of film on top of film (compounding the grain structure over and over again) is pretty much an "olden days" thing, when optical prints were being struck from a real cut internegative... which all stacked up to several generations of film by the time it got to the theatre screen.

Today, virtually all features use a DI, with the original scan coming directly from the original camera negative. It never sees film again until the final show prints are struck, which is more often done digitally, not optically. Therefore, if you are watching a feature in a theatre with a real 35mm film projector, you are usually seeing two generations of grain... the camera original, and the print that is being projected (and keeping in mind that projection prints are made on veeeery fine grain filmstock... much finer than the grain on the original camera stock). You would be seeing three generations if the final print was made optically instead of digitally, but that's not usually the norm these days. If you are watching that same feature in a digital theatre, you're only seeing one "layer" of grain... that from the original camera negative.

Again... the only thing that really matters is how good it looks to your eyeballs.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Tim Kolb
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 29, 2011 at 3:49:56 pm

Hi Todd,

I mentioned the film-throughout post theory because of your note in a post earlier in the thread:

Todd Terry: "The only way to get really really high resolution (actually much much higher than 4K) is with a project that is shot on film, edited on film, and projected on film."

...no mention of a DI there.

:-)

I agree that a DI in place of multi-generation film post preserves resolution to the extent of the DI's capability.

TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Todd Terry
Re: Not understanding professional resolutions
on Mar 29, 2011 at 4:08:07 pm

Yep... that is true, the only way to get true film resolution is to keep it on film throughout... that was cited as a "maximum resolution example."

But... whether fortunately or unfortunately, it just isn't done that way anymore. The DI is definitely the norm, now. I think pretty much the last "bigshot" holdout was Thelma Schoonmaker (who cuts all of Martin Scorsese's films, when she's not busy polishing her Oscars). She always favored cutting real film with her hands and eschewed DIs with a passion... but has now come over to the "dark side" and cuts with DIs like pretty much everyone else doing features.

When the film world has lost Roger Deakins as a DP (who, after doing pickup shots with the Arri ALEXA, said True Grit was probably the last feature he would ever shoot on 35mm) and Schoonmaker as an editor... that's one more kick in the pants for the all-celluloid purists.

Times, they do change....

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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