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End of projectionists

Posted: Thu, 7th Apr 2011, 4:16pm

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Staff Only

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Where did all the projectionists go?

Thank God people like James Cameron and George Lucas lit a light under theaters arses, I say. If I'm paying $22 to see a film per ticket it damn well look a lot better than the Blu-ray does on the 50-inch screen at home. And because of competing chains I can get new Blu-ray titles for $27 here.

It's come to point where I would rather watch a film like Rango or Legend of the Guardians, than The Social Network in the theater, because the only point is the big screen, and seeing it early so I can discuss it with friends and online. So one of the film's major selling points has to be sound and visuals for me to see it in the theater.

So you can imagine my wrath when ancient projectors, and slacking projectionists don't give me what I payed for. I now only go to digital screens. Never had a hiccup. Even on older, smaller theaters, if they've upgraded the projectors; it's going to look awesome.


This means that gone are the days when a tired old print starts to show up scratches and other signs of wear and tear. Audiences will barely notice the difference: every film will look like new.

Others, such as Peter Howden, projectionist and programmer for the Rio in Dalston, take a less nostalgic view. ‘I don’t think 35mm projection was ever an art. It’s more a routine job with an opportunity to produce an okay presentation standard. There’s no personal signature and only the occasional bell and whistle. The same, I think, applies to digital presentation.



Couldn't have said it better myself, and thank the maker for all that. I have a bit of rant-yness on the subject because I have some friends who can best be described as "elitist film-school hipsters". They hate the HDSLR-revolution in amateur film, they hate the digital-revolution in mainstream film, they hate the 3D-revolution in blockbusters, and at least one of the hates the digital-revolution in projection.

I think having a romantic view on old technology is laughable. Nostalgia is just fine, but getting your panties in a bunch because the new technology "takes out all the art of it by making it too easy and perfect" (which is their main argument) is dumb. Art dosen't come from adversity, it comes from inspiration, dedication and competence. I can refute any argument they come with by using Pixar as an example. Pixar makes films on computers and have a "board-room-meeting" approach to filmmaking. They have several great filmmakers discuss every minor part of the film to death until everything is perfect. Have you listened to their commentaries? "Brad Bird came with this idea, John Lasseter didn't really like that part, we talked to Pete Docter and he thought we should..." And they make Oscar-worthy stuff, completley without the "stress and reality, and happy accidents, of shooting on location with film". I.e. they "build" films on computers, piece by piece. And when they record voice acting, they do hundreds of more takes than any on-location film could ever afford. Then they discuss which tone, take, approach they should use to death.

So no. If someone makes a machine that in completley photoreal CGI can generate my fantasies from thin air, and filmmaking suddenly takes absolutely no effort, then I might agree that it takes a little away from it, but whining about the "unnatural perfection" of digital filmmaking? Well I'm not taking you seriously until you uninstall Final Cut and start cutting the actual film with a razor. Then we can talk.

Thoughts?

Edit: I just want to point out that I do sympathize with the people loosing their jobs. That's never anything to celebrate. My post was only about the filmmaker aspect of it.

Second edit: Another thing I find hilarious is that probably the toughest live-action shoot in history was The Abyss. So I bet 35-mm elitist love that? Directed by Cameron, the man who's to blame for all the digital projectors. razz
Posted: Thu, 7th Apr 2011, 5:06pm

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pdrg

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A 35mm print is a much more stable archive format than anything digital. Twenty years ago, we'd have thought of a stack of floppies, then a stack of CD's, then DVD's, then memory cards, then 'the cloud' (a bunch of spinning discs distributed at multiple centres), but ultimately none of those is any use at all if you lose the algorithm to be able to play the film. It is impossible to reverse engineer these formats without massive significant knowledge, computers, etc., and as good as impossible if you lose the encryption key on top of that. Alternatively, a 35mm print can sit in a cool dry dark room for hundreds of years and still be understood, or at least bodged to play silently, by another civilisation.
Posted: Thu, 7th Apr 2011, 5:41pm

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They'll make a movie about a man who has the cure for a disease and corporations are willing to kill him for it. When they do, they find that the cure is recorded on a VHS tape, and there will be no VCRS left to play them. eek
Posted: Thu, 7th Apr 2011, 5:57pm

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A very good point pdrg. They should master films on film, and store them in different vaults around the world (in case of fires, and natural disasters). But I still like the "on/off"/"one quality" of digital theaters.
Posted: Thu, 7th Apr 2011, 10:33pm

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Atom

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Hahahahaha- you think digital pioneers, specifically Lucas and Cameron, weren't somewhat even directly responsible for the shift to digital and home media/viewing?

Their practices have done more to usher out good old-fashioned projection more than anything else, even if it's been inadvertent.

I love movies, I love cinema, and I love the theater. Probably more than anything else in the entire world. I try to see numerous movies a week in the theater, and even cut into my budget for food or gas sometimes to do so. But it's a very inspiring and important part of my life.

I'm greatly saddened that the standards and state of it are dwindling in the face of the digital 'no standards let's all have dim lighting and cinemotion 240hz' theaters and televisions. Very sad.
Posted: Fri, 8th Apr 2011, 8:19am

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Simon K Jones

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Staff Only wrote:

I think having a romantic view on old technology is laughable. Nostalgia is just fine, but getting your panties in a bunch because the new technology "takes out all the art of it by making it too easy and perfect" (which is their main argument) is dumb.
I certainly agree on this point. It's a snobbery we encountered about 8-9 years ago, with AlamDV2's release and then with Chromanator/CompositeLab. Some people were annoyed by it - not with the quality of the software, but because it made things to easy.

There was a large forum discussion on another website where people were complaining about our software specifically because it made filmmaking easier. I couldn't quite believe it.

The point these people always miss is that filmmaking isn't about the technical exercise. It's about storytelling (of various forms). Sure, it's an inherently technical artform, but that's by necessity rather than design. Anything that reduces the technicalities and leaves more time for the creative part is a good thing.

For me, I would always rather take the technically easy route, if it offers similar/equal quality, so that I'm left with more time to actually craft my film. The elitist "things have to be difficult to be worthwhile" attitude has never made much sense to me.
Posted: Fri, 8th Apr 2011, 8:47am

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Atom

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First and foremost let me say this to you, Staff Only- the fact that you only go to digital projections is probably one of the saddest things I've ever read. Surprise yourself, check out a film on film one of these days- one of my biggest problems with cinema and theaters is digital projection.

I actually don't feel like I'm getting my money's worth with them, as I can project movies in 1080 at my house. A very, very large part of the reason I watch films in theaters- almost all of it- is for it being on film. There's a very popular and profitable theater chain here in Austin called the Alamo Drafthouse, and the owner is very big about this as well. He finds old film prints of classic movies, like Big Trouble in Little China or Fight Club, and projects them back their intended way every week or so. It's amazing- I've never seen anything like a well-kept film print of a movie shot on film in it's heyday. Astounding, I couldn't believe the quality of some of the movies, really.

Seriously, give film a chance. Maybe only to me, but as great as digital is, there's something deeply lifeless and devoid-of-'magic' in digital projection. And that ruins movies for me.

And Tarn- There's a deeply fatal flaw in that argument. Some would say- and I certainly would- that an integral part of what filmmaking is, that enlivens and interests us, is that it depicts storytelling through that visual, technical medium.

I'm not saying do things an antiquated way 'just because'- but never make the mistake to think the easier and faster way is best. Especially that it let's you 'get back to crafting your film'. The technical aspect is part of that- and always will be in it's current form as a storytelling medium.

This is the very reason, the very acknowledgement of it, that we still have film projectionists, projectors, and that many may shoot on film. There's something to be said for the old ways, and there always is with everything. It's more than nostalgia- it's the experience and spontaneity the medium brings in the creation that keeps people in favor of it.

To me, shooting on film, and figuring out how to light it and whatnot- and then presenting that in a 35mm format on a big screen: well that will always trump coldly shooting on a RED and watching a Sony4K digital projection theater.

Old ways are, in this case and normally others, sometimes part of the whir of creativity and 'magic' that goes into filmmaking. It's the reason we light scenes we could light and grade in post, or use miniatures where we could use CGI. We don't abandon what instills creativity, and don't mistake ease-of-use for being 'better'.

The notion that the technologically faster, easier, ever-more-precise method or form of some technical aspect should be the defacto standard- that it's not even in contention- and that they aren't treated with the same respect-in-creation other parts of filmmaking are-

Well, that's just silly.

Long live the old ways. Fluid-y motion, muddled-colors, too-sharp-sounding digital-everything in theaters blow. Film and film projection- with a digital intermediate- until the end. smile

As much I love David Fincher and his pursuit of digital, I like the fact that people like JJ Abrams and the Coen Brothers are insistent about shooting their projects on film- even something like Star Trek, which would have much more precision in certain respects being shot on digital- and see and laud the unrivaled, hard-to-explain value it holds.

The reason, when it comes time to project, JJ wants it done on a film projector. His Star Trek wouldnt be his Star Trek without it. Stuff like that.

Last edited Fri, 8th Apr 2011, 9:14am; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Fri, 8th Apr 2011, 9:05am

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Simon K Jones

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You're missing the point that by easing the technical hurdles in one area, you gain a lot more time to address the technical hurdles in another area.

Filmmaking will always be a technically demanding process, there's no denying that. And, as with you, that's a big part of why I enjoy it so much. But the more I can minimise the technical hurdles (whether to focus more on creativity or or OTHER technical hurdles) the better my finished product - especially when I'm working with very limited resources in terms of crew.

I mean, if you're doing a location shoot you could eschew cars and try to get there on horseback, if you really want to reject modern technology. But it's ultimately not going to help the film, is it? smile

Basic fact is: doing a matte painting on glass and optically compositing it the old fashioned way would be AWESOME and really fun, but also practically very difficult. For the 48 hour contest last weekend, it would be impossible. Doing a digital painting in Painter and compositing in Other Software is specifically what enabled us to have a cool opening shot. By making the technical process easier, it helped us make a better film.

This is just me, though - you're welcome to make and screen your films however you want. I really don't mind. What I do mind are the Luddite elitists who don't want anybody else using new technology.
Posted: Fri, 8th Apr 2011, 9:12am

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pdrg

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Heh heh, if Mr Cameron gets his way, he wants to project at 48p to reduce strobing on pans - I can see that throwing up some good arguments for both sides wink
Posted: Fri, 8th Apr 2011, 9:23am

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Atom

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I just think there's a danger to embracing something not just new, but markedly different as if it's just a better version of the same thing.

Technologically adding a matte painting in a program as opposed to keying in a glass slate, sure, that absolutely makes sense. As does editing on a computer instead of cutting film, or adding excess sound through ADR.

But I wouldn't say that creating that matte painting in photshop as opposed to on canvas is the same thing, or would yield the same results. Maybe the technology to get it onto the screen has a comparable, faster way. But the creation, the presentation, digital is always going to create a disparity.

And I guess that's my paramount issue with 'digital everything'. It's not the same as film projection. It's not an apt replacement. It's something different. Not better, not the same, not a comparable experience.

To put it in perspective- should a better projector of film be released, and someone snarling opposed it, I'd be the first to contest. If it does the same thing in a better manner, use it.

But digital is digital. It isn't film and it isn't (at least not yet) the same thing.

I weep for the day when the world of 240hz 48p hyper-saturated picture takes over. It'll be a really, really bad thing. Not because that standard is unwatchable (it is), but because of the ignorance and assumption that it was better or even the same as film. It isn't.
Posted: Fri, 8th Apr 2011, 9:31am

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Simon K Jones

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Yeah, it's important not to simply assume that digital=better. I'm also not in ANY way anti-analogue.

Essentially, I suppose I'm an advocate of "use whatever you want". It's the snobbery - on either side - that perplexes and irritates me.

That's why the big 3D push on movies, even when their creators didn't intend the films to be 3D, is really annoying. If Cameron wants to make a 3D film - awesome! If somebody else makes a 2D film and it's forced by the studio through a 3D process...guh. But in neither case am I inehrently pro- or anti-3D itself.
Posted: Fri, 8th Apr 2011, 2:55pm

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pdrg

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How many colours are there? You can only really answer this question in a digital world, in an analogue world (as is the world itself) there are infinite colours, hues, etc. Digital systems have to make an approximation, and where you have enough approximate values available, then you can do a good enough job to satisfy most people most of the time. Take MP3 - arguably a better format than quarter-inch tape, but theoretically the tape is better suited to true fidelity (although not as implemented in consumer formats).

As digital means a known number of discrete states/values for each pixel/note/etc, it means it is much easier to compress than analogue information, this is why we have a boom in consumer video - it is actually possible to do what would once have cost thousands of pounds for a few tens. But that is also its weakness, finite states mean everything is an approximation of reality, and some may accuse it of losing some soul along the way.
Posted: Fri, 8th Apr 2011, 4:46pm

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Staff Only

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You all make some excellent points. You're right about the fact that digital and film are not the same Atom, and perhaps they will never be able to replicate how film looks perfectly in digital. pdrg you pointed out the inherent flaw with digital ones and zeroes, and that is also a great point.

I would love to see something perfectly projected on film, Atom. Perhaps 2001 on 70mm? But my point about the theaters, was that they used to be supplied with copies of copies of copies of the master, which they ran through old equipment, and the viewing experience was entirely at the mercy of the projectionist. I remember when I watched Spider-man 3 the fact that the projectionist hadn't got the focus right was constantly pouring salt in the injury that was that film. When I saw The A-Team this summer (out of country), they didn't even manage to get the surround on. Only the center-channel speaker was playing, so I couldn't hear anything. If it wasn't for the fact that I was being taken out by friends and they didn't even notice even after I pointed it out, to test the waters, I would have demanded my money back.

I'm just happy that I don't have to worry every time I pay over $20, that this is going to completley ruin my first impression of the film. Having an on/off button back there in the machine-room sounds great for my viewing experience.


I completley disagree that old technology is a big part of creativity and magic. I completley understand that it's like that for some, but to me it's just the same as "Real writers write on typewriters. Writing on a laptop where you can 'take it back' is for hacks." If your process is that you write your first ideas down by hand or with a typewriter, that's great, but there is no extra magic in a typewriter, or the hardships of filmmaking that 'lazy CGI filmmakers are missing out on'.

However, if you do use the new technology to be lazy, then you're proving the snobbish people's point. That's why I'm glad people like Pixar are constantly proving them wrong. They use all-digital, cutting edge technology, and make their films in a way that is utterly devoid of spontaneity. How George Lucas directed Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, which was by sitting in a chair behind monitors, severely damaged the finished result. That is an example of misusing the digital technology. Red Letter Media talks about it in Part 3 I think.

But my main point was what Tarn argued so well. I will never agree that struggling with film-cameras, or typewriters, or old school models over CGI has anything to do with "art". The models in LotR looked great, the CGI models in Star Trek looked great. In 5 years they would never have had to do any model-work at all on LotR because CGI would have looked exactly the same. And that's nothing to mourn in my opinion. Romanticizing effort for effort's sake is what I find silly. Otherwise The Abyss must be one of the greatest films in history.
Posted: Sat, 9th Apr 2011, 4:43am

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Atom

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Funny you should mention the typewriter snobbery. A few friends of mine here in Austin work as editors and assistants to Terrence Malick, a man widely lauded for being one of the most important and gifted living directors, and apparently he doesn't use anything but a typewriter, because he feels exactly that same way. Go forward, never erase.

And it's part of this mentality that gives way to the 'genius' critics and audiences often note in the stream-of-consciousness moments in his films. Likewise, he doesn't use a cellphone because he feels (as I've been told by friends) that it removes him from one-on-one contact and his attunement with nature. And since both are such huge themes in the movies he makes- most notably recently in the trailer for his (likely Best Picture-winning) film Tree of Life- I actually tend to see how this could be so.

Humorously, I'm told one of my friends driving him had to pull over on the way to taking Terry (as he's known by them) to the airport because he saw a tree in a field he really liked- and Malick then made my friend type a small novella of a text message on his phone to Javier Bardem describing it's beauty.

Not that I'm siding on the anti-technology argument at all, but I definitely understand how it can affect and govern artistic work.

As far as the 'magic if movies' in film- I really hate to be that guy who pulls the 'you have to put moviemaking into practice to understand it', because I despise that sentiment in film viewing. But perhaps it helps explain my perspective.
Posted: Mon, 11th Apr 2011, 8:09am

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Simon K Jones

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Staff Only wrote:

The models in LotR looked great, the CGI models in Star Trek looked great. In 5 years they would never have had to do any model-work at all on LotR because CGI would have looked exactly the same. And that's nothing to mourn in my opinion. Romanticizing effort for effort's sake is what I find silly.
Agreed in some sense, but just because CGI can do something doesn't mean it's the only way.

To go with the miniatures/CG route: it depends a lot on the skills you have available to you. The film team I'm part of here in Norwich has the skills to make some great miniatures, for example, but we don't have as many people skilled at doing CG.

In fact, the CG/miniatures route isn't as clear cut as some of the other tech debates. With editing, for example, I'd say that digital editing is vastly easier/simpler from a technical point of view than editing with VCRs or on film. With miniatures/CG, however, it isn't as obvious a divide - both are still challenging, in very different ways.
Posted: Tue, 12th Apr 2011, 12:19pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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There's a separation between the improvement of technology and an individuals creative process.

I believe in experimentation with both. Generally technological improvements are advocated by industry leaders and studios with their success being dictated by box office sales and revenue. Digital Projection is one of those instances.

When it comes to an individuals creative process - that's that individuals choice alone. I do believe that sometimes things should be done for the sake of it, simply in the name of trying something out or because it creates a preferred working environment or feel. However, often - the people who lord one methodology over another have lost view of the fact that all of these things, mediums and techniques through which a creative output is achieved and not the creative output itself.

Often I feel that some of those hardened views are used as an excuse to stop experimenting. So unless they're coming from the mouth of someone who has achieved something great - I stop listening.

-M
Posted: Tue, 12th Apr 2011, 5:02pm

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Atom

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Roger Deakins. Probably one of the five most-notable cinematographers of all time. He's said he won't shoot or project digital, and he's got very strong and intriguing reasons why others shouldn't as well.

I'm not saying he's entirely correct, but he's certainly someone who has achieved something great in his field (shot The Shawshank Redemption, Assassination of Jesse James, No Country for Old Men, pioneered digital intermediate/invented color grading, uses old and cutting-edge lenses alike for experimentation)- and he stands against it.

You know, if you're looking for an example.

And Staff Only- I'm sorry, but you're an idiot if you see using models/miniatures this day as a 'romanticized view' because today's CG can accomplish the same thing. How foolish- who are you to say it's the same (or better) and in what respect? Tarn is exactly right. 'Can' doesn't mean should. We can all have CG actors and never real performances if we wanted, but we don't do that on every film we see for one simple reason:

It isn't equitable. It isn't the same. There's something to be said for real, true performances and whatnot; just as there is for real, true craftsmanship on models alike. It's not romanticism, it's reality. Some things work better than others in certain contexts- and to see them simply as the 'old way' or even more trouble, the inferior way, is extremely disconcerting. I'm not saying Sam Worthington shouldn't have been mo-capped for Avatar- but would you ask the same of Colin Firth in The King's Speech? Absolutely not. And there's nothing pathetic or romanticized about that.

It's, rather, just a simple truth. The newest tech isn't always the best- and just because something or someone can do something doesn't mean anything for anything. That's how we end up with the Star Wars prequels looking like they do. Or swinging monkeys and CGI prarie dogs in Indiana Jones 4. The 'can' attitude.

More and more you prove to me, you're a very passionate viewer and enthusiastic- but clearly not a filmmaker. You're a pursuer of 'quality/resolution porn'. The decadence of cutting-edge, not the safety and quality of definitive standards.

And this isn't at all meant as an insult, it's meant as a perspective. I think you lack some fundamental appreciation for things that work in the face of things that are merely new. And I think by not creating in this age, you don't fully notice the greatness of this travesty.
Posted: Tue, 12th Apr 2011, 6:08pm

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Staff Only

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Atom wrote:

Roger Deakins. Probably one of the five most-notable cinematographers of all time. He's said he won't shoot or project digital, and he's got very strong and intriguing reasons why others shouldn't as well.
Um.. Some example.

Also I didn't say anything about should. My point to you is that the only thing that matters one bit is what ends up screen. How you made it, dosen't matter one bit.

Remember that lesson all kids learn? It's the journey, not the destination. I've always said that was bulls-. Everything is the destination. If the destination is acceptable, the journey dosen't matter. Allow me a quick example. Do I mean: If we can achieve world peace though murdering one million innocent people, that they don't matter because only the destination, i.e. world peace, matters? No. I mean that the destination is: A million innocent people dead; world peace. There is no journey, everything is a destination.

How that applies to film; the only thing that matters is how the film ends up being. If we have one LotR film made by loving caring humans, and an identical one made by robots with sufficiently advanced AI and an understanding of adapting books to film; it dosen't matter. Those two films are just as good. That's my point. The process dosen't matter. Only what's on screen.

I agree with you that film looks completley different, but if they looked identical, you would have no argument.
Posted: Tue, 12th Apr 2011, 6:23pm

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Aculag

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Deakins shot Now with an Arri Alexa, didn't he? I'm thrilled to see a DP of his stature working with a camera like that. I doubt he'll be a Robert Rodriguez and never look back, but it's still exciting to see what he can do with it.
Posted: Tue, 12th Apr 2011, 6:32pm

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Atom

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Ben talks to him on his website/forum, where he actually responds to people. He's said his comment was more on the sentiment and use of film being lost. About it being a sad farewell, and not something that was 'bested'. He's tried digital for the sake of openness to experimentation- but if you read his blog and site, you'll see he's very much a pro-film person.

Not in the sense that it's snobbery, but that he feels it hasn't been beaten by anything yet. You can hear and see that sentiment in the very article you reference, Staff Only. It doesn't change the principle rule that digital isn't universally 'better'.
Posted: Tue, 12th Apr 2011, 6:36pm

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Staff Only

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No, no. I personally think film looks better. smile (Edit: to film on that is. As I said earlier I've better experiences with digital projectors than film ones.)

I just meant that my point wasn't that you should use CGI where possible just 'cause. My point was that all this real craftsmanship, and imperfections, and limitations you need that purists love talking about I don't agree with at all. The process is completley irrelevant if the end result is the same (which film and digital isn't so there's still lots of room for diversity).
Posted: Tue, 12th Apr 2011, 6:46pm

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Aculag

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Atom wrote:

You can hear and see that sentiment in the very article you reference, Staff Only.
Actually, the quote in that article is from Tarantino. The only thing Deakins is quoted as saying is "I'm really pleased with the results I'm getting… it's going to open up a few possibilities." which seems pretty positive to me.

However, I also read his blog, and while he's still pro-film, like most of the masters are still, I appreciate that he's at least more open to experimenting with it, and not staunchly against it like some. I do love reading his comments to people on there.
Posted: Tue, 12th Apr 2011, 7:55pm

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Atom

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Staff Only wrote:

How that applies to film; the only thing that matters is how the film ends up being. If we have one LotR film made by loving caring humans, and an identical one made by robots with sufficiently advanced AI and an understanding of adapting books to film; it dosen't matter. Those two films are just as good. That's my point. The process dosen't matter.
How cold and unimaginative and disconnected of a response and conclusion is this. (And really the whole rest of your post.) I'm not going to -1 you because I disagree- I'm going to -1 you for being so dastardly negative and cynical in your outlook. The whole reason people make movies on here- the reason we post production threads and discuss integral steps of creation- is because the process/journey is such a crucial, important, and rewarding aspect of the end-product. I'm one of the most result-oriented people around when it comes to movies, but if I can't appreciate the process, then why am I a filmmaker? That's absurd. And, once again, also very sad in my opinion, that you think that way.

I'm not saying 'I'm right and you're wrong', but I certainly feel that way. And think that such a cold, end-product-only instinct is detrimental and dangerous to young filmmakers on here reading this. You'll lose your passion and pursuit if that's all that ever mattered. Like life itself- it's always about the journey, not the destination.
Posted: Tue, 12th Apr 2011, 8:32pm

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Staff Only

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Well I don't quite know how you are inspired, but when I have an idea for a story or a film, the entire thing fully formed just falls into my head. Then my "process" is just trying to translate my fantasy into something others can enjoy. How 'successful' I judge any of my projects is on how identical they were to my original fantasy.

Like in dreams fantasies have a certain 'feeling'. You can have a nightmare and then tell someone what happened, but it's not creepy to them, because they can't feel what you felt. That's where all the creative decisions come from in my process. Sometimes just writing down my ideas, or filming them, dosen't translate the feeling I was trying to convey in my head. So I have to manipulate it slightly so it will be effective.

But otherwise yeah: finished product in my head; try to copy it. That's why I'm really glad Lucas is trying to make pre-viz so cheap and quick that you make the entire film, before making the film. Put on vioce-acting, temp music, editing..then you know if your film works before you even start filming. Making something as complex as Inception will be easy.

Finally I still disagree. It's really easy for fimmakers to convince themselves that film is something more than pictures, sound and music. But that is what it is. That is what I love about it. It's so much more technical than "just music". Music comes straight from the heart, and even people who aren't very technically great an instrument can make good music. Not so with film. We have tropes, conventions, and sooo much manpower behind it. But in the end, only what's on screen exists. The Nazgul Screech in LotR is so perfect, and everyone knows it. Did it make a lick of difference to me that Fran Walsh sacrificed her voice to tape those screams, with Peter Jackson saying "Pain is temporary, film is forever" when I heard them? Nope. Could have been the sound desinger found that sound on the Internet, said "What the hell", mixed it a bit. Still awesome.

I know it's impossible to accept that for people that have romanticized film as something more. But I don't think it need to be anything more. Film already is everything. As are books, TV and video-games. The ability to take someone on a journey through your fantasy, through your mind, that's magnificent. And whether you sat outside in the rain for 20 days getting that 'perfect shot', or whipped together the shot in CGI in 2 days with a 10-man crew from Standford (again the shots are in this argument identical), dosen't matter. I'm still seeing into your mind. It's still just as effective.

That's my take.
Posted: Tue, 12th Apr 2011, 9:22pm

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Pooky

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Have you never read the Trivia section on IMDb? Good movies almost always have a rich history, made from a patchwork of different people, blunders, discoveries and decisions. Objectively speaking, two identical movies like you said are the same film, yes, but that's like saying an Egyptian Pyramids build by robots would be the same, or Van Gogh's "Self Portrait" would be the same without Van Gogh's mental problems, or Star Wars would be the same without the whole crew roughing it and improvising the whole time. The human history and process is half the film.

You know, art is all about emotion. Someday you'll have to admit that. Without emotion, it's just a bunch of pixels on a display.
Posted: Wed, 13th Apr 2011, 3:29am

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Atom

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Staff Only, seriously, have you ever made a movie? Or some expression of art at all? Surely you must know the joy of some creative thirst and pursuit, and not just the calculated of dollars-and-cents from idea to completion. It's so much more than that- in everything! smile

I have to think that such a broad ignorance is the product of experiential lacking. Without the experience in practice, I believe you can comment on the content- but not at all the validation (or in your case lack-thereof) of the process.
Posted: Wed, 13th Apr 2011, 8:10am

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Simon K Jones

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Staff Only wrote:

Remember that lesson all kids learn? It's the journey, not the destination. I've always said that was bulls-. Everything is the destination. If the destination is acceptable, the journey dosen't matter. Allow me a quick example. Do I mean: If we can achieve world peace though murdering one million innocent people, that they don't matter because only the destination, i.e. world peace, matters? No. I mean that the destination is: A million innocent people dead; world peace. There is no journey, everything is a destination.
I'll always fundamentally disagree with this viewpoint, for a fairly simple reason:

For everybody, the destination is death. That's where we're all inevitably headed.

To say that the journey doesn't matter means that we might as well just give up and die now, rather than wasting our time. The journey is everything.
Posted: Wed, 13th Apr 2011, 8:44am

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Staff Only

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Atom wrote:

Staff Only, seriously, have you ever made a movie? Or some expression of art at all? Surely you must know the joy of some creative thirst and pursuit, and not just the calculated of dollars-and-cents from idea to completion. It's so much more than that- in everything! smile
Yes, undoubtedly!

I just don't agree that it has much to do with the result when the audience can't tell the difference. Have you read this, Atom? It's very interesting, and it reinforces some of your points and mine. He says that "The background ambience of CGI in movie culture risks to put us into 'cartoon' mode even when there's not a shred of CGI on the screen". Which means that all the real craftsmanship, as you called it, can be completley wasted on the audience, in essence not making the result (i.e viewing experience) better at all.

I can see where you're coming from though. I just realized that you like to put a little montage at the end of your projects with footage that says: "Hey, look how much fun we had making this!". When you do that, there is a connection between the fun you had and my experience of knowing you had fun. But if you had cut that montage, I wouldn't be able to tell at all, and it wouldn't make any difference to me as an audience member, much as Martin Anderson says non-CGI can be wasted on a pessimistic uneducated audience.
Posted: Wed, 13th Apr 2011, 8:48am

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Simon K Jones

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Staff Only wrote:

I just don't agree that it has much to do with the result when the audience can't tell the difference. Have you read this, Atom? It's very interesting, and it reinforces some of your points and mine. He says that "The background ambience of CGI in movie culture risks to put us into 'cartoon' mode even when there's not a shred of CGI on the screen". Which means that all the real craftsmanship, as you called it, can be completley wasted on the audience, in essence not making the result (i.e viewing experience) better at all.
I had this with The Dark Knight, actually - having watched behind-the-scenes stuff recently a lot of stuff I assumed was CG was done practically, which was fairly astounding. It saddened me quite a bit that I'd subconsciously dismissed some of the incredible practical effort as being CG.
Posted: Wed, 13th Apr 2011, 9:36am

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rogolo

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Tarn wrote:

I had this with The Dark Knight, actually - having watched behind-the-scenes stuff recently a lot of stuff I assumed was CG was done practically, which was fairly astounding.
I'll poke my head in to drop off this and this...just found 'em the other day. Interesting read.
Posted: Wed, 13th Apr 2011, 11:45am

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Simon K Jones

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"In-house Visual Effects Supervisor Paul Franklin led a team that included Senior VFX Producer Matthew Plummer."

Chortle!
Posted: Sat, 16th Apr 2011, 12:01am

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Hybrid-Halo

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Ashman lives on the same road as Roger Deakin's, they've met up before. Interesting little factoid for you there.

Deakins is indeed one of the greats and he's a voice whose opinion I will listen to - though that doesn't mean I'll either agree or desire to imitate, my comment was aimed more at people who hold these peoples opinions to be a religious ruling. It's a tricky thing to balance - the respect for someone's work and the belief that if we don't experiment with technology to discover our own preferred tool - we have failed as artists.

And I don't mean to include you in that category, just a type of person I've dealt with who has lost sight of the creativity of film-making. Ultimately, technology is always evolving and we either keep up or get left behind. Deakin's knows his preferred tools and yet he continues to experiment - I'm simply advocating other people discovering theirs.

Hell, I saw an awesome movie shot on an iPhone. And being honest - I don't really consider myself a film maker of any accomplishment. Us VFX lot are very likely to have a different perspective on these kinds of things.

-Matt
Posted: Fri, 24th Jun 2011, 3:52pm

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Staff Only

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Atom wrote:

Staff Only wrote:

How that applies to film; the only thing that matters is how the film ends up being. If we have one LotR film made by loving caring humans, and an identical one made by robots with sufficiently advanced AI and an understanding of adapting books to film; it dosen't matter. Those two films are just as good. That's my point. The process dosen't matter.
How cold and unimaginative and disconnected of a response and conclusion is this. (And really the whole rest of your post.)
This happened way sooner than even I expected.

http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture-society/triumph-of-the-cyborg-composer-8507/

Emmy was once the world’s most advanced artificially intelligent composer, and because he’d managed to breathe a sort of life into her, he became a modern-day musical Dr. Frankenstein. She produced thousands of scores in the style of classical heavyweights, scores so impressive that classical music scholars failed to identify them as computer-created. Cope attracted praise from musicians and computer scientists, but his creation raised troubling questions: If a machine could write a Mozart sonata every bit as good as the originals, then what was so special about Mozart? And was there really any soul behind the great works, or were Beethoven and his ilk just clever mathematical manipulators of notes?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEjdiE0AoCU

I'm just so happy it happened. Though it is a little bittersweet. With Moore's Law even I am apprehensive about the future of the human race now.
Posted: Fri, 24th Jun 2011, 11:46pm

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Aculag

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That is incredible. That article brings up a lot of good questions about the nature of art, and the samples bring up even more. There's nothing cold or mechanical about it. It's emotional and expressive in a way that I didn't think would be possible. Crazy.
Posted: Sun, 26th Jun 2011, 6:39am

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Serpent

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While this is very cool, and I don't know everything about what EMMY can do, but what I wonder is: when can AI start becoming truly independently creative. Thinking of things that we can't think of. I don't think it will. While these scores may technically be original note arrangements, it is just the execution of a program, is it not? People have known that classical music is based on scales, and that a lot of it is calculated and mathematical, since its birth. Especially considering the occasional inclined ce'vantes that can do crazy things at too young an age to be truly emotionally expressive. So while a program like this might be able to make something new and put a film-scoring composer out of work down the line because it would be easier/simpler/more-affordable, I don't think computers will ever replace human minds in entertainment completely, or surpass them on other thinking levels. I suppose it could take over jobs in mainstream music, but honestly, so could any 15-year-old who is competent in music theory if child labor laws didn't exist. It'd be like the new autotune, then anyone can become a *superstar*. Hey, maybe this is the death of bad pop music, to the point where it can be so overdone that it just goes away.

The most I see coming out of this, since someone is bound to capitalize on it, is credits mentioning that the music was "created in Adobe EMMY" or something of that nature, or lazy musicians abusing it when it could make their job easier. I think robots/AI are really going places, but not as artists in extreme ways. Like a film directed by a robot. I mean, I could see it getting to that point, but I just don't think it could create anything that wasn't shallow and formulaic, or very interesting. Humans can create things that "blow the mind."

Of course, never say never, in theory our minds could evolve crazily if we survived long enough, where at some point we would be able to create true artificial intelligence. So there's no telling where this could take us, we may may discover something new that could significantly accelerate progress in artificial intelligence. I just don't think we will, and I think extinction is probably inevitable.


I've seen flash webpages where you can rhythmically and randomly click on buttons that are reactive notes, and as long as you are rhythmic in any way you see fit, it will create a cool new song each time with really interesting and beautiful sounds, more-so than these even. This just doesn't seem as cool to me I guess, unless there's more to it and I'm completely missing something. And not one of the songs that the program created matched up to the brilliant composers of our times, in my opinion. If I heard them, I wouldn't think it was a program, but I also wouldn't think it was original or worth my time. Get back to me when an EMMY song has 300+ plays in your music player of choice.

Sorry if this sounds pessimistic, to me it sounds like a preferable fate. Though I'd like to see the day where a robot takes over doing my chores.
Posted: Sun, 26th Jun 2011, 3:43pm

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Biblmac

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Staff Only wrote:

And was there really any soul behind the great works, or were Beethoven and his ilk just clever mathematical manipulators of notes?
I'd say this just proves that math is emotional wink

On the note of robots, they have to have a creator, and what they can do will always (I believe) be limited to their programming. Someone still has to think of them, build them, and program them. I don't think man can create something that goes beyond it's own intelligence or emotional capabilities. Maybe that's just cynical, idk.
Posted: Mon, 27th Jun 2011, 7:50am

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Simon K Jones

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The key is robots that build and iterate upon themselves. That's how they can progress beyond the capabilities of their creators.

As for the music - part of the enjoyment of any piece of entertainment is considering the motivations of the person that made it. Regardless of the technical and perceived emotional content of computer generated music, it doesn't actually have any - doesn't mean it can't be really good music and great to listen to, of course. But certainly for me, a big part of entertainment is discussing and debating why the artist did something-or-other. With that removed, it becomes inherently less interesting.

A similar case exists in computer games, with regards to computer generated, 'realistic' landscapes and hand-crafted locations. While the former is theoretically more accurate and interesting and real, I tend to find the latter far more engaging, because it's specifically the unreality of something that lends it artistic intent and interest.