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Film and digital film resolution?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by PeterK, Feb 4, 2005.

  1. PeterK

    PeterK Supporting Actor

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    I know film doesn't actually have a resolution because it is not pixel based. but what kind of resolution would it compare to? I am talking about 35mm of course. would it more than 1080p? I would think so. And also, I am not sure how many films are now being filmed digitally but I know that star wars II was filmed on digital. What would the resolution of that picture be?
     
  2. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    It would be more than 1080... but any answer would be a wild guesstimate and would also vary depending on filmstock.

    In the digital realm, there are certainly things other than raw resolution to worry about, as well... digital noise and compression artifacts can make a high resolution image look worse than a much lower resolution image.

    I would make a rough comparison at 10-15 MP for raw resolving power, not taking into consideration things like emulsion grain or digital noise. I'm sure you could get differing answers from others. My comparison is based on work with 35mm still photography negative film and my experience with digital still photography. My opinion has no basis in scientific testing. It is just a guess.

    -Scott
     
  3. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    If you don't want to find a copy of NHK's book High Definition Television: Hi-Visison Technology [New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1992], you can look in the sticky Blu-Ray thread, about two pages back, where I discuss the results of their scientific testing.
    Basically, HDTV has a picture quality comparable to that of motion picture film as projected, though the limiting resolution of HDTV is only about 80% that of common 35mm print stocks.
     
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    For the Williamsburg project, we found that scanning VistaVision Oneg at 6 x 4k gave us a comfortable resolution for a starting point... approximately 24 megapixels per frame.

    This was for c.1956 5248 Eastman color negative.
     
  5. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    I appreciate your chiming in, Robert... interesting figures. In my still photography, I've never dealt with the magnifications seen in projected film. A 16x24 print is quite forgiving at 12-15 megapixels, so I never pursued the matter beyond my needs. I also imagine there are many differences in, say, a Kodak Royal still stock and various motion picture films, which complicate any calculations. Not to mention motion picture frames are smaller than still frames due to orientation and soundtracks, so you'd need a higher resolution scan to even the playing field...

    So many variables...

    -Scott
     
  6. ScottHH

    ScottHH Stunt Coordinator

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    I think this is interesting, so I looked up a lot of this stuff on the internet. These numbers are going to be impacted by a lot of variables, including contrast of the scene (for film) and the lenses in front of the cameras.

    You definitely need more resolution in a still image than you do in a moving image. Standard TV is 480x640, which is about 0.3 megapixels. This won't make an acceptable 4x6 still print. But, lines per millimeter seems like a reasonable starting point for this comparison. According to this website, 125 lpm seems like a reasonable average, which would give you 13.5 megapixels. Some higher resolving films offer 160 lpm or even 200 lpm, 22mp and 35mp, respectively.

    According to Panavision, their latest digital camera has a 12.4 mega pixel sensor.
     
  7. BrentJ

    BrentJ Second Unit

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    How much better can this stuff get?
     
  8. Nils Luehrmann

    Nils Luehrmann Producer

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    I suppose the question could only be answered by knowing/estimating what the highest resolution the average human being's eye sight is capable of resolving.

    Even though traditional film is capable of far greater resolution than 1080p, it still doesn't come close to a live image.

    Of course just because the resolution of film is just a fraction of a live image, and the resolution of HD is just a fraction of what film is capable of generating - this is not to say that the noticeable difference is equal to the difference in resolution.

    In other words, 1080p (HD) has a resolution five times greater than 480p (standard DVD), but I think we can all agree that when comparing 480p to 1080p on the same screen from the same distance and displaying in the source's native resolution (no scaling) while 1080p clearly looks better than 480p, but not five times better.

    It is estimated that the 'resolution' of 35mm film is about five times greater than 1080p (and thirty times greater than 480p), but once again, the noticeable difference is not at all equivalent to the mathematical difference.

    While it will undoubtedly be possible to design cameras and displays with resolutions several times greater than 35mm film, it is unlikely that the distinguishable difference will be enough to justify the cost any time soon. And of course at some point, once an FPD has a resolution greater than what the human eye is capable of distinguishing then there would be no reason at all to exceed it.

    My guess is that '4K' resolution will be where home video maxs out, at least for the next few decades. '4K' is somewhat misleading because unlike 480, 720, and 1080, 4K refers to horizontal resolution and not vertical. Even so, current 4K scanners, cameras, and displays have resolutions anywhere between 7-12 mega pixels which is about five times greater than 1080p which resolves 2 mega pixels per frame. There are already countless 4K digital masters of films available and 4K displays are not that far from being readily available to consumers. Within ten years ‘4K’ displays will likely be as common as 720p displays are today.
     
  9. Paul_Stachniak

    Paul_Stachniak Screenwriter

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    I read an article at the Bits last year about someone in Asian having developed a technology that displays video at 10k. Apprently people were disoriented from footage a car driving down the road. Anyone remember or know anymore about this?
     
  10. PhilipG

    PhilipG Cinematographer

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    Yeah, I remember reading about that, Paul. Don't know where though.


    Unless you want to zoom - remember Harrison Ford's gizmo in Blade Runner! [​IMG]
     
  11. PeterK

    PeterK Supporting Actor

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    so when you say 4k is like 1920:1080 is equivelent to 4000:something? that would be incredible resolution for home theater. So you are saying that many digital masters of movies are in 4k resolution?
     
  12. Nils Luehrmann

    Nils Luehrmann Producer

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    Yes, and yes.

    In fact it is expected that the majority of studio financed films within the next few years will be shot on 4K digital cameras like Sony's/Panavision's Genesis thus by default they will have a 4K master with out having to go through the costly and time consuming method of 4K scanning.
     
  13. Mark Oates

    Mark Oates Supporting Actor

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    Isn't that the Japanese (NHK?) UHDTV project?
     

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