Robert Harris on The Digital Bits - 12/20 column - OFFICIAL THREAD

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bill Hunt, Dec 20, 2002.

  1. Bill Hunt

    Bill Hunt Insider
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    Robert Harris has checked in with his latest Yellow Layer Failure column at The Digital Bits. This time around, Robert talks about a whole host of topics ranging from the grain structure of film, to the recent Walt Disney Treasures titles, to film censorship. He even pokes a little fun at that lawsuit against MGM over their widescreen DVDs.
    Goofy, Mickey, a Loveably Reluctant Dragon, Film Grain & Censorship
    As always, Robert's two cents are well worth a read. So click on the link above to read his comments and then come on back here to this official thread at the HTF to discuss as you will.
    Enjoy... and Happy Holidays from all of us at The Digital Bits!
     
  2. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    It is now only a matter of time until someone with a hatred for widescreen videos and no capacity for irony pulls a few quotes from Robert's article to support their position. [​IMG]
    I had actually just watched "The Reluctant Dragon" less than an hour before reading the article, and I could not agree with Mr. Harris' assessment more.
    There is one somewhat substantive Easter Egg on the first disc of the Mickey Mouse in Black & White release. It is a singalong film especially animated for several "Mickey Mouse Club" fan clubs that popped up throughout the country. It features Mickey leading the audience in his "Minnie's Yoo-hoo" theme song. I believe the animation is mostly recycled from the "Mickey's Follies" short although the backgrounds have been altered. There is a Leonard Maltin introduction for it as well. Access it by moving up from the "register your DVD" menu selection on the special features page.
    Regards,
     
  3. Andrew_Sch

    Andrew_Sch Cinematographer

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    Could somebody please explain the whole "trapezoid" thing? I thought widescreen films WERE rectangular in shape, apparently there aren't?
     
  4. Patrick McCart

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    Great column, again!

    Disney did a fantastic job on the Treasures DVDs. While they're not perfect, they at least lack any digital flaws. The Technicolor bulk of The Reluctant Dragon looks beautiful... DYE TRANSFER RULES!
     
  5. Paul W

    Paul W Second Unit

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    Andrew,

    Because of the positioning of the projector relative to the screen, the image is likely to be shaped like an upsidedown keystone (the bottom is wider than the top). Theater operators place a mask in the projector with an inverse keystone shape (wider at the top instead) so that the resulting image is actually a rectangle.

    I know this is a bit simplistic; there is a web-site with a good example of the shape of the mask, but I cannot find it. Hopefully, this makes sense though.
     
  6. Andrew_Sch

    Andrew_Sch Cinematographer

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    Alright, I've got that, but do film-makers take this into account when filming, or does the mask actually cut off a small portion of the intended picture?
     
  7. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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  8. Tim Hoover

    Tim Hoover Screenwriter

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    I loved the part about the necessity of film grain. After recently watching Minority Report, I was struck by how beautiful the film was - due in no small part to the grain. It simply added character to the presentation...
     
  9. Paul W

    Paul W Second Unit

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    I'm doing my part to appreciate film grain: I am buying a negative scanner. I wish they weren't so damn expensive so that other people could discover them and bring their pictures to life on the web. As much as I have contemplated getting a digital camera - the one I want is still too expensive - I'm glad I will be able to digitize my existing stock and preserve the true grain structure and detail.
    Here is a good example of the differences between scanning prints and negatives:
    Scan Comparison
     
  10. Mikey

    Mikey Auditioning

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    Mr. Harris,

    I always enjoy your columns, and the latest is no exception. Thanks for bringing up the grain issue. As you pointed out, many erroneously think that 'grain' is always attributable to limitations of original film stock. This is a shame as it negatively impacts the perception of photographic film, and/or diminishes the director's and cimenatographer's artistic employment of film grain. I agree fully with some of your comments about film grain adding sparkle and more life to the viewing experience.

    As a matter of further explanation (if anyone is interested), 'graininess' is the perceived non-uniformity in am image, while 'granularity' is the objective measurement of grain.

    The biggest factor influencing film granularity is the Grain Size Frequency Distribution within a given film emulsion. Larger silver halide crystals (in older or faster films) will naturally produce bigger aggregations of metallic silver upon development resulting in higher grain as compared to smaller silver halide crystals (as found in slower and newer films). Larger grain films also have less resolving power than smaller grain films.(This carries over to home photography-your ASA 100 film will produce superior and minimal grain as compared to a fast ASA 1600 film).

    Today's film emulsion chemist also has a variety of silver halide crystal shapes at his disposal, and the newer and more exotic shapes use the silver more efficiently and minimize grain.

    Exposing and Development conditions can also minimize or increase grain through developer formulation, temperature, and time.

    As mentioned, the more generations one is removed from the original through dupping, the higher the grain, and lower the resolution.

    B&W film upon processing retains silver in the emulsion layer to produce the image. Color film loses the silver upon processing and produces the image with dye clouds/aggregations that remain. B&W film 'grain' has a different character than color films.

    Of course, let us not forget the incredible amount of information that can be stored within a film frame. Film has a much higher resolution than the High Dev Tv. For example, a typical full frame 35 mm negative (depending of film type and speed of course) will have well in excess of 100 line pairs per millimeter resolution. This translates to over 34 million pixels as compared to the 2 million for full 1080i high def. Of course, much can (and does) occur in the filming, processing, duplicating, telecine, and MPEG2 chain to reduce this.

    There is an incredible amount of technology and science, as well as art in designing and manufacturing photographic film...a fact that is lost on many in the digital age.

    But, Enough of my ramblings...
    Mr. Harris I appreciate, as I hope others do, you keeping film as a recording/archiving and art medium in the forefront. A great sense of history and reverence comes accross in your writings.
    I look forward to your next article.
     
  11. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Mikey...

    Well spuck...

    RAH
     
  12. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Thanks again mr Harris for such an incredible article on the classic Disney cartoons that are released on dvd. Just ordered some more dvds from your recommended list.

    cheers

    Oscar
     
  13. Gary Miller

    Gary Miller Stunt Coordinator

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    GREAT read from top to bottom...and thanks for the recommendations.
     
  14. Geoff_D

    Geoff_D Supporting Actor

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    Okay Robert. [buffy quote]You're abusing sarcasm at this point.[/buffy quote] Joking aside, it's another great column. I can only hope and pray that the success of the Disney Treasures series will lead to other companies searching their vaults and giving their classic 'toons a new lease of life.

    Tom and Jerry (my personal favourite) are long overdue for a fully restored and uncut visitation to dvd. And complete sets (sorted by year) would mean I could die happy - none of this 'Greatest Chases' bollocks. I know a great many T&J classics were released on LD a while back, but those sets were/are just too damn expensive. And just imagine those CinemaScope classics in anamorphic widescreen...drool. But does Ted 'I'm gonna colourize the Moon!' Turner own the rights (thru Cartoon Network) or do MGM still own the pioneers of cartoon violence?
     
  15. Rain

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  16. Patrick McCart

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  17. Michel_Hafner

    Michel_Hafner Screenwriter

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    Modern motion picture negatives with 34 Megapixels real
    resolution?
    I don't think so.
    In real life situations the resolution is
    considerably lower.
     
  18. Michel_Hafner

    Michel_Hafner Screenwriter

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    Mr. Harris, you mention improved transfer quality for
    some new titles. What exactly is done better on these
    transfers in your opinion? And is this due to new and better
    equipment or better use of existing equipment?
     
  19. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I believe the transfers that we'll be seeing in 2003 will be improved as a continuum.

    Colorists, compression technicians and others are constantly learning and applying newer techniques.

    This, in addition to newer telecine and scanning environments from a number of sources, are yielding a high level of final output across the board in a general sense.

    While certain transfers and releases will obviously be better or worse than others, what I'm seeing is a raising of the barre in all areas, which translates into cleaner, less digital-looking and more filmlike releases.

    There are those out there who do this on a daily basis who can certainly offer chapter and verse on the subject, but from a personal perspective, I never thought that we would be viewing projected images of the current quality based upon our archaic NTSC interlace system.
     
  20. John Kanan

    John Kanan Auditioning

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