Thursday, August 14, 2008

Knowing Between Photochemical and Digital Prints for Dummies

After watching The Dark Knight yesterday, there is something that is interesting that I would like to share to cinema viewers, particularly those who don't even know of technical aspects.

Some knowledge first:

Basically after filming, (during post-production) the technicians at the color labs (e.g Technicolor / Deluxe) will do a process that whereby the look on the camera negative will be reversed into colors that will appear on a conventional television view. The technician will press the controls to determine how much RGB (Red, Green and Blue) will be in the interpositive.

An interpositive is then subjected to various things like adding more silver into it (for richer blacks), or a skip bleach process (saturation reduction, higher contrast). This is mostly done to make sure that the original negative is damaged. Printing directly from the original negative can be dangerous at the long run as it can result in tears and scratches if misused.

Finally, once the results of the interpositive are satisfactory, it is printed onto a release print - called the internegative.

This process is called the conventional color timing.

The other process starts after developing a satisfying initial look at the camera negative, the negative is scanned into a the computer using a scanner. The colorist uses a tool, color grading tool (e.g Lustre) to manipulate the colors, contrasts, shadows, highlights and etc in a high-end workstation. Each manipulation is done on a shot to shot basis. The preview look is projected onto a projector for review and once every participant is satisfied with the look, the film files are recorded out onto the digital internegative.

The digital internegatives will be distributed to countries to enable them to make release prints for their respective theatres. There, they can change things such as putting in subtitles in e-format and etc...

This is called the digital grading timing.

How Do I Know Which Is Conventional and Which is Digital?

The answer is very simple particularly when you go to watch a movie in a cinema. The hint is already there: look at the subtitles.

If you look closely at the detail of the lettering and you notice that it is very jiggy looking, then the film uses the conventional color timing. The Dark Knight uses conventional color timing, hence you will notice of the lettering. However, the disadvantage of using this method is that chances of release prints getting scratched unintentionally are higher and the showtimes for this can last up to a month or so before scratches are evident.

If the detail of the subtitle lettering is in a very fine form, and or if you can notice how the eyes are in some low light situation (example), then the film has gone through a digital color timing, like Iron Man or Prince Caspian.

1 comment:

  1. bro Melvin,

    Thnx for sharing d info n knowledge, heheh..gud to read sumting off politics sumtimes...wat can I say..heheh..(",)



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