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What resolution are movies recorded in??

Discussion in 'Televisions' started by Paul O, Feb 5, 2005.

  1. Paul O

    Paul O
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    Hi all,

    Just wondered, with all the new higher definition formats that are coming out - what is the highest resolution a film is recorded in?

    For example, Star Wars was recorded in the 70's - surely the resolution of the cameras that recorded this wasn't much higher than what we have got now. As such, does this mean that they are artificially enhanced to give the impression of higher definition?

    I imagine newer movies have better quality cameras - but again there must be a resolution on these thats not much higher than the new batch of higher definition recording formats?? :confused:

    Anyone know? I've wondered about this for a while!! :cool:

    Paul.
     
  2. lovemovies

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    I don't think the resolutions have changed. As far as I know there are three types of film that have existed for decades. 35mm/70mm and Super 35. I believe that 70mm has twice the resolution of 35mm. Super 35 is the same resolution as 35mm, but is anamorphic.

    The only difference is that video is catching up with film resolution.

    Hope this is correct. Someone will put me right if it is wrong.
     
  3. Oakleyspatz

    Oakleyspatz
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    I found this useful piece of info on a website:

    "Image Quality
    The jury is still out on whether digital movies are up to scratch, so to speak. While digital cinema's proponents cite market research showing audience preference for the image quality of digital movies, many movie buffs still vouch for celluloid. Some purists even go so far as to denounce the pristine image quality of digital movies. Digital movies offer resolutions of 1,300 - 4,000 lines compared to the 1,000 lines of a 35mm film.

    Read the full articel at:
    http://www.ida.gov.sg/idaweb/media/PressRelease_LeadStory_Main.jsp?leadStoryId=L83&versionId=1
     
  4. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    You don't want to go there...

    Comparing 35mm film and digital production is not easy - as the production processes are very different.

    35mm camera negatives (i.e. what comes out of the camera) have far more than "1000 lines" of resolution - the actual figure depends on the film stock (which influences grain size and sensitivity) and processing.

    However during the 35mm film production processes copying goes on, and a final release print may not have the full "resolution" of the camera negative, as there are generation losses.

    Many argue that HDTV offers resolution equal to a 35mm cinema release print. Some argue that material shot on HD cameras is "sharper" (that doesn't mean higher resolution - sharpness is more complex and includes contrast and detail interaction)

    Others argue that a 35mm camera negative is much more detailed than the output of an HD camera - which is why 2k and 4k scanning are used for film post-production.

    The arguments are far from simple - and there is no real single answer.

    What is clear is that colour film shot in the 30s looks a lot better than video shot in the 30s!
     
  5. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    It's nothing to do with the cameras really - the same cameras have often been used since the 60s. It is the film stock and processing that dictates the quality of a film picture (as long as the camera registers the film frame accurately)

    As such film shot in the 50s and 60s can look as good as stuff shot now. In the 50s and 60s the stock wasn't as good in some ways - especially sensitivity - but this meant more light and different shooting styles were required to deliver quality pictures. (More studios, fewer locations)

    I think you are confusing film and video slightly. Video cameras have an inherent hardware resolution limit - and as the quality of camera sensors (tubes replaced by CCDs) and processing electronics improved the video quality and resolution increased.

    Film works by using photosensitive chemicals on bits of transparent plastic - so any increase in quality is a chemical process that reduces grain size etc. - and that is a function that is far more complex.

    What modern remastering does is re-transfer films,often using better quality prints, digital techniques to fill-in scratches, remove optically burned in dirt etc. When transferring to video for TV and DVD newer transfer equipment (which like video cameras has improved) is used to improve the final result.

    In many cases special effects are improved (film techniques for this stuff has improved) - but the core film quality often doesn't need much doing to it. Some grain reduction processing is sometimes introduced to aid MPEG2 compression - as grain, like noise, is difficult to encode.
     
  6. Quickbeam

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    The highest resolution that films are produced in right now is 4K, 4096 x 3072. No mainstream high definition digital video camera can record at that resolution yet, but modern 35mm film stock can have a resolution in excess of 4K when scanned. Spider-Man 2 was the first major studio feature to be produced at 4K resolution. However, all the FX shots were downconverted to 2K and then resized to 4K after the FX had been added. Before this the standard practice was to scan at 4K resolution then downconvert the entire film to 2K for editing - I believe this is still quite common. Some older films such as the early James Bond films have recently been remastered in 4K resolution.
     
  7. Abit

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    I don't know much about movie film but I do a fair amount of serious amateur still photography, 35mm and medium format, and I scan my 35mm film, or used to, on a 4000dpi film scanner yielding files in the size range of 5695 x 3815, or just under 22 megapixels a frame. There is detail even beyond that with the slowest speed films.

    What does the 4K stand for?
     
  8. Quickbeam

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    As mentioned above, 4K refers to the horizontal pixel resolution commonly used in digital film scanning i.e. 4096 pixels. 35mm movie camera film has an aspect ratio of 4:3, so when the Full Camera Aperture is used the scanning resolution will be 4096 x 3072. When comparing still camera scans to movie camera scans it's worth remembering that a 35mm still camera frame is double the size of a movie camera frame, so a typical camera still will have significantly more resolution than a typical movie still.
     
  9. Abit

    Abit
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    Actually, the relationship wasn't "mentioned above." The term 4k was simply given along with pixel dimensions. I was just curious if it meant anything else beyond the obvious.

    What are the actual physical dimensions of movie film?
     
  10. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    Yep - AIUI this is one reason why HD may often be a better digital film production than 2k scanning if you are producing in 16:9 or similar and not using anamorphic film techniques.

    AIUI when shooting 16:9 non-anamorphic stuff on 35mm you shoot open-matte (so expose a 4:3 area but crop in the projector or intermediate processes to 16:9?) If you scan the whole 4:3 film frame at 2k but only want the 16:9 portion, then you aren't getting a massively better result than scanning at the 16:9 1920x1080 resolution of 1080/24p?

    Although 2k sounds better than HD in resolution terms - you may not be taking full advantage of all the extra samples that 2k offers (using a lot of them to sample picture elements you don't require?)
     
  11. Quickbeam

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    See this page for details of 35mm and other film frame dimensions. If you scroll down you'll see that the 8-perf Vistavision horizontal system has similar dimensions to a 35mm still camera frame (like most other formats VistaVision was never widely used since it required double the amount of film as regular 35mm - very expensive).

    That's true - there is very little difference between scanning at 1920 x 1080 and 2048 x 1080. However many directors like to use the Super35 format in which the whole 4:3 frame is exposed, and then the director later decides which part of the frame to use. In this case full frame 2K scanning (or better) is needed.
     
  12. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    Yep - agreed.

    (There are also situations where the bulk of a film is shot 35mm and scanned at 2k, but certain effects shots are shot on 65mm and scanned at higher resolution to allow for better chroma-keying etc. AIUI - scanning at above your delivery resolution has benefits if you are trying to minimise artefacts)
     
  13. Quickbeam

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    To clarify my above comment on film scanning resolutions, Full Aperture 35mm film is scanned at 4096 x 3112, not at 4096 x 3072 as I previously stated, which gives an aspect ratio of ~1.32. Not sure of the exact reason for that as 35mm Full Aperture dimensions are exactly 4:3.

    This site covers all the common scanning resolutions and dimensions.
     
  14. Paul O

    Paul O
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    Wow - thanks for all this information guys, thats great!! :smashin:

    It looks like theres still some way to go before digital systems can match the potential quality of there original recorded master. Cool. I'll keep upgrading then! hehe :thumbsup:
     
  15. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    Depends what you consider "the master" though.

    If "the master" is a print then it might not be sharper than an HD format. However if your "re-master" from the camera negatives, then it might be ;-)
     
  16. Mr.D

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    There is a world of difference between a 4k or 2k film scan compared with an 1920x1080i HD master. A filmscan is an uncompressed 10bit log encoded RGB colourspace digital negative. An HD master is video. They are apples and oranges.

    Its not all about resolution either. The intensity range and colour detail held in a filmscan is way more than a HD master. This is a digital negative we are talking about its designed to be recorded back to film and used as negative.

    Filmscanners are generally a lot more mechanically and electrically stable compared with even the best datacine and telecine rigs. (they used to be the size of a ford transit ...now they are about the size of a fridge) I worked on a film once where they tried to use hidef video masters for effects work and we ended up rescanning it all , even at 2k the filmscans were hugely sharper .

    4K is great but a nightmare to work with , most people can't tell the difference between print struck from a 4k digital neg or a 2k digital neg and that includes the director of photography that shot it. 4k digital; intermediate has become popular as a bandwagon amongst people who have only ever see rubbish 2k filmscans (most are 4k scans that are downresed these days). They seem to think its some additional mark of quality on their altogether rubbish movies.

    70/65mm can be used for VFX work but its not for actor bluescreens , its used to film background plates and sometimes model plates and is normally cropped aor panned into or otherwise modified in scale (hence the need for the larger resolution).

    4k and 2k terminology refers to the horizontal pixel resolution and are commonly used terms in this industry.
     
  17. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    And incidentally today's filmstocks capture more resolution , colour information and intensity range than filmstocks of even 10 years ago. 16mm today is regarded as being similar in quality to 35mm in the 1970s so broadly speaking film is twice as "good" as it was 30 years ago.
     
  18. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    Yep - all very valid points Mr.D - though some of the newer digital HD cameras can capture at significantly higher dynamic resolutions (12 bit rather than 8 or 10 AIUI) - and full bandwith RGB rather than sub-sampled chroma. (Things like the Viper?)

    Did a teeny bit of work in a place where some of the early digital film post-production kit was in development in the early 90s.
     
  19. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    12bit linear

    You need about 20bit linear to adequately represent a 10bit log encoded digital negative and even then the viper doesn't have as much range in the lower intensities compared with film.In the headroom its no contest : try printing down something shot on HD ....terrible.

    Look at some of the streaky mess that Michael Mann shot in Collateral when they had to crank the shutter wide open to get enough light into the HD cameras to get a decent image.

    I think its great what sony and others are doing for digital capture but I wish they would be more accurate with their claims and stop rubbishing film because at the moment its no contest.
     

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