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  • On Modern (digital) Cinematography..

    [linkstandalone] I don't like it. Movies today, and around the last decade or so are shot on digital -- usually with RED or Arriflex cameras, and are processed digitally (on computers, where they're free to tinker with the lighting levels, colour hues). It's much faster, more convenient, compared with having to splice and chemically process real film.


    This is what footage would look like from a digital camera; it's very grey-ish, because all of that is residual light information as captured by the sensors, so you're left with the responsibility of having to tweak the image, so it looks appropriate to the eyes -- something like this:



    Now, in most movies, and maybe it's not something you'll pick up on if you're a casual viewer, is look how the colours tend to be muted, with maybe some underlying shadow hues (cyan or yellow-ish). It's like an cinematic Instagram filter that's slapped on to artificially establish a mood. Maybe you enjoy how 'crisp' the image looks, thanks to the high resolution, but at the same time, it's disconnected from everyday reality that you see, feel and breathe.







    The 'flatness' quality of these digital images, it also contributes to skepticism over if something in a shot is done in-camera, or artificially generated by CGI, because it doesn't look organic. Even if say, a director has proudly announced that an action scene was done for real, that Tom Cruise has actually hung himself by a plane for Rogue Nation, you don't really feel it and a part of you still thinks it was green screen.

    Let me show you something from an earlier time. This is the Wedding Singer. Look how vibrant and naturalistic the scenes feel:





    Even though it's an Adam Sandler comedy, you'll realise those images feel more true-to-life, because there's a quality to it that just breathes -- as opposed to the sterile feel of the 2010s. Here is Single White Female:






    It might bring to mind the whole "vinyl vs. FLAC/MP3" debate, but I don't think it's that. You can look at say, "Only God Forgives" which is done digitally, but has such an immersive look of neon and shadow. Rather, the crappy colour grading is a testament to the limited originality and passion you'll find in a lot of modern movies. The people who think primarily in current trends, about what has apparently worked (so many remakes/planned cinematic universes), without caring about the essential spirit or any hope for the undiscovered country.