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June 05, 2009


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"Re-calibrate his monitor", eh? I like it. I'm using it.


Hands up everyone who thought the first pic was actually a still from the disc.

Ed Howard

*Raises hand*

Seriously, your camera must be amazing, Glenn.

Pete Apruzzese

That certainly looks very much like the three 35mm prints I've handled of it, including an original 1964 Kubrick-approved print. The film has always had a somewhat grainy, contrasty, blown-out white look to it.

Can't wait to get my hands on the disc ASAP.


Glenn, seeing as you, like I, have a plasma TV, I wonder if you'd mind addressing the occasional phosphor lag/trails on those sets, particularly during high-contrast black-and-white films. You know, the yellow (or green, for some folks) flashes you get when a dark image crosses over an intense white, etc.

Seeing as you cherish high quality video presentation, does this shortcoming of plasma technology (even in the uber-expensive Pioneer Kuro sets) irritate you all that much? I doubt my standards are quite as high as yours, but I sometimes find it rather distracting.

(Still much better than the motion blur encountered on LCD sets, though.)

D Cairns

I once spoke to somebody who'd seen a print from the camera negative of Eyes Wide Shut and he said the grain was very fine, almost invisible. So Kubes DELIBERATELY added more to create the beautiful grainstorm we saw in the release prints. (I'm going to start using the term "grainstorm" regularly as a compliment for nice film images). I mean, it seems inconceivable that anybody in the SK organisation would have had the balls/initiative to add this grain against Kubrick's wishes after his death. And that's a very grainy film.

Grain is not a flaw on the image. It is the image. BluRay is going to make grain more perceptible on any film that hasn't had some insane post-production smearing to blur the "flaw" out.

The Chevalier

D Cairns, that's factually incorrect. First, Kubrick shot EWS with the grainiest film available at the time, the old Eastman 500 EXR, which was, I believe, no longer being manufactured. He specifically avoided the modern Vision T stocks that had a finer grain. Then, he underexposed the stock by 2 stops in the camera and subsequently had the negative pushed two stops in the lab. He was specifically designing an ultra-grainy aesthetic.

Jett Loe

adding to the Kubrick Grain action = The Chev is right = 'Eyes Wide Shut' was deliberately shot underexposed and then pushed at least a stop = more grain action to be had that way!

+ would be nice to see some Blu Ray 'screen grabs' of Dr. Strangelove rather than snapshots :)

Scott Nye

Ignoring the fact that whether or not filmmakers wanted the grain there, it is there and should be presented with it if need me...Spielberg tries to keep grain in his pictures, and maintains it on home video. All the way up 'til now, even moreso actually. Just saying.

D Cairns

"Factually incorrect" or not, a well-connected person who wishes to be nameless saw the un-grainy EWS print with his own eyes. I have reason to regard him as a trustworthy witness. He was able to compare notes with Martin Scorsese afterwards, if that helps.

Perhaps, despite all Kubrick's choices, the grain was still COMPARITIVELY subtle compared to what we saw in the release prints.

The Chevalier

D Cairns, go look up the old American Cinematographer article from '99. Eastman 500 EXR, 2 stops underexposed, two stops pushed. That does not create a fine grain image. The entire intent was to create grain.

Dan Coyle

Believe me, you haven't seen true concern trolling once you've been on a comic book discussion board. Right now there's a superhero comic about a superman analogue being a genocidal maniac because everyone isn't nice to him. and a friend of the writer says it's a metaphor for the Internet.


@Dan Coyle

Let me guess. Mark Millar.

D Cairns

Chevalier, I have no doubt the intent was to produce grain. I fully believe you when you say that Kubrick took steps when filming to produce that grain. But I also believe my acquaintance, given his reliability and status in the industry, when he says that the camera neg print he saw had significantly less visible grain. I don't think it's impossible to reconcile the two facts.


I accidentally posted this on the previous thread, which is obviously no longer on the top of the page. Perhaps it will get seen more widely here; I'd love to hear from Glenn on the matter:

A closed Kenny thread! Is this a first? Anyway, I want to know who won, and I'd like to post here what was going to be my only input on the thread (aside from encouraging that Josh's table/penis comment be chosen):

To don & the other one who got upset about this - though some of the captions are indeed a bit nasty I think mostly it's in a spirit of good fun. I've enjoyed the exercise and I don't despise Swanberg at all - in fact I quite liked LOL. I have some doubts about how much of his work will hold up and how much derives its interest from the freshness of his approach and the interest around a new film movement (qualities which he actively cultivates - see his SXSW trailers for "Hannah Takes the Stairs"). However - and here's a point which should definitively separate me from Glenn! - I think Swanberg's got a great screen presence and his cameo in Quiet City was one of the highlights of that film for me.

Point being, I enjoyed this thread without hating Swanberg, so I think it's possible (and if that's not evidence enough, Tom pitched in with his own dig and we all know how he feels about Joe).

As for mumblecore proper, I'm intrigued but not entirely overwhelmed...except by Bujalski, who I think is a major filmmaker, possibly the best to emerge in the past 10 years. At least this is my first impression after initial viewings of Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation. These are the only two films I've seen which transcend the "movement." And don't get me started on the loathsome Guatemalan Handshake (sorry, filmbrain) which was for some reason listed as "mumblecore" on wikipedia. Unfortunately, this led me to rent it. I made it about 45 minutes, for which I think I deserve some sort of medal.

OK, continue with the grain discussion.

The Chevalier

The amount of grain seen for EWS theatrically depended on what screen you saw it on. It was a true grain storm on the Loews screen at Lincoln Square in NYC because it's gigantic. But I also saw it in Park Slope too, and I recall the grain being much finer there. So everything affected the presentation from screen size to the brightness of the projector's bulbs.

Glenn Kenny

@Movieman: THat thread was closed for convenience's sake, in keeping with the deadline for the contest entries. We will consider it re-opened in the post wherein the winner is announced, tomorrow.

Dan Coyle

Other Dan (or perhaps in tribute to the Hangover, "May or may not be White Dan"), nope. Millar's not like that. He revels in people saying bad shit about him.

Tom Russell

"Millar's not like that. He revels in people saying bad shit about him."

And, it should be noted, he revels in giving people reasons to say bad shit about him.

grumble grumble Civil War grumble grumble...

As for the topic under discussion, I'd have to agree with what Mr. Cairns said: Grain is not a flaw in the image. It is the image.

Now, I'm a digital filmmaker. (If someone wants to go all semantic on my ass and say that it's not a film if it's not on film, well, I can certainly come up with some colourful suggestions for them.) I personally think that the digital image is a thing of beauty in its own right. And, from a "political" standpoint, I'm for video because it allows me-- hell, it allows pretty much anybody-- to make films. I don't need to mortgage my house or wait for years looking for investors or compromising my vision, such as it is.

When a certain DVD distributor of note, who has distributed a number of digital films, looked at one of my motion pictures, he had a lot of great things to say about but felt that the movie didn't work because it hadn't been shot on film. And at the time, I have to admit, I was kind of pissed about the remark. If I could have afforded to shoot on film, I would have used the money to get rid of the lump in my wife's throat and still shot on video.

And I tell you all this so that I might establish my digital bonafides, as it were, and so that, given that context, the following statements have the desired impact: but damn, do I wish I had grain in my images. Boy-oh-boy, do I feel the lack of it in even the best digital films. How I long for it, how I pine, how I wish video could emulate it without the use of some shitty filter or bullshit software.

To me, the idea of going in and erasing grain-- beautiful, lovely, wonderful grain!-- from a film is aesthetically and perhaps morally wrong. As Glenn pointed out visually with his "Liberty Valance" post, that scrubbing away diminishes the integrity of the image and makes a travesty of it.

No offense to Mr. Wells, but how anyone can advocate such butchery is as incomprehensible to me as the film criticism of Armond White. And I think, as far as grain goes, the former's opinions matter about as much as the latter's.

D Cairns

Chevalier, that's a plausible account. And I like it because it doesn't imply I'm making this up. I have some trouble imagining Martin Scorsese being confused by that, but it's at possible. He did run the cam neg print in his private screening room.


@Tom Russell

A critic once said that about my movie and I burned that bridge right quick in about the harshest way possible. I still don't regret it. That movie had a lot of flaws but criticizing a filmmaker's shooting medium is about as unfair, not to mention asinine, as you can GET. Telling a filmmaker "I wish you'd shot this on film" is the equivalent of saying "I wish you'd had more money." Well, DUH.

Admittedly, my patience has about run out with the "shoot on film vs. shoot on video" crowd across the board. I bet we'd read the same stupid arguments and arrogant claims on message boards if we'd had them every time a faster film stock was introduced.

Tom Russell

"Admittedly, my patience has about run out with the 'shoot on film vs. shoot on video' crowd across the board. I bet we'd read the same stupid arguments and arrogant claims on message boards if we'd had them every time a faster film stock was introduced."

I think that's a very salient point, Dan. In many cases, the "it cannot be called a film if it's shot on video" claim is made to dismiss the movie or movie-maker in question outright. And in the defense of the distributor I mentioned, he didn't mean it in that way-- his response was otherwise extremely positive and he's a huge supporter of digital cinema; he just felt that my movie would have worked better in 16mm B&W, that the video format worked against the story. I dunno.

I think the merits of film and video are of course worth discussing and debating, as both formats have their various pros and cons and just plain differences. But I share your lack of patience with those who seek to dismiss video as a viable format out-of-hand. When they do, they're really trying to attack the legitimacy of the filmmaker in question-- and, thus, the legitimacy of the idea that anyone can create art, and that, implicitly, that some people shouldn't be allowed to make films, that those who do are not "real" filmmakers but wannabes.

I've felt a similar hostility towards my decision to self-distribute my films. If I was a real filmmaker making real films, the argument goes, I obviously would have gotten into festivals and attracted a distributor. While I'm definitely not trying to put myself in the same class, let us not forget that the first volume of the greatest book ever written was self-published. By that litmus, Marcel Proust was not a "real" author.


It's interesting, seeing people's reactions to things like shooting on video and self-distributing. I think the aversion comes out of either jealousy that you're willing to put yourself out there or no understanding of the difficulty of the process. Nobody who has done the whole festival grind of finding, submitting, and praying can begrudge a filmmaker who wants to skip that entire process. I submitted my fourth feature to sixty festivals, probably spent about a thousand bucks doing it, and in the end, what I got out of it was a free T-shirt, being entered onto way too many bulk email lists (including, for some reason, "Reel Voices of the Diaspora", which is weird since it's an African-American women's festival and I'm a pasty dude) and a distribution "deal" with a shady distributor (I took it because what the hell, I can now say I'm a distributed filmmaker) to put my movie on "VOD platforms" in Southeast Asia.

Which, admittedly, is probably more than some people have gotten out of the process, but still.


I completely agree, Glenn. Jeffrey Wells is a prime example of an HD eye candy "enthusiast" that has no idea what he's talking about. While knowledgeable about numerous other topics, he clearly knows little about the history of film technology or what Blu-ray is intended for. Also, I strongly doubt that he has a properly calibrated HDTV in the first place. My suggestion for him is to by Digital Video Essentials, calibrate his television, and do a little more reading-up on the situation concerning DNR and basic film history. The guy claims to hate what the studios did to Patton, but it's precisely because of posts like his that studios decide to do this in the first place! In the meantime one the most long-awaited catalogue titles, The Good The Bad and the Ugly, got fucked up beyond recognition by MGM. It isn't Wells' lack of knowledge that bothers me, it's how passionately he preaches it. His "reviews" on The Third Man and Dr. Strangelove are only contributing to studios' decisions to butcher catalogue titles.

How I'd love to see Robert A. Harris sit down and have a long talk with this guy.

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