Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Super 70 film vs. digital video

In yesterday's post, I discussed the film, The Hateful Eight, which a group of us had gone to see.  Director Quentin Tarantino shot that movie on Super 70 film, and by going to the "roadshow" of the movie, we got to see it via projectors running Super 70 prints of that film.  The movie was beautiful, wide and bright and colorful and everything I remembered 70mm film to be.  As had happened at an earlier showing, though, the last reel of the film had problems, so the projectionist had to switch to a digital copy for that reel.  We thus had the opportunity to see some scenes in both 70mm film and digital video versions.  (I have to admit that at first this change was annoying, but afterward we all agreed that it was neat that we got to see the movie both ways.)

The difference amazed and surprised me.

I am a huge fan of digital films, which are usually brighter and clearer than their 35mm film predecessors.  The first 4K digital movie I saw blew me away with how much better it was than the 35mm version.

In this case, though, the digital version was a sad counterpart to its 70mm sibling.  The Super 70 version was brighter, more saturated with color, and simply better in every way than the digital version.  Perhaps this is something Tarantino arranged by doing a less than optimum digital rendering, but that seems unlikely.  Regardless of the reason, though, in at least this case, film won hands-down.  The difference made me wish I could see every movie in Super 70.

As odd as it sounds, if you make it to the roadshow of The Hateful Eight, hope for the last reel to fail again so you can see this difference.  It really was amazing.

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