November 25, 2015

How Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight' Brought Back 65mm Panavision History

Bob Richardson - The Hateful Eight Featurette - Ultra Panavision
Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight is a throwback in its content, but it's also bringing back a bit of film history along with it.

We've previously discussed how the film utilized the Ultra Panavision 70 technique along with 65mm lenses that haven't been seen in decades. A new BTS video dives even deeper into this history, including the discussion of the return of the roadshow, with select theaters screening in 70mm with exclusive content — the idea here being that the theater should be a different experience than watching at home:

As a quick refresher to go along with the behind the scenes video, here are some of the specs and info on the shoot from our previous post:

  • Panavision 65 HR Camera and Panavision Panaflex System 65 Studio
  • Panavision APO Panatar Lenses 
  • 65mm: Kodak Vision3 200T 5213, Vision3 500T 5219
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.75:1

This film is getting a full release in Ultra Panavision 70, which means that we're going to see the first fiction feature film screened in anamorphic 70mm with a single-projector Cinerama system since Khartoum in 1966 (movies like Ben-Hur and Mutiny on the Bounty also used this format). Talk about making some history.

You might remember that the last major Hollywood film to shoot on 65mm and project in 70mm was Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, but while that film shot 5 perf 65mm (2.20:1 native aspect ratio), they center cropped that frame to get to the standard 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and shot a handful of bits on 35mm. The Hateful Eight, on the other hand, is taking that native 2.20:1 aspect ratio and shooting with 1.25x anamorphic lenses, which is later unsqueezed to a super-wide 2.75:1 aspect ratio — much wider than the normal widescreen in cinema today, which is 2.39/2.40:1.

Even if you don't care for all this film stuff, it's pretty cool to see old cinema lenses come back from the dead and get refurbished to use on a major feature. It would be fantastic to see these lenses on more productions, perhaps even on ARRI's new 65mm digital camera.       

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30 Comments

Does anyone know which theaters?

November 26, 2015 at 1:07AM

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Max Ciesynski
Gaffer
632

Must... not... watch. Shouldn't... read. Must see movie... first. Oh the temptation. I'll be back in a few weeks.

November 26, 2015 at 1:55AM, Edited November 26, 1:55AM

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Richard
242

Mad respect.

November 26, 2015 at 3:38AM

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Samu Amunét
Director
276

Looks like the majority of the film was set in one room. That should be fun... No wait, the other thing.

November 26, 2015 at 4:24AM, Edited November 26, 4:24AM

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Most of it is in one room. It's not a bad script, it's pretty good. But it's not great. I can't imagine other films of Tarantino's being better suited for this format.

November 26, 2015 at 10:45AM

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Brooks Reynolds
Director/DOP
383

That was my argument on another site.

Tarantino spends so much time and effort worrying about the format when...I would like his movies just as much no matter what they were shot on. Now, The Dark Knight is a different story. The fact that they shot scenes in IMAX made sense, it lent itself to the super here scope and scale. QT does character movies, not Ben Hur...so why is he putting so much effort into this aspect of his film?

To me, it seems like it's a tough sell at Christmas. Each of his previous two films has A+ list leads in Brad Pitt and DiCaprio. This one has Kurt Russell and Sam Jackson, both A Listers at one point but not really anymore. So it could be the studio asking him to push this as an angle of sorts. Otherwise it just seems like a gimmick. Again, if it were a movie that had the scope and scale to justify it, I would be more excited.

November 26, 2015 at 11:08AM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2870

"To me, it seems like it's a tough sell at Christmas. Each of his previous two films has A+ list leads in Brad Pitt and DiCaprio."

Kinda important to note that Jamie Foxx was the lead not DiCaprio. Also an A+ list guy (imo) but probably important to give credit appropriately.

November 30, 2015 at 1:10PM

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The Instagram user "TheKlapper" gives a fun insight into some insane upgrades that the 65mm cameras went through in order to keep the production up to speed. One of the things that were developed just for the film was a 2000' magazine, which allowed them to shoot up to 17 minutes per roll!

November 26, 2015 at 8:25AM

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Looks incredible. Like every shot is a medium format still. Wonderful, can't wait to see it.

November 26, 2015 at 10:11AM

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Wildlite
168

When Sam Jackson talks about 70mm it almost sounds like he is about to laugh at the end of each sentence.

November 26, 2015 at 2:09PM, Edited November 26, 2:09PM

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Film and old lenses really mean that much to some? I guess it does.

November 26, 2015 at 2:33PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
998

Maybe I'm wrong, but shooting on film seems like a hipster fetish at this point. Can somebody point out a single shot in the trailer that couldn't be replicated on digital, and explain why?

November 27, 2015 at 12:18AM, Edited November 27, 12:21AM

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So great that The Hateful 8 and The Revenant come out almost at the same time. Way to compare classic cinema look (Panavision, 65mm film) and all natural light and digital sensitivity (Alexa 65). Both are winter movies.

November 27, 2015 at 12:57PM

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Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
1307

Maybe you can tell us if The Revenant is worth the time. It was moved from December to January. And we know what they say about movies that are moved like that. If it is tedious to watch it could have been shot in 12K, with 20 stops, and 14 bit color, and no one will care to watch it.

As we see said over and over, its the story, not the camera.

November 27, 2015 at 1:45PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
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Excellent Point Terma. Now I want to see the film projection of the Hateful 8, and then the IMAX digital of Revenant and keep notes on the differences.

November 30, 2015 at 6:05PM

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JP Summers
Director of Photography
161

So film looks better than digital? I don't see it. Since 4K, digital looks better than film. Now with 6K it looks even better. But tell me where these screens are where I will see film is better. I will give it a go. But I don't think they exist. Film doesn't look its best on the internet? Well, neither does digital. But still, I will give it a go.

November 27, 2015 at 1:39PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
998

What "looks" better is SUBJECTIVE. For a keen eye one can decipher the intricacies of the film format on screen... which some digital folks are trying to replicate digitally.
It's all NOSTALGIA. People are accustomed to that 35mm film look & that's what they expect. A lot of people were raised & grew up watching 35mm like Tarintino. Some folks made their early movies on film (Tarintino, Speilberg).
It's just a PERSONAL PREFERENCE. "Better"? Digital has many MANY ADVANTAGES over film that can't be argued, period. Cheaper, easier, proficient, MUCH Quicker, ect ect. But the LOOK of the final print (which is still crazy since most people are xfering the film to DIGITAL to EDIT, but I guess they're talking SOURCE of the picture.
...
BTW, 35mm film IS equivalent to 4k,.. or, ACTUALLY, rather closer to 5k. they tested it & it's been a fact since the advent of digital in the 90s.
(I HATE how misleading the "k" numbers are.. 1080 & lower it's the number of digital lines up and down. then all the suddenly from 2k on up, they count it in lines ACROSS. It's stupid.)
RED engineers & others will continue to develop digital cameras & they will create a sensor and capturing recorder that can record 70mm equivalent one day, but even digitally, that is just not practical at this time - they're going good just to record 4k.
...
And then there's the practicality of filming in & final print in 4k. Most theaters show "2k" images anyway! 4k is only future-proofing to go back one day & re-master it. Online isn't 4k compatible just yet (there's been articles proving this). Digital is getting there, and i LOVE it, but it's not quite "there" (100% "better" than film yet.) But As Peter Jackson proved with Hobbit, digital CAN be beautiful.. so much so, it makes audiences uncomfortable seeing THAT pristine of a image. Which is a complaint I think it ridiculous,.. but alas, people are USED to the old film look... nostalgia not perfect quality. Kinda sad in a way. I'd think cinema's SHOULD strive to be pristine beautiful picture,... not some nostalgia BS. Progress is good... IMNSHO

November 27, 2015 at 7:16PM

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I know those points you talked about. The easiest way to see that digital looks better than film is to watch the trailers for the last two Bond movies. Skyfall shot in digital looks better than Spectre shot on film.

I've never heard anyone outside of internet comments complain about how digital looks, and that they want movies and tv to go back to film. It's ONLY has life in internet comment threads. NO ONE outside of the internet is saying they don't want film to die. Someone replied to me that they have heard the debate in film class. That's probably some of the same people commenting on the internet about it. The idea that we should hold on to film has become beyond silly now. Some will insist there is a "bouquet" to film that digital doesn't have. But I say there's a richness in color, and a primal, 3D look, that digital has, that film cannot match.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Roger Deakins doesn't care about film going away either. He talks about it at one point in this 23 minute video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfYeS_20dXo

By the way Skyfall was also a better movie than Spectre. I wasn't overly impressed with Spectre. One thing I kept thinking is that it looked old, older than Skyfall. Film makes movies look like they are from a past time. I'm wondering what 8K is going to look like. We should see more footage very soon from the Red 8K. :-) What I'm really curios to see is the greater look of 3D that 8K promises to have. I'm not so much into depth of field/blurred background. I like sharp detail in the background. I like to see an autumn color forest in the distant background look like it is an autumn color forest in the distant background. It is better than the muddied color that film gives to autumn colors in the distant background.

November 28, 2015 at 12:54AM, Edited November 28, 1:00AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
998

Those films are shot by two different people in different places. Don't understand how you could possibly draw that conclusion from such a pointless comparison.

Also, what is 8k going to help when 95% of all cinema releases are mastered in 2k? If films that cost several hundred million dollars steer clear of 4k-mastering due to budgetary concerns, who will actually benefit from the resolution-madness?

Digital has many advantages, but if you set up a digital camera next to a 35mm camera and shoot the same thing, the fact of the matter is that a lot of people (myself included) will simply prefer the look of film.

November 29, 2015 at 11:27AM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
874

How can you know a lot of people would prefer film?

I don't think it's true, because, I never hear anyone (outside of the internet that is) say a thing about how they wish movies and tv would go back to film. I never hear anyone say movies and tv used to look better. I just don't think people do see that film was better. If they did they would be saying something. And they just aren't.

Do you shoot film or digital?

It's not "resolution-madness". Greater resolution has taken over the video world because it looks better. It is not just because easier to use. If film did look better shooters would stay with it because it would be worth the effort. But it's not.

You can't find beauty even in this simple backyard test with an AJA Cion 4k?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WB5_K-Se0A

I think it looks gorgeous for just being a quickly thrown together sample. Aren't you even looking forward, a little, to seeing the new Red 8K at its best?

I somehow have a hunch the negative reaction to digital is purely from human nature suspicious of change, that the new can't be better than what they're used to.

I'm not being negative about film, just like it wasn't being negative about horses when cars came along, and people said they were better than horses. Horses are still beautiful. And film is still beautiful. But digital is better.

This argument has become exhausting and not worth the time anymore.

November 29, 2015 at 12:50PM, Edited November 29, 12:50PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
998

Unlike you, I have had this conversation outside the Internet, many times. So far, I have yet to encounter a single person who thinks digital looks superior to film. Loads of people praise the practical aspects of digital, but not a single person has claimed it looks better. Outside of people working in the industry I don't think anyone cares or would know what to look for in such a comparison.

You're saying highly subjective opinions as if they were fact. The fact that the Alexa is the most used camera on professional shoots points to the fact that higher resolution does NOT look better. Especially seeing as how S35mm is thought to be equivalent to around 4k in resolving power. Sure, I'm interested in seeing Weapon 8k, but the resolution bumps are not what have impressed me before with red. And once again, I left wondering what it will be used for. Most people don't watch 4k at a distance where they'll see any difference compared to 1080p.

I shoot mostly digital but have shot film. Yes, I can see beauty in the Cion video, because of good imagery. I also see blown out highlights that stick out like a sore thumb, as well as some pretty bad motion handling.

Like I said, digital has a great many positives, most being practical. But if it ultimately looked better (which is subjective either way) don't you think film would've been gone by now? I think the next generation Arri cameras could dethrone film, considering how close the Alexa is. But it's not quite there yet imo.

November 29, 2015 at 4:38PM, Edited November 29, 4:41PM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
874

"Unlike you, I have had this conversation outside the Internet"

You are talking rashly. Slow down. Pay attention. Have a nice night.

November 29, 2015 at 6:18PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
998

"Outside of people working in the industry I don't think anyone cares or would know what to look for in such a comparison."

If you have to "look for" differences then the differences are meaningless.

November 29, 2015 at 6:20PM, Edited November 29, 6:20PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
998

Digital is not mainly used in by "professional", however you are meaning that, it looks like you mean movie makers. It is mainly used everywhere. And it does look better than film. Film looks old, outdated. The horse is out of the barn.

November 29, 2015 at 6:24PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
998

You don't see what Red 8K will be used for? Really? Come on, dude.

You don't realize it, but you have a pretty hard bias against Red. Why do you guys like that get so angry?

I think the bias against digital, in general, may really be nostalgia, or even fear of change. Whatever the case, the digital vs. film debate is more a study in psychology than a exercise for reaching unbiased conclusions about it.

What will it be used for? Making awesome looking video. Probably the best in the world. The color palette of Red is probably the best in the world. And its image characteristics look decidedly professional. If I had $100,000.00 for buying a camera, with all the accessories, it would be a Red 8K. (Either that, or I could rent the obscenely overpriced ARRI 6K for 10 days. Talk about paying for brand name!!)

November 29, 2015 at 6:33PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
998

"But if it ultimately looked better (which is subjective either way) don't you think film would've been gone by now?"

It has gone away. The horse it out of the barn. The only people using it are those who are used to it, who feel more confident using it then using digital. When they're gone probably no one will be using film. There also is the very rare case of a shooter wanting to use it so they can get the true "filmic" look. But even that look is almost been completely replicated with settings, lenses, LUTs etc., in digital.

Film is dead. Let's admit it, and move on, and make excellent work with digital. Can't wait for 8K for filter down and be affordable to us regular folk.

November 29, 2015 at 6:42PM, Edited November 29, 7:00PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
998

"I think the next generation Arri cameras could dethrone film"

Film has been dethroned. It's already happened. Red did it with 4K. Digital has come to dominate the video world since then. High resolution digital is king. It is king NOW.

Here is some digital that looks better than film. It shows autumn colors. Film is not good with autumn colors, especially at long distances. Autumn colors are muddied in film. They stand out so beautifully in 4K and above.

2 minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pSzhZ76GdM

November 29, 2015 at 7:17PM, Edited November 29, 7:20PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
998

Funny you mention The Hobbit. Those films are in my mind perfect examples of how horrible digital can look. They perfectly showcase every trait that film still does better, right down to the motion handling.

November 29, 2015 at 11:20AM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
874

Shannon,
Incorrect, on most points.
35mm color film is around 10k resolution.
70mm is around 18k
Go look up the numbers, before you spout.
To an amateur, all judgement is "subjective."
To a trained eye, the difference is obvious.
Digital is not "better," it is just "good enough."
Its chief benefits are faster and cheaper.
Digital cinema is sharp (enough) and steady.
Digital film is easily copied onto lightweight drives.
65/70mm film quality is still way ahead, but it's big and heavy,
and prints degrade. Film still has one advantage, archiving.
Film will last a century, where Digital must be copied from
drive to drive, every two years.

December 7, 2015 at 1:32PM, Edited December 7, 1:34PM

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Indy Cine
Producer-Director-Writer-Cinematographer-Editor
1

"..which is still crazy since most people are xfering the film to DIGITAL to EDIT"

The medium used for editing is irrelevant. After the digital edit is finished, the original negative is cut to match it and the release prints are made (indirectly) from that, not from the digital transfer.

The difference in resolution direction is a video/film divide. With few exceptions cinema formats measure the width of the picture (or of the medium, but it's always about width): 8mm, 16mm, 35mm, etc. So when digital came to cinema, resolution aka picture quality was still related to the width of the image: 2K, 4K, etc. Analog video measures resolution in scan lines (i.e. vertical) because of how the technology works, and digital video continued measuring along that axis. It's not an arbitrary higher/lower thing at all, but a reflection of two different histories meeting.

January 17, 2016 at 1:21PM

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Eric Cornwell
old dog learning new tricks
88