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Den Taylor

Part of the Magic

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Den Taylor    76
Den Taylor

I believe there was a subject recently here where the magic of the 80s came up and what was all part of it. I often thought about that but I now came up with an aspect that I think most aren't aware of or have given much thought about. It's the type of film they used!

Now I don't what this type is called but there's something truly magic about it....and it was being used from around 1980(?) to 1986. You can see it in the first 3 seasons of MV and in all the other series, the movies and especially the music videos from that period too. In 1987 then for some reason "they" (whoever that is) made a switch to a different film format....maybe not everywhere in the business but most switched and it had changed latest by 1988? I'm not sure but season 5 may have yet another type of film. And again you can see this reflected in the music videos from those years too. I really think this was part of the reason why the magic started slipping away...it definitely was with the Miami Vice series.

I don't know what it is but something is lacking in those post-86 films....the colors are different too. Granted it was still better than what we had from the early 90s onward....maybe somebody here is an expert on the vatrious types of films and what actually makes them so different? And why they actually decided to switch which IMO was one of the worst decisions they could ever make?

Edited by Den Taylor

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Vincent Hanna    483
Vincent Hanna

I guess the advances in film stock unintentionally changed the look of films over the years. Movies like The French Connection and the Godfather used a rare film stock that was discontinued not long afterwards so it's kind of neat how unique those films from that era look.

With Miami Vice I think it was more to do with the shrinking budget and that late 80s grungy aesthetic that made the show visually look bad rather than the actual film, but IDK. Maybe a mixture of the two.

All I know is that any film is better than these digital cameras they use now. Someone here was watching Narcos on Netflix and it was unsettling how clear everything looks. All these news shows look so pristine and sterile looking. I was trying to imagine what the opening scene of the Pilot would look like shot digitally eg. when Tubbs runs out of the club and down the back alley. I miss that grittiness that new shows/movies are lacking.

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vicegirl85    387
vicegirl85

I agree that today's HD video gives an almost unnaturally clear, pristine look to movies and TV shows that *seem* to me like they should be more gritty and shadowy.  Not entirely sure if that's what you're talking about, Den Taylor, but (especially when HD TV first came out) I think it made a noticeable difference.  It doesn't bother me as much now since I've gotten used to it, but often there is just a look that's almost soap-opera-ish with the harshly lit clarity.  

Many of you know way more about film-making than I have any concept of, so I'll stop now!

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Matt5    1,919
Matt5

Great points about HD!:hippie:

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daytona365    188
daytona365
On 3.9.2017 at 3:18 AM, vicegirl85 said:

I agree that today's HD video gives an almost unnaturally clear, pristine look to movies and TV shows that *seem* to me like they should be more gritty and shadowy.  Not entirely sure if that's what you're talking about, Den Taylor, but (especially when HD TV first came out) I think it made a noticeable difference.  It doesn't bother me as much now since I've gotten used to it, but often there is just a look that's almost soap-opera-ish with the harshly lit clarity.  

Many of you know way more about film-making than I have any concept of, so I'll stop now!

I totally second your opinion, vicegirl85. HD video makes every TV show look like a cheaply produced docusoap. If you still own a non-FHD/UHK/4K flat panel TV like myself, everything still looks like you're at a movie theater, but I recently got to watch an episode of also Narcos on a brand new Samsung UHD and was shocked by the clarity. I wonder what an episode of Vice would look like if done that way. The 2005 movie was also filmed in HD video if I'm not wrong.

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pahonu    52
pahonu

I was a film major in college here in SoCal in the late 80's/early 90's, so I can give little insight on the topic.  Most people tend to use the terms film and video interchangeably, and today they are very close, but they are not the same thing.  Also, in that era the differences between the two were much more pronounced.  Basically, film makes an image from actual reflected light waves through a lens onto the film stock which has silver nitrate on celluloid.  The sharpness of the image is based on the speed at which the silver nitrate reacts to light.  For low light settings, faster film (quick reaction time) is needed but the image is more grainy.  Slower films can be crystal clear, but need more light, hence the intense lights usually used in filming.

Video is entirely different.  It's a digital scanning of the light that is electronically encoded and recorded on magnetic tape (hard drive today).  It's clarity is entirely related to the number of scan lines and pixels the original image is broken down into.  Think of the blocky shaped characters from 80's video games like Atari to visualize very low pixilation.  As HD technology developed, the number of pixels and scan lines shown on the screen grew dramatically as they also did on the video cameras recording them.  That's what numbers like 1080 are referencing.  The switch from analogue to digital transmission of the signal many years ago allowed this over the airwaves not just via cable. 

Now I don't know much about the most advanced digital "film" of today because I last worked in the industry in the 90's, but when MV was filmed it was actually on film (using the ubiquitous Panaflex 35 mm cameras from the era), and edited using that film, before being transferred to video to be distributed to stations to air.  In that era film had much, much better color saturation and light contrast than video was even capable of.  Filming scenes in low light showed much better depth of tone in black shades as video required even more intense light to register an image.  That's why sitcoms of the era recorded on video looked so much more washed out and unsaturated than dramas which were almost always on film stock.  A point of comparison is the sitcom Cheers which was unusually recorded on film and had more dark and shadowy scenes inside the bar.  Compare it to say, Night Court from a similar time, which was recorded, edited, and distributed on video.  They look very different. 

Another way to really see the difference was to watch an old movie like Lawrence of Arabia which was filmed using 70mm stock (almost 3 inches wide) of incredible clarity, but actually watch it on a big screen at a theater.  I had a chance to see a restored version of it at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood in the early 90's, and you could walk up remarkably close to what is a very big screen and it was still sharply focused.  Even with the best large HD TV's today, there are limits to how close you can get to the screen before it loses sharpness.  Unfortunately opportunities to see actual film being projected on the big screen is almost entirely gone now.

Hope that helps in some way.  :thumbsup:

Edited by pahonu
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Boca Raton    24
Boca Raton

Miami Vice (2006) film stock looked great from what I remember- only saw it once in theaters not so sure its worth a re-watch...

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