He did a great job at Syriana ,it is another great movie from him
Technical specifications for
Contagion (2011) More at IMDbPro »
Red One MX
Film negative format (mm/video inches)
Digital Intermediate (master format)
Redcode RAW (4.5K) (5K) (source format)
Printed film format
35 mm (spherical)
70 mm (horizontal) (IMAX DMR blow-up)
1.85 : 1
I posted this in a different thread but this one is probably a better fit.
I saw it projected digitally, although not in IMAX. I agree, it looks better on the big screen than online. I think the look of the film, as you watch it, becomes less jarring for two reasons.
Firstly, regardless of how it looks, if a movie is doing its job properly, you get pulled into the story and the way it looks from a technical standpoint becomes less of a factor (i.e. The Blair Witch Project). I felt this way about Contagion.
And second, the more I thought about it, I feel the look of this movie is quite integral to the storytelling (i.e. The Blair Witch Project). Contagion is literally about exposure.
Over exposing the image was probably a very deliberate visual metaphor. Certain parts of the image are "protected" while other parts are subject to contamination (from light). It's a visual reminder of the situation the characters are faced with...some people will be infected and some won't, but you don't know who or when. It's unsettling.
Just saw Contagion last night. It was an engrossing film and interesting to watch, but it was one of the more technically infuriating experiences I've had at a theater. Besides the theater's issues with a buzzing sound, soft focus, and a continuous scratch down the center of the screen for most of the movie (should have seen it at a digital projection), the movie itself hardly seems like something a camera company would want to be connected with. I was a bit surprised to see a G&E dept in the credits since the movie looked like it was shot entirely available light. Perhaps they just rigged the locations with common, non-film light fixtures to give it that available light look with just a little extra control?
The 35mm print I saw projected seemed a bit soft but it may have been out of focus, and a lot of scenes had harsh blowouts and weird stuff going on in the highlights. Maybe it was the grade or the print, but the blacks were more crushed than expected (maybe to minimize noise from shooting high iso in available light?) and the blowouts were quite harsh especially in certain scenes. I kept thinking "this was shot on RED-MX? What did they do to the image to make the black level and highlights look so bad and why?". Perhaps they were going for that HD video look to make things feel more real and immediate and harsh.
Anyway, interesting film, but not one that I would look to if I was thinking about shooting a feature on RED-MX... I guess you still need a good camera AND a DP to make a movie look good :)
I saw a double feature on Saturday night: the Arri Alexa shot Drive and Contagion.
I should prefice by saying I am as big a RED fan as they come. I'm excitedly saving my cash for the chance to buy an Epic-X.
So I saw Drive first and... I have to be honest...I thought it looked superb. The color rendition, the filmic and pleasing highlights, the filmic motion. It was all very overwhelming to me to see something look so filmic. I was so proud of all the people, regardless of company, who have pushed digital film to this point of, in my eyes on, that projector, on that particular night, indistinguishability with film.
Then I excitedly rushed to Contagion...and while I enjoyed the film, it was jarring and distressing to see the contrast between the two. It's not so much that it looked awful (as others have, in alarmist fashion, pointed out) it's that it looked like HD video. Really good HD video, but HD video nonetheless. Which hurt to observe because I've seen Red look so filmic and equally, if not more so, gorgeous than the Alexa.
I know it's taboo to mention Alexa here. But I have to echo the disbelief in Damon's eyes when his wife is found dead, "What happened!? What happened to her!?"
It's not taboo to mention Alexa here. I was also struck by Drive's look. I went in not knowing it was shot digitally and was shocked afterwards- not just that it was Alexa, but that it was digital at all. The scene in his apartment where just the single work light was on was amazing. Wonderful highlight preservation, etc. You have to remember though that Steven Soderbergh shot Contagion as with Girlfriend Experience and CHE using available light. On this film he shot with two wide primes (18mm and 30mm I think). He also is a big fan of crushing blacks and high contrast environments like casinos for some scenes... intentionally degrading the footage to an extent. In the rest of the film, he went for the more flat feel. So to pit Drive against Contagion as a comparison between Arri and Red is just not realistic at all. And, remember, Drive... as much as I like it, will always be stuck at 1080p.
A great example of the ability of all these cameras is Transformers: Dark of the Moon. That project used film, Alexa, Red, SI-2K, and F35. Who can tell which is which? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1399103/technical
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