Author Topic: Film Grain  (Read 2177 times)

Re: Film Grain
« Reply #30 on: August 15, 2020, 02:46:51 PM »
This is fascinating so I'm going to start a separate thread.

Shit Good Nose

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #31 on: August 15, 2020, 03:19:44 PM »
Bummer, I was really looking forward to that. What's so bad about it?

Aside from the price...quite heavy on the DNR (Bandai, apparently, have always been an absolute nightmare for it) and some sequences have inexplicably had the colours muted which makes it a little bit uneven. 

There is a German UHD on the way in October (although I don't think any English subs or dub have been confirmed either way yet), so I'm just going to wait until that and the US one come out and take it from there (the smart money is that if it gets a US release it'll be through Funimation, and ergo a UK release from Manga Entertainment will soon follow as they are the UK subsidiary of Funimation).  One thing the Japanese UHD has got going for it over literally every single other release is that the English subs are properly translated subtitles and not just dubtitles.  Given some of the translations for the dub were a bit iffy, that might be enough for a lot of English speaking fans to dive in without worrying too much about the DNR.

Re: Film Grain
« Reply #32 on: August 15, 2020, 03:23:01 PM »
Can I just add to the Akira chat that the Japanese audio track is fucking staggering on the BD compared to the English dub I'd listened to for so many years. I had goosebumps in the opening scenes from not only the music but the sound effects. I started welling up, it was like hearing it for the first time but better than it actually was in my imagination. I'll never go back to the English audio now.

Shit Good Nose

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #33 on: August 15, 2020, 03:29:16 PM »
Can I just add to the Akira chat that the Japanese audio track is fucking staggering on the BD compared to the English dub I'd listened to for so many years. I had goosebumps in the opening scenes from not only the music but the sound effects. I started welling up, it was like hearing it for the first time but better than it actually was in my imagination. I'll never go back to the English audio now.

I always opt for the original soundtrack whenever it's available (so original mono will always win out for me over a synthesised 5/6/7.1 surround track) anyway, but it has to be said the English dub recorded for Akira's American Pioneer DVD (which I think is the one that's been used on every home video and streaming release since) is one of the best English dubs for any foreign film out there.

NoSleep

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #34 on: August 15, 2020, 03:42:12 PM »
Quote
What's the value in transferring digital to film?

Probably something similar to transferring digital audio files to tape. All the elements just kind of glue together like the ingredients of a stew. Although it inevitably "loses quality" it can be favoured by some because it's something deeply ingrained (pun unintended) as familiar and pleasing.

Another thought. I guess modern digital cameras are almost unlimited in terms of "exposure". They can out-perform film stock in many ways and some decisions don't have to be made at the point of filming due to how much range can be captured that can be narrowed down in post-production.
In contrast going to film stock requires some decisions to be made which will narrow options considerably, but it could be in this required decisiveness that some filmmakers can make something that is uniquely their own.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #35 on: August 15, 2020, 03:46:06 PM »
I think it might also make people play more safe though, everything's going to be a conservative guess based on how one thinks film behaves, since you can't get true immediate feedback (although you can get close with video capture on film cameras) as you'd need to wait for rushes to come back, versus being able to see exactly what the camera saw moments later.

Re: Film Grain
« Reply #36 on: August 15, 2020, 04:26:49 PM »
I always opt for the original soundtrack whenever it's available (so original mono will always win out for me over a synthesised 5/6/7.1 surround track) anyway, but it has to be said the English dub recorded for Akira's American Pioneer DVD (which I think is the one that's been used on every home video and streaming release since) is one of the best English dubs for any foreign film out there.

I totally agree on the quality of of that dub, which is why I've always stuck with it previously. Great voice work and acting as well as great quality. The BD also includes the earlier 1988 English dub where they all sound like Bill and Ted! :D

Japanese audio all the way, though. So much more life and space to the mix.

touchingcloth

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #37 on: August 15, 2020, 04:51:36 PM »
I'd say the cinema is the last place you want film these days, modern digital projectors look great projecting film scans. My local cinema (and the one before it) has 35mm screenings sometimes and rarely 70mm too. But they're often disappointing, old faded prints that have been kept in service too long and are covered in scratches. I'm sure the remaining places that do use film sporadically are much harder on the film because the projectors aren't looked after and serviced as regularly as they were when used continually. And the actual projectionist skills are lacking in some cases.

This is something digital is probably better at these days, the sensors are getting more sensitive than fast film was, but another advantage is they can do slower shutter speeds; although film is 24fps, you're looking at about 1/100th of a second exposure at the by the time the camera has moved the film around.

I wasn’t saying transferring digital to film to be able to project it is a good idea, just it’s one of the few reasons I could think of why you would do it. Presumably there are some shonky old cinemas still knocking around where they can’t do digital projection.

I think the reasons for ever shooting on physical film have pretty much all disappeared now, apart from doing it for heritage type reasons, or potentially the lower cost to entry of shooting some 16mm arthouse type thing. But even then an original 5D must cost next to nowt these days.

There was a time when as you mentioned digital wasn’t as fast as the best film (well, you could crank up the ISO and get _something_, but it would be shitted with chromatic noise), but my I think five year old camera can go up to 6400 quite happily - it’s grainy at that speed, but the colour noise is minimal even with in-camera removal turned off (which it always is for me - I prefer grain to artificially smooth). Besides that the main advantage of film was a wider dynamic range, but again that gap has not just closed but I think the best sensors are better than the best films. I never use my film camera any more, as the digital one beats it in every single category (apart from frame size - I’m on a crop sensor), and I can simulate any particular film stock if I can be arsed. Lomo filter omg heart emoji.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #38 on: August 15, 2020, 05:04:31 PM »
It's the 5D mk2 and above that does video, I've a mk1 I bought  about 5 years ago just for stills, for that it's still great.

touchingcloth

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #39 on: August 15, 2020, 05:36:44 PM »
Ah yes, still that episode of I think it was House which got shot on a 5DII must’ve been made a good ten years ago, the point being that it must be cheap as chips to pick up a used one for budget projects, so even cost doesn’t win for film these days (and probably didn’t even when the only option was a brand new mkII.

Get film done.

NoSleep

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #40 on: August 15, 2020, 05:42:18 PM »
I think it might also make people play more safe though, everything's going to be a conservative guess based on how one thinks film behaves, since you can't get true immediate feedback (although you can get close with video capture on film cameras) as you'd need to wait for rushes to come back, versus being able to see exactly what the camera saw moments later.

I was think more of someone like David Lynch, who has years of experience of using film stock, rather than a newb looking for a "cool" effect. It does make life easier for someone like him to be able to prepare what he will eventually transfer to film (so no need to play it safe, as you would working straight to film).

touchingcloth

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #41 on: August 15, 2020, 08:50:23 PM »
Probably something similar to transferring digital audio files to tape. All the elements just kind of glue together like the ingredients of a stew. Although it inevitably "loses quality" it can be favoured by some because it's something deeply ingrained (pun unintended) as familiar and pleasing.

Another thought. I guess modern digital cameras are almost unlimited in terms of "exposure". They can out-perform film stock in many ways and some decisions don't have to be made at the point of filming due to how much range can be captured that can be narrowed down in post-production.
In contrast going to film stock requires some decisions to be made which will narrow options considerably, but it could be in this required decisiveness that some filmmakers can make something that is uniquely their own.

Digital is better than film in that regard these days, but you still need to be fairly on it with exposure as there’s only so far you can rescue things by pushing and pulling in development. Digital might actually be worse regarding how far it can be pushed and pulled because it captures light linearly, unlike film stock where random chance means that some grains of an under overdeveloped shot will have captured light / not be blown out, whereas on digital the same shot would have some unreachable fully white or black pixels.

Re: Film Grain
« Reply #42 on: August 17, 2020, 07:43:31 AM »
Aside from aesthetics, there's an argument for using film for archiving too. It's completely futureproof, and the physical material is more stable than a hard drive if stored correctly.

That's actually the ironic thing with 4k/UHD releases, the format IMHO has actually been most successful dealing with cinema that was shot on film and has a master reel. In that situation you can just go back to the master, scan it at a higher resolution and potentially get more contrast/colour out of it than previously as well. A lot of UHD releases of digital era films are just up scaling a HD master, even alot of stuff shot on 4K digital was mastered at HD, especially if it was CGI heavy as rendering the latter to 4K would be too expensive.

Part of the advantage you get I think is much more natural looking grain. I mean HD only actually amounts to 2 megapixels, at that level your tending to only pickup larger grain which can give more of an effect that it overlays the detail. 4K at 8 megapixels is starting to show you more of the structure of the film, that the detail itself is made up of smaller grain and the larger grain ends up less blocky as well making for smoother viewing.

I'd say that's why adding grain to digital doesn't really achieve the same kind of effect, your dealing with something overlaying the detail rather than the detail rising from the grain. I'm guessing sometimes it might be done to obscure digital noise which can look quite unpleasant(I do that with photography sometimes, say when I'v done alot of manipulation of the sky in a B&W image) but your not going to get something that looks the same as film.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2020, 08:04:45 AM by greenman »

touchingcloth

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #43 on: August 17, 2020, 09:46:13 AM »
That's actually the ironic thing with 4k/UHD releases, the format IMHO has actually been most successful dealing with cinema that was shot on film and has a master reel. In that situation you can just go back to the master, scan it at a higher resolution and potentially get more contrast/colour out of it than previously as well. A lot of UHD releases of digital era films are just up scaling a HD master, even alot of stuff shot on 4K digital was mastered at HD, especially if it was CGI heavy as rendering the latter to 4K would be too expensive.

I think a lot of older films which get transferred to digital get adjusted in all kinds of ways, whether it's boosting contrast and saturation of film which faded in storage, or digitally removing dust and scratches. I like that a lot of releases now get scanned from old masters for this reason, as really it's only since the BluRay era where it's become viable/cost effective to do that for home media.

I'd say that's why adding grain to digital doesn't really achieve the same kind of effect, your dealing with something overlaying the detail rather than the detail rising from the grain. I'm guessing sometimes it might be done to obscure digital noise which can look quite unpleasant(I do that with photography sometimes, say when I'v done alot of manipulation of the sky in a B&W image) but your not going to get something that looks the same as film.

Yes, I think this is because there are gaps between the grains in film, black for negative films and clear for slide film. I wouldn't be surprised if some higher end tools for adding grain try and simulate that, and it feels like it would be possible to do at home by taking a scan of some film which has been used to shoot a white/gray card and then using it as an overlay.

Re: Film Grain
« Reply #44 on: August 17, 2020, 09:54:24 AM »
Tend to find if things aren't grainy and are shot in ultra-HD (or any modern standard) I have trouble engaging, the whole thing often doesn't feel 'baked together' if that makes sense? A lot of modern BBC and Netflix dramas just have this very nothing-y feel to them despite obviously being shot and dressed and blocked by real pros. It can't just been a film vs. digital thing though.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #45 on: August 17, 2020, 10:00:14 AM »
Tend to find if things aren't grainy and are shot in ultra-HD (or any modern standard) I have trouble engaging, the whole thing often doesn't feel 'baked together' if that makes sense? A lot of modern BBC and Netflix dramas just have this very nothing-y feel to them despite obviously being shot and dressed and blocked by real pros. It can't just been a film vs. digital thing though.

I think that's the writing.

touchingcloth

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #46 on: August 17, 2020, 10:17:02 AM »
Tend to find if things aren't grainy and are shot in ultra-HD (or any modern standard) I have trouble engaging, the whole thing often doesn't feel 'baked together' if that makes sense? A lot of modern BBC and Netflix dramas just have this very nothing-y feel to them despite obviously being shot and dressed and blocked by real pros. It can't just been a film vs. digital thing though.

It could be the thing of frame rates mentioned higher up thread, specifically that they might have been shot and "broadcast" at higher than 24fps.

The Hobbit films were shot and sometimes shown at (I think) 40 and 80fps, but when I watched one of those versions it was really distracting and bizarre. I can't put my finger at all on why 24fps feels filmic, but you really notice it when it's anything different, and changing frame rate is a good way to make an amateur production feel professional and a professional one feel amateur.

Re: Film Grain
« Reply #47 on: August 17, 2020, 11:38:56 AM »
I think a lot of older films which get transferred to digital get adjusted in all kinds of ways, whether it's boosting contrast and saturation of film which faded in storage, or digitally removing dust and scratches. I like that a lot of releases now get scanned from old masters for this reason, as really it's only since the BluRay era where it's become viable/cost effective to do that for home media.

They certainly still have some work done to them(too much sometimes such as Terminator 2) but having the film master does make it possible to achieve more of an improvement moving from HD to UHD. There is a small resolution improvement with UHD's made from HD masters as there upscaling from the studios master(even disks have a lot of compression on them) but it tends to be less noticble and I think a lot of the HDR in such films also tends to be unnaturally boosted, that its not showing extra detail just extra contrast.

Quote
Yes, I think this is because there are gaps between the grains in film, black for negative films and clear for slide film. I wouldn't be surprised if some higher end tools for adding grain try and simulate that, and it feels like it would be possible to do at home by taking a scan of some film which has been used to shoot a white/gray card and then using it as an overlay.

Digital noise has the disadvantage its more likely to have some kind of form to it, blocky compression, banding, etc were as film grain is more random and so draws less attension to it, I find for example if I'v got those artefacts in the sky in an image overlaying some artificial grain can make them less glaring. Your not going to get the image to ever look the same as film though I'd say because grain is the very structure of the latter not an effect over the top of an image.

Quote from: sevendaughters
Tend to find if things aren't grainy and are shot in ultra-HD (or any modern standard) I have trouble engaging, the whole thing often doesn't feel 'baked together' if that makes sense? A lot of modern BBC and Netflix dramas just have this very nothing-y feel to them despite obviously being shot and dressed and blocked by real pros. It can't just been a film vs. digital thing though

I do tend to find degrained content distracting to watch, it tends to give a plasticy/gloopy look to films and is a lot of the reason why I preffer disks over streaming where the compression has a hard time dealing with it.

I would say there is a tendency to have a lot of "competent" but unremarkable work with digital these days, films/TV that doesn't look cheap but is lacking in much character, all using the same kind of lighting and shallow focus effects. On the other hand though I would say we've also had digital shot films that exploit the very exact look effectively, something like Under the Skin for example I think wouldn't just have been harder to make on film(with the hidden cameras) but I don't think would have been as effective without the exactitude of digital.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2020, 11:53:26 AM by greenman »

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #48 on: August 17, 2020, 11:46:56 AM »
Banding seems to be a much bigger issue on streaming even if the resolution is quite high and the picture sharp. I know it was once a problem on early dvd's but you don't tend to see it on Bluray or even DTT, which has much higher compression and lower (not full HD) resolution. I can only assume they use dithering which must either increase bitrates or cause harder compression elsewhere depending on how much bandwidth is available.

Re: Film Grain
« Reply #49 on: August 17, 2020, 12:03:34 PM »
Banding seems to be a much bigger issue on streaming even if the resolution is quite high and the picture sharp. I know it was once a problem on early dvd's but you don't tend to see it on Bluray or even DTT, which has much higher compression and lower (not full HD) resolution. I can only assume they use dithering which must either increase bitrates or cause harder compression elsewhere depending on how much bandwidth is available.

You can add sharpening to make an image appear sharp even if its lost detail via compression but I suspect the reason banding and loss of detail in shadows show up more is because your dealing with very subtle shifts in colour/contrast which take a lot of data to represent well.

touchingcloth

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #50 on: August 17, 2020, 12:09:26 PM »
Banding seems to be a much bigger issue on streaming even if the resolution is quite high and the picture sharp. I know it was once a problem on early dvd's but you don't tend to see it on Bluray or even DTT, which has much higher compression and lower (not full HD) resolution. I can only assume they use dithering which must either increase bitrates or cause harder compression elsewhere depending on how much bandwidth is available.

With phone cameras, the megapixel wars have made this terrible. It’s common for phones to have 10+ MP these days, but people haven’t changed from using their phones to take millions of snapshots, and combined with the fact that storage on phones hasn’t increased at the same rate as the pixels it means manufacturers have developed ridiculous jpeg settings. Pictures taken on my phone of people in particular are smoothed to fuck to the point they start to look like a Van Gogh.

touchingcloth

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #51 on: August 17, 2020, 12:13:38 PM »
You can add sharpening to make an image appear sharp even if its lost detail via compression but I suspect the reason banding and loss of detail in shadows show up more is because your dealing with very subtle shifts in colour/contrast which take a lot of data to represent well.

Also screens are getting better all the time, so things which would read as smooth black on worse screens can show the banding/dithering on a better one. It’s kind of like how lower bitrate MP3s are fine for spoken word things, but start to reveal their flaws when you listen to more complicated stuff or on higher end speakers.

buzby

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #52 on: August 17, 2020, 12:29:54 PM »

It’d be interesting to see how something like Barry Lyndon looks on 4K. That was famously shot using almost exclusively natural light, including some scenes lit by candles. Kubrick used camera lenses originally designed for NASA to be able to shoot under such low light, but I suspect he would also have needed to use grainier fast film as well.
Barry Lyndon was shot on EastmanColor 100T 5254/7254 negative stock (125 ASA daylight, 100 ASA Tungsten lighting) so only a medium speed film. It was the standard negative stock used on almost all American films between 1968 and 1977, when it was made obsolete by Kodak and replaced by 5247 (Godfather I & II, Chinatown, Taxi Driver, Jaws, Patton, The String and many more were shot on 5254).

Kubrick needed the special f0.7 large aperture low-light lenses from NASA to allow him to shoot on 5254 using only natural light, candelight or minimal addiitonal lighting. The exposed film was then pushed up one stop to 200T during processing. There's a good article on the lenses, the camera modifications required to use them and shooting process here.

On the subject of grain, a couple of my posts from last year's Aliens 40th Anniversary thread on the grainy look of Aliens:
Alien was shot on Eastman 100T 5247 which was very sharp and fine grained but only average speed (Scott also used it for Blade Runner). Aliens was shot on Eastman 400T 5294 and 5295 for effects shots (5295 had better blue-green separation, optimised for bluescreen work). The T rating is closely related to the ISO exposure rating in still photography film, so 5294 & 5295 were high-speed films and will show more grain.

Alien and Blade Runner weren't exactly brightly-lit films, so I'm not sure why Cameron felt he had to go to 400T when Scott had managed OK with 100T. In the commentary on the Aliens Special Edition Cameron said that he regretted using it due to the grainy look - he said it was a problem with the way the physical film was manufactured or developed (5294 had been in use for 4 years by that point, so it was presumably a faulty manufacturing run rather than unfamiliarity with the handling or processing).

One thing that will look terrible if they do an Ultra HD edition of Aliens will be the back-projected effects shots like the dropship crashing. It would have been better if Cameron had used front projection like Kubrick did in 2001, as the projected image is much sharper.
He remastered it for the Bluray, and attempted to remove as much of the grain as possible He said this in 2010 during an interview about the Avatar re-release:
Quote from: James Cameron
It's spectacular. We went in and completely de-noised it, de-grained it, up-rezzed, color-corrected every frame, and it looks amazing. It looks better that it looked in the theaters originally. Because it was shot on a high-speed negative that was a new negative that didn't pan out too well and got replaced the following year. So it's pretty grainy. We got rid of all the grain. It's sharper and clearer and more beautiful than it's ever looked. And we did that to the long version, to the 'director's cut' or the extended play.
The facts don't quite marry up with what he said about the negative stock (5294) being new though, as Kodak's timeline states it was introduced in 1983, though he is correct in that it was discontinued in 1987.

One problem that apparently seemed to have happened with 5294 stock was that cinematographers thought that because it was a high-speed film they could get away with underexposing it, which resulted in  loss of detail and very visible grain.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2020, 12:41:09 PM by buzby »

Re: Film Grain
« Reply #53 on: August 17, 2020, 12:39:34 PM »
I'm guessing the main difference was  shooting with T400 film meant he didn't need to use large lens apertures so didn't need to deal with very narrow focus, something like those candel lit scene in Barry Lyndon for example the actors had to stay within very narrow areas to remain in focus. I mean if you were being kind you could say perhaps not just convenience but also the desire dlook? Aliens being short in a more matter of fact fashion with more of the image in focus.

Re: Film Grain
« Reply #54 on: August 17, 2020, 12:49:02 PM »
Loving this thread.

Re: Film Grain
« Reply #55 on: August 17, 2020, 12:58:08 PM »
You can add sharpening to make an image appear sharp even if its lost detail via compression but I suspect the reason banding and loss of detail in shadows show up more is because your dealing with very subtle shifts in colour/contrast which take a lot of data to represent well.

Yes - there's a direct relationship between banding / posterisation and the amount of compression used. It's also more likely to happen at typical bitrates with MPEG 2 (as used in DVDs and SD broadcast TV) rather than H.264 / AVC1 and its successors which are better at minimising visible artifacts.

touchingcloth

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #56 on: August 17, 2020, 01:34:03 PM »
H.265 is pretty great stuff. If I ever pirate telly I'll look out for 265 rips wherever possible now, as it looks quite acceptable on my telly for a small file size.

Re: Film Grain
« Reply #57 on: August 17, 2020, 01:40:33 PM »
Can I just add to the Akira chat that the Japanese audio track is fucking staggering on the BD compared to the English dub I'd listened to for so many years. I had goosebumps in the opening scenes from not only the music but the sound effects. I started welling up, it was like hearing it for the first time but better than it actually was in my imagination. I'll never go back to the English audio now.


Slightly off-topic, but I recently got the 25th anniversary box set of the Akira manga, which has everything retained as reading from right to left (unlike all the previous English translation versions which flipped everything to read left to right), and even keeps all the Japanese character sound effects, signs, graffiti etc. so the only English is the speech bubbles, and it's a new, more accurate translation of the Japanese. In the same way, couldn't go back to the previous version now. And you get a Kaneda patch!


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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #58 on: August 17, 2020, 01:46:29 PM »
With phone cameras, the megapixel wars have made this terrible. It’s common for phones to have 10+ MP these days, but people haven’t changed from using their phones to take millions of snapshots, and combined with the fact that storage on phones hasn’t increased at the same rate as the pixels it means manufacturers have developed ridiculous jpeg settings. Pictures taken on my phone of people in particular are smoothed to fuck to the point they start to look like a Van Gogh.

This might be stupid question, but are you sure you haven't got some "beautify" option enabled by default on your phone? A lot of phones, especially Chinese brands, have those options enabled by default nowadays.

I say that as I was caught out by this on my phone and I don't believe that smoothing is a normal consequence of aggressive jpeg compression. Although I'm happy to be corrected on that.

touchingcloth

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Re: Film Grain
« Reply #59 on: August 17, 2020, 02:01:05 PM »
This might be stupid question, but are you sure you haven't got some "beautify" option enabled by default on your phone? A lot of phones, especially Chinese brands, have those options enabled by default nowadays.

I say that as I was caught out by this on my phone and I don't believe that smoothing is a normal consequence of aggressive jpeg compression. Although I'm happy to be corrected on that.

Nope, it’s a couple of year old iPhone on the latest iOS. It actually does quite a good job of not looking like total smoothed out shite, but when zoomed in on skin tones you realise just how much smoothing it’s done.

It’s probably not just jpeg compression, but all other sorts of stuff going on to fake a tiny plastic lens on a tiny sensor so it looks closer to 35mm. In fact, there’s definitely something of that nature going on now I think harder, as when I’ve had a go with apps which let the camera take raw pictures the file quality is pretty poor, and there’s so much need for noise reduction that I stopped seeing it as a serious alternative to using the proper camera.

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