Last Friday I finally got around to seeing There Will Be Blood over at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood. I wanted to see the film under the best circumstances possible with particular consideration paid to the picture quality. TWBB was in fact shot and posted with a minimum of digital enhancement, most notably where the final color-timing is concerned. (You can read all about it in January’s edition of American Cinematographer Magazine).
Many movies these days go through what is called a digital intermediate. This means that the movie is shot on film, scanned into a computer at two or four thousand lines of resolution, digitally enhanced or altered (the intermediate), and then captured back to film using a laser camera. The “old” way of doing things was to shoot the film on film, then using a series of red, blue, and green printer lights, a colorist would adjust the luminance and chrominance values of the picture, then print the results from the negative directly to film (for more information, read Richard Crudo, ASC’s “A Call for Digital Printer Lights”).
This analogue method of coloring tends to work more within the parameters of a particular film stock’s unique “look”, unlike the DI process which can extend the colorist’s reach beyond the boundaries of the original negative’s capabilities.
That being said, TWBB is a gorgeous film. Having now seen it I can see why Elswit won the Oscar. Each scene has its own look and speaks with its own visual language. I was originally going to see it at the Dome on Sunset when it was playing there a few weeks ago, because as far as I knew the Dome had the best picture and sound in Hollywood. I asked a friend at work if he wanted to come along. He shook his head.
“If you’re going to see that movie, then don’t see it at the Dome,” he replied. “The Dome sucks.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because every movie I’ve seen there looks like shit,” he stated.
Find out why after the jump…