back to article Star Wars revival secret: This isn't the celluloid you're looking for

The next Star Wars film is to be made using analogue film in a bid to evoke the glory days of the space saga. The excitement is Palpatine palpable among Star Wars fans, who will be hoping the return to the traditional methods of filmmaking heralds a move away from the digital, hyper-real – and hyper-rubbish – style of the last …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Originals were great?

    Pah! Wooden acting, crummy sequences, laughably inept badies, etc. etc. Great? Give me strength.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Originals were great?

      Yes. But had Star Wars started with Ep 1 then there would have been no chance of the rest of the films being made since it would have gotten such absurdly poor reviews that nobody would have gone to see it.

      And it would all have been the fault of a dodgy bit of CGI and a poor director.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Originals were great?

        You just described my favourite alternate history.

      2. Maharg

        Re: Originals were great?

        This the curse of the squeal , it’s the same with a bands ‘difficult second album’ it’s hard to name sequels that are considered better than the first part, Terminator 2 springs to mind, but the problem is people expect the sequels to get better and better, so if you end up with something as good, or slightly worse than the first, they are considered rubbish.

        Example, Die Hard 2 is not a bad film, if that was the script for the first one, and Die Hard becomes Die Hard 2 then people would say the 1st film is great, and the second is greater, instead, they say the first film is great, the second is a bit crap.

        So imagine if it were that way round, I know, the Phantom menace was poor compared to the original films, but if that had come out in the 70s it would have still captured the imagination of millions, and the series would have just been seen to get better.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Originals were great?

      Wooden acting? It was often because of the "matte" behind. Matte are not tridimensional - are just bidmensional paintings lit from behind - thereby actors can't move that much or you understand what's behind is painted and not real. Here CGI helped a lot, because actors move freely in front of a green backgroud than later it is digitally removed and the proper background added.

      1. NogginTheNog

        Re: Originals were great?

        Nothing to do with CGI or the use of matte techniques: it's clear the actors have been briefed by their director to get the lines out as quickly as possible in order to explain the point and get the story onto the next bit of exciting blaster/lightsaber/spaceship action scene! And it worked a treat, at least it did for me and all the other 10 year olds who LOVED the original movies long after the VHS tape wore out.

        Sadly adult eyes can't help but see some aspects of the originals for what they really are, even if they still love them with a passion!

    3. Benchops

      Re: Originals were great?

      Alec Guinness had just a little acting experience and ability, but as (I believe) he said to George Lucas once during filming "You can write this shit, but you can't say it!"

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: Originals were great?

        Misquote. Harrison Ford is quoted as saying "You can type this shit George, but you sure can't say it"


        1. Joseph Haig

          Re: Originals were great?

          It is notable that one of the most memorable lines (Leia: "I love you", Solo "I know") was an ad-lib because the original was so crass. Possibly others as well. Maybe they should have just let Harrison Ford re-write the whole script.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Originals were great?

            You have to bear in mind that Ford was an unknown back then. He actually started as a carpenter.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Originals were great?

              > You have to bear in mind that Ford was an unknown back then. He actually started as a carpenter.

              Not exactly unknown in 1976/1977. You might want check, e.g., his bio on IMDB.

              1. JEDIDIAH

                Re: Originals were great?

                Ford was doing bit parts before 77 and still getting more work as a carpenter.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Originals were great?

                  "Ford was doing bit parts before 77 and still getting more work as a carpenter."

                  He was in The Conversation (by Coppola) and American Graffiti before Star Wars. If your point is his biggest role at that time was Star Wars, yes, that's right, if it's something else, not sure what your point is.

        2. Jolyon Smith

          Re: Originals were great?

          And that was 100% true.

          Lucas can't act for sh*t. Harrison Ford however can claim to do the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs and we believe him, despite his units of measure being all out of whack.

      2. Andrew Newstead

        Re: Originals were great?

        Just a little?!


    4. The BigYin

      Re: Originals were great?

      Strong is the troll with this one. But powerful he is not.

      Defeat him easily we shall.

    5. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Originals were great?

      It was something new then, and great. However if there is no story, no plot and just a lot of shooting and exploding stuff it is shit no matter how you produce it.

  2. John Savard Silver badge

    Future Digital

    Well, filming the next Star Wars at 1080 line resolution would make it obsolete in the UHDTV era of 3000 lines, but analogue film can be digitized at the higher resolution. So there may be a rational reason to use film now even though you're right that it won't give the film what a better script would give it.

    1. AceRimmer

      Re: Future Digital

      "Well, filming the next Star Wars at 1080 line resolution would make it obsolete in the UHDTV era of 3000 lines"

      The current generation digital movie cameras shoot at over 5000 lines

      1. streaky Silver badge

        Re: Future Digital

        Lines? Analog term.

        Most movies these days are shot in 8K and 35mm isn't fit for purpose. Can do what he wants - it's going to be crap in 20 years when people are going to want to buy it in 8K.

        As much as I love JJ's work, the reason he's so right for Star Trek is the same reason he's wrong for Star Wars - he fetishises it (like most star wars fans do) and can't take a step back and see the overall picture - and this is proof unlike Star Trek which he was never really into.

        I hope I'm proven wrong (it'd be nice to see a star wars movie that didn't have serious flaws in one way or another) but I don't foresee it.

        1. Jason_H

          Re: Future Digital

          "the reason he's so right for Star Trek is the same reason he's wrong for Star Wars"

          Personally I would say *exactly* the opposite.

          He's absolutely wrong for Trek, but perfect for Wars.

        2. DrGoon

          Re: Future Digital

          Most movies are not shot in 8K. Most movies are still shot on 35mm film stock and scanned to digital. Movies shot on digital cameras are still the minority, and while the major studios using digital are using amazing equipment such as Red Epic MX and Arri Alexa, you'll be sad to hear that neither of these incredible camera systems yet support 8K.

    2. Hairy Spod

      Re: Future Digital

      ....apart from the actual resolution that you can achieve is limited by grain in the film. If you were talking about a larger frame size you might have a point, but he's talking about using 35mm stock film

      Have you noticed how the whole film vs digital debate died out in the photography press several years ago.

      1. Cliff

        Re: Future Digital

        Film has very real grain. Film responds differently to different light frequencies than digital sensors. Digital can emulate those attributes perfectly well if needed.

        Film, however, is elitist as progressing is so darn expensive and all the labs have tooled down. Probably more of a symbolic act in this case purely as a way to distance from the CGI overload in parts 1-3.

        War Horse, one of Spielberg's most recent big budget movies was shot on 35mm, no fuss, no press releases, just the tool chosen for the job.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Future Digital

        Simple reason why, people can't take pictures these days.

        With a DSLR you can shoot about 15 photos in a second and pick out the best one. No need to meter as you can shoot multiple exposure levels (bracket exposure). Shoot RAW and play around with the exposure later on.

        1. Chet Mannly

          Re: Future Digital

          "Simple reason why, people can't take pictures these days.

          With a DSLR you can shoot about 15 photos in a second and pick out the best one. No need to meter as you can shoot multiple exposure levels (bracket exposure). Shoot RAW and play around with the exposure later on"

          You mean photographers can actually concentrate on making great shots and not spend 90% of their time faffing about with camera settings?

          Please elaborate how that prevents people from taking great photos luddite...

          1. Hugh McIntyre

            Re: Future Digital

            > You mean photographers can actually concentrate on making great shots and not spend 90% of their

            > time faffing about with camera settings?

            > Please elaborate how that prevents people from taking great photos luddite...

            To be fair, if you use a medium format camera (or DSLR on a tripod) and need to spend a few minutes getting the shot set up exactly, there's more chance you'll take time to look through the viewfinder long enough to check the composition and sometimes pack up the camera after deciding the photo is not worth taking. Or notice the tree sticking out of someone's head, or change the composition to something better than any of the 15 DSLR shots. Pus it saves time fixing up the shot on your computer later.

            Although I agree that you can go to extremes with a view camera and spend all of your time on settings.

            Having said that, being able to verify shots taken on the camera screen is invaluable, and I probably haven't shot film for nearly 10 years and now come back with my hundreds of DSLR shots like everyone else :).

      3. Jolyon Smith

        Re: Future Digital

        Yes, at about the same time that digital pixel resolutions finally caught up with the detail resolution of film grain... approximately 16MP on a 35mm sized sensor. But it isn't a direct comparison.

        When you blow up a pixel-formed image too far you get ... pixelation, which looks horrible.

        When you blow up a grain-formed image you get the grain revealed which can be incredibly pleasing.

    3. Volker Hett

      Re: Future Digital

      Yes, and you get extremely detailed enlargements of film grains :)

      Take your best slide and have it scanned at different resolutions at a pro shop, drum scanners and such, and then compare.

  3. Moonshine

    And use real stopmotion special FX, while you're at it

    CGI has never IMO come close to the models and painstaking animated composite action scenes of the original episodes. Yes, yes, yes.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: And use real stopmotion special FX, while you're at it

      "CGI has never IMO come close to the models and painstaking animated composite action scenes of the original episodes. Yes, yes, yes."

      Trouble is it costs an arm and a leg to get it done right.

      OTOH modern desktop fab techniques mean some of it should be cheaper.

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: And use real stopmotion special FX, while you're at it

        They can 3D print all the guns...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And use real stopmotion special FX, while you're at it

        The added cost of physical models is part of the advantage. It means you'll only do it when it adds value, not just as cheap filler.

    2. Katz

      Re: And use real stopmotion special FX, while you're at it

      Yeaah!! I'm so glad it's not just me that harps on about this! I'm really not into CGI for space scenes, ship et al. I watched some of the old Star Trek movies a little while ago in HD and seeing the models and the painstaking detail that went into them, even from the early 80's, it was just awe inspiring.

      Conversely, I saw the latest Star Trek movie the other day and whilst the CGI was 'smart' we're talking about two totally different levels here. Star Wars using models and stop motion would be a fantastic move. Probably won't happen, but it would make things interesting for sure.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: "I'm really not into CGI for space scenes"

        I found that it was done right in the Battlestar Galactice series remake.

        1. mtp

          Re: "I'm really not into CGI for space scenes"

          But the simulated camera shake is terrible. Every time I see camera shake I jump out of the realism feel and just think 'get a steadycam' instead. I really hope it is just a temporary fad to have drunken virtual cameramen taking CGI videos.

    3. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: CGI has never IMO come close to the models

      This is the biggest reason (among many others) that I mourned the passing of Jim Henson.

      If you wanted a believable on-screen alien that could interact with the rest of the cast, that's the guy you went to.

      1. fandom Silver badge

        Re: CGI has never IMO come close to the models

        Even without Jim Henson himself, his company did it quite well in Farscape.

        Unfortunately that meant that Rygel had to be seated at all times, the couple times he wasn't it was done with CGI

      2. rh587 Bronze badge

        Re: CGI has never IMO come close to the models

        Or the creature effects team from the Harry Potter films. Sadly the creature effects only gets a small corner of the studio tour at Leavesden compared to the sets (although the sets are a marvel in themselves for the attention to detail and love that was lavished on them over the decade of shooting). The craftsmanship on display is utterly breathtaking, as is the castle model that they used for composite shots of the outside. The place is well worth a visit even if you're not that into Potter just to look at sets, props and displays from the art department (they've got something like 20k+ visualisations and concept art pieces tucked away somewhere. They had a lot on display but I'd love to go trawling through their archive).

        1. Eradicate all BB entrants

          Re: CGI has never IMO come close to the models

          Having seen some of the original Death Star sets and other models used in the originals up close I would prefer it if they made a return. I can appreciate the effort put into them by craftsmen who really were peerless.

          The CGI in the later films, to me at least, made the ships seem fake and to lose that sense of realism from the originals just to have a chrome spaceship was a great loss.

    4. LDS Silver badge

      Re: And use real stopmotion special FX, while you're at it

      Models look great and have more a "realistic" feeling, but they are far more complex to build and to animate in complex scenes. When it comes to moving them - or moving actors against a "non existing" background - CGI is far better - but often what happens is that writer and director becomes mad and start to make totally unrealist scenes - which they couldn't do with models and eventually delivered better scenes because they looked less ridicolous.

    5. Miek

      Re: And use real stopmotion special FX, while you're at it

      "CGI has never IMO come close to the models and painstaking animated composite action scenes of the original episodes. Yes, yes, yes." --- Hmmmm, like the ones used in Sinbad? I enjoyed them, but, they look primitive nowadays.

      1. Jolyon Smith

        Re: And use real stopmotion special FX, while you're at it

        Primitve ? Maybe

        Emotionless and full of character ? Absolutely not.

        The greatest folly of the CGI industry was to get the movie industry to believe that looking "real" was the key to success, as if the 100 year history of cinema counted for and taught us nothing about an audience's ability and willingness to invest emotionally in visuals that on their own were clearly unreal but which when presented as part of a well formed narrative were completely convincing.

        They are only now starting to learn the lesson that it doesn't matter how real or impressive your visual are if you don't have the foundation of story and character for those visuals to build on.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: And use real stopmotion special FX, while you're at it

          I would promote a "CGI budget cap" for any sci-fi movie - this way directors coudn't just fill it with silly CGI scenes and screenwriters would be forced to think about a decent plot and actors to act...

          1. TheRealRoland

            Re: And use real stopmotion special FX, while you're at it

            I mean, does anybody know what the budget was for 'Star Trekkin' ? Best use of Stop-Motion if i ever saw.

            Hums 'there's klingons on the starboard bow'...

  4. Mr C

    "hardcore analogue-lovers"

    I heard this is going to be included in next edition of Websters..

    1. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: "hardcore analogue-lovers"

      Just try typing that phrase into a search engine.

      Damn you Google autocomplete!

  5. corestore

    JJ? It's Jim Jannard on line one… he says he's going to make you an offer you can't refuse...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many re-releases this time round?

    Two or three "directors cuts" are a given, but there aren't many physical media formats left release it on - how on Earth will they ever make a profit? Could this revive VHS and laser disc?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. arctic_haze Silver badge

      Re: How many re-releases this time round?

      "how on Earth will they ever make a profit?"

      I find your lack of faith disturbing.

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: How many re-releases this time round?

        Make a profit? Wash your mouth out with soap!

        Do you want them to pay royalties or something?

  7. Spotfist

    Just be done with it and shoot the whole movie in Instagram filters, thats what everyone really wants!

    1. Bod


      JJ already has the lens flare filter.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Watch The War of the Stars, grindhouse version of Star Wars. Proper old school grain effect.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    How's this for analogue...

    When 'Return of the Jedi' got released it became clear that it was big. Almost every (Dutch) TV show I watched had to mention this one way or the other, sometimes going even into the regions of the absurd. A show called "Word Vervolgt" ("To be continued") showed at least 5 - 10 minutes of footage (the entire Jabba fight scene and the death star firing at the rebels). For no appearant reason then: "we may also see a lot of comic books appear".

    So I ended up doing what any sensible teen would do. Scrape up all my money and eventually got me the super-duper VHS Star Wars collection. All 3 movies in one cool box, how's that for thrills?

    Now, for today's standard the image quality is more than hopeless. 4:3 format, not even getting close to be called "standard definition" (vs. "high definition") and it's also a bit awkward to skip scenes.

    And yet this is my favourite either way... No Jabba nonsense in Ep3 (we can use our own imagination, thanks), no lame "only shoot in retaliation, even if your life is on the line", no extended Mos Eisley scenes with a so called "funny intermezzo" (Obi Wan says it's a dangerous place and the people act like clowns?) and most of all: no dumb rings while the Death Star(s) explode.

    Don't get me wrong: I also enjoy watching the DVDs from time to time, and it's not as if I'm foaming every time I see Han's head move in a rather unnatural way.

    Even so; if you want analogue then I think it can't get any better than this :-)

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Do you know about Star Wars Uncut ?

      I think you might like it. I know I did.

    2. Irongut

      Re: How's this for analogue...

      You do know that Jabba was in the original version of what at the time was called Star Wars? If you had seen it at the cinema in '77 that scene was there, but with a fat bloke rather than the slug we learned Jabba to be in ROTJ. In '78 they added the subtitle Episode 4 A New Hope and iirc Jabba was still there (I was only 5 at the time but I swear I saw that scene) but he was removed later because Lucas had decided on a new look for him.

      1. NogginTheNog

        Re: How's this for analogue...

        Sorry mate but your memory is playing tricks: the original 'human' Jabba scene was dropped from the original movie as George wasn't happy with the man-like Jabba character. The scene was only put back in one of the later 'updates' when improving technology enabled a CGI Jabba similar to the one from Ep.6 to replace the original actor (and thus requiring the famous "Han steps on Jabba's tail" tweak).

      2. Anonymous Cowerd


        Jabba did not appear in the original cinema release in 1977. The "fat bloke" scene was filmed with the intention of adding a stop motion Jabba but was ultimately cut.

        It did feature in some later releases with a CGI Jabba, but you can do your own homework.

      3. El Andy

        Re: How's this for analogue...

        Not only was Jabba's scene not in the original, but because it was cut the speech was re-worked into the conversation with Greedo. Which means that when you watch the modern CGI-dumped on editions, you basically sit through the whole conversation twice. and Lucas apparently didn't think that was stupid....

    3. Daniel B.

      Re: How's this for analogue...

      Indeed, the only scene I remember "adding" to the originals during the first remasterings was the Jabba one, and even that one had already been factored into the Greedo scene (HAN SHOOTS FIRST!). I had mostly seen episodes 5&6, as A New Hope took longer for us to buy (we had 5&6 taped off cable TV during the 80's).

      Another interesting change that I was surprised to be the only one to notice recently was the song change to ROTJ's ending. Instead of the Ewok song, they slapped a lifeless theme that sounds more like the prequel soundtrack than the original SW stuff. I was surprised because most of the ones in this viewing had watched the originals when they came out, yet I was the only one that noticed the soundtrack change!

    4. Jes.e

      Re: How's this for analogue...

      "if you want analogue then I think it can't get any better than this :-)"

      Yes. Yes you can get better than this.. and it's actually in analog.

      Get it on LaserDisc.

      Though the picture is indeed analog, it's the best analog you can get, in letterboxed and widescreen and without any directors messing around with your memory.

      The audio is actually superior to DVD as it's a higher bit rate and comes with DTS 5.1 and alternative tracks for director comments (in analogue admittedly).

      Over in Japan they even had anamorphic video in the format though I don't know if star wars was ever made available this way.

      One word of warning. Star Wars came out 5 or 6 times on the LD format and the first one is grainy pan and scan with analog stereo sound only so choose carefully.. (It's still better than vhs.)

      Oh yes. You have track skip also.

      Of course then you'll need to find a working player...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How's this for analogue...

        I don't think you understand what the word analogue means.

        1. Jes.e

          Re: How's this for analogue...

          Not sure what your criticism is.

          I was responding to the poster who said that vhs was the best way to watch the original star wars.

          More lines of resolution 525 vs 320 for VHS, (For ntst,) if memory serves.

          And ntst and pal are defiantly analogue broadcast formats.

          Yes. A LD track is written as pits, but they are an analogue encoding method (based on the length of the pits) much as your neurons are an analogue system based on the rate of fire. Neither encode information in symbols.

          The audio only is digital, and it is encoded as an analogue stream much as a modem works, but at a much higher frequency than a modem uses. This is multiplexed on top of the video signal just like in analogue broadcast TV.

          Go read a FAQ please if you believe LD is "digital".

          1. Miek

            Re: How's this for analogue...

            Jabba was filmed with the fat-bloke so that an animated version could be placed there instead. It was mentioned in the special features on my VHS box set of the remastered version. I remember that Han Solo crossed behind Jabba which, when the 'real' Jabba was dropped into the scene caused a bit of a problem so they decided to have Han Solo appear to stand on Jabba's tail. I'm afraid I cannot remember the original as I was only -1 years old at the time it was released and I haven't actually had the privilege of watching the actual original since 1983 o_O

  9. Arachnoid

    Sounds like another fail to me

    I think in this era of high quality and instant on demand media its a big step backwards.Im also wondering if there are still enough technicians and equipment available to deal with this mass of 35mm film that will be produced by this film.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like another fail to me

      Of course the "old" film equipment still exists and now that the major studios have almost completely transitioned to digital there's plenty of it hanging around waiting to be used, but my first thought was that this is just going to make filming and processing more expensive. And for what? You can reduce visual quality exactly as much as you want in post with the right filters.

      But then I remembered visual quality is unlikely to be the problem.

  10. AceRimmer

    Photochemical vs Digital

    If anyone is interested in finding out how the Digital filming compares to the old methods try watching side by side

    Side by side on IMDB

    It gives a fascinating insight into the pros and cons of both media

    1. HMB

      Re: Photochemical vs Digital

      Thank you for the link, looks interesting.

  11. Anonymous Custard Silver badge


    Analogue advocates say its "imperfect" methods offer a guaranteed way to ensure the Jar Jar Binks debacle doesn't recur.*

    * Any appearance by actors in latex masks a la Dr Who renders this guarantee null and void...

  12. TonyJ Silver badge

    This isn't the format you're looking for

    Ok let's face it - by modern standards, the original Star Wars trilogy might seem a bit pants - like someone said, wooden acting (I believe for at least the first film the actors weren't really bought into the idea), some dodgy stop-motion and rather camp baddies.

    But that's not fair is it? Because it was a thing of its time - it used loads of then unheard of techniques and technologies.

    Most films of the era have what you would describe as somewhat wooden acting compared to today.

    But we were kids seeing it fhrough kids' eyes for the first time and there#s never been anything like it for us before that, so we do tend to look on the films with fondness - hell I even have an original Millenium Falcon, AT-AT and X-Wing somwhere at my folks place (played with and with bits missing the way they should be :-) )

    It wasn't the use of CGI and digital media that let down the latest three films (or even the remastered originals) it was shitty plot, trying to retro-fit new ideas into old films (R2D2 flying for example...erm if that's the case why use a crane to get him into an X-Wing?) etc etc.

    What the new films need are a damn good script with care and attention - perhaps it may be made easier by the fact they're not being forced to follow an idea such that they have to write the scripts to fit but only time will tell.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "why use a crane to get him into an X-Wing"

      Just a nitpick, but maybe R2s thrusters in a such a cramped space might not be such a good idea - if not for the X-wing, at least for R2 itself.

      So I think the crane is perfectly justified. Unlike the few other occasions R2 could have used its thrusters and didn't.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "why use a crane to get him into an X-Wing"

        R2 "himself"

        "HIS" thrusters

        You machinist you :)

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: This isn't the format you're looking for

      Well, don't expect a great script from Jar Jar Abrams. Look at what he did with Star Trek, it turned a sci-fi saga used to make people think into jsut another silly action/love movie. I never understood why Abrams became so praised, it just made stupid movies good for people used to turn off their brain when watching something.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This isn't the format you're looking for

        He's just dropped the geek element and the diplomacy and made it another shoot em up action film.

    3. A Known Coward

      Re: This isn't the format you're looking for

      The use of CGI didn't let down the latest three films, but the _overuse_ of CGI was definitely a major contributor. Over-extended sequences, that last film in particular, seemed to be more about showcasing the CGI than about supporting the story*.

      * Yes, the story was so paper thin that it needed some support ...

  13. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Hold on a second

    What exactly is "the grainy glow of Leica film"? Leica manufactures cameras.

    And lens flare comes from the lens (the clue is in the name). It's added to pure CG footage because there was no lens, but digital cameras still suffer from lens flare.

    1. Ian Yates

      Re: Hold on a second

      "digital cameras still suffer from lens flare"

      I disagree; in a JJ Abrams film, it's the audience that suffers from lens flare.

      I like his stuff, but I prefer to be able to see what's happening on screen.

      1. Fibbles

        Re: Hold on a second

        At first I was glad that he toned down the lens flare in the latest Star Trek movie. Unfortunately this allowed me to concentrate more on the plot(holes) at which point I really started to miss the distraction.

        1. Ian Yates

          Re: Hold on a second

          If you're worried about plot holes in a Star Trek film, you might be doing it wrong ;)

          I think, lens flare and pop-culture-pandering aside, he's got the Star Trek "reboot" pretty spot-on. I see it as more of a homage to Star Trek than anything else, but it's highly entertaining (XI more than XII).

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Hold on a second

        Crappy 1970s lenses have flare - modern multi-coated Arriflex digital lenses don't

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I expect to be disappointed

    It doesn't really matter to me what they film it on. I loved the original films and found the prequels very disappointed, but it had nothing to do with 35mm film.

    It was partly down to the CGI trying too hard to create amazing locations and imaginative aliens which inevitably looked unreal. A man in a furry suit and real desert/snow/forest still looks better than any CGI. But mostly down to a confusing and poor story aimed at kids (Jah Jah Binks, Episode 1 race, etc.)

    I hope they do a better job with these new movies, but having seen the new Trek movies, and their pointless inclusion of the original Spock, I just have a bad feeling we're going to see Luke/Han/Leia from the past hand over to Luke/Han/Leia from the future.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I expect to be disappointed

      >It was partly down to the CGI trying too hard to create amazing locations and imaginative aliens which inevitably looked unreal.

      Jaws; often cited as the first summer blockbuster... A movie with very little 'shark' onscreen, but with so much stimulation of the imagination that they could have put a cardboard cut-out of the shark into the final scenes and we still would need new pants after watching it...

      Star Wars to some extent did something similar, from its opening 'A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...' we are prepared for a grand opera... The effects were so ground breaking our imaginations were hyper-stimulated and the acting was forgiven...

      Today however, Lucas doesn't really have anything new to add with special effects... CGI is CGI, no matter how much of it is onscreen we are no longer as impressed by the effect and need it to have substance or be suspenseful... Sticking a Millenium Falcon into the third prequel, or that homage to E.T., are both signs that Lucas is no longer trying to stimulate our imaginations with new ideas.

      Less is more, maybe Abrams can pull off a major win here... If anybody can he's up there as a contender.

      A long, long time ago... These six words alone stimulate the imagination far greater than CGI ever could, not because of what they say, but because of what they don't say... that part we have to fill in ourselves...that's when we become invested in a movie, when our imagination has to fill in the gaps. It's almost as if it becomes ours. Like we had to do with Jabba the Hut before Return of the Jedi; definitely before the 'redux' version.

      1. Jediben

        Re: I expect to be disappointed

        "A long, long time ago...."

        FIVE words.

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: I expect to be disappointed

        Alien. Scary.

        Aliens. Excellent and scary.

        Alien 3... meh.

        Alien 4... please!

        Yes. Story telling needs the constraints of the processes, because then you find better ways.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Ranking Alien/Aliens/Alien 3/ Alien Comicbook Edition

          [TRT] I agree (mostly) with your summation but would like to point out that the core *ideas* of each of those were good, excellent for the most part. It was the execution that f*cked it to a fare-thee-well.

          The first two films used well-known techniques from the genres they were working in to get the results they were looking for.

          Alien 3's production was marred by the thought that a noir-esque atmosphere demanded pitch-black scenes of unremitting lack-of-ambient-light in order to hammer home what was bleeding obvious. All that money on sets and makeup lost for want of a couple of troopers.

          It also suffered in that the American audience had trouble with the regional British accents. I didn't, but then I was brought up to speak in a regional British accent.

          AR's production was marred by using a director who thought the thing should look like a copy of Heavy Metal. The action was cartoonish as a result, as were the four-color characters. Difficult to buy-in to the horror aspect when that bloke from Law and Order is bouncing shots off the ceiling and everyone reacts to a devastating fatal wound with some ironic comment or action.

          But the ideas in both those films were, in my opinion, solid and fertile ground on which to build a compelling tale of alien-fueled woe.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Ranking Alien/Aliens/Alien 3/ Alien Comicbook Edition

            You are quite right, of course, Stevie. They were all shot on 35mm, but various production difficulties marred the finished films. I couldn't imagine the original Alien being made the way it was if CGI was available and if it was shot on digital. I mean, look what they did with Prometheus. They did OK, but the atmosphere of the film is so much more to do with the crew, especially the Director. Perhaps JJ needs to work with film.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Ranking Alien/Aliens/Alien 3/ Alien Comicbook Edition

              The problem with Alien shot now wouldn't be the CGI.

              It would be the need to have a PG13 rating, a McD lunch menu tie-in, a car chase for the video game and a spin-off range of cuddly toys.

          2. Daniel B.

            Re: Ranking Alien/Aliens/Alien 3/ Alien Comicbook Edition

            Alien 3's production was marred by the thought that a noir-esque atmosphere demanded pitch-black scenes of unremitting lack-of-ambient-light in order to hammer home what was bleeding obvious. All that money on sets and makeup lost for want of a couple of troopers.

            Nope, I don't think that was the issue. It had much more to do with the expectations set for Aliens 3. Dark Horse had made Aliens: Earth War which was so full of awesome, everyone expected that to be the plot for Aliens 3. Instead, we get two liked characters killed offscreen and all of the Earth War plot thrown away for a sub-par crappier remake of the first movie. Sure, the premise might have been good ... had Aliens not preceded it.

            In fact, Alien 3 was so awful that me and my Dad actually like AR better. Sure it looks cartoonish, but it felt less of a meh thing than Alien3.

            1. Stevie Silver badge

              Re: Ranking Alien/Aliens/Alien 3/ Alien Comicbook Edition

              You and your dad are entitled to your opinions.

              I'd never heard of the Dark Horse thing you are quoting "everyone" as expecting to be the plot of Alien 3, so I can't agree with you on that. I had rather high hopes that the 3rd movie would try and get back to the format of the first, as I felt then that the action adventure style, though exciting and very well done, had bled off some of the horror of the Alien, forcing the need for "bigger, more awesome" to put it back again. That said, Aliens remains a favourite of mine.

              Personally, I believe the attempts to bring comic book/ graphic novel levels of bubbling awesome to the screen is at the root cause of the death of the franchise. Alien V. Predator was so obviously going to suck balls I never considered attending despite the buzz from friends (who, after paying cashmoney to see said movie looked like they'd sucked balls too), and the comic book sensibilities of AR were most certainly what doomed the production despite there being a bunch of talented actors signed on to try and make it work.

      3. NogginTheNog

        Re: I expect to be disappointed

        "A long, long time ago"

        Isn't that the first line of 'American Pie' (the very long song, not the movie!)..?

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: I expect to be disappointed

          "Isn't that the first line of 'American Pie' (the very long song, not the movie!)..?"

          At a piffling 7 minutes in change American Pie is NOT a long song.

          *Life* is a long song.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Foaming feedbackers again...

    ...commenting on technical elements of the filmmaking process they don't understand but assume they do, without any training or experience? Surely not.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Foaming feedbackers again...

      You don't need to be an expert for the hyper-realistic look of some digital motion pictures to be off putting.

  16. Hairy Spod

    laser disc

    Is he going to go the whole hog and release the new films on laser disc too.

    Actually it might be time for me to dig out my nice han shot first box set...

  17. Richard Scratcher

    Ahh, the "warmth" of analogue.

    “I’m not saying you can’t be real with digital. But with film, for me, there was such a familiarity and comfort to it, a real warmth. We wanted to avoid coldness and any unnatural sense of perfection."

    So can't they shoot it in digital and then apply a "warmth" distortion filter?

    "I find your lack of grain disturbing."

    Mine's the one with the rose-tinted specs in the pocket.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Ahh, the "warmth" of analogue.

      Especially since the whole film is going to be scanned, digitised, colour graded and then printed digitally or sent out digitally to most theatres.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lens Flare...

    Surely the viewer is supposed to "forget" that there is a camera filming and be immersed in the film?

    A lens flare was a negative by-product of strong light hitting a lens at an angle and although it is used in still photographs to create some interesting pictures, I can't see it warrants it in a non-arthouse film.

    In his Star Trek film the lens flare looked awful, IMHO. Distracting, too heavy and fake and interrupted the scene.

    1. MrXavia

      Re: Lens Flare...

      While I enjoyed the new star trek films, and thought the acting was excellent, the lens flare issue is the main complaint I had, and there were many, as a long time star trek fan (been a fan as long as I can remember) I hate holes in the plot, and there were too many of them, the script was clearly not written by someone who is a fan.. Although I unlike others, love the reality split.

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Lens Flare...

      Surely the viewer is supposed to "forget" that there is a camera filming and be immersed in the film?

      Yes, but to achieve that the director has to use the grammar of film. If the whole thing was shot with a single static camera the audience would soon lose interest.

      The point of lens flare is not to replicate a live experience, but to signify one. Not "this is like real life", but "this is like other cinematic experiences that meant something". The same is true of cut-away, zoom, panning, tracking and all the other elements of film grammar. They're only bad when they're intrusive.

    3. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: Lens Flare...

      The lens flare wasn't fake, at least in the sense of added on later. it was created by the actual set versus the actual lenses.

      ... which should probably teach us that the difference between something being immersive and being distracting is not solely related to the extent that digital tool were used.

  19. hugo tyson

    The Star Wars football results

    Are two dee.... two;...... see three pee...... nil.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    more about intent

    Plenty film makers still prefer film because it's what they're used too, some feel digital hasn't got quite the same quality to it, potentially higher resolution but other things are at play.

    That said whether or not it is filmed in digital or analogue is neither here nor there, however it does signal an intent to move away from a heavily "digitized" movie. The prequels(I watched all 3 in one day this weekend) look like a computer game, episode 1 looks awful by episode 3 although the CGI is considerably better many scenes still don't look real.

    Be interesting to see if any of it is filmed in IMAX (2d) (or similar large frame format), Abrams isn't quite as crazy about it as Nolan but it was used for a significant portion of Star Trek.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: more about intent a SW film made by him could be something worth watching!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: more about intent

        I think it'd be too serious, Star Wars needs comic relief, something which only Ewan McGregor managed to pull off at all in the prequels.

        Disney have mentioned spin off films for specific characters so I think something could work there :p

  21. Joey

    Never mind the film stock...

    Let's have a good script, a good story and decent acting. The filming technique is immaterial.

  22. Volker Hett

    Lens flares and Leica Glow

    Are both due to coating, shading and the lens design.

    The "Leica Glow" is mostly found on old pictures taken with non aspherical lenses with a single coating. Modern multicoated aspherical Leica lenses don't show this "glow".

    I mostly use 35mm lenses on small format film and have lots of them. The one I love most is a bastard made from an old 1938 Zeiss Biogon, a Jupiter 12 PT1030 from Arsenal in a Leica Thread Mount from another russian lens. The results, on film and digital, match the look from the old pictures my grandfather took with a comparable lens in the late 40s.

    Lens flare? Yes, if I point it to a strong light, which my grampa taught me not to, and then they are less prominent then in J.J.s films.

    If I use slide film instead of traditional B/W like FP4 or TriX, then I prefer the brutal sharpness of modern lens designs with close to perfect correction, aspherical elements and any single surface multicoated. Like the current Zeiss Biogon T* 2/35 in ZM mount. Lens flares? Not with one of those!

    When I compare scanned Provia with pictures from a digital sensor, taken with the same lens, I can't see much of a difference, if at all.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could be 65mm

    Worth noting that this film exists in 65mm so I would expect at least some of it to be filmed in that format. (sections of the original are 65m)

    The film will be scan in at something like 8+k, projected in most places at 4k and I'm sure it'll look fantastic.

    This isn't some sort of retro move, film is still heavily used in hollywood

    1. markw:

      Re: Could be 65mm

      None of the original was in 65mm. Although 2001 was...

  24. Zot

    The effects will look worse.

    I thought the SFX shots were all originally done in 70mm to try and avoid the matting grain.

    Some digital films look really good, so why not use technology when it's available?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    red herring

    This sounds like a PR/marketing thing. Any competent director or DP knows that a 'film' look can very easily added digitally, after the shoot. They could even make the look even more 'filmy' than real film, if they wanted to. All this will do is complicate the shoot and all the vfx facilities will be face palming. If the director really wants to impress, concentrate on the characters and the story.

  26. Shamalam


    I saw the latest Star Trek yesterday, another J.J "thing".

    Weak just doesn't cut it. Terrible. I don't hold much hope for Star Wars.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So where's the part of the story that pertains to: "but that wasn't what made the old movies great, sputter fans" ?

    Did I fail at reading & comprehending?

  28. Psyx

    Leica don't make film...

  29. Fuzz

    waste of time

    Shooting on 35mm is a waste of time and money. We have digital cameras that can easily compete with 35mm.

    Shooting on 70mm is a different matter, especially horizontal 70mm like imax.

    It's worth noting that a lot of the Phantom Menace was shot on 35mm and it didn't help that film at all. The reason for the digital stuff in the prequels looking so bad was not a fault of it being digital, just that at the time the digital process wasn't as good as film.

    The mistake with this film will be the same as with the last star trek film, shoot the film on film, in this case a mixture of 35mm and imax, then let the studio dimensionalise it so that you can charge more for tickets on the basis that 3D costs more because the equipment costs more even though everything is now projected using the same digital projectors.

    1. Daniel Johnson

      Re: waste of time

      "The Phantom Menace" was shot on film and looks far better than the other two prequels, both of which were shot digitally.

      People who think digital compares to film could watch "Alien" and "Prometheus" on Blu-ray, both by the same director Ridley Scott.

      "Alien" was shot 35 years ago on film (35mm, in anamorphic, which results in resolution loss due to lens distortion). "Prometheus" was shot three years ago on the highest-resolution currently available digital cameras (the Red Epic 5k).

      People say "Prometheus" looked great. Well, the wide shots are CGI creations and I guess they look good, if you like that sort of thing (I always skipped cut scenes in video games). But compare the interior shots of the crews inside the spaceship. You might be surprised how great "Alien" looks, even just scenes of the actors talking. "Prometheus" on the other hand, looks as bland as its story.

  30. Shasta McNasty


    You can spend millions on effects, retro-film, lighting, sound, CGI etc, but if the story isn't a good one, the film will be naff and no-one will want to watch it.

  31. Bob H

    Frame rate

    Oh for the sake of the FSM!

    So, we have someone getting all nostalgic for a bygone era and using an inferior format? Will he also be recording the audio on to tape? But my biggest hang up with film is that it artificially constrains the motion because at 24fps the temporal resolution is carp (sic). It shouldn't matter what the medium as long as you are originating at the best quality possible and for an action movie, especially a science fiction action movie, you need temporal resolution! Our eyes are not designed to have things change resolution when they shoot with such a legacy frame rate (the only reason it exists is because of the logistics & expense of film media).

    If they go ahead they will originate the film chemically, but as soon as it leaves the bath it will probably be scanned to digital, then it will be edited digitally and mixed with digital effects, colour corrected digitally and then rendered out. It will then be sent to cinemas digitally (in many cases) or converted back to plastic for legacy cinemas. Back when I did my studies we were told to originate at the highest dynamic range and resolution as possible and have as few processing steps as possible to preserve the quality. Plastic seems like a fail in this context.

    If he shot it at 70mm with 48fps then I would be impressed, but he isn't and I am not.

    1. IsJustabloke Silver badge

      Re: Frame rate

      well I'm sure JJ will be really disappointed to hear not impressed....

  32. Mage Silver badge

    24 fps ... bah

    The biggest lack on HD is poor frame rate. Noticeable with motion.

    HD should be 96 FPS. More important than 2000 or 3000 lines in the home. Digital Cinema recording is already about x4 the home HDTV resolution.

    Bit of a gimmick using 35mm to film.

    1. Obvious Robert

      Re: 24 fps ... bah

      "But my biggest hang up with film is that it artificially constrains the motion because at 24fps"

      "HD should be 96 FPS"

      Spoken like true techies! And excluding The Hobbit, exactly how many films have you seen in anything other than 24fps? And I'll tell you why, 48fps (or higher) makes things look cheap, by association with it being closer to the frame rate of made-for-TV stuff. If you want to watch high frame rate tech demos, you go watch them. Personally I'm perfectly happy with films at 24fps for the aesthetic qualities the frame rate has, and I'm dreading Cameron, Jackson and chums getting their way with an industry wide move to 48fps.

    2. Bod

      Re: 24 fps ... bah

      High frame rates just makes it like watching an episode of Eastenders on TV. Loses the cinematic feel.

      Same problem with the artifical motion processing in modern TVs, and worse they tend to make some things far too smooth that it becomes unnatural.

      However there is a point about 24fps on HD TVs, if they're set to 24p. There's an argument that many TVs will enhance the flicker and judder effects that cinemas tend to reduce with a double shutter. Though I'm not sold on that argument. However I have noticed that despite 24p supposedly eliminating 3:2 pulldown issues you always got with NTSC video (60Hz/30fps), it still judders but in a different way. You can just turn on the motion processing on your fancy telly though, or set the player to output 50/60p instead (as many modern TVs will sort out the pulldown issues anyway).

  33. john devoy

    Probably a little misleading

    As almost all effects/compositing and editing is digital now I expect that the celluloid film will be digitized for processing, he can't keep it on film as very few cinemas are capable of playing it anymore since they were all forced to digital.

  34. Stevie Silver badge


    That's *Puppeteen*!

  35. fandom Silver badge

    I know this will be unpopular but it has to be said

    Attack of the clones is a much better movie than Return of the Jedi.

    Yes, I know, you first watched Return when you were a little kid and you thought the ewoks were great but, what do you really think now?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: I know this will be unpopular but it has to be said

      Valid point he is making. Hyperpolitical story line. Much complexity for such young padwans. Return of the Jedi, not as good.

    2. Vociferous

      Re: I know this will be unpopular but it has to be said

      The ewoks were blemishes on the original trilogy. And their song & dance number was cringeworthy. And ROTJ is still a better movie, as there is _nothing but_ such cringeworthy blemishes in the prequels.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: I know this will be unpopular but it has to be said

      RoJ was the first signal Lucas was about to deliver childish movies. It should have had Wookies instead of the Ewoks - as it was the original idea - it could have made the movie much more dramatic and credible, with Wookies attacking and defeating Stormtroopers.

      Yet Ewoks explain why we had later Jar Jar, a "Jesus Christ"-like Jedi child, weapons trying to destroy enemy ships biting them piece by piece, and many other childish silly ideas. Maybe Lucas was already thinking about toy sales.

      Yes, the Ewoks are bad, still RoJ is better than any of the sequels, and that's say a lot...

  36. Dropper

    Retard.. I mean Retro

    What I remember about vinyl, film and most things analogue is how shit they were. To replicate the completely shite sound of vynal, just get a knife and scratch the crap out of your CDs, or take a paper bag and crinkle it in your ear as the music plays. For cameras, just print your photos with no ink.. thus replicating the two most common fails with that redundant media, which were inserting/pulling out the film in broad daylight or mangling the process of loading the film in so it doesn't feed or is otherwise irrevocably damaged. For movies, again just take a knife and scratch the crap out of your DVD/Blu-Ray disk or convert your media file to an 128x64 resolution MP4 whilst overlaying the video with some scratches. If you really want to experience the analogue experience, you can remove a few seconds from random scenes in your ripped version to replicate bad editing. Finally you can take your media file and just delete it or take your disk and smash it into pieces to give you the nostalgic "my VCR ate my movie" experience.

    I don't know why people think old crap is good. I was born in 1968, things were not better in the old days. Roads were fucking crap, football players killed each other and analogue was shite.

  37. Graeme Sutherland

    Analogue vs Digital

    I listened to an interview in a podcast with John Seale (DP on the new Mad Max film), and that was his first time shooting digitally.

    He made the comment that it's possible to process the images in such a way that a typical viewer couldn't tell the whether it originated on celluloid or not. Therefore he doesn't see any advantage to shooting on film, and doesn't plan on doing so again.

    Given Seale's background, I'd be inclined to go with his opinion. :)

    The Zacuto tests last year (I think) included film as well as digital. Whilst it's got aesthetically pleasing characteristics, the latitude is lower. I can't remember the findings on resolution, but I've got a feeling that a 4K camera is pretty close.

  38. John P

    "Abrams has long been interested in analogue film, using techniques like lens flare throughout his work to evoke the pre-digital era."

    Abusing lens flares you mean, the bridge of the Enterprise looks like it uses supernovas for lighting.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not 70mm?

    Or even IMAX. I once saw an IMAX film about movie special effects, where they reshot two scenes from Star Wars (the opening scene using the original models, and a scene from Mos Eisley).

    They then showed the original 35mm version, followed by the IMAX version. It was jaw-dropping.

  40. Fink-Nottle

    In an interview with The Guardian, he said: "I'm obsessed with things that are distinctly analogue. We have a letterpress in our office. There's an absolute wonderful imperfection that you get when you do a letterpress, and that is the beauty of it."

    Talk about preaching to the converted!

    The Grauniad's was using letterpress years before analog typographical errors were a hip.

  41. sisk Silver badge

    And the budget just sky rocketted.

    There's a reason we switched to digital: it's much less expensive to do retakes on digital. Not to mention how much greater the range of possible special effects is. Going back to analogue for music makes sense, but for film, not so much.

  42. Vociferous

    Frankly, the only way is up

    ...for the Star Wars franchise. Even if the next one is a musical starring Schwarzenegger, directed by Uwe Boll, it can't really get more uninteresting, dead, and filled with merchandize tie-ins than the three "prequels".

    So I guess I'm guardedly hopeful.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Frankly, the only way is up

      "...for the Star Wars franchise. Even if the next one is a musical starring Schwarzenegger, directed by Uwe Boll,"

      As long as we are fantasizing, can we make it a Bollywood musical?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe he should focus on a solid script and character continuity first, then worry about what it's shot on. CGI and 35mm won't save a movie with no story-line, unless it's two hours of a space battle with no actors interrupting.

  44. Andrew Garrard

    Not that unusual, is it?

    I thought there was a fair proportion of the Hollywood output still being shot on film, that being one reason that some film companies are still going. I'm sure Red et al. are making a big dent in it, but I happened to go and watch The Wolverine recently (for not very justifiable reasons) and, going off the bokeh, it was obviously shot with an anamorphic lens. While it's technically possible to stick one on a digital sensor, by far the most sensible reason would be to shoot film. So it's not dead yet, even if I have a fridge full of the stuff due for development.

    Now, I need to get myself a 5x4 before Fuji discontinue any more stocks...

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