How do you feel about film grain?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by White_Noise, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. White_Noise

    White_Noise Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    I'm young enough that most of my theater experiences have been on a digital format. Everyone was using VHS by the time I was born and most people switched to DVD when I was around 10 or 11. I've never had the experience of someone setting up a reel projector to play a film at home or some Super 8 footage or whatever. So since it's concealed until you get to ~1080p, really seeing film grain (not to be confused with noise) up close is a relatively new experience to me.

    I really like Criterion's policy of not removing the film grain from the image of its Blu Ray releases while some other distributors do. It's a loss of information, it's culturally important to document the film as it appeared at theaters at the time of release, aspect ratio and film grain and all. But more importantly, I've found something inherently appealing and beautiful about film grain on good 4k transfers of 35mm, like in the Criterion release of Playtime or Drive, He Said.

    On the otherside, I've heard people argue that film grain was an unwanted side-effect of the technology at the time and if possible most directors would have removed it had they had the digital tools we do today. What are your thoughts?
  2. Original film grain is beautiful and important information.
    dbsea, asilker, Rooster_Ties and 16 others like this.
  3. Deesky

    Deesky Forum Resident

    That's how I see it too. Film grain is an artifact/limitation of the recording medium. Whenever I transcode a movie I always try to reduce grain artifacts as much as possible, without smoothing things out too much. A conspicuously grainy picture is a real annoyance.

    Grain doesn't add any information. On the contrary, it reduces the information content of a frame. If your eyes had grainy vision, you'd seek help from an eye doctor!
    driverdrummer likes this.
  4. Vahan

    Vahan Forum Resident

    Glendale, CA, USA
    Film grain SHOULD be kept. Removing it makes everyone and everything on film look waxy and wooden.
  5. Jason Pumphrey

    Jason Pumphrey Forum Resident

    Ala, the first BD release of Patton...
    driverdrummer, SpudOz and Erik Tracy like this.
  6. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Buffalo, NY
    driverdrummer and DRM like this.

  7. This is a weird opinionand contrary to reality.
    realkilroy likes this.
  8. andrewskyDE

    andrewskyDE Island Owner

    Zack Island
    Film grain is, in some ways, part of a film's history and should be kept.
  9. DRM

    DRM Forum Resident

    The more information...the better.

    Although admittedly, I'm someone who likes tape hiss.
  10. andrewskyDE

    andrewskyDE Island Owner

    Zack Island
    I like tape hiss as well. That's the definite way to hear analogue sound.
  11. I consider grain as much of an artistic choice as any other made during a good production, with the selection of film stock one that can very much change the overall look of a piece. An example I can think of is the initial Blu-ray for Robocop, which I remember being panned due to its heavy use of DNR that completely ruined the movie's distinct visual identity.
  12. Thievius

    Thievius Blue Öyster Cultist

    Love it. If for no other reason than its indication (in home video) that they didn't go crazy with digital noise reduction in the mastering process. On a music forum where tthe overuse of compression is publically derided, that should sound all too familiar, though the technology and mediums are obviously different.

    Also, DNR is where you're truly talking about loss of information. Besides, who wants to watch plastic people?

    No, its when grain is removed you lose information.
    realkilroy and White_Noise like this.
  13. vince

    vince Stan Ricker's son-in-law

    It's a bit crunchy.....
    Jimi Bat likes this.
  14. dead of night

    dead of night Forum Resident

    Northern Va, usa
    He's going against the grain.
  15. guidedbyvoices

    guidedbyvoices Diver Dan

    Alpine, TX
    Film grain doesn't bother me and is part of the beauty of film - sometimes it almost adds to it, like Criterion's On the Waterfront, some of the far away shots on the roof showing NYC behind them, the grain adds to the grit of the film.
    Dudley Morris and Tim S like this.
  16. Tim S

    Tim S Forum Resident

    East Tennessee
    Even though it wasn't meant to, the obvious grain in some very low budget movies adds a lot to the experience - I'm thinking in particular about films like Night of the Living Dead, The Evil Dead, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I'm sure there are others outside of the horror genre, too, those just come to mind immediately.
    eric777 and driverdrummer like this.
  17. audiomixer

    audiomixer As Bald As The Beatles

    I love it! Just like I love tape hiss!
    If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
    andrewskyDE and driverdrummer like this.
  18. gary191265

    gary191265 Forum Resident

    I only deal with the gain from digital, high ISO stills and I'll attempt to remove it, up to the point that the removal becomes detrimental to the original image. The caveat being that it's unlikely to be seen at any size larger than A2 anyway, so you're generally having to look pretty hard to find it!

    I don't mind the grain in old film, whether it be a moving image or a still, as it's always far more 'attractive' than digital grain.
  19. zonkaraz

    zonkaraz Forum Resident

    Livonia, MI, USA
    Grain is what makes it come alive.
  20. GroovyGuy

    GroovyGuy Well-Known Member

    Halifax, NS Canada
    They way I look at it is that film grain is part of the character of the piece. IMHO, I'd rather put up with film grain and watch "the real deal" than watch something that has been processed to remove that grain. Then again, I DO buy remastered LP's so ....... :confused:
  21. White_Noise

    White_Noise Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    As do I....increasingly people, especially the vinyl crowd, are more aware of brick walling and volume wars. I can't remember a single remaster in the 90s that I feel bettered the original, but more recent remasters like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, RHCP, Radiohead, etc have improved significantly on the original and are more revealing for sure.
    GroovyGuy likes this.
  22. One of the worse Blu Ray discs that I own is The Doors Live At The Hollywood Bowl. Man did they scrub that film so clean that it now looks horrible.
  23. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    like HISS it's IMPORTANT...
  24. driverdrummer

    driverdrummer Forum Resident

    Irmo, SC
    I'm a big supporter of film grain. Love the film grain on The Blob, Charade, and 12 Angry Men.
  25. Time Is On My Side

    Time Is On My Side Forum Resident

    Madison, WI
    If it's in the original, keep it.
    driverdrummer likes this.

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