Sharp Eyes

Text by Philippe Ros AFC covering sharpness with digital image.

‘’The texture of the digital image through the control of sharpness. A real artistic issue’’ 

by Philippe Ros afc

                     «Special thanks to Kommer Kleijn, SBC and Rolf Coulanges, BVK for their precious help. This long version uses Ron Prince’s
                                 transcription for the British Cinematographer issue (#68). Thanks to him, to Alan Lowne and to the BC magazine!»

The texture of the digital image is a relatively virgin territory, and sharpness plays an important part in it. Choosing the texture and the sharpness are definitively artistic decisions, but in most of the image delivered by the camera, these decisions are essentially created and managed by engineers with talent.
But these choices don’t necessarily match with the filmic drama nor the filmmaker’s and cinematographer’s expectations.

Historically, in film, the texture of the image has mostly been tackled during the shoot by lighting, make-up, glass filtering, glued stockings on the back of the lenses and by the level of grain linked to film stocks, exposure and lab processes. We can easily feel that the film texture is linked to the chaotic pattern of the film stock as opposed to the still, clinical pattern of the digital image. But is it that simple? The digital era offers many opportunities, but presents also paradoxes and limitations I will try to outline.

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