Walter Volpatto on Film Grain

“Unfortunately, I’m changing my mind on grain and I’ll explain why. First of all, I love grain. I love the idea of grain; and for me, it reminds me of film. I mean, there is really nothing more obvious than grain to tell you this has been shot on film, and Interstellar was shot on film, like Dunkirk, like others, so the grain was naturally what they feel – negative… actually in this case, interpositive – was giving you. And I always like to add grain to my projects. There is a problem, and it’s how we actually watch footage nowadays – Netflix or Amazon or TV, whatever – the compression system is killing the details. So there is a problem where the more grain you add, the more hard the compression algorithm has to work in order to keep those details and the more compression you get on the actual overall image. So nowadays, unless the image already has grain or unless the director of photography really wanted me to add a bunch of grain, I tend to not add it anymore because you’ll never see what I’m seeing. The compression will kill it. It’s just the way it works. […] Usually, if somebody’s shot on film, it’s because they like the texture and I usually tend to just preserve it. Just don’t do anything stupid to it; try to preserve it as much as possible, try to blend it and that’s about it. But for the longest time I was the one asking, you know, add grain. Now I don’t do it anymore.”

Walter Volpatto

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