Film purists are always saying that projected celluloid delivers black levels that are far superior to digital…right? Well, perhaps this has changed. In an interview with Indiewire‘s Bill Desowitz, dp Emmanuel Lubezski, who shot The Revenant with an Alexa 65 digital camera, says the combination of this technology with Dolby laser projection is “very exciting” because “the DCP for Dolby laser is the first time in the history of film that directors and cinematographers can project pitch black. I like IMAX laser projection too. I find it immersive but a bit more assaultive on the senses.”
Lubezki seems to be saying (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that images captured on the Alexa 65 and projected via Dolby laser are now equal to the best black levels that can be achieved with film. If that’s what he’s saying, this is highly significant as it means that down the road (i.e., sooner rather than late) film purists will never be able to dismiss digital cinematography again for having weak black levels. I’m waiting for the day when these black-level snobs will be shut down for good.
Lubezki adds, however, that the Arriflex guys need to improve the Alexa 65 as follows: “It’s very important that they improve the dynamic range, being able to see more into the highlights. I think we’re like three stops short. That’s a must.”