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Old October 4th, 2004, 12:41 AM   #1
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Old 35mm vs New HDV

I'm planning to shoot a short, and budget isn't a huge issue. Obviously, I won't be buying a Cinealta or anything, but I've found some appealing options I can afford. I'm wondering how old 35mm movie cams compare to modern HD and SD.

For 35mm, I've been eyeing the following:

Arriflex 2B
Arriflex 2C
Konvas 1M
Konvas 2M

For HD, I've looked at everything I can afford, and I'm holding out for the pro FX-1. I've also been considering the XL2, but I think I'll pass on it.

The movie cams are hyper old, and I'm not yet sure about compatibility with modern lenses and parts. But how much would TOL new lenses and film actually do for these cams anway? Would there be a huge difference in picture quality, or are these cams pretty much unable to do anything now that they couldn't do back in their own times?

Basically, I just want to know which choice is best for me if my primary concern is picture quality. I don't care about ease of use or additional costs of transferring, converting, audio recording, etc. Also, keep in mind that I don't think 35mm is necessarily the pinnacle of picture. While 35's typically superior, I've seen incredible scenes captured with HD and 16mm. So I don't believe in the "film always looks better than video" argument or that 35 always looks better than 16. Also, I'm definitely interested in suggestions for other film cameras. Any help would be...well, helpful. Thanks!
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Old October 4th, 2004, 05:47 AM   #2
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Any of those cameras will produce a great 35mm picture, depending on what lens you have in front of it.

The Konvas cameras are a steal, and you can get the 2M with a PL-mount so you can use all modern glass. The 2M also usually comes with the 17EP motor, which is crystal-sync, whereas the 1M usually includes the 15EP motor, which is not crystal (it has some sort of speed stabilizing circuit for 24fps, but not nearly as stable as crystal).

I've got a 1M with a converted lens port and crystal motor. The results are exactly what you'd expect from 35mm.

You said that you're not concerned about audio recording, and that's good, because every one of those cameras is extraordinarily noisy. If you're shooting entirely silent, or expecting all your audio to be dubbed in in post, those cameras will all do a great job, obviously the 2C is prefereable to the 2B, and a 2M with 17EP motor and PL lens mount would be prefereable to a 1M (don't get the original gray Konvas 1/"automat", those can't use the crystal motor or 400' mags).

The Konvases aren't really all that old either, most were built in the 80's and 90's (you can tell by the serial number, the first 2 digits are the year of manufacture). And many were built and stored in a factory, never sold or used, so they're usually in pretty good shape. I guess when the factory went bust and couldn't pay their employees they gave 'em cameras instead, and that's why you saw an explosion of Konvas sales on ebay.
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Old October 4th, 2004, 06:09 AM   #3
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I would, of course, do some heavy-duty testing with any HDV camera before shooting a film, unless it's really low budget (like how I shot a very short, VERY low budget film last December with the HD10), but even that can be considered a test.

If you're happy with the FX1 or any other HDV format, go for it!

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Old October 4th, 2004, 07:05 PM   #4
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Thanks guys. Very helpful.

Barry, you now have me leaning more toward 35. I plan to record some audio directly to hard drive on the set, using a laptop and small mics on the performers, and some of the audio will be dubbed (mostly FX and OS dialogue). Do you think these 35s are too noisy for the on set recording? Is there a good way to muffle them without hindering their ease of use too much?

Also, while budget isn't a major issue, I'm clueless when it comes to the cost of film. I've searched all over the net, and can't find any indication of price. You have any idea, or any idea where I might be able to find out?

Lastly, do you have any online footage from your 1M? Thanks again!
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Old October 4th, 2004, 08:30 PM   #5
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Too loud for on-set recording? Yes. Oh yes. Heck yes. Way, way, way too loud. I'm talking jackhammer loud. These things are L O U D. About 55-60 decibels loud.

And no, there's no practical way to quiet 'em down. You could get a blimp for the Arri IIC, but it's obscenely heavy (100 pounds?) and will kill your mobility.

Best to not even think about sound when shooting with one of these, unless you're going to do re-record the sound in post.

The Arri 16S is about as loud as the 2C/3C and Konvas cameras, and Rodriguez made El Mariachi on one. He'd shoot the scene, then stop the camera and run through the scene again, this time to record the audio. It's tedious and torturous, but it can be done if you really, really want to work at it.

Actually the Konvas would be much easier to do this technique with than the old Arri's, because with its crystal motor you can use VocAlign to line up the audio tracks. Not recommended, but I'm just saying you can do it.

Footage online from the Konvas? Hmmm... I don't think I do. I have some stuff that was shot on an old Eyemo, which is a step DOWN from the Konvas, here:
http://www.fiftv.com/bbb/dtiaa_hi.ram
(sorry it's in RealPlayer, this is an old file, we did this about 3 years ago).

This spot was shot on an Eyemo (which is almost as loud as the Konvas), using the same technique I described above: film it, stop the camera, and run through the scene again recording sound, and then match it up in post. Not too painful on a sixty-second spot, but it'd be murder on a feature.

But it'll show you how these old cameras can hold up: this spot won us an Emmy from the PSW region. The Konvas would look better, because you have actual TTL reflex focusing & viewing and (probably) better registration than the Eyemo.

As for film cost, if you're shooting on the cheap, film stock, processing, and transfer to video can cost about $25-$30 per minute. If you're going with the big boys and paying retail for the film etc. then it can cost five or six times that much as well. Those numbers assume a video edit and a finish on video (such as a TV spot would be); that's not factoring in making a final 35mm print.

For the BBB spots we did three PSA's on 35mm for a total stock cost of $60 ($40 from ebay, plus $20 for densitometer tests to make sure the film was good). Processing and transfer added a lot more, but we shot such a low ratio (you have to when an entire roll is 66 seconds of film!) that we really didn't have much source footage. I think the total film, processing, and transfer costs for three spots was under $500.
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Old October 4th, 2004, 11:38 PM   #6
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Too bad about the noise level. I'll probably still pick up a Konvas anyway and either dub or do an audio sweep like you mentioned. If it's too much of a pain in the ass, I can always sell it and go HD for my next project.

The film costs don't look too bad. I can deal with those numbers.

By the way, I couldn't play your file. Both Realplayer 10 and Realone failed. Too bad, I was excited to view it. Anyway, thanks for all the help!
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Old October 5th, 2004, 01:12 PM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Barry Green : Too loud for on-set recording?
The Arri 16S is about as loud as the 2C/3C and Konvas cameras, and Rodriguez made El Mariachi on one. He'd shoot the scene, then stop the camera and run through the scene again, this time to record the audio. It's tedious and torturous, but it can be done if you really, really want to work at it.

Actually the Konvas would be much easier to do this technique with than the old Arri's, because with its crystal motor you can use VocAlign to line up the audio tracks. Not recommended, but I'm just saying you can do it.
-->>>

Another technique that can work is using Sound Soap to remove motor noise. When you're recording room tone you grab a few seconds of the sound of the camera running and use that sample with the "learn noise" function of Sound Soap. Then you have the program remove that noise from the production audio. It doesn't always work perfectly, but in a lot of situations it will amaze you. The camera noise just vanishes and doesn't mess too much with the remaining production audio. Using that technique and VocAlign for stuff you absolutely have to replace with ADR it's possible to work around a noisy motor. Not a perfect solution, but workable.
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Old October 5th, 2004, 01:44 PM   #8
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Wow. Now that's a badass app. Thanks Robert.

Barry, check out these modded cams:

http://slowmotioninc.com/sales/s35v_cam.htm

There's also a 2M on the site.

Also, check out this site. They do custom barneys, including for the 2M.

http://www.customupholsteryproducts.com/index.html
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Old October 5th, 2004, 04:13 PM   #9
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Anatoly of Slow Motion Inc. is king of Konvas modifications, he's serviced my camera before. I believe all his cams are modifications of Russian cameras but he totally guts the electronics, rebuilds the motors, etc. Not inexpensive, of course, but top quality work.

Using a barney on a Konvas is going to cut the noise level by maybe four to six decibels, so maybe 30% to 50%. A nice start, but it'll take it from "you gotta be kidding me that's so loud" down to "what? What did you say? Sorry, can't hear you, that camera's too loud" level.

Barneys make quiet cameras silent, but they can't do much about noisy cameras to begin with.
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Old October 6th, 2004, 01:07 AM   #10
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Ha ha ha! How much do slowmo's cams typically go for? They look ideal for me, since I'd love a TOL (top of the line) modded Konvas, but have no interest in learning how to mod myself. By the way, Barry, I saw your name mentioned on commiecam.com. It's a small internet.

Oh, and I saw a spec commercial shot with a 2M. It looked great, even despite being low res streamed video. This is really looking like the choice for me. I think I may start scripting soon. Writing is my primary artistic function and also my profession for the last year and a half. But this will be my first serious direction! I'm pumped. Thanks again for the huge help.
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