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Old October 11th, 2006, 05:54 PM   #1
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Opinions, please, on quality

I'm shooting something fairly big (big for me) soon and have been debating with my self over the past two months whether or not I'd be using my (homemade) mini35. The equipment is an XL2 and XL1, either with mini35 on the XL2 or without.

The main issue is that I consider the adapter as primarily for outdoor use. I can shoot indoors, but with the relay iris open all the way, which produces a soft image (out-door shots are razor sharp).

This is a quicktime of test footage from the latest iteration of the adapter:

http://www.particleproducing.com/movies/mtmtest6.mov

Please be honest. All I want to know is, if you were to see this on the silver screen (output to 35 is actually quite likely), would it jump out at you in a bad way? Remember, the alternative is the XL2 straight up (with the XL1 of course, but the softer image of the XL1 should match the mini35 nicely).

NOTE: I had the ground glass-spinning a little slow for a moving grain effect, but the .mov doesn't show it.

NOTE2: This was a quick test with a new condensor lens, pardon the focus adjustment.
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Old October 11th, 2006, 06:53 PM   #2
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Justin.

If you are going to commit a lot of time, effort, money and the endeavours of others to this project, definitely intend to exhibit from film, then there is really only one more step, shoot tests under the likely conditions, get a transfer house to put through a test for you and assess it with your own eyes and those of an impartial third party.

As an audience, unless the subject or story is sufficiently engaging, I find myself rubbing my eyes as if they are bunged up with allergy, when viewing a MiniDV - to - film transfer and being distracted. That is with MiniDV at near to optimum.

With any adaptor, you will take a resolution hit which will be amplified by the big screen.

This is likely what you do not want to hear but is probably why you have asked the question because of what you already know.

Do not regard my comments as any sort of authority as I am most definitely not worth listening to on this subject.
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Old October 11th, 2006, 07:08 PM   #3
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Bob, your consensus is that miniDV-to-film in general is pushing it, let alone with a 35 adapter, is that correct? I tend to agree, but I do think with the right coloring it can be done acceptably.

Thank you for your quick response.
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Old October 11th, 2006, 08:20 PM   #4
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MiniDV to 35mm is not really limiting. It's all about conserving the resolution you have. HDV to 35mm appears to look fantastic. SD doesn't look bad either. Justin, the bottom line is that a 35mm adapter requires that you change the way you shoot. Mainly meaning more light when shooting interiors. You can get the look you want, it just takes more work :(.

I can't really see how you would want to transfer footage like your sample to 35mm. It's grainy, soft and washed out. I'm sure likely shooting conditions for the real thing would fair better...?

Bob, I have been meaning to say this for a while. I applaud your little "disclaimers" you always seem to add to your posts such as "do not regard me as an expert." Although most of the time you are right anyway it reminds me of a degree of humility that I wish others had as well.
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Old October 12th, 2006, 12:44 AM   #5
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Justin.

I don't think it will look any worse than some Super16mm to 35mm blow ups I have seen.

I would try to avoid shooting anything which will showcase the deficiencies of MiniDV. The main one I think is the fine texture of backgrounds such as leaves on trees, angled bracework on steel trussed bridges, or pebbles or seaweed on beaches which would show up nice and sharp and jagged edge free on 35mm film wide angle shots.

The Mini35 would actually help you in this regard where you can set up a shot where the background is deliberately soft and intended to be, compared to what is the subject. That option is not always there, so where you can avoid wides which include fine textured backgrounds, I would do so.

The illusion of sharper resolution could occur if not the reality.

Testing is really the only way to see what you will get. In absence of this, try to get a look at some Mini35 footage which has been filmed out. Take notice of those environments then practice, practice, practice with your own until everything is instinctual and nothing gets in the way of your direction.

The Mini35 footage will give you some idea of what to expect as in some instances, some homebrew adaptors seem capable of better resolution than the real thing, although inconsistently so.

Be mindful, any commercially released stuff is likely to have had a good DoP playing with it, so while you will get a double education hit you may not be able to emulate the results of the skilled artisan.
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Old October 12th, 2006, 02:11 AM   #6
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Justin, I have to agree with Ben. The footage quality doesn’t seem worth it to get a 35mm treatment.
If you are going to shoot a serious project and even have intentions of transferring to 35mm, why don't you invest some money on a commercial 35mm adapter? I think it would be worth it on your case. The commercial units have come a long way and are capable of really great quality images. I would take a look at the Brevis or Sgpro if I were you. The Brevis is more compact but costs more. The Sgpro has the sharpest and nicest image quality from them all in my opinion and is also cheaper than the Brevis or M2 as a bonus. I think investing on a 35mm adapter is the best way for you. Take a look at their demo clips posted around and see what you like best. But a project intended to 35mm and the big screen should go for as fine of an image as possible. You really shouldn’t save on the wrong end here. Some wrong savings may jeopardize your whole project and destroy all your effort on other areas. If possible, even rent PL lenses or get a hold on some Lomo lenses for the shot. Few things make for a more amateur looking cinematography than lens breathing, which is a strong characteristic with any still photography lens. I have of lately become even more of a supporter for real motion picture lenses after have “DPed” for a short film that used a M2 with Nikon lenses. We ended up avoiding pulling focus as much as possible because the lenses breathed so much. It was really disturbing to have that zoom effect on dramatic and slow scenes. It really brought attention to itself. In order to avoid pulling focus we had to close down the lenses some times to get a deeper DOF, which kind of defeated the purpose of using the M2 in the first place. The plans were to produce some very elaborated cinematography and camera blocking, but the limitations brought on the system by the still lenses made us change our plans somewhat. After that experience, which was my first with still lenses on a real shot, I will really push for motion picture lenses next time I shoot a dramatic piece. With rental prices going down and Lomo lenses available on Ebay for a bargain, there’s really not much reason to limit a serious project to inferior lenses. The breathing may be acceptable for internet movies and hobby scale projects, but for the big screen, get the real thing. Just talk to any ASC cinematographer about how he feels about lens breathing and he will tell you. Just wanted to share my recent experiences with you before you go into production. Good luck with your project.

Ben, you are right on the money about Bob. He's the kind of guy you really wish you could meet in person. Always trying to help and always so humble, even though anybody can see he's one of the most knowledgeable persons around here when it comes to 35mm adapters.
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Old October 12th, 2006, 10:24 AM   #7
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I do agree with all of you... this kind of footage won't work for the big screen. I had to see how objective I was being. At this point it will likely either be a rental mini35 or none at all.
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Old October 12th, 2006, 12:13 PM   #8
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Justin,
I just wanted to add another option.

Instead of renting/buying a pro 35mm adapter, try to rent a Sony Z1 (or one of the new Canons). Shoot Cineframe 25 and you'll still have roughly the same resolution. Its cheap and it can get fairly shallow at iris wide open - shallow enough IF you blow up to big screen. Just make sure you get as much distance as possible between subject and background.

Sorry, it's off topic. But I do strongly feel that FX1 (or any other wide 1/3" at 20mm, F2.0) looks close enough to a Cine lens (50mm at F8) on the big screen (in DOF terms only!).
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Old October 12th, 2006, 12:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Richter
Sorry, it's off topic. But I do strongly feel that FX1 (or any other wide 1/3" at 20mm, F2.0) looks close enough to a Cine lens (50mm at F8) on the big screen (in DOF terms only!).
At F8 it may even be, but I don't think there are many people trying to emulate the DOF of a 50mm at F8. People want shallow DOF.
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Old October 12th, 2006, 10:14 PM   #10
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I was just reworking my demo reel and found another clip that caught my eye... it was using the same mini35, but exterior night. It's much clearer and I'm trying to think what was different. I may have actually underexposed quite a bit in order to stop the relay down and resolve the GG clearer (and of course brought the levels up in post).

I think if I could maintain this quality my adapter might have a chance.

http://www.particleproducing.com/mov...eepeating.mpgx

(note the x)
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Old October 12th, 2006, 11:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Haupt
What focal length lens were you using?
The footage is soft like film, but it doesn't seem like your DOF is much shallower than a 1/3" cam w/o an adapter. Since the background in the first angle is solid black, we really can't see that the bg is out of focus... but the chairback in the fg is slightly out of focus.

I like the colors... very 70s.
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Old October 13th, 2006, 11:44 AM   #12
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It was a 50mm f1.8 lens, but the image area on the GG is around 27mm (close to a cine frame).

Thanks about the color, but what do you think of the quality in general... could you see something like that being projected in a theatre?

After months of working on this adapter and immercing myself in its footage, I can't even tell if its good anymore. Mind you again that this is only for artificial light-only footage. I'm perfectly happy with my daylight results -- and that's what's making me want to use it for interior shots, too, especially because my rails and lens support were made specifically with my adapter in mind. The cost structure is this: I'm responsible for all the costs involved with actually shooting, with deferred payment for the actual production. So naturally I'm most inclined to use my own equipment. The reverse telecine would *not* be coming out of my pocket. I'm already investing in a jib just so I have it for two specific scenes in this project -- of course I'll need it in the future, as well, but besides that I'm either using the XL cams with mini35, or without. If without, the lighting will be all that much more important.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Richter
Justin,
Sorry, it's off topic. But I do strongly feel that FX1 (or any other wide 1/3" at 20mm, F2.0) looks close enough to a Cine lens (50mm at F8) on the big screen (in DOF terms only!).
Thomas, in that case it would just make the most sense to use the XL2 w/o mini35.. it's also a 1/3" camera.

When not using 35mm, I'm actually more inclined not even to go for a shallow DOF... I think the FOV constraints are too limiting and the appearance of depth can be achieved with the right lighting.
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Old October 13th, 2006, 04:45 PM   #13
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Justin,

the XL2 has a superior progressive mode (over my FX1 definitely). However, the chips are 4:3 standard ones, the 16:9 is done by reading only a part of the chip.

The 1/3" of XLH1, Sony Z1, FX1 etc. are true 16:9 over the entire chip diagonal. It's a small difference but definitely noticable.

Sorry, it was a very blunt suggestion. I love shallow DOF myself. However, I read a lot of posts by knowlegable film people on this forum, that you would not normally shoot an exterior at F1.4 - You would go for F4 or F8. In lowlight you can go wide open, but in broad daylight you would not (normally). Some DPs even shoot an entire movie at the same Fstop (normally something like 4 or 8).

A possible solution is to use your XL2 without adapter for exteriors, and the adapter with a lot of lightning wide open for interiors. Somewhat unconventional but gets you a pretty filmlike DOF situation while getting max resolution for daylight shots.

All the best with your project - I feel my suggestion has been too blunt but I just wanted to share an idea I had regarding DOF on the big screen. After all, in the cinema DOF becomes far more noticable.

By the way, I do envy you a lot for getting stuff blown up on 35mm.
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Old October 14th, 2006, 12:55 AM   #14
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Ugh... not this again... the XL2 is a TRUE 16:9 NATIVE RESOLUTION CAMERA, it is NOT "cropped" from 4:3. The imager starts as a 4:3 chip that has 960X720 resolution. In order to create a native 16:9, a portion of the CCDs are non-firing, leaving the actual resolution at 960X480 for NTSC and 960X576 for PAL. The 4:3 image from the XL2 is CROPPED from the TRUE 16:9 "active" portion of the CCD. It is all semantics as there is no difference in any way shape or form from a 960X480 16:9 CCD and a 960X480 16:9 active area of a 4:3 CCD...NONE.

Noticeable? No way. You do realize you are comparing the XL2 to HD cams right? If there is a difference, THAT is it, not the fact that they are true 16X9. I personally find the progressive SD from these cameras no better than the progressive SD from the XL2.


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Old October 14th, 2006, 08:22 AM   #15
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Sorry, I did not mean to offend. I did not make myself clear enough. The 1/3" wide CCDs have a diagonal close to a 1/2.7" 4:3 ccd, the 1/3" 4:3 ccds have at 16:9 a diagonal smaller than 1/3".

Slight difference in DOF. In other terms, the XL2 is BETTER than the FX1 for transferring to film. I did not mean to talk badly about this cam. Ash and Justin, please accept my apologies.
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