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Awake In The Dark
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Old July 20th, 2008, 05:58 AM   #1
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Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog - Joss Whedon's Pet Project

I learned Friday about this only for internet 40 minute musical created, written, directed, and produced by Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly, etc) with his brother Zack, Zach's fiancee Maurissa Tancharoen and Joss's other brother Jed. It is called Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and has been absolutely burning up the internet lately.

It was released this week in three roughly 15 minute episodes. And according to some news I've read about it, was filmed in HD, though none knows any real details about the equipment. There are obviously some steadicam shots, and I am pretty sure they either used a DOF adapter or shot with a wide open aperture.

Any ideas?
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Old July 21st, 2008, 07:05 AM   #2
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I have no insight into how they made it, but it was awesome to watch.
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Old July 21st, 2008, 01:53 PM   #3
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I was really impressed with the quality they got out of it. and L'd M A O!

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Old July 24th, 2008, 12:06 PM   #4
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There are pics of their rig in a couple behind-the-scenes photos:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pi...id=51074710227

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2008-07/41006227.jpg

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2008-07/41006546.jpg

I don't know what kind of camera that is (any ideas anyone?), but it looks like video. Which is interesting, b/c Whedon said the budget for the whole series (40 min. total) was "in the low six-figures." With that budget, I imagine shooting film would be affordable? It was a 6-day shoot, IIRC.

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Old July 24th, 2008, 12:22 PM   #5
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Hmm, looks like HDCAM to me...?
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Old July 24th, 2008, 12:57 PM   #6
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One post mentioned shooting HD, so I assume it was digital. I cannot imagine how film would be feasible given 7 days of shooting and a lot of crew. They still had lots of grips, lighting, post visual fxs, recording the songs, etc.
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Old July 25th, 2008, 09:51 AM   #7
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I cannot imagine how film would be feasible given 7 days of shooting and a lot of crew.
Is film that expensive? I'm thinking, if a 10-minute reel of 35mm is $500 (I'm rounding off here), then 400 minutes is $20k of film stock (I'm guessing 400 minutes is good, since it's 10x the final length?), and say $7k for camera rental for a week. I don't know how much transfer would be; maybe another $10k? So that's about $40k to go with film vs. what, maybe $5k total for HDCAM (totally guessing here)?

If the total budget is $300k (they said "low 6 figures"), I guess that makes sense that they would go with video. But it seems like it might not be out of the question to use film.

Do those numbers make any sense to you guys? Am I missing anything?
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Old July 25th, 2008, 12:17 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Joshua Csehak View Post
Is film that expensive? I'm thinking, if a 10-minute reel of 35mm is $500 (I'm rounding off here), then 400 minutes is $20k of film stock (I'm guessing 400 minutes is good, since it's 10x the final length?), and say $7k for camera rental for a week. I don't know how much transfer would be; maybe another $10k? So that's about $40k to go with film vs. what, maybe $5k total for HDCAM (totally guessing here)?

If the total budget is $300k (they said "low 6 figures"), I guess that makes sense that they would go with video. But it seems like it might not be out of the question to use film.

Do those numbers make any sense to you guys? Am I missing anything?
Film is a world I'm entirely unfamiliar with, so you probably know more than I. I just kind of assumed that Joss would shoot video since he comes from most of his experience being on TV shows (Buffy, Angel, etc).
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Old July 25th, 2008, 02:39 PM   #9
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I was under the impression (I heard or read it somewhere) that people shot film for shows like Buffy, Lost, etc, and only used video for shows like Jay Leno or Good Morning America. Even this commercial, which I would've sworn was video:

http://jalopnik.com/cars/gm/ad-watch...ads-194390.php

was actually shot on 35mm. (I know cause the producer on the commercial told me.)

Not that it makes a whole lot of difference; a nice image is a nice image. But I'm definitely curious about budget comparisons.
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Old July 25th, 2008, 06:23 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Joshua Csehak View Post
I was under the impression (I heard or read it somewhere) that people shot film for shows like Buffy, Lost, etc, and only used video for shows like Jay Leno or Good Morning America. Even this commercial, which I would've sworn was video:

http://jalopnik.com/cars/gm/ad-watch...ads-194390.php

was actually shot on 35mm. (I know cause the producer on the commercial told me.)

Not that it makes a whole lot of difference; a nice image is a nice image. But I'm definitely curious about budget comparisons.
Ahhh. See I was unaware that TV shows were actually shot on film. I thought the aspect ratio difference would mean it couldn't be on film. Learn something new every day on DVInfo.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 09:22 AM   #11
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Ahhh. See I was unaware that TV shows were actually shot on film. I thought the aspect ratio difference would mean it couldn't be on film. Learn something new every day on DVInfo.
Yeah, film movies, AFAIK, are actually shot 4:3 and cropped to widescreen (unless they're anamorphic, in which case they're squished and then stretched out when projected -- but those might also be cropped too). Full Metal Jacket was actually shot and intended for full-frame, interestingly enough.
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Old August 4th, 2008, 10:33 AM   #12
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Because it was shot during the writers strike, when a lot of people weren't doing much, Whedon was able to get a lot of things for free or deferral (he's written that one of his hopes is to be able to play his cast/crew) - the DP was a first timer by the way, albeit one with a LOT of big-movie camera op jobs under his belt.

Since it was destined for the net, shooting on film would have been an extravagance. I read Whedon saying the shoot was just BELOW six figures.

Given that this was a budgeted film, and not a guerilla/starving indie production, Whedon is after all a millionaire, there are some costs that they wouldn't have defrayed, such as insurance (probably a couple of grand right there especially with stunts involved), travel expenses, disposables, some equipment rentals, transport, special props, food (looks like a pretty big crew), costumes. Looks like it was filmed on a Hollywood backlot, they may have had to pay for some of that.

As for using adaptors, I've never heard of a serious TV production on HD that's ever used them. Anyway, the look of the shows in pretty much in line with 2/3" camera look. I think you get to 2/3" CCDs you're within striking distance of 35mm DOF anyway, especially when you consider that most 35 projects go for around a T4 stop, so if you can get the 2/3" cam to a T2 you're pretty much there anyway. DOF adaptors are really a 1/3" chipper thing.

I thought it was OK, but I agree with a New York times column that said while it beats most online content (not least for production value) it doesn't match the standard of a lot of TV. Really if this was a pilot for a TV series, could you see the series getting the greenlight? I thought the music was cleverly done but a lot of the dialogue felt very first draftish: for example Captain Hammer's "This is gonna be hard to hear" monologue in episode 2 was really pretty derivative, and there was a lot of padding in a film that (sans songs) would have been done in about 15 minutes. I thought Neil Patrick Harris and the LOOK of the show (art direction and photography) were the best parts of it.
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