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Old May 14th, 2008, 05:12 PM   #1
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Munich DokFest Premiere

I've been away from this board for a pretty long while now - mostly because I've been busy for months on our first major feature-length doc 'Confessions of a German Soldier' which had its international premiere last month at the Munich International Documentary Festival 2008 (DokFest). It's been a long road on this one - it's a labour of love produced over a 2-year period so that it could fit around regular work. It's entirely self-financed, so we're incredibly pleased that it made it to Munich and was picked up by an international distributor for broadcast. So it can be done on a shoestring!

If you're interested, check it out at www.flotsamfilms.com

There are stills (some are frame grabs from the HD100) and a sample clip on the site. All the modern footage is shot at 720p/25. It was cut on Avid AXP and MC and finished in 10-bit uncompressed on FCP - output to HDCAM and DigiBeta.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 07:41 AM   #2
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Looks great! Once clients start paying their bills, you can expect an order from Canada.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 12:00 PM   #3
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Excellent!

Is there any difference in the NTSC and the PAL versions as to the way they look? Is one better than the others. I am going to order a copy and can watch any of them.

How did you make the conversion from PAL and 25P to NTSC.

Were you using any presets in particular?

How did you handle lighting when you needed it?

How did you record sound. What mics? In camera or external recorder?

How big/small was your crew?

How much did the film cost as it turned out? How was traveling with the camera and equipment? What kind of expenses did you incur for lodging, etc. when traveling?

Thanks!

Congratulations!
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Old May 15th, 2008, 06:39 PM   #4
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Thanks for the support, guys!

In answer to your questions, Jack:

The PAL DVD is - technically speaking - the best version simply because it's a higher resolution and no temporal resolution is lost because it originated at 25P. The original frame rate is also maintained and - with it - the original audio pitch - so that's the version to go for if you can handle PAL. The NTSC version is very good as well, though, because we've made every effort to produce the best possible NTSC pictures: The NTSC conversion was produced using Avid Symphony Universal. The 625/50 (effectively 25PsF) DigiBeta down-converted master from FCP/Kona was captured into a 24P Symphony project, from which it was played out to 525/60 DigiBeta with 1:1 frame correlation, adding pull-down in hardware - effectively a reverse of the 625/50 mastering process from feature films. Instead of a 4.1% speed up, there's a 4.1% slow down, which equates to around a semi-tone pitch shift. This produces much better, clean NTSC pictures from 25P source material than a conventional hardware standards conversion from PAL sources - even using the Alchemist with PhC. All DVD versions were encoded from the broadcast DigiBeta masters of the feature-length edit using Sonic hardware encoders and authored on Creator and/or Scenarist.

By presets, I assume you mean camera presets. I certainly did extensive testing with the HD100 back in 2005 and experimented for a while. I cannot remember the exact adjustments but I can always fire up the camera and post them here. It's also worth pointing out that I used pretty flat gamma - pre-equalising for a post gamma correction. The source material is a little washed out - on purpose - and the final result has had a good deal of colour correction.

I kept lighting to a minimum throughout, mainly paying close attention to the natural environment and trying to keep shooting to the best time of day and utilising natural light as far as possible. Lighting enhancements were more a question of adding appropriate fill and backlight where necessary/appropriate. For those scenes that did need a lot of lighting - a few internal interviews - I used a couple of Dedos and a Rifa light and a bounce board in various combinations.

The crew consisted of me and me alone for 99% of the shoot.

Sound was mostly via radio lavs.

It's hard to put an exact figure on the budget. This started out as an experiment - a labour of love without the interference of others - to be fitted in between our regular work (mostly broadcast cutting and finishing here in the UK) and ended up taking over a significant chunk of the last two years... In all, it probably cost around 20,000 in raw expenditure over that period. A good deal of this went in archive and music licencing as well as travel. We travelled modestly but it does add up - especially when you're moving people and gear from the west coast of France all the way to rural Russia... What's harder to evaluate is the amount this project cost us in lost earnings! It's handy having the skills and access to all this gear but time is worth something - even for an editor...

Anyway, I hope this answers your questions.

All the best

Tony
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Old May 16th, 2008, 04:41 AM   #5
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Fantastic Tony - always good news (and thoroughly inspiring) to hear of another film production with these cameras.
Well done.
I've enough technical madness swimming around my head at the moment so the conversion discussion lost me, but I guess I'll worry about that when I need to!

I guess the lavs were a lot easier to work with over a boom - did you carry out any dubbing/foley?
Good you used natural lighting too - I think Michael Winterbottom insists on that method.
Did you shoot in Berlin? I suspect that's a good city for film makers (I've been but never with the camera).

Quote:
a labour of love without the interference of others.
Surely the best way!

Good luck with this Tony.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 09:54 AM   #6
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David: Berlin certainly is a great city to shoot in. I was there 3 years ago on a doc and it didn't matter where I pointed the camera, magic just happened. The stark contrast of old classic architecture and new rebuilding works. The canals seem to have a mystique about them. And the people seem so indifferent to a camera, no one goes out of their way to avoid you or covers up their face, ruining an otherwise perfect shot.

Sorry for the thread hi-jack. Back to your regularly scheduled thread.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 10:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
David: Berlin certainly is a great city to shoot in. I was there 3 years ago on a doc and it didn't matter where I pointed the camera, magic just happened. The stark contrast of old classic architecture and new rebuilding works. The canals seem to have a mystique about them. And the people seem so indifferent to a camera, no one goes out of their way to avoid you or covers up their face, ruining an otherwise perfect shot.

Sorry for the thread hi-jack. Back to your regularly scheduled thread.
Unlike certain places in the UK where you get either paranoid folk running a mile or others dancing like drunk grandparents at a wedding in front of your camera (and this in the most CCTV'd country in europe?).
I've watched many a European film but not many set in Berlin (I'm sure I've just missed them).
Tony - did you shoot that much in Berlin? I saw from your snippet a shot or two of the city.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 11:43 AM   #8
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Thanks David!

Yes, we shot for 4 days in Berlin and a quite a lot made it into the final cut of the feature-length version. It was a great place to film - not least because it's pretty small for a capital city and you can move gear around by car very easily. There's little congestion and parking is a breeze. It's true that there's plenty to film - especially if WW2 is your subject matter. Yes, people are very cool about filming in general. We also had active help and encouragement in places like stations - impossible in the UK without arranging in advance and paying quite a lot of money. However, it was in Russia where we had the most help and encouragement from the locals. Transport and accommodation are big, big challenge in rural Russia but it is incredibly beautiful and nearly all the people were extremely supportive - which is amazing considering they knew we were there to make a film about a WW2 German officer!
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