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Old November 5th, 2007, 06:37 PM   #1
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Movie equipment

Hey guys and galls - Does anyone know where I can find a list of equipment used in various movies? The usual method of typing it into a search engine isn't proving to be very helpfull. I get movie reviews, advertisments selling HD DVD and a ton of other sites about everything else other than what camera was used. As many of you know, I have just been getting into film production and have little knowledge about some things very essential. Every time I watch the special feature section at the end of a movie I always see this outragous equipment (outragous in comparison to a consumer camera) but can never put a name to it. Some things are obvious, the giant reel hanging off the camera man's back indicates that these movies are traditionally shot with film. However, what is all that stuff, who makes it and why do they use it!? Sorry if this is a pretty demanding question, I just have few sources other than DVInfo.net.

Thanks,
Terry lee
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Old November 5th, 2007, 06:41 PM   #2
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Not sure how reliable the info but a lot of movies on IMDB have a technical section that you can read up on.

300 - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416449/technical
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Old November 5th, 2007, 07:01 PM   #3
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The print edition of April 2007 American Cinematographer has an article on 300.

For camera gear info try here:

http://www.arri.com/

http://www.panavision.com/product_category.php?cat=1
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Old November 5th, 2007, 07:06 PM   #4
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Hi Terry. You might enjoy some of the photos on this site: http://crewpix.com/
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Old November 5th, 2007, 07:59 PM   #5
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Wow..Thanks alot everyone. I found everything I needed to know 15 minutes after I posted this thread haha.

I found out something interesting though. Zach Snyder used the Arriflex Cameras, Panavision Lenses and cameras to shoot 300 this year. George Lucus used the digital HDW-900f in 2000 to shoot Attack of the Clones and the rest of the Star Wars films. Wonder why?
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Old November 5th, 2007, 10:35 PM   #6
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300 had lots of slow motion effects... to get high quality, a high enough frame rate, and a reasonable workflow it was likely easiest for them to shoot on film.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 12:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Lee View Post
I found out something interesting though. Zach Snyder used the Arriflex Cameras, Panavision Lenses and cameras to shoot 300 this year. George Lucus used the digital HDW-900f in 2000 to shoot Attack of the Clones and the rest of the Star Wars films. Wonder why?
Lucas has been probably the single most outspoken proponent of digital acquisition in mainstream filmmaking for the longest period of time (the 900 was replaced by the next-gen 950 for Ep. 3 by the way) and has mandated that the productions he controls will originate digitally. Most DP's still prefer to originate on film as it is a more mature production workflow and arguably produces superior imaging. The very latest cameras are leveling the playing field on many levels, however, and a small but growing number of established DP's who can suggest working in either medium are now expressing a preference to digital acquisition.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 01:07 AM   #8
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Surprising as it might be, you may find an encyclopedia to be your best bet for a "movie tools 101." I believe World Book (the print edition) had a great primer a while back. Unfortunately, there is no "all-inclusive" list of the equipment used in production, along with uses. If you break production into its departments, you may find it easier to reference what certain things are.

If you have specific descriptions Im sure we could identify some of your mystery gear.
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Old November 7th, 2007, 12:22 AM   #9
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Glenn - Most of the ariflex cameras i've found pictures of look absolutely ancient. Is this because production companies have to use old equipment if they want to shoot film or are there newer cameras out and im just not seeing them?


Also, I've heard alot about the Z1U being somewhat equal in image quality compaired to the 900f. Just add a matte box and fallow focus and you got a 900f? Now, you know im just playing dumb and probing for information, I know the 900f is way more complex. I just want to hear someone's thoughts.
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Old November 7th, 2007, 12:33 AM   #10
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I doubt it's the same ballpark, though I'm not familiar with the other camera, but I'm actually testing a new workflow with the Z1 right now....

50i -> force progressive/%4 slowdown (via HDLink/Cineform) = 24p.

Looks great. No Sony CF24 B.S.

Now all I need is a capture solution to Cineform bypassing the HDV compression, and I'd be a happy, happy man. Oh, and a 35mm adapter. And lots of lighting and a warehouse of props. :P

Carl
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Old November 7th, 2007, 01:16 AM   #11
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Do you think this looks old fashioned?
http://www.arri.de/entry/camera_conf...n_overview.htm
(Click the products -> cameras -> links)

If so, this must look positively anclient
http://www.wisner.com

Both, of course, are current new production.

Since the mechanical nature of film handling hasn't changed, the cameras haven't either. They still have to do the same mechanical jobs they've been doing for decades, so no reason why they'd look much different.

Swoopy modern styling doesn't impress anyone in these markets.

I still use my 5 X 7 view camera that I've had for 35 years now
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Im..._bi-system.jpg

(The camera pictured is 4 X 5, my 5 X 7 has a larger back assembly and tapered bellows)
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Old November 7th, 2007, 01:48 AM   #12
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Quote:
Glenn - Most of the ariflex cameras i've found pictures of look absolutely ancient. Is this because production companies have to use old equipment if they want to shoot film or are there newer cameras out and im just not seeing them?
You're probably just not looking at the right pictures?

Quote:
Also, I've heard alot about the Z1U being somewhat equal in image quality compaired to the 900f. Just add a matte box and fallow focus and you got a 900f? Now, you know im just playing dumb and probing for information, I know the 900f is way more complex. I just want to hear someone's thoughts.
Certainly feature-wise they are different. The F900 can accept gamma curves (e.g. from dpraxis.net) to record all the information that the sensor can record. If you want to color grade the footage, the F900 likely has an edge there.

I haven't dealt with the F900 and the Z1U shooting the same thing. In terms of the Z1 and the Varicam, you can get them to cut interchangeably (this was done on the show "Full Ride" on ESPN). The main thing the Varicam has over the z1 is variable frame rates; the grain on 35mm adapters + HDV doesn't always play well in certain cases.
There are some pretty interesting things you can do with the Z1 / it can put out some pretty decent images.

2- The big picture is that Hollywood films tend to be of a high quality since:
A- Good writing. (Ok, not all Hollywood films have good writing. Sometimes directors who aren't necessarily great writers get to do what they want. But the writing from professional screenwriters tends to be a lot better than the vast majority of indie crap that gets made.)
B- Talented + experienced people working on the film.
This includes makeup, art direction, visual effects, etc.
C- Money. And high-end equipment.

IMO... so while the 'equipment gap' is starting to close in some aspects... the big picture is that you still need talent and experience to put out a good movie. And in some other aspects, the equipment/money gap is not closing... putting out a Hollywood-style feature still costs a lot of money. Lights, production design, extras, etc. etc. all costs money.

But I wouldn't really worry about that. Be resourceful and do the best that you can with what you have.
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Old November 7th, 2007, 02:00 AM   #13
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Not sure I'd call an Arri LT or 235 ancient looking.... but it's a matter of perspective. True, film still runs behind a physical shutter behind a lens, but the movements and electronics under the hood are constantly evolving and adding features... things like timecode, HD video taps, better ergonomics, quieter operation, etc. That said, most of the exciting advancements are in the accessories.

As for productions choosing packages, price often does have (a lot) to do with camera choices, though it's not the whole story. There's a lot to be said about how different internal movements affect picture quality, though amongst well designed equipment, its certainly less difference than lenses. Different producers, dp's and ops choose (or at least request) cameras for personal reasons that run the gamut from lens selection to quietness to weight to the ability to accessorize to voodoo. In super simple terms - a film camera is a light-tight box. What affects your final product from the lens back has a lot to do with the lens (including filtration) and your film choice, not so much the camera body the film is running through. It's like comparing the highest-end 35mm slr with the cheapest possible 35mm slr. Will one take better pictures than the other? Given the same lens and film, probably not.

Also important is field serviceability. Film cameras, though heavily electronic these days, are still very mechanical machines. A film camera will pull thousands of feet of film through the gate every day. As such, it must be serviceable in the field. Making something field-repairable means that you can't have hidden screws and sculpted body panels everywhere that would slow down service, if the only return is a better looking camera. Not so with video. Video cameras are NOT meant to be field serviced (gray area with older F900's, and similar cameras with internal rgb gains and board-based internals). If a video camera goes down, the LAST thing sony wants is you to tear apart the camera to see whats going on. You most likely will not be able to, because video cameras are so heavily based on integrated circuits, there rarely is any physical thing you could even do to field repair it.

A lot of the "ancient look" also has to do with the economies of scale. Things like 35mm sync-sound film cameras simply don't sell in huge volumes. Things like $2000 video cameras do sell in relatively huge volumes, so the life-cycle of the product is much shorter, and more likely to look "with the times." Also, a 20 year old film camera can be "modernized" simply by running modern film through it. Film itself isn't a singular object as may be represented in a lot of posts that concern the "video vs. film" debates. Film comes from a number of manufacturers and in a number of flavors. You could compare footage from a camera built in 1982 to footage from that same camera and lens setup today, and they would look nothing alike simply because the film stocks are so different.

Cinema equipment is also very evolutionary. Rarely does something totally new come along, sweeping change through the industry. Its usually small but helpful improvements to existing products that define the "current generation" of things. A crane for example - cranes have been around a LONG time on production sets, though there are many more choices these days, and operators don't necessarily need to ride (though they often choose to) on them. Remote heads, technocranes, ultimate arms, etc... have certainly changed the way camera movement can be performed, but they are essentially evolutionary products. Gear heads look positively arcane, though some models (arrihead 2) are the result of lots of research, and can be equipped to perform motion controlled moves.

As for the F900 vs. Z1u debate, this forum is a great place to dig in and start reading about what these cameras are and what they can and cannot do. There's a lot of information regarding that particular topic, though I would personally caution taking someone else's opinions of subjective quality as gospel, having not seen and compared things yourself. The F900 will make better pictures than the Z1U, but that doesn't necessarily mean it fits every workflow or budget, meaning that it's not necessarily the right tool regardless of bottom-line resolution and color representation. You found a good place to ask your questions and hopefully we can all help fill in the gaps where we can.
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Old November 7th, 2007, 10:35 AM   #14
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I think it's important to realise that the film cameras are industrial equipment, they are mature designs and new models evolve. They shouldn't be compared to consumer cameras which get changed design wise every few months.

Broadcast cameras are the same, there's not a huge design change between the Betacam SP Sony BVW 200 of 20 years ago and the F900 - other than the former is nicer to handhold. Interestingly, there's currently a movement towards the film camera type layout on the high end digital cameras.

You can still shoot a feature film with a 30 year old film camera, upgraded with the latest imaging by Kodak or Fuji.
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Old November 8th, 2007, 04:26 PM   #15
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Thanks alot everyone for your replies. Very good advice.

I think my main reason for asking that question is to get a sence of what I would be able to accomplish by buying a camera like the Z1. What I've taken from your replies is that essentially it is not the equipment that makes the film, it is the film maker. However, my concern with the equipment is I want to get away from the "home movie" look and not just into a semi-professional look, but a George Lucas/Zach Snyder look. I very much understand that in order to obtain these qualities, one must first master sound, lighting, camera techniques etc.. or atleast have a collection of individuals who do. My point is, is it possible to obtain that look with a higher end HDV camera such as the z1u or xh a1? Would it be safe to say that George Lucas would use one of these cameras for a primary shot? Now I know these two cameras are designed for portibility and versitility, but lets say George broke his F900 and has a day to get this film done and all he has is an a1 or z1u. Would we know the difference?
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