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Old October 25th, 2004, 11:23 AM   #1
 
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Real Life Experiences with Art Film Production

Over the years, I've been blessed enough to be able to afford some pretty nice prosumer level equipment. If I weren't for my day job, I wouldn't be able to feed my passion for creation with camera and videocam. This has been my experience, I can't say what would be truth if I had followed a passionate path rather than a pragmatic path. I do, however, have some experience with people who've stayed the course of their passion. This is, for the most part, their story.

As of late, I've been doing more and more pro-bono work for a small theater art community very close to where I live. This community has a very long resume, extending from work on The Sopranos to small town stage plays to 30 minute short films in film festivals. The community consists of writers, photographers, videographers, editors, sound guys....you name it, they've been there and done it. These days, their passions still live, altho' they choose the path of rewarding work for low pay, rather than feeding the Hollywood factory for high pay. So, what's my point?

The point I want to make, and this is no flame, simply an observation of life. This community has been an avid beleiver in celluloid (aka film) for most of its existence. The possibility of DV production has always been discounted for all the reasons we, on this forum, have kicked around for years. There is no denying the artistic quality of celluloid. As of late, and much to my creative benefit, economics has forced this community to consider DV for their next project. DV equipment and knowledge has infiltrated thru the community, little by little over the years, until it's now ready for prime time within this community.

This last week, we finally made a decision to go with DVX100A/XL2 cameras for the project. HD was briefly, very briefly, discussed as a possibility. HD was summarily dismissed both for it's cost and it's complexity to go to ultimate celluloid. It's not that HD might not work very well for this production path, it's that the cost and complexity of HD production is currently out of reach.

So be it. One of these years, I fully expect HD to become acceptable. It took about 10 years for DV to make it into this scenario. Perhaps HD will take less time. There is a whole world of passionate artists without the resources to go Varicam, HDCAM, or even FX1. Does this make their passion and message less so? Not from what I've seen.
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Old October 27th, 2004, 04:18 PM   #2
 
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Bill--

Thanks for sharing that. I thought it was very insightful. I have no gripes with HD, other than it's simply not ready for prime-time--not on the level my small business is operating. Like you, when it becomes the "standard" as SD is now, then I will, without any hesitation, invest in it and move in that direction. But now, it does not make any sense economically.

In my opinion, at this point in time, all this clamor to move into HD is simply the "be the first kid on your block" syndrome (ego). That's not to say for those who want it, who can afford it, shouldn't buy into it. To each his own, but don't criticize those of us who have, from experience, found that the "bloody edge" is not the place to be on a day-to-day basis.

But for those that just gotta have the newest toy, you nor I will ever convince them otherwise.

Jay
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Old October 27th, 2004, 07:26 PM   #3
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I don't think anyone should ever feel bad about using video as a creative outlet. In a lot of ways it is better than actual film.

In certain ways, it's more realistic, more human.

If you use video and show it some place, people aren't gonna come up to you and ask you where you got financing and technical questions - people would be more concerned with the message. (Well they might ask you what kind of camera you have...)

I think art is that much more impactful if a normal guy has the means to make it. Paint, photos developed at CVS, a mechanical pencil, DV...

just thought i'd say that...
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Old October 29th, 2004, 11:21 AM   #4
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A very good post.
I also chose the path of working for a living so I could have a little fun. Back in the days when I shot and produced in 16mm, I never did anything in the local filmmaking community. There really wasn't one. In those days you could figure about $125 per roll (400') for stock, processing and wp. But all that got you was the visual half of the script. You still had to find a sound man who had a Nagra and would work on fun projects. And then if you did get something done, there was the lab costs to get through an answer print. It wasn't all that much money as it would be today, but a typical sales type corporate production might eat up $10,000-$15,000 in lab costs, including conforming, music, aerial image titles, etc. And $10K was a lot more money then than it is now. So nobody did much except for money.

I was one of the first people around here to switch from producing in film to video and have been doing video since the early '80s. For a long time video equipment cost too much for anybody to have any fun with...unless you were hooked up with a production house that could afford a $60,000 HL79. Then prices started dropping a bit, and I thought it was a pretty good deal when I got my first Betacam SP camcorder for under $40K with a lens.

Today, you can just about duplicate the quality of my old BVW300 with a $10,000 1/2" chip camera. And a $15,000 DSR500 surpasses it.

But the really good thing about DV is that you can get a 1/3" chip "prosumer" camera for under $4,000 that, while not as good as a $15,000 camera with a $10,000 lens, is quite good enough for many things. It's common to see good movies shot with PD150s, XL1s, etc., these days. So now, a person can spend less than $5K on a camera, say about $4K more for a tripod, a few lights and sound gear, around $8K for a loaded G5 with Avid XpressPro, and around $4K for a deck, and he's got a production studio for just over $20K that will do everything, and more, than a half million dollar, or more, setup would do not all that long ago.

You don't see too many people where I am anymore who are film purists. Sure, it's better. But video allows filmmakers to do things that would never get done if they had to spend all their money on film stock and lab work. I doubt that you could even buy the stock and processing for a feature short today for what it costs to set up a DV production facility.

So, with cheap video gear around everywhere, I've worked with numerous people in the past few years on independent productions. A couple have made it to TV, one to European distribution, and I'm working on a couple of socially conscious docs that allow me to rant against what I consider the forces of evil. I never did any of this fun stuff in the film days.
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Old October 31st, 2004, 12:39 AM   #5
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Thank God someone finally said it! Thank you Bills R & P. Most of the people on these forums don't use DV because they think it's better than emulsion on film, but because it's cheaper and it's pretty damn good at that. Most of all, it empowers the artist in all of us. Sure, the technology is important, but mostly because it's accessible to us, whereas it used to be just for corporations. It's unfortunately easy to become a techno-geek by hanging around these boards - look at all the recent fuss about the release of the HDR-FX1 - and I for one have to keep my eye on the ball and hold close these simple tools for telling my stories and painting my pictures with light.
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Old October 31st, 2004, 05:21 AM   #6
 
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Well said, Jack. Send me an e-mail please.

Jay
(missing Almost Heaven)
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Old November 2nd, 2004, 07:12 AM   #7
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Coming from a film background DV has only just caught up to me with the DVX-100 because it has 24p. The way I look at it, nowadays you have

pro film formats; 35 & 16

pro HD formats; 720p/24, 1080p/24 and 1080/60i

a pro SD format; DVCPro50 SDX-900

Then your Prosumer 24/30p DV cams; XL-2 and DVX-100

I consider all of these 'broadcast quality' even the DVcams. These are the only cameras I ever care to shoot with. IMO analog and SD interlace digital cameras are defunct. That live at five interlace look is just for news and 'reality shows' and if you use it, should be HD.

I guess I went from being a film snob to a 24 fps video snob. That's the way I see it. 60i drama doesn't work, it looks like shit. Who does it besides soap operas? Like that Eskimo drama shot a few years ago on the XL-1, sure it was great video but it would suck next to the same thing shot on an XL-2 @ 24p. The new HDV cameras better have 24p or they are going to be sunk among users like myself who want the more, as far as I'm concerned, Pro look of 24fps.

I'm not trying to start any flaming, just wonder why the heck anybody would want to shoot with anything but the above formats? Other than news and infomercials.

So I'm coming from the same place as the people in your community. We prefer the look and smoother (yes I said smoother) feel of 24fps and a film like gamma.
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Old November 2nd, 2004, 07:35 AM   #8
 
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<I'm not trying to start any flaming, just wonder why the heck anybody would want to shoot with anything but the above formats?>

Because not everyone looks at things the way you do. We all have different tastes; we all have different opinions, different levels of experience and expertise.

I've seen narrative stories shot on film that were horrible. I've seen narrative stories shot on video that were wonderful; you'd never know it wasn't film, unless someone told you.

The one thing I've learned over the years is, the more open minded you are, the more options to have available to you.

Jay
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Old November 2nd, 2004, 07:52 AM   #9
 
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well, I guess we've heard from the great state of texas.
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Old November 2nd, 2004, 08:54 AM   #10
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<<<-- Originally posted by Jay Gladwell : I've seen narrative stories shot on video that were wonderful; you'd never know it wasn't film, unless someone told you.

Jay -->>>

Surely though, you don't mean 60i video.
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Old November 2nd, 2004, 09:04 AM   #11
 
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Yes, Lamar, surely I do.

It was shot with a Canon XL1s--highly controlled lighting and camera adjustments with minor tweaks in post. And I've seen other cameras used, too. That's why pre-production is so crucial.

Jay
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Old November 2nd, 2004, 09:24 AM   #12
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60i DV can look very good but I would never mistake it for film. I just wanted to say that I sympathize with the people the thread starter is working with. There is a movement and feel to 24fps material that makes it the reason the majority of commercials, feature films, MOW's, sitcoms and still a good portion of documentary films are shot that way. If somebody comes to me with something they want to shoot in 60i, It's usually something that would work better in 24p or perhaps 30p. just my opinion.
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Old November 2nd, 2004, 09:36 AM   #13
 
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Never say never, you'll wish you never had.

Too, keep in mind, just because you haven't seen seen it, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist or it can't be done. It simply means you haven't experienced... yet.

Jay
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Old November 2nd, 2004, 10:04 AM   #14
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Hey Jay,
I emailed you - never got a response.

Jack
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Old November 2nd, 2004, 10:25 AM   #15
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Well, I came from a film background many years ago and shot thousands and thousands of feet of 16mm, and shooting video at 24fps doesn't make it look like film. Lots of excellent low budget movies have been made with video, all interlaced, and they looked great. Not like film, but great. I have yet to see any DV movie shot 24fps, though I have seen some high end HD stuff shot 24fps.

I realize there's a big blitz to say you have to shoot 24fps to make anything worthwhile for theatrical projection. Sorry, but I don't buy it.
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