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Old December 17th, 2004, 04:37 PM   #1
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Convice me please!

Here it is, plain and simple. Based on your advice given here, I am going to pick a position and buy a camera. I trust ya that much!

I've been ripping the hair out of my head over the last year trying to decide whether or not to shoot video or film. So much wasted time. Now I don't want to start a flame war here. I know this question has been discussed over and over and over again.

Yet, I find that I still can't make a choice. It's not a matter of money. I can afford to shoot 16mm(Arri, Eclair, Bolex ect.) or on a high end miniDV camera(DVX, XL2, FX1). Short films between 5 and 20 minutes is all I'm going for to basically send to festivals and get experience.

I guess the problem is that I fear I won't "feel" like a filmmaker with a video camera. Even worse, I fear that I won't be taken seriously by people because its on video, hurting my chances at festivals and being looked down upon by other people in the biz as a good for nothing amature. I'm also afraid of learning video and when I eventually get the chance to direct a "film" on "film" I'm not going to be on top of my game because I've been using video all those earlier years.


I know I can't be the only one out there with these concerns. I just need to make a decision, take a leap of faith, and see where that path will lead.

Last call guys...I need a camera, and I would just like a little pep talk and some good advice to get the reels movin'.
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Old December 17th, 2004, 05:16 PM   #2
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It doesn't matter if you shoot on 70mm film, if you cant make a movie people will enjoy watching, you're wasting your time. (or money rather, at least you're learning)

I don't know anything about your experience (you're new here) other than what you've posted in your 3 posts.
1. You "know next to nothing about shooting digital"
2. You "have absolutely no experience with cameras whatsoever"
3. It "IS" a matter of money. (same post mentioned "film is so damned expensive")
4. You're almost bald (you've "been ripping the hair out of your head over the last year")

Imagine how much further along in the game you would be if you had just decided to buy something a year ago and used that time to learn the trade!

The cost of shooting film is going to be HUGE! Especially since you will be making TONS of mistakes (learning curve). If you are a talented writer it may behoove you to partner with someone who already knows how to shoot. If you want to learn it yourself just pick out a camera and start learning. It's no big mystery. Digital is digital no matter if it's a XL2, DVX, FX1, PD-170 or anything else. Not having anything is worse than picking any one of those (all very good choices, although I personally would hold off on the FX1 until it's proven). If you shoot film you have a whole other mess of problems to look forward to. Buying the camera is the cheapest part of it! (and easiest part as well, and it only gets harder from there)

I'm sorry there's no magic answer for you, everyone's different. Just go buy, or better yet, RENT some stuff and give it a try!
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Old December 17th, 2004, 05:34 PM   #3
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Hello Shane,
You'll have to make your own decision. But I could not help noticing that your question seemed to be consumed mainly by what others will think of you, rather than about what subjects you want to shoot.

"Film festivals" have become like butts; everyone has one, particularly any organization or locality that wants dirt-cheap publicity. My point here is that all have different standards, although most seem to consider video an increasingly acceptable medium.

The biggest decision before you, in my opinion, is whether you want to spend money on cameras at all or if you want to make films. Speaking as someone with a closet full of video cameras (many of which will soon be sold or donated) I suggest that you at least consider the possibility of either renting cameras (film or video) on a project-by-project basis and/or collaborating with an experienced camera operator who knows his/her camera very well. Camera technology, especially video, is lurching forward rapidly and it's nearly impossible to keep abreast of it. I know that I speak a degree of heresy here but I've come to learn that filmmaking is primarily about telling a good story well and (very) secondarily about the photography and camera used.

If I were facing your decision today, with the plan of making good shorts for festival tours, I'd probably rent the Panasonic SDX900 video camera. It's a tremendous camera, the big brother to the DVX, that can produce stunning imaging in skilled hands. It also up-samples to HD very well and also transfers to film well.

Best of luck with your projects, Shane! Knock 'em dead!
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Old December 17th, 2004, 06:10 PM   #4
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The best cost to product ratio for a beginning shooter is DV, and it is becoming a pretty acceptable medium at festivals. You can have more takes, more angles, a WAY easier time editing, easier effects, (simple) live AUDIO recording in camera, etc...If you're just starting and not going to be doing pro shoots for awhile, you don't need an XL2, or DVX100. You'll be lost with those. Buy an Optura Xi, a GS400, or an HC1000. Get the high-end consumer gear first. They'll get the job done for you, provide a little growing room, and get you ready for the next step.

If you feel like you must learn to shoot film, which is similar but really a different beast, buy an all manual Super8 camera for a few $100, a decent light meter, and start there. Again though, how do you plan on editing? Video is all on the computer (easy), you basically need at least a 4-plate to cut film. And if you want to send a film to festivals, wth sound, you'll need to edit an A and B roll, an L and R mag roll, make a composite print...it's pricey and a pain.

The difference between DV and film has little to do with direction. If you're shooting to be a director go with what's easy and get DV; you'll have way more options. If you want to be a DP, go film. It'll provide a good background shooting knowledge for both media.
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Old December 17th, 2004, 09:28 PM   #5
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<<<-- Video is all on the computer (easy), you basically need at least a 4-plate to cut film. And if you want to send a film to festivals, wth sound, you'll need to edit an A and B roll, an L and R mag roll, make a composite print...it's pricey and a pain. -->>>

Couldn't I just have the film processed then telecine it to video and edit using an NLE?

Thanks for you help everyone. I appreciate it.

shane
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Old December 17th, 2004, 10:46 PM   #6
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First, you'll need a good story to tell.

Besides a good camera, you'll need good audio gear, lights and people who know what they're doing to help with all that equipment.

You'll need to apply all of that equipment effectively to tell a compelling story.

It can be done digitally, without film. Again, you'll need to learn how to do it. Prior to the invention of film, it was all done live on stage. Then there was film. Then there was sound. Then there was widescreen. Then multichannel audio... and so on. Now it's digital. So look at it as a continuum of technology.

But the very basics remain the same throughout: learn how to tell a story. Stage. Film. Digital. It's all just different mediums.

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Old December 18th, 2004, 02:05 AM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Shane Carl : <<<-- Video is all on the computer (easy), you basically need at least a 4-plate to cut film. And if you want to send a film to festivals, wth sound, you'll need to edit an A and B roll, an L and R mag roll, make a composite print...it's pricey and a pain. -->>>

Couldn't I just have the film processed then telecine it to video and edit using an NLE?

Thanks for you help everyone. I appreciate it.

shane -->>>

If you're going to shoot film, and then drop it into an NLE for editing, you might as well just get the DVX100, shoot in 24p mode. and cut out the film stuff altogether.
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Old December 18th, 2004, 10:14 AM   #8
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Jesse wrote -
"If you're going to shoot film, and then drop it into an NLE for editing, you might as well just get the DVX100, shoot in 24p mode. and cut out the film stuff altogether."

Well, I don't know that I would say "Might as well" in that case, since shooting on film, telecine and edit on computer is the standard workflow these days. It's the way all features are cut, and the way most indy's are cut as well. (Though I enjoy cutting on a flatbed, or even an upright!)

The only step that would be left out of an indy process of shooting on film, would be the conforming and film-out. It's entirely feasable to shoot on 35, telecine and distribute to festivals and others via dvd without ever getting to film out. (We just did that with "After Twilight" - see www.nu-classicfilms.com)

35mm or Super 8, you CAN shoot film and telecine, edit and distribute using an NLE to "DVD" out. Still a lot pricier than going DV all the way, but cheaper than going all the way through cutting, conforming and printing. But you ARE working in film.

I also agree with Dean's advice to master the basics, but would back up the workflow to include "Script, stage, film and digital'. There is absolutely NO CHEAPER WAY TO "MAKE" A MOVIE than to write one. If it's good enough, it will find it's way to the screen.

It's a big wide wonderful world we live in....
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Old December 18th, 2004, 02:47 PM   #9
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Shane,

Rather than buy a camera, find a DP who owns their own camera and spend the money on the production, or rent. I gather from your post that you are the writer/director. As a first timer, consider shooting on tape-MiniDV, DVCAM, DVCPRO50. As Ken Suggested, the SD-X900 is a great camera. Video is cheaper than film and it will help you as a first timer. You can learn the craft and then work your way up. That's the great thing about video.

Film is similar, but different. Besides if you want to be a director, you don't need to own a camera, or know how to load the camera, you want to find a good DP and have an idea as to what gear is good and what isn't. The Sound Department and Set /Art Department are also important too.

Don't worry about what other people think. Consider what the major festivals want for submissions, but do your thing.

Be sure that you have an experienced first Assistant Director and a Production Manager, people who will help drive the production, so you can concentrate on directing. Also be sure you feed the crew well. Subway and pizza gets old REALLY fast. This is where experienced 1st AD's and PM's come in, they can negotiate deals with food people, locations, actors, crews, etc.

Filmmaking is a collaborative effort so you will have to assemble a team that works and works together. Talk to people in your local film/video community, you should be able to find people who can help.
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Old December 18th, 2004, 04:36 PM   #10
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A few of my thoughts are this, based on my own case scenario...

I want to be a cinematographer. I wanted to begin learning and shooting immediately. It's much cheaper to begin learning, making mistakes and being able to shoot a lot, on DV, rather than film. I'm interested in both technologies, and I definitely want to shoot film as well at some point. If I were preparing to shoot a feature, I would want to shoot on film if I could help it, probably S16mm, and I would want to work with someone who knows how to shoot and light.
Film and video have looks that distinguish them from one another. If I were wanting to project my piece, I would want to shoot on film. If I were going strictly to tv, I would consider both media. Because my main ambition these days is to learn and grow a cameraman and dp, owning makes more sense to me. If I had a piece scripted and pretty much ready to shoot, I would seriously consider renting.
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Old December 18th, 2004, 06:07 PM   #11
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<<<-- Originally posted by Richard Alvarez : Jesse wrote -
"If you're going to shoot film, and then drop it into an NLE for editing, you might as well just get the DVX100, shoot in 24p mode. and cut out the film stuff altogether."

Well, I don't know that I would say "Might as well" in that case, since shooting on film, telecine and edit on computer is the standard workflow these days. It's the way all features are cut, and the way most indy's are cut as well. (Though I enjoy cutting on a flatbed, or even an upright!)
-->>>

The reason I said to forget about film altogether is that Shane said he wants to create 5 to 20 minute finished filmsl; not features. If you want to learn "film"making, go film all the way on these short endeavors. If you're just gonna finish it in DV, what do you need a 35mm (or even S16) print for? This is what the DVX was made for. It's a short. The best it will do is make festivals, TV, or video release in which case a film print isn't necessary.

In the case of shorts, shoot film becuase you want to finish in film and show it that way...or shoot DV. This is just my opinion.
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