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Old October 2nd, 2002, 09:37 AM   #1
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XL1s PAL versus NTSC for DV Feature Film?

We're shooting a 90 miniute mini DV feature film this winter... (see www.frederickfilms.com for details). I own a NTSC version of the XL1s with all kinds of goodies to go with the camera.... Odds are that our DV feature film will not make it past the VHS tape stage.......... we may get VHS distribution through a rental house or Blockbuster or some international tape distributor........... However, should my stars align....... and should a distributor decide to buy my DV feature for blow up to 35mm (ie. Tadpole, Pinero etc), should I be capturing footage on a XL1s with a PAL body or am I good to go with what I already own? I've heard different things from different people....... Check out www.digitalfilmgroup.com in Vancouver, Canada. I've exchanged various e mails with the president of that company and they claim that they have mastered the art of NTSC to 35mm blow up to where one cannot tell the difference between a PAL versus NTSC origination..... However, from what little I know, PAL has 20% more resolution lines..... Anyone care to comment on this and point me in the right direction. I'd hate to make a mistake that I kick myself for later on. Thanks.
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Old October 4th, 2002, 02:47 AM   #2
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some ideas

i checked out your website and read your post. here are some ramblings from what i know about from some of my distributor friends/clients. i may be wrong at anytime and about everything, so this is just advice that's worth 2 cents.

i belive most distributors (if not all after this crazy market this year, where major studio releases can't even keep b.o. for more than one weekend) will not readily (read probably less than 2 percent) acquire a dv film that needs a blow up print. the costs are high, even for distributors, they end up paying what we would pay, usually around 40k to be able to do any theatrical release for the film. and they basically they would have to finish your film, which most distributors don't do development or finishing, period. also, this is largely dependent on your cast, for a lot of them. for a good 3/4 of them, i belive they will not pick up dv product at all, period. and i mean they won't even come to screen it. this reaction is nasty and quick and cold, but at least you know where you stand. there have been guys before us (i've heard 3 stories) who came to a few distributors with great plans for their dv film and the format just doesn't deliver theatrically; you and i know this, it's no surprise. there's a strong stigma. even the major sitcoms are still shot on film, not hd. it's not as prevelant as you and i think. to boot, a few of the remaining financing funds available to filmmakers, also will not support dv production(s).

the market is really competetive and 'dv' product can not bear it usually. even though you may hear indigent's (Tadpole) praises and see plenty of dv fare (Chuck and Buck, which cost a ton for Artisan to 'finish') at fests, the major (festivals) rarely sell dv features these days easily. so in my book it doesn't matter if you shoot your stuff on ntsc or pal or hi8 for that matter, because the blow up is yours to take care of, in my opinion. and after the blow up they may still not consider it, because a lot don't accept dv shot films as i mentioned above.

plus, there are tons of 'indiewood' product outthere that looks and smells independent but isn't. 'amelie', 'jay and slient bob', 'kissing jessica stein', 'pulp fiction', and tons and tons of others. so the idea that a super micro buget indie will rise up every year is far from true when you think that most studios produce their own. why eat out when you can cook at home, for 1/10th of the price, as my father used to say. all this stuff is good to know. it makes me spend my dollars very differently then i used to.

now, for home video, there's a different story. i have gotten some good responses on dv product in that regard. if it is clever and original (read unlike anything that year, and I don't mean romantic comedy, action adventure, or family product), I mean documentaries about current topics in the news, and features that stir a lot of controversy at fests and in the 'indiewood' press. the drawback is that the draw is small. they will usually only buy home video for US and that can be a hassle, because remember they will produce x ammount and charge that against the profit, as well as charging any losses they will incur if the film has to be discounted or dropped to a lower tier, because it doesn't sell like their top shelf product, whereby that is deducted from their final profit, as well as box art design, which they charge internally, and any trade campaigns, which are pricey but essential to get stuff said especially about a dv title. after all is said and done it may look like you owe the home video distributor money back from your advance. there are a ton of examples out there like this.

it's not as bleek as it sounds because home video is the hot thing right now, because of dvd. so dv films are being checked out because of this format's demand for product, look at all the reissued titles and how well they sell (who the hell still cares about Rocky I, II, and III, right? well millions do, check the charts). but remember that dvd is not the studio/distributors favorite at the end of the day as well, because dvd enforces the same problem that sell thru caused for them years ago, which is mainly that they can not have two tiered pricing, where they release a title at 79.99 and then drop it to 49.99 and keep it that cost for it's life. retailers have partnered up with consumers and have scaled that down, largely in part to dvd these days, to bring titles down to 19.99 or 29.99, which has cut a huge gap in profits.

i read that they are trying a special program in australia where they make a rental copy and a sell thru copy (they are different and color coded), and they police which copies the retailer sells and rents. they have found lots of wrong doing from retailers and yet the problem remains who would turn the retailer in and why and what would you do to them? it's complicated and unspoken, but good to know.

i think direct to video is a great market for dv product and major studios have been using it for years and years (but not with dv produced product, so remember that they will spot that our stuff doesn't look like theirs at all), largely with their franchises ('homeward bound XXV' or whatever they are on now a days). you see more and more of that (franchises, like Spiderman and Harry Potter) in theatrical these days, which in my opinion is because in home video they made a killing with developing franchises which costs less than developing something fresh and new, and watching it fail because it didn't catch on (Dune, Ice Age, lots of others that didn't bring in b.o. like expected).

but everything is yet to be seen. home video is very volatile and ultra competetive. some even say that it may not be around in the next 5 years, which is not so excentric of a notion, when you consider where most folks buy their product and rent their titles, these days. ma and pa's (small video rental houses that are not part of a franchise like Hollywood Video and Blockbuster) are really struggling when they have to pay full price for titles and the big blue (blockbuster) pretty much negotiates on every title. not to mention it's expensive to carry tons of dvd titles, which consumers demand, when you are just one store. the big guys buy them by the crates and sell them for 5 dollars less to boot. all this stuff is ultra important to know, because in the end, unless i forgo distribution as an end goal (like Todd Verow, from Bangor Films, has talked about time and time again), i better know the territory better than i know how to frame a shot.

i went into depth mainly because i saw that you are drafting budgets and committments on your site for your projects. a friend of mine says that when you put pen to paper for a film buget you are basically borrowing against yourself. good luck and i hope my rant was readable. also, please just take it with a grain of personal salt, because i'm a flawed human being with my own motives and agendas like everyone, but i like a good story and i like informed opinions as much as the next guy. btw, i have no spell check and am too tired to proof everything so really, i can write much better than most probably think. night.

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Old October 4th, 2002, 06:27 AM   #3
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Wow......... thank's a ton for the information...... you certainly took some time off to write this :-) and I REALLY appreciate it..... It has given me a lot to ponder over.

Another question.......... what about the Super 16mm film guys...... aren't they still producing films for blow up to 35mm..... what are the chances of a distributor finishing their films?
ie. Monsoon Wedding......... or are the film makers using S16mm purely for reasons of "smaller rig, easier, more portable shoot", then paying for a S16 to 35mm blow up themselves BEFORE screening for distributors....... (or do they send in a VHS tape and wait for a deal to be struck - or acceptance into a top tier film festival that only accepts 35mm submissions....... before striking the blow up 35mm print.......)

What then are the advantages of using and sticking to the DV format?

Reason I ask is that....... frankly, I've entertained the thought of shifting from DV to Film equipment - for the reasons that you write above........ albeit S16mm film equipment...... rather than 35mm which is much pricier....... but then, my decision may hinge upon what you post back........

Thanks, Pepi.
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Old October 4th, 2002, 12:15 PM   #4
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you're welcome

wow. i could alter the way you spend your money. how american. (laugh) thanks for the kind words in reponse. i was anticipating a little friction actually, because i get pretty passionate about certain things.

as far as super or plain old school 16mm, from what i know you still have to deliver a 35mm film, period. you may shoot in 16mm to cut your production costs, but distributors have, what are know as, a 'deliverables' list which needs to be fulfilled and allows them to walk away at any time if all things aren't there. this includes an answer print, a sound efx and music background for oversees dubbing as well as insurance proof and all signed releases. it's still what it is. if you are going to spend large sums of money, then i would suggest spending some cash by going to some of the markets either ifp, afm, natpe and just do your research about what all and who all pays what to whom and what they encountered as part of their contract. this might help a lot. so might getting an experienced producer behind you to run your production/project. they'll have connections and be able to get stuff by, that you might never get access to, this time around. there's a ton of books on producing in 'hollywood' or 'indiewood'. you might want to hit the books before you shell out cash, because that cash might better go into the production if you are dead set on your film getting made, which may not include owning your own equipment, possibly. hit me up for a lit of books i've read that might be good for you, too.

take care.

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Old October 4th, 2002, 12:54 PM   #5
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Checked out your awesome website...

Christian,

I checked out www.nebunule.com

Congrats, it is a wonderful website and it appears that you are using pretty much the same equipment that I am using... Canon XL1s..... and making similar type of DV movies as I am making... AND marketing them in a similar fashion as myself......... Finally, it seems like I have someone to share ideas with who is on the same "platform and level" as I am...... a filmmaker and story teller at heart.... using affordable DV technology to tell compelling stories.... with top notch mini DV gear.......

Here is what I own....... Canon XL1s, Manfrotto/Bogen tripod with fluid head, 2 Canon lenses, LCD monitor with shoe mount, Telescopic boom pole with Sennheiser ME 66 mike, Sennheiser shock mount with wind basket and fuzzy to go around it, Sony ECM 44 clip on lavalier mike, home made dolly with track, same shoulder mounted camera support for the Canon as the one you have, a mini Kino Flo lighting kit, an Arri 650W fresnel with softbox, two Arri 150W fresnels, sunreflector, gels, filters, stand alone PC to edit using Adobe Premiere 6.0 (Windows), Frezzi on camera 75W light with dimmer, battery belt, various Canon batteries....

Listen, a couple of questions for you......

(1) How do you capture sound for your films? Do you also go into an external DAT recorder or do you only record into the XL1s?

(2) Where can I buy the lambskin type eyepiece cover for my XL1s viewfinder (like you use on your XL1s - as per a photo that I saw on your "Moaner" website)?

(3) What type of "field monitor" are you using.... it looks like a small JVC or Sony.... what are the specs, the price and where can I find a good used one to purchase? How does it power? Plug in or Battery pack as well?

(4) How do you get your short and feature length movies out there? Film festivals or anything else work for you as well.

Would love to hear more from you and exchange ideas......

Regards, Pepi.
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Old October 4th, 2002, 03:55 PM   #6
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If you already own a NTSC XL1, just keep the Vancouver lab in mind. They require interlaced NTSC footage with a "set" aperture. Someone I know just had her DV shot doc transferred to film by this lab. They do nice work. However, if you are concerned about quality, take note that the better the cam, the better the resolution and the better the film transfer will be. You'd get better results from a DSR500 and even better with a Sony digiBeta cam. Then if you shoot PAL, you'll even get higher resolution---but then you'd be better off with going with say: www.swisseffects.ch

Where do you draw the line? I would suggest to keep your costs low, because this possible film transfer is not a sure thing. So just shoot with the cam you already have with the Vancouver lab's guidelines.
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Old October 5th, 2002, 05:38 PM   #7
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I wanted to reply to something in this post. I believe digital guy said

"They(studios?) will not pick up dv product at all, period. And I mean they won't even come to screen it."

Are you saying that these type of people don't come to film festivals? I have heard that there are always "Important" people at most film festivals and they screen movies, hoping to find someone with talent and possibly strike a deal with them to produce something for their company in the future. Wouldn't it be good for Pepi to submit his DV film to a film festival with hopes of possibly being noticed? That's one of the best ways to get discovered. If a company becomes interested in him, they may NOT want to blow up the film he is shooting this WINTER, but they may like his style and offer him a future project for their company or they may want him to write and direct a new film.

This happened to Robert Rodriguez. He got discovered through film festivals. He was then offered a contract with a big movie company and part of the deal was that he was to write and direct to original projects in the future.

Let me know what you guys think. I mean, it is still possible to be discovered through film festivals right? Or maybe I am wrong on this.
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Old October 6th, 2002, 01:45 AM   #8
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I'm sure that if someone has great talent, that someone will be noticed by "the right people."
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Old October 6th, 2002, 02:16 AM   #9
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hi Todd and Frank-

what i said that, in my opinion, 3/4 of the distributors i talked to won't pick up dv feature fare for theatrical. the reasons for this, as i mentioned above, are that there is major post money needed to bring a dv feature to a theater release, which translates into finishing funds for a distributor, which is not going to happen, i was told, unless you made say 'tape' (with lots of big names involved). it's expensive and there's no need when there are other films who are ready to deliver (have an answer print ready to make copies from and is ready to go. this sucks but it's what i have run into. now, on the bright side, there is still home video, which doesn't have to be film (although film looks great on vhs and dvd, better than dv), and home video holds more promise for content. the longer project we are making is natured for home video for three main reasons:

a. it's dv
b. it's really risky and a big gamble because of the adult story line
c. we are not going to do a blow up

so you can see why i mentioned what i did above. you can do your own research and i invite you to, because i'd love to hear what others or the same people i talked to, say to you and others. but this is what i know and i thought it might prove valuable for some on here, especially when decisions are being like doing a feature project (which is truly a task only for those of us who have some 300,000 or are criminally insane- i'm being clever and not serious here).

regards-

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Old October 6th, 2002, 08:24 AM   #10
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35mm Feature FILM budget

Earlier this year I took a 2 day crash film school course taught by Dov S. Simens (www.webfilmschool.com) in Toronto and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn the biz side of hollywood. It is only $299 and is taught in cities all over the world..... try to get into one taught by HIM....... as mine was, since he was there at the same time as the Toronto film festival this year......

Anyway, one of the things that I picked up on was how to draw up a budget for a feature film on the cheap...... If anyone is interested in making a 35mm feature film on a skinny budget, check it out on my website, www.frederickfilms.com/35mm.htm

You will see that it is very very hard to make a 35mm motion film with one answer print for less than $250,000........ ONE OPTION IS TO GET 25 PEOPLE OF VARYING TALENTS TO PONY UP $10,000 EACH...... and then we have a film........ ie. a writer gets his story made into a film and ponies up $10,000.......... 3 leading actors get the big break they want and pony up $10,000 each........ etc etc.......... Anyone interested???? (smiling).

*** The most important aspect of film making is to remember that film is A BUSINESS........ not an art form........ anyone who thinks film making is an art form and not a BUSINESS is not going to last very long in "the business"....... Your film has to appeal to a very specific audience......... who buys theatre tix these days?????? In my opinion it is the teenagers......... early 20's crowd.......... Is it a chic flick for the stay at home moms? Did you know that 90% of Hollywood movies make little money in the USA but boat loads of money in the foreign markets........ so does your film have an "American Look" that is popular in foreign markets........ etc etc etc........... ***

Cheers to all.
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Old October 6th, 2002, 12:21 PM   #11
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Synopsis of your story?

Pepi --

good luck with your ambitous and interesting DV filmmaking efforts. Regarding your current project, I've looked at your website, and see you have info with particulars about the cast and crew. You say it will be a 10-day shoot in the Washington, DC area, in November or December.

What you don't describe is the story. If I might offer a small suggestion, in my view, some people who may potentially be interested in collaborating or helping out in one or another capacity for such a project, will be interested, first, to know something about the script. Minimally, a brief synopsis of your story, would make a helpful addition to your website.

While technical details are valuable, the basics -- what's the story you plan to tell? Did you write the script yourself? -- are also valuable.

It's possible, for instance, I might have one or two suggestions for such things as potential locations or possible supporting actors or whatnot; but I'd be more apt to pursue such ideas if I knew more about the project -- i.e., what story you propose to create.

I've a fair bit of handheld experience shooting with GL1 and some with an XL1. However I don't own an XL1S, nor -- due to fulltime job -- would I be free for a 10-day shoot this year. But anyway I'll be interested to see what unfolds with your project, here in Washington, DC.

good luck,
David
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Old October 6th, 2002, 03:00 PM   #12
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David,

I've purposely not said much about my story on my website..... there is a lot of idea stealing going on and mine is a unique storyline..... hence no mention of it on the web....... the actors have an overview and i have the details...... YES, I did write the story along with a co-writer / friend of mine.

Pepi.
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Old October 6th, 2002, 05:40 PM   #13
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quote on frederick films website

Aug. 31 - Sept. 1, 2002: Pepi Singh Khara attends the Dov Simens "2 Day Film School" in TORONTO, Canada - described as the best 2 day film school in the USA

Being a native of Toronto, I can say that last I was there, it was not part of USA.

From a more creative view, I'd leave that sort of stuff to a bio section. I find it kind of disconcerting that you have writer/producer/director at the top, but then have this stuff on the front page. I'd opt to leave one of them off, as it doesn't come across as professional as you might want it to be. ;)

I personally work in feature films (visual effects) for my day job (and piddle around with DV on my own time) and what I've found that works best is to be somewhat ambiguous and talk in vague terms. I'm not kidding. Film people love that stuff... even certain producers. What I'm saying is that by including those quotes on yer website might cast an element of doubt, so it might be best to keep yer cards a little closer to yer chest. ;)

Adrian
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Old October 6th, 2002, 07:01 PM   #14
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A message for Adrian.......

Hello Adrian,

Thanks for taking the time to visit my website..........

My Website Quotes - Aug. 31 - Sept. 1, 2002: Pepi Singh Khara attends the Dov Simens "2 Day Film School" in TORONTO, Canada - described as the best 2 day film school in the USA........

Dov S. Simens is from Los Angeles........... and so is his course........... just because the "venue" was Toronto, CA........... does not make this a Canadian course........... I would have written the same thing even if I had taken his course in London, UK or in Singapore or whereever!!!!! His course IS billed as the best 2 day film school in the USA.......... hope that clarifies your issue.

I AM the director...... I AM the producer (I have spent my own money to make my DV films and continue to do so).......... I AM one of the writer...... as I have my own ideas that I want to film........ I am not trying to be pompous...... nor distort the truth.... I'm disclosing what is fact and keeping close to my chest things that at the moment I don't wish to disclose (ie. story of my DV feature about to be filmed in Nov/Dec 02).

We all have opinions and our own take on things........ Neither my website (nor my films) are here to please everyone.... but thanks for your advice (I believe that it was advice that you were trying to impart).

Pepi.
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Old October 6th, 2002, 08:33 PM   #15
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Hey Pepi,

I wasn't trying to be an ass or anything, and must excuse my apparent tone as writing rarely conveys my general dry humour tone.

Just trying to point out that the way it was phrased that it made it appear that Toronto was in USA, which as well all know is not the case. Maybe just some of the clarification you related to me is needed to inform the casual browser of your website.

The intention was not to criticize your efforts in a negative fashion. Basically it was an attempt to offer you some honest advice on how to improve your website. I generally think at very least it's worth its cost, and always beneficial to be objective on these things. It certainly can't hurt to spare a thought or two and imagine a different approach. What I was trying to say that if you want to come across as a proficient director/writer/producer, but then say you recently completed a 2 day 'bootcamp' course (not that I frown on improving education, in fact the opposite) in cinematography, it might compromise the effect you are trying to promote. That is certainly how it appeared when I _first_ looked at your website, even though further investigation revealed otherwise. And we all know people's attention spans and related first impressions can be what you are known for.

Just trying to help you out.

Adrian
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