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Old June 22nd, 2010, 10:03 AM   #1
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Getting a film camera, some questions

I've got a few questions about getting a real film camera. Haven't found much info so I thought I'd post a few things here.


Where on Earth would you even buy a film camera these days? I'm talking a pro camera like used in movies in the 80s and 90s.

When using a film camera, do you really get that 'film' look at the source? unlike digital?

Looking at my favorite films that have 'extra' scenes on the DVD, the film looks pretty bad. Does film really look like that at the source, and is it that it goes through an extensive frame-by-frame restoration and additional mastering to get it looking decent?


I've looked around and all I can find is info on digital video cameras. I'd like to get into the oldschool way using real film. Haven't found a forum for that yet where I could ask these kinds of things...
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 10:11 AM   #2
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Who can afford to process film would be a better question? 16mm or Super16 is phenomenally expensive, as for 35mm???

What will you edit it on - movieolas and the like are pretty rare. Going back to cuts rather than crossfades will take getting used to. Separate locked audio is required, and the sync equipment is again not cheap.

We've all become very lazy and shoot far too much, dumping most of it in the edit. Film means planning and endless care in setting up before running. Older film equipment won't be wide screen, and telecine tranfers will eat up your budget.

My old college, 5 years ago, tried to run a proper film course. We couldn't fund it properly and scrapped it. There's also the problem of immediacy - was it good? Don't know, tell you day after tomorrow when the film comes back!

Film look means properly composed, well planned, smooth, material with carefully chosen lens and camera settings to produce the kind of image required. I think 'film look' is something not quite tangible - and using film certainly won't guarantee you get it!
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 10:30 AM   #3
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Paul makes many, many good points. But if you want to start this process, try starting here:

Pro8mm by Super 8 Sound


There are numerous other good resources out there, but this one should get you on the path.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 10:31 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jared Gardner View Post
Where on Earth would you even buy a film camera these days? I'm talking a pro camera like used in movies in the 80s and 90s.
A surprising number of low budget (i.e. 1 to 10 million) movies are still shot on film. Cameras, particularly previous generation, are for obvious reasons selling cheaply, especially older ones as you indicate. I'm sure you can buy an Arri BL3 or 4 (35mm) or an SR2 (Super16) for a song these days. Film stock and processing, however, have not seen the same kind of discounting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jared Gardner View Post
When using a film camera, do you really get that 'film' look at the source? unlike digital?
Yes. Film won't make a poorly lit, composed or exposed shot look magically perfect, but it has a particular look and feel to which digital is only now presenting a real challenge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jared Gardner View Post
Looking at my favorite films that have 'extra' scenes on the DVD, the film looks pretty bad. Does film really look like that at the source, and is it that it goes through an extensive frame-by-frame restoration and additional mastering to get it looking decent?
No. Generally what you are seeing there is workprint, a down-and-dirty print from the negative that has had rudimentary color timing appplied. If the movie is of a certain age, the workprint was physically cut and spliced and run many times through the flatbed editor and thus may be showing signs of wear. A quick telecine, again with rudimentary or one-light color correction, resulted in the washed-out or beat-up appearance that you often see with deleted scenes on a DVD. With the advent of NLE's, deleted scenes are likely to look a lot better, although still without final color timing.

I myself am doing less and less film jobs these days--my last one as a DP was close to two years ago, and as an operator, a feature last summer and a one-day commercial this year. It's becoming all but a novelty for me at least, but few of my colleagues are still working exclusively in film. There are some things I really miss about it, but the convenience and immediacy of digital is enticing.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 11:11 AM   #5
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Try Arriflex & Angenieux to Zeiss & ZGC Visual Products sells Used Motion Picture Equipment They always have a wide range. In the UK BB LIST - Second hand, pre-owned, used film, tv & video broadcast equipment sales

A 10 minute roll of even 16mm film will cost you 200 for the film and processing!

Also try Cinematography.com for a forum.

Film is lovely, but I haven't used it in over 5 years now, there are just so many advantages to video (cost being a big one!)

Depending on budget, you can get old Arriflex STs for 300, Eclair ACL for 1000, Aaton LTRS for 3,000 maybe, Bolexes can be really cheap, and even Arri BL 35 cams can be cheap.

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Old June 22nd, 2010, 11:21 AM   #6
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The one thing about film is that it usually comes back from the lab looking way better than you imagined.

Quite a few places sell film cameras.
Arriflex & Angenieux to Zeiss & ZGC Visual Products sells Used Motion Picture Equipment

One advantage is they get updated by Kodak and Fuji and you don't need to buy a new camera all the time, a 20 year old camera will take pictures just as good as brand new bells and whistles job. You edit on a NLE, just like you do for video, there are a number of options if you want to have a print - neg cutters do exist and can cut your neg to match your EDL. Although, you can be like Steven Spielberg and edit the old film way if you want. It's no more complex than a RED.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 11:46 AM   #7
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Visual Products - Equipmant For Sale - 16mm Cameras - 16mm MOS Packages - ARRI M/B Camera Package

$650! Just add lenses and film!

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Old June 22nd, 2010, 03:53 PM   #8
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I don't understand why a person that doesn't know how to use a film camera would want to spend the money on getting one. It would be much easier to learn cinematography on a digital camera before spending vast sums of money on film. The most important aspects of cinema quality work are lighting, composition, and camera movement. All of these things can be learned with a digital camera then applied to film without spending thousands of extra dollars on film. A memory card can be used over and over again while making mistakes but film is gone immediately.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 05:39 PM   #9
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One of the traditional ways of learning is to shoot stills using film to learn about exposure using the manual settings and the use of an exposure meter. Most cine film stocks these days are negative stocks, in which you're safer to over exposure than under exposure, the opposite to digital (this is like a reversal film stock).
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 05:50 PM   #10
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Good evening,

I shot with a bolex h 16 in the 60's and ultimately could not afford the work flow. After miltary service I returned and started again but still could not afford the work flow. I canned the whole dream.

About 10 years ago a friend showed up with a sony hi 8 camcorder. I then realized my time had come!!!

while I loved shooting film it was not really practical.

Even with current HDV if you do your job right with a decent camera the imagery is spectacular!!!!

After a job is in the can with film what have you spent, something like 40 dollars a foot?? And, fifty feet flies by not counting retakes!!

If I win the lottery I may think different, but I would not even consider film anymore. As film useage decreases, processing costs are going to increase even more.

Good luck with the endevor!!!
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 03:38 AM   #11
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Film is great, and for reasonable costs you can have the whole thing dumped on to a HDD for editing. S16 looks better than video from any camera. For a short film, with an eye towards prudent use, you won't need a lot of film. If you're shooting a two hour interview, maybe it's a bad choice.
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