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Old December 21st, 2011, 05:40 PM   #1
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Learning Film

Hey all,

i am wanting to learn film. I am from the UK.

I want to learn how to load etc and shoot film 35mm and 16mm. I am looking at the NFTS course which looks great. Anybody been on it?

Is it best to approach rental houses and ask for work experience. I love shooting film stills etc.

Love to transfer that to motion now:)

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Old December 21st, 2011, 09:20 PM   #2
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Re: Learning Film

For the cost of the course you can rent a super 16 camera for a week + film and shoot to your heart's content. Also, the rental guys will help and teach you how to use the camera. You might even get a better deal than their established rates for production.

But at the end of the day, once you learn the basics, you'll have to practice. The best way to do that is to assist a DP. Hope this helps.
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Last edited by Sareesh Sudhakaran; December 21st, 2011 at 09:26 PM. Reason: typo
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Old December 22nd, 2011, 04:28 PM   #3
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Re: Learning Film

I learned just a couple months ago that NO MORE film motion picture cameras are being manufactured.


The major manufacturers have all shifted their focus to digital motion picture gear, the first example that comes to mind is Arriflex. The Arri Alexa has been out in the field and has been used on several feature length motion pictures.

Red has had the Red One and Red Epic out for over a year now. "The Hobbit" is in production and 48 Red Epic cameras are being used, mostly in 3D pairs.

Birns & Sawyer, one of big rental houses on the west coast has sold off and auctioned off all of their film motion picture gear.

Motion picture film is dying. The film cameras out in the field will likely be maintained as long as film is available, some directors have said they will use film to the very end...But that day will come. There will come a time when it will no longer be profitable for the film manufacturers to continue to provide film and I think that day will hit fast when it does.

Frankly, I look for that day to come very soon. Look at all the film choices that have vanished in the still film market. One of the people I know who has done a lot of stock work finally switched to digital because he had a very hard time finding and purchasing Ektachrome processing chemistry.

I would not waste any money or time trying to learn to work with film. For all practical purposes I think that medium will be dead within 2 to 4 years if not sooner.
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Old December 22nd, 2011, 04:34 PM   #4
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Re: Learning Film

Thanks for the replies.

I would love to learn it, yes it is slowly diminishing but they have brought new 50d stock out. Which is virtually grain free looks awesome.

There are too many cinematographers that won't let film die, i agree digital is good at the moment and strong. Its all downn to cost. But the best dp's are the ones who have mastered film. so much skill.

Just would love to learn how to shoot 16mm sr3 and 35mm and load them :). Need to try some rental houses :)
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Old December 22nd, 2011, 05:20 PM   #5
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Re: Learning Film

The life expectancy of a film camera is probably 20 years, so there are enough cameras out there to keep film going for quite a while. Some film cameras have had working lives of over 50 years, Kodak are introducing new stocks, however, I suspect the main uses will be on feature films and commercials. If you're doing it, you need 35mm knowledge more than Super 16.

If it's worthwhile learning how to load depends on your local market and if you're going to get film work. You can go to the rental houses and they'll let you practise loading. The advantage of the course will be you'll learn the correct procedures, which is important in a professional environment, although I suspect you'll need to do some reading in advance and go down the rental houses afterwards. Unfortunately, you won't really have the skills to be a working AC after the course, you'll need to get set experience on productions as a camera trainee. You could check with Skillset regarding the latter, plus any possible funding if you're already wotking in the film & TV industry.

Film DPs don't employ camera assistants who don't know what they're doing, so you need to learn the skills if you want work with them. Certainly the film A.C. skills transfer over very easily to large sensor digital cameras.
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Old December 30th, 2011, 03:29 AM   #6
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Re: Learning Film

True, but there are less and less film cameras being used and there are a lot of guys out there that have tons of experience and looking for work. It's not likely to have a lot of calling. But you gotta follow your passion !
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Old December 30th, 2011, 03:57 AM   #7
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Re: Learning Film

Generally I wouldn't bother learning film specific skills such as loading etc as it is becoming less used as digital becomes more of a viable replacement, as said there are plenty of people already chasing the top end jobs so I would concentrate on getting yourself a good grounding in the overall skill set required to shoot good pictures.

You can research and learn the principles of filmic shooting and you would be wise to start with a couple of good books, I just got this one for christmas and it is a good starter: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cinematography-Theory-Practice-Cinematographers-Directors/dp/0240812093/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

he also does a lighting one that I already have: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Motion-Picture-Video-Lighting-Blain/dp/0240807634/ref=pd_sim_b_5

There is some great gear that is lower cost and more available these days but don't get bogged down with thinking that you need top end kit to get good results, it would be great if we all had RED's and Alexa's but at the end of the day they are all just a tool of the trade and learning the principles are far more important than knowing just how to operate a specific piece of kit.
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Old December 31st, 2011, 09:16 AM   #8
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Re: Learning Film

I think it really depends if you want to work on high end productions. Loading is one aspect, but if want to work on high end dramas etc, you often need to build up the other skills that camera assistants have. Whether you learn many of those particular skills on a film camera or a digital camera sometimes doesn't matter, although you do need to feel comfortable with the menus and other aspects that you find on the digital cameras.

Lighting is entirely another skill to knowing your way around a camera. Many top DPs have up through the assistant camera route, while also getting DP experience on shorts and lower budget productions, until they're in a position to become head of department on larger productions. The advantage is that you know the politics of the set working with larger crews and even larger egos.
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Old December 31st, 2011, 10:37 AM   #9
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Re: Learning Film

Sadly, film seems to be muchly had it for the future. 35mm may endure and I hope 16mm will too. It comes down to affordability. Where film will endure is whilst there remain low cost cameras and glass to shoot with. You can buy a lot of film for the cost of renting a film-grade video camera.

The killer is the neg process costs, fewer labs, longer shipping distances, risk of shipping loss, telecine/scan and of course the doubt factor until you have the rushes in hand.

However even that game is being pushed off the table by the digital SLR cameras for the low budget player.

If I could affordably shoot with film I would. I have the S16 cameras and good glass which fortunately migrated quite nicely to SI2K digital cinema camera.

In meantime to whet your appetite or send you screaming for the hills as the case may be, here is how-to clip for the CP16R 16mm film camera. There are four others under DARANGULAFILM on Youtube. You will also find comparable clips on other camera types in the thumbnail suggestions on the right of the youtube screen.

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