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Old October 29th, 2006, 05:08 AM   #1
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Movie making: 16mm vs HDV vs SDV

Basically I have had this question in my head that if 4:4:4 HD is equal to 35mm then what’s equal to 16mm?

There has been a lot of talk about resolution and not much talk on here about compression. So if I want to shoot a movie and eventually have it transferred to 35 and shown in theaters, which format is best to shoot on? Your choices are… Any kind of 16mm, super or regular. Any kind of HDV camera (not just HD, it has to use the HDV compression). And any kind of SD mini DV camera (also using the DV codec). I know 16mm is uncompressed (duh), has a “cinema gamma curve” (another duh), has a resolution equal to HD, but has more grain/noise then digital especially when shooting with a higher ASA making the image muddy. HDV has no grain/noise (or very little) only some cameras have a “cinema gamma curve”, has the same resolution as 16mm (kinda) but its very heavily compressed, and as far as I know no HDV camera can shoot 2k progressive scan yet. SDV has a resolution less then 1k, has no grain/noise (or very little), some cameras have a “cinema gamma curve”, some cameras can shoot 24 progressive, and it isn’t as compressed as HDV. I am aware that many different formats of 16mm, HDV, and SDV exists and of course they are included. But as far as I know those are the advantages and pitfalls of the above formats.

4:4:4 4k with grain equals 4:4:4 2k with no grain. Well what’s 4:4:4 2k with grain equal to? 4:4:4 1k with no grain?
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Old October 29th, 2006, 05:22 AM   #2
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Maybe it would help to look at some films which were shot in the various formats and then blown up to 35mm:
28 days later - shot on DV
Leaving Las Vegas - shot on super 16mm
El Mariachi - shot on Standard 16mm
Star wars ep.2+3, Sin City - HD
I don't know of any HDV films yet, but there must be some out there...
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Old October 29th, 2006, 05:35 AM   #3
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Now I’m not including star wars 2 and 3 because they were shot with 4:2:2 HD, not HDV. And in my opinion 28 days later isn’t a good example because it was shot at 25fps 4X3 and then matted to 16X9, they used high gain at times and no cinema gamma curve. El Mariachi, on the other hand, is exactly the kinda movie I am looking at. Is there an El Mariachi esque movie shot in SDV or HDV? Another problem it that I can’t watch prints of these. The only way I can compare compressed video is on a higher compressed DVD lol (not to good for judging what it looked like in 35). Basically I wanna look at the best 16mm, the best SDV, and the best HDV and say "thats the best format". Another thing I wanna bring up is the lattitude of the formats. Thanx for the fast response.
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Old October 29th, 2006, 09:02 PM   #4
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I believe that Once Upon a Time In Mexico, and Sin City were both shot on HD
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Old October 29th, 2006, 11:12 PM   #5
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Yes. They were. Mexico was shot on 4:2:2 HD with the Sony F-900. Sin City was the first movie to be shot uncompressed 4:4:4 color timing. Robert Rodriguez upgraded to the F-950 for that movie. Isnít it ironic that the first movie to have color sampling for each frame was a black and white movie? lol

Anyways these movies were shot on HD, not HDV. The reason Iím asking this is because I am going to direct a movie this December but I donít have the money to pay for 35mm or to rent an HD cinema camera and all the hardware that goes with it. I do however have the money for 16mm and I know plenty of people with HDV and SDV cameras I can borrow. This movie will have a few key visual effect shots and I was wondering if the uncompressed nature of 16mm would really matter, or if I could get away with shooting it HDV or SDV. As far as color sampling goes SDV and HDV are the same but HDV is stored as an MPEG and SDV as AVI. An SD AVI file has more information per pixel then a HD MPEG but an HD MPEG has more pixels then an SD AVI. HDV has more artifacts then SDV. 16mm has the most resolution and best color timing but has a lot of grain especially because I will have to use at least an 800 ASA film and no artifacts.

So basically what format should I shoot with? What will give me the most versatility, the best look, the most information when digitized? I know this is a heavily debated subject, so this is your chance to debate. Heck if you want lets bring in 4:4:4 HD and 35mm. I kind of want strengths and weaknesses of each format from people who have used them so I can make a better-educated decision. Thanx everyone.
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Old October 30th, 2006, 12:46 AM   #6
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Just for reference, some recent movies shot on Super 16:

The Last King of Scotland
http://www.apple.com/trailers/fox_se...ingofscotland/

Transamerica
http://www.apple.com/trailers/weinst...rica/trailer1/

Dirty
Angenieux 11.5-138mm
http://www.apple.com/trailers/independent/dirty/

The Station Agent
Fuji F-64D, F-250D and Kodak 7274
Aaton XTR, Zeiss Superspeed
http://www.apple.com/trailers/mirama...station_agent/

The Squid and the Whale
Kodak 7218 (500T) and 7246 (250D)
Zeiss Superspeed
http://www.apple.com/trailers/indepe...whale/trailer/

Junebug
Kodak 7218 (500T)
Arriflex 16 SR-3, Zeiss Superspeed
http://www.apple.com/trailers/sony/junebug.html

The Ballad of Jack and Rose
Kodak 7218 (500T)
ARRI 16SR3s Canon zoom lens.
http://www.apple.com/trailers/indepe...ckandrose.html

American Gun
Kodak 7128 (500T) and 7212 (100T)
Aaton XTRProd, Canon 7-63mm and Canon 11-165mm
http://www.apple.com/trailers/indepe...angun/trailer/

Half Nelson
Kodak Vision2 Expression 500T (7229)
Arri SR-3, Canon 11-165mm, Zeiss Superspeed
http://www.apple.com/trailers/thinkf...elson/trailer/

Twelve And Holding
Kodak Vision2 500T (7218)
Arri SR-3, Zeiss Superspeed (35mm)
http://www.apple.com/trailers/indepe...lding/trailer/

Old Joy
Kodak Vision2 250D (7205)
Aaton A-Minima
http://www.apple.com/trailers/indepe...ldjoy/trailer/
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Old December 5th, 2007, 06:35 AM   #7
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I'd suggest HDV. It's cheap. ;)
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Old December 5th, 2007, 07:14 AM   #8
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Year ago when video cameras were about as mobile and agile as a forty four gallon drum full of water, outdoors stuff was shot on film and intercut with the video interiors.

With today's modern editing and effects software, there is probably little reason why mix and match should not occur more than it does.

The expensive and high shooting ratio stuff like dialogue close-ups and reverses could be worked with HDV, the highly textured wide-angle stuff where resolution counts could be reserved for film.
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Old December 5th, 2007, 08:01 AM   #9
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The difference between film and video cannot be adequately summed up in terms of resolution and compression. There is a qualitative difference in feel between the media. This can be seen when HD footage is scanned to 35mm for projection vs the digital projection; at its very best (2K or better camera and expertly shot), HD projected on 35mm will be virtually impossible to detect, save for a possible motion cadence that subtly cues the discriminating viewer. However it is tough to shoot 1080 or less coupled with a 2/3 or smaller chip and transfer out to film and yet duplicate the visual of film originated material.

The primary difference visually between 35mm and 16mm used to be the grain; modern filmstocks have leveled the playing field somewhat and very carefully shot Super16mm can be blown up to 35mm and projected without "tipping" the viewer. Avoiding high speed stocks is one way to achieve this (I had no idea that "The Station Agent" was shot on 16, but it did have a lot of day exterior). The deeper depth of field is another factor, with Super16 approximating the look of 2/3" video. And I have heard it claimed that 16mm does not have the same latitude as 35mm, although I have yet to understand why this would be the case (read a white paper about it years ago but it didn't stick).

So to this end, I would have to suggest that the "equivalent" of Super16 in the video world is simply 2/3" 1080 HD (more accurately, 2/3" 2K HD, but I can't think of a camera that delivers this). I would not be inclined to bring color sampling into the equation as that is something that does not have its peer in the film world (having viewed 2K Genesis footage shot at both 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 mode intercut, I believe the differences to be too subtle for the purposes of this particular discussion). And the difference between 35mm footage with a 4K vs 2K digital intermediate transferred back to 35mm does not resemble the difference between 35mm and 16mm--again, these are parameters that don't have specific parallels in the film world.

Cripes, this is heady stuff.

Bob, I don't agree with you that mix-and-match is a great idea, particularly with a format such as HDV. Even at its best, 35mm intercut with a 2K35mm sensor camera such as the Genesis (haven't seen Dalsa or D20 intercut with film yet so I can't comment) is a challenging match. Intercutting a 1/3" HDV camera with any format of film would be pushing things a bit. Possibly from scene to scene you could get away with it without it being jarring, but going from a wide master to coverage while mixing formats feels like a tough route unless it was a stylistic choice. That said, 98% of the viewing audience may not be able to identify the difference, but I suspect that a significant portion of them may be able to "feel" it (in the way that an audience can identify certain things as looking "cheap").
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Old December 5th, 2007, 09:19 AM   #10
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Charles.

On reflection, my comment probably qualifies for the category of "talk is cheap, real results are harder to come by."

Certainly in the sixties, the jump from studio TV interiors to filmed exteriors did stick out like a sore thumb, the 25P film cadence for one versus the PAL video origination and the then apparent softer resolution of the film stocks to telecine.

What I was imagining was reserving the film usage for shots that were distinctly different to minimise that "jarring" effect you refer to, the beauty shots if you like, which stand out as something different.

Wide masters would be shot on the HDV to match the twoshots, close-ups and reverses.

These are the dialogue heavy ones which make the sound of a film camera eerily similar to that of the price meter of a gasoline pump going full bore when take after take after take has to happen because somebody fluffs their performance, then when they get it right, somebody else drops the ball.

The predominent media would be the video but an establishing shot of a cabin in a forest would look better if the tiny trees in distant background with sky behind looked a little more defined than the green-blue haze signature of video.

Last edited by Bob Hart; December 5th, 2007 at 09:20 AM. Reason: error
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Old December 5th, 2007, 09:49 AM   #11
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For the record MARCH OF THE PENGUINS was also shot on Super 16.

Camera
Aaton XTR Prod

Film negative format (mm/video inches)
16 mm (Kodak Vision2 500T 7218, Eastman EXR 50D 7245)

Cinematographic process
Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format)
Super 16 (source format)

Printed film format
35 mm (blow-up)

And looked awfully damned good.


Aspect ratio
1.85 : 1
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Old December 5th, 2007, 10:30 AM   #12
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It's been awhile since I've looked these things up, so I don't know how many places specialize in video to film transfers, but they usually included online clips that gave a pretty good idea of what you would get given the different origination formats. And if you visited the facility, you could even get a 'samples' screening.

It may have changed since I looked, which is more than 5 years ago, but the transfer costs back to film were very expensive, certainly noticeable in any post budget.
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Old December 5th, 2007, 01:05 PM   #13
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This was shot on using HDV, the JVC HD100 camera http://www.sonypictures.com.au/movies/gabriel/
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Old December 5th, 2007, 01:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Bowey View Post
This was shot on using HDV, the JVC HD100 camera http://www.sonypictures.com.au/movies/gabriel/
If you're planning to use a format for theatrical release you should check it projected on a large screen. Material screened on TV or computer screens don't mean a thing, it can look sharp on the small screen and horribly out of focus on the big screen.

I've seen "Once", which was shot on HDV projected on 35mm. I guess it's roughly similar to a standard 16mm blow up without grain, however, once you had wide shots it was noticeably lacking in resolution. Certainly, not as good as a Super 16 blow up, but for a low budget feature like this, it does the job.
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Old December 5th, 2007, 09:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
Anyways these movies were shot on HD, not HDV. The reason Iím asking this is because I am going to direct a movie this December but I donít have the money to pay for 35mm or to rent an HD cinema camera and all the hardware that goes with it.
From a practical standpoint, it probably makes more sense to shoot your movie cheap so that you can shoot your second one and third and so on and so forth. Making movies takes practice and experience. Robert Rodriguez apparently shot 200 films before he made El Mariachi.

Quote:
This movie will have a few key visual effect shots and I was wondering if the uncompressed nature of 16mm would really matter, or if I could get away with shooting it HDV or SDV.
Fast film stocks will have a lot of grain and this will be unsuitable for VFX. One VFX supervisor I know says to avoid 500ASA stocks if you're doing greenscreen. (I don't work with film much so I can't say.)

As far as video cameras go, most of the prosumer cameras (HVX, HDV, etc.) have noise that makes certain types of VFX work more difficult. Find someone who knows visual effects and pick their brain. You need to figure out the visual effects aspect *before* you shoot, otherwise you'll spend more time fixing it in post.

Quote:
So basically what format should I shoot with? What will give me the most versatility, the best look, the most information when digitized?
I'd think of it another way... what look are you going for?

Once you've figured that out, then it will be easier to figure out what format you want to shoot on. 28 days later was shot on DV to get a more documentary-type feel to it... obviously they have the money for technically-superior cameras.
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