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Old May 24th, 2003, 05:57 PM   #1
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Yet more thoughts on the Mini 35, DoF, film look...

I have just finished watching a short film that was made for the workshop version of Instant Films, this being the first Instant Film made using a Mini 35 on an XL1 with Zeiss lenses.

The DP opted not to use Frame mode or post software, shooting in good ol' 60i. The film was all shot using interiors.

The shallow depth of field is just what one would expect from the setup. The texture of the ground glass was visible in a few of the shots.

In the ongoing battle of "which is more integral to emulating a film look/feel: shallow DoF or frame rate", I've always been in the frame rate camp. This short only reinforced my position. Having the background out of focus didn't make me feel like I was watching film rather than video. In the fact, the look was almost strange, like an ill-fated marriage! This was not necessarily due to poor lighting (although I had my issues with the choices) but based on the effect of shallow focus combined with the "soap opera" feel of narrative storytelling in a 60i medium.

I then watched another short also made on the XL1, in Frame mode. Unquestionably more cinematic looking/feeling. It didn't bother me that the focus wasn't shallow.

I know this debate will rage on and on (as it has here in the past over countless threads--I couldn't even figure out which one to attach this to, so I gave up and started anew, sorry Chris!).

My vote, between shallow DoF and frame rate (30/24 vs 60): having both is a killer combo. But having to make a choice, I pick frame rate.
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Old May 24th, 2003, 06:46 PM   #2
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I'm with Charles. Even knowing the whole thing is psychological, I still agree.
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Old May 25th, 2003, 06:41 PM   #3
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I agree with Charles that both would be desirable. I don't see any reason to pick between the two really, Frame Mode IMHO just does not degrade the image enough to warrant NOT using it.

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Old May 25th, 2003, 07:27 PM   #4
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I don't understand, gramatically, your comment. All I meant was, when I see something in 30p or 24p, with well composed shots and decent lighting, but deep or infinite depth of field, I still think more highly of it than something shot in 60i, with the lighting and composition, but shallow depth of field.

Like I said, it's all psychological.
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Old May 25th, 2003, 07:53 PM   #5
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Every time I watch a 'pro' film on DVD, I notice there are some shots with shallow DOF, and some with deep DOF. But they all have that film motion quality that must come from the progressive frame rate. The shots with the deep DOF still look like a 'film'.

The one thing I wonder about: I converted some footage from 60i to 24p in Vegas4, and it has a real stuttery look, like old school 8mm or 16mm documentaries/films. How do the 'pro' films shoot in 24p and keep things so smooth?

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Old May 25th, 2003, 08:40 PM   #6
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I finally caught up with the dvd of "Personal Velocity," the other night. Here is a project that was photographed on a PD150, that certainly did not have shallow depth of field, but, transfered to film, and picking up those film characteristics sure made it, well, filmic. As Charles said, no need for shallow depth of field, because the Director of Photography, Ellen Kuras, just put the pedal to the metal and went for it. I am in awe of her talent. And please don't interject any niggling criticisims about the clipping in the highlights. We're not talking about technical nicities here; this is damn the topedoes filmmaking taking advantage of the mobility the small camera offers to your project. I was blown away by the coverage she was able to get, and the unusual perspectives. It's hard for me to believe she didn't use a second camera.

I hate to keep carping on it, but shallow depth of field is just not worth the trouble when there is so much more that the small format cameras can bring to the table. Pay attention to the things that really count, and in the end remember, its all about the lighting.

And what powerful stories and great perfomances. "Personal Velocity" makes "Erin Brockavitch" look like "Cinderella."
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Old May 25th, 2003, 08:47 PM   #7
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I gotta check that out, thanks for the recommendation Wayne.

What really spurned this thread was thinking about how much folks have to pay to rent a Mini 35 setup with a set of primes plus mattebox and follow focus (and really, don't think about doing this without the above, especially the follow focus. Shooting wide open on 35mm lenses is a whole new can of worms if you are used to pulling your own focus on video--unless you like soft shots). It's a great look when combined with 24 or 30p but a lot of time, effort and money, especially compared to the frame rates which come free if you have a camera that offers them. I applaud those who have dug in such as Justin Chin, I would love to have the Mini 35 setup myself but I can't justify it economically.
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Old May 25th, 2003, 08:54 PM   #8
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Feature film work not paying you enough these days?
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Old May 25th, 2003, 10:11 PM   #9
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Believe it or not, Josh, not as much as it used to! Runaway production is taking its toll on most of us--thanks a lot, NAFTA.

Anyway, I was just saying I couldn't justify it. For that kind of $ I could get into that new Panasonic DVCPro50 24P camera and make some SERIOUS pictures, if I was so inclined (but I'm not). I'm not a fan of buying into high-end video gear, it doesn't hold its value long enough for me.
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Old May 26th, 2003, 09:15 AM   #10
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Charles do you own any 16 or 35 mm camera's with the whole
stuff that goes with it? (just wondering)
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Old May 26th, 2003, 10:56 AM   #11
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Rob,

I own a highly modified Arri 2c that I bought from one of the top Steadicam guys, it was the prototype of a ultra-lightweight camera that I used on American History X and fell in love with. I'm actually looking to sell it as I'm not doing the type of jobs I need it for anymore, and owning a film camera is not the best investment these days.

I used to own a Bolex but sold that about 6 years ago after the Bolex craze in commercials/music videos faded out.

I do own a fair amount of support gear starting with the Steadicam, through the Hot Gears, and other gee-gaws like the O'Connor Ultimate head, Chrosziel mattebox and follow focus, onboard monitor etc. The last set of stuff goes on rental at Scrubs as we have two Super 16 packages on that show full time. The nice thing about all that type of gear is that it is mostly non-format dependent and can work in a variety of situations, be they film or digital.

I had considered buying a set of Zeiss primes when I bought the 2c but in retrospect, I'm glad I didn't. It would have been hard to make my money back on those. My guess is that if I did, however, the Mini 35 would have been much more tempting when it came around, especially since I would most likely have been able to make my mattebox and follow focus work with the setup also.
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Old May 27th, 2003, 06:59 AM   #12
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Interesting Charles! Indeed, such lenses together with a
min35 and your mattebox and follow focus would have made
for an impressive system. Althought as you've said earlier,
the mini35 isn't the only thing....

What do you think regarding 24 vs. 25 fps (PAL)?
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Old May 27th, 2003, 09:01 PM   #13
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Rob, I've never shot in PAL so I can't really comment, I've just read what others have said about it. What are your thoughts?
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Old May 28th, 2003, 01:00 AM   #14
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I have shot with pal (25p) AND 16mm film, and the motion characteriscs are exactly (perceivable) the same.

There is a couple differences to be take care of, PAL is quite easy to kill its colours, as i mean, you can go to 0 ire up to around 109, but you will see its colours fly out the window a little bit before clipping the image. It is interesting but i am sure it just has to do with the way it compresses them.

But the other difference i have noticed, from using ntsc gear, is that pal holds a far more uniformed look through its exposure range, where as ntsc does skew it's colours a lot more.

Also 25p with the 2/2 pulldown was smoother wwith sideward movement than ntsc with the 3/2 but that is obvious.

Charles i am assure you that using 24fps to 25fps is practially no difference.

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Old May 28th, 2003, 10:23 AM   #15
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We got hired to shoot this gallery opening for a BBC documentary and had no control over the lights or pretty much anything but we shot with my XL1S in frame mode at 1/30 and I have to say I was amazed at the "filmic" look of the footage.

It really showed me what the camera can do and how frame mode really works for you.
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