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Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


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Old February 10th, 2004, 02:45 PM   #76
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Thanks for the info Michael, it's interesting to hear. When the A-Minima was introduced, it was aimed at student and low budget filmmakers, and I hadn't heard if it had been adopted by that sector or not. We used to bring it in for days on "Scrubs" where we would strap it to gurneys, lash it into the ceiling, tie it onto actor's bodies, whatever! Sort of a pickle to thread as I recall. But yes, I think it's cool also. And I am intrigued about the small form factor and it's effect on actors--although when the camera is pointed at the actor, they only see it from the front, if they even notice it at all. Depends on the actor, I guess. I think the location and intensity of the lighting plus the amount of crew has more to do with it than the camera, myself. Altman keeps his cameras distant on long zooms to achieve the same thing.
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Old February 10th, 2004, 02:53 PM   #77
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decisions, decisons......

I am currently beginning a project and had been debating which format to shoot with. Since there is a sci-fi aspect to it, with difficult acting, I had been banging my head against the wall on how to make my decision.

There are many difficulties in shooting with HD (DV also), yes you can see your results instantainously, and no they don't look that good. Somewhere in the area of the Sesame Street tv series and a cheap Spanish Soap Opera. The image is super flat and there are hot spots all over the place. The same goes for DV. Now this is all fine for documentaries, TV or fun [or even urgency as in "The Celebration"] but to get to blowup to 35mm you have to get more serious about the quailty.

Basically film set the standard for the floaty, dream like effect and its organic reproduction of how the human eye works and focuses. So we in the Digital community are trying to get to that level without all the headaches film brings.

Doing further research, I went to a small seminar this past weekend on the HD transfer process to film set up by a company called Swiss Effect for a film just release called Robot Stories. The took us through this elaborate method of shooting on a (borrowed) HD, editing it on FC, rolling it out to DVCAM for a tape to tape color correction, tranfering to film, then once again tranfering again to more film for another level of color correction and once again out to DVD for festival distribution. Using many, many free favors along the way toward their film look. The final result was that it DID look like film with the bounce, scratches, hair and final film contrast that kicked in-but it was a dizzy array of transfers, tests and favors that got them to that point, it all made my head spin.

When we asked about the final price from the director, the Swiss Rep., the producers, etc. there were lot's of "coughs," "ahems" and "well..." followed by numbers like $22k here or $37k here, and $300 per hour x 6 days a week, and 2 more days at $500 per hour, but that took 24 hours, and $2k for the answer print and another $6k here and there for the 35mm blowup..., blah, blah, blah-and well then there are the favors of course... and ending up NEVER getting a full amount of the project.

It seemed to me that going Digital, you either 1) have to be happy with the look you get, or aim for that look. 2) Realize it's distracting and TRY and make it look like film (see above). 3) or just shoot on S16 film transfer to 35mm and bypass all the mumbo jumbo.

So I've chosen to do my next project on S16 [most likely an Arri converted-since a-minima as so exponse] with DV (not HD) shots thrown in for sci-fi diversity.

True RR is famous for his DIY attitude, he's also suppose to be a real pain to work with-which would make sense in that he HAS to work alone vs. wanting to work alone. The color on his Spykids and newest projects looks like a high-dollar Nickelodian series. Sad but true.

Nice thread.
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Old February 10th, 2004, 03:38 PM   #78
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Re: decisions, decisons......

<<<-- Originally posted by Dino Reyes : There are many difficulties in shooting with HD (DV also), yes you can see your results instantainously, and no they don't look that good. Somewhere in the area of the Sesame Street tv series and a cheap Spanish Soap Opera. -->>>

Maybe you should get a DP who knows what they are doing?


<<< -- The image is super flat and there are hot spots all over the place. The same goes for DV. The color on his Spykids and newest projects looks like a high-dollar Nickelodian series. Sad but true. -->>>

That's not very accurate of a description, is it?

This thread keeps going in one huge circle. It's like a Black Hole.
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Old February 10th, 2004, 04:32 PM   #79
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Belics : "Techniscope - a format close to 16mm in resolution."

Huh? Techniscope was shot on 35mm.

"The camera original had to be printed (optical) to a 35mm anamorphic print. You loose a lot of quality in the process. I don't don't doubt for one second that Rodriguez can do that with a modern day HD camera and still have a better image."

You lose quality in an optical process but it doesn't degrade to the level of HD. Because Techniscope wasn't squeezed, some think it had a better picture than Cinemascope. Something like they do with Super35 today. There is more of the negative used than Academy 35. So, if anything, you could say Tech was better due to the larger image.

RR gets more shots because he doesn't plan ahead of time to the detail that film directors do. So he wastes more time getting those shots and having to review them later.

RRs use of zoom lenses is a step down in quality from primes. He is not to be commended for this. -->>>

Yes Techniscope is 35mm. It uses only 2 and not 4 perforations (half the resolution compared to Academy). Which brings down the resolution of the frame pretty darn close to a S-16mm negative. And my opinion is that HD has the capability to produce image quality that holds up th well shot S-16mm. So Rodriguez are on the right track if he's trying to recreate a Leone film. The typical look of Leone is not Cinemascope - it's Techniscope.

Getting a lot of shots does not mean a high shooting ratio. Not if you shoot like Rodriguez. Listen to one of his audio commentarys. He almost always bring that up. He very seldom do more than two takes on anything. Most of the time it's only one take but he "edits in his head" as he shoots. He knows which parts of different takes are going to end up in the edited sequence. That's a talent not many directors have and one to be respected. I don't think he sits in the edit suite stressing out over all the covarage he's got. My guess is he edit's pretty fast since it's more a mechanical process. The movie is already edited in the camera. As I understand it he hates to interupt the flow of shooting with to much camera fuzz. He needs someone checking back focus and a good zoom and he's on his way. That appeals to me a lot and represents the eccense in the advantage of shooting digital.

I talked to a BBC DP not long ago and he was in praise of the extreme high quality in the latest stock of Fujinon zooms. Sharpest optics in the world according to him (and I know british BBC DP's are real anal about stuff like that). He said he'd tested them alongside the Panavision Primes for HDCAM and they didn't stand a chance. Now Lucas are using the Fujinons and not the Panavisions on EPIII.
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Old February 10th, 2004, 06:05 PM   #80
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2-perf only decreases the frame size in the vertical direction but maintains the horizontal. Nothing is lost since this vertical area would be masked off anyway when projected or in post.

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He very seldom do more than two takes on anything.
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That certainly explains a lot of things.

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he "edits in his head" as he shoots. That's a talent not many directors have
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Many directors edit in their head. Some don't and only get the shots they think they need. This is nothing new.

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My guess is he edit's pretty fast since it's more a mechanical process.
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I'm waiting for all those editors out there to chime in about editing just being a mechanical process.

His fast editing also explains a lot of things.
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It is physically impossible for zooms to maintain mechanical alignment through the length of their travel. They also contain more elements than prime lenses. When built, primes are adjusted for maximum quality at one point. So how can a zoom compete with that?
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Old February 12th, 2004, 07:28 PM   #81
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"2-perf only decreases the frame size in the vertical direction but maintains the horizontal. Nothing is lost since this vertical area would be masked off anyway when projected or in post."

Objection. The usual process to achieve a 2,35:1 projected aspect ratio is either to shoot anamorphic - which is more than double the negative resolution compared to 2-perf Techniscope. 2,35:1 is never "masked of" in a theatre. Only 1,85:1 or 1,66:1 are masked or "matted" in projection. A Techniscope negative is blown up to an anamorphic print for theatrical distribution. There are no Techniscope projectors out there. The other more common way to shoot 2,35:1 is by shooting super35. The "advantage" of super35 is that it can be shot for "open matte" 4x3 TV-viewing without cropping the sides of the image. super35 hasn't got the resolution of a true anamorphic negative but it's has a lot more resolution than Techniscope.

Techniscope is half the image resolution of Cinemascope. Half the resolution of a 35mm image is pretty close to super16.

"I'm waiting for all those editors out there to chime in about editing just being a mechanical process."

I did'nt say that film editing is just a mechanical process. I said it's probably a mechanical process for Rodriguez as he is also his own editor and he has already edited in camera. Much like it was to Hitchcock who also edited in camera. His reason for it was to maintain control over final cut. There are many ways to make a film. And there's no right or wrong in my book. A lot of people like Rodriguez movies so who are we to judge that he's doing it all wrong?
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Old February 12th, 2004, 09:45 PM   #82
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>>shoot anamorphic - which is more than double the negative >>resolution

Squeezing an image into the same size space does not increase resolution. That's like using an anamorphic lens on a dv camera with 786 horizontal pixels and saying now you have 1572 pixels. It doesn't create resolution.

Both techniscope and Super35 shoot full width of the negative, hence, they have the same resolving power. So does CinemaScope.

By "editing in camera" you aren't saying they transfer those edits directly to the finished product, are you?
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Old February 13th, 2004, 10:03 AM   #83
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I have to disagree once again. Super35 and Techniscope does not have the negative reolution of a scope image. They are not the same size at all. I could'nt find a web graphic of the different scope processes so I made one myself. Note the size of the full frame scope negative compared to the others. I did the graphics in a hurry so they're not completely correct. They're just meant to clarify the priciple behind the scope process and how techniscope only uses half (2-perf) of the full frame negative compared to scope that uses the full frame (4-perf). A theatrical scope print is 4-perf. That means you have to blow 2-perf techiscope up to 4-perf for projection. And keep in mind that super35 is a 3-perf process.

Here's the graphic:
http://www.operafilm.com/Images/scope.jpg

The equivalent to the Techniscope technique on a DV-frame would be that you shot the image at a resolution of 720x240. Remember that Techniscope is only using half the 35mm negative - and that would be half the DV image. Using a scope lens on that same camera would uitilize the full 720x480. That's the techichal difference between the processes. Providing you have a good lens the 720x480 image will look better projected than the 720x240.

By editing in camera I mean that you never ever do any master, two shots or close ups of the whole scene. You just shoot exactly what you're going to use in the editing. In the case of Hitchcock the editor really only trimmed the edges in most edits. Trimming is an artform too but you could really only edit a Hitchcock movie in one way. There wasn't much room (or footage) for creative editing like you see in other great films.
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Old February 13th, 2004, 12:39 PM   #84
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Rob, no one's gonna make Lawrence of Arabia on a MiniDV cam. :)
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Old February 13th, 2004, 04:42 PM   #85
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No.

But they will make "Larry of Arcadia"

: )
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Old February 14th, 2004, 07:10 AM   #86
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I'm really looking forward to see some HDCAM SR footage. Anyone out there that has?

Finally they're going the RGB route using 4:4:4. My guess is the next Star Wars intallment will be a major step up in image quality.
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