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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old May 5th, 2006, 12:05 PM   #1
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I want to shoot on film, not video. Possible?

Hey everyone,
I've been away from videomaking for about a year now and finally decided to get back into it. We have an opportunity to shoot a promotional video (about 5mins long) with a decent size budget and are looking at our camera options. I currently own a DVX100.

Recently, some friends shot a Tourism commercial for the state of Texas and they used an old Bolex hand-held film camera and nothing more. The weather was bad and they just used available light. I guess you could say they were "running and gunning" at whatever interested them, but the end product came out fantastic.

You can view the short 30sec footage here: http://www.traveltex.com/texas_ads_tv.asp?ad=camera

My question, how expensive is it to shoot on a film camera like they did and edit it? I really like the film look from using film cameras. I shot some 8mm film stuff in college, but that was a few years back, so I kind of forgot how expensive it was (school paid for it). How would you edit the film?

If the budget was right, would you use film and not DV?
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Old May 5th, 2006, 02:25 PM   #2
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shooting on 8mm film isn't that expensive but if I were gonna shoot on film, I'd really shoot on 16mm or, if the budget allows, 35mm.
If I were choosing between 8mm and DV, I'd probably just go with the DVX100 and spend money on lighting and other stuff that'll really make the video look a lot nicer.
What kind of a project are you shooting?
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Old May 5th, 2006, 02:38 PM   #3
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I wanted to get my feet wet with film too so some time ago I found a good deal on a Canon Scoopic 16mm film camera on ebay for $275.00US. It turned out to be a very good deal as the camera and glass were in great condition, but YMMV. I ordered 2 rolls of 7246 from Kodak for $54.00 and found a local place to process and telecine the film to mini-dv for $100.00. Total cost for about 4 minutes of 16mm footage on mini-dv ready to edit, including the cost of a camera, was $429.00. In my opinion that's a good deal and I'm nothing but delighted everytime I shoot with it. For a 5min promo you'll probably want to shoot about 20min of footage but you could use less depending on your subject matter and if you plan your shots carefully.

But be careful if you plan the low-low-low budget method of using e-bay for a camera. There are many deals to be had, but Caveat Emptor. Even better deals can be had on the tank like Arri-s from places like Duall Camera, of which I've had dealings and they're great guys, and Visual Products.

Hope this helps.
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Old May 5th, 2006, 02:48 PM   #4
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My caveat emptor would be in the telecine process--if it's cheaply done, you'll be wasting your money by shooting film. Tim, that's great that you were able to transfer your footage so cheaply and were happy with it, but I would wager that this would not be the case at most places. A "real" telecine i.e. via flying spot scanner rather than filmchain) is normally many hundreds of dollars an hour.

If one is going for a down-and-dirty/grainy sort of look, then a cheap transfer may even contribute to this look.
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Old May 5th, 2006, 04:25 PM   #5
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Thanks guys, I'd love to hear feedback from others if you've got it. I don't know, it seems that you can't reallly screw up your shots when shooting film...from what I remember, even if the faces came out underexposed, it still looked great. However, video is video and everyone has done it. But film, there's still magic in them film strips.
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Old May 5th, 2006, 06:22 PM   #6
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You're right Charles. A high quality transfer is indeed expensive and you do get what you pay for. My transfer was a simple one-light on a Rank. It certainly was no match for a best-light on a Spirit, nor did I intend or expect it to be. It did suit and serve my purposes however and the grain added "texture" to the image that certainly differentiated it from video.

My intent with the post was to show that, depending on the job, many times you can still shoot on film. I remember years ago wondering how indies found a budget to shoot on film and after doing some research, found that it's really not that hard if you give it a good college try. But, as with anything else, you should research it a bit before jumping in. As Charles said, you certainly want to get your moneys worth from the experience and please the client. But if you give it a bit of thought, you certainly can pull it off if you really want to.

Nick.... I would agree that there is something "magical" about film and if you have the chance you certainly should try it... even if its super8.
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