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Does 3-Perf actually save you money?


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#1 Alexander Boyd

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 02:19 PM

Hello everyone, 

 

I have only little experience with 35mm film, yet I'm thinking about purchasing a 35mm camera to change exactly that. For some reason however (maybe I've simply been misinformed by the lab that I was asking) I have the feeling that labs charge more for 3-Perf 35mm (because they need to change alignments on their telecine?) so that in the end, 3-Perf actually wouldn't save me that much money and I could just as well go with a 4-Perf camera?

 

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience!


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 02:39 PM

No, labs do not charge more for 3-perf (at least, no lab I've ever dealt with).

The only additional cost of 3-perf is if you need a 4-perf 35mm print for projection, and that's only compared to contact printing 4-perf -- if you were going to do a D.I. anyway, then it doesn't matter.
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#3 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 02:41 PM

3 perf will save you 25% of your stock and processing costs. That could be a considerable amount of money if you plan on shooting a lot of material. Never heard of a telecine costing more for 3 perf. TK dailies are usually done on a per foot basis, so you'd save there too.


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#4 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 03:27 PM

I was considering shooting 3 perf in the past but I found that the camera cost itself tended to offset the savings I would get. There were few places that offered the conversion and it was VERY expensive. Other than that, it would be a great idea. If you have the hookup on a cheap camera and the desire to shoot 35mm then it would be only a little more, I believe, over shooting S16.


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#5 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 10:07 PM

There are a few methodologies at play here.

4 perf cameras are a dime a dozen, literally. Most sellers, are having to sell them for almost crap metal prices, which is INSANE. You can pickup a decent, quiet, large and hungry, 4 perf Super 35mm camera for under 3k any day of the week. You can pick one up, shoot the film and sell it right after and you've not missed a beat. Plus, if you ever plan on going back to film, 4 perf is really the only way to do it.

3 and 2 perf cameras are much more money and very few people are selling them. So doing the whole turn around thing on buying and selling, can be a lot more difficult and costly. Then you're also stuck to using 1.85:1 or 2.35:1, unless you have a lot of money and can rent 1.3x anamorphic lenses for the 3 perf camera. You're also using less negative then Super 35mm 4 perf, so more grain, noise and on 2 perf, the potential for hairs in the gate. The days of doing a blow up from 3 perf to 4 perf for a decent rate, those are long gone. Most labs charge a lot of money for that work, like $2.50 a foot or more.

I personally don't feel 3 perf is worth the aggravation of not being able to do inexpensive prints. If you're gonna do a film workflow, you've gotta shoot 4 perf. If you're gonna do a digital workflow, then you can shoot 2 or 3 perf without a problem and "fix it in post". 2 perf is the cheapest way to shoot 35mm, even if you count in rental cost. We're talking HALF the price for everything; raw stock, processing, transfer, etc.. The money saved can be put into a better camera package AND have more left over for other departments. I've budgeted all three 35mm options and S16. Honestly, 2 perf and S16 are VERY close in price, if you're doing a digital finish.

In the end, I still prefer S16 over 35mm any day of the week. Smaller/lighter cameras, cheaper cameras, cheaper lenses, cheaper stock/processing, filmic image and if you use lower ASA stocks, it's very clean. A lot of people waste money shooting 35mm because they want that "look" but a lot of that can be achieved through clever cinematic techniques during production on narrow gauge formats.
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#6 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 10:20 PM

You're also using less negative then Super 35mm 4 perf, so more grain, noise and on 2 perf, the potential for hairs in the gate. The days of doing a blow up from 3 perf to 4 perf for a decent rate, those are long gone. Most labs charge a lot of money for that work, like $2.50 a foot or more.
 

3 perf super 1.85:1 has the same neg area as 4 perf super 1.85. It's the gap between frames that gets smaller, not the neg area.


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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 10:30 PM

Yes, the 1.85 area is the same size in 3-perf and 4-perf Super-35 and is larger than standard 1.85 in 4-perf.

The only grain advantage for 4-perf over 3-perf is for 2X anamorphic photography or 1.37 Academy.

And if you are going to do a photochemical finish using contact printing, then you'd be using standard 1.85 instead of Super-35.

If you don't know whether you'll be shooting for a contact print or digital finish, or if you want to shoot 2X anamorphic, then get a 4-perf camera but if you're planning on a digital post and release, and don't plan on shooting 2X anamorphic, then get a 3-perf camera. But if this is a one-off project with a set number of shooting days, then just rent.
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#8 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 11:19 PM

3 perf super 1.85:1 has the same neg area as 4 perf super 1.85. It's the gap between frames that gets smaller, not the neg area.


I was referring to 2.35:1 anamorphic shooting, (one of the only real benefits to 4 perf).
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#9 Dirk DeJonghe

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Posted 12 May 2016 - 12:44 AM

We charge processing and cleaning per meter and telecine and scanning per minute. Some labs have a price for processing and scanning per foot, this means you get more minutes for the same footage when using 3Perf instead of 4Perf. Maybe this leads to the confusion?


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#10 Alexander Boyd

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Posted 12 May 2016 - 07:41 AM

Thank you everyone for the valuable feedback! Since I'll exclusively go for digital post and release 3-Perf is, in my case, the way to go. Luckily, I also have a hook-up for a relatively inexpensive 3-Perf camera.

 

I've also considered sticking with 16mm, yet in my environment a 16mm camera can be rented much more easily than a 35mm camera. Eg. I've determined that it's worth investing in a 3-Perf 35mm camera. If the funds for a project would be insufficient for 35mm, I could always rent a 16mm camera for cheap. This would not be as easy the other way around. 

 

Again, thanks for your help. I look forward reading and learning much more from you! :)


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