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The transition continues...


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#21 K Borowski

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 02:52 AM

I really wouldn't consider Twitter a bastion of truth, although in this case, it is true that 24 (which I inadvertently omitted from my film show list) started the season on 35mm and will, for the moment, stay on 35mm. That might or might not continue to the end of the season, however, and Rodney is constantly looking at various electronic alternatives. So far, none has completely met their needs.


They were one of the first shows, if I recall correctly that was looking at the Genesis. So if it didn't meet their needs five years ago I don't know why it would now.
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#22 Terry Mester

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 04:08 AM

On a positive note this season of 24 started shooting on 35mm, was told it had to switch formats for financial reasons, spent time shooting tests on some of the current crop of HD cameras, and instead went with S16mm. At the last minute the powers that be decided to allow them to continue shooting 35mm instead. Its amazing what you can learn on Twitter nowadays:-)

Does anyone know why any producers would choose to switch from 35mm to HD rather than to Super16? Shooting on S16 shouldn't really be more expensive than HD when you consider the cost of an HD Camera. S16 also provides the colour quality of 35mm.
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#23 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 04:43 AM

I really wouldn't consider Twitter a bastion of truth


I dont consider any online forum a bastion of truth, but in this case listening to Rodney Charters on Twitter is as close to the truth as most outside of LA are likely to find online.
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#24 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 08:43 AM

Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but I've been realizing more and more as I meet other film industry professionals in the real world that your reputation often precedes you.


Happened to me today, and happens on average almost every show I go on. Somebody knows me either from these forums, or Facebook, or whatever.

I can only assume Karl is this forward and opinionated in person.
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#25 Michael Most

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 12:08 PM

Does anyone know why any producers would choose to switch from 35mm to HD rather than to Super16? Shooting on S16 shouldn't really be more expensive than HD when you consider the cost of an HD Camera. S16 also provides the colour quality of 35mm.


It may have similar colorimetry, but it doesn't have the depth of field characteristics, sharpness, or grain characteristics of 35mm. 16mm also creates some problems when you need to do things like visual effects. There are also those that simply dislike the degree of visible grain on most S16 stocks shot under common conditions. With S16, there is also the additional cost - sometimes considerable - of performing dirt cleanup in post, something that is unnecessary with electronic alternatives. So whether S16 is cost competitive with most of the electronic alternatives depends, in part, on whether you look at the big picture.

The move to digital formats today is primarily centered around "big chip" devices like Genesis, F35, D21, and Red, which all provide an image that retains a lot of the characteristics of 35mm capture, in particular, rather shallow depth of field. Having been involved more than once in comparative tests, I can say that for many, the look of modern electronic cameras, such as the ones I just mentioned, is a more pleasing, richer, and cleaner look than that achieved by S16. You may not agree, but that is simply the case. Many of them look at S16 as an attempt to needlessly hang on to film technology. And even though I have a long, long history in film, I have to say that on some level, they have a point.
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#26 Terry Mester

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 07:15 PM

It may have similar colorimetry, but it doesn't have the depth of field characteristics, sharpness, or grain characteristics of 35mm. 16mm also creates some problems when you need to do things like visual effects. There are also those that simply dislike the degree of visible grain on most S16 stocks shot under common conditions. With S16, there is also the additional cost - sometimes considerable - of performing dirt cleanup in post, ...

Did any of those TV shows (who went HD) shoot with 3-perforation Super35? 3-perf S35 would provide the 16:9 ratio of HDTV, and would use 25% less Film than Regular 35mm.

One insurmountable problem with shooting in HD is converting it to DTV or Analogue TV. HD looks crappy and out of proportion when altered to fit other picture ratios. It's much easier to convert a Film Frame to the different TV picture ratios.

Regarding Super16 graininess, are you thinking more of the 500 ISO stock? For an HDTV production shot in S16, I personally wouldn't recommend shooting higher than 200 ISO. The dirt and debris problem of course depends upon how well the Film is washed before drying.
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#27 Terry Mester

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 04:22 AM

It may have similar colorimetry, but it doesn't have the depth of field characteristics, sharpness, or grain characteristics of 35mm. 16mm also creates some problems when you need to do things like visual effects. There are also those that simply dislike the degree of visible grain on most S16 stocks shot under common conditions. With S16, there is also the additional cost - sometimes considerable - of performing dirt cleanup in post, something that is unnecessary with electronic alternatives. ...

Another option for Super16 productions that need to shoot a low light scene with 500T Film is to shoot such scenes with 35mm. If there are only a few such scenes to be shot, the extra cost of using 35mm would be minimal. Super35 would save another 25% over Regular 35. I do think that the newer scanning process will prove notably less grainy than Telecine. Older S16 telecined productions should be redone with scanning to see if they're less grainy.

If there are any lab workers present, the best way to wash dirt and debris off of the Film is to use a nozzle and hose to spray it down immediately upon hanging it up to dry. This will ensure that the dirt washes away far better than in a container of water. This spray down needs to be done before the Film starts to dry because the drying process results in dirt sticking to the Film with a bond. In this situation it is necessary to re-wet the spot of the Film with stuck on dirt in order to safely wipe away the debris. I've had to do this on my Super8 Film. To keep dust from getting sucked onto the Film in the Projector, I covered over the open edge of the Film Gate with saran wrap. This prevents air (and dust) from pushing into the Projector through the Gate as a result of the cooling fan. You'd be surprised how much dust will get on the Film in the Gate due to the fan.
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#28 K Borowski

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 06:58 AM

I can only assume Karl is this forward and opinionated in person.


Maybe being opinionated is a bad thing, but is being forward?

Being blunt, I find, saves SO MUCH time cutting through BS.
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#29 Michael Most

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 01:07 PM

Did any of those TV shows (who went HD) shoot with 3-perforation Super35? 3-perf S35 would provide the 16:9 ratio of HDTV, and would use 25% less Film than Regular 35mm.


Virtually all television programs that are shot on 35mm have been shot on 3 perf format for a number of years now. 4 perf hasn't really been used for television series for at least 8 or 9 seasons (at least 15 on sitcoms), certainly since 16x9 HD deliveries became standard.

One insurmountable problem with shooting in HD is converting it to DTV or Analogue TV. HD looks crappy and out of proportion when altered to fit other picture ratios. It's much easier to convert a Film Frame to the different TV picture ratios.


The standard method of getting 4x3 from 16x9 is to do a center crop extraction. This is the method generally used regardless of origination. All aspect ratio changes have been done electronically from the HD master for a number of years, so there is no difference between material originated on HD video and film in that regard.

Regarding Super16 graininess, are you thinking more of the 500 ISO stock? For an HDTV production shot in S16, I personally wouldn't recommend shooting higher than 200 ISO. The dirt and debris problem of course depends upon how well the Film is washed before drying.


It is rather impractical in today's world to light for 200 ASA across the board on a television series. Possible, but not very practical - which is one of the reasons, quite frankly, why Red hasn't made a lot of inroads in network television. As for dirt, regardless of how well the film is handled, there will always be dirt issues, and they are magnified almost fivefold with 16mm due to the size of the physical frame. Any random dirt is much more noticeable because the same size dirt fleck is much larger in relation to the image size than it is on 35mm. Most 16mm shows (currently, Burn Notice, Monk, One Tree Hill, and Chuck are all shot on S16) will budget 6-8 hours of dirt cleanup per episode. That's a lot of hours and a decent sum of money to spend just to retain film colorimetry.
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#30 John Sprung

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 03:03 PM

Virtually all television programs that are shot on 35mm have been shot on 3 perf format for a number of years now. 4 perf hasn't really been used for television series for at least 8 or 9 seasons (at least 15 on sitcoms), certainly since 16x9 HD deliveries became standard.


We've been using 3 perf for over 20 years. If an MOW also has a foreign theatrical release, it might go Academy 4 perf, but the last time we had one of those has to be a good ten years ago or more.





-- J.S.
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#31 Michael Most

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 04:52 PM

We've been using 3 perf for over 20 years. If an MOW also has a foreign theatrical release, it might go Academy 4 perf, but the last time we had one of those has to be a good ten years ago or more.


Ahh, but that's because you were with Viacom, one of 2 early enlightened companies (my own employer Lorimar being the other). And just to show how long both of us have been around, we (at Lorimar) started using 3 perf in 1986 (with Max Headroom, later with virtually all of our shows). I don't think Viacom adopted it until much, much later - in 1987 :rolleyes:

For the major studios, as I recall, 3 perf was adopted first for sitcoms around 1989 or 1990 or thereabouts - basically around the same time Panavision came out with 2000 ft. mags for the G2's. Using 3 perf allowed for almost 25 minutes of run time, allowing an audience sitcom to do only one or, at the most, 2 reloads. Single camera really didn't embrace 3 perf until the late 1990's, when 16x9 came into play, and it became the standard shortly after that when HD finishing came along.

Please feel free to correct my timetable if you recall it differently, though.
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#32 Terry Mester

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 06:03 PM

... The standard method of getting 4x3 from 16x9 is to do a center crop extraction. This is the method generally used regardless of origination. All aspect ratio changes have been done electronically from the HD master for a number of years, so there is no difference between material originated on HD video and film in that regard. ...

Well, this explains why so many regular TV broadcasts can look distorted and out of proportion. TV networks then wonder why people aren't much interested in spending time watching TV. I'm always astounded by how much people will pay for Cable / Satellite fees to get mediocre quality TV. No sooner than the quality of the TV broadcast has been enhanced with HDTV, the quality of TV production is going down by abandoning Film. I haven't yet bought an HDTV, and I don't intend to do so any time soon.

... As for dirt, regardless of how well the film is handled, there will always be dirt issues, ... Any random dirt is much more noticeable because the same size dirt fleck is much larger in relation to the image size than it is on 35mm. Most 16mm shows ... will budget 6-8 hours of dirt cleanup per episode. That's a lot of hours and a decent sum of money to spend just to retain film colorimetry.

They should always inspect the Film for dirt immediately after developing. Chances are pretty certain that such stuck-on dirt was left behind from developing. Dust acquired after developing can generally be blown off. I mentioned above a better way to wash dirt off the Film, and to keep dust off in a Projector.
There would also be different problems unique to video like pixellation. How much does the Genesis cost? I doubt lower budget productions could afford it. :blink:
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#33 Michael Most

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 09:11 PM

Well, this explains why so many regular TV broadcasts can look distorted and out of proportion.


That is almost always a problem created by either your local affiliate or, in the case of some cable networks, the network feed. In the case of broadcast networks, there is now only one feed sent, the HD feed. This is the case for all of the US based networks, at least. Any reformatting is done by the local affiliate and has nothing to do with how the show is delivered or mastered.


How much does the Genesis cost? I doubt lower budget productions could afford it. :blink:


It's not intended for or marketed to lower budget productions, although the rental cost has decreased considerably since its original introduction.
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#34 John Sprung

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 09:47 PM

That is almost always a problem created by either your local affiliate or, in the case of some cable networks, the network feed. In the case of broadcast networks, there is now only one feed sent, the HD feed. This is the case for all of the US based networks, at least. Any reformatting is done by the local affiliate and has nothing to do with how the show is delivered or mastered.


Now that NTSC terrestrial broadcasting has been shut down, the domestic networks, O&O's, and affiliates are all 16:9 HD in prime time. Downconversion to NTSC is out of their hands, let alone ours. It happens at the cable, satellite, and telco head ends, of which there are thousands, and in set top boxes, of which there are millions. They mostly center cut, but they can also letterbox, squeeze, 14:9, sparkletts squeeze, or maybe they have some other thing they're doing. At this time, Nielsen tells us that about two thirds of the audience is watching such downconversions on their old NTSC sets.




-- J.S.
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#35 K Borowski

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 09:53 PM

They should always inspect the Film for dirt immediately after developing. Chances are pretty certain that such stuck-on dirt was left behind from developing. Dust acquired after developing can generally be blown off. I mentioned above a better way to wash dirt off the Film, and to keep dust off in a Projector.
There would also be different problems unique to video like pixellation. How much does the Genesis cost? I doubt lower budget productions could afford it. :blink:


Terry, you have to remember, that these days time is of the essence. When you have television shows submitting thousands of feet a day to be processed, there simply isn't time to inspect and clean it all before sending it to a telecine bay.

It's a matter of cost, frankly whether to use ultrasonic cleaning or digital dust busting. But, even with digital ice, film is, by its very nature prone to dust dirt and gunk; digital ice only works on the base side.

So, even in clean room environments (which movie labs do use), there is always going to be dust accumulation.

It's a simple matter of optics and materials science that something that is blown up more will be more prone to physical defects, like dust.

That in mind, 16mm has come a long way. I remember hearing on here how the reason that ECN never caught on in 16mm was that the process was so much more dirty. Reversal dust tended to be a less-distracting black, as well.


Film and processing is a fascinating field, certainly worthy in my opinion of continued use, but you put it up on a pedestal. Having seen the things that can go wrong first-hand, you shouldn't glorify the process so much.

When it works, great, but when it doesn't you have a lot of explaining to do.
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#36 John Sprung

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 10:10 PM

When you have television shows submitting thousands of feet a day to be processed, there simply isn't time to inspect and clean it all before sending it to a telecine bay.


What typically happens is that the lab sends it thru a Lipsner-Smith cleaning machine, puts it in cans, and sends it along to the video house. They run it thru another Lipsner-Smith pass and hang it on the telecine, which usually has particle transfer rollers fitted to it. They don't "inspect" other than looking at what comes out of the telecine. Only very very rarely is that so dirty that they go through a re-wash. It's been years since I can remember having to do that. The one difference is that with 1,1,1 trichlor banned for environmental reasons, cleaning doesn't work quite as well as it used to. The beginning of the season -- right about now, in fact -- is usually the worst time for dirt because the humidity is very low, and there's a lot of static electricity to make crud cling to the film.

We cut and color time the video that comes out of telecine, with whatever dirt it may contain -- usually some, but not much. Then it goes through digital dirt fixing, typically an MTI box. You really have to go thru it with a fine tooth comb to find anything after that. Do you see film dirt on recent TV shows on the air?



-- J.S.
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#37 Terry Mester

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 08:52 AM

What typically happens is that the lab sends it thru a Lipsner-Smith cleaning machine, puts it in cans, and sends it along to the video house. They run it thru another Lipsner-Smith pass and hang it on the telecine, which usually has particle transfer rollers fitted to it. ...

Hi John,
Can you explain how the Lipsner-Smith cleaning machine works?
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#38 John Sprung

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 02:00 PM

Lipsner-Smith can explain it with pictures:

http://www.rtico.com...er/cf8200p.html





-- J.S.
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#39 Terry Mester

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 11:34 PM

John, do I understand the Lipsner-Smith cleaning machine correctly; those cloth rollers are used to wipe the Film clean? Does the Film get put into this machine while still wet -- immediately after being removed from the final wash in the developing process? I still think it would also be a good idea to spray the Film down with a water nozzle immediately after the final wash, and before putting it in this cleaning machine.


To help prevent dust from getting on the Film in the Telecine's Film Gate, here is a picture of how I cover the Film Gate of my Projector with saran wrap. It's not necessary to remove the plastic when loading the Film in the Gate since I just fish the Film down through it from the top. This very simple measure prevents a lot of dust from being blown onto the Film in the Gate, and saves even more headaches!

Posted Image
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#40 K Borowski

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 11:41 PM

Terry, as I said earlier, many, if not most, film labs actually have clean-room environments, which is like a giant piece of saran wrap around the entire confines of the room, used to dry, scan, and telecine film.

Or, not to be a smart-ass, like an operating room in a hospital with a glass wall, positive pressure blowing excess air out, and sometimes scrubs for the personnel. This is all in an attempt to eliminate dust, but it still will not get rid of all of it; that's impossible.

Ultrasonic cleaning, and digital ice further mitigate dust problems, but, with 1,440 frames per minute of run time, there is still a lot of dust that gets past all of that.
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