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#1 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 30 September 2018 - 07:13 PM

It seems to me that these days with digital distribution and projection, the low grain of Vision 3 film stocks, and the great cameras and equipment still available for rent today, that Super 16 is becoming even more interesting than it was before as a medium for photographing movies designed to be shown at a large theater.

 

I thought why not a broadly-themed thread that discusses many points about Super 16. What movies have you seen at the cinema that were shot on this gauge and looked great? Is grain a problem to contemporary theater audiences/online streaming/DVD blue ray audiences?

 

How would anamorphic 2.35:1 Super 16 look at the theater compared to the same aspect ratio photographed with spherical, but cropped in post? I know that the spherical lenses have a reputation for being sharper - so which really, in the final analysis, would be sharper? I suspect anamorphic would be significantly sharper. Is 16mm going to be able to deliver enough sharpness of image for an outdoors movie with a lot of sweeping shots of large landscapes?

 

And finally, projection, for home movie use. Does anyone have any advice/anecdotes regarding converting a projector to Super 16, or for converting a projector to Regular 16mm cropped to 2.35:1 in the projector gate? I realize that with this option there would be a heavier loss of clarity.

 

Do film camera repairers generally undertake modifications to projectors? I'm not very engineeringly inclined so would have to get someone to modify a projector.

 

 


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#2 Jay Young

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Posted 30 September 2018 - 09:29 PM

I shot some anamorphic regular standard 16m for a 2.66 aspect ratio. It looked fantastic!
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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 01 October 2018 - 01:35 AM

16mm really benefits from sharp glass and ya don't get that without spending a great deal of money, either spherical or anamorphic.

Personally, for 1.66:1 (basically 1.78:1 for HDTV), Super 16 is perfect. Every movie I've seen shot that way on S16 looks fantastic. The moment you crop the image to 2.40:1, you're really skating on thin ice quality wise. Yes, 1.3x anamorphic lenses are a great solution, but very expensive to rent. The difference between anamorphic and cropping is night and day in my book.

You can convert SOME of the Eiki's to super 16, but most projectors not without a lot more work. 2x anamorphic lenses do exist, so that's your solution for projection. Shoot in standard 16mm and project in standard 16mm with a soundtrack. There are super 16 projectors on ebay, just gotta be patient for one to show up. No, most camera people don't do projectors, totally different industry that yes use film, but no have not much else in common parts wise. The projection industry is dealt with by people who specialize in that field, like cameras.

Cropping is easy, most projectors have removable masks. So you could get some metal and make shift something.
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#4 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 10 October 2018 - 09:23 PM

I might email Volker in Germany, who sometimes posts here. He modified a projector to S-16 and enjoys wonderful home movies. If I can find out details will post on this thread. Thanks guys for very worthwhile advice above. I'd like to be up and running with a projector soon, in time for Ektachrome release here (assuming processing etc is going to be fine in Australia). But my main longterm aim is to continue shooting Vision 3 and release digital movies shot on 16mm (and later 35mm if I can). The projection idea is just to satisfy a craving to see and experience real film "with my own eyes," (... to quote Darth Vader).

 

Considering the apparent huge cost of the best S-16 anamorphic glass, I wonder if for a short film 35mm spherical, cropped to 2.40:1, might actually work out cheaper, or about the same production cost.


Edited by Jon O'Brien, 10 October 2018 - 09:36 PM.

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#5 Robin Phillips

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 12:59 PM

you'll certainly find shortends and recans for 35mm easier than you will s16. 2 perf spherical is always a great option if you can get the camera bodies.

 

I will say, I actually really like s16 spherical cropped to 2.39. The feel of 1.3x anamorphic is a bit nicer, but from what I've seen those hawk lenses do have some sharpness issues the wider open you get, vs say the Ultra16 spherical lenses. If you can check out some stuff shot on each. "The Wall" was hawk 1.3x anamophic s16, IIRC "Mother!" was Ultra16 cropped to 2.39 s16

 

I might email Volker in Germany, who sometimes posts here. He modified a projector to S-16 and enjoys wonderful home movies. If I can find out details will post on this thread. Thanks guys for very worthwhile advice above. I'd like to be up and running with a projector soon, in time for Ektachrome release here (assuming processing etc is going to be fine in Australia). But my main longterm aim is to continue shooting Vision 3 and release digital movies shot on 16mm (and later 35mm if I can). The projection idea is just to satisfy a craving to see and experience real film "with my own eyes," (... to quote Darth Vader).

 

Considering the apparent huge cost of the best S-16 anamorphic glass, I wonder if for a short film 35mm spherical, cropped to 2.40:1, might actually work out cheaper, or about the same production cost.


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#6 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 12 October 2018 - 04:55 PM

I'm wondering if I might actually find it easier to attract funding for a film project if I shoot on 35mm, as it would be resurrecting this film stock here. No one in Australia shoots on 35mm any more that I know of. The government is willing to support filmmakers for some projects, and I already have a camera. Still, S-16 is a very attractive option as I like the look of film grain. I did see Mother at the cinema, purely for the fact it was shot on S-16. I didn't realise it was shot on Ultra 16. I liked the look of it very much, however it was shot with many close-ups, so really worked well for 16mm.


Edited by Jon O'Brien, 12 October 2018 - 04:57 PM.

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#7 Robin Phillips

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Posted 12 October 2018 - 05:17 PM

To clarify, Mother was super 16 on Ultra16 lenses, the Arri/Zeiss high end and last generation of dedicated super 16 lenses.

 

I'm wondering if I might actually find it easier to attract funding for a film project if I shoot on 35mm, as it would be resurrecting this film stock here. No one in Australia shoots on 35mm any more that I know of. The government is willing to support filmmakers for some projects, and I already have a camera. Still, S-16 is a very attractive option as I like the look of film grain. I did see Mother at the cinema, purely for the fact it was shot on S-16. I didn't realise it was shot on Ultra 16. I liked the look of it very much, however it was shot with many close-ups, so really worked well for 16mm.


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#8 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 12 October 2018 - 05:42 PM

I don't think format really has much to do with funding, it's just a budgetary line item in the fundraising phase. Generally it's the whole package deal; attached director, writer and actors, that brings you the money. Things like the cinematographer, editor, composer and what format you shoot on, are down the road. Unless you have an A list crew person, it doesn't matter putting them in the deal.

2 perf 35mm (if you owned the equipment) is double the cost of super 16mm. 3 perf 35mm is around triple the cost of S16. So for a 4 perf 35mm camera, the cost is nearly 4x that of super 16mm, especially if you shoot anamorphic. Short ends do help, but generally the cost is down to transfer cost because it's measured by foot. The fewer frames you have in a given foot, the cost goes up. Fotokem here in the California charges by the frame instead of foot, but most labs use the ol' foot counter.
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#9 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 15 October 2018 - 05:59 PM

To clarify, Mother was super 16 on Ultra16 lenses, the Arri/Zeiss high end and last generation of dedicated super 16 lenses.

 

 

Yes, sorry, I didn't read your post carefully enough. I should have known that. Ultra 16 is really an amateur format.

 

Does anyone know if there is any discernible registration problem with Bolex cameras when projected digitally on a big screen, compared with Arri 16mm cameras? I know Bolex don't have pin registration. I'm thinking of getting an SBM as my personal camera, for making short films with MOS and dubbing in post, and hiring Arri cameras for sync sound shooting further down the track.


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#10 Daniel Muchnik

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Posted 15 October 2018 - 06:45 PM

Hey Jon, briefly, yes your suspicions are correct. Bolex footage is not nearly as steady as arri / aaton footage


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#11 Robin Phillips

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Posted 15 October 2018 - 08:02 PM

If you're trying to max out super 16, you really want a modern, serviced camera with Ultra16 lenses (or ultra primes generally). On the Arri side, the Arri SR3 Advanced (the one with the gate guides) and up, or an Aaton XTR Prod and up. You also need to make sure your lenses are dialed in to the max. These cameras have the minimum amount of any side to side movement of the film, and are very robust/reliable.

 

You also need to do tests with any gear prior to a shoot, incase something just isnt right somewhere in any of the gear. On the SR3, the FFD range listed by arri is a tad wide range wise, and if you're too close to the shallow limit you will be a tad softer than if you are closer to the SR3 HS flange depth. (I learned this the hard way lol)

 

If I were you, I'd be looking for an Aaton XTR, XTR Prod, or SR3 Adv. I've seen all of those show up for under 3k every now and then, though they can be found easier for around 5k+ USD. Arri parts seem easier to get in the Los Angeles area, though Ablecine in LA I've recently learned has a nice stockpile of Aaton spare parts. I will say the biggest advantage of the Aatons is they are sooo much easier to shoulder.

 

 

 

Yes, sorry, I didn't read your post carefully enough. I should have known that. Ultra 16 is really an amateur format.

 

Does anyone know if there is any discernible registration problem with Bolex cameras when projected digitally on a big screen, compared with Arri 16mm cameras? I know Bolex don't have pin registration. I'm thinking of getting an SBM as my personal camera, for making short films with MOS and dubbing in post, and hiring Arri cameras for sync sound shooting further down the track.


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#12 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 15 October 2018 - 08:58 PM

Hey Jon, briefly, yes your suspicions are correct. Bolex footage is not nearly as steady as arri / aaton footage

 

I've done steady tests on both Bolexes and Arris and you'd be surprised how stable a well serviced Bolex can be, at least at standard speeds. But of course an amateur grade camera with a very simple claw mechanism and aluminium parts can't hope to compete with the precision engineering of more professional cameras. These days however, with everything going through a DI, steadiness in-camera is not as big an issue as it once was.

 

The bigger drawback I think is that the lenses and viewfinder aren't up to the same level as pro gear, and so nailing focus can be harder. But Bolexes have been used on films that got theatrical release, and even won  Academy awards. 

 

 

.. On the SR3, the FFD range listed by arri is a tad wide range wise, and if you're too close to the shallow limit you will be a tad softer than if you are closer to the SR3 HS flange depth. (I learned this the hard way lol)

 

 

Not sure I know what this means. The SR3 FFD is 52.000 - 0.010 mm  which gives about one hundredth of a mm tolerance. A high speed SR3 gets set to 51.970 - 0.010 mm, which has the same tolerance but is three hundredths of a mm shorter due to the design of the high speed mag pressure plates. If you mix HS and normal mags you might get focus issues, but otherwise those tolerances work fine for each camera type. I worked for a rental house as a tech setting these things for years and we never had issues. Of course you also need both the FFD and the ground glass depth to be correctly set for eye-focussing, and the lenses properly collimated for taping out. 


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#13 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 15 October 2018 - 09:13 PM

S16mm is gorgeous. I feel like I'm actually starting to lean towards the smaller format as a more useful medium (if we're wanting to differentiate ourselves from the 'look' of digital cinema) relative to S35mm, as the Vision3 stocks are SO clean, that lately I've found it quite difficult to tell the difference between S35mm and digital (Mission Impossible and Westworld being two recent standouts in that regard).

I feel like S35mm really needs to be pushed a stop these days to carry the sense of the grain through to the final image, and project something that genuinely feels 'different'.

I had a meeting the other day for a pilot that the director is pretty gung-ho to shoot on S16mm. I have fingers and toes firmly crossed that we can make it happen!


Edited by Mark Kenfield, 15 October 2018 - 09:14 PM.

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#14 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 15 October 2018 - 11:26 PM

An Arri or Aaton camera, eg. SR3 or XTR, and shoot 1.3x anamorphic sounds the way to go for me (maybe own the camera and hire the lenses). Which of these cameras can you fit with anamorphic viewfinder, and is S16 a more difficult shoot for the cinematographer in any way, over say 35mm or Arri Alexa? Those camera prices seem very appealing, considering they are for a pro level camera. What is the availability for the best s16 lenses? The more I think about it, S16 is the way to go, if digitally distributed, all the way from short films up to feature length. Only go to 35mm for something that really needs the extra definition. And 65mm if seeking a 'real film' distribution (forgive me for occasionally thinking big) - not likely though.

 

Mark, best wishes for your S16 project! Hope it goes ahead.


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#15 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 16 October 2018 - 01:26 AM

We talked about anamorphic viewfinders for 16mm in this thread:

http://www.cinematog...ic=70998&page=1

 

Basically, I think the 416 is the only camera that has a 1.3x anamorphic de-squeeze viewfinder option.

 

The rental cost of Vantage 1.3x anamorphics for 16mm is very expensive, and no-one in Australia has them, so add import freight costs as well. It's much cheaper and simpler to crop 2.39 out of spherical S16, and there are many more lens options. Aronofsky did it this way for his widescreen S16 movies like Black Swan and The Wrestler.

 

I don't think anyone in Oz has Zeiss Ultra 16 lenses, but there are a few sets of 16mm Super Speeds around, some decent S16 zooms, Cooke SK4s (my vote). 


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#16 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 16 October 2018 - 04:31 AM

Thanks Dom. Anyone know what a 416 generally goes for second hand? I think around 11K USD. A 416 would hold its value well.


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#17 Robin Phillips

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Posted 16 October 2018 - 11:43 AM

A 416 without video tap sold for around 11k last year. Only one I saw sell this year went for around 20k USD.


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#18 Robin Phillips

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Posted 16 October 2018 - 11:48 AM

 

I've done steady tests on both Bolexes and Arris and you'd be surprised how stable a well serviced Bolex can be, at least at standard speeds. But of course an amateur grade camera with a very simple claw mechanism and aluminium parts can't hope to compete with the precision engineering of more professional cameras. These days however, with everything going through a DI, steadiness in-camera is not as big an issue as it once was.

 

The bigger drawback I think is that the lenses and viewfinder aren't up to the same level as pro gear, and so nailing focus can be harder. But Bolexes have been used on films that got theatrical release, and even won  Academy awards. 

 

 

 

Not sure I know what this means. The SR3 FFD is 52.000 - 0.010 mm  which gives about one hundredth of a mm tolerance. A high speed SR3 gets set to 51.970 - 0.010 mm, which has the same tolerance but is three hundredths of a mm shorter due to the design of the high speed mag pressure plates. If you mix HS and normal mags you might get focus issues, but otherwise those tolerances work fine for each camera type. I worked for a rental house as a tech setting these things for years and we never had issues. Of course you also need both the FFD and the ground glass depth to be correctly set for eye-focussing, and the lenses properly collimated for taping out. 

I'd have to go digging thru records to check. This was on a 4K test. The 2k comparison test was acceptable (and IIRC uprezed to 4k with greater detail than the 4k scan itself). it was a minor adjustment, but when it was made there was a bump in quality in the charts.


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#19 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 16 October 2018 - 06:19 PM

Interesting comment from Manu Delpech, post #20 in 'S16 Anamorphic - On a budget', https://www.cinemato...ens#entry478978

 

"Anecdotal, but The Wall (Doug Liman) that takes place entirely in the Iraqi desert, entirely shot on super 16 anamorphic with the Hawk V-Lite 1.3x and the 50D stock looks good although it is very soft, I actually found it softer than The Wrestler, or the super 16 portion in Steve Jobs or some of the best super 16 footage out there with a 2:40 extraction. Close-ups can look surprisingly good, and the 50D (blown up on a big screen) yields minimal grain but some medium close-ups and the wides really look soft."

 

I haven't seen many S16 productions at the cinema, so will start doing it, and begin with 'The Old Man and the Gun'. Saw Mother last year for that reason but that was cropped spherical, was maybe just a bit too grainy I thought, and was almost entirely shot indoors. I'd like to compare results in the theater with the Hawk v-lite anamorphics. How do you keep track of all the latest cinema releases shot on S16 - is the best way to keep checking the Kodak site?


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#20 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 17 October 2018 - 09:22 PM

How would S16 anamorphic (1.3x) depth of field compare with 2 perf 35mm, generally? Would it be easier to achieve a shallower dof with one or the other?


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