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35mm post production


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#1 no_soft_shots

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 08:21 PM

I'm shooting a 35mm feature film and I'm unsure on the post produciton process.

We are looking at a theatrical release as well as DVD and video.

What are the advantages and disadvantages involved when shooting 2-pref, 3-pref or 4-pref when you are looking at a cinema release? Is there an optial blow-up required?

Are all theatre projector a 4-pref pull down system? How does this work when films are shot 3-pref or 2-pref?

After you have a final locked-off edit of the film should you go back to the neg for a final grade of the hero shots in the telecine and then how do you print that look back to film for a release? Is there any loss in quailty or image resolution?

Do printer light play apart in this process or has computers taken over? e.g. a DI?

any advice?

thanks
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 08:37 PM

All projection in theaters is 35mm 4-perf, either in standard matted widescreen (1.85) or anamorphic (2.39).

So if you shoot in 4-perf 35mm Super-35, or 3-perf, 2-perf, or Super-16, you need to make a conversion at some point to create a 4-perf 35mm internegative in a standard sound aperture projection format (one of the two above.)

One common technique is to shoot in one of the two projection formats, either 4-perf 35mm standard spherical framed for projection masking to 1.85, or 4-perf 35mm with anamorphic lenses for scope projection. In this way, you can cut the negative and make contact prints off of it, or contact print an IP and then IN, and make prints off of the IN. Final video masters would then be made by transferring the 35mm IP to video (since it is color-corrected and single-strand with no splices, unlike the original conformed negative.)

If you shoot any of the other methods mentioned (4-perf Super-35, whether framed for 1.85 or 2.39, or 3-perf, 2-perf, or Super-16), then the post path can either have an optical printer step to convert to a projection format, or a digital step (i.e. a digital intermediate.)

Both are expensive, but a digital intermediate tends to cost a lot more. However, since the end result is a digital master from which a film negative is recorded, you also have a digital source for making all the video masters from, so some later video transfer costs are incorporated into the costs of the D.I.

Even if doing a traditional film post from material shot in standard 4-perf 35mm, more than likely you'd transfer the negative to standard def video for dailies, cut on a computer NLE system, generate an EDL, and give that to a negative cutter as a guide for conforming the camera rolls into a cut negative. Then you answer print to find the final timing lights, and then create timed (graded) "show" prints, an IP, IN, and release prints off of the IN. I'm not covering the sound editing, mixing, and printing issues of course.

One book I can suggest is Dominic Case's "Film Technology in Post-Production".
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#3 no_soft_shots

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 10:25 PM

thanks David for your very in-depth answer,

you also reminded me that i have that post production book by dominic case!

cheers
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#4 Trevor Greenfield

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 11:40 PM

Another great response from David Mullen.

Generally how much flexibility is offered from a traditional 4perf timing session?

Does that book give traditional workflow examples, and maybe some cost breakdowns?

Thanks :)
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#5 Dominic Case

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 01:29 AM

quote]Generally how much flexibility is offered from a traditional 4perf timing session?[/quote]
Traditional film timing (grading) is more restricted in scope than digital grading: it is based on the assumption that well controlled cinematography and well designed film emulsions don't need much correction: if you want a look you create it in the camera.

Of course we want to go beyond those bounds now. - Because we can - .

Traditional grading means previewing the cut negative on a video colour analyser (not a telecine though the principle is similar) and simulating the effect of changing the exposure and colour balance that will be used when the print is being made. You can change the overall colour balance and density of each shot - but you can't alter the contrast, you can't alter - for example - shadows and leave midtones unaltered, you can't change flesh tones without affecting the greys, and you can't do "windows".

If you need those controls, you need to go via a DI. It will cost you more, so you need to ask yourself if - and why - you need those controls.

More information about grading as well as the other questions (though David aswered those very comprehensively) in "that book".

[quote]Does that book give traditional workflow examples, and maybe some cost breakdowns?[/quote]
Workflows, yes. Cost breakdowns - no. Prices vary from country to country, different facilities will quote in different ways, and costs change from year to year. Three are some basic quotes to give an idea of what a quote looks like - but the numbers in the quote are provided without any unit of currency, so you can't be tempted to take them as a precedent.
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#6 Trevor Greenfield

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 01:53 AM

Forgive me for being estatic at getting the actual author and authority's response. I very much appreciate it.

For the most part, that is what I had figured, you are either overall lighting the frame more as you make a print or less, and changing the overall color, not able to play with individual levels. Thats all fine. As you said, if you light correctly and achieve at least uniform lighting somewhat close to the look you are trying to achieve, you should be allright. Afterall, its not as though there is some huge defect in Kodak Vision 2 films that we all *need* a DI to overcome. :lol:

And this is exactly what I and I'm sure many others are trying to get to the root of, when figuring in the costs of trying to make a respectable but inexpensively budgeted 35mm (or for others 16mm).

rheotorically:

Do I need to Shoot anything but 4-perf?

Do I need a DI if I shoot it well?

I'm not sure why but the tried and true standard of 4-perf, non DI seems to be so out of everyone's mindset now that you almost don't even hear those terms mentioned anymore. Its all about the latest tech... Super-35 with a 4k DI etc. Whenever you pickup Filmmaker or Film & Video (Now defunct print) it seems like everything you read is about how everyone is pushing the limits and yet it seems no attention is given anymore to the simple neg cutting 4-perf routine.

I have plans for three features right now, the one with the most potential for the least expenditure is of course at the forefront - a romance comedy, mixed amongst one of the most beautiful cities in the world as a backdrop. It would seem very much that since my budget will weigh heavily on the equipment / DP / gaffer / 1st camera, AC, and editor for the visual side, and no huge expensive explosions or car crashes or any unusual "look" other than what should be doable in camera, the film should be lit, exposed, and executed well. Needing only simple titles, no need for a DI or anything beyond the good tried and true system, IMO.

I'm sure there is lots more to be learned in your book, Dominic, so I'm ordering a copy :) Thanks again.
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#7 no_soft_shots

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 04:04 AM

one question....maybe two.

[/quote]

You can change the overall colour balance and density of each shot - but you can't alter the contrast, you can't alter - for example - shadows and leave midtones unaltered, you can't change flesh tones without affecting the greys, and you can't do "windows".


When you say you can change the overall density of each shot what does that mean?

Is that went a DP pushes a roll in processing because he is running out of light at the end of the day which makes a denser neg. So to get that shot to match shots previously shot, he changes the printer lights on the IP?

I think that makes sense...

Or is that away of doing day for night? Can you shot, expose and process normal then dim the printer lights to get a darker IP which can be your nighttime effect?

Or have I lost the plot?

cheers
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 12:55 PM

The density on the NEGATIVE is based on your exposure and the processing time/temp.

The density on the PRINT is controlled by the printer lights used.

Printing from a negative, you can change overall density (brightness or darkness) but at a cost -- overly low printer light numbers (to lighten an image) result in milkier blacks. You can also change the density of the colors, shifting the image towards the yellow, cyan, magenta, red, green, blue.

That's pretty much it -- you can make the image brighter or darker and shift the overall color. You can't shift the contrast and black level, accept as the byproduct of changing the brightness. You can't change portions of the frame. A few labs allow a mid-scene change in printer lights though, but they charge for it often.

Yes, you can shoot a day scene normally and print it darker and bluer. It's just that it may be an extreme change in printer light values, hitting the top of the scale (50) on one or more colors, which is limiting. Plus your bright highlight information would have been recorded at the top of the characteristic curve. Hence why you usually shoot day-for-night with some conservative underexposure and blueness and then increase the effect in printing, but not leave it entirely to just printing.
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