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SR3 vs. Panaflex system/ 2.35 16mm


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#1 123

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Posted 14 February 2006 - 05:28 PM

Greetings.

I hope all is well --

I'm about to direct my first feature - Will most likely be aquired on super 16.

If anyone can give their guidance on some questions, I would be most appreciative.

1. Re: The Camera - I imagine the SR3 is a bit louder than the Panaflex - Is it loud to the point where dialogue scenes will be encumbered without substantial blimp/housing?

2. In my experience Panavisions are a little delicate, with Arris being more sturdy - How are the mechanics on the 16 mm Panaflex? On a 30 day remote shoot will I run into many technical problems? I've had some very bad experiences - especially with Aatons - I'm hope to mitigate any technical issues (as much as possible, that is).

3. I have been exploring (in concept) the idea of shooting spherical 2.35 on super 16mm. Although I have heard of an existing panavision system that is retrofitted to accept 35mm anamorphic lenses, I don't think it will be ideal for this shoot. Utitlizing the same idea as Super 35 - i.e. using a 2.35 ground glass to compose during aquisition, and cropping for 2.35 in post. In theory this seem like it can work. However my main concern is the anamorphic abstraction when going to the print. Utilizing DI, there's the inherent grain reduction on the blow up, compared to going optically. However will this added step of the opticle abstraction end up with a extremely granulated image?

I thank anyone in advance any insight provided. It's much apreciated. Regards.
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#2 Max Jacoby

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Posted 14 February 2006 - 06:44 PM

I've yet to meet anyone who's actually shot on the Panavision Elaine, but from what people say it is quite a bulky, studio camera. I think you're much better off with an Arri SR3 or an Aaton Xtr-Prod, both of which are the most popular Super 16mm. They are quiet enough to shoot sync sound dialogue and you can use PL mount Super 16 lenses. Especially the new Zeiss Ultra 16 lenses (8mm, 9.5mm, 12mm, 14mm) will give you excellent sharpness, if you can get hold of them that is. Although they are announced already, I'm not yet sure if they are available yet. Otherwise the Zeiss Superspeeds are a good option too.

As for getting a 35mm Cinemascope print, you are much better off letterboxing the Super 16 to 2.40, rather than using 35mm anamorphic lenses. The anamorphic lenses are a hassle to use (wide shots will have a lot of distortion) and you will end up with a picture that is much wider than 2.40, so you are not winning any negative area (sharpness) compared to shooting spherical and letterboxing. Also the postproduction for the anamoprhic option will get very complicated, because you will need the lab to do a cutomized setup for an optical blowup to 35mm, because it is not regularly done.

As for the question whether you should do an optical blow-up or a digital intermediate, I have seen Super 16 letterboxed to 2.40 look very nice blown up optically to a 35mm print. If you over-expose slightly to get a good thick negative and try to use lower speeds stocks as much as possible you are sure to get very nice picture where grain is not really a problem. Using the newer filmstocks (Eterna and Vision 2) is of obvious help too.
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#3 Rik Andino

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 06:51 PM

What Max posted makes lots of sense.

The Panavision Elaine is rarely used in S16mm production...
From my knowledge it is best for studio situations since it's a bit heavy and bulky.
The Arri SR3 or the Aaton XTRProd are the most popular cameras in pro S16 filmmaking

I recommend you have a chat with your cinematographer and see which camera he/she is comfortable with.

Often many directors forget to consult the most important people when making their decisions...
The people they'll be working with, and the ones who will be working with the equipment you rent.

You can get all the great advise you want from an internet post...
but ultimately the man/woman behind the camera is the one you should listen to the most
(Unless you don't trust his judgement--then why work with them...?)

You should also talk to your Post Lab to see which is the best post process for you.


Good Luck
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#4 Chris Burke

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 07:21 PM

What Max posted makes lots of sense.

The Panavision Elaine is rarely used in S16mm production...
From my knowledge it is best for studio situations since it's a bit heavy and bulky.
The Arri SR3 or the Aaton XTRProd are the most popular cameras in pro S16 filmmaking

I recommend you have a chat with your cinematographer and see which camera he/she is comfortable with.

Often many directors forget to consult the most important people when making their decisions...
The people they'll be working with, and the ones who will be working with the equipment you rent.

You can get all the great advise you want from an internet post...
but ultimately the man/woman behind the camera is the one you should listen to the most
(Unless you don't trust his judgement--then why work with them...?)

You should also talk to your Post Lab to see which is the best post process for you.
Good Luck


What 123 is looking for, a new sort of scope scenario for Super 16, is something I have thought about a lot lately. I know that Canon manufactures an anamorphic adapter for 2/3" digital cameras. It compresses the image horizontally to fit into a scope(2.39:1) format. Much the same way the 16:9 adapters that are out there, do for the DVX100 and the like. Why not one of these for Super 16? It would be cheaper to make one of these than to go out an manufacture a whole new lens line. You would have to have a compression factor of 1.44 to make the resulting image 2.39.
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#5 timHealy

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 07:45 PM

I looked into doing something anamorphic in 16mm last year and the gist of my research suggested that it may be easier to stick with super 35 (more expensive than 16mm) using spherical lenses (cheaper than anamorphic) than trying to utilize anamorphic lenses on a 16mm camera. it is kind of a non standard format involving blow ups and cropping depending on how one would finish in post. If using super 35 you could do something like a three frame pulldown and get 25% more time out of a 1000 ft roll of film. Or one could leave it at a 4 frame pull down and frame for a centered anamorphic or common header.

Call your rental house for the details and prices for comparisons.

Also If I understand it correctly, there are not many 16mm Panavisons around whereas Arri SR's are a dime a dozen, if you get my drift: easier to replace if there are problems.

Best

Tim
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#6 123

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 04:32 PM

I thank everyone for their insight -

Good to know re: the Panaflex

However, there seems to be some confusion re: the anamorphic S16 question.

I'm not talking about retrofitting a camera to accept anamorphic lenses - As I said: I don't think it will be ideal for this shoot.

I'm talking about shooting regular S16 and utitlizing the same idea as Super 35 - i.e. using a 2.35 ground glass to compose during aquisition with SPHERICAL LENSES, and cropping for 2.35 in post.

The main question is in regards to the ANAMORPHIC ABSTRACTION when going to the print -- Utilizing DI, there's the inherent grain reduction on the 35mm blow up, compared to going optically. However will this added step of the opticle abstraction end up with a extremely granulated image when dealing with 16mm?

No post houses I've spoken to have done this - any insight would be greatly appreciated

thanks.
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#7 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 06:30 PM

Utilizing DI, there's the inherent grain reduction on the 35mm blow up, compared to going optically. However will this added step of the opticle abstraction end up with a extremely granulated image when dealing with 16mm?

Going optical vs DI doesn't increase grain. It lowers definition. To my opinion. As Max metionned, the use of low speed stock, slightly overexposed, good optics and - I should add - a proper light set (good contrast, etc.) would make your S16 neg as less grainy as possible and therefore, the best possible whatever postproduction route you will follow. But, of course, having an optical intermediate will lower the quality, but by loss of definition, not by adding grain.

And BTW, I don't know if I would follow a route the lab has never tried before, I'd rather do something they are used to, to my opinion...

Just my 2 cents.
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#8 timHealy

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 06:39 PM

I'm talking about shooting regular S16 and utitlizing the same idea as Super 35 - i.e. using a 2.35 ground glass to compose during aquisition with SPHERICAL LENSES, and cropping for 2.35 in post.


My apologies. I missed that point myself.

Best

Tim

Edited by heel_e, 16 February 2006 - 06:39 PM.

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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 06:53 PM

Hi,

One time regular of this board Nicole Newland once shot with an Elaine; from what I remember she didn't have a good word to say about it.

Phil
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#10 Tomas Koolhaas

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 07:37 PM

Hi,

One time regular of this board Nicole Newland once shot with an Elaine; from what I remember she didn't have a good word to say about it.

Phil


Hi,
When I was in film school years ago I remember a freind of mine worked on a student shoot with an Elaine, he said it was a nightmare, the DP himself could hardly thread the thing without having some sort of jam!
They had to switch cameras once or maybe even twice. I have never used it, and I wasn't on the shoot myself but I would definately suggest using an XTR or SR3 instead of the Elaine (these are both very light, reliable and convenient cameras to use).
Cheers.
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#11 Nathan Milford

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 08:02 PM

I've had several clients shoot S16 with a 2.35 ground glass, but I haven't heard of any of them going an optical route. It's either been straight to HD or a 2K DI. The Devil Wears Prada used an A-Minima with a groundglass I modified to 2.35 to cut in with thier S35/2.35 footage, which I think worked out well for them. I am working with another low budget feature right now shooting on an older XTR do a similar thing.

The Elaine isn't an ideal camera for most circumstances unless your camera crew only know Panavision systems and accessories and you haven't got time to train them with the cameras the rest of the world uses >8)

I am often amused when film students, always seeing thier favorite cinematographers (or more amusingly directors) triumphantly sitting behind a Panavision eyepiece looking visionary off frame, probably with a contrast glass around thier neck, autmatically assume that if it's Panavision, it must be the best.

*shrugs*
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#12 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 08:11 PM

Honestly, Panavision camera seem to be good cameras (I don't know them too well). But the 16 mm format may be is not one for them... On the other hand, I don't find them hard to load or anything, and the accessories and viewing glass, their robustness etc. make them comfortable for the operator as well as for the assistant. The only thing one can wonder about, when looking at the screen is "what difference is there that is due to the fact it was shot with a Panavision camera" ? Ok the FFD doesn't move, so that there should not be any focus problem caused by it, but apart from that, the screening won't show the difference, to my opinion. The shooting only will be different.
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#13 Joseph White

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 08:57 PM

as i have shot on both the Elaine and super 16mm framed at 2.35:1 i might have some stuff to add here:

1. Panavision Elaine - avoid this camera like the plague. Yes panavision optics are gorgeous and amazing for 35mm, but the glass you'll be using is modified zeiss lenses anyways. This camera is bulky, fairly quiet, way too heavy for super 16mm, and does this awesome thing called "blowing fuses all the f**king time" that'll make you run home to arriflex. I used it on a short film back in my USC days and it was just horrendous to deal with in the field. I'd strongly suggest getting an Sr-II or Sr-III over this camera as more houses rent them (makes it cheaper and more easily serviceable) and they're more production-friendly cameras on the whole. The Elaine was designed mostly for studio-style television work and it was used for this for quite some time, but never really got popular hence why panavision mostly rents our aaton xtr's or arri sr's with their glass now. This camera is mostly reserved for their New Filmmakers Program where it goes out to students or low-budet independents.

2. S16mm 2.35:1 - I shot a short last November and we did s16mm 2.35:1 and used an SR-II from Hollywood Camera in Burbank. They were awesome and set us up with basically a 1.66:1 full frame GG with top and bottom tape marks that were set to 2.35:1. We shot a framing chart and then matched it up in telecine. Bottom line - there are NO 2.35:1 GG's for 16mm anywhere in California and as far as I know none in NYC either. Believe me, I called EVERYONE. This method worked out ok and when it was too tough to see the tape marks in the eyepiece (especially in low-light situations) I just operated off the sidetap which was taped off to the 2.35:1 markings on the GG and it worked just fine. We shot the whole film on a Canon 8-64mm zoom lens and I was really pleased with the results.

Hope this helps!

Edited by Joseph White, 16 February 2006 - 08:59 PM.

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#14 Nathan Milford

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 09:31 PM

The 35mm Panavision cameras are great... the glass is magnificent... but when using the Elaine, as Joseph stated, you'll be using rehoused SuperSpeeds hacked up to work with Panavision accessories.

I've modified a few ground glasses. You can order one direct from Aaton (and from Arri for the SR), but the demand for the format is very low so we don't have a factory one in stock (although I've pleaded). But we can modify an existing full-frame screen.

C'est la vie.
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#15 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 10:54 PM

Hmm, a lot of people have a lot of bad things to say about the Elaine it seems, but I don't. I flew one on a feature last year and it was fine. Yes, it's heavier than other 16mm cameras, but not as heavy as a 35mm camera. My 1st AC mentioned that the Elaine is known for having fuse problems, but we never had any while I was around. It's basically a mini GII, so all the accessories are the same, which is nice for people already familiar with Panavision gear. There never seemed to be any threading problems, and mag changes were just as fast as most 35mm cameras, but slower than 16mm cameras that don't need to be threaded. It's very quiet, quieter than most SR3's that I've worked with.
Overall, I liked the Elaine a lot.
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#16 Max Jacoby

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 04:55 AM

But, of course, having an optical intermediate will lower the quality, but by loss of definition, not by adding grain.

Although I have yet to see a direct comparison between DI and optical blow-up for Super 16, I beg to differ here Laurent. What I've seen of optical blow-ups recently has left me very impressed and I would be surprised if anything but a top notch DI could match that quality. If they lab know what they are doing, you will get great results going the optical route.

As has been mentioned before, the qualities of DIs can vary wildly, depending on how exactly it's done. If one takes the cheaper route (scanning on a Spirit, working in HD or HD Cam for instance) then the end result will not be as good as it could be.
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#17 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 06:01 AM

This is something that i am going to be doing on a short film early next month. We are shooting s16 framed for 2.35:1. The camera is an SR3. Arri are kindly marking up the GG for this Aspect Ratio. Although we're shooting primarily for a tape finish, there is always the possibility of a 35mm blow up. I, too wasn't sure about the process of optically blowing up s16 to an 35mm anamorphic print. Dominic Case was kind enough to share this information with me:

"If you go for an optical blow-up, then it's most likely that they would need
to take it in two stages. Almost certainly this would be a straight blow-up
to 35mm IP (still flat), which would be effectively the same as a
conventional blow-up: then you would have the squeeze process in the DN
stage, using a conventional 35 to 35 squeeze set up & lens on their optical
printer.

It's also worth considering a digital blow-up, as the squeeze can be done
quite painlessly in the digital realm."

Hope this helps (and thankyou Dominic!)
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#18 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 07:18 AM

I don't mean to say that the optical route necessarly lowers the quality a lot. I just mean that if it does, it should be by a definition loss, better than a grainier image.

On the other hand, I would have think it would - in average - cause a definition loss, but of course some lab are better than others, on this point, I guess.

"If you go for an optical blow-up, then it's most likely that they would need
to take it in two stages. Almost certainly this would be a straight blow-up
to 35mm IP (still flat), which would be effectively the same as a
conventional blow-up: then you would have the squeeze process in the DN
stage, using a conventional 35 to 35 squeeze set up & lens on their optical
printer.


Reading this makes me think one could obtain a grainier image, as well, then...
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#19 Mitch Gross

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 09:53 PM

Look back a few years in the archives. David Mullen & I shot some tests with a lab in NYC called Metropolis where we did an optical blowup from S-16 framed 2.39 to 35mm anamorphic 4:perf, and we were able to do it as a single step. Metropolis is the only place I know of set up to do this in one step optically and the results were quite nice.

The Elaine was designed for TV series camera crews who were used to shooting with Panavision 35mm gear but suddenly forced to work in 16mm as the format began being used for episodic TV. If you are a person who has only ever used Panavision cameras for a decade or so then it is a comforting thing to use the Elaine. Otherwise, I don't know anyone who doesn't prefer an Arr or Aaton. I've used them all and prefer the Aaton style over the Arri SR3, but that's a personal thing.
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