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35mm considerations vs. 16mm


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#1 Brandon Adams

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 04:05 PM

I am directing a short next month. We were hoping for a S16mm camera but were unable to get it. We were able to get a 35mm camera, however. The DP would like to consider the possibility of shooting 35mm instead of regular 16mm. He said he thought he could get short ends for a price that would be make it reasonable.

What considerations do I need to consider? How much can you get short ends for? We were planning on shooting somewhere around 3000' of 16mm, I guess somewhere around 7000' of 35mm. Anyone have any idea how much that might cost off the top of their head?

I was told processing is the same per foot, and then telecine wouldn't be any more than 16mm cause it will be the same amount of time.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
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#2 Brandon Adams

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 04:24 PM

Locations will be primarily daylight exterior with about half in a forest location. Other scenes are a campfire scene and a quick scene at night outside a building. Plus one scene in a classroom.
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#3 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 04:48 PM

You really need to "shop around" to see what your short ends will cost, and what the processing costs will be. Then it's a simple matter of math, given the amount of film you intend to shoot. As you note, transfer cost is usually based on running time, and what degree of scene-to-scene correction you want during transfer.

Do factor in the cost of running some tests on any recans or short ends, to be sure there are no issues with fogging due to age, poor storage, or radiation.
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#4 Tobias Mennle

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 03:53 PM

I have to own my gear and I did a calculation recently, to compare S-16 vs. S-35 3perf, transferred to HDCam on a Spirit. I shoot about 8000m S-16 film a year, so my lab gives me a reasonable price both for developing and telecine. It turned out that 35 3perf is only 1.7 times more expensive, about 65 Dollars per minute all inclusive - film, lab, telecine process (tapes extra). That´s because film and developing are comparatively cheaper in 35 - I mean, if you consider image size - and 2K telecine is expensive anyway.
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#5 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 25 March 2006 - 07:00 AM

The general rule is that 35mm 4-perf is about 4 times more expensive than 16mm. 3-perf 3 times and so on.

But as mentioned, many times other factors have to be weighed in. Short ends on 35mm are more readily availble, the cameras are easier to get deals on, telecine is probably cheaper since you can go for older machines. To some extend one could perhaps also say that 35mm needs less light on certain occasions (the unlit NY city exteriors in Eternal Sunshine shot on 500D comes to mind - would probably have been unusably grainy in 16mm), and so on.

Not to mention the fact that your production will look better and have more production value. And that's worth something, too.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 March 2006 - 10:39 AM

In terms of 3-perf vs. 4-perf, you also have to factor in whether you want to shoot in a format that allows a straight contact print with a soundtrack for theatrical presentation, because 3-perf requires a D.I. or optical printer conversion to a 4-perf IN.
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#7 Dan Goulder

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Posted 25 March 2006 - 11:19 AM

Don't overlook shipping costs. Unless you live down the street from a film lab/transfer house, shipping can run into the thousands, even on a low-budget 35mm feature. You're paying by the pound, and FEDEX prices are really soaring. Also, due to the nature of the beast, you tend to end up with more partially shot mags with 35mm than 16mm, so it's sometimes difficult to gauge how much film you're really going to eat up. In other words, however much you think it's going to cost...be prepared to pay MORE.
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