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#1 Jornenzal

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Posted 23 March 2006 - 05:16 PM

Hello.

I'm in the very VERY early stages of planning a feature. Roughly 80 minutes. Super 16.

After shooting / developing, the goal is to get the film scanned into a format that I can use to edit on my Mac with Final Cut.

Just from the reading I've been doing on this site and the internet - I know that the best telecine transfers seem to come from the Spirit Datacine (vis a vis the BonoLabs vs. SpyPost test).

Now, the costs of having a professional Spirit transfer - "best light" with color correction, etc. must be astronomical. Let's say I shoot in super 16. Just for the sake of argument, imagine I end up with a shooting ratio of 10:1. That means roughly 800 total minutes of film - approximately 29,000 feet. To have ALL that footage professionally scanned would break the bank, no?

So what if:

I used the services of BonoLabs to telecine all the raw footage - I think their cost for going tapeless is about $2.40 per minute - so total would only be about $1,920 - maybe $4000 after prep and clean...

Then I edited the raw footage using Final Cut...

And then, having settled on a finished edit, I sent the edit list to a conformer - they cut the negative - and THEN I go to a professional for the Spirit transfer - thus saving a lot of money?

Is that a feasible plan, or have I missed something here?

Thanks for any thoughts you might have on this. I appreciate your input.

By the way - how much does a best light transfer with color correction cost?
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#2 Dominic Case

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Posted 23 March 2006 - 05:42 PM

Is that a feasible plan, or have I missed something here?

In fact that is more or less the basis on which most people work.

Your neg cutter and your high-quality telecine house will probably advise against a fine-cut negative, as that would have to be in A&B rolls, making the transfer difficult. Better to have the neg cutter pull full takes, assemble those and transfer them, have the neg cutter log the extracted rolls to give you a new EDL which you can then use for an on-line conform.

I'm assuming that you only want a video/digital finish, film prints are a non-starter. Are you sure?

You should also talk to your neg cutter and the original transfer house to ensure that the negative is logged correctly so that the EDL can be translated accurately into a negative cutting list, and into the new on-line list. Otherwise you will spend the rest of your life fixing up sync problems.
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#3 Jornenzal

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Posted 23 March 2006 - 08:49 PM

Dominic -

Thanks very much for your feedback. In a sense, I suppose my post was just kind of thinking out loud - but I'm glad to hear that I've basically got the right idea.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?
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#4 Michael Most

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 07:06 AM

Dominic -

Thanks very much for your feedback. In a sense, I suppose my post was just kind of thinking out loud - but I'm glad to hear that I've basically got the right idea.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?


Yes. Decide on a post house, talk to them, and come up with post path rather than trying to figure it out yourself. As for translating EDL's that's not always necessary, as the relationship between keycode and time code is established during the original dailies transfer and can be replicated for the re-transfer. But then, your post house can explain all that....
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#5 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 09:57 AM

Exactly - no need to negative cut if you have keycode in the one-light transfer. If you have trouble making all these EDL's and conform protocols to work together, just burn the keycode into the picture and do it manually when you do the final grade.
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#6 Michael Collier

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 03:36 PM

Are you planning on scanning ALL your footage on the spirit. I would advise agaisnt that strongly. I am in the middle of pre-pro on a S16 feature as well considering the same options (I am also shooting almost half the footage you are). Prior to final HD telecine, why not have it telecined to a DVCPRO format on HDD or tape with keykode marks burned into the letterbox area?

you can get your rough cut made, then find the takes you used in the film and splice those takes together from head slate to roll out and send that out for final telecine with best light? It seems like that would easily cut the amount of footage you need to scan by up to 1/4 (200mins) I think this would save you considerable amount of money, and you will fly through your rough cut because you are using computationaly easy DVCPRO footage instead of render-consuming HD footage.

That cost savings would ensure you can afford the spirit telecine and have it datacine directly to hard drive. Then when you do the final HD edit, you have 10bit uncompressed. Add your color correction and send that to a post house with instructions to put it on an HDCAM tape or DVCPRO-HD tape.

Oh, and dont listen to the people telling you to go to a post house. Post houses are so damn expensive and there is very little that can be done there that you can't do on your desktop. Time was independant film makers would assemble their own edit table, wire everything up themselves and edit using a film table> Everything was done themselves. now that computers are out everybody is telling me....you need a post house, you cant do it without a post house. WHY!!! cuts only, simple color correction and an HD final cut...this is what I bought the damn editting machine for!!! why would anyone drop $2000 on a computer and $1500 on adobe studio if I couldnt at least make a color corrected cut of my HD super-16 movie?

If you have yet to shoot your film let me recomend some gear I have been reasearching to help make things much, much easier in post. (being that all my prior films have been to tape, I have rarely used double systems, and so when researching I wanted a bullet proof system, that was affordable.)

http://www.bhphotovi...egoryNavigation

I have more, but a shoot jsut came up so i gotta jet.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 04:26 PM

There are PLENTY of good reasons to use a post house. Movies are so expensive to shoot that mistakes can be catastrophic. Besides, unless you own a telecine, you're going to a post house for that. And unless you really know what you are doing, splicing your own negative can be risky.

Plus many post houses are happy to provide advice to people doing some of the work there and some of the work themselves, again, to minimize costly mistakes. And as for doing the color-correction yourself, it's just a different level of work possible at home compared to a high-end DaVinci and a trained colorist using it, but of course one can do a basic color-correction at home if you have the right equipment.

In other words, your system may work for you and your budget, but it's a far leap to suggest that anyone can do the same work at home that one can do at a post house. And for some people, TIME is money too, so you're weighing the benefits of taking the time to learn to do something yourself and then doing it, versus going to a post house and doing it faster and better there, albeit for more money.

Also, I wouldn't be so dismissive of professional post people's advice, like Dominic's and Mike's, considering this is what they been doing for a living every day for the past few decades. Dominic has even written a book on the subject.
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#8 Dan Goulder

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 09:25 PM

Here's another route you might want to consider: Keep your shooting ratio low, and transfer all your footage on a Spirit to uncompressed HD. Then have proxy files run of your footage in the DVCPro HD format. This will give you good enough quality for presentation to potential distributors, as well as provide an EDL for conforming the uncompressed files online if and when you have cause to assemble a master which can be used for any distribution format, including 35mm film out. As long as you keep your shooting ratio under control, this can turn out to be as cost effective as any other approach, while at the same time allowing for a more critical look at your footage while editing than you'll get from SD.
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#9 Jornenzal

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Posted 25 March 2006 - 11:58 AM

Thanks everybody for your responses. They've helped me a great deal.

If I could - I'd just like to throw in a couple of additional questions. I'm sure these will make me sound incredibly ignorant, so don't laugh too hard!

1) The Gretag Macbeth Color (or Colour, depending on where you're from) Chart...

I'm imagining that the idea with one of these is to shoot a few seconds of it at the beginning of each new roll - or in each new location - so that eventually, when color correction is done, the colorist will have a kind of fixed reference. Have I got that right?

2) As far as synchronizing the on-set sound with the footage I film - that's all done by the post house, correct?

3) For Michael Collier - Yes, I'd be very interested in hearing about the equipment you're assembling for your production. We can take that discussion off the boards if need be. You can always reach me at kieranjw@aol.com.

Thanks again.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 March 2006 - 11:28 PM

I'm imagining that the idea with one of these is to shoot a few seconds of it at the beginning of each new roll - or in each new location - so that eventually, when color correction is done, the colorist will have a kind of fixed reference. Have I got that right?


Actually a gray scale is better for colorists than a color chart. Color charts are more for you to evaluate a stock when shooting tests.

Gray scales are more useful for timing dailies since gray is not as subjective as a patch of color. Each person can disagree as to what the original shade was for a red or green patch, let's say, but most can agree when a grey field is neutral or has a color cast to it, and when a black is black and a white is white. Assuming you want a neutral color balance to the scene, shooting a grey scale under "white" light and correcting that in post to look neutral will mean that the following scene will be correctly rendered. For example, let's say that you used warming gels on all your lights to warm up a scene. If you didn't have a grey scale at the head of the roll, the colorist may correct out the warm cast to get neutral fleshtones, but if you had a white-lit grey scale at the head of the roll and the colorist corrected that to look neutral, then the following scene would come up warm-looking and the colorist would know that it was intentional.
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#11 Andrew Koch

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 06:05 AM

"2) As far as synchronizing the on-set sound with the footage I film - that's all done by the post house, correct?"

I am a student cinematographer, so I am used to working with incredibly (often unreasonably) tight budgets. As you know, most post houses charge by the hour, so when money is tight, you don't want to spend any more time at the post house than is absolutely necessary. Syncing your production sound with dailies at the post house is a sure fire way of emptying your wallet. The colorist will have to stop the machine for every single take, whereas with silent dailies where your exposures are consistent, you can often set the look for the scene and run it through uninterrupted.

You can easily sync your footage on your home computer as long as you slate every shot.

Another thing I have discovered is that if you transfer your film as low contrast (keeping the highlights below 80ire and the shadows above 10ire) you are keeping more of the film's dynamic range on your tape. The image will look a little flat, but once you have your film cut together, you can increase the contrast and tweak the colors. Since you will have a greater dynamic range to work with, you could do the final color yourself on your computer or take it back to the post house and do a scene to scene color correction there.

That's just my 2 cents
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#12 Michael Most

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 11:37 AM

now that computers are out everybody is telling me....you need a post house, you cant do it without a post house. WHY!!! cuts only, simple color correction and an HD final cut...this is what I bought the damn editting machine for!!! why would anyone drop $2000 on a computer and $1500 on adobe studio if I couldnt at least make a color corrected cut of my HD super-16 movie?


Doing color correction yourself, unless you're a talented colorist, largely eliminates most of the advantages of having uncompressed video in the first place. Color correction is a destructive process. If you don't know what you're doing - and I mean **really** know what you're doing, not just guessing because you think it looks good - you're reducing resolution, adding noise, and generally destroying much of the image. Not to mention the fact that any color correction you do yourself is meaningless unless you have proper viewing equipment and conditions.

THAT's why you should use a post house, at least for some of the post work. One of numerous other reasons.
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#13 Michael Most

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 11:51 AM

Syncing your production sound with dailies at the post house is a sure fire way of emptying your wallet. The colorist will have to stop the machine for every single take, whereas with silent dailies where your exposures are consistent, you can often set the look for the scene and run it through uninterrupted.


This is not always the case. Some facilities can sync in real time by pre-logging the sticks on sound, then doing a "pre-sync" pass on the picture which basically consists of shuttling the picture down to the sticks on each shot and setting a mark. This is then followed by a real-time laydown pass that does not require a separate edit for each shot. Having said that, I would not necessarily recommend against doing daily synching in the edit system - which, quite frankly, is where it belongs anyway.
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#14 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 11:56 AM

Kodak has an on-line directory of film transfer facilities:

http://www.kodak.com...=0.1.4.19&lc=en

IMHO, too many beginning filmmakers try to be a "one man band" and shortchange their primary goal of producing a good film. Professional labs and transfer houses are valuable allies in the post-production process.

For example, I've presented several technical papers on proper film handling and negative cutting. But would I ever risk cutting a negative myself? -- no way! That's a job best left to a professional negative cutter, who does it day-in and day-out. And I developed the Laboratory Aim Density (LAD) system that helps labs maintain consistent color and duplicating, but I certainly don't have the "color eye" of an experienced color timer / colorist.
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#15 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 07:14 AM

The beauty with filmmaking is also it's drawback - all departments are vital for the outcome of a film, from catering to sound design. It isn't an easy choice what to skimp on when money is tight. Instead of trying to say where to cut corners all I can say is where NOT to cut corners:

Telecine and a proper grade is one of those. Me personally, I'd rather forsake every dolly or crane move, shoot on old film stock with a beat up old camera as long as I have that. Sound design is another no skimp zone. Good actors the third one. These are just my personal opinions, of course, but that's where I'd put the money if I was to make a film.
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#16 Jornenzal

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 10:58 AM

Thanks so much everybody. This feedback has been invaluable.

-Kieran
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