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NUMB-prep


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#1 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 11:16 PM

I'm leaving next week for 4 weeks of prep before a 5 week shoot on the indie feature NUMB. The film is being shot in Vancouver and stars Matthew Perry. It's written and directed by Harris Goldberg. The story centers around a screenwriter who suffers from a disorder called "depersonalization" and how the it affects his life. The Hollywood Reporter has given a better synopsis HERE.

We're going to be shooting Super 35 in the 2.35 ratio with cameras and lenses from Panavision. 3 perf is being explored at this moment along with a DI. The budget is average for an indie film.

I look forward to sharing the experince.
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#2 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 01:04 AM

Good luck Eric. Have fun.
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#3 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 11:09 AM

We're just over a week from the start of pricipal photography. Kevin Pollack, Mary Steenburgen, and Lynn Collins have joined the cast. Lynn is an incredible new actress who I'm sure will be a big star soon.

My side of things has been busy as well. Finding a good crew in busy Vancouver has been challenging and I am in fact still searching out a 1st AC. I have a great operator by the name of Doug Schwartz who will also do our steadicam work.

The film is being shot in 2.35 3 perf and is going to be finished to HDCAMSR, then filmed out. Right now we're aiming for color correction and film out to be done at Deluxe Toronto. There are many optical effects the director wants to achieve and I'm going to try to accomplish as many in camera as possible. Therefore we are bringing up a Panaflex XL2 from LA which will give us the capability we need. We will carry a Gold II for B cam. An Arricam Studio would have been a slightly better choice, but due to their popularity we were unable to get a competitive bid. In front of the camera I'll be using Panavised Zeiss Ultra Speeds. I really like the color and contrast of these older lenses when married with Kodak's Vision 2 stocks. The quality of the stocks really let you capture the nuances and subtle qualitites these lenses have to offer.

Another thing worth noting is our workflow. Because of our modest yet increased budget, our dailies are all going to HDSR and being tranferred "flat," allowing them to then be used as our masters for color correction. This creates a couple issues for me. The first being I have little feedback on my work because it's flattened out. The other is that we have no film dailies and will have to rely on projected HDSR tapes to check focus, etc. Focus is also harder to judge when the image is "flat." The way I'll be double checking my work is with Kodak's Look Manager 2 and a Canon DSLR. I will have the dailies colorist use my settings from KLMS 2 and give me stills to make sure we're in sync. Having an camera operator will allow me to shoot my setups on set and then make reference images back at my apartment.

We've got 43 locations over what will be 22 challenging days. 4 of those will be on stage.

I'll try to post one more update before we start shooting.
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#4 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 12:27 PM

Good luck, Eric. 43 locations in 22 days.. Bring some coffee:-)
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#5 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 03:14 PM

What drove the decision to film out from SR? I'm assuming just cost; do you think this is an adequate medium for what you're doing?

Can you give us an idea of the sort of opticals you'll be doing?

As far as the reference stills go, is that because the production can't afford timed dailies? I would think that if you've already got the budget for SR dailies and for a dailies timer, that you'd be able to have him use KLMS to just do a quick grade so you don't have to look at flat dailies. I guess that would cost more though?
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#6 Chris Fernando

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 04:55 PM

Eric,

Just curious as to how you will be setting up your Canon DSLR to emulate what's on film. Best of luck and keep posting.
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#7 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 14 May 2006 - 06:24 PM

The choice of SR is financial. The added cost of a 2k scan doesn't make sense for us. There is little (less than 200 pixles) difference in resolution between HD and 2k, and SR is also full bandwidth (4:4:4). It makes it a great choice as a "poor man's" DI. If filmed out by a facility who knows what it's doing (read: experienced) and how to create a good LUT for the print, the results are great. So yes, I do think it's a more than adequate medium for this.

As far as KLMS...the colorist is going to transfer all the footage to tape flat, but he will do grades based on my KLMS reference and send me stills. So I will be getting graded stills of our footage, but only the flat "look" is going to tape. And yes, it's because production can't afford timed dailies.

The Canon DSLR is profiled in the KLMS. So long as you shoot RAW and set your exposure according to Kodak's suggestions, the software will take the camera into account when emulating a "look."
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 May 2006 - 07:34 PM

So did you end up deciding on 3-perf or 4-perf? If you are going to transfer to HDCAM-SR, then you'd only be transferring a 16x9 area of the film anyway, so 3-perf makes more sense. I assume since they won't be making a color-corrected SD version for dailies that they won't be properly letterboxed either to 2.40 since you'd want to transfer to full-frame HD for the masters?
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#9 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 11:20 PM

We're going 3-perf for the reason you mentioned. We are transferring the full frame to SR then will crop later on for 2.40, like you said.

I have a meeting tomorrow to see about dailies. I would love to be able to do 2 transfers...one for the SR masters "flat", and then a one light SD transfer cropped for editing. So they would have to do 2 passes. I'm going to be going to the lab to watch dailies projected in 2k from the SR tape. It will be easier to judge them than from an SD DVD.

Worst case scenario, they'll just do corrected and letterboxed still frames based on my KLMS settings for myslef and the director. I loathe everyone looking at a 16x9 flat transfer for months during editing and post and getting comfortable (or depressed) with the look. So long as I can reasure them how it WILL look with the KLMS, I think everything will be fine.

I put in our film order today. Kodak 5205 for day, 5218 for night. I had considered slower stocks for the days, but the 250 gives me more speed for the day interiors.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 12:42 AM

Since they have to make an SD submaster anyway for making dailies, probably on digi-beta, from which they'll make DVD's, they might as well run it through the DaVinci and color-correct them (plus add the 2.35 letterbox) rather than downconvert these flat log transfers. Or at least, run the downconversions through a simple LUT box to correct the SD submaster for video monitor display.
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#11 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 01:41 AM

I thought of having them do the downconversions through a LUT box like the BlackMagic HD Link but it would still need a matte...and I couldn't load my KLMS settings into it. I'm going to try and do like you said, run the SD through the DaVinci. I wish there was a way for the DaVinci to output two streams at once...I could do a flat pass to SR and have another setting for SD recorded simultaneously. I'm just worried about cost...layback will take twice as long.

Hmm..maybe I should call DaVinci tomorrow and suggest an upgrade.
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#12 mattuhry

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 11:44 AM

Hey Eric,

I just finished "Graduation" the same way, we shot 3-perf and transferred to HDSR. The transfer facility used a masking setup on the Spirit 2k that led to the reds being really super saturated, it was in most cases fixable, but you might want to find out what Spirit masking they are using. It has to do with how the Spirit deals with the orange mask on your neg. They thought they were doing a "Flat Pass" in terms of how the DaVinci was set up. Time delays in shipping and lousy monitors in the production office, last minute change of lab and schedule difficulties in actually talking with the colorist made it hard to cure in the first weeks.

Test reels looked very good, the Spirit footage was a bit less sharp than the Northlight 2k scans but also much less filmgrain (althought a touch of electronic noise) made me feel that it was not so much a better or worse comparison, just different looks between the Spirit -> HDSR route and Northlight/Imagica scan -> Data centric DI.

Sharp, Nice ( although a bit flat ) dailies also keep production feeling chipper about your work and more willing to come up with the cash when you ask for the Musco.

Matt Uhry
DP / LA IA 600
www.fuzby.com
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#13 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 08:09 PM

That is the route we are going, except we're using a C-Reality to scan. Saw our test footage today. Very nice. This SR route seems to be a very viable alternative to 2k and in fact I can see it replacing 2k scanning once 4k gradually becomes more common. There's just too little difference in quality and a big difference in price.
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