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Super 35mm 4-perf, 3-perf VS anamorphic


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#1 Panayiotis Salapatas

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 10:27 AM

Dear all,

I am planning to shoot a feature film on 35mm and the director is thinking of going anamorphic. There is also the possibility of super 35mm and there has been some talk on super 35mm?3perf. I know some of the pros and cons of anamorphic vs super 35mm but don?t know much about spuer 35mm-3perf. Is it expensive in the optical process as super 35mm-4perf is? Any people out there who have had experience with anamorphic. Also the film will take place in Alaska on a boat which means there needs to be a small light crew. How diificult is anamorphic to shoot?

Thanks
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 10:52 AM

First of all, are you really planning on doing the conversion from Super-35 to anamorphic using an optical printer and going through an IN & IP, versus doing a digital intermediate?

If you are doing the optical printer route, using 3-perf should actually be slightly cheaper because the contact-printed IP will be 3-perf and thus 25% shorter in length. And of course, you saved 25% on raw stock & processing costs. But it does restrict you to the few labs with experience optically blowing up 3-perf to anamorphic. I know Technicolor has done it for Storaro, and I heard that "Downfall" in Germany was blown-up this way.

The main problem with 3-perf is avoiding mixing ANY 4-perf footage because of the lack of certain cameras like Arri-2C's, Eyemos, etc. in 3-perf. If you end up mixing 3 and 4-perf, doing a digital intermediate instead of an optical printer blow-up makes more sense, although if it only happens once or twice, you can probably deal with it in the optical printer, but it will add to the costs (the 4-perf shots will probably be blown-up separately and spliced into the anamorphic IN.) And that could create problems if you need to make release prints at high speed on that spliced IN, which means that the 4-perf shots may need to be duped to 3-perf and cut into the original negative, thus losing two generations on those shots.

Also, note that every additional IN you want to make has to be an optical printer blow-up, adding to the costs.

Generally it adds about $15,000 to the cost of making an IN if you use an optical printer for a feature. On the other hand, a digital intermediate will cost over $100,000...

So shooting in anamorphic and contact-printing can end up cheaper and better-looking, even with the higher rental costs of the anamorphic lenses.

In terms of shooting on a boat with a small crew, yes, it can be harder with anamorphic, especially if you end up with the large series like Primo anamorphics or Hawk V-Series. Or if you plan on using a zoom a lot of the time -- anamorphic zooms tend to be nearly 2-stops slower in speed. But it can be done.
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#3 Dirk DeJonghe

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 01:52 PM

Last year we completed the film "Een ander zijn geluk" www.eenanderzijngeluk.be/

It was shot on Super 35/3 perf using an Aaton 35-III camera and Zeiss HS lenses mostly used wide open. The DoP Frank vanden Eeden created a stunning visual style, earning him personal congratulations from Vittorio Storaro, president of the Jury at the Thessaloniki Film Festival.

Because of some technical problems we had to do about 10 minutes digitally to mix with the optical blow up.

The 3-perf negative was first printed directly to 4 perf positive for grading purposed, the IP was an optical blow up to 4perf Anamorphic and the dupeneg was optical 1:1 printed for maximum sharpness.

The main problems in 3-Perf work are the Keykode operations, since they run at 64 perf intervals,not divisible by 3.
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#4 Panayiotis Salapatas

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 01:20 AM

Last year we completed the film "Een ander zijn geluk" www.eenanderzijngeluk.be/

It was shot on Super 35/3 perf using an Aaton 35-III camera and Zeiss HS lenses mostly used wide open. The DoP Frank vanden Eeden created a stunning visual style, earning him personal congratulations from Vittorio Storaro, president of the Jury at the Thessaloniki Film Festival.

Because of some technical problems we had to do about 10 minutes digitally to mix with the optical blow up.

The 3-perf negative was first printed directly to 4 perf positive for grading purposed, the IP was an optical blow up to 4perf Anamorphic and the dupeneg was optical 1:1 printed for maximum sharpness.

The main problems in 3-Perf work are the Keykode operations, since they run at 64 perf intervals,not divisible by 3.



Hi Dirk,

Thank you for your reply. I wanted to ask if there was any reason why super35mm - 3perf was chosen for the feature "Een ander zijn geluk"over let's say super 35mm 4-perf. Was it that one ususally saves around 25% in film an printing?
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#5 Panayiotis Salapatas

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 01:35 AM

Hi David,

Thanks for your reply. So the main reason for shooting super 35mm-3perf as oposed to super35mm-4-perf is the 25% cut in film and print costs?

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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 02:12 AM

Thanks for your reply. So the main reason for shooting super 35mm-3perf as oposed to super35mm-4-perf is the 25% cut in film and print costs?


And the 25% longer running times per mag.

Picture-wise, there is no quality difference between 3 and 4-perf Super-35 if your aspect ratio is 1.78 or wider.

I also like the fact that the 3-perf negative is 1.78 -- saves me from having to argue for hard-matting the negative... I've alway been uncomfortable with shooting a 4x3 negative for cropping to a widescreen picture.

But there are also a lot of problems with 3-perf, like not being able to project 3-perf contact prints on location because of a lack of 3-perf projectors (unless you can afford to rent and set-up an Arri LocPro). And the lack of Arri-2C's, Arri-III's, Eyemos, etc. in 3-perf (there are a few 3-perf Arri-III's out there but are hard to find) which causes you having to mix 4-perf footage into the movie.
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#7 Dirk DeJonghe

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 06:07 AM

I would say the reason is both savings on raw stock and longer running times. The format was 2.35.
There are plenty of Aaton 35-III 3-perf cameras around here. They are quieter too on 3 perf.

It all depends if the lab is equipped and interested to do 3 perf. Picture quality is not an issue.
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#8 Panayiotis Salapatas

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 09:59 AM

David,

Once again thank you for your reply. I have a few more questions. Even though it's difficult renting a 3-perf projector on location I could always telecine the super 35mm - 3-perf for dailies. Of course it's not the same thing but still I coulg get an idea. Is that what you meant?

Also is super 35mm -4perf 1.78 too? I am a little confused as to the aspect ratios of super 35mm 3-perf and 4-perf and don't want to bombard you with questions. Do you know of any web site where I can get some more information? Last - why do I need to mix 4-perf with 3-perf? Why can't I rent a 3-perf camera and shoot the entire film? I am a little unclear to that.

thanks again

Panayiotis
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 11:25 AM

4-perf Super-35 is the same as Full Aperture, which is the same as what was used in the Silent Era -- which is 1.33 : 1. Most people shoot Super-35 for the slightly extra width over Academy (sound), not for the extra vertical dimension, so they don't think about the fact that it is really 4x3. So if you're composing for cropping to 2.35, you are wasting almost half the height of the Full Aperture in 4-perf.

There are relatively plenty of 3-perf 35mm sync-sound cameras for rent, unless you are shooting at the height of TV season when many of them are out. Panavision, Arri, Aaton, etc. all have 3-perf cameras.

The problem is not shooting 3-perf for sound shots, it's for the special shots where you would need to shoot, let's say, over 60 fps and can't afford a 3-perf Arri-435 or can't find a rare 3-perf Arri-III. Or need an Eyemo for a crash camera shot. Or need to use an Arri-2C for whatever reason. Most sync-sound cameras are limited to 60 fps max.

I just shot a 3-perf feature and came this close to using a 4-perf Arri-III for some extreme slo-mo shots because Panavision's one 3-perf converted Arri-III was unavailable and I couldn't afford a 3-perf Arri-435. But in the last minute we cancelled the shot and I shot the whole movie on two sync-sound cameras, a 3-perf Millenium XL and a 3-perf GII. So I'm not saying it's impossible to shoot only 3-perf for a whole movie, just that often some 4-perf footage somehow ends up in there.
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#10 Panayiotis Salapatas

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 02:36 AM

David I have some more questions.

Shooting super 35mm - 4perf one can go to 1.33 or 1.85 or 2.35. These ratios I guess depend on the ground glass markings unless one goes hard matting. What about the 3-perf? One can get the same ratios like in 4perf?

Thanks
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 03:03 AM

Sure, you can frame any shape inside any other shape.

A common 3-perf groundglass for TV work these days is 16x9 (1.78) with 4x3 inside that, sharing common top & bottom. The film is transferred to 16x9 HD, and a 4x3 standard def version is center-extracted by cropping the sides of 16x9 for the 4x3 non-letterboxed broadcast.

Since the 3-perf negative is 1.78 in Full Aperture, any aspect ratio you want to frame for that is more square than 1.78 will involve cropping the sides, losing the advantage of shooting Super-35 though. So if your primary frame is 4x3 or 1.37 Academy, then 4-perf makes more sense.

But since all theatrical ratios now are widescreen, and 16x9 is becoming a common mastering format, there is less of a need for a square negative.
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