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#1 Alex Corn

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 07:56 AM

I am about to shoot a feature, on 35mm, and the director wants 2.40:1 as the final aspect ratio. We will go to HDCAM-SR as our final format; we are not really planning on a film out. I am wondering, as a DP, who has shot on film and transferred to HD. What is the best option? I think that 2-perf with a good transfer (I'm looking at Post-Works in NYC) is the way to go, but the director wants to shoot HD (he is thinking Varicam or an F900), as he has heard many good things about the "panavised" F900. To me, going 2-perf and getting both the fine grain and sharpness of a good film stock (I'm thinking 5201, it is mostly exterior and interiors with HUGE windows) and the advantages of the great latitude of film means that i can expose well (a little over-exposed actually) which will make my life easier in the transfer stage. Has anyone had horror stories, or bettter yet phenomally great stories about 2-perf that I could perhaps learn from? To me it seems like it would be the same as exposing any other film stock, but I could be wrong. Also, we are on a slightly tight budget, but not very tight. We can afford 35mm in any format (save for Anamorphic). I just like the idea of shooting in a format that truly suits our needs and costs half as much as the full frame 35mm. Please give me an argument for this director I haven't aready thought of. I know in the end it's his choice, but I think I can convince him that HD is not the way to gp.

Also, what cameras support 2-perf? I'm assuming that both Panavision and Arri have cameras that will do it, but which does it best (please don't say the 235 or 435, though I work with them all the time).

.

BTW, I am pushing for film as opposed to HD because I want more control in the semi-DI (HDCAM-SR) process, as opposed to originating in digital and having the problems of a tape to tape transfer, which i have had to go through many times before, and do not like, for various reasons.
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#2 Michael Most

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 08:23 AM

I am about to shoot a feature, on 35mm, and the director wants 2.40:1 as the final aspect ratio. We will go to HDCAM-SR as our final format; we are not really planning on a film out. I am wondering, as a DP, who has shot on film and transferred to HD. What is the best option? I think that 2-perf with a good transfer (I'm looking at Post-Works in NYC) is the way to go, but the director wants to shoot HD (he is thinking Varicam or an F900), as he has heard many good things about the "panavised" F900.
To me, going 2-perf and getting both the fine grain and sharpness of a good film stock (I'm thinking 5201, it is mostly exterior and interiors with HUGE windows) and the advantages of the great latitude of film means that i can expose well (a little over-exposed actually) which will make my life easier in the transfer stage.


The shooting conditions you're describing are an absolute worst case scenario for any video camera. The best way to make someone understand this is to shoot a few test shots on both formats and show them the difference - and there will be a significant difference in terms of detail retention in the highlights and graceful falloff of those highlights, as well as overall dynamic range. However, it sounds to me like your director is falling prey to hype and buzzwords - hence his use of the term "Panavized F900" (of course, if he was really up to date on hype and buzzwords, he'd be asking for a 950, or better yet, Viper, because it is actually designed to maximize use of its available resolution for 2.35 shooting - or perhaps a Genesis). Panavision's 900's are not significantly different than anyone else's 900's, except for the fact that they're set up to use Panavision lenses, which may or may not be your preference. There are no magical electronics in those cameras that magically gives you better images. When you're dealing with extreme lighting conditions, and a lot of day exteriors, film is much more appropriate both in terms of ease of production and flexibility in post. If you had said that the project was primarily stage bound, you might want to make a different choice. Tools should always be matched to the conditions, not the other way around.

BTW, I am pushing for film as opposed to HD because I want more control in the semi-DI (HDCAM-SR) process, as opposed to originating in digital and having the problems of a tape to tape transfer, which i have had to go through many times before, and do not like, for various reasons.


Don't fool yourself on this. You are not talking about a DI. You are talking about a "standard" video finish of a film shot project, basically the same thing as every network television program. You will, inevitably, be doing a tape to tape color correction for your final finish. Originating on film might give you a bit more to play with, provided you transfer in RGB 4:4:4. If you transfer in 4:2:2 (most likely what will be proposed, given the lack of film distribution), you are doing essentially a television finishing process. That's just the way it is. The only real additional "control" you'll have is in the dailies transfer, which can help you if you set up a good working relationship and good communications with the dailies colorist.
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#3 Stephen Williams

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 08:24 AM

Also, what cameras support 2-perf? I'm assuming that both Panavision and Arri have cameras that will do it, but which does it best (please don't say the 235 or 435, though I work with them all the time).


Hi,

Very few today! There are some Mitchell's, Arri 2c's, a few BL's , Kinors & an Ultracam to my knowledge. Some of the Mitchell's & Arri 2c's were 2 perf from the factory, the rest conversions.

Aaton will hopefully deliver its new design 'Penelope' in the next year or so! AFAIK no camera can be bought new today as 2 perf.

Stephen
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#4 Keith Mottram

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 08:28 AM

there are hardly any 2perf cameras- just a few converted and few, if any, transfer houses have the ability to scan 2perf. this will probably all change in time, with Aaton's entry into the market.

keith
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#5 Stephen Williams

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 08:40 AM

there are hardly any 2perf cameras- just a few converted and few, if any, transfer houses have the ability to scan 2perf. this will probably all change in time, with Aaton's entry into the market.

keith


Hi,

Any Spirit can handle 2 perf without modification.

Stephen
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#6 Nathan Milford

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 09:25 AM

Mostly you're going to find Kinors or Eclairs or the odd ARRI 2C or Mitchell. There are a few BL's and Moviecams globally.

I know a few private owners of Kinors on the east coast.

Aaton's new 35mm design will handle 2-perf as well, but you won't see that for some time.

Spirits, Vialtas and Y-Fronts can handle the format without any trouble and a lab or post house shouldn't charge extra for the format.
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#7 Keith Mottram

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 10:10 AM

i stand corrected!
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 10:27 AM

If a film-out is unlikely, it means a theatrical distrbution is unlikely.

Therefore the most likely scenario is distribution to TV, cable, home video, HDTV delivery, etc. Or film festivals that project digitally.

I would suggest that you don't shoot this in 2.35 then, since this is an aspect ratio that has its greatest impact on the theatrical screen where in most theaters, it is a wider image than 1.85. However, on a TV screen, it is always a shorter image than 1.85.

Also, even if you do create a 2.35 letterboxed HD master, you will be asked to deliver 16x9 full-frame version as well, if not also a 4x3 pan & scan version, for different non-theatrical distributors.

So my suggestion first of all is to shoot in a 16x9 format, or something near that aspect ratio -- like 3-perf 35mm (not 2-perf) or in HD. Or Super-16. Even if you still decide to compose for letterboxing to 2.35. Transfer to full-frame 16x9 HD and then make a separate 2.35 letterboxed version, rather than being forced later to create 16x9 full-frame from a 2.35 letterboxed master.

2-perf cameras are very rare, whereas 3-perf and Super-16 are quite common.

As far as the Panavised F900, it's not really different than a regular F900, not in terms of image quality, just some mechnical adjustments, most of which make the camera a little heavier, sturdier maybe, plus it takes the Panavision-built Digital Primo lenses.

If you can afford to shoot in 3-perf 35mm, then that's what you should shoot for the best image quality -- unless there's something about your production that will benefit from HD shooting (like a lot of HD visual effects applied to the image or a lot of footage to be shot.) Or you are doing some unique ultra low-light work in the city at night and might benefit from the look of gain-boosted HD.
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#9 Alex Corn

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 08:32 PM

Thank you all for your opinions, they will be of great help in making the final decisions about what to shoot. For right now, it looks like the idea of shooting 3-perf and cropping down might be the way to go, but only time will tell...
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