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16mm telecine to 1080p HD viability


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#1 Wai Choy

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 10:38 PM

Hi,

Please excuse my lack of experience with HD.

I'm an NYU film student and will be shooting a short film on color negative 16mm in a few months. I want to telecine to 1080p 24fps and edit digitally at 24fps. The camera I'll be given by NYU is a 16mm Arriflex camera which cannot shoot super 16.

Will a HD telecine of this regular 16mm film look good? I know that I'll have to compensate a lot for the frame and will lose the top and bottom of my frame.

Are there any other potential problems that I should know about?

Thank you very much. I really appreciate your help.

-Wai

Edited by Wai Choy, 26 June 2006 - 10:43 PM.

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#2 Scot McPhie

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 05:50 AM

Well I'll admit I've never done this, so I don't really know - but it sounds to me like you're doing a good thing - just make sure you frame for the HD aspect ratio when you shoot so everything lines up right in the telecine. I'd say your main concern is make sure you shoot the 16mm right in terms of focus, exposure DOF etc, and then make sure your nle can handle the hd workflow. The film itself should look great when telecined this way.

Now someone who's done it tell us what Iv'e missed :-) ..........


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#3 Joshua Reis

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 03:08 PM

This is a tough question to answer since there is so much subjectivity invlolved and everyone has a different opinion. I've transfered standard 16mm to HDCAM (108024P) and never have been really pleased with the results. Grain size and sharpness always seem to be the limiting factors, but you may be ok if you are going for a documentry kinda grundge style. Now Super 16 for 108024P is great, but standard 16mm is a bit of a stretch. Ive transfered standard 16mm to 720P and have been pleased. Obviously the film stock and lens that you choose are a huge factor. Remember, that you are eliminating about 20% of the negative going 4:3 to 1.78. To get good results, you are really working with tight tolerances regarding exposure, focus, camera steadyness, etc...everythign really needs to be dead on going standard 16 to 108024P. You mentioned that you are a student so I imagine your post bugdet is limited. Even if you did get the HD 108024P transfer, how will you edit it? May I suggest transferign to 720P HDPRO, this way you can edit in Final Cut Pro/Avid on a standard system. if you transfer on a Spirit 2k with a good colorist, you should be pleased with your results. Best of Luck!
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#4 Wai Choy

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 03:30 PM

Thanks a lot for the responses!

As far as I know, the film stock we'll be shooting is Kodak Vision 2 Color Neg, possibly 500T.

I was planning on cutting the film digitally using Avid Xpress Pro HD 5.0 in 1080p resolution and not getting my physical film cut together. What I had in mind was to downconvert the 1080p film to standard def so that I can show it on DVD, but still have the 1080p full resolution film for when HD DVD and Blu-Ray disc creation becomes affordable.

I like your idea of doing 720p instead. To clarify, are you saying that the 720p resolution would be more forgiving in terms of exposure and focus than 1080p would be?

I'm also new to the various HD formats, so could you please elaborate on what's the best quality HD format I could get my film 720p telecined to? Is it possible to go straight to a hard drive and skip having to go to tape first? I'd love to avoid having to rent an HD deck.

THanks again,

-Wai

Edited by Wai Choy, 27 June 2006 - 03:35 PM.

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#5 Chris Burke

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 04:06 PM

Thanks a lot for the responses!

As far as I know, the film stock we'll be shooting is Kodak Vision 2 Color Neg, possibly 500T.

I was planning on cutting the film digitally using Avid Xpress Pro HD 5.0 in 1080p resolution and not getting my physical film cut together. What I had in mind was to downconvert the 1080p film to standard def so that I can show it on DVD, but still have the 1080p full resolution film for when HD DVD and Blu-Ray disc creation becomes affordable.

I like your idea of doing 720p instead. To clarify, are you saying that the 720p resolution would be more forgiving in terms of exposure and focus than 1080p would be?

I'm also new to the various HD formats, so could you please elaborate on what's the best quality HD format I could get my film 720p telecined to? Is it possible to go straight to a hard drive and skip having to go to tape first? I'd love to avoid having to rent an HD deck.

THanks again,

-Wai



Lots of people, or shooters do this and many do not. Shoot a framing chart. Make a decision as to what your frame will be and shoot a framing chart accordingly. If HDCAM or DVCPRO HD are your only choices, then I would recommend the 720p also. If you can get it as uncompressed straight to hard drive, do that. I know it really must seem that I try to plug this production path, in all my posts, but I can not sing it's praises high enough. IF you are able to handle the media, or at least get the hard drive and make dv tape offline clones, cut from them and then online your movie from the hard drive media. This will give you the most options at the best quality for the lowest money. If you are already set up to use HD tape format, then go for it. Easiest is best. Good luck and have fun.


PS. I just did this for a short on S16 with the Eterna 250T and loved the results.
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#6 brettWas

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 08:10 PM

I'm actually in a similar situation. 720p will definitely work- because it is a smaller frame in regards to 1080p than 16mm (cropped to 1.77) is to S16mm. I hope that makes sense, because it works in my head.
Now I have a question to add on to this. Would the image quality of 1080p resized to 720p be less for any reason than native 720p? I can imagine why it would be, but that may not be true in reality.
There seems to be a theme in this post of things that work in my head not necessarily doing so outside...
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#7 Wai Choy

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 10:54 PM

Lots of people, or shooters do this and many do not. Shoot a framing chart. Make a decision as to what your frame will be and shoot a framing chart accordingly. If HDCAM or DVCPRO HD are your only choices, then I would recommend the 720p also. If you can get it as uncompressed straight to hard drive, do that. I know it really must seem that I try to plug this production path, in all my posts, but I can not sing it's praises high enough. IF you are able to handle the media, or at least get the hard drive and make dv tape offline clones, cut from them and then online your movie from the hard drive media. This will give you the most options at the best quality for the lowest money. If you are already set up to use HD tape format, then go for it. Easiest is best. Good luck and have fun.
PS. I just did this for a short on S16 with the Eterna 250T and loved the results.


Alright well I guess 720p is the way to go for me.

Is there an industry standard framing chart I should use? Or can I just print out a makeshift chart simply with an HD aspect ratio box on it?

Nope I don't have any HD hardware, so going direct to hard drive uncompressed and editing with Avid Xpress Pro HD would be ideal for me. That software can handle it right? Do I need any additional hardware?

Thanks.

-Wai
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 11:29 PM

Another thing you might consider is using the film's native 4:3 aspect ratio and transferring it "pillarboxed" to HD. If your main presentation is SD DVD, you'll preserve all of your image area and maximize the resolution of the film (making a 4:3 DVD). Subsequent HD presentations would still have HD resolution, but pillarboxed like any other SD up-convert.

It's a trade-off; give up resolution of the film to fill an HD frame, or give up 16:9 real estate to preserve the image quality.
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#9 Sam Wells

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 10:13 AM

Another thing you might consider is using the film's native 4:3 aspect ratio and transferring it "pillarboxed" to HD.


This is what I've done on a current straight 16 project.

You could crop to 16 x 9 later if you feel you can sacrifice the top and bottom information.
But I see nothing wrong with 4:3.

I personally wouldn't 'blow up' a 16 x ( extraction of a reg 16mm frame - especially with a 500T stock !

-Sam
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#10 Wai Choy

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 10:18 AM

I personally wouldn't 'blow up' a 16 x ( extraction of a reg 16mm frame - especially with a 500T stock !

-Sam
[/quote]


Would the grain be that much more noticeable with the 720p 16x9 HD that it would be distracting or irritating to the eye?
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#11 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 03:34 PM

Since you are using Regular 16mm, with a smaller image area than Super-16, it is especially important that you do all you can to maintain optimum sharpness and minimum graininess:

1. Use good optics
2. Focus carefully
3. Use the slowest film you have the light for
4. Avoid underexposure
5. A bit of overexposure will help reduce graininess
6. Use the latest generation of film stocks, like the Kodak VISION2 color negative films
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#12 Wai Choy

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 10:43 PM

Okay this my final question.

I understand the fear people have expressed that 1080p might be a bit of a stretch for the grain and resolution of regular 16mm film.

The general feeling seems to be that 720p is more suitable.

The question is this: If I were to telecine to 1080p just to see what the film looks like at this resolution, and I downconverted it t 720p if 1080p did turn out to be unsatisfactory, would that downconverted 720p footage be of the same quality as film originally telecined at 720p?

Thanks so much.

-Wai
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#13 David Cox

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 03:20 AM

Okay this my final question.

I understand the fear people have expressed that 1080p might be a bit of a stretch for the grain and resolution of regular 16mm film.

The general feeling seems to be that 720p is more suitable.

The question is this: If I were to telecine to 1080p just to see what the film looks like at this resolution, and I downconverted it t 720p if 1080p did turn out to be unsatisfactory, would that downconverted 720p footage be of the same quality as film originally telecined at 720p?

Thanks so much.

-Wai


The direct answer is yes it would be the same as long as a good downconverter is used.

Don't be confused though about why people are suggesting 720p over 1080p. It?s not really a quality thing, it's a price / efficiency thing. The limiting factor in terms of quality is the resolution and grain size of the 16mm film. For small to medium screens - say up to a 50 inch plasma, there isn't a *great* deal of difference to be seen between 720p and 1080p for film originated images. There is a more noticeable difference on large screens, such as cinema screens. But at this size, the overriding limitation would be the nature of the 16mm film, rather than whether it was scanned to 720 or 1080 lines.

When you are in post production, 1080p has more than twice the data of 720p. This means twice the disk space, twice the transfer time and twice the computer processing time (multiplies up for each layer). So if any of these elements increase your costs then you will end up paying more for an image that doesn't look that much better.

Hope that helps

David Cox
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#14 Michael Most

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 08:11 AM

The general feeling seems to be that 720p is more suitable.


If grain is there, it's there. It doesn't matter whether you're 1080, 720, or 525. A better format is always desirable.

One thing you should be aware of, that very few people seem to be aware of. The only existing 720 video format is 720p/60. The 720p/24 "format" exists only in a computer. Once you have to enter or exit the video world, it's 60. The only way to get 720/24 from tape is to record that tape with 3:2 pulldown and remove the pulldown on ingest. In most video facilities, 720p is an "oddball" format, one used solely for acquisition and delivery, not for post production - in part, because very few productions are actually shot for 60 fps, and in part because the HD infrastructure has been centered around 1080 since its inception. The 1080 formats are well defined and well supported, and the 1080/24p format is the only 24 frame video format currently in existence. You might be able to use 720/24 during editorial, but if you acquire or deliver in 720, it will be 720p/60 by definition.
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#15 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 07:58 PM

I agree with Mr Ptylak, over expose this 1/3 to 1/2 of a stop, to compensate for grain. On 500T you should have a beautiful image, if you go over a touch.

Another nice thing to take notice of, is making sure that in your image, you don't have any "pur blacks; anything that falls under .5 on your light meter, if your lens goes to a 1.4. Put some sort of light in there, like 2-4 footcandles, this will help reduce grain in post.

I am not super sure about this, but can't you get a 16x9 ground glass and frame off of that so you don't really loost any frame info, and you can go to 1080 or 720?
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#16 Michael Nash

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 04:56 PM

Another nice thing to take notice of, is making sure that in your image, you don't have any "pur blacks; anything that falls under .5 on your light meter, if your lens goes to a 1.4. Put some sort of light in there, like 2-4 footcandles, this will help reduce grain in post.


This is not true. Film grain is most visible in midtones, and if anything black can help visually disguise the presence of grain. A "pure" black on the negative (d-min) does not contribute any noise in telecine, nor affect the presence of visible grain on the negative.

If you want to try to boost or lighten very dark areas in telecine, then yes underexposure on the negative will reveal the grain in those areas once they are boosted. So if you want to play it safe with your shadows, then you could choose to add extra fill and crush those shadows later with no deleterious effect. But the simple presence of black on the neg will not contribute to the grain or noise in telecine.
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#17 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 05:46 PM

As a recient film graduate student and current post supervisor, I suspect that you are making this too complex. If the project you are shooting is anything less than a final thesis film I would suggest sticking with an SD digibeta finish. Most students make any number of mistakes when jumping into HD post that end up costing time and money. If you have time and money and this is a high level project then it may be worth it for the sake of the learning, but in any other case I recomment that you keep it as simple as possible, and get yourself a post super for the project who knows HD.
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