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Digital->FilmOut questions


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#1 bhangima j

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 03:00 PM

Hi All,

This is about "Digital->Film Out" scenario. Though I have a reasonable understanding about the workflow involved, the following questions still dangle as I do not have practical experience in this matter. I would appreciate if someone could clarify me in the following points:

1. Considering "Film shoot->DI->Film out" scenario, what should be the resolution at which the film has to be digitized (and recorded back to film) if we want the "Filmed out" version to look as good as the originally shot film (if at all that is possible)?

2. Can someone kindly give a comparison as to how the various DV formats like MiniDV, DVCAM and DVCPro can contribute to the best-case resoluton the footage can have at the digital stage?

3. Considering the "DV shoot->Film-Out" option for 35mm feature filmmaking, what is the acceptable (and practical) resolution at which the DV source material should be shot (and captured to digital files?) so as to make the the final out-film match to the 35mm-shot material? Are the miniDV cameras like Panasonic DVX100, and Canon XL2 upto this kind of work?

4. Digressing a bit on the subject: How does the "DV shoot ->35 mm Film out" process compare to "16mm film shoot -> 35mm blow up" process in the parameters of COST and QUALITY?

My search in the forums might not be exhaustive, but I could not find any post to these points. Best regards to you all, and thanks in advance for your responses.
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#2 Max Jacoby

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 05:42 PM

1. Considering "Film shoot->DI->Film out" scenario, what should be the resolution at which the film has to be digitized (and recorded back to film) if we want the "Filmed out" version to look as good as the originally shot film (if at all that is possible)?


At least 4K.

A print off the original neg is still the best quality you're ever going to get, but since most feature films go through the interpos/interneg stage and a 4K DI allows you skip those steps (i.e. create a 'new' original neg) that resolution is the minimum. Most current DIs are still 2K and they always look slightly soft.


4. Digressing a bit on the subject: How does the "DV shoot ->35 mm Film out" process compare to "16mm film shoot -> 35mm blow up" process in the parameters of COST and QUALITY?

Shooting on Super 16 will give you much better quality than DV and is probably cheaper as well.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 05:51 PM

"Acceptable and practical" resolution for most post houses is 2K (hence why it is so common); optimal resolution would be at least 4K.

As far as DV versus Super-16 costs, you have to be more clear as to what costs you are comparing. Since a film-out is so expensive, it's possible than DV-to-35mm might be more expensive than Super-16 optically blown-up to 35mm (or a tie), but not Super-16 digitally blown-up to 35mm (since now you've got the costs of film plus the costs of the digital post), and not if you have a high shooting ratio (since tape is so much cheaper to shoot per minute than film.)

Do a budget and crunch the numbers for yourself.

As far as quality goes, it's no contest -- Super-16 will look better unless incompetently shot, but if you were going to do that, you'd probably shoot DV incompetently as well.
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#4 bhangima j

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 02:35 AM

Thank you Max and David. You clarified it to the point. And yes, I was thinking of the "optical" blow-up when I considered 16mm shoot vs. DV shoot.

I understood that 4K-film-out is a lot expensive compared to 2K-film-out, but if I want certain pieces of footage filmed-out at 4K, and the rest at 2K, do I need to make my choice of the format/camera at the time of shooting (based on the required resolution) - or can I postpone it to the "DV capturing" time?

In other words, is it possible to stick to a single miniDV prosumer camera that can produce good enough footage eligible to be digitized at 4K? I am having this question because I think there is only so much of detail that a format can hold (and the CCDs can capture), but I don't know the upper limit in case of a format like miniDV. Any thought in this regard, please?
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#5 Stephen Williams

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 03:04 AM

In other words, is it possible to stick to a single miniDV prosumer camera that can produce good enough footage eligible to be digitized at 4K?


Hi,

You are joking? PAL 720 x 576. 4k is 4096!
35mm film is the only capture medium that resolves more than 4K.

Stephen
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#6 Max Jacoby

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 03:30 AM

Mini Dv footage is already digital, so you cannot digitize it any further!
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#7 Alexandre Lucena

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 07:07 AM

Hi bhangima j,

Do you really need a 35mm copy of your project? Why not make arrangements and bring
a HI DEF projector to the theatre. And originate your video using some of these newer
HDV, DVCPROHD cameras that are now flooding the market. It sure will not cost you
an arm and a leg.

Alexandre
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#8 bhangima j

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 08:25 AM

Thank you all for responses.

35mm film is the only capture medium that resolves more than 4K.

Stephen



Yes, that was what I was not clear about. I've heard about projects shot in MiniDV and saved as 2K QuickTime frames for Film-Out. So I was wondering if we could take this further to 4K (just the way we could set the capture ratio as 1:3 or 1:2 or 1:1, for example in Avid). Perhaps 1:1 capture itself results in 2K max?

Mini Dv footage is already digital, so you cannot digitize it any further!


OK, I think I should have said "capturing" (from tape to disk) instead of using the word "digitizing". Problem with terminology. As I said above, it is my assumption that the quality (and resolution) of hard-disk-copy can vary depending on the capture ratio used.

Do you really need a 35mm copy of your project? Why not make arrangements and bring
a HI DEF projector to the theatre.

Alexandre

You are right, but digital projection is not common in my country. So the premise for my post was - Using DV for shooting, with the intent of making feature film for theatrical projection: What I would gain, lose, and possible ways to circumvent the quality issues when shootng in DV (especially miniDV).

Thank you again.
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#9 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 08:47 AM

So the premise for my post was - Using DV for shooting, with the intent of making feature film for theatrical projection: What I would gain, lose, and possible ways to circumvent the quality issues when shootng in DV (especially miniDV).

Thank you again.


Because others have already talked about the technical issues, I'd like to address something more fundamental if I may. I understand budgetary limitations that drive your decision to shoot using MiniDV, however I often wonder why "moviemakers" who put so much time and energy into the rest of the production are willing to capture the action with an inadequate technology. I can understand an aspiring filmmaking student needing to use consumer level technology to practice on a short project. But if you're going to the trouble to gather the resources and talent for a full feature, why skimp on something as important as the camera you're going to save the "effort" on?

A related issue that I've observed in my years on set is that the smaller the camera, the less seriously everyone on set will take the project. I've seen it firsthand multiple times...if the cast and crew arrive on set and see a full blown Panaflex, they treat the project with respect and give their jobs their all. If they arrive and see a smaller camera, be it a 16mm Arri or a small DV camera (even an F900 at times), suddenly it's as if the air is let out of the enthusiasm. People still do their jobs, but with a lot less urgency and care. I guess it's an attitude of "well, the Producers aren't taking this seriously so why should we?"

"Filmmaking" is filmmaking and it shouldn't matter what camera is used, but unfortunately it does, especially on a "low budget" where you really need everyone to give it their all. Plus, if people are agreeing to work on your low budget project, it's because they are looking to work on "important" projects that they can show off as proof that they have experience. Not too many people will want to announce that the last "movie" they worked on was shot with a consumer DV camera so they may bail in the middle of your show or pass altogether.

I don't know your situation, but I've found that there is usually somebody nearby who owns camera equipment who will be willing to help out on "ambitious" projects from time to time. Sometimes they want something for a reel or they are just tired of the run of the mill shoots that pay the bills. So instead of giving in to thinking that you have to shoot with a little camera just to save money, ask around and try to find someone who has the resources to help take the project to a new level.
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#10 Max Jacoby

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 12:30 PM

Yes, that was what I was not clear about. I've heard about projects shot in MiniDV and saved as 2K QuickTime frames for Film-Out. ... Perhaps 1:1 capture itself results in 2K max?

I am not sure whether this is a language thing, but just to be perfectly clear on this:

DV is NOT 2K resolution and it never will be 2K resolution.

2K refers to 2048 horizontal pixels (the vertical ones vary, because of different aspect ratios). DV, as Stephen said has only 720 horizontal pixels. So even if you capture 1:1, you only ever will have 720 pixels max.

The thing that people sometimes do is 'uprezzing' which means they transfer a lower quality format into a higher quality format. So you could 'uprezz' DV to HD or even 2K. This however is not magically going to make your DV sharper, but the beneficts are for color-corection. Working in an uncompressed format allows for more intermediary values to be saved, i.e. your color correction can be done in finer steps. But, to reiterate, this is not going to make your DV look like film or even HD.
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#11 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 03:53 PM

As others have noted, Super-16 film can provide a good alternative for lower budget productions:

http://www.kodak.com/go/16mm

http://www.imdb.com/...al?PCS:Super 16
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 06:08 PM

DV gets uprezzed to 2K just because that's what many Arrilasers and whatnot are set to output out. It may help a little with some aliasing and noise, but you can't really add missing resolution. I can't imagine you'd see any difference between DV uprezzed to 2K or 4K. You'd just get charged more for the 4K output because it would take longer to do.
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#13 bhangima j

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 03:32 PM

... A related issue that I've observed in my years on set is that the smaller the camera, the less seriously everyone on set will take the project. ...

It is nothing different in my (limited) experience too. But it is just that I still have to explore what DV has to offer, and how to get around potential issues while dealing with the medium. I agree with all that you said. Wanted to be sure I go through this before I decide in favor of Super16. Thank you, Brian.

... DV is NOT 2K resolution and it never will be 2K resolution....

I should have noted that from your previous post itself. Thank you, Max, I got that.

Thank you all for the response, that definitely added clarity to what I had in mind.
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#14 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 05:03 PM

If you are serious about shooting DV and going out to film (which you shouldn't be) you need to be VERY carefull in the planning of your production, the art design, the lighting etc.

I have seen one short "film" that was shot this way and it looked very good but three factors made this possible:

1- a lot of blown out highlights was part of the aesthetic and lighting design of the project.

2- The color scheme of the set decoration, art direction, wardrobe was muted, very little color, mostly grey and black with more color in the exterrior shots. The generally muted color design worked well with the limited color space of DV.

3- The director was an After Effects Junkie and since it was a si-fi script he created a number of effects for his short that added a lot of production value.

4- He did a lot of testing at diffferent places before he decided on the lab that would do the job.

I also saw a feature that was shot this way and it looked crappy, it was a run and gun doc in which they just worked with what they had, the results were predictably bad.

Here is something to consider, if you want to use DV for a feature maybe you are not being realistic about how much money you need to shoot the project properly. Consider spending more time fund raising and less time trying to back into an unreasonable budget. Indi folks here in LA engage in really bad decision making all the time and in the end what do they have? A bad script, with bad acting, that also looks bad, and is poorly edited etc. you get the idea. If you are going to do something for no money everyone on the project needs to be highly skilled and experienced.
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#15 bhangima j

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Posted 24 July 2006 - 08:02 AM

Thank you for those useful points.
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