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Super 16mm Work Flow


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#1 Will Moore

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 06:32 PM

I am in pre-production on a modern day western and have decided to shoot super 16 for the majority of the shoot along with regular 35mm for about a week. The 35mm will be used for exteriors-like shots of the countryside, establishing, blah, blah, blah ? to give the film a feeling of grandeur? while the super 16 will be used for pretty much anything involving the actors for a more intimate feel.

For budgetary reasons I will not be able finish off on film but would like to keep this option open so if/when I do acquire the needed finishing funds I will be able to either to do a film out or blow up to 35mm.

What I was thinking is that I could transfer ALL of my footage to HD for the masters, then down convert to DVCAM with time code for the offline edit. Then go back to the HD master for the online and final cut of the film for festival screenings.

I shot my first (and only) feature on a regular 16 with a cp-16r and transferred to minidv. I then downloaded those tapes onto my mac and edited using final cut pro 3. Once finished I exported to minidv and had DVDs made from this. The end product was extremely grainy I really would like to avoid this result for the new film.

For the choices that I have made and knowing that (at present) my final cut will be digital and not film ? is this the best workflow? Do I have to use HD masters in order to keep the picture quality? I have a feeling if I transfer to DVCAM for the final (digital) cut that I?ll be kicking myself because I lost picture quality along the way. I guess what I am getting at, is there a cheaper workflow without loosing picture quality?
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#2 David Cox

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 07:10 PM

I guess what I am getting at, is there a cheaper workflow without loosing picture quality?


The more efficient workflow is to transfer all your rushes as "one lights" to a cheap format such as DVcam. Edit your film from that and then transfer just the takes you used in your edit to HD through a high quality telecine. Then re-conform your film from those.

This way you are only paying for a HD transfer of the actual material you use, rather than everything.

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#3 Andy Sparaco SOC

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 07:25 PM

A Transfer to DVCam would be preferable so you do not loose TC. Starting to see the transition to direct to drive telecine layoff-more and more common. Xfer to portable Firewire/USB harddrive using the DV50 codec is better yet (4:2:2) and can be accessed in FCP. Strongly suggest you xfer in 8 gig chunks so you can Back-up on DVD for a portable Archive you can easily share with members of your workgroup.

The end of buying tape decks :D

Anyone want a nice 3/4 inch JVC 850 edit/recorder?
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#4 Chris Burke

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 09:46 PM

A Transfer to DVCam would be preferable so you do not loose TC. Starting to see the transition to direct to drive telecine layoff-more and more common. Xfer to portable Firewire/USB harddrive using the DV50 codec is better yet (4:2:2) and can be accessed in FCP. Strongly suggest you xfer in 8 gig chunks so you can Back-up on DVD for a portable Archive you can easily share with members of your workgroup.

The end of buying tape decks :D

Anyone want a nice 3/4 inch JVC 850 edit/recorder?




I second this work flow suggestion. I am in post now for a short we shot on Fuji Eterna 250T Super 16. Tk'd dailies to DVCAM with a window burn in and will do an uncompressed HD DI on hard drive from the cut list. Most labs will cut you a great deal if you do at least the one light along with stock and processing through them. I used www.cinelab.com. They are great. I spent $170 per 400' which included stock, processing and a best light with the window burn in. I got this price because of the volume I purchased. Give them a call, they love to help. They will do 35mm as well. They are not set up for HD yet, but have connections where they can factor in a special prices for an HD online as well. Good luck.

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#5 Will Moore

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 10:24 AM

When you don't know you just don't know. Thanks for the nugget guys.

One more question:

After I have my HD masters with effects - if I have the opportunity to have a film print made - would it be wise to do a film out OR have the 16mm cut and blown up?

Thanks again,
Will
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#6 Will Moore

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 02:59 PM

I just spoke with DvFilm in Austin and they recommended that I do a transfer to DVCpro HD, edit on FCP and then do a non recompressed export to a hard drive. Keep everything running at 24fps and I will be able to do a film out from the hard drive with for only a little more than it would cost me to make an HD master.

If this is the case then I definitely want to have a print of the film. Are there any consequences to this workflow - like loss in picture quality?

Edited by Will Moore, 20 July 2006 - 03:01 PM.

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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 06:17 PM

If this is the case then I definitely want to have a print of the film. Are there any consequences to this workflow - like loss in picture quality?


Sure, DVCPRO-HD is an 8-bit 4:2:2 format with a lot of compression for one thing, and I guess this means it would be a 720P image as well, and the color would be in linear video color space.

The loss would be more for the 35mm footage, since it has more native resolution, on the other hand, it will make it blend more with the Super-16 material. But then, you might as well just shoot Super-16 for everything.

It might look acceptable though. "City of God" did a similar thing, used 8-bit HDCAM 1080P to transfer the Super-16 and 35mm footage to. You pick up a little video-ish feeling.
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#8 Michael Most

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 07:50 PM

I just spoke with DvFilm in Austin and they recommended that I do a transfer to DVCpro HD, edit on FCP and then do a non recompressed export to a hard drive. Keep everything running at 24fps and I will be able to do a film out from the hard drive with for only a little more than it would cost me to make an HD master.


If you really believe that, either you have little knowledge of the process and the associated costs, or you're not thinking rationally. For the film out, you're going to need, for a 90 minute movie, approximately 9000 feet of negative stock, 9000 feet of print stock, processing on both, creation of an optical track negative, printing for the print, and film recording for 5 AB reels. The approximate costs of these things:
9000 ft. negative stock (assuming camera negative, not intermediate) @ .52 = 4680
9000 ft. print stock @.20 = 1800
18000 ft. processing @.13 = 2340
9000 ft. optical track @.20 = 1800
9000 ft. film recording @1.50 (a ridiculously low price, one you're not likely to get easily - it's under .10 per frame) = 13500

Total cost for a basic film out = $24120, without any color correction and without additional charges for the print run. And the prices above for film stock are the prices given to large volume production companies, at least for the negative stock, so the lab would basically be giving it away. If you do what you're talking about, the finishing costs for an HD master would likely be the cost of stock (approx. $120), facility time to copy the file and play it out (3 hours @150, or about 450), and any possible duplication. Heck, even if you wanted to go into color correction for 2 days on a DaVinci with a good colorist, that would likely cost about $8000 - bringing your total costs for an arguably much better product (if you don't need the film delivery) to about a third of what a "basic" filmout would cost.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 08:10 PM

9000 ft. film recording @1.50 (a ridiculously low price, one you're not likely to get easily - it's under .10 per frame) = 13500


$4.50/foot would be more likely for an Arrilaser output, so 9,000' = $40,500.
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#10 Will Moore

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 09:15 PM

If you really believe that, either you have little knowledge of the process and the associated costs, or you're not thinking rationally. For the film out, you're going to need, for a 90 minute movie, approximately 9000 feet of negative stock, 9000 feet of print stock, processing on both, creation of an optical track negative, printing for the print, and film recording for 5 AB reels. The approximate costs of these things:
9000 ft. negative stock (assuming camera negative, not intermediate) @ .52 = 4680
9000 ft. print stock @.20 = 1800
18000 ft. processing @.13 = 2340
9000 ft. optical track @.20 = 1800
9000 ft. film recording @1.50 (a ridiculously low price, one you're not likely to get easily - it's under .10 per frame) = 13500

Total cost for a basic film out = $24120, without any color correction and without additional charges for the print run. And the prices above for film stock are the prices given to large volume production companies, at least for the negative stock, so the lab would basically be giving it away. If you do what you're talking about, the finishing costs for an HD master would likely be the cost of stock (approx. $120), facility time to copy the file and play it out (3 hours @150, or about 450), and any possible duplication. Heck, even if you wanted to go into color correction for 2 days on a DaVinci with a good colorist, that would likely cost about $8000 - bringing your total costs for an arguably much better product (if you don't need the film delivery) to about a third of what a "basic" filmout would cost.




Little knowledge, that's why I am here... thanks. I am director-not a DP and would like to know my options before I hire a DP.

I am not going to disclose the quote I received but will say the cost you gave is close. My thought was that it would be better to have a print for festival screenings than and a HD master. I love film, I think artistically it has more to offer to cinema than digital. I guess this is why I'd like to end up with a print instead of a digital master.

Why do you feel that a HD master would look better than a 35mm print?

Anyone else have an opinion on the subject?

I actually got the idea because I love the look and feel of City of God - you hit the nail on the head David.

Edited by Will Moore, 20 July 2006 - 09:16 PM.

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#11 Michael Most

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 09:53 PM

I am not going to disclose the quote I received but will say the cost you gave is close. My thought was that it would be better to have a print for festival screenings than and a HD master. I love film, I think artistically it has more to offer to cinema than digital. I guess this is why I'd like to end up with a print instead of a digital master.

Why do you feel that a HD master would look better than a 35mm print?


I wouldn't argue about the usefulness of having a film print available for projection in virtually any venue, but it comes at a price. Your love of a film product would make sense if you were actually following a film post path. But according to what you described, that's not what you're planning to do. You're going from film, to video, and back to film again. And you're not even using the best currently available video format to do that (that would be HDCam SR in 4:4:4 mode). That's not a film product. It's a video-to-film product.

The reason I said that an HD master would be a better product is because you could, under the circumstances that were outlined, afford to have it properly color corrected by someone who does that for a living. There is no room in the budget I quoted for the film out for that step - in fact, in your outlined post path, you didn't even mention it. Color correction following final assembly is an important step if you want the final product to be the best it can.

$4.50/foot would be more likely for an Arrilaser output, so 9,000' = $40,500.


True. But there are other film recording options, and I don't know of many "independent" productions that can afford an Arri Laser. Not to mention that in my experience, some of the other options actually wind up looking a bit better when the source is a Quicktime movie from a compressed video format. This is due, in part, to using camera stocks (most commonly 5245) for recording rather than intermediate stock - thus adding a bit more grain texture - and in part due to a bit less sharpness, which in the case of a lot of video originated material is actually a good thing. Arri Laser output is certainly preferable when working from true film scans, but for video origination it's not always the best choice, regardless of cost.
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#12 Will Moore

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 10:21 PM

I wouldn't argue about the usefulness of having a film print available for projection in virtually any venue, but it comes at a price. Your love of a film product would make sense if you were actually following a film post path. But according to what you described, that's not what you're planning to do. You're going from film, to video, and back to film again. And you're not even using the best currently available video format to do that (that would be HDCam SR in 4:4:4 mode). That's not a film product. It's a video-to-film product.


To follow a film post path would cost more... at least as far as I have been informed. Trust me, I'd love to...

mmost - would you enjoy discussing my options over the phone and would be more than happy to discuss my budget and get your opinion as to the best work flow, picture quality-cost wise.

If so, please email me at will@bandwagonfilms.com and I will respond with my phone number.

I'll talk to any professional for that matter. I just want to insure the best picture quality for what I can afford.

Greatly appreciative.
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#13 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 03:18 PM

Reading this thread I fear for you and your money. You need to hire a post supervisor who is experienced with doing a dual work flow. I suspect that you would not be satisified with some of the options discussed here, and I also suspect that you won't get through post without spending more money than necesary. I strongly recommend that you keep it as simple as possible and consider using only 1 film format, and not doing procedures such as film recording.

Finishing on HD while protecting for a neg. cut is a common enough work flow but there are a lot of potential problems that will cost you both time and money. And that's without even mentioning the fact that you want to do this on CT and FCP.

good luck but go straight to post professionals, the advice you get here won't be enough to get you through your project.
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