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Advice on choosing a format


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#1 Peter Egan

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 06:08 PM

Hi,

I'll be shooting a very theatrical short film soon; it's just a guy sitting on table going through a monologue, with everything around him in total darkness (very cinematic, I know :P ).

Is it worth shooting something like this on 16mm film? I mean, all the reasons why one would want to shoot 16mm do not apply to this film. Since there is no visible background, since it's so visually simple, it seems to me that there is no need for worrying about filmic depth of field, latitude, and such things.

Would Super 8 do an adequate job here? Perhaps miniDV or HDV?

Cheers,
P.
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#2 Jonathan Benny

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 08:09 PM

Is it worth shooting something like this on 16mm film? I mean, all the reasons why one would want to shoot 16mm do not apply to this film. Since there is no visible background, since it's so visually simple, it seems to me that there is no need for worrying about filmic depth of field, latitude, and such things.

Would Super 8 do an adequate job here? Perhaps miniDV or HDV?

Cheers,
P.


Film captures faces in a way that is very special. That is why if all you have is someone in front of a black background the best option might in fact be film. Particularly if you are going to be doing closeups.

Reasons for shooting on film go beyond the technicalities of whether or not you have a simple or busy frame. What is the mood you are going for and what format will help bring you there? Film may give you a tonal quality that helps sell your character's condition in a way the digital formats cannot and vice-versa. Super 8 is a wonderful format that can instantly place the audience in a certain emotional state - even if they are just looking at someone against a black background.

If this film is important to you, don't think in terms of what is adequate for the job. Make a decision based on what is important to you as a storyteller. It might be worth shooting in on 35.

AJB
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#3 Robert Hughes

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 08:24 PM

Depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Who is your audience? What is your destination format - Television, Internet, Theatrical/Cinema play?

Most audiences feel that video provides a sense of immediacy to a subject - "it's happening now", as opposed to film origination, which seems to put up a formal or historical distance between subject and viewer - "it happened then".

Audiences have associations with different formats; normal Super 8 footage reminds people of grainy old home movies; regular DV without special lighting has its own modern home video stigma. Put well shot 35mm against equivalent HD and the differences are more subtle and the picture is rigorously sharp and detailed. If you aren't needing extreme sharpness 16mm (and Super16) is versatile and compares favorably to DigiBeta SP video.

Consider the costs; a 2 1/2 minute, hundred feet spool of 16mm film costs as much to purchase and process as two, 60 minute DigiBeta tapes. But if you only need a few minutes of film for the project, the stock cost differential is not as important as the relative costs of equipment rentals. Keep in mind that video records sync audio onto the video tape; if you want sync audio with film your equipment and procedure complexities mount significantly.

Consider your post production options. Do you need to telecine film to video (extra cost)? Is HD an option with your post house? Are you needing different end user formats - HD/SD/NTSC/PAL? What is your budget to bring this project to completion, and what is the minimum result that you can accept?
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#4 Paul Wizikowski

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 11:16 AM

If this isn't a project for a client and this is purely for your own expression and experience than consider what area you wish to improve in. Personally, I would use a format that I would hope to use quite a bit in the near future just to prepare myself for those future projects.

Secondly, as you know, budget determines everything. Lights, stands, camera, sticks, stock, sound. How much of any of these can you get your hands on? What format can you edit on? Can you get other formats to that format?

There are a host of creative and techinical questions to consider. The first one should be "what can I realistically get a hold of?" After that decide what you want.

If anything don't put off stuff like this just because you want to use the biggest and best of gear. Do what you can with this one and do better on the next. Take it step by step and you will get where your going. Its the big leaps that fall hard.
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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Rig Wheels Passport

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Wooden Camera

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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Broadcast Solutions Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Paralinx LLC

Metropolis Post

Opal

Visual Products

CineLab