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Benefits To Film Because Of HD.


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#1 Richard Boddington

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 03:20 PM

Hi All,

I have noticed recently two benefits for film as a result of the so called HD revolution:

1) When ever I talk to distributors about the feature I'm making, they always ask, "what is it shot on." When I say 35mm the response is always the same. "Wow! Good for you! Most people are doing HD."

It seems to put my work in a new category in their eyes even though I'm low budget.

2) When acquiring cast and crew people ask, "what are you shooting on?" I say 35mm and the response is always, "Really oh that's cool I'm definately in, I have way too much HD and DV stuff on my reel."

Then there's all the free stuff people have donated simply because I'm shooting 35mm and they see the value in that.

Essentially I find that the enthusiasm for the project goes up several notches when you say "35mm" vs "HD". HD, HDV, and DV, have definately made an impact, and that's putting film into a unique category in some cases.

So maybe there are un-expected benefits to film as a result of HD. Any one else experience this?
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#2 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 04:10 PM

I think it may depend upon who you are talking to because there are plenty of stories about people saying "we're shooting on HD" and having a similar reply to what you got when you said "we're shooting 35mm."
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#3 Richard Boddington

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 04:23 PM

Really? People actually get excited about shooting HD?

It seems that most people use HD because they have to, not because they want to.

Any how I don't doubt you per se, it's just news to me.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 09:41 PM

Really? People actually get excited about shooting HD?


Sure, because they expect the really low-budget guys to be shooting DV. Remember that HDV is a recent phenomenon.

You can think of HD as either a step-up from DV or a step-down from 35mm, just depends on your expectations.

I'm not disagreeing with you though -- because either way, 35mm suggests you have some money to spend and that the project will be higher in quality than a typical small shoot. Unless the actors show up on set and see you trying to shoot a whole feature on an Arri-2C with a sound blanket wrapped around it! Then they might think an F900 shoot would look more professional...
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#5 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 10:03 PM

See, in my eyes, HD is neither a step up or down from 35mm. It's just a different way to acquire an image, different from film, but not necessarily better or worse. Technically speaking, HD has different characteristics than film. It also has different parameters to understand and work within, but so do different film stocks. So anyone who complains about HDs limitations has never changed filmstocks as the sun was dropping out of the sky? We learn to work within the parameters of the technology we're offered and shoot the best images possible. At least we're supposed to.

The unfortunate thing about all of this is that while a camera is just a box with a hole in it, the attitudes of crews and others is driven greatly by the box that they see sitting on the tripod when they arrive on set. Anyone who has worked on a project shot on 16mm knows that the "seriousness" that everyone takes is far different than the attitude on a 35mm set. How would you feel if you showed up on a set that had everything a big time film had, including A list Actors, but a mini-DV cam was sitting on the dolly? The question is, SHOULD we feel differently and take our jobs any less seriously? One might wonder why the Producers have chosen a particular acquisition format, but that should never impact the enthusiasm and work ethic that we bring to the set.

The spill over anti-HD propaganda seems to be that HD is a step down from the more prestigious 35mm. If that's the case, why isn't there universal scorn for 35mm when 70mm is available and is clearly "better?" Why don't people mock anything that isn't shot in the clearly more advanced Anamorphic format? Audiences didn't complain that Star Wars Episodes two and three were shot in "video." They (rightly) complained about the lame stories. I don't hear audiences complaining that Collateral and Miami Vice were shot using "video." I doubt anyone ....anyone ...would know the difference if they weren't told about it beforehand. Sure, it looks a little different than film, but not so much that it detracts from the story being told. Granted, a professional in the industry can tell the difference between film and video, but most laypeople can't and more importantly, they often don't give a damn. That doesn't mean we let up in trying to deliver the best images possible, but it also means that we shouldn't actively demean new technology just because we are too entrenched in the old. Sound guys have moved on from old style reel to reels without too much complaining. Why do cameramen have such a problem? Is there truly an inherent problem with HD or is this just a matter of not wanting to (or being to lazy to) have to learn how to use a new medium? I don't know, I'm just asking.... :unsure:
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#6 K Borowski

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 11:19 PM

Audiences didn't complain that Star Wars Episodes two and three were shot in "video." They (rightly) complained about the lame stories.


Brian, I was a member of the audience for SW Episode II, and I complained vehemently about the poor blacks it had, right there in the theatre to the chagrin of everyone around me ;-) I didn't even bother seeing Episode III; George Lucas really has a knack for milking the last cent out of everything he does, and ruining works he made when he was actually good at what he did. . .

~Karl
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#7 Mark Wilson

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 12:35 AM

If that's the case, why isn't there universal scorn for 35mm when 70mm is available and is clearly "better?" Why don't people mock anything that isn't shot in the clearly more advanced Anamorphic format?


This is making the common assumption that the preference for 35mm film over HD video starts and stops with resolution. ANY sort of film, (16, 35 or 70mm) is going to have better highlight handling than HD, which is one of the things contributing to the film "look". Unless you are going to project in 70mm (pretty rare these days) most of the benefits of originating in 70mm (as against 35mm) would be lost in the 35mm post/distribution/ projection chain.
70mm cameras are harder to get, the range of available accessories and lenses is much smaller, and there will be less crew familiarity. There will also be greater stock and equipment costs, although that is not usually an issue with bigger productions.
Shooting anamorphic introduces its own compromises, and creatively, the majority of productions wouldn't benefit from it anyway. It also becomes a liability when the movie is released on home video.
If nothing else, the main reason larger production companies prefer film origination is that is has the greatest chance of remaining viable, whatever advanced projection or display technologies appear in the future.
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#8 Rod Otaviano

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 01:10 AM

1) When ever I talk to distributors about the feature I'm making, they always ask, "what is it shot on." When I say 35mm the response is always the same. "Wow! Good for you! Most people are doing HD."

It seems to put my work in a new category in their eyes even though I'm low budget.

2) When acquiring cast and crew people ask, "what are you shooting on?" I say 35mm and the response is always, "Really oh that's cool I'm definately in, I have way too much HD and DV stuff on my reel."


Coincidently I just read a post by Shane Carruth, the director of "Primer", on another forum about ... kind of the same thing. He's talking about some interviews at Sundance two years ago:

"I have, however, had a lot of journalists start out interviews by thanking me for shooting film. They seem to be overwhelmed with the number of digital features. I sort of have an opinion about that, though. I don't think it's so much the medium that they have a problem with as it is the way it is used."

http://primermovie.c...topic.php?t=416
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 01:34 AM

When I said that you can think of HD as a step-up from DV or a step-down from 35mm (or a "poor-man's 35mm" versus a "rich man's DV") I was being somewhat facetious -- I was just summarizing the two different attitudes you get from filmmakers considering HD: either they want to improve upon what they've been doing in DV while sticking to digital technology, or they want to shoot in 35mm but just don't have the money.

There are cases where HD has been used effectively and I didn't really "miss" 35mm while watching the movie -- in particular, something like "Sin City" for example, or even "Revenge of the Sith", which I think was a visible improvement technically over "Attack of the Clones." I mean, "The Phantom Menace" was shot on 35mm film and it's not all that technically superior-looking to "Revenge of the Sith" (it could have been -- if it were posted differently -- but that's not really my point.)

And even "Superman Returns", while I think 35mm anamorphic would have looked better, probably turned out nicer than if they had shot it like they did "X-Men 2" in Super-35. I liked the clean look of the movie, and I liked the overall quality more than I did "X-Men 2" (and definitely more than "X-Men 3" -- I'd shoot with the Genesis any day of the week if it meant my movie didn't end up looking like "X-Men 3".)

On the other hand, it's hard to think of many circumstances really where I'd prefer to shoot common 8-bit HD camcorder material over 35mm.
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#10 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 02:03 AM

I mean, "The Phantom Menace" was shot on 35mm film and it's not all that technically superior-looking to "Revenge of the Sith" (it could have been -- if it were posted differently -- but that's not really my point.)


I think that's what I was getting at. When used correctly...or in other words, when the technicians and filmmakers educate themselves and embrace the technology... HD can look just as good as 35mm. It's just that I tend to hear more complaining about the limitations of HD rather than people trying to work within the parameters. I never hear anyone bitching about 5279. They figure out what it can do and the limitations then simply work within those parameters. The same forgiving attitude isn't given to HD for some reason. I'm just curious as to why.


Mark, yes, I am aware of the physical equipment limitations of 70mm and Anamorphic, but that wasn't the crux of the point. Practicality aside, if the issue of 35mm vs HD is truly one of quality, why isn't there popular outcry for more 70mm in general by audiences, by exhibitors, by distributors, and by DPs and Directors if the highest quality is what everyone wants?

In terms of archiving, which you bring up, I'm not sure that that argument holds much anymore with the wider appeal of the DI step in the process. Inevitably, whether image acquisition occurred on film or with HD, it all heads to a harddrive anyway then gets scanned back onto film if it's going to distribution.

I know it sounds as if I'm arguing for HD over film, but that's not really the case. If anything, HD forces a cameraman to be more careful as it doesn't have the latitude that film allows. I don't see that as a bad thing. especially if it makes us all better at what we do.
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#11 Stephen Williams

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 02:47 AM

They figure out what it can do and the limitations then simply work within those parameters. The same forgiving attitude isn't given to HD for some reason. I'm just curious as to why.


Hi,

The parameters of 8 bit camcorders are very limiting. I really don't wish to choose a lighting style because the equipment can't handle the contrast range my eyes like to see.

I recently saw a Viper shoot using digi-primes, recording uncompressed filmstreem. The DP was able to light as he wanted. Using a spot meter rated at 320 asa the DP worked with a range of +/- 5 stops.

Stephen
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#12 Mark Wilson

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 03:07 AM

Mark, yes, I am aware of the physical equipment limitations of 70mm and Anamorphic, but that wasn't the crux of the point. Practicality aside, if the issue of 35mm vs HD is truly one of quality, why isn't there popular outcry for more 70mm in general by audiences, by exhibitors, by distributors, and by DPs and Directors if the highest quality is what everyone wants?

In terms of archiving, which you bring up, I'm not sure that that argument holds much anymore with the wider appeal of the DI step in the process. Inevitably, whether image acquisition occurred on film or with HD, it all heads to a harddrive anyway then gets scanned back onto film if it's going to distribution.

My point was that in practical terms, the improvement of 70mm over 35mm film is likely to be perceived to be considerably less than the improvement of 35mm film over 1920 x 1080 HD. Anamorphic production has very little to do with picture quality, and everything to do with the way the Producer/director wants to tell the story.

As far as archiving goes, where a Digital Intermediate is used, the big studios still archive the original negative, not the distribution master. This will give them the option to re-edit the movie (or TV show) if and when new technologies become available. At present, there is still more information on most negatives than can be extracted with current generation scanning equipment. However if you shoot something on videotape, whatever information you are able to get of the tape now, is all there ever will be.
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#13 Max Jacoby

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 07:47 AM

When used correctly...or in other words, when the technicians and filmmakers educate themselves and embrace the technology... HD can look just as good as 35mm.

If HD really could look as good as film, then I wonder why not more films are shot on HD. HD has some inherent limitations compared to 35mm that cannot be over come, no matter who is behind the camera.
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#14 Keith Mottram

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 08:21 AM

anyone who thinks hd can/ can't look as good as film has to think about circumstances, shooting in controlable and uncontrolable conditions really show the limits of what a digital camera can do and again here lies an inherant problem with these discussions - no one in this thread has stated what an hd camera is. there are obviously huge differences on what you can and cannot acomplish when comparing a 750 or a D20 and then there is compression etc etc. in fact unless the camera and shooting peramiters are difined then this is a somewhat pointless thread.

keith
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#15 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 08:21 AM

If HD really could look as good as film, then I wonder why not more films are shot on HD. HD has some inherent limitations compared to 35mm that cannot be over come, no matter who is behind the camera.


But it can and it has (looked as good as film). Can HD do everything that film can? No. A movie like Searching for Bobby Fisher comes to mind as a beautiful example of a project that benefited from the film stocks used and the excellence of the DP behind it. That said, I do wonder how that movie would look had it been acquired using HD. Could he make similar looking images no matter the media used? Given an uncompressed technology, could a very skilled DP, working within the parameters given (just like he has to learn for different filmstocks), get the images he wanted?
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#16 David W Scott

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 08:33 AM

How would you feel if you showed up on a set that had everything a big time film had, including A list Actors, but a mini-DV cam was sitting on the dolly?

...

The spill over anti-HD propaganda seems to be that HD is a step down from the more prestigious 35mm. If that's the case, why isn't there universal scorn for 35mm when 70mm is available and is clearly "better?"


We should ask the cast and crew of Bamboozled -- I read some pretty funny stuff about the TRV900 looking lost mounted on the crane... but did it affect the crew's dedication? I suspect Spike Lee's name counts for more than Sony's.

I think this is really a question of "industry support", not audience support. Audiences respond to many aspects of the visual image, but lighting, effects work, art design, etc. are more quantifiable to the average audience member. "Industry people" on the other hand, know that 35mm is the industry standard. From the intern PA to the studio head, nothing makes people comfortable like an industry standard. This is a crazy business, and people look for legitimation in things they understand. Like -- this must be a good show, because there's a Panavision sitting on the tripod.

Ironically, that human preference for industry standards seems like the single greatest advantage of the Genesis or the D20 -- at a glance, they look like a Platinum or a 535, and they've got that magic ARRI or Panavision name.
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#17 Stephen Williams

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 08:45 AM

Given an uncompressed technology, could a very skilled DP, working within the parameters given (just like he has to learn for different filmstocks), get the images he wanted?


Hi,

DP Geoff Boyle has recently done this using a Viper. You won't see any pictures until post is completed in 18 months.

His lighting was not modified for digital, he workrd exactly the same as he would have done on film.

Stephen
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#18 Thomas Worth

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 09:49 AM

But it can and it has (looked as good as film).

The problem is that most HD cameras don't give you the same flexibility / creative options that the 35mm format provides:

1.) Greater exposure latitude, which equals greater control over the image in post (if scanned, obviously)
2.) Greater control over depth of field (when compared to 2/3" cams like the F900, Viper)
3.) NOT having to use an external disk recorder (no Steadicam if you want 4:4:4 uncompressed data!)
4.) HIGHER QUALITY CONTACT PRINTS!

2. and 3. are technical limitations that CANNOT be overcome, no matter how talented you are as a DP. The only exception is to use a ground glass adapter like the P+S Technik for less DOF, but now you're shooting off a screen and not photographing the image directly. You could shoot on the Genesis, but now you deal with compressed data due to the HDCAM SR format.

And if you do want 4:4:4 uncompressed data, I don't know of any on-camera solution at 1920x1080. That rules out using a Steadicam.

HD is just not there yet. Too many compromises. If it looks like 35mm, it's because someone is not using the 35mm format to its potential.
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#19 Richard Boddington

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 10:03 AM

"Unless the actors show up on set and see you trying to shoot a whole feature on an Arri-2C with a sound blanket wrapped around it! Then they might think an F900 shoot would look more professional..."

Actually David, I aspire to work with a IIC wrapped in a sound blanket. I'm doing this shoot with a Konvas 1M inside a padded fruit crate :D

But it's still 35mm!!
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#20 Thomas Worth

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 10:16 AM

But it's still 35mm!!

Yep. And I can grab my Konvas, stuff it under my shoulder and go shoot 35mm anytime, anywhere, for no reason at all. And it will still look better than anything a $100,000+ HD camera could ever dream of shooting.
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