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Super 16 mm. vs. regular 16 mm.


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#1 Jim Feldspar

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 07:05 AM

A friend works at a rental house and we were discussing a project that to be shot in 16 mm.
and unlikely ever to be projected. Typically, the guys that work there can borrow cameras.
I said that we should shoot Super 16 if we could.

The boss said no, rather harshly, that Super 16 only makes a difference if it's going to be seen
on the big screen.

As I understand it, Super 16 looks superior to regular 16 mm because Super 16 mm uses the
soundtrack area and thus more of the negative so on the big screen the image is magnified
proportionately less than regular 16.

Therefore, wouldn't using more of the negative result in a superior image anyway? I read on
another post yesterday that some t.v. shows ("Sex and the City" was mentioned) have been shot
on Super 16. Now why would they do that (as opposed to regular 16?)

I suspect that the boss simply doesn't want a more expensive camera rental package tied up
on one of the intern's projects.
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#2 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 07:26 AM

Ive shot a little regular 16mm myself but never Super 16. I would assume that if you were telecining the film and showing the finished project on a modest or normal aspect ratio non-widescreen television / monitor, there would be no perceptible difference between regular 16mm and Super 16. Even if you had shot on Super 16, the extra image area would be cut off by the left and right sides of the screen.
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#3 Jim Feldspar

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 07:31 AM

Ive shot a little regular 16mm myself but never Super 16. I would assume that if you were telecining the film and showing the finished project on a modest or normal aspect ratio non-widescreen television / monitor, there would be no perceptible difference between regular 16mm and Super 16. Even if you had shot on Super 16, the extra image area would be cut off by the left and right sides of the screen.



Yes, that makes sense but on the other hand, I wonder if the image that isn't cut off would
be sharper because it started as a larger negative (although as you say how much difference
would be apparent on a t.v. set?)

However, then, why would major television shows use Super 16?
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#4 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 07:43 AM

I would think that recent and current shows like Sex and the City would utilise Super 16 because more and more television material is being produced in 'widescreen' format. Many programs are being broadcast in High Definition and this is likely to be the future of all television programming. And remember that Super 16 shares roughly the same aspect ratio as High Definition so it seems like an ideal match.
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#5 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 07:56 AM

"...on the other hand, I wonder if the image that isn't cut off would
be sharper because it started as a larger negative..."

I doubt it because the Super 16 frame only has increased width, not increased height - compared to regular 16mm. If you had a single Super 16 film frame in your hand and you cut off the two sides with scissors to match the aspect ratio of regular 16mm and compared this cropped piece of film with a frame from a regular 16mm film of the same film stock, I would assume that the resolution would be the same.
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#6 Jim Feldspar

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 09:23 AM

"...on the other hand, I wonder if the image that isn't cut off would
be sharper because it started as a larger negative..."

I doubt it because the Super 16 frame only has increased width, not increased height - compared to regular 16mm. If you had a single Super 16 film frame in your hand and you cut off the two sides with scissors to match the aspect ratio of regular 16mm and compared this cropped piece of film with a frame from a regular 16mm film of the same film stock, I would assume that the resolution would be the same.


Thanks!
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#7 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 09:40 AM

Therefore, wouldn't using more of the negative result in a superior image anyway? I read on
another post yesterday that some t.v. shows ("Sex and the City" was mentioned) have been shot
on Super 16. Now why would they do that (as opposed to regular 16?)


The modern television standard ratio is 16x9, so subsequently the overall majority of television production is made in that ratio.

The ratio of the super16 frame is 15x9, so with a miniscule crop its well suited to shoot 16x9 material.

The ratio for regular 16 is similar to the old tv ratio of 4x3, so subseqently its not really used proffesionally any more for television production.

However this doesn't mean you can't shoot 16x9 material on regular16, you simply have to crop at the top and bottom, but as you said their is less surface area on the negative due to the smaller width, so the super16 16x9 image will abviously be sharper and have less apparent grain than the regular16 produced 16x9 image.

If you crop the super16 frame to fit a 4x3 television it will look identicle to regular 16 as you are losing the extra space. If you provide black bars at the top and bottom to fit the super 16 frame to a 4x3 television you are shrinking the image so it will look sharper.

If you are forced to shoot regular 16 rather than super 16 you could always shoot a slower film (where possible), to limit the grain and loss of sharpness.
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#8 Tim Carroll

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 10:23 AM

Andy is right.

Don't panic if they will only let you use the regular 16 equipment. Just shoot Kodak Vision2 200T (7217) and you should be fine. Super 16 is a better option because film stock costs, processing and transfer are the same price, so you get more for your money. But you can do nice work with regular 16. You can see samples of regular 16 cropped to widescreen (16:9) at the web page below:

Regular 16 cropped to Widescreen (16:9)

Posted Image

-Tim
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#9 Will Montgomery

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 12:01 PM

More negative area = less "zooming" in telecine which will translate to less visable grain.

If you're shooting outside with Vision2 50D then grain becomes much less of an issue, but if you're shooting with Vision2 500T you would be able to tell the difference and lighting becomes very important.

As you can see from Tim's tests, regular 16 can look amazing even when cropped down to 16:9... so don't worry too much if you're stuck with regular 16.

So, if the only reason you aren't using Super 16 is because someone is telling you that its only for projection, then they are wrong. If you aren't using Super 16 because of budget reasons that's fine, just use the slowest stocks you can to keep grain at a minimum unless of course you want that look.
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#10 David Leugers

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 03:21 PM

The film "Roger and Me" which was filmed in the 1980's on regular 16mm film was shown
on an HD channel with the image cropped to 16:9. It looked fantastic on my HD plasma TV.
With the newer and improved filmstocks, I would not hesitate to shoot R-16mm for a video
distributed film. Of course all costs being equal, who wouldn't opt to get the extra quality
of S-16mm? The question is if any extra costs are worth it for a particular project.
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#11 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 04:03 PM

Of course the only other issue to think about, if you do want to finish regular16 in 16x9, is you have to be extra careful when composing the frame, imagining what the crop will do.

Some people are all right with it, but if you are unsure and if you have some difficult compositions it may be a nusance.

Of course you can fix some mistakes later adjusting the frame up or down during the crop.
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#12 Tim Carroll

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 05:33 PM

Of course the only other issue to think about, if you do want to finish regular16 in 16x9, is you have to be extra careful when composing the frame, imagining what the crop will do.


The times I have shot regular 16 with the plan on outputting 16:9, I have taped off the viewfinder. Using Scotch brand Magic Tape, which allows you to see the top and bottom of the frame so you can protect 4:3, but frame for 16:9 quite simply.

-Tim
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#13 Jim Feldspar

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 07:26 PM

The times I have shot regular 16 with the plan on outputting 16:9, I have taped off the viewfinder. Using Scotch brand Magic Tape, which allows you to see the top and bottom of the frame so you can protect 4:3, but frame for 16:9 quite simply.

-Tim


Wow, thanks for everything, especially posting that example of reg. 16 cropped. I'm very
glad to shoot regular 16 but at least I know that Super 16 is not only for projection and
therefore in the future I'll be aware that it can make a difference if I
have the opportunity to use it!
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#14 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 08:05 PM

"The modern television standard ratio is 16x9, so subsequently the overall majority of television production is made in that ratio."

This brings an interesting point. Although most television material is currently produced in the 16x9 format, I actually wonder what percentage of consumers own television sets with 16x9 screens. I would guess that they would be in the minority but I could be wrong. My brother, and a friend of my family's, are the only people that I know of who own 16x9 tv sets. Just about every time I visit an average household, I see a standard 4x3 aspect ratio tv set there. Though this is where I live in South Australia. It may well be a different case in other parts of the world.

I am planning on shooting a 16mm project myself with the idea of distributing it on DVD. Mainly due to budgetary reasons, I'll be shooting regular 16mm which will be presented full frame uncropped. Since most people seem to own 4x3 television sets, I don't see the aspect ratio of my project as being too much of a problem. Additionally, PCs and Macs are also used to play back DVDs and most computer screens are close to the 4x3 aspect ratio too. However, this will be an ongoing project that will likely take over two or three years to complete and by then, 16x9 tv sets may well be more common in households and offices which would create a delimma for me. Then again, think about all those old movie classics like 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'Gone With the Wind' and old tv shows that were filmed in the 4x3 format - there will be many of those productions viewed on 16x9 tv sets so regular 16mm uncropped may not look so abnormal when shown on the same sets...I hope.
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#15 Robert Hughes

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 04:47 PM

"The modern television standard ratio is 16x9, so subsequently the overall majority of television production is made in that ratio."

???

Hold on a second. My SD format NTSC television is a 4:3 device. The picture I see has not been squashed horizontally. Millions of SD televisions are perfectly happy with the regular 16 4:3 frame. As of yet , they have not been legislated out of existence by Sony or its governmental lapdogs.

Now HDTV of course, is 16:9. If you are producing a piece for HDTV you should be using Super16, which is a lot closer to the HDTV frame format.
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#16 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 09:02 PM

"Now HDTV of course, is 16:9. If you are producing a piece for HDTV you should be using Super16, which is a lot closer to the HDTV frame format."

When HDTV becomes common in households, it will be interesting to see repeats of old TV shows like 'Bewitched' and 'Happy Days' displayed. I wonder how odd it would look to see a thick black bar on the left and right side of the image - though I guess it's something we might get used to.
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#17 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 09:57 PM

I have a 16x9 HD monitor at home and I have yet to see any HD on it, just 4x3 satellite TV and DVD's, many of which are 16x9. So I see 4x3 side-bordered stuff all the time. You stop thinking about it, although it's great to pop in a widescreen DVD and have it fill the width of the screen.
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#18 Martin Yernazian

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 03:06 AM

Hey Man .... if you want to shoot in regular 16 and then cropped, that's ok..... really the most important thing is your story..... for example Pi was shot on regular 16 and that was great....... you tell me
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#19 chris dye

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 04:31 AM

I have a 16x9 HD monitor at home and I have yet to see any HD on it, just 4x3 satellite TV and DVD's, many of which are 16x9. So I see 4x3 side-bordered stuff all the time. You stop thinking about it, although it's great to pop in a widescreen DVD and have it fill the width of the screen.


Most 16x9 TV's have a 'fill' feature which stretches 4x3 images to fill the 16x9 screen or a 'zoom' feature which will, in effect, 'crop' a 4x3 image to get rid of the black sidebars. Watching 4x3 shows stretched or zoomed isn't too bad, but I think I prefer the black sidebars (just to keep the image true).

I have a decent 32" 16x9 HD LCD monitor and I'm able to get HD over the air local channels for free and shows like the Tonight Show look awesome. I mostly watch (non HD) cable though and I too see the black side bars all the time. You do get used to it. It's almost a no win situation because if you have a 16x9 TV, older 4x3 shows will have bars on the side and if you have a regular old 4x3 TV, widescreen movies and certain letterboxed TV shows will have bars on the top and bottom.

Edited by chris dye, 18 January 2007 - 04:32 AM.

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#20 Scott Cohen

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 09:45 AM

A friend works at a rental house and we were discussing a project that to be shot in 16 mm.
and unlikely ever to be projected. Typically, the guys that work there can borrow cameras.
I said that we should shoot Super 16 if we could.

The boss said no, rather harshly, that Super 16 only makes a difference if it's going to be seen
on the big screen.

As I understand it, Super 16 looks superior to regular 16 mm because Super 16 mm uses the
soundtrack area and thus more of the negative so on the big screen the image is magnified
proportionately less than regular 16.

Therefore, wouldn't using more of the negative result in a superior image anyway? I read on
another post yesterday that some t.v. shows ("Sex and the City" was mentioned) have been shot
on Super 16. Now why would they do that (as opposed to regular 16?)

I suspect that the boss simply doesn't want a more expensive camera rental package tied up
on one of the intern's projects.


You are stalling...

Fear of execution results in this endless format debate. It is always easy to argue technical issues because you CAN solve technical issues.

What you need to be doing is concentrating on story issues.

Make the story better.

If you do that...

1. Boss Man will say "well, let's give this the best chance it can get... go grab the Arri SR3"

or

2. Boss Man will still had you the beat up CP16 but the story will transcend the format.

Worry about the story...

Debating S16 vs. R16 is a waste of time and energy for a project you have already pigeonholed into not being released in a theatrical setting.

SC
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