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Should Kodak Invest in Low Cost Super-16 Camera Production?


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#1 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 02:02 AM

Several years ago, I think it was the late 90's, Panavision began taking their film profits and investing in video lens technologies. Panavision was hedging their bet for the future, lol, even though they were using their film profits to do it. Panavision's decision to invest in video lens technolgies was a huge dagger in film camera production. Knowing that Panavision was basically going to ride out Film with existing inventory, Arriflex could also relax and not aggressively move forward with lower cost Super-16mm cameras. Even so Arriflex did make the Minima, but it still costs around 20 grand (if I'm not mistaken) and uses special wind film..etc...

Plus, why should either Panavision or Arriflex kill themselves making a low cost Super-16 camera? A low cost Super-16 camera primarily benefits......Kodak. It probably doesn't make good business sense for either Arriflex or Panavision to make a lower cost Super-16mm camera, but it would be in Kodak's best interest if such a camera were made.

In recent years some technologies have flourished by dumping the actual product on the market for free, knowing that the use of the consumeables associated with product would more than offset the cost of the product being dumped onto the market. Example, Epson inkjet printers, capable of printing onto DVD's & Photo paper, sold for under a $100 dollars yet inside the Epson box was $80 dollars worth of inks AND a $15 dollar DVD tray. Epson was basically giving the printer away for FREE! The reason Espon could do that was because each printer could create ink purchases of a few hundred dollars every year, plus several THOUSAND dollars of inkjet printable DVD's and photo paper!

So the question now becomes, why doesn't Kodak pick up the new motion picture film camera torch and design a low cost Super-16mm camera? Perhaps they could even do a special, buy 50,000 dollars worth of film, get a FREE Super-16mm camera!

For a rather small investment of less than 10 million dollars (that is a guess on my part), Kodak could reinvigorate the motion picture film market among younger filmmakers. If you were a film student or indie filmmaker and you wanted to make a low budget feature film, and you could budget between $100,000 to $500,000 for your project, wouldn't you salivate at the thought that with a $50,000 dollar purchase of film you could get a free Super-16mm camera!

There isn't one video format ever invented that I can think of that didn't involve a tape manufacturer also making a video camera to support the tape format.

Somewhere out there are film cameras that have probably pulled 10 million dollars worth of film. Would Kodak flinch if someone said to them, make a Super-16 camera for 5 to 10 grand, and it will pull a million dollars worth of film in it's first 5-10 years, deal, or no deal?

Would Kodak really say no to that?

Part of what is leaving film behind is not that it is film, but that there are no new low cost cameras to ever talk about. What a company like panavision failed to do, Kodak could do, and probably for less than 10 million dollars. So the question becomes, if a ten million dollar investment could result in a billion dollars of additional film sales, would that be worth it to Kodak?
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#2 Troy Warr

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 02:39 AM

That's an interesting concept - I hadn't thought of it like that before.

Personally, though (and *please* don't view this as an attempt to make this a film/video thread), I think that the market that you mention - students and young independents - is becoming overwhelmingly, and seemingly irreversibly, interested in HD video. The tech may not be 100% there yet, but by the time that Kodak could roll something like this out to the market (2-5 years?), I would assume that HDTV penetration will be significantly higher, digital distribution will have continued to diversify and innovate (Netflix Red Envelope, online streaming, HD DVD/Blu-Ray self distribution, etc.) and pro-sumer camcorders will have evolved past the fledgling HDV stages into some truly formidable tools.

Just through my own experience in film school, I've seen this transition first-hand - I shot my first student film in 16mm B/W with a Bolex, editing by hand with a Moviola-style machine, razor blades and splicing tape; but, by the time that I dropped out (only about a year later), the production department had created a Mac editing lab and purchased a slew of miniDV pro-sumer equipment for upcoming students. This was a major university renowned for its film school (I'm sure that you can guess by my location), but I dropped out because I happened to get there at the worst time possible, minutes before the broken 50's era equipment turned to dust and they replaced it with all-new, modern video equipment.

In sum, I have to think that Kodak has perceived that there's become a more and more limited future in the student/startup market for 16mm film, and has committed itself to focusing on its professional film stocks and CCDs, which are thriving. I think that this would have been a fantastic approach 10 years ago - but today, I personally think that 16mm's time in the student market is beginning to run out, regardless of available equipment. When you're dying to make your first film and money is tight, it just doesn't make much sense anymore to aim for 16mm when you can shoot digital at a fraction of the cost, and worry about distribution later.
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#3 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 02:55 AM

That's an interesting concept - I hadn't thought of it like that before.

Personally, though (and *please* don't view this as an attempt to make this a film/video thread), I think that the market that you mention - students and young independents - is becoming overwhelmingly, and seemingly irreversibly, interested in HD video. The tech may not be 100% there yet, but by the time that Kodak could roll something like this out to the market (2-5 years?), I would assume that HDTV penetration will be significantly higher, digital distribution will have continued to diversify and innovate (Netflix Red Envelope, online streaming, HD DVD/Blu-Ray self distribution, etc.) and pro-sumer camcorders will have evolved past the fledgling HDV stages into some truly formidable tools.

Just through my own experience in film school, I've seen this transition first-hand - I shot my first student film in 16mm B/W with a Bolex, editing by hand with a Moviola-style machine, razor blades and splicing tape; but, by the time that I dropped out (only about a year later), the production department had created a Mac editing lab and purchased a slew of miniDV pro-sumer equipment for upcoming students. This was a major university renowned for its film school (I'm sure that you can guess by my location), but I dropped out because I happened to get there at the worst time possible, minutes before the broken 50's era equipment turned to dust and they replaced it with all-new, modern video equipment.

In sum, I have to think that Kodak has perceived that there's become a more and more limited future in the student/startup market for 16mm film, and has committed itself to focusing on its professional film stocks and CCDs, which are thriving. I think that this would have been a fantastic approach 10 years ago - but today, I personally think that 16mm's time in the student market is beginning to run out, regardless of available equipment. When you're dying to make your first film and money is tight, it just doesn't make much sense anymore to aim for 16mm when you can shoot digital at a fraction of the cost, and worry about distribution later.



I'm really impressed by your comments.

Something you said however might be the very reason why it might not be too late.

I would assume that HDTV penetration will be significantly higher, digital distribution will have continued to diversify and innovate (Netflix Red Envelope, online streaming, HD DVD/Blu-Ray self distribution, etc.) and pro-sumer camcorders will have evolved past the fledgling HDV stages into some truly formidable tools.


All this points to a huge mess, no? That is the beauty of film, it is video agnostic, it can be transferred to any format. So while the HD bombardment keeps happening, it will include so many variations of HD that it will both a blessing and a mess at the same time.

I wonder realistically how inexpensively a new Super-16mm camera could made for, and if one could actually be "assembly line made" to drive the production cost way down. The irony is that I think Arriflex would even welcome such a move by Kodak because these Super-16mm cameras become the stepping stone to the ARRI 35mm cameras.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 03:02 AM

I don't think it makes much financial sense for Kodak to get involved in making movie cameras. It isn't the lack of cheap 16mm equipment that is keeping people from shooting more 16mm, it's the cost of shooting 16mm film, processing it, and doing a telecine transfer that is the bigger financial hurdle.

I could buy a Bolex for under $1000 but I could spend many thousands of dollars more shooting with the camera. So the existence of cheap movie cameras isn't going to make film more affordable to shoot.

And it was Aaton that made the A-Minima, not Arriflex.

Besides, the cheap Super-16 camera you are describing already exists, the Ikonoskop A-cam:
http://www.ikonoskop.com/

And because it is cheap, it hardly has any features...

For any movie camera with some decent features, like reflex viewfinding, crystal-sync motor, etc. to be cheap to make, it has to have very high volume of sales. That market doesn't exist anymore because amateurs aren't shooting in 16mm - they are shooting in video.

By your logic, if Kodak only made some cheap 35mm still cameras, then the consumer market would be shifting back to shooting 35mm still film. But it's not the lack of cheap 35mm still cameras that is causing people to shoot digital stills more and more.

You can never go back to the days when amatuers would shoot their home movies in 16mm, and because of that, you can never get the volume of sales needed to justify mass production of a 16mm camera, and only mass production would allow the costs to come down. The type of consumer market that created the Canon Scoopic and the Cine-Kodak K100 doesn't exist anymore.
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#5 Nate Downes

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 08:15 AM

You know, you might have an idea, but you're aiming too high. Super16 is overkll for most students, in many cases. If they, or another company were to try what you suggest, Super8 would be a smarter base to work from. The designs are already there, so minimal R&D necessary. Most of the parts are off the shelf. What's lacking is the infastructure for a student workflow, and that is really what Kodak is best at, providing basic infastructure.

I guess students should be glad that they don't have me for a teacher, on day 1 I'd hand them a 1950's 35mm rangefinder with a 36 roll of B&W film and tell them to tell me a story using that. 8)
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#6 Sam Wells

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 10:56 AM

Personally, though (and *please* don't view this as an attempt to make this a film/video thread), I think that the market that you mention - students and young independents - is becoming overwhelmingly, and seemingly irreversibly, interested in HD video.


Maybe, but I'm surprised how much interest there is from those quarters in shooting on film. Among the more serious minded anyway. What this will translate into, over time (and in realities of a job market I don't know...)

Re A-minima, I'm not so sure the flipped wind was such a great way to go but I get the distinct impression JPB bent over backward to keep that camera at the price it is.

-Sam Wells
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#7 Jim Feldspar

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 11:20 AM

Several years ago, I think it was the late 90's, Panavision began taking their film profits and investing in video lens technologies. Panavision was hedging their bet for the future, lol, even though they were using their film profits to do it. Panavision's decision to invest in video lens technolgies was a huge dagger in film camera production. Knowing that Panavision was basically going to ride out Film with existing inventory, Arriflex could also relax and not aggressively move forward with lower cost Super-16mm cameras. Even so Arriflex did make the Minima, but it still costs around 20 grand (if I'm not mistaken) and uses special wind film..etc...

Plus, why should either Panavision or Arriflex kill themselves making a low cost Super-16 camera? A low cost Super-16 camera primarily benefits......Kodak. It probably doesn't make good business sense for either Arriflex or Panavision to make a lower cost Super-16mm camera, but it would be in Kodak's best interest if such a camera were made.

In recent years some technologies have flourished by dumping the actual product on the market for free, knowing that the use of the consumeables associated with product would more than offset the cost of the product being dumped onto the market. Example, Epson inkjet printers, capable of printing onto DVD's & Photo paper, sold for under a $100 dollars yet inside the Epson box was $80 dollars worth of inks AND a $15 dollar DVD tray. Epson was basically giving the printer away for FREE! The reason Espon could do that was because each printer could create ink purchases of a few hundred dollars every year, plus several THOUSAND dollars of inkjet printable DVD's and photo paper!

So the question now becomes, why doesn't Kodak pick up the new motion picture film camera torch and design a low cost Super-16mm camera? Perhaps they could even do a special, buy 50,000 dollars worth of film, get a FREE Super-16mm camera!

For a rather small investment of less than 10 million dollars (that is a guess on my part), Kodak could reinvigorate the motion picture film market among younger filmmakers. If you were a film student or indie filmmaker and you wanted to make a low budget feature film, and you could budget between $100,000 to $500,000 for your project, wouldn't you salivate at the thought that with a $50,000 dollar purchase of film you could get a free Super-16mm camera!

There isn't one video format ever invented that I can think of that didn't involve a tape manufacturer also making a video camera to support the tape format.

Somewhere out there are film cameras that have probably pulled 10 million dollars worth of film. Would Kodak flinch if someone said to them, make a Super-16 camera for 5 to 10 grand, and it will pull a million dollars worth of film in it's first 5-10 years, deal, or no deal?

Would Kodak really say no to that?

Part of what is leaving film behind is not that it is film, but that there are no new low cost cameras to ever talk about. What a company like panavision failed to do, Kodak could do, and probably for less than 10 million dollars. So the question becomes, if a ten million dollar investment could result in a billion dollars of additional film sales, would that be worth it to Kodak?

People make a lot of good points on here as to why the ship may have already sailed on
your idea being realized but I want to congratulate you on showing some visionary thinking.

Look at the price difference in (used admittedly) 16 BLs and 16 SRs and even 16Ss. I know
people that are getting good 16 BLs with a zoom lens and mags for the price of a prosumer
video camera. Yes, it's the cost of shooting film , as opposed to shooting a bunch of tapes,
that can break a budget but if you could get a new 16 mm sync sound camera for a
good
price, I bet that you'd find work for it.

I had my fun with Bolexes but I'd want something at least as sophisticated as a 16 BL and
preferably with better ergonomics, although even with that big shoulder brace pod, I
sure did get acceptable hand held shots.

Also, I'd rather shoot film and edit on an NLE. We need you crazy people with your crazy ideas.

(kidding about crazy)
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 11:23 AM

Re A-minima, I'm not so sure the flipped wind was such a great way to go but I get the distinct impression JPB bent over backward to keep that camera at the price it is.


Yes, which is a key point -- anything significantly cheaper will be really stripped down, like the A-cam.

So the question is whether it would make more sense to mass-produce cheap plastic Super-16 cameras without any indication that there is a large market for such a thing, or a professional quality (but more expensive) Super-8 camera, sort of like an Aaton or Arri Super-8, which is also an unknown market but it could be smaller. Either way, it's a financial risk in a day when any company run by shareholders would probably not allow such a move (luckily, Arri is privately-owned by the Arnold & Richter families.) I don't see anything like that at Kodak happening -- getting back into making cheap consumer movie cameras -- not when the shareholders are probably asking daily how Kodak management will get more involved in digital technology.
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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 11:27 AM

Hi,

Super-8 is barely cheaper than 16mm. The difficulty for me is certainly not the cost of the camera - I own a video camera package, for the cost of which I could have bought some very decent s16 gear. The problem is stock, processing, and more than anything else, the swingeing cost of handling the damn stuff - London telecine prices are absolutely ludicrous. It's not even the cost of the stock that's the main problem (although it is a big problem.)

I think Kodak could help themselves out a lot by slashing the price of the stock. Oh, it's made of silver, I hear you cry - yeah, about US$7 worth of silver a roll. Where's the other $193 a roll come from?

Phil
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#10 John Holland

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:31 PM

Yep i agree Phil . Its like Kodak have a death wish when it comes to pricing . John holland.
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#11 Tim Carroll

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:34 PM

Used to live in Chicago, where alot of folks, including me, were shooting 16mm. For us the biggest cost was not the camera, film stock, or even processing. TELECINE was where the cost went through the roof.

I can't see anything changing as far as that goes. If someone could do color corrected transfer on a Spirit Datacine for 18 cents a foot, then I think independent filmmakers might give film a second look. But I see no way for that to happen.

It is ironic. In Chicago, where we had to pay anywhere from $500 per hour to $900 per hour for supervised transfer on a Spirit, there were still alot of us shooting film on "short" projects with budgets from $7,000 to $20,000. Now that I am out here in Portland, where a local house Downstream has a sweetheart deal for local filmmakers (supervised, color corrected transfer on a Spirit for only $125 per hour) I can't find anyone who is interested in shooting film. They all want to use the Panasonic HVX-200, even though most of them do not have computers powerful enough to edit HD. Go figure.

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#12 Michael Most

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 01:43 PM

Now that I am out here in Portland, where a local house Downstream has a sweetheart deal for local filmmakers (supervised, color corrected transfer on a Spirit for only $125 per hour)


Excuse me, but if they're giving away "supervised Spirit transfers" for $125 an hour, I hope it's at 3AM and they don't have any other work, because at that price, they can't possibly survive. If the colorist is making, say, $30 an hour (and that's a REALLY low rate for a decent colorist), that means they're giving you a million dollar plus telecine, a $400K DaVinci, a control room that costs at least $40K, and tape equipment that is worth at least $50K for under $100 an hour. Do you understand just how ridiculous that is?

I know everyone here is looking for "deals." But deals are a two way street, and facilities are a business. Businesses must make money. That's their purpose, and it's the only way they survive. If you want a "deal," it can't be charity. Deals are made based on give and take. If a studio wants a lower price for telecine because they're putting 4 million feet of dailies through a particular facility every television season, that's understandable and accommodations can be made. But if someone's showing up with 800 feet of Super 16 for some personal project, it's just not intelligent for them to think they're entitled to the same price. Not that it seems to matter these days...
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#13 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 02:09 PM

I don't think it makes much financial sense for Kodak to get involved in making movie cameras. It isn't the lack of cheap 16mm equipment that is keeping people from shooting more 16mm, it's the cost of shooting 16mm film, processing it, and doing a telecine transfer that is the bigger financial hurdle.

I could buy a Bolex for under $1000 but I could spend many thousands of dollars more shooting with the camera. So the existence of cheap movie cameras isn't going to make film more affordable to shoot.



I agree, a low cost Super-16 camera isn't enough, it MUST be quiet, have reflex viewing, an orientable viewfinder, crystal sync motor, onboard digital slave sound recording, onboard battery power, and either a terrific zoom lens or have interchangeable lens capability. Perhaps a side panel module design so one could slap on different modules and get different filming speeds as well.

And it was Aaton that made the A-Minima, not Arriflex.


I stand corrected, thanks.

Besides, the cheap Super-16 camera you are describing already exists, the Ikonoskop A-cam:
http://www.ikonoskop.com/

And because it is cheap, it hardly has any features...


Sure, and that is what is killing lower cost film productions faster than anything else, lower cost Super-16mm cameras really don't exist, except for bare bones models that are useful for certain kinds of fimmaking, yet they are are usually lacking many basic features. In other words, the kind of Super-16mm camera I am talking about doesn't currently exist. How many colleges dumped their film cameras moreso because they really weren't teaching real world filmmaking situations? If one can put a low cost Super-16
camera into the hand of a college student that actually mimics what one finds on the top of the line 35mm
camera, there would be a renewed interest in having film production at many colleges that got rid of older, heavier, louder film equipment. The $50,000 dollar film purchase, get a Super-16 camera for free promotion, if it were really possible to make such a camera, would offer a huge incentive for colleges to offer more filmmaking opportunites.

For any movie camera with some decent features, like reflex viewfinding, crystal-sync motor, etc. to be cheap to make, it has to have very high volume of sales. That market doesn't exist anymore because amateurs aren't shooting in 16mm - they are shooting in video.


Sure, but what is high volume? If Kodak could make a Super-16 camera for 10 grand each, a 10 million dollar investment would make 1,000 cameras. I believe a Super-16 full featured camera for 10 grand would would sell 10,000 cameras over a couple of years time, assuming the camera had the features you and I both agree it would need to have. Is the question really would the cameras sell, or is the question
is it realistic that todays leading edge technologies could allow one to make a fully featured Super-16 camera for 10 grand?

By your logic, if Kodak only made some cheap 35mm still cameras, then the consumer market would be shifting back to shooting 35mm still film. But it's not the lack of cheap 35mm still cameras that is causing people to shoot digital stills more and more.


No, that is a different scenario in many ways. People really don't worry too much whether they shoot at 2 mega pixels, or 4, or 6, they just shoot digital, as much as they want. A relative recently came to visit and he pulled out a film camera, shot while he was in Calfornia, and mailed a copy of every picture he took. Virtually each picture he shot came out teriffic. Sure the still film market is shrinking for Kodak, but lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater and assume that shooting still film is pointless, it's just that digital can allow one to shoot a huge amount of stills. With motion film and motion video, the goal is different. Having too many choices when it comes to pixel sizes and resolutions actually can limit one from collaborating with others and their NLE workflow systems. Additionally, too much of anything can at times slow a project down, so just because tape can be cheaper to shoot doesn't necessarily teach one the best or most economical habits. Tape is a great way to go if one just wants to do their own projects, but when they collaborate with others, having to merge different resolutions and bit rates and pixel sizes isn't necessarily a plus. With film, it's format agnostic, just choose the mastering format of choice, change your mind a month later, it's still flexible enough to be retransferred to the new format. Film can easily be the Mac of the media world, a small percentage of the overal media market, yet still be a viable part of a much bigger pie.

You can never go back to the days when amatuers would shoot their home movies in 16mm, and because of that, you can never get the volume of sales needed to justify mass production of a 16mm camera, and only mass production would allow the costs to come down. The type of consumer market that created the Canon Scoopic and the Cine-Kodak K100 doesn't exist anymore.


My idea is more for professional applications in places people think only video would be shot. The local television commercial market would be an extremely logical venue for film capture versus video. That right there would be enough to put all the new cameras in use. Add lower budgeted features where the desire is to actually own the equipment, and suddenly that 50 grand and one gets to own the camera, that can look pretty tempting.

The following link should be an inspiration to anyone who thinks film is dead, or not necessary anymore, and shows that there are markets Kodak has probably not considered that probably would be huge growth markets, if a low cost fully featured camera could be made.

http://www.fiftyfoot...om/nytimes.html
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#14 Tim Carroll

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 02:29 PM

Excuse me, but if they're giving away "supervised Spirit transfers" for $125 an hour, I hope it's at 3AM and they don't have any other work, because at that price, they can't possibly survive. If the colorist is making, say, $30 an hour (and that's a REALLY low rate for a decent colorist), that means they're giving you a million dollar plus telecine, a $400K DaVinci, a control room that costs at least $40K, and tape equipment that is worth at least $50K for under $100 an hour. Do you understand just how ridiculous that is?


With all due respect Michael, you are wrong. It is not at 3AM, it is during regular business hours. I just had 90 feet of Super 16 lens tests transferred yesterday at 1PM. Everything that is posted on my web site was transferred at Downstream, in batches of 100 to 200 ft each, and they gave me the same price, $125/hour, and each time the transfer happened between 8AM and 5PM on a weekday.

Are they "making money off of me", of course not. Maybe there is just a different sense of things here in Portland (it sure seems that way in other areas). I would assume they are doing it mostly as a goodwill gesture to folks in the local community. What is so surprising to me is that no one seems to be taking them up on it. And maybe if alot of folks did start taking them up on it, they would not be able to afford to do so anymore.

The other thing could be that in smaller markets like Portland, you have companies that invested thousands of dollars in the late 1980's and early 1990's in equipment, when things were much busier in film production (before the advent of so much HD and the like), and so now they have all this equipment, and instead of letting it sit idle through stretches of the day, $125/hr is better than $0/hr.

But remember, at this discounted rate I cannot call them up and say, "I want to come in on this or that day, schedule me." I have to call them up and ask when they have an hour free where no other jobs are using the Spirit and DaVinci.

Like I mentioned, it is a sweetheart deal, and what I can't understand is why more local "filmmakers" are not taking them up on it.

-Tim
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#15 Bryan Darling

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 02:48 PM

Excuse me, but if they're giving away "supervised Spirit transfers" for $125 an hour, I hope it's at 3AM and they don't have any other work, because at that price, they can't possibly survive. If the colorist is making, say, $30 an hour (and that's a REALLY low rate for a decent colorist), that means they're giving you a million dollar plus telecine, a $400K DaVinci, a control room that costs at least $40K, and tape equipment that is worth at least $50K for under $100 an hour. Do you understand just how ridiculous that is?



I think Mike brings up a good point. "Industry" equipment is astronomically expensive in my opinion. It's aims are for the industry and so that's where the customers are. That means the proverbial little guy has to step up to industry-level prices and expectations. This is where I see the growth of digital technologies as a savior. For the first time, the little guy is able to closely match the quality- from a technical standpoint- of the industry level.

Currently we're going through a messy phase where standards and formats change and develop over the course of just a few years. However I believe over time this will settle to some degree, I see this in the growth of digital cameras beginning to focus on uncompressed output/recording and heading straight into data rather than video-based file formats.

As film continues to decline in the mainstream and eventually ceases, it returns to where it began- the individual. Still photography is much closer to that than cinematography. Several labs in my area hardly run C-41 anymore. They save up rolls and run them weekly. It's inconvenient for people like me, but I see the shift where artists and hobbyists are becoming the exclusive users of still film. There will always be a few companies to cater to this niche market as it is profitable on a small scale. You can definitely see this in the rise of a Super 8 niche currently happening in Europe, the U.S. and Japan.

Companies such as Eastman Kodak are too big to focus on niche as a whole. The very essence of their company and companies like them is Industry. It would be bad business, in my opinion, to create a S16 system- there just isn't a market for it on that level. Students, artists, and hobbyists typically don't have the capital anywhere near to what an Industry client has and for companies like Kodak this is their base. Now while they have a consumer market, that market is not the same as students, artists, and hobbyists. The consumer market is a huge mass where every consumer regularly spends say $5 to $1500. As a mass this adds up quickly and that becomes a profitable market based on sheer volume.

This brings me back to the great age we are living in and will continue to grow. New businesses like Moviestuff and their products such as the Workprinter series provide the individual with low cost tools using hybrid technologies. The technologies and the tools that are created allow the individual with an alternative specific to their needs that just didn't exist at this quality level. Taking the Workprinter as a model example of this change, here is a tool that transfers film into a computer. It's been designed in such an open-ended way that you can get everything from uncompressed 4:4:4 to DV quality video. It's all dependent on how you configure your system.

I took a demo of my work on one of these systems to Monaco in San Francisco, a lab I'd been using for 10 years. I met with the President and Client Relations, they were surprised for one that it was Super 8 and secondly at the quality I achieved without using a 500k+ telecine with an operator and engineering support. Now I have the experience of doing many a telecine in 16mm and this was my visual base in the creation of my transfer system.

Now while I'm not going to Digibeta nor do my color/gamma corrections during the transfer, I am able to go directly into my computer then do my corrections real-time in post. I may not be able to transfer 35 to HD, but then I don't need to. That's the beauty of what's happening right now. There are more possibilities and customization of technology and the tools that they create. This is what will allow non-Industry, the people or proletariat if you will, to create and master high-quality media on par with the Industry but without all the bulk. In the Industry it is more about how you get to the end result. In the individual's world it's not so much how you get to that end result but that you just get their. This will always enable the individual to be more agile.

Now that I've rambled incessantly, let me just say this. While Alessandro's idea is cool, I feel it's more romantic than practical. There are plenty of good cheap cameras that can do S16, such as the Eclair ACL. For most it's all the inherent costs of the medium that stop them from using it. When someone hears how much 2 minutes and 50 seconds costs in the end compared to the many DV tapes one can buy, there is no question in their minds. To me this is a perspective thing, if you shoot the way you shoot tape then yeah it will get astronomical quick. However, if you look at it as a limit you soon discover ways to use that limit to your advantage.

In the end it really isn't the medium one chooses to work with that matters, but the work itself. In the same way that technically it's not how you get there that matters so much as that you just get there. That's why I see this as an exciting time where all this technology, both traditional and new, are coming together and creating things never before considered a possibility. A lot of people think that using the "best" technology and tools or a certain medium over another will create a good piece of work, however it is never the tools nor the medium but rather the person that creates a good piece of work.
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#16 steve hyde

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 02:48 PM

Tim, it may be worth mentioning that 125.00 hr is the price for local Portland-based artists. Everyone else, including me in Seattle (a Portland sister city) is quoted 600.+ per hour.

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#17 Terry Mester

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 02:49 PM

Used to live in Chicago, where alot of folks, including me, were shooting 16mm. For us the biggest cost was not the camera, film stock, or even processing. TELECINE was where the cost went through the roof.
I can't see anything changing as far as that goes. If someone could do color corrected transfer on a Spirit Datacine for 18 cents a foot, then I think independent filmmakers might give film a second look. But I see no way for that to happen.

All of the points made in this Thread are correct in their own right. One thing Kodak would be wise to do -- if they still have wisdom -- is have their Qualex subsidiary offer dirt cheap Telecine Transfer for both 16mm & 8mm. This would help keep their Film customers. By the way, Qualex develops 16mm & 35mm Film. You can drop your Film off at any Wal-Mart, and there are no Shipping Fees through Wal-Mart!

It is ironic. In Chicago, where we had to pay anywhere from $500 per hour to $900 per hour for supervised transfer on a Spirit, there were still alot of us shooting film on "short" projects with budgets from $7,000 to $20,000. Now that I am out here in Portland, where a local house Downstream has a sweetheart deal for local filmmakers (supervised, color corrected transfer on a Spirit for only $125 per hour) I can't find anyone who is interested in shooting film. They all want to use the Panasonic HVX-200, even though most of them do not have computers powerful enough to edit HD. Go figure.

Young people are always enticed by new "things", but when they get older they'll be looking at Film. The problem for Kodak developing new products is their huge debt which I think is around $4 Billion. They've been hit very hard by the consumer still Photography market going Digital. I warned them of this fate way back in 2000/01, and advised them to start educating their Photography customers about the virtues of Film. They did nothing. I think that the big problem at Kodak in the last five years has been Antonio Perez who is from Hewlett-Packard Computers, and he's led their drive to Digital. Back in 2000 I urged them to produce a high quality Super8mm Camera for regular consumers. Such a Camera could incorporate a Quartz synced Microcassette Recorder for Sound. Instead, they are abandoning their amateur Super8 and Super16 market by getting rid of Kodachrome 40. For the Super16mm market, I think that Arriflex would be very wise to start renting out their Cameras. The renter would be required to buy insurance coverage against any damage. Rent should easily make them a lot more money than the sale price of the Camera. Indie filmmakers could also save themselves a lot of money by not undertaking an expensive Telecine transfer -- let the Distributor do that! A simple Video transfer is adequate for trying to sell a production.

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#18 steve hyde

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 02:52 PM

I am also under the impression that Aaton has not recovered their investment from the A-minima because the marketing strategy was to pick up the film school market and that dropped out when Canon released the GL mini-DV cameras that all the film schools started accumulating a few years back.

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#19 Jim Keller

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 03:30 PM

Would Kodak really say no to that?


My brother used to work for Kodak. My sister-in-law still does. Let me explain one thing about the current Kodak management:

Think about any business situation. Imagine the worst decision a company could make in that situation. That is exactly what Kodak will do.

While I agree that Kodak should both be investing heavily in super 16 and developing its own digital cinema line, I doubt they will do either. They've instead adopted the "finger in the dike" business model.
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#20 Andrew Martin

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 03:47 PM

Just to preface - I realize that filmstock is not the major moneymaker for Kodak. That being said, the Kodak 16mm film kit includes processing and a one-light telecine to SD tape for 50 minutes of film for $1150. While this is a good deal compared to what the cost could be, it is still a great deal of money, especially for students. Now, I have no knowledge of how much money it costs to produce filmstock, especially since the film industry is a ?limited market?, but I would not be surprised if there is an astronomical mark up. There are only two companys making filmstock currently, one or both needs to bite the bullet if they still want to be making decent profits off filmstock 20 to 50 years from now. AND I know there are some that are going to say ?50 years, get real?, but the fact is that celluloid will always, or at least SHOULD always have a place in the arsenal of tools that a moviemaker has to tell his story. I really think they owe it to the film community to start offering lower priced film (at least to students).

I am 18 years old. I have shot on film (super 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm). I love film. But film is expensive, and I will have a hard time producing future student projects on celluloid because of that expense. Kodak, cut me a brake now and I?ll be sure to give you business in the future.
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