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16mm Workflow for a Short Film


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#1 Josh Holland

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 11:47 PM

Hello all, This is my first post on this forum and it definitely won't be my last. I've been asked to dp an upcoming project for a student short film that is going to be submitted to various festivals as well as the internet.

The short is approximately 10min and the budget is $10,000. I was talking to production earlier today and they are in favor of shooting on a HVX-200.

I want to convince production that 16mm should be used instead. My thought was to shoot 16mm--Telecine to DigiBeta for editing-- Finish on DigiBeta for submission to the festivals and QT HighDef for posting on the web.

Is this a cost effective compromise for shooting film versus a straight digital workflow?
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#2 Dennis Kisilyov

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 08:14 AM

Hello all, This is my first post on this forum and it definitely won't be my last. I've been asked to dp an upcoming project for a student short film that is going to be submitted to various festivals as well as the internet.

The short is approximately 10min and the budget is $10,000. I was talking to production earlier today and they are in favor of shooting on a HVX-200.

I want to convince production that 16mm should be used instead. My thought was to shoot 16mm--Telecine to DigiBeta for editing-- Finish on DigiBeta for submission to the festivals and QT HighDef for posting on the web.

Is this a cost effective compromise for shooting film versus a straight digital workflow?


Well that would depend whether you already own the HVX200 or not.
If the HVX200 is in that 10k, than yeah, shoot with the HVX.

16mm and HVX footage both won't have the shallow DOF of 35 film look type stuff.
If you shoot really great work on HVX you can send it for a film-out for the festivals.
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#3 Keith Mottram

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 09:09 AM

Hello all, This is my first post on this forum and it definitely won't be my last. I've been asked to dp an upcoming project for a student short film that is going to be submitted to various festivals as well as the internet.

The short is approximately 10min and the budget is $10,000. I was talking to production earlier today and they are in favor of shooting on a HVX-200.

I want to convince production that 16mm should be used instead. My thought was to shoot 16mm--Telecine to DigiBeta for editing-- Finish on DigiBeta for submission to the festivals and QT HighDef for posting on the web.

Is this a cost effective compromise for shooting film versus a straight digital workflow?


Your workflow doesn't work i'm afraid- how were you planning on creating a high def qt from interlaced sd footage? why would you have a web clip at a higher definintion than your edit master anyway? how about supervised tk to hd (pref D5), hd to sd downconvert (on deck playout) for edit, then hd reconform for hd festival master?

keith
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#4 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 10:36 AM

Your workflow doesn't work i'm afraid- how were you planning on creating a high def qt from interlaced sd footage? why would you have a web clip at a higher definintion than your edit master anyway? how about supervised tk to hd (pref D5), hd to sd downconvert (on deck playout) for edit, then hd reconform for hd festival master?

keith

The Quicktime file would be standard def, not HD, but that's still an entirely respectable finish for a $10k short.

You've really got to price it all out- figure out rental rates, and prices for film stock, processing, transfer, and online. If $10k is your budget for the entire film, you're going to need to find some pretty good deals, but I think it should be possible. Especially if the other plan is to buy an HVX package, which can cost about $10k on its own.

Filmout from HVX is possible, but incredibly expensive and almost certainly way out of your price range.
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#5 Josh Holland

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 03:38 PM

My biggest concern is the festival prints that get submitted. The rental rate for the HVX camera package cost the same than the 16mm package that I can rent through a friend. We are not buying any equipment.

My question has more to do with the cost of working with a digital format workflow versus film to digital (HD or DigiBeta)

I've worked on 3 projects before with different production co. using the HVX w/ 35mm adapters and when it came time to screen them, I was not impressed with the image. The colors were soft and washed out and needed more saturation. The images looked great on a 17in HD monitor.

I'm just trying to retain as much as I can the characteristics of film and finish digitally than spending time, money. and resources trying to make digital "look" like film.
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#6 Mark Lyon

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 05:09 PM

As was noted above, you should check all the prices and test, if possible, before making decisions, but here are two thoughts:

1) Shoot super16 and transfer to HDCAM at 23.98p. Then you'll have a nice HD digital master. Nowadays, it's hard for telecine houses to charge much more for HD than for digibeta. Renting an HD deck (a Sony J-H3) is about the same cost as a digibeta deck (here in San Diego, anyway). If your edit station isn't up to the demands of uncompressed HD, you can use DVCPRO-HD codec, and it looks great. With this workflow, you can skip the nightmare of pulldown removal, conforming, etc. You'll get one clean progressive HD frame for each film frame, and you can edit in a 24p timeline in Final Cut Pro.

2) Contrary to what was noted above, there's a big difference in depth of field between Super 16 and an HVX-200. In this regard, Super 16 is more like what you'll see on a 2/3' camcorder like a Sony F900 or Panasonic Varicam.

Best of luck,
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#7 Josh Holland

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 06:31 PM

Thanks Mark for the info. So it looks like the process would be 16mm-- Telecine DVCPRO-HD for edit/ color correction -- Festival Release DVCPRO-HD.

I don't think working with uncompressed HD would be a benefit to this project. Does FCP handle DVCPRO-HD natively or does it need additional decoder card to edit/ color correct? Does DVCPRO-HD have a 4:2:2 color space?

I'm thinking of taking the telecine DVCPRO-HD tape to an editor with a FCP setup for Post. Then have the editor create a DVCPRO-HD final cut. Then make DVCPRO-HD copies from the final cut to submit to the festivals.

Would that worflow make sense for shooting on film, but distributing digitally?
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 08:08 PM

If you want to create a DVCPRO HD master, then why not shoot with the Panasonic Varicam instead of film? The Varicam will provide a superior look to the HVX, and comparable with Super16 if handled correctly. The Varicam rental may be a little higher than a 16 or HVX package (in your case), but you wouldn't have the stock, processing, and transfer costs of film. Compare the budgets for your shooting ratio and see if the Varicam route comes in cheaper.

DVCPRO HD is 4:2:2, 100Mbps. Recent versions of Final Cut Pro handles it natively. And like I said in response to your other post, you can output to pretty much whatever codec or tape format you like from FCP, if you have the hardware.

The HVX-200 records in DVCPRO-HD as well, so it's the same codec and frame size (pixels) whether you use the HVX, the Varicam, or film. Resolution of the image will be best with the Varicam or Super 16 (they'll be similar in this case), and softer with the HVX.
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#9 Dennis Kisilyov

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 10:20 PM

Josh,

Here is a comparison:

HVX200
---------

An HVX costs 5,000USD street, buy it, and shoot a couple of shorts. A finished/edited DVCPRO film-out for a 10min short is not as high as it would be for a feature. (Thats new with a P2 card)

HVX has a fixed lens, lacking a 1,000 up-to a 10,000 adapter, follow focus and rod support. However you can run miles of footage on it w/o it costing any money what so ever.


16mm
---------
16mm you say you'd rent, which is OK, however the raw stock/film in a 10:1 shooting ratio would be about 100 minutes +/- credits. 100 minutes is 4000ft of film. That's either 10 - 400ft cans, or 40 - 100ft cans.
At a average price of

$30 USD per 100ft (Kodak)
$20 USD per 100ft processing
$15 USD per 100ft telecine (Regular SD w. Keycode.)

You are looking at spending $2600 for the stock and processing alone.

If rental costs for 16mm/Sup-16mm and a HVX are equivalent as you say. You'll spend 2600 more to shoot on film.

Supervised HD transfer to do a DI and a Film-Out will cost some more.


Your lump sum for DVX-HD vs. 16mm Film is going to be about a 5,000 difference.

If you are doing any digital sfx or compositing (Sci-Fi, Horror, Action) .... You're going to do DI anyway.

--
If you are doing a simple narrative, it makes no sense to rent a HVX2000.
It certainly makes even less sense to rent Super 16 and pay HVX prices for stock.


Unless your actors a with SAG, and you have a full-blown crew. - Then you should shoot in 35 and bump the budget to about 50K.


EDIT: Also a side note.

Budget more for lighting, gripping, good tripods, and sound - more so than just for the camera equipment.

Good lighting, gripping, steady frame, and proper location sound is going to make your feature feel 100 times better than just a small bump in resolution or a shallow 35mm like DOF.

My 2 cents.

Edited by Dennis Kisilyov, 27 February 2007 - 10:23 PM.

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#10 Mark Lyon

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 11:51 PM

That workflow does make a lot of sense, but I doubt you'll find a transfer house that will go direct to DVCPro-HD tape. More likely, at least in my experience, is HDCAM. So transfer to that, in 1080 23.98P resolution, then capture to DVCPro-HD format in Final Cut. Then you get smaller files that look great, and could even be your distribution format.
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#11 Josh Holland

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 12:12 AM

Hey, Dennis thanks for the detailed reply, but I think that you might be missing the scope of this project. The funding for this project is not my money. So buying equipment is not an option. All of the people working on this project are industry professionals working in LA who have come together and pooled our resources. We have got as many discounts as we can from sound, location, G/E and catering. Cast, I think, is working on a SAG ultra low budget agreement. Not sure though.

The 16mm camera package would be rented through the 1st AC father who is a DP. The HVX package would be rented through the Gaffer's friend who is a camera op. Both people quoted us the same rate (well within $100) for camera, tripod, monitor, follow focus, etc...

So the deciding factor is the cost of the format to shoot. I think that since this is a short that it lends itself to film. For a 10min short I was figuring 4 - 400Ft rolls. Since that is @44min it should be more than enough.

The majority of the people in production are lobbying for video. Me and my 1st want to shoot film. Both of us have worked together on two S16mm direct to DVD features.

This project is only intended for festivals and a QT version for the web. I'M just trying to hammer out a worflow that way I can call around and get pricing.
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#12 NathanCoombs

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 05:35 AM

You might as well make life easy and get your 16mm footage transferred to HDV (to edit) with a D5 master.

I think HDV is better for producing an EDL because you can see more easily what is in focus and not than with DV and judge granularity better.

If it was any cheaper I would even be tempted just to go straight to HDV for transfer -if you are not planning any heavy grading (and it seems that HD productions are more in need of this). But that doesn't seem to be a budget option any posthouses offer.
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#13 Corey Bringas

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 06:00 AM

You might as well make life easy and get your 16mm footage transferred to HDV (to edit) with a D5 master.

I think HDV is better for producing an EDL because you can see more easily what is in focus and not than with DV and judge granularity better.

If it was any cheaper I would even be tempted just to go straight to HDV for transfer -if you are not planning any heavy grading (and it seems that HD productions are more in need of this). But that doesn't seem to be a budget option any posthouses offer.

Quite honestly if it was me, I'd try to get them to shoot S35mm. Perhaps its because I'm a film student and used to working on small budgets, but for 10,000 and some favors pulled I could pump out a 10min film on 35. My last project was actually a 15 minute film shot on super 35 with a total budget of 8200. This is including over 1000$ worth of unforseen costs. I figure it this way:

You can (if you know who to talk to) get a S35 camera package (complete) for 800-1000 for a Sat/Sunday. Pick up Friday, tell the camera house its a 1 day rental for Sat. and return on Monday. Shoot on short ends- hopefully get a good price anywhere from .12-.15$ a foot. for a 10 min project I'd agree and get about 45min of film so 4500ft (roughly). On student projects I usually go for a 4:1 shooting ratio. Rehearse the heck out of the scene and shoot 2 takes, there you go. so we're up to 675$ for film. Processing is .12/ft + 20$ per 1000ft) 620$ for processing. Telecine is 325$ per hr for HD transfer. To 1 light or not to one light...lets give you 3 hrs. So all in all 3270$$(roughly) to shoot on 35mm. you have about 7 grand left over for lights, costumes, locations (as students i usually get those free..) food, actors, etc.

Bottom line, I think you could do it. And I KNOW you could do it for 16. I'd shop around though and see what the cost difference is when shooting 16mm vs 35mm.

Let us know how it goes.
-Corey
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#14 Dennis Kisilyov

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 08:32 AM

Hey, Dennis thanks for the detailed reply, but I think that you might be missing the scope of this project. The funding for this project is not my money. So buying equipment is not an option. All of the people working on this project are industry professionals working in LA who have come together and pooled our resources. We have got as many discounts as we can from sound, location, G/E and catering. Cast, I think, is working on a SAG ultra low budget agreement. Not sure though.

The 16mm camera package would be rented through the 1st AC father who is a DP. The HVX package would be rented through the Gaffer's friend who is a camera op. Both people quoted us the same rate (well within $100) for camera, tripod, monitor, follow focus, etc...

So the deciding factor is the cost of the format to shoot. I think that since this is a short that it lends itself to film. For a 10min short I was figuring 4 - 400Ft rolls. Since that is @44min it should be more than enough.

The majority of the people in production are lobbying for video. Me and my 1st want to shoot film. Both of us have worked together on two S16mm direct to DVD features.

This project is only intended for festivals and a QT version for the web. I'M just trying to hammer out a worflow that way I can call around and get pricing.



Got it :-).

If you're set on your shooting ratio and your 1st a.c. want to shoot S16...

Then by all means shoot Super 16.

If you don't need SFX/CGI- HD DI the cut, finished negative, do a regular NTSC TK Transfer with Keycode for the "workprint/dailies" edit,

it will be waaaay.. cheaper.

Then from there do your DVD/QT delivery DI the 10 minutes in a Suite, all snazzy, progressive and color corrected.

Edited by Dennis Kisilyov, 28 February 2007 - 08:37 AM.

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