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Shooting Film for the 1st time (S-16mm). My stomach is turning


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#1 Michael Anthony

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 08:40 PM

I've shot several shorts.
Two on the Varicam and one on the Viper filmstream.
So....I'm accumstomed to lighting off of a monitor and being able to see what I'm shooting on set.
Not being able to use a monitor scares the poop out of me. I know many of you may have come from a film background and get a kick out of this vact : ) :unsure:

The good thing is that I have almost two months to prepare.... so at least time is on my side.

My question (s) is: PLEASE forgive the newbie-ness of them.

I would like to begin shooting a series of still photographs using the same types of film stocks that I might be using for my upcoming project.

Does Fuji and/or Kodak produce the same types of film stocks in 35mm as they do in super 16mm? How will they translate?

For instance. Is 400ASA the same in both 35mm and S-16mm? Or does the difference in the size of the film make a difference. I guess that's sort of an akward question.... but it seems like there would be something lost in translation.

Also, I would like to be able to use the SAME film lens on my still tests as I will on the shoot itself.
Is there a 35mm still camera that will take a cooke or zeiss? Is there a 35mm still camera that someone could suggest that would work well for such a test.
Thank You!
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#2 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 08:50 PM

My first suggestion would be to shoot tests with a motion picture camera and the lenses you will use for the actual shoot. This would be the best way to test, but if that's not possible you can shoot stills on MP film. I know there are people out there who have customized still cameras with a PL mount so they can use MP lenses. I'm not sure if you can rent one of these cameras or not, but you can call around to some rental houses and see if they can help. I'm not sure where you are located, but this will obviously be easier if you live in LA or NY. It will be tougher if you live outside of a production center.
Shooting stills as tests may end up being more expensive that shooting on a MP camera since you might be able to get a camera and a roll or two of film for free, as well as a good deal on processing from the companies you will be using during your shoot.
Regarding the 35 vs. 16 question: Many of the stocks are the same in both formats. They are just cut differently to work with different formats. So while the stock itself will be the same, the frame size will obviously be different.
Good luck.
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#3 Tim Carroll

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 09:16 PM

I agree with everything Brad says on this. It would serve you the best if you could shoot your tests with the camera and the lenses you will be using on the film.

I interpreted your question "For instance. Is 400ASA the same in both 35mm and S-16mm?" a bit differently than Brad did. I thought you were asking if 35mm still camera film was the same as S-16mm motion picture film. If that was your question, then as far as Kodak is concerned, there is a difference between the 35mm still film they sell and the motion picture film they sell. The emulsions are different, so you can't really test the motion picture stock by shooting the 35mm still film stock.

I remember something John Pytlak once told us. He said even if you could find someone to take the 35mm motion picture film stock and spool it down to fit into film cassettes for 35mm still film cameras, the results you would get from testing the film (sitting still) would not really tell you much about the way the film will react when moving through the camera at 24 fps. Not sure exactly why that is, but he is the Kodak expert.

Again, if at all possible, it is best to shoot with the camera and lenses you will be using, and 100 ft spools of the film stocks you want to use. I have always had great luck when talking to my Kodak rep about situations like this. They have always been very generous when it came to stock for testing. It is in there own best interest because it leads to much larger quantity sales in the long run.

Best of luck,
-Tim
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#4 Troy Warr

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 09:19 PM

Hi Michael,

Shooting stills with a 35mm SLR (I'm assuming that's what you're asking - not 35mm motion picture) is a great way to get a general feel for film exposure, different stocks, etc. Unfortunately, Fuji and Kodak do not make the same stocks for still cameras as they do for motion picture cameras. Professional films like Kodak Portra or Fujicolor Pro will get you fairly close, but they're not the same. Brad brought up a good point that if you can get your hands on a 16mm or S-16mm camera in the meantime, you can use single-frame exposures to shoot a practically endless practice roll on the same stock as you'll be shooting for the film. Just make sure that you talk this over with the lab so that they expose your print appropriately.

ASA/ISO does not change based on film format - 400 ISO Super-35mm should expose the same as 400 ISO Super-8mm, considering the same stock is used. Obviously you're going to get less graininess at a given ISO on a larger stock, but exposure characteristics shouldn't change. Some stocks are rated at slightly different ISO values than they are best exposed in practice, so exposure tests are a good idea.

Hopefully you're shooting on negative stock, not reversal? The former will certainly be more forgiving.

Hope some of that helps - best of luck to you!
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#5 Evan Winter

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 09:28 PM

Hi Michael and good luck with the shoot!

I have some thoughts on shooting film that may or may not help you out. Hopefully you find something useful in my babblings.

First off, modern film stocks are so sensitive that they see the world almost as you see it. My main trick when lighting (very unscientific) is to light the scene by eye and then squint slightly to get a sense of how the film will expose the shadows and the highlights.

Another good aid is a quality digital SLR stills camera. I use a Sony Alpha (although the new Nikon 10.2mp is arguably a better and more robust DSLR system). To use a DSLR simply set all your DSLR settings to match your motion picture film settings. This gives you a very good idea of how the light will look.

Although, in transfer, chances are your film will see deeper into the shadows than your DSLR (especially with 7218 - does that stock even know that sometimes shadows should not be seen into?) and your film will hold the highlights much better than your DSLR.

In essence, if it looks good on the stills camera it'll look at least as good on your processed film.

If you're really much more comfortable shooting off a monitor then I highly recommend going the DSLR route. It'll keep you feeling safe and again if it's on the DSLR then it'll be on the film.

The one caution, with 35mm DSLRs, is that the depth of field will be shallower on your stills camera than on your 16mm film. Often this can be slightly disappointing when you get into transfer and take a look at images that looked gorgeous on set with beautifully bokeh'ed blurry backgrounds only to realize that you can see from an inch in front of the lens to a mile distant! ;)

Evan






Whoops! forgot to mention, the squint trick only really works with faster stocks... it works real well with 7218 for instance but I wouldn't try it with anything slower than 320ASA. Definitely don't pull this one out of your bag when you've got 50ASA film loaded up on your camera. :)
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#6 Sam Wells

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 12:02 PM

I've shot several shorts.
Two on the Varicam and one on the Viper filmstream.
So....I'm accumstomed to lighting off of a monitor and being able to see what I'm shooting on set.
Not being able to use a monitor scares the poop out of me. I know many of you may have come from a film background and get a kick out of this vact : ) :unsure:


Hi Michael, if you have experience with those cameras I thin you'll be fine & even pleasantly surprised; Vision 2 negative will not be so different than REC 500 on the Varicam with much better highlights !

I once taught a video DP (who did really good work with Betacams) sort of on-the-job teaching him to shoot film (16mm Fuji neg in this case but that's irrelevant); this was a friend's Indie feature that he wanted me to shoot but I coudn't, I was too immersed in my own.

But since a good friend - who'd done great FX for me - I crewed the first few days, transitioning our mutual friend into a film DP; critiqued dailies (film dailies, which helped).

My two comments after the first roulnd of dailies were that 1, he should "trust the negative" - he was tending to hold back & get too 'polite' for this somewhat gritty movie (no corporate client w/ face in the Sony monitor here :)

2, a turnaround he did when I was not there looked good on its own but did not match well; hey no monitor & playback to reference. I encouraged him to think more about motivation and sources, "keep the matching in your head" so to speak. Again it helps to know what the negative can & cannot do.

I think that it might be equally if not more important to really know and get a feel for one specific stock, really see what you can do with it: 'transposing' along the Vision 2 lineup should not be much f a leap conceptually. Well that's just my thought. I think 'knowing' the negative is more important than just painting by numbers so to speak.

-Sam
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#7 Michael Anthony

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 04:50 PM

Thank you everyone!
Really I mean that. It's great to get solid advice from people who've done what I'm about to do.
Sounds like everyone is basically saying the same thing... and that is that it's important to TEST.
Best case scenario shoot with the actual camera and film stock (if possible).

I just found out there used to be a company here in LA called "RGB", and they put motion picture stock onto 35mm still rolls. I just learned that they were out of business. <_<

I feel relatively confident that I can find someone in town who does this though....
Between that and figuring out how to mount cinema glass on a still camera I should be really close to a workflow that will closeley mimic what the real thing will be.

Beyond that I'll have to rent a super-16mm camera and do some tests. The only thing is i have a feeling that money is going to have to come out of my pocket. Ummmm .. I think that could get expensive!
Any ideas?
Someone mentioned getting deals maybe at Kodak, Fuji or Fotokem. Maybe someone would lend a helping hand in the form of a great deal.

Once again. Thank you everyone.
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#8 Christian Appelt

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 05:21 PM

About 10 years ago, I spoke to a DP who used a Nikon F-3 camera with a thing called MF-4 250-Exposure Magazine Back (bulk film back). He had short lengths of his productzion negative spooled into this mag and shot lighting tests with his Nikon F-3.
His film lab processed this short roll without any problems and he could discuss every shot with the guy who did the grading in advance (it was a studio picture with standing sets) and change some lighting setups for best effect.

Not a lightweight tool, that's for sure... ;)

Posted Image
from Film Back options for Nikon

The smaller item is for 250 exposures, the larger one for 750 shots!

Edited by Christian Appelt, 12 March 2007 - 05:22 PM.

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#9 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 07:22 PM

There used to be a lab in LA called RGB labs, wehre they spooled down motion picture film stock for use in still cameras. You can still get the equipment i believe to do it yourself. I suggest doing what ahs been aforementioned, and that is shooting a camera test, yes, everyhitng the same will still be available. If youre in LA, Fotokem will process test rolls for free.
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#10 Michael Collier

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 09:04 PM

you can get the stuff to load your own cartridges from B&H or other photostores. Roll your own spools up, shoot a cart then download it to a can and send it off for proccessing. If you tell the lab what you have done, they can usually accomodate it (be sure to provide a lot of handles on each side of the film for them to work with.) most labs have a minimum proccessing, usually around 100ft. If you talk to them they will tell you the best way of going about getting the footage to them. I shot 100ft of stills and got it proccessed for under 20 bucks. Then a quick (and I mean quick) telecine to DVCAM gives you an idea of whats there, though if you can print them you can then crop them and put them in a slide and have a cheap option to see them projected.
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#11 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 01:57 PM

I just found out there used to be a company here in LA called "RGB", and they put motion picture stock onto 35mm still rolls. I just learned that they were out of business. <_<

A&I does this now. They are located on Highland just south of Santa Monica Blvd. I just bought a couple of rolls yesterday. They have both Fuji and Kodak in a variety of speeds and both daylight and tungsten. The only problem is that they don't say which stock it is. For example, they have a 500T Kodak stock, but it could be a couple of different stocks. I think a few phone calls could probably clear this up, but I haven't tried to find out yet.
Good luck.
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#12 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 02:18 PM

Posted Image
from Film Back options for Nikon

The smaller item is for 250 exposures, the larger one for 750 shots!


Smashing Pumpkins used this same type of camera for their "Thirty Three" music video. :)
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#13 Sam Wells

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 03:18 PM

Smashing Pumpkins used this same type of camera for their "Thirty Three" music video. :)


With a pin registration mod ?

-Sam
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