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Anamorphic costs


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#1 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 24 March 2007 - 01:48 PM

I was asked a few questions about shooting Anamorphic 35mm for DI and it's costs, which I don't know much about. Does anyone have insight to what it would cost to shoot Anamorphic 35mm over 4-perf Super 35? And is a Anamorphic DI more expencive then a 4-perf or 3-perf 35mm DI?
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#2 Max Jacoby

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Posted 24 March 2007 - 02:28 PM

In general anamorphic lenses are more expensive to rent than spherical lenses, but you can get less expensive ones too, like Panavision's C-Series, which are still very fine lenses.

As for the DI, the costs itself (scanning, grading, recording) will be the same compared to 4 perf Super35, while with 3 perf you will save 25 % during scanning. (During the actual shoot, 3 perf will give you a 25% saving on stock, development and telecine as well)

Because anamorphic uses a larger area of the negative, the picture quality will always be better than Super 35 ( i.e. sharper, with less grain). Those differences will be most obvious if you go for an optical finish or a 4K DI. If you only do a 2K DI the difference in quality will be less visible, because 2K is not enough sharp enough to capture the full info on the negative, be it anamorphic or spherical.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 March 2007 - 03:46 PM

The low-end anamorphic prime lenses (like Panavision C-Series) rent for about the same as the high-end spherical lenses. However, the popularity of the C-Series for Steadicam / handheld work has meant that often I can get a deal on the Primo anamorphics because the C-series are not available. On "Northfork" I asked for the C-Series for cost reasons but ended up with the Primos for the same price because they were out of most of their C and E-Series.

Since it's mainly the lens rental that is your extra cost for anamorphic, the longer the shoot goes on, I suppose the more Super-35 saves you money.

In terms of D.I., other than the cost savings of 3-perf over 4-perf (whether anamorphic or not), there are no extra costs from working with anamorphic photography or recording out to 35mm scope vs. flat.

However, note that if you want a scope release print, it would be cheaper to shoot 35mm anamorphic and finish the movie photochemically than shoot in Super-35 and do a D.I. or an optical printer blow-up to anamorphic. The extra cost of the lens rental is nowhere near the cost of the D.I. or blow-up work.

Because movie shoots these days seem to use more multiple cameras and larger lens packages, often it's either feast or famine for anamorphic lenses at the rental houses: one or two big productions can sweep through and rent most of them.

There is the notion that you need a bigger lighting package for anamorphic, which is only partially true. First of all, it just depends on if you are determined to shoot at a decent f-stop like an f/4, but even if that were true, most of the time with the lighting package you would have normally carried, you can use it to get a higher stop. But occassionally for big locations you may want a bigger package in order to light to a level that you feel comfortable shooting at with anamorphic lenses.

Although my biggest night exterior for "Astronaut Farmer" was the county fairgrounds and I ended mainly just using a few Chinese Lanterns to augment the available light. I had some 9-lights on towers in the corners but I didn't really need them it turned out.
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#4 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 03:31 PM

Thanks for the insight guys. If I were to shoot 3perf Super 35 for 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 4k scan to 2k workflow and print, is there still an optical stage going to Anamorphic release?
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#5 Max Jacoby

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 05:00 PM

No, because the unsqueezing will be done in post and recorded out to negative. This negative is used to strike the prints. That is one of the advantages of DIs, you can record several negatives to strike your release prints, thereby skipping the IP/IN stage.
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#6 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 07:37 PM

No, because the unsqueezing will be done in post and recorded out to negative. This negative is used to strike the prints. That is one of the advantages of DIs, you can record several negatives to strike your release prints, thereby skipping the IP/IN stage.


Awesome. Thanks Max.
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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 08:00 PM

No, because the unsqueezing will be done in post and recorded out to negative. This negative is used to strike the prints. That is one of the advantages of DIs, you can record several negatives to strike your release prints, thereby skipping the IP/IN stage.

Hi Max,

Just curious, but is it generally cheaper to record out several master negatives or to record out one IP and make your dupe negs from that? I understand the advantage in picture quality of the former method, but I'm wondering about the economics of it. Also, which is more common these days?
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 08:56 PM

Unfortunately it's cheaper (and therefore more common) to make a contact-printed IP and IN from the digitally-output interneg than to record additional internegs out from the Arrilaser.

A 35mm IP and IN for a feature, one-light contact-prints, are about $10,000 each, whereas each output from the Arrilaser is likely to cost you another $50,000 unless you get a good deal.
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#9 Jon Kukla

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 09:29 PM

Yeah, I was about to say - it doesn't seem to make sense to have to record out multiple IN's for direct release prints, since each IN can only handle so many prints. Making the one IN and then multiple IP/INs for prints seems both more economical and practical.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 10:33 PM

Yeah, I was about to say - it doesn't seem to make sense to have to record out multiple IN's for direct release prints, since each IN can only handle so many prints. Making the one IN and then multiple IP/INs for prints seems both more economical and practical.


But it doesn't look as good, especially if you did the D.I. at 2K and then have further resolution loss from the IP/IN generations.

Hopefully the costs of laser recording will keep dropping so that all printing negatives will come straight from the digital master.

I've heard you can make about a 1000 release prints from one Estar dupe neg, although another reason to make IN's are things like subtitled versions for foreign markets.
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#11 Sidney King

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Posted 26 March 2007 - 11:50 PM

Perhaps it's for creative reasons that you're looking into a DI, but from a producer's perspective, a traditional finish on 35mm is still signficantly cheaper.

I just finished post on a 35mm anamorphic feature, and was very happy with the results we got from the old-school approach. Of course the visual needs of each specific project will dictate whether a DI is the right choice, but you can offline edit, create your titles/opticals (providing they're fairly basic), cut your neg, time it, and get your HD video deliverables and intermediate prints, all for significantly less than even a modest DI package.

Again, the creative needs of your project may dictate whether a DI is the right choice, but for a low-budget feature (including 35mm anamorphic) the traditional approach is still more cost-effective.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 12:04 AM

I'm not sure you read my earlier post in which I basically said the same thing:

However, note that if you want a scope release print, it would be cheaper to shoot 35mm anamorphic and finish the movie photochemically than shoot in Super-35 and do a D.I. or an optical printer blow-up to anamorphic. The extra cost of the lens rental is nowhere near the cost of the D.I. or blow-up work.


So sure... it's cheaper to finish photochemically, and it usually looks better, although most producers aren't factoring in the later $50,000 they will probably spend transferring the 35mm IP to various HD-D5 masters for home video deliverables (5 days in a DaVinci / Spirit suite basically).

Of course, even though a D.I. covers this, it is still more expensive overall, at least twice as much as just HD mastering... so you better have a good reason for needing one, like a unique look than can most efficiently be achieved digitally.

What I'm discovering though is that more and more directors won't settle for the limitations of photochemical color timing, let alone the limitations of shooting with anamorphic lenses. And more and more often, editors are making choices that force the movie into being mastered digitally, like doing speed changes and image resizing, digital zooms, repeated shots, etc.

I did one film ("Shadowboxer") where it was agreed that we weren't going to do a D.I. because we couldn't afford it, so I shot it in anamorphic for a photochemical finish.

Then I see the final cut and 30% of the movie involves "opticals" of some kind or another, plus the director wanted the shots to look like the original DVD dailies, which had been transferred in an oversaturated way, and he wanted to alter the colors in parts of the frame, etc. We ended up doing a low-budget D.I. in HD, which was a shame since we had shot it in anamorphic.

So now I find myself having to educate the director, producer, and sometimes the editor, about what they can and cannot do if they want to finish the movie photochemically so we are all on the same page.
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#13 Max Jacoby

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 03:37 AM

What I'm discovering though is that more and more directors won't settle for the limitations of photochemical color timing, let alone the limitations of shooting with anamorphic lenses.

Yeah, it's always a good idea to reduce the overall picture quality in favour of more flexibility with an inferior image...
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#14 Keith Mottram

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 06:20 AM

Then I see the final cut and 30% of the movie involves "opticals" of some kind or another, plus the director wanted the shots to look like the original DVD dailies, which had been transferred in an oversaturated way, and he wanted to alter the colors in parts of the frame, etc. We ended up doing a low-budget D.I. in HD, which was a shame since we had shot it in anamorphic.

So now I find myself having to educate the director, producer, and sometimes the editor, about what they can and cannot do if they want to finish the movie photochemically so we are all on the same page.


David,

when you say low-budget DI could you elaborate was the film transferred to SR or uncompressed data? was the anamorphic transfered to letterboxed 16:9 or full height 16:9? and what DI system did you use?

thanks

keith
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#15 Max Jacoby

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 10:47 AM

I seem to remember that it was SR, as David posted about that.
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 11:00 AM

I seem to remember that it was SR, as David posted about that.


Yes, a Spirit HD transfer to SR, anamorphic image unstretched just enough to fill 16x9.

Later found out that a similar editing approach caused the producer's previous movie to also go through a D.I. even though it was shot in standard 1.85.

It's always a tough, personal judgement call as to where to draw the line on the convenience/quality issue. Some DP's just hate anamorphic, for example -- one ASC member said to me "you're hijacking to entire production to serve those lenses!" (I should note that this particular member owned his own camera package and set of spherical lenses...)

I'm usually willing to live with some degree of inconvenience to get more quality if I feel that I'm not hurting some other aspect of the production, but as I said, it's not an easy decision. I wondered for a moment about shooting children as lead actors in anamorphic on "Akeelah and the Bee" because they might not hit their marks, etc. -- turned out they were better than the adults at hitting their marks!
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#17 Sidney King

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 11:25 AM

I'm not sure you read my earlier post in which I basically said the same thing

oops, sorry for the redundant post.

Another somewhat hidden cost in post working with anamorphic is removing the "flash frames" caused during the transfer by the thin splices in a conformed anamorphic negative. That bill ran 12K for us, and can be higher.

Just something else to tell your producers early in the process to prepare themselves for.
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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 11:41 AM

If the negative was conformed properly with a CinemaScope splicer, frameline flashes should not have been much of a problem, just occasional. Unfortunately I think conforming anamorphic negative is probably becoming a lost art.

I did see flashes when projecting "Northfork" over at Kodak once because they used a 2.35 projector gate instead of a 2.40 gate. Some theaters still have the wrong anamorphic aperture plates, hence why you notice the flashes at the frameline.

It gets worse when doing the HD transfer unless you zoom in slightly and crop out the edges more.
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#19 Keith Mottram

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 03:26 PM

It's always a tough, personal judgement call as to where to draw the line on the convenience/quality issue.

or the artifacts. i have thought along the lines of a anamorphic to sr as a cheap di to keep the visual artifacts that anamorphic offers whilst having di control- the artifacts have become the defining reason to use anamorphic.

David, if you had the possibility of a 4k+ scan would you always go with spherical or would you choose anamorphic for aesthetic reasons?

keith
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#20 Max Jacoby

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 03:56 PM

Personally I love the anamorphic look. It's not just the increased sharpness, but mostly the three dimensional feel you get because of the anamorphic element. Also the compressed way the out-of-focus looks is just gorgeous!
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