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D.I. Cost Question.


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#1 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 02:33 AM

If I have what I believe to be a perfectly color corrected betacam sp master that I want a D.I. made from, do I save any money when the D.I. is made as compared to a betacam sp master that needs scene to scene color correction?
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 02:41 AM

If I have what I believe to be a perfectly color corrected betacam sp master that I want a D.I. made from, do I save any money when the D.I. is made as compared to a betacam sp master that needs scene to scene color correction?


Uhhhh...DI from your Betacam master? Are you doing a filmout of your Betacam footage or something?

Otherwise, can't you just up-res it?
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 02:54 AM

If I have what I believe to be a perfectly color corrected betacam sp master that I want a D.I. made from, do I save any money when the D.I. is made as compared to a betacam sp master that needs scene to scene color correction?


A digital intermediate implies film-to-digital-to-film. Are you asking if you can use your beta-SP master for a film-out to 35mm? And if it's an NTSC beta-SP copy of material shot on non-30 fps film, is the pulldown consistent... or was the material edited with no attention to maintaining the pulldown cadence?

Because any digital master that is going to be transferred to film has to be converted to 24P basically for a frame-to-frame transfer, plus in your case, convert analog to digital. It would also be uprezzed to 2K probably.

If the tape is already color-corrected for correct display on a video monitor, it would probably just go through a standard LUT by the D.I. facility for conversion to Log color space for a transfer to film. They may or may not do a very quick pass at re-color-correcting to look correct for a film-out.

Efilm has lots of experience with every sort of videotape format known to man being transferred to film, so talk to them. I suspect your main problem may be motion artifacts if you have an uneven pulldown scheme, especially if this was 18 fps Super-8 footage transferred to 29.976 fps NTSC and then edited in video.

A D.I. usually means:

scanning film
conforming scans to EDL to create edited digital master
building transitions / adding efx
color-correcting
dust removal
recording to 35mm film
conversion of digital master to other video deliverables

In your case, you're really asking about a video-to-film transfer, not a D.I. And generally a D.I. would use a higher level of digital for the film scanning/storage than analog interlaced-scan, standard def videotape. You would never use beta-SP for D.I. work. Usually the lowest level would be 24P HD since it would at least store the film frames as whole digital video frames at a decent resolution. But usually D.I. involve film frame scans to a RGB data file format.

So if all you want is a video-to-film transfer, you are mostly just paying for the film recording, typically about $50,000 for a feature-length project (i.e. around $500 per minute) if using a laser recorder, cheaper if using a CRT recorder. Prices will vary though so shop around.
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#4 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 11:47 AM

I understand the possibility that the A & B fields may be inverted, but in a D.I. environment, couldn't those fields be reversed? What about doing an A field pass and then a B field pass and then wherever the fields don't line up properly they get reversed, is that possible?

Wouldn't I still want some kind of D.I. from a Betacam sp master and then make my film print from that?
Otherwise I have one 35mm film print that is valued at a LOT of money and as soon as it gets marred I have to start from the betacam sp again, ouch!

I should add that the content is entirely Super-8 film, not video origination material and yes, it was transferred at 18 frames per second. Some of it was edited component, some of it went through a Panasonic MX-50 switcher.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 01:32 PM

Usually you laser record out to 35mm internegative (or if using a CRT recorder, out to camera negative stock), from which you make prints.

I don't know what sort of pulldown cadence was needed to make 18 fps transfer to 29.976 fps NTSC, but as soon as you started editing the material in video, that cadence went out of whack. Yes, there are software tricks that look for cadence and correct it, although they usually miss spots, plus in your case, you aren't trying to get back to 24 fps as the correct frame rate -- since 35mm projection is 24 fps, assuming you don't want a 1:1 transfer (one frame of Super-8 for one frame of 35mm) because it would look sped-up when projected at 24 fps, there will still need to be some sort of conversion to blend/extend frames, etc.

All you can do is try at this point - maybe have them transfer a minute's worth as a test and see how odd the motion artifacts may be. You may be fine in general with just the occasional pulldown hiccup.

A cleaner method would be to retransfer the S8 footage at 24 fps to 24P HD. Then at least you have a 1:1 relationship between the film frames and the digital frames. Then you could try some sort of digital speed change to correct the footage to look normal at 24 fps on a 24P HD master. But this would probably negate using the EDL as a guide to reconforming.

You could experiment first and see how well it converts to 50i PAL or 24P HD, figuring that if you can get those formats to look correct, a film-out should be OK.
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#6 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 03:44 PM

The only way this film could have been made was at the 18 frames per second because of the film stock supply and people power limitations. Shooting at 24 frames per second would have meant more film cartridge changes at which point I would have needed an assistant, and I wouldn't have asked someone to work for free, plus, suddenly light levels come into play, it's only approximately an additional 1/3 to 1/2 stop difference between the two film speeds but that could have been critical for certain scenes, and we would have run out of film.

I hope there is a doable workflow for film originated material that was shot at 18 frames per second and edited on video.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 04:27 PM

Well, it's the simple problem that 35mm projection is 24 fps, so you have to convert 18 frames into 24 at some point.

Like I said, it's certainly doable with basic speed-correction software in the digital realm -- it just would be a simpler process if you could deliver true 18 frames rather than something mixed up in an uneven, non-standard pulldown scheme. Or at least had edited it on the "A" frame in order to keep the pulldown scheme consistent so that it could be removed easily. It's the same problem when people shoot 24 fps material, transfer to NTSC, and edit in 60i with no regards to the pulldown scheme -- it takes more work to remove it and sometimes it gets missed.

I once had a little Super-8 to cut into a 23.98P HD project -- I basically transferred it at 30 fps (29.976) to NTSC Digital Betacam so that one frame of Super-8 would equal one frame of video. Then that was converted frame by frame to HD (so technically, 29.97P HD) but run as if 23.98P.

You could do a similar thing by transferring at 25 fps to PAL Digital Betacam.

There's no harm in just taking some of your tape over to a place like Efilm and doing a one-minute film-out test. You may be fine with what you've got already.

There used to be an optical printer conversion for silent films shot at 16 fps of double-printing alternate frames, but generally that's avoided now. Most silent films are restored 1:1 at their original frame rates and shown at art houses and museums that have a variable frame rate projector, like at the American Cinematheque. I supposed you can do that, but then you're very limited to where you can show your 35mm print at 18 fps.
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#8 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 11:49 PM

Would doubling every fourth video frame be bad, assuming the a/b inverted field issue was non-existent or a minimal problem?
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 12:40 AM

Would doubling every fourth video frame be bad, assuming the a/b inverted field issue was non-existent or a minimal problem?


Not too bad, sort of like the 24P Advanced pulldown in the DVX100, but there are probably slightly more sophisticated 18-to-24 conversions. Really what it comes downs to is that your tape is 60i, so they probably would do a 60i to 24 frame conversion rather than try and pick-out all the true original "18P" frames.
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#10 Michael Most

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 10:38 AM

There used to be an optical printer conversion for silent films shot at 16 fps of double-printing alternate frames, but generally that's avoided now.


Going the optical route, you're print every 3rd frame twice to get from 18fps to 24fps. I had to do that quite a while back for some home movie footage that was being used. The result doesn't actually look a strobed as one might think, particularly given that 18fps photography is a bit stuttery to begin with. Even if I was doing this digitally, I'd consider using the same approach, as it avoids frame blending which can lead to other problems.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 03:58 PM

Even if I was doing this digitally, I'd consider using the same approach, as it avoids frame blending which can lead to other problems.


Yes, but you're back to the problem in this case of 18 fps transferred to 60i with a non-standard pulldown, and then edited in 60i without the pulldown cadence being maintained, making it difficult to extract the original film frames so one can then do as you suggest, repeat every third frame to get from 18 to 24.
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#12 Michael Most

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 06:59 PM

Yes, but you're back to the problem in this case of 18 fps transferred to 60i with a non-standard pulldown, and then edited in 60i without the pulldown cadence being maintained, making it difficult to extract the original film frames so one can then do as you suggest, repeat every third frame to get from 18 to 24.


It seems to me there really isn't any way to come up with any post path for this particular case other than the obvious one (use what they've got and hope for the best).

Will people never learn to ask questions prior to beginning a project rather than after they've already made a mess of it?
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#13 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 04:00 PM

It seems to me there really isn't any way to come up with any post path for this particular case other than the obvious one (use what they've got and hope for the best).

Will people never learn to ask questions prior to beginning a project rather than after they've already made a mess of it?


What kind of a cheap shot is that? It was shot the only way it could have been shot based on the circumstances at hand and can easily be broadcast or turned into a DVD with no problems at all.

sheesh.
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#14 Michael Most

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 04:47 PM

What kind of a cheap shot is that? It was shot the only way it could have been shot based on the circumstances at hand and can easily be broadcast or turned into a DVD with no problems at all.


But that's not what you're asking about, and it's not what you seem to be planning to do. The comment wasn't made as a "cheap shot," it was made because far too often here, people (not necessarily you) seem to be under the impression that you can make "anything" out of "anything" because it's "digital" - without regard for such minor details as frame rates, proper tracking of keycode, and an understanding of the nature of projected film (i.e., that it's projected at 24 frames per second). And the questions asked are almost always asked after the fact.
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#15 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 05:26 PM

All I'm trying to do is anticipate the next possible step and see what is possible and what is not. However, the next possible step would have never even been possible if the film had been done any other way than the way it was done.
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 05:30 PM

In the future, shoot Super-8 at 24 fps and edit it in a true 24-frame method without pulldown if you plan a transfer to 35mm.
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#17 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 08:02 PM

In the future, shoot Super-8 at 24 fps and edit it in a true 24-frame method without pulldown if you plan a transfer to 35mm.


Part of editing is to feel the moment, how can that be done if the footage is being edited in a one to one relationship?
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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 08:28 PM

Part of editing is to feel the moment, how can that be done if the footage is being edited in a one to one relationship?


If you are talking about digital speed-changes in post, that can be done as long as the final result can be played at 24 fps as the "correct" playback speed for the whole project. Basically you have to start thinking in terms of progressive-scan video instead of interlaced-scan video, everything ending in whole video frames, not split over fields, with no pulldown.

Somehow movies have been edited for many decades for 24 fps playback -- even experimental ones -- so surely it's possible.

You can do anything you want as long as you can live with the consequences. But you can't do anything you want and expect it to always be fixable in post if something goes wrong.

If you want to shoot at 18 fps, transfer to 60i, screw around with the pulldown cadence, and convert all of that to 24 fps for a film-out, that's the easy part. It's not having motion and interlaced-scan artifacts as a result, that's the hard part. But perhaps if your piece as is creative and non-traditional as you suggest, occasional odd artifacts would not be a problem.

If you're shooting for 24 fps 35mm cinema release, there are restrictions to recognize so that you can work around them, that's all. With standardization of technology comes restrictions.

Maybe when digital projection has become commonplace, non-standard frame rates (like Thomas' revered 60 fps) will be a readily-available option.
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#19 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 04:26 PM

David, does the equivalent of a Betacam SP videotape editing suite exist that would allow one to do a film transfer to 24P (but not necessarily Hd) from an 18 FPS transfer? (DV-CAM would be a step down and DVC-PRO 50 has an audio delay). In the low, low budget world of filmmaking I have never encountered a low budget film or video that was edited in NLE that I could not make look "better" by re-correcting it in betacam sp. It's a shame that most of the really low low budget projects never really grasp how they fail on the technical end at achieving the ideal look for their video or film project that has been edited digitally.

I think some people are confusing being handed a better quality camera as moving up on the video food chain when what really matters more is being able to instantly recognize what is "technically wrong" with a low budget production's "look". Rather than learn how to make any video image look as good as it can, the prevailing philosophy is to just find and purchase a "better quality" camera, and that misses the whole zen of production, in my opinion.
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#20 Michael Most

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 07:00 PM

David, does the equivalent of a Betacam SP videotape editing suite exist that would allow one to do a film transfer to 24P (but not necessarily Hd) from an 18 FPS transfer?


There is no such thing as a 24p standard definition videotape format. So the basic answer is no. However, you could transfer to a 24p HD format. In that case, what I previously described would likely be the case: the telecine would transfer at 18fps, printing every 3rd frame twice, thus yielding 24fps with proper sync. It would be a difficult exercise to reconform this using 2K scans. But if you plan it this way from the start, it is possible to do the original transfer to, say, HDCam SR at 4:4:4 10 bit, and use that for an "indie" DI through to a film out. If it's necessary to cut in standard definition, this could be done either by downconverting directly from the HDCam SR transfer master to a file (Quicktime, for instance), or by making DVCam downconversions and ingesting from that (hopefully converting back to 24fps for editing, although that's not technically necessary).

Just about anything is possible if you plan it correctly. Even a 24fps print from an 18fps original.
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