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D.I. 101


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#1 Zulkifli Yusof

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Posted 25 May 2007 - 02:35 PM

Hi all

I'm preparing for a standard 16mm blowup to 35mm. By preparing, I mean doing research on the subject. I have no experience nor understanding on the matter and I intend to find out as much as possible through this forum by asking a few questions.

- Firstly, what is involved in the whole DI process?
- What materials are needed to prepare for the DI? (In my case: I shot standard16, full grade telecine to D-Beta and online to D-Beta)
- What is the estimate duration for a DI process to complete for a 20 minute short film?
- Ideal choice of film stock to print to, considering that I shot on 50D and 100T for the whole film.
- Soundtrack for 35mm: How do I deal with it? I have my soundtrack on DAT and D-Beta

So far, these are the questions that I have at the back of my mind. As soon as I find out more information, I might ask even more questions, so to all those with the know-how on the topic, I hope that you dont mind.

Thanks!
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#2 Arvin Farahmand

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Posted 25 May 2007 - 03:04 PM

In a basic DI process your film is scanned by a machine, attached a time code, and then written out to tape (D5, HDCAM, D-Beta, etc.). You can grade, color, play with contrast, pan and scan, do what you need right off the transfer or later off the tape (except the pan and scan part).

From there on, it depends on where you want to go. If it is a film festival you are going to 9 times out of 10 they'll take a tape (often HDCAM) over a print -- which is more expensive than tape and more liable to tear or get lost. You can always go film-out and have the tape "printed" onto 35mm film for projection. That is a rather expensive proposition. I wouldn't do that unless I had a pretty good reason to do so.

The post facility can also give you the data as series of images, or an mpeg video, or some other format on a hard drive but that takes quite a while -- at least 4-5 times the running time, if not more. Basically you are looking at about 6 MB per frame, for 142 MB per second of film.

You can also go straight to DVD from the tape.

I advise you ato lways keep your tape masters because it costs a lot of money to transfer everything and regrade things if you decide to make a change. If you want something stylized, it is best to first do a transfer to tape with all the information preserved (i.e. nothing crushed or blown out for effect) and then apply the effect you want and put it on a different tape. Tell your colourist that you want a digital negative with all the info preserved and he'll set things up so nothing is clipped.

The little bit of money that you may save by reusing tapes is very small compared to what you'll pay to redo things -- and trust me you will want to try out different things.

Also, D-Beta is standard def. I'd go to a D5, or an HDCAM to get a decent high-def transfer that you can later print to film if you choose to do so. Besides HD-DVD and Bluray are around the corner and I'd rather have my film in HD at the end rather than SD.

You won't need 2K or 4K transfers. Those are mainly for special effects shots and are rather expensive. They won't transfer to tape. They have to go to a hard drive. Even if you have a special effects shot, I'd still pull the plate off a tape transfer (1920x1080 if you go HD) and not go the 2K route.

Word of advice -- avoid going back out to film to save a lot of money. There is really no good reason for you to go back out to film unless you have already secured a distribution agreement for your film in which case the distributor often takes care of striking your prints anyways.

Edited by Arvin Farahmand, 25 May 2007 - 03:07 PM.

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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 May 2007 - 07:52 PM

If you're just transferring the D-beta to film, that's a video-to-film transfer really, although you could consider the D-beta as the "digital" part of a digital intermediate. But generally the digital stage has to be higher in quality than standard def video.

If you just retransfer the film and conform in HD, that's HD mastering, not a digital intermediate.

Digital intermediate mainly means "film-digital-film" -- digital as the intermediate stage for creating an element for cinema release. Usually this means transferring the digital master to a film element for printing, but the term has been expanded to also creating digital masters for digital projection.
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#4 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 25 May 2007 - 08:28 PM

If you're just transferring the D-beta to film, that's a video-to-film transfer really, although you could consider the D-beta as the "digital" part of a digital intermediate. But generally the digital stage has to be higher in quality than standard def video.

If you just retransfer the film and conform in HD, that's HD mastering, not a digital intermediate.

Digital intermediate mainly means "film-digital-film" -- digital as the intermediate stage for creating an element for cinema release. Usually this means transferring the digital master to a film element for printing, but the term has been expanded to also creating digital masters for digital projection.



Of course David has said it well, DI does have intermediate in it, furthermore I think it's important to understand that the idea behind this type of work is to represent most or all of the information in the original negative digitally and this means working in hi dynamic range rgb color and not the limited dynamic range and colorspace of all types of video, hd included except maybe Hdcam-SR. Also 2K seems to be the "standard" these days and it represents a bit more resolution than 1080p but much more range and color.

-Rob-
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#5 Zulkifli Yusof

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Posted 01 June 2007 - 03:55 PM

I see. Thanks for the replies guys.

So basically, a DI requires a high quality digital master to print to film. Do post houses offer some sort of "uprezzing" technique for SD video to 35mm print then? I would assume that in my case, re-scanning my original 16mm negatives for a higher quality master for the 35mm print would be troublesome and costly and the only way is simply a video to film transfer?
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 June 2007 - 09:10 PM

I see. Thanks for the replies guys.

So basically, a DI requires a high quality digital master to print to film. Do post houses offer some sort of "uprezzing" technique for SD video to 35mm print then? I would assume that in my case, re-scanning my original 16mm negatives for a higher quality master for the 35mm print would be troublesome and costly and the only way is simply a video to film transfer?



Well, an SD master will probably get uprezzed to 2K by the laser recorder, but you don't really gain any quality, it's just putting the video in a format for the laser recorder to use.

SD-to-35mm won't really be a true representation of the quality of the original 16mm photography. It might look acceptable though.
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