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#1 Ryan Ball

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 06:17 PM

Whenever I mention shooting a project on film, the other filmmakers I know always ask, "Why don't you just shoot it digitally and film-look it?" as if it's that easy to make a mini-DV movie look like a professional production. If it's so easy, why isn't everybody doing it?

I'm working on getting a feature I wrote off the ground and my co-producer wants to shoot digital and swears he can run it through a 24p filter and make it look exactly like 16mm. I told him I'd believe it when I see it and that shooting digital would limit our distribution options.

I'd like to find an up-an-coming cinematographer with his/her own Super16 or R16 camera package who is willing to work for points. Maybe this would help in convincing my co-producer that film is a viable option on a low-budget production. Thoughts?
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#2 Aaron Hultin

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 08:34 PM

I have just done a side by side comparison of Mini-DV, and 16mm film (for just this type of post!). I will be posting the results of that comparison as soon as I get my footage back from the lab, but until then:

The only way to get a real film look, is to shoot on film. I haven't personally made a feature, but have shot quite a bit of both Mini-DV & 16mm film. To even compare Mini-DV to 16mm borders on offensive. Mini-DV is a format for people not ready/able to spend the extra money on film, and for family vacations. I would absolutely not shoot on Mini-DV over 16mm. 16mm will obviously be (much) more expensive than a handful of Mini-DV tapes, but the quality is simply not comparable. Also, theatrical distribution would be completely out of the question, as Mini-DV's miniscule resolution cannot hold a candle to the 16mm format.

A software program will not make Mini-DV look like 16mm film. It's a simple as that. It just won't. It can't.

The other 'filmmakers' you refer to in your post are videomakers. They make videos, not films.

Edited by Aaron Hultin, 14 August 2007 - 08:36 PM.

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#3 AdamBray

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 12:30 AM

He can run your video through filters till he is blue in the face. MiniDV just does not have the latitude or resolution of film. Bottom line. There's no a filter on earth that can add that. It either has it, or it doesn't.
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#4 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 02:29 AM

Whenever I mention shooting a project on film, the other filmmakers I know always ask, "Why don't you just shoot it digitally and film-look it?" as if it's that easy to make a mini-DV movie look like a professional production. If it's so easy, why isn't everybody doing it?

Take a look at most of the ESPN Original programming like the World Series of Poker and you're seeing what filmlook looks like. They shoot (or at least used to) on Ikegami Betacam's with 12db gain (if memory serves) and then filmlook it. I think it looks pretty decent for video, but it doesn't look like film.
They may be shooting HD or another format now....it's been a few years since I've done any work for them.
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#5 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 02:32 AM

Also, theatrical distribution would be completely out of the question, as Mini-DV's miniscule resolution cannot hold a candle to the 16mm format.

Well, there have been quite a few Mini-DV films blown up to 35mm and given a theatrical release, so it's certainly not out of the question, but it does limit the probability of a theatrical release. Although how much it limits it is debatable since most movies shooting in that budget range will never get a theatrical release anyway, no matter what format they shoot on.
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#6 Will Montgomery

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 01:36 PM

Many young filmakers are excited by miniDV and the posibilities, they often have never even handled film. It's a good and bad thing, good that more young people are interested in the field and will bring new ideas, bad because it's so easy they never develop the skill set required for film and the beautiful art that can be made with it.

Kodak has a DVD comparing digiBeta, 16mm & 35mm. DigiBeta would of course be better than mini-DV but it can give you some ammunition for your argument. Even if the project is destined only for video, 16mm would look better.

Call their 800 number and ask the rep to send it to you... it's free. (they have several demo DVD's available).

1-800-621-FILM (3456)

Much of this depends on the tone of your film too. Fast moving documentaries can benefit from miniDV's ability to capture tons of footage and people are generally more receptive to the look for those types of projects.

Costs are hard to compare; yes video CAN be done cheaper, but video DONE RIGHT with proper lighting & sound can easily approach a 16mm production. Much depends on how rehearsed the cast is and how together the crew is.
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#7 Aaron Hultin

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 05:30 PM

Well, there have been quite a few Mini-DV films blown up to 35mm and given a theatrical release, so it's certainly not out of the question, but it does limit the probability of a theatrical release. Although how much it limits it is debatable since most movies shooting in that budget range will never get a theatrical release anyway, no matter what format they shoot on.


This is a good point, I'm forgetting about my usual example of '28 Days Later' which was shot on Canon XL1's. But, as IMDB shows, they weren't using the 'standard' lenses, which right there would likely cost more than a (low-budget) features worth of 16mm stock. So, Mini-DV is capable of being distributed theatrically, however the $8M budget would have been more than sufficient to shoot on 16mm, or 35mm, so they must have had some reason for using the XL1.

Costs are hard to compare; yes video CAN be done cheaper, but video DONE RIGHT with proper lighting & sound can easily approach a 16mm production. Much depends on how rehearsed the cast is and how together the crew is.


I agree with this totally. I often see people praising the use of Mini-DV as a cost saving tool, but when you factor in the costs of a high quality production including a capable crew, and professional equipment for lighting and audio, I just cannot understand why someone would not just spring for the 16mm at that point.

16mm is so much more rich and deep and beautiful than something a $500 camcorder from Best Buy is going to come up with.
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#8 Adam Thompson

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 06:04 PM

I'd like to find an up-an-coming cinematographer with his/her own Super16 or R16 camera package who is willing to work for points. Maybe this would help in convincing my co-producer that film is a viable option on a low-budget production. Thoughts?


If you can't afford to pay someone for using a S16mm camera, which requires lots of very expensive support and investment on their part not to mention their time, then shoot on something else. If you really care about the film then you will find the money it takes to do it right. Get about $60,000 raised then start looking. It can be done for this much if you are very careful and have someone experienced helping to run the show.

Or you could wait a while and get one of the 100's of RED fans that will own those things. They may not know what they are doing, but at least you will have film-ish looking video in the end.
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#9 kevin jackman

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 07:20 PM

kodak had two dvd's that you need to sit down and watch with your producer. one has an interview with the vice president of tapehouse in new york.it also shows samples etc. the second dvd is one they have comparing video and film. if he watches it with you he will change his tune.
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#10 Tomas Koolhaas

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Posted 19 August 2007 - 12:57 PM

There's a saying in Holland: "If my aunty had balls she would be my uncle".... in this context the relevance is that if mini-dv looked like 16mm it would be 16mm film, but its not its mini-DV therefor it posseses the inherant qualities of Mini-DV: Low resolution, High noise level, lack of sharpness in many situations, low latitude (especially in highlights). 16mm film poseses none of these qualities (defects) and a film-look program never gets rid of these, it can obscure them slightly, but often worsens them. For example "Film grain" effects usually just add more "Noise" to the image.
One thing that hasnt been addressed by anyone else is the "Snobbery" aspect of filmmaking, if you send a film to a festival that is shot on Mini-DV, consciously or subconsiously, the people judging the film will most likely catagorise you as one type of film maker (low budget, semi-professional, weekend freinds-for-crew type) if you shot on film (even 16mm) its more likely you will be classed as a professional who had enough means to go the extra step of shooting on one of the best formats possible. Whether this is fair or not is irrelevant, it is the case throughout most of the industry!
Also, I own my own Super16mm Camera, and I mean this in the most friendly way, I personally would not EVER shoot a feature for free (or points or deffered pay or any other arrangment that leaves me with no pay upfront) no matter how good your script is, the chances of you making enough money from your film to pay someone with their own S16 cam. what they are worth, is statistically pretty low. Also most people who own their own gear have more debts/bills to pay than someone who doesnt and so NEED to be paid upfront and cannot risk working 3 weeks (at least) for potentially no pay. I dont mean to be negative, I hope you find someone who can do it for points, I just thought I would give a heads up.
Cheers.
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#11 Gary Lemson

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Posted 19 August 2007 - 07:18 PM

Here's another consideration (not to fuel the fire), but one should consider how a project will be archived, too.
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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 August 2007 - 07:37 PM

My attitude to this is that if shooting film will rob every other area of the film to the point where it looks crap anyway, don't do it. I'd rather end up with a decent looking video shoot than one that's been completely screwed to feed the camera.

Phil
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#13 Patrick Neary

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Posted 20 August 2007 - 09:24 AM

Hi-

Why in the world would Mini-DV even be on the table??? And Filmlook? Antique! :)

Go get an HVX200 (or rent one, they're everywhere): much better picture, good frame rate selection, still very inexpensive!

good luck with your project!
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#14 Martin Yernazian

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Posted 20 August 2007 - 06:54 PM

Hello Film crazy brothers!


This is an eternal discussion that I feel I can support something new:

I love shooting on film an as a lot of you know I just bought the revolutionary Eclair NPR, modified by MR Les Bosher to S16 and pl mount.
The main reasons I bought this are, 1) I wanted to have my own camera pickup a project and do it, my style no one else's
2) about style, I love cross processing, I been studying it for years now, shot it on all kinds of formats, all kinds of stocks, and let me tell you, if you learn and go deeper that the usual, "it's just an experiment", you will have great results
3) about 3 or some years ago I pickup this left over project, called "Art Officially Favored" about a Berkeley Street musician named Michael Masley, because of budget and the intensity of this musician, I knew that shooting this on film will have been pretty costly, so I decided to go with Mini-dv, but with a twist, I said what about if I could do Cross Processing with digital???
So I went to my father's lab ( he is a photographers technician) and we spend a whole week going through looks and presets on a DVX-100A ( to me similar historically with the NPR), and said- ok what about if we fu** around with the glass?, a lot of the time the look starts from there we open the camera, and we change parts of the glass with other brands of glass that my father had in his lab as parts. we used Cooke, Canon, Nikon and Zeiss glass leaving some of the Leica in there to. The result? more pop, more contrast, more depth, and appreciation for color. Then we went into the elctronics, ( great piece of machine) and soon we realize that the color was not only in the setting but also it was an optical effect and adapting the physical theory of Cross Process we transfer taht " digitally into teh cam", and the look is not the same but is a complete transformation of the horrendous dv "flat" look. The colors are insane, and combine with the glass it makes it great on post, now I don't need to change anything or CC, If I know what I want I just do it like that , no more Magic Bullet of any of those programs that just add noise, We call it Digital Cross Processing? ( not really originals)
Right know I'm experimenting with greens and yellow looks, they seem to be the ones that support it the best, Reds are great to a certain point and blue's are the same, the information is to many for those little chips, I did try the technique on a VAricam and a Cinealta and I was like Wholy crap!!!

Anyhow in terms of Film look, I just think that's just the name that bother alot of people, is definatly different and we should be happy about that, more in the pallete for us creative filmmakers


BEst
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#15 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 20 August 2007 - 09:13 PM

Many young filmakers are excited by miniDV and the posibilities, they often have never even handled film. It's a good and bad thing, good that more young people are interested in the field and will bring new ideas, bad because it's so easy they never develop the skill set required for film and the beautiful art that can be made with it.


I'd like to say how much I agree with this statement, especially in my case. I really didn't make any kind of leap into the professional filmmaking world until I started working with 16mm on a regular basis. Most of the productions I work on still are DV, but if you've shown you can handle film and know a little something about lenses and depth of field, then that'll instantly put you a few steps up above the rest.
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#16 Martin Yernazian

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Posted 20 August 2007 - 09:22 PM

I agree big time!!!, even do you could still make a great story on a cheaper format and then move on into much more expensive formats

Best


I'd like to say how much I agree with this statement, especially in my case. I really didn't make any kind of leap into the professional filmmaking world until I started working with 16mm on a regular basis. Most of the productions I work on still are DV, but if you've shown you can handle film and know a little something about lenses and depth of field, then that'll instantly put you a few steps up above the rest.


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#17 David Auner aac

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 05:44 AM

If I know what I want I just do it like that , no more Magic Bullet of any of those programs that just add noise, We call it Digital Cross Processing? ( not really originals)


Martin, me want to see pictures!

Cheers, Dave
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#18 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 08:30 PM

Whenever I mention shooting a project on film, the other filmmakers I know always ask, "Why don't you just shoot it digitally and film-look it?" as if it's that easy to make a mini-DV movie look like a professional production. If it's so easy, why isn't everybody doing it?

I'm working on getting a feature I wrote off the ground and my co-producer wants to shoot digital and swears he can run it through a 24p filter and make it look exactly like 16mm. I told him I'd believe it when I see it and that shooting digital would limit our distribution options.

I'd like to find an up-an-coming cinematographer with his/her own Super16 or R16 camera package who is willing to work for points. Maybe this would help in convincing my co-producer that film is a viable option on a low-budget production. Thoughts?


This may be an extremely minor point but just for kicks, one of the things that gives film its look is
that
there are subtle changes between frames because the chemical reactions involved vary along the film
in processing. Silver crystals can pop differently say, as opposed to a scene shot in video which,
although you can adjust gamma and all sorts of things, is going to have the same inherent response
from frame to frame. I think that this variance is so subtle that it plays on us viewers subconsciously,
causing the film to evoke more of a sense of atmosphere to the story, in the same way that standing
on the corner talking to somebody has a sense of atmosphere that is different than the hard to
overcome phoniness of the fake atmosphere of an exterior scene shot on a soundstage.
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#19 Sean McHenry

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Posted 23 August 2007 - 10:06 AM

As a member of the local Columbus chapter of the international Indie Club, one of the arguments I pose to people who are shooting MiniDV (or any flavor of the DV25 or even DV50 Codec) is that they have generally become so used to running the camera all day long it's gotten silly. With tape being $7 at Wally-Mart for 60 minutes running time, I could shoot for weeks straight on DV for the cost of my last 6 minute epic in Super 8. It's the shooting ratio that kills people.

I know folks that have shot for a 60 second spot and brought in 4 tapes - full. What the hack is going on there? The MiniDV crowd has gotten so jaded using cheap stock that their ratio is off the charts. That makes for sloppy direction and probably makes real actors tired quickly doing 37 takes of each shot.

I am a huge advocate, to the point of being annoying to the group at times, of shooting at least one project on film. Any kind of film. I have even been buying old regular 8 cameras off Ebay, checking them out and passing them out as door prize raffles to members of the group to encourage shooting film.

The Digital advocates keep falsely pointing out that all the big name DPs and Directors of pop Hollywood stuff are shooting digital, to which I say maybe they are, and that's fine - but - they all (for the most part) were raised on film methods and know that the image capture device is only part of the equation.

I have been preaching that if they realize the expense of shooting film and do a film project or two, it can only make them better Directors and DPs. If nothing else, it gives you some shooting ratio discipline. Besides, a real movie fanatic may not realize what they are seeing but the contrast ratio (latitude) of film is so much higher than digital there is no comparison. That's one reason I hate digital projection so far.

Anyway, push for film where you can, especially on first projects. Yeah, there's a fear factor of focus and exposure plus lab mistakes but that goes with the territory, and means you need people around you that know what they are doing too. This movie stuff isn't as cheap as people would have you believe in magazines. If you're Robert Rodriguez and you have friends with gear, etc. I suppose it can be cheaper but it still takes real capitol, something I have yet to aspire to.

I'm happy doing a mix of film and video shorts right now, but that's by choice so far. Really, I'm just getting into film after 26+ years as a misguided youth Engineering in US television broadcasting, but my still photography background applies mostly here in motion pictures.

Sean

Edited by Sean McHenry, 23 August 2007 - 10:10 AM.

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#20 diego vazquez

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Posted 23 August 2007 - 11:27 AM

3 things.

first.- if you shoot in video you will not be making a FILM as simple as that, you can go do it and go sell it to a tv channel, if money is what you wanna make, (it sounds that if you wanna make it cheap, but make it look expensive with some digital filters that dont exist, you wanna make some money) if you really really were passionate enough about FILMmaking you would be using minidv to do video storyboards and plan as carefully as you can your project so you make as few as possible mistakes while shooting the real thing. you would see minidv as a rehearsal tool.
if the business people behind the red cam were really passionate about film they would use the red cam technology to make a proper video tap (video assist) for film cameras. that is a real combination of the best two forces.
but of course these people arent passionate about film, that's why they created these digital cameras, cus they are passionate about money. *that on its own puts me off shooting on video. i'd rather use video to plan how to shoot on film.

second.- if you are interested in filmaking. then you need the discipline that filmaking needs, the culture off not seeing what you get straight away, in that way you will be sharper,(so in case you do want to make money out of filmaking, by being sharp and good both creatively and technically you will be worth some money as a director)
and you will only be sharp at filmaking by practicing "FILM"making. the only way to learn how to make a film is by making a film. you should thank that filmaking is not as hard as heart surgery where you need 10 years min of studying. in film you can just go make your FILM and learn how its done, and you decide how much information you want to take in as technique.

and third. i mean please dont tell me that it is hard to find some budget to shoot on super 16mm and rent some at least 1k lights, and some kinflos, a dat recorder.
i mean you can save up, or get credit card, loan, work for it, by doing whatever it is that you do. i garantee you that getting funding for your film is not as hard as hunting a grizzly bear with your bare hands.
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