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Which 35mm format most "usable"


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#1 Tim Carroll

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 09:01 AM

We are planning to shoot a short and for the first time, we are going to be able to shoot it on 35mm film. Yippee!!!

What we are trying to determine is which format is going to be most useful if we decide to someday make a 35mm optical print (there are no special effects or other reasons we would need to go with a DI) of the short film for festivals, personal use, etc.

The camera is four perf, full aperture, and we are leaning toward 1:85, but I was wondering if there is anything we should be taking into account when deciding on the aspect ratio.

If we frame for 1:85, should we make it 1:85 within the Academy aperture frame? Or 1:85 over the full frame? I guess I am most confused by how this would eventually be optically made into a presentation print, with an optical soundtrack (they still do it that way, right?).

Does the optical printer just go 1 to 1, so a negative that had a 1:85 image from perf to perf would be cut off on the side where the soundtrack is inserted. Or does the optical printer just take the image and blow it up or shrink it down to fit the soundtrack on there?

Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
-Tim
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#2 Patrick Neary

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 09:22 AM

Hi Tim-

For my money I'd shoot academy 1.85 and follow a photochemical-post path to your final release print. We did this on a short not too long ago and believe me, when you see your print projected for the first time in a theater it will bring tears of happiness :)

What the producers determined also was that it is still the cheapest route. We're getting ready to do the same thing on a feature this fall.

If you frame 1.85 within academy, making prints is straightforward as it gets. Your extra image area from the full frame gets masked at the lab for the soundtrack area.

If you compose for 1.85 within the "super" frame, then you're stuck going through a DI for a 35 show print which can be quite spendy, and still won't look as good as a contact print. The other option would be an optical reduction print to academy 1.85 which makes no sense and is also spendy.

(By the way, I highly recommend Alpha Cine, they're an easy drive away and great folks to work with!)
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#3 Jason Debus

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 09:49 AM

For my money I'd shoot academy 1.85 and follow an optical-post path to your final release print.


Are there any additional costs or issues for shooting anamorphic (from a post production standpoint) following an optical-post path?
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#4 Tim Carroll

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 10:39 AM

Hi Tim-

For my money I'd shoot academy 1.85 and follow an optical-post path to your final release print. We did this on a short not too long ago and believe me, when you see your print projected for the first time in a theater it will bring tears of happiness :)

What the producers determined also was that it is still the cheapest route. We're getting ready to do the same thing on a feature this fall.

If you frame 1.85 within academy, making prints is straightforward as it gets. Your extra image area from the full frame gets masked at the lab for the soundtrack area.

If you compose for 1.85 within the "super" frame, then you're stuck going through a DI for a 35 show print which can be quite spendy, and still won't look as good as an optical print. The other option would be an optical reduction print to academy 1.85 which makes no sense and is also spendy.

(By the way, I highly recommend Alpha Cine, they're an easy drive away and great folks to work with!)


Thanks Patrick,

That is what I was trying to find out.

By the way, the feature you are shooting this fall, is it in and around Portland? If so, I would love to stop by some day and check it out.

Thanks again,
-Tim
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#5 Max Jacoby

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 10:51 AM

Are there any additional costs or issues for shooting anamorphic (from a post production standpoint) following an optical-post path?

Nope. You can contact print it just like 1.85. If you want to shoot anamorphic it basically comes down to getting a good deal on the lenses to make it feasable.
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#6 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 03:15 PM

I guess I am most confused by how this would eventually be optically made into a presentation print, with an optical soundtrack (they still do it that way, right?).

Does the optical printer just go 1 to 1, so a negative that had a 1:85 image from perf to perf would be cut off on the side where the soundtrack is inserted. Or does the optical printer just take the image and blow it up or shrink it down to fit the soundtrack on there?


It won't be optically printed. It will be continuous contact printed. So it can only be 1:1.

A Super1.85 neg would have to be optically printed. Then you would have a contact I/P which will be optically printed to a standard Academy-type 1.85:1 which will be contact printed with a track neg to a composite print.

With standard 1.85 and anamorphic you'll be able to make your print directly from the OCN.
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#7 Patrick Neary

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 04:30 PM

Hi Tim-

our shoot is scheduled to start beginning of Nov down in Medford/Ashland area, so if you think you'll be down that way, contact me directly and I can give you more specifics.

Are you guys getting your gear from Koerner?

(note I edited my earlier post for clarity- for some reason i had the word "optical" stuck in my head...)
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#8 Dominic Case

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 08:24 PM

following an optical-post path

Just for everyone's clarification, the term "optical" can be a little misleading here. It's not simply the opposite of "Digital", it is a specialised form of photochemical (i.e. non-digital) printing.

Contact printing is exactly what it says - negative and raw print stock pass, in contact, emulsion-to-emulsion, through the printer gate - so you get what is on the negative. The projectable image area is the width of the old academy frame, leaving room for the soundtrack on the side.

Optical printing is done with a lens to form the image - imagine a camera pointing directly at a projector gate. This is necessary if you want to change the size of the image: so if you've shot supe 35 (the full width of the negative stock, perf to perf) you need to reduce the image by about 10% to fit it into the projectable image area. Optical printing costs more - and many labs recommend against doing a direct optical print from original neg: it's more usual to do your resizing through the Interpos/Dupe neg duplication stages, then you can make contact prints from the dupe. Not at all useful if you only want one or two prints.

With a DI, of course, you can output it any size and shape you choose. There is no more trouble in reducing the image from super 35 than there is using the full frame.
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#9 Tim Carroll

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 02:09 PM

Hi Tim-

For my money I'd shoot academy 1.85 and follow a photochemical-post path to your final release print. We did this on a short not too long ago and believe me, when you see your print projected for the first time in a theater it will bring tears of happiness :)


Well Patrick,

It's taken me almost a year to put the whole package together, the PL mount 2C with 1.85 ground glass, a Cinematography Electronics crystal motor base, and a complete set of Cooke Speed Panchro prime lenses. Shot some tests over the last couple of weeks and got a chance to see the footage yesterday, and I am blown away. Maybe I have always had a "warped sense" of what film could be, as I have only shot 8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm and Super 16mm. I thought Super 16 looked pretty darn good. The test we shot was using the same film stock, in 16 and 35. And I could not believe the difference, or the beauty of the 35mm stuff. Even with 50 year old lenses (of course Guy made them very nice at ZGC) But WOW! Really blown away.

-Tim
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#10 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 02:54 PM

Nope. You can contact print it just like 1.85. If you want to shoot anamorphic it basically comes down to getting a good deal on the lenses to make it feasable.


And the big lights, if you plan to shoot interiors and night exteriors.
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#11 John Sprung

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 04:11 PM

The camera is four perf, full aperture, and we are leaning toward 1:85, but I was wondering if there is anything we should be taking into account when deciding on the aspect ratio.

Yes, the story. Do you and your director see this story as working better in 1.85 or 2.39? Do you need vast landscapes? Will you have a lot of scenes that play best in three shots? If so, consider 2.39. Otherwise, 1.85 may be the best choice. Both can be contact printed all the way to release, which is a lot less expensive than DI or optical printing. 1.85 will be easier to shoot with, the glass is more readily available, and easier to work with. Anamorphics are bigger and slower. Vertical alignment is irrelevant for flat lenses, and critical for scope.



-- J.S.
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#12 Tim Carroll

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 04:50 PM

Yes, the story. Do you and your director see this story as working better in 1.85 or 2.39? Do you need vast landscapes? Will you have a lot of scenes that play best in three shots? If so, consider 2.39. Otherwise, 1.85 may be the best choice. Both can be contact printed all the way to release, which is a lot less expensive than DI or optical printing. 1.85 will be easier to shoot with, the glass is more readily available, and easier to work with. Anamorphics are bigger and slower. Vertical alignment is irrelevant for flat lenses, and critical for scope.



-- J.S.


Hey John,

Hope your post helps others, as for us, that decision has already been made. We are going 1.85 Academy with spherical primes.

I just reopened this thread to share with Patrick how great the 35mm tests came out. Never worked in 35mm before, and didn't really know what to expect. Was blown away by the results and wanted to share with him.

Best,
-TIm
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#13 Babar Khan

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 06:05 PM

Congrats Tim, very excited to see how your short turns out!

Just wondering about your recent tests, did you project them or see them on telecine?

Also wondering, I don't have a 1.85 g.g., if I was to shoot in 1.37:1 like Bergman often did, would I still be able to go the standard photochemical route today?



Hey John,

Hope your post helps others, as for us, that decision has already been made. We are going 1.85 Academy with spherical primes.

I just reopened this thread to share with Patrick how great the 35mm tests came out. Never worked in 35mm before, and didn't really know what to expect. Was blown away by the results and wanted to share with him.

Best,
-TIm


Edited by Babar Khan, 17 June 2008 - 06:07 PM.

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#14 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 05:30 AM

Unless there's a compelling reason to shoot anamorphic, I'd stick with 1:85 especially on your first 35mm shoot because anamorphic lenses are slower in general (4 to 5.6 is a good range for most anamorphics) with a shallower DOF relative to their width so they're tougher to use in lower light conditions, the lighting, framing and staging tends to slow you down and you generally have to bring the camera in closer for CU shots which can be intimidating to actors. Tthose things may add to production costs what with a longer shoot because of lighting set ups, higher equipment rental costs for extra lights and anamorphic lenses and more takes so more film shot. so though your printing costs won't change, you can expect overall cost will be higher. As a producer, it only warrants the added problems and expense if there's an artistic reason for it, in other words will the added costs make the movie a better movie and and add to it's saleability or in your case more likely to get you noticed and ultimately lead to a job? B)
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#15 Tim Carroll

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 08:42 AM

Congrats Tim, very excited to see how your short turns out!

Just wondering about your recent tests, did you project them or see them on telecine?

Also wondering, I don't have a 1.85 g.g., if I was to shoot in 1.37:1 like Bergman often did, would I still be able to go the standard photochemical route today?


Babar,

Haven't got to see them projected yet. Saw them on a large monitor in a Spirit telecine suite, and saw the DigiBeta transfer on another large production monitor.

Even with the 1.85 ground glass, you are still exposing the whole 1.37 Academy frame. Should be no problem going the "standard" photochemical route with your footage.

Best,
-Tim
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#16 John Sprung

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 12:54 PM

I don't have a 1.85 g.g., if I was to shoot in 1.37:1 like Bergman often did, would I still be able to go the standard photochemical route today?

Yes. The theaters would just have to put in the right mattes and lenses. No problem for ones that regularly show classic films, maybe an issue for newer multiplexes.

As for a 1.85 gg, on a lot of cameras, such as the Arri II's, you can pull the glass and draw in the 1.85 lines with an ordinary pencil. Wash it off later if you want.



-- J.S.
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#17 Freya Black

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 05:42 AM

Congrats Tim, very excited to see how your short turns out!

Just wondering about your recent tests, did you project them or see them on telecine?

Also wondering, I don't have a 1.85 g.g., if I was to shoot in 1.37:1 like Bergman often did, would I still be able to go the standard photochemical route today?


Theres no problem with just shooting Academy and making the prints, the problem starts arising when you get the prints to the cinema as apparently a lot of cinemas can no longer show academy as it's become a bit of a dead format for modern films.

Apparently even some modern re-issues of classic films were optically printed onto a widescreen format film with pillarboxing, so that they could be made more widely available!

I suspect however that the kind of art-house type cinemas likely to show idenpendant films would probably be able to show academy prints by just switching out the lenses etc.

love

Freya
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#18 Mark Dunn

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 03:48 AM

It was rather annoying to see 'GWTW' in the 90s in widescreen, but having to watch 'Kane' in 1.85- horrible.
Fortunately we have the NFT, which always shows in the right ratio. At the Kubrick retrospective in '99, they even re-started 'Barry Lyndon' because so many people came in late. They then muffed a reel change, but it's the thought that counts.
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