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issues choosing film stock


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#1 Rick Shepardson

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 05:10 PM

I have a somewhat tricky situation which my lack of experience only complicates. Please bear with my explanation of the issue. I apologize if there is any pertinent information I've left out.
I am going to be shooting a short film. Because of the limited lights available to us, and because I'm going to be shooting a candlelight scene, I am thinking of going with a 500 ISO. However, the lab that we will be transferring to digital is only a 1K transfer. Because of this, I have heard that a 500 speed film would come out looking very grainy.
On the other hand, we will be shooting on 35mm film. Would the same film stock look better on 35mm than on 16mm even after a 1k transfer? I have heard that in order to get the benefits of 35mm, the transfer must be at least 4k.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.
-rick shepardson
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#2 Jon Kukla

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 05:38 PM

You have to remember that 1K is very similar to most SD resolutions, so your grain issues should be no different than any regular SD telecine. The 4K number is for getting the full resolution, or something close to it, out of the 35mm frame. Lower resolution transfers therefore may sometimes minimize the appearance of grain, since each pixel is covering a larger area of the image. The 35mm gauge will also work in your favor for similar reasons - you're using more area to record the image, so while the grains will physically be the same size on 35mm or 16mm film, they will be *proportionately* smaller in relation to the frame size when working with 35mm.

Ultimately, your first priority before anything else is to get a useable image. If you say that you're going to be shooting a candlelight scene, then you need to decide how you want to shoot it first. If it's going to be nothing but practical candles, then 500 is probably a must, possibly with some forced development. On the other hand, if you're going to be cheating it a great deal, then maybe you can get away with a slower film and just light more. That's a question of aesthetics and logistics. However, it seems that most DPs have been satisfied with the latest 500 speed stocks and consider their grain much closer to the slow and mid stocks than they were before. It's something that you probably should test for your own opinion of what looks acceptable to you: how much light do you need, how are you going to rate the stock, and are you going to apply any special processing?
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#3 John Brawley

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 07:24 PM

On the other hand, we will be shooting on 35mm film. Would the same film stock look better on 35mm than on 16mm even after a 1k transfer? I have heard that in order to get the benefits of 35mm, the transfer must be at least 4k.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.
-rick shepardson



Hi Rick.

Im a little confused. I've never heard of a 1k Transfer. Does that mean SD ? HD ?

Shooting 500 speed film can look very good no matter what your delivery medium, depending on how you shoot it of course. I imagine you will sourcing prime lenses that you can choose to open up to wide open ?

The candle flame itself will probably burn out, or certainly go white. You won't get the orange flame colour unless you're shooting around T4-5.6. Of course everything else will be dark ;-)

If you actually want to LIGHT with candles, then see if you can source double or triple wicked candles. These burn a lot brighter and will give you extra light level. Remember that they will still fall off very quickly from the source. The good thing about having a hot light within your frame is the people will notice the grain from a high speed stock and underexposure less if there's contrast. In otherwords...if you want it to look dark, have something bright in the frame...like a candle flame !!! If you need additional level, you can try using extra candles out of frame to continue the look. The extra flickering and fire hazzard may be a nagative. I've used xmas lights in situations like this. Very cheap lighting, and the colour matches really well.

500 Speed film with a candle light will be fine, especially in 35mm.

jb
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#4 Rick Shepardson

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 01:24 PM

Thanks for your help!
Yes, the 1k is a sd transfer. Actually, it's a little less than one K. There are also some issues with the workmanship at this lab-dirty gates and such. So, I'm still a little unsetteled.
-Rick Shepardson
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#5 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 03:30 PM

Hi Rick,

If your doing a 1k transfer! and have issues/doubts about the lab, I would maybe reconsider shooting 35mm. HD might give you better end results especially shooting candle light!

Kieran.
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#6 Rick Shepardson

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 07:38 PM

Hi Rick,

If your doing a 1k transfer! and have issues/doubts about the lab, I would maybe reconsider shooting 35mm. HD might give you better end results especially shooting candle light!

Kieran.


Thank you.
Now to express all of these issues to a producer who's dreamed of shooting on 35mm since he was a kid!
-rick
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#7 John Brawley

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 09:51 PM

Thanks for your help!
Yes, the 1k is a sd transfer. Actually, it's a little less than one K. There are also some issues with the workmanship at this lab-dirty gates and such. So, I'm still a little unsetteled.
-Rick Shepardson


What are the issues ? You've had dirty film back from them ? And the gates ? Are you refering to the telecine facility or the lab itself ?

jb
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#8 K Borowski

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 09:06 AM

You're making mountains out of molehills. You don't switch to HD when you have issues with dirty gates, you tell the lab "Your gates are dirty; are you willing to fix the problem?" If their answer and action is anything other than "So sorry sir, yes we will take care of it immediately", then you walk out of the door and never come back. Why send film to a lab that does second-rate work and isn't willing to work with you to fix the problem? Communicate bluntly and honestly and see if they will do the same.

Regards,

~KB
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