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Point to shooting 35mm?


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#1 Tyler Leisher

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 06:37 PM

Is it worth it nowadays to shoot on 35mm? I may be very very naive but unless you want that very "Film" look to it, is it worth it to go out and rent a 35mm camera, buy 35mm stock and shoot on that?

Even if you were to shoot a film for theatrical release, couldn't you just transfer the digital video to film for theatres? Or is there more to it that I'm missing?
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#2 Max Jacoby

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 06:42 PM

The vast majority of the films that you see in a theatre are shot on 35mm. It still gives you the best image.
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#3 Tyler Leisher

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 06:51 PM

Even better than the 1080i/p high definition cameras that are out now?

Sorry if I seem ignorant, I'm new to 35mm stuff. Been filming with a digital camera my whole life but am trying to move to a more professional film career.
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#4 Hal Smith

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 07:08 PM

35mm well shot and with top equipment has a definition close to 6K. Modern color negative films have 6 stops more latitude than your precious HD gear (that's 64 times more range from black to white). You can shoot 35mm either straight 1.85 or 2.4 anamorphic and CONTACT print it for projection in any theatre in the world, no DI, no scan, no nuttin'.

Now what was the question?
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#5 Nick Mulder

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 07:09 PM

One particular characteristic of 35mm originated films is the shallow DOF that can be achieved from using relatively longer lenses for the same angle of view that would be used on a smaller sensored HD camera...

This however is changing with newer digital cameras having super35mm sized sensors...

That and the usually larger latitude of stops film can handle in the front end acquisition are two big factors that aren't as subjective as the classic/romantic responses you might get.
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#6 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 07:14 PM

"The vast majority of the films that you see in a theatre are shot on 35mm. It still gives you the best image" as Max said.
The vast majority of the films that you LIKE in a theatre are shot on 35mm. It still gives you the best image. Me.
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#7 timHealy

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 07:19 PM

Personally the depth of field arguement as why film is better than video never really held any water with me. Orson Welles and Greg Toland went to great lengths to increase the depth of field while shooting Citizen Kane for example and it still looks like film to me.

But even 16mm and Super 8, which are smaller formats and have more depth of field than 35, still look like film to me even though they may not have as much information per frame.

Don't get me wrong I think film is still way better than video in most cases, it's just that I don't think depth of field makes or breaks one or the other.

Just my two cents

Best

Tim

Edited by timHealy, 31 October 2007 - 07:24 PM.

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#8 Nick Mulder

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 07:40 PM

Personally the depth of field arguement as why film is better than video never really held any water with me.


Not that I think you're arguing with me but I did say '...the shallow DOF that can be achieved...' - its nice to have the option ;)

But even 16mm and Super 8, which are smaller formats and have more depth of field than 35, still look like film to me even though they may not have as much information per frame.


The reason why they look like film is probably because they dont have as much information per frame (i.e. grain) - yes yes ? no ?

I think discussions often end up being 1 or 2 dimensional when in reality there are many more axes/factors to account for (not to mention personal preference fuddling things up)
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#9 Toby L Edwards

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 07:44 PM

Tyler'
Take a look at your favorite Movies and even Prime time TV shows. Most if not all are probably shot on film.
Or even better just go to the Movies this weekend. look at the picture on the screen look closely and you will see that beautiful Film grain dancing on the screen. It brings everything on screen to life. Video is computer generated and very still with no life. It makes all the difference . While your looking notice how the saturated colors just pop. Video has no pop. Video resolution has increased over the last few years to a point that some people think it's close enough to film resolution and that's the "end game" for them. The true test is just looking at the screen. There you will find the truth. Not the hype.

Toby
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 07:46 PM

It's the not so much that shallow focus is an inherent quality to film... so much as deep focus is an inherent quality to 1/3"-sensor DV camcorders, so if you're trying to mask the fact that you shot with a 1/3"-sensor DV camera, creating a shallower-focus look helps.

35mm is the gold standard for theatrical production, and we're only today beginning to see digital cameras that come close to that look and quality, and many of them are pretty expensive to use, negating one of the reasons to shoot digitally in the first place.

But there is no law saying that you have to shoot in 35mm for a theatrical feature.

The consumer HDV cameras don't match the 35mm look, and the most common professional HD cameras are all 2/3" 3-CCD camcorders with a somewhat deeper-focus look (not unmanageable though) and less exposure latitude, plus some compression and other digital artifacts that sometimes pop up on the big screen.

Above that, you have the 2/3" 3-CCD cameras recording to nearly uncompressed 4:4:4 HDCAM-SR, or as uncompressed data, but they are somewhat expensive.

Above that, you have the 35mm-sized single-sensor cameras that either record to HD (Genesis) or HD/2K RAW Bayer (Arri-D20), or 4K RAW Bayer (Dalsa, RED). All very expensive except for the RED camera, which sort of breaks the mold. But it's so new that it's impact is still hard to predict. Some of the new RED owners swear that there's no reason to ever use 35mm again, so who knows, maybe you'll join that group.

Remember that studio-funded and many indie films can afford to shoot in 35mm, so there is not a big incentive to use something else either slightly worse -- or a lot worse -- just to save money. They have to either love digital images, or have some other reason to shoot digital. Like I said, we're only now starting to see some new cameras that are challenging 35mm in areas of picture quality. Which means we are years away from them becoming commonplace.
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#11 Tim Carroll

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 07:46 PM

Tim,

I hear what you are saying, and I agree that "depth of field" alone doesn't mean great images. Besides what everyone else mentioned above, for me one advantage of 35mm is that you have the option of shallow depth of field. It's not right for every project naturally, but the option is always there, something that can't be said for cameras with small digital sensors.

For my tastes, the biggest advantage of film is the latitude, and the subtlety of variation in tone. Video, even HD, really strikes me as harsh, contrast wise.

-Tim
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#12 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 08:08 PM

Part of films richness comes from the irregularity and molecular complexity of the chemical process as opposed to the two dimensionality of a binary process.
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#13 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 09:30 PM

Film is just well. . . cooler!

ok, seriously, I think what it is which makes film "better," and this is going to err on the side of gross generalization and personal experience, is that it is far easier to shoot. Now, I'm sure most people will argue with me on this, and I'm sure this will give away even more of my amature nature, as of now. But, I find that I can shoot film almost anywhere and still render what I would consider a very pleasing image. None of my experience with any digital or video technology has had that same effect. I spend more time lighting for something tape based than I ever would for film.
Also, I feel that film is a much more matured technology. The acquisition through to distribution work flow is already well worked out and very malluable in terms of what your needs and abilities are. An example: I just recently shot a short promo piece for a local magazine on S16mm. But this promo was only intended for DVD and the magazine needed it on the "cheap," side. So instead of going all out for a transfer to HD and the like we did a supervised over to DVCAM. About 2 hours after going into the telecine session the client has images they loved, and a day later a DVD master.
I do not think I could have had such an easy time with any other format than film.
Bear in mind this is my personal opinion and experience. I don't think I'm alone though in affirming that film isn't going anywhere. It will always be a viable and desirable choice for image capture. Whether or not it is the primary choice remains to be seen but don't forget, we still get features on S16mm (28 Weeks Later, for example) and hell, many people still love the look of old 8mm movies.
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#14 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 11:56 PM

There are probably over a thousand posts on this forum that answer the question.

We don't need another film vs. video thread, please just do a search of the site, there is SO much information here that answers your question.
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