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#1 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 03:55 PM

I'm shooting a short film on super-16mm, and having weighed a lot of pros and cons, I'm going to have the footage transferred on a Shadow, w/ "best-light" service, to SD, digi-beta. My sense is this is the best bang for the buck, my one shot at a decent transfer. We're shooting about a 13:1 ratio, so perhaps we could do a cheapo transfer of everything to dvcam, and then online our EDL to HD at some later date. But, I have a feeling that after they pay all the bills from production, there won't be any money for any supervised transfers. Looking through this sub-forum though, it seems that HD is getting very popular. My plan is to get a 4:3 transfer of the full gate, put on a 1:1.85 mask in Final Cut, color-correct in Final Cut, and output a nice DigiBeta tape for festival projection. It's worked for me in the past, but, am I woefully behind the times?
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#2 Freya Black

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 06:57 PM

I'm shooting a short film on super-16mm, and having weighed a lot of pros and cons, I'm going to have the footage transferred on a Shadow, w/ "best-light" service, to SD, digi-beta. My sense is this is the best bang for the buck, my one shot at a decent transfer. We're shooting about a 13:1 ratio, so perhaps we could do a cheapo transfer of everything to dvcam, and then online our EDL to HD at some later date. But, I have a feeling that after they pay all the bills from production, there won't be any money for any supervised transfers. Looking through this sub-forum though, it seems that HD is getting very popular. My plan is to get a 4:3 transfer of the full gate, put on a 1:1.85 mask in Final Cut, color-correct in Final Cut, and output a nice DigiBeta tape for festival projection. It's worked for me in the past, but, am I woefully behind the times?


Yes!

Please don't get a 4:3 transfer of the film. Get it transfered as anamorphic 16:9. Final cut will handle it just fine and you can add a 1:1.85 mask afterwards too if you want. S.D. is one thing but it's just a horrible waste to letterbox your footage.

Digibeta is probably fine for festival projection unless you want to take your own H.D. equipment on tour with you which some people do. H.D.V. etc. Most festivals have only just made it up to digibeta tho.

Are you not going to online your EDL to digibeta anyway?
I'm not clear on how you plan to edit the footage?

Good luck with your film! :)

love

Freya
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#3 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 07:53 PM

Yes!

Please don't get a 4:3 transfer of the film. Get it transfered as anamorphic 16:9.

love

Freya



I agree! 4:3 is a waste and in a pinch you could up-res the 16:9 D-beta to DvcProHD or HDCam with a Terranex box.

-Rob-
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#4 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 10:34 PM

Thanks Freya! I haven't handed in the paperwork for the transfer yet. Do you mean I transfer an anamorphic squeeze of the image, and then Final Cut just unsqueezes it? Can you tell me more??

"Are you not going to online your EDL to digibeta anyway?
I'm not clear on how you plan to edit the footage?"

I think by "onlining" you mean doing a supervised transfer of the "locked" picture. I'd be all for it, but I can't imagine there will be any budget left for it. (It's a student film.)

I'm "just the camera-man," but I'm pretty certain the director will cut it at home or at school on Final Cut. I'll come in for a couple of color-correction sessions, a little tweaking, and then he'll output to any format of his choosing.
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#5 benjamin aguilar

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 01:27 AM

Thanks Freya! I haven't handed in the paperwork for the transfer yet. Do you mean I transfer an anamorphic squeeze of the image, and then Final Cut just unsqueezes it? Can you tell me more??

"Are you not going to online your EDL to digibeta anyway?
I'm not clear on how you plan to edit the footage?"

I think by "onlining" you mean doing a supervised transfer of the "locked" picture. I'd be all for it, but I can't imagine there will be any budget left for it. (It's a student film.)

I'm "just the camera-man," but I'm pretty certain the director will cut it at home or at school on Final Cut. I'll come in for a couple of color-correction sessions, a little tweaking, and then he'll output to any format of his choosing.


Hey Jon,

Why not just get everything transfered to HDCAM(SR) or D5 and downconvert(to DVCAM or DVCPro50 ect...) from there for your offline. That might be one of the safest things to do if you don't think you'll have enough money to do a supervised best-light transfer of your EDL afterwards. I don't know about getting it Teranex'd afterwards(from the SD cut) as this could be a costly process, depending on how and who. You can often push the "one-light" a little more and get a better light for the same amount of time, this way if you transfer to an HD format you'll have better quality and can work from there as oppose to chancing it when you don't know if you'll get the EDL transfered to a higher quality format than what you started with(low-quality transfer).
Just a thought.

-Benjamin

Edited by benjamin aguilar, 25 January 2008 - 01:30 AM.

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#6 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 10:09 AM

The key phrase that I heard was that there probably won't be a redo no matter what method is initially chosen. 4 x 3 still makes sense since it saves a ton of money and then if the film is really liked it can be redone by the distributor. Better to finish it than get bogged down by expensive steps and not finish it.

Sure, HD makes sense, but not if it cuts into the post audio budget, which it probably will do on a lower budgeted production. There are film transfer places doing amazing work in SD for 200 to 250 bucks an hour. Step into HD and suddenly that rate is doubled or tripled, access to the HD decks is monsterously expensive, and then if one picks the wrong path for downconverting the image will look worse than if one had just started with a Standard Def transfer.

Ultimately, what is the total budget of the project and what percentage will then go to film transfer and what percentage will go towards post audio, that probably is how one determines which avenue to follow.
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#7 Freya Black

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 10:40 AM

Thanks Freya! I haven't handed in the paperwork for the transfer yet. Do you mean I transfer an anamorphic squeeze of the image, and then Final Cut just unsqueezes it? Can you tell me more??

"Are you not going to online your EDL to digibeta anyway?
I'm not clear on how you plan to edit the footage?"

I think by "onlining" you mean doing a supervised transfer of the "locked" picture. I'd be all for it, but I can't imagine there will be any budget left for it. (It's a student film.)

I'm "just the camera-man," but I'm pretty certain the director will cut it at home or at school on Final Cut. I'll come in for a couple of color-correction sessions, a little tweaking, and then he'll output to any format of his choosing.


Yes! Exactly, you've got it! Just get the footage transfered as anamorphic and Final Cut will unsqueeze it for you! That way you can use all the pixels in the format you are using. You just tell final cut that the project is 16:9. It actually keeps it as a funny squeezed image on the disk but when you are editing it, it will appear as a 16:9 image! Then when you make a dvd you can do the same trick too, or if you are making a VHS you can letterbox it too, but if you letterbox it in telecine then you are throwing away all those pixels.

By onlining I meant more that you would edit in a lesser codec (such as DV) and then conform the edit using the EDL to digibeta. However if you have access to a digibeta deck and can edit in some kind of digibeta codec or something, then that sounds great! Most people don't have access to a digibeta deck tho! :)

If you have access to digibeta I can understand your wanting to work in that format!
Theres no need for a 4:3 transfer tho!

love

Freya
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#8 Freya Black

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 10:46 AM

The key phrase that I heard was that there probably won't be a redo no matter what method is initially chosen. 4 x 3 still makes sense since it saves a ton of money and then if the film is really liked it can be redone by the distributor. Better to finish it than get bogged down by expensive steps and not finish it.


Don't forget S.D. doesn't mean you have to have a 4:3 transfer. They can do a 16:9 transfer anamorphically and it will cost exactly the same price but be much higher quality! It's the same way that DVD's can be 16:9, even tho they are standard def too.

love

Freya
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#9 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 01:20 AM

Hey Jon,

Why not just get everything transfered to HDCAM(SR) or D5 and downconvert(to DVCAM or DVCPro50 ect...) from there for your offline. That might be one of the safest things to do if you don't think you'll have enough money to do a supervised best-light transfer of your EDL afterwards. I don't know about getting it Teranex'd afterwards(from the SD cut) as this could be a costly process, depending on how and who. You can often push the "one-light" a little more and get a better light for the same amount of time, this way if you transfer to an HD format you'll have better quality and can work from there as oppose to chancing it when you don't know if you'll get the EDL transfered to a higher quality format than what you started with(low-quality transfer).
Just a thought.

-Benjamin


Unless money is NOT an issue, it is always better to do an A-punch best -light transfer to NTSC in any of its modes (4:3, anamorphic squeeze, etc), generate your EDL, and then transfer the hero takes to uncompressed HD in 1080 24p 4:2:2/ 4:4:4 to finish the edit for festivals, distribution, etc. The cheapest Spirit 2k, DaVinci or comparable film to HD transfer is a mere $450 per hour, to my knowledge. And a good colorist averages transfering 8 takes per hour, so it is only smart to come to the transfering suite with only the takes you will need and not spend tens of thousands transfering stuff you'll never use . . . Unless, like I said, money is no object; in which case you can always give me some of it if it's not worth saving to you. :P
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#10 Chris Clarke

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 03:53 PM

If your final grading will be tape to tape and not a re-transfer then consider having a technical grade done when your neg is first telecined. This is where they transfer it as a best light and slightly lift your black level and lower your white. It doesn't look too good during the offline edit (kind of flat and lacking in contrast) but it gives you far more options in the tape to tape grade.
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#11 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 10:53 PM

I went down to Technicolor and went over the options w/ one of their colorists, and we settled on an old fashioned 4:3 transfer. Unlike past 4:3 transfers, we'll transfer the full gate, (mike booms included!) and put on our own mask in Final Cut. The colorist didn't seem to think I'd gain any image quality doing an anamorphic squeeze. They let me speed through one of our lab rolls, and it looked good. My hope now is the director falls in love w/ the footage such that he'll spring for a supervised online (or pay me ... something, anything ...)
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#12 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 01:55 AM

I went down to Technicolor and went over the options w/ one of their colorists, and we settled on an old fashioned 4:3 transfer. Unlike past 4:3 transfers, we'll transfer the full gate, (mike booms included!) and put on our own mask in Final Cut. The colorist didn't seem to think I'd gain any image quality doing an anamorphic squeeze.

Maybe I'm missing something, but wouldn't full gate Super16 be 1.66:1? What aspect ratio were you framing for, 1.85? Doing the transfer to anamorphic 16x9 (1.77) would be a lot closer to your intended aspect ratio, eliminating the need for such severe cropping later. I don't see what benefit you're getting by transferring to 4x3 letterboxed. Sounds like the colorist didn't know what he was talking about. :(
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#13 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 10:05 PM

I don't think it's a matter of "severe cropping" so much as masking off what we don't want to see ... Which sort of sounds like the same thing. We shoot with a 1.85:1 ground glass. I wouldn't want to zoom in to my 1.85:1 frame during the telecine as that would leave no room for repositioning the frame. I guess I'm losing negative area by cropping in camera, but this is the look we want, and it helps me to shoot when I have to rig lights right above the head of our 6'4" lead actor! Don't worry, it'll be fine.
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#14 Freya Black

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Posted 02 February 2008 - 03:39 PM

I don't think it's a matter of "severe cropping" so much as masking off what we don't want to see ... Which sort of sounds like the same thing. We shoot with a 1.85:1 ground glass. I wouldn't want to zoom in to my 1.85:1 frame during the telecine as that would leave no room for repositioning the frame. I guess I'm losing negative area by cropping in camera, but this is the look we want, and it helps me to shoot when I have to rig lights right above the head of our 6'4" lead actor! Don't worry, it'll be fine.


I'm feeling confused now. Are you shooting Super16 or Standard 16mm and planning a crop to 1.85:1?

If you were shooting Super16 then you could still transfer to 16:9 and then re-rack the shots in post. The aspect ratio of Super 16 is quite close to 16:9 and then you could letterbox to 1.85:1 later and re-rack the shots as appropriate.

If however you shot in standard 16 then you will of course have a 4:3 image and it might be possible to save money by re-racking all your shots in post instead of doing it in the telecine.

love

Freya
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#15 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 12:33 PM

You're confused?? What about me!

What this boils down to is my inability to grasp the concept of a digital image. If our workflow were to stay in film, the choices would be clear: Here's a piece of film that I can hold in my hand, do we blow up to 35mm, or blow down to 16mm? But in video, what does it mean to choose a 16:9 format over 4:3? Is 16:9 giving me a "bigger image" to work with? Does that mean I'm zooming in to see more of the grains on my negative? I guess one thing to find out is the size and shape of the chips, or the scanner, of the Shadow. Also, if I were to transfer 16:9, wouldn't it have to be to a format like DVCPRO-50?

Of course, we shot a lot more film than we planned/ budgeted for; 24 rolls instead of 17. With this high a ratio, it might now make sense to go really off-line - like a Rank to dvcam - and then do a nice on-line version. Still, with deadlines looming and having gone so far over budget over-all, we'll probably stick to our "best-light and cross our fingers" stance. Oh, the joys of student films!
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#16 A. Whitehouse

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 10:09 PM

Regardless of whether you are shooting R16 or S16 if you want a 1:1:85 master then transfer in 16:9 to tape and do the slight crop on your computer. Think of it this way, if you do a 4:3 transfer and want to watch your widescreen project on a widescreen then the TV will have to zoom into that cropped 4:3 image to pull the 16:9 image out. If you are shooting S16 then I would be interested to know why your technicolour colourist said this. There are distinct advantages to doing a 16:9 transfer, no it doesn't have to be a weird format. You can do the do the transfer to anything you like. If you have the time then supervise your telecine. If your transfering to SD then grain is going to be far less of an issue.
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#17 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 10:22 PM

I was actually told the same by my colorist here in philadelphia on S16mm not to apply the 1.85:1 in the telecine. Instead, they transferred it @ full 1.66:1 from which later on we'd mask in post (well not me, but the editor). The footage went over 720P to DVCPROHD, but it was definitively not a 4:3. I think the technicolor colorist was trying to express not a 4:3 transfer, per say, but rather not hard-matting it in the telecine, to leave room for reframes later on?
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#18 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 10:40 PM

What does it mean to choose a 16:9 format over 4:3? Is 16:9 giving me a "bigger image" to work with?

No, 16x9 is just an aspect ratio. It can alternately be stated as 1.77:1, which is wider than 1.33:1 but narrower than 2.35:1. It's very, very close to 1.66 and 1.85.

Since standard definition (SD) video is generally 1.33 (or 4x3), the common practice to display 1.77 in SD has been to letterbox a 1.77 image within the 1.33 frame (unless you have a 16x9 SD monitor). But nobody wants to capture 1.77 as a letterboxed image within a 1.33 frame because that would be wasting pixels on black borders which could otherwise be used to contain your image. So what they came up with is anamorphic 16x9, where the 1.77 image is squeezed into the 1.33 area by compressing the image horizontally approximately 1.3x. This allows you to use every pixel on the 1.33 imaging chip (either in the video camera or in the telecine machine) so you retain a higher resolution video image for post. This is very similar to how 35mm 'scope photography works, squeezing a widescreen image into a nearly square image area on the negative. This is a much more efficient process than Super35 2.35 - one is using all of the space on the negative available to create its image while the other is cropping away half of the negative to get the same final aspect ratio. Which image do you think is going to be superior, all other things being equal?

Once you've transferred your squeezed image, the editor would then unsqueeze the image back out in the NLE. He or she can then add slight letterbox bars to matte the image to your desired final 1.85 aspect ratio. Definitely do not add the 1.85 letterbox bars during the transfer, they can be done later in post and will leave you options to reframe if necessary.

Does that mean I'm zooming in to see more of the grains on my negative?

No. In fact, when you finally view your finished film on DVD on a 4x3 monitor, the DVD player will automatically unsqueeze the picture, add letterbox bars, and shrink the picture to fit so that you will see less noise and grain than if you had transferred the film letterboxed and unsqueezed. So there's another advantage to transferring squeezed.

Also, if I were to transfer 16:9, wouldn't it have to be to a format like DVCPRO-50?

Again, no. You can transfer it to any format that the transfer facility can handle. There is no difference in video format between 16x9 and 4x3 aside from the aspect ratio.
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#19 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 10:30 AM

Thanks Satsuki. The anamorphic squeeze sounds very sensible; I wonder why the colorist at Technicolor wasn't into it.

Anyway, after much hand-wringing and delay, the production has decided to transfer to HD. Isn't it all too typical? We spend days and days in pre-production trying to "split the baby" with the budget, and then lo-and-behold, after bending over backwards trying to make everything work on the cheap, they come up with the money. Maybe I'll have a couple of still grabs by the end of the week.
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