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Focus Pulling for 35mm


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#1 Zac Halberd

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 06:41 AM

Well, the time has come. I've been asked if I would be interested in focus pulling for 35mm for a very small scene in a room locked off on sticks. So it's an easy one as far as pulling is concerned. However I'm a 35mm virgin. (blush)

I'm in Britain, so we don't get alot of opportunities to pull for 35mm like Americans do. I do television, music videos, and indie films. I'm S16mm, HD all the way.

I wanted to ask you guys for some advice on pulling for 35. They haven't told me the camera system or lense package yet, but I would imagine it was the 435 or something standard, with ultra primes.

I pulled for the RED cam the other day which was my first proper go at 35mm depth of field. The entire shoot was handheld and all over the fu**ing place, so I would imagine this is going to be easier than that.

I'm more worried about building the kit, and the etiquette invloved (if any different). I prefer working with digital, but I enjoy and respect the traditions and discipline on a celluloid set.

Besides DoF, what can I expect to be quite different?

I know I sound like a prick here, but any advice would be much appreciated.

Z
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#2 Mike Panczenko

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 08:48 AM

I would say, first off, make sure you do a proper checkout, of course, but that is not 35mm specific. You know how to pull focus, you know how to set up lenses and matte boxes, etc. Make sure you can thread the camera up quickly. It should just take a few seconds, depending on the type of camera, give or take another 8 seconds. In the heat of battle, take after take after take, a groove gets going, and no one likes to wait on the first taking longer than normal to thread up.

Make sure you know how to check the gate, and pull it if necessary. Make sure you know how to change the shutter, change the fps, etc. It may seem like it's intuitive, but for the 535b, you need to unlock the shutter with an allen key, and then change the shutter with an allen key.

Test everything in shooting configuration. At the checkout, make sure all the parts work in conjunction. Don't test the monitor, then unplug it and test the FIZ. Test them both together to make sure they work together- on the shoot you may have both simultaneously.

Tell the prep techs at the rental house if you have any questions about anything. They will show you better than anyone on a forum can. Before you leave, make sure you know how to get the camera going. In many ways, it's not that different from a RED or a 16mm.

Good luck to you!
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#3 Zac Halberd

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 06:22 AM

Thanks for that mate. I actually read this after I returned, but will help in the future thanks. The shoot went really well on the camera department's end, but the production was a bit of a disaster. It was a freakin' 35mm shoot, and there was no first AD! It was a clusterfu**. We were shooting ONE scene for a 3 minute short film, and we went through 4000 feet of 500t Fuji stock in only ten hours. That's a one camera setup as well. My clapper loader was shitting herself. It was an unpaid gig, so obviously the loader was a bit pissed that she was having to fill out all those report sheets for all the stock, due to the production being a mess.

The camera was a bit of junk as well. AATON. I don't know what model, but this was my first time working with an AATON, and I must say that I wasn't impressed. That's a personal opinion though.

The DoP wanted to keep the entire kit as light as possible, so he stripped the hell out of all the kit. I had only the 15mm bars to use, but an MB-19 matte box with filters, follow focus that was missing the bottom part to keep it tight on the rails, and this little wooden handle with a 'run' and 'test' switch on it. It was pretty crap kit, but I still enjoyed it. The barney was missing half of the little leather velcro bits that keep it secure. lol

I think at one point, the DoP told us to scrap 120ft of fresh stock right out of the mag as we were out of cans or something. Just seeing that made me sick. Probably because I grew up an indie filmmaker, and have always been poor. When I see stock like that being tossed, I just feel ill. Nature of the game I guess.

All in all, I had fun and learned alot. Thanks for the input.

By the way Chloe, you're nucking futs. :P
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#4 Freya Black

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 08:25 AM

Thanks for that mate. I actually read this after I returned, but will help in the future thanks. The shoot went really well on the camera department's end, but the production was a bit of a disaster. It was a freakin' 35mm shoot, and there was no first AD! It was a clusterfu**. We were shooting ONE scene for a 3 minute short film, and we went through 4000 feet of 500t Fuji stock in only ten hours. That's a one camera setup as well. My clapper loader was shitting herself. It was an unpaid gig, so obviously the loader was a bit pissed that she was having to fill out all those report sheets for all the stock, due to the production being a mess.

The camera was a bit of junk as well. AATON. I don't know what model, but this was my first time working with an AATON, and I must say that I wasn't impressed. That's a personal opinion though.

The DoP wanted to keep the entire kit as light as possible, so he stripped the hell out of all the kit. I had only the 15mm bars to use, but an MB-19 matte box with filters, follow focus that was missing the bottom part to keep it tight on the rails, and this little wooden handle with a 'run' and 'test' switch on it. It was pretty crap kit, but I still enjoyed it. The barney was missing half of the little leather velcro bits that keep it secure. lol

I think at one point, the DoP told us to scrap 120ft of fresh stock right out of the mag as we were out of cans or something. Just seeing that made me sick. Probably because I grew up an indie filmmaker, and have always been poor. When I see stock like that being tossed, I just feel ill. Nature of the game I guess.

All in all, I had fun and learned alot. Thanks for the input.

By the way Chloe, you're nucking futs. :P


I think you should have grabbed some old bin liners and put the loose 120ft into them. You could put it in a bin liner, then, put that bin liner in another, and then stick it all up with tape and then stick it in a brown paper bag and put it somewhere dark till you can find a can later.

It might still have been usable for something if you did that, but probably not for anything critical! ;)

Better than wasting it tho. I know what you mean about chucking film!

love

Freya
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#5 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 10:53 AM

the DoP told us to scrap 120ft of fresh stock right out of the mag as we were out of cans or something.


Bear in mind that 120ft of 35mm stock is only about 1 minutes worth. Hardly a massive loss. When I was a loader, it was common practice to toss short ends of 40 or 50 feet (16mm). The general rule was that if it would take longer to load it and thread it than it would to shoot it, it wasn't worth keeping.
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 11:02 AM

The only time not to toss film is in front of the producers. It's kinda like buying the "dirty magazines," you have to do it in secret :ph34r:
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#7 Freya Black

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 11:20 AM

Bear in mind that 120ft of 35mm stock is only about 1 minutes worth. Hardly a massive loss. When I was a loader, it was common practice to toss short ends of 40 or 50 feet (16mm). The general rule was that if it would take longer to load it and thread it than it would to shoot it, it wasn't worth keeping.


It's one minutes worth yes, but it's just a waste if it can be avoided. Personally I know I could shoot something really intresting with 1 minute of filmstock. Something I would be quite happy with, and doesn't the eyemo only take 100 foot loads!?? People still use it :)

I can understand that it isn't worth wasting the time on 40 or 50 feet of film on a proper shoot, but just because you don't load it, doesn't mean you have to throw it away.

Please just bring a light proof plastic bag to the set, and then just stick all the oddments into that.
Then you can always post the bag to me when it is full, and it won't be wasted. :)

love

Freya
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#8 Zac Halberd

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 01:11 PM

The loader didn't really have a choice. It was like a madhouse on set, and she didn't have any binbags (fair play, she did ask).
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#9 Freya Black

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 01:39 PM

The loader didn't really have a choice. It was like a madhouse on set, and she didn't have any binbags (fair play, she did ask).


*giggle* I like her! :)

love

Freya
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#10 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 01:41 PM

Did you only have 1 mag or something? Seems the loader shouldn't have had too much trouble had there at least been a 2nd mag to load while you were shooting.
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#11 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 03:24 PM

Freya,

I don't know if you assist or not, but my recollection of loading was that all what I wanted to do was keep my life as simple as possible. I had enough to do with loading/unloading mags, keeping notes and writing reports not to want to bother with wrapping up tiny short-ends that would only clutter up my loading room and probably never get used anyway. You just don't have the time to deal with 50' (or whatever) of stock that has to be wrapped up and labelled. It's much easier to mark it down as waste and forget about it.

Tiny short ends seem like a good idea, until you try to use them., then they're just a pain in the ass. Plus, the labs aren't that keen on them either.
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#12 Freya Black

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 03:50 PM

Freya,

I don't know if you assist or not, but my recollection of loading was that all what I wanted to do was keep my life as simple as possible. I had enough to do with loading/unloading mags, keeping notes and writing reports not to want to bother with wrapping up tiny short-ends that would only clutter up my loading room and probably never get used anyway. You just don't have the time to deal with 50' (or whatever) of stock that has to be wrapped up and labelled. It's much easier to mark it down as waste and forget about it.

Tiny short ends seem like a good idea, until you try to use them., then they're just a pain in the ass. Plus, the labs aren't that keen on them either.


I don't assist to be fair, but I have a good enough imagination to know what it might be like, especially if it is a crazy shoot anyway. I can understand that it's one less thing to worry about. Loading/unloading is obviously quite a stressful job in a way because it's such a responsibility.

I'm happy to shoot on short ends, but then I'm in England so I'm lucky to even get to shoot on short ends quite frankly and I expect that in a few years time I won't even be shooting on film at all. If I am on video even!

I of course wasn't suggesting that you should save the short ends to use on the production but instead that you should save them up in a black photo bag and post them to me! ;) Obviously there isn't really a big advantage to anyone doing that, so it was all a bit tongue in cheek really. :) I am liking the sound of this girl who actually was crazy enough to ask if there was binbags around however! :)

I find it a bit suprising that loaders wouldn't want to save stuff for their own little projects tho, but then I have a very different outlook on things as at this point I'm completlely outside any aspect of the film world. :)

Waste not, want not!

love

Freya
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#13 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 04:04 PM

Did you only have 1 mag or something? Seems the loader shouldn't have had too much trouble had there at least been a 2nd mag to load while you were shooting.

Even with two mags, if they're finishing rolls in one or two takes, you'll be constantly in the bag. And the Aaton 35mm mags are among the most complicated to thread, nothing at all like the XTR coaxial mags. Never worked with one myself, but I'd rather load Arri or Panavision mags any day.
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#14 Zac Halberd

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 08:02 PM

Amen to that. That damn AATON mag was giving Chloe hell, not to mention it was making some strange noises. Even though we were shooting 35mm, it was a mega low budget shoot. We were rolling so fast, that my loader was constantly in the bag. I think she actually clapped like 3 or 4 times the entire shoot. I actually had to clap with my left hand, and roll the camera with my right, as even the runners were in short supply.

We've all had our fair share of these kind of shoots. I'm just glad I had a good couple of crew around me to keep my sanity.

What really sucked, is that I had to catch a 4 hour train like 45 min after we wrapped, so I didn't even have time to go for a beer. It was one of those akward 'Yeah, good luck to you too. Hopefully we'll work together again...' kinda wraps. All part of the biz.


Speaking of which, I'm going to start a new topic...
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#15 Mikael Lindström

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 08:59 PM

The Aaton 35-III is a pain in the ass to load, its not coaxial and its very picky about threading. But if you know what you are doing its a nice, silent, little piece. Very, lightweigth and ergonomic for shooting handheld using primes. I have only used it once, for 1 month of second unit in the Norwegian archipelago under pretty severe circumstances; wind, saltwater, boatmounts during full storm in rain, helicopter rigs...As far as I understand it, it´s not really a rentalhouse camera since it is no workhorse. I think we only have two, both privatley owned, in Sweden. I´m looking forward to be working with the new Penelope tough.

Always frustrating beeing on a chaotic shot. I like to find a nice rythm, a flow, to work in, it sometimes feels like dancing when its running really smooth....



Mikael Lindström, Focuspuller
Stockholm, Sweden.
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#16 Chris Keth

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 10:43 PM

Generally, anything under 100 feet or so gets pitched (i.e. taken home by the loader). Some companies even have rules about what is enough film to short end and what isn't enough. I remember hearing about some company in the past that said that everything over 50 feet had to be short ended and returned to production so there ended up being a lot of "mag tests" on camera reports to save loaders from short ending tiny amounts that would go to waste only after having taken up room in a freezer somewhere.
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#17 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 02:47 AM

Even with two mags, if they're finishing rolls in one or two takes, you'll be constantly in the bag. And the Aaton 35mm mags are among the most complicated to thread, nothing at all like the XTR coaxial mags.


Good God you're right. I'd hate to be in the bag with this mag ;)

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#18 Freya Black

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 03:37 AM

Good God you're right. I'd hate to be in the bag with this mag ;)


It seems to me that ease of loading is a really important part of a camera design. It's one thing to have mags that are difficult to load and quite another to have a fairly obscure camera with mags that are difficult to load because in the case of the latter people never really get the chance to get too used to the finicky design. They maybe end up working with it on one shoot and then never again and that one shoot is probably going to be a bit of a negative experience.

Hopefully the penelope will have easy to load mags.

love

Freya
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#19 Zac Halberd

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 01:49 PM

At least there is no threading involved for us focus pullers ;)
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