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Am I nuts for shooting on Standard 16mm?


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#1 Kathleen Lawler

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 03:53 AM

Hello everyone

I'm shooting my own short silent student film in 4 weeks, on a Bolex, and Arri 16BL. These cameras are standard 16mm. I can't afford to rent Super 16mm cameras - the Bolex belongs to me, the Arri to a friend. And we can't afford to convert either.

My teacher is trying to convert me to digital. And an ex-student reckons I should be shooting on a Super 16 SR2 at least, if I want to work in the industry when I finish. However, I have heard that if you can handle an Arri BL you can deal with any camera around, really.

What are your thoughts on the matter? I have got a work print of my test from the Bolex and it is breathtaking.

Kathleen
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 04:26 AM

And an ex-student reckons I should be shooting on a Super 16 SR2 at least, if I want to work in the industry when I finish. However, I have heard that if you can handle an Arri BL you can deal with any camera around, really.


Film is film, if you can shoot it and it looks good, then it doesn't matter whether it's R16 or S16. If however you're trying to get production work, you should start learning more of the pro sync sound models such as the SR and Aaton cameras, as far as 16mm productions are concerned.

Just get to know EVERYTHING. Shoot as much film as you can afford, but at the same time, get as much up to speed with the digital world as you can.
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#3 Tim Carroll

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 09:43 AM

Kathleen,

If you shoot regular 16, frame for 16:9, and use slower stock (Kodak Vision2 200T (7217)), few people will know the difference when viewing your final film.

The last regular 16 film we produced (shot following the method listed above) made the film festival circuit, and no one ever mentioned it looked like regular 16, not Super 16. Have a good story, and good acting, and good lighting, and regular 16 vs. Super 16 really is a non starter.

You can see lots of 16:9 regular 16 film clips shot with Arriflex cameras at the web page below:

Regular 16 framed 16:9

Here is one of my favorites:

Cooke Girl

Posted Image

Best,
-Tim
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#4 Dan Goulder

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 10:51 AM

I have got a work print of my test from the Bolex and it is breathtaking.

Kathleen

That alone will most importantly reflect on your abilities, regardless of format.
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#5 Will Montgomery

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 10:56 AM

I was waiting for Tim to chime in. His tests are pretty impressive and prove standard 16 is an even better option now with modern stocks.

This may sound obvious, but keep in mind that focus is critical with these cameras to get the most out of them. Take all the time you need to make sure your subject is as sharp as possible. Consider renting the best lenses you can too, that makes a big difference.
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#6 John Holland

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 11:38 AM

Jonathan a 16mm BL is a " pro sound synch model " it may be old but in the past i shot hundreds of thousands of feet with them and so have many other people around the globe. :)
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#7 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 12:19 PM

My teacher is trying to convert me to digital. And an ex-student reckons I should be shooting on a Super 16 SR2 at least, if I want to work in the industry when I finish. However, I have heard that if you can handle an Arri BL you can deal with any camera around, really.



Your teacher is a dope, as others have said film is film and the Bolex/BL combo is not bad at all, Kubrick shot allot of films in 1.33:1 non wide screen, was he wrong? If you love your workprint then you'll really love your answer print.


IMO There are allot of fools in the academic community who push digital because they are lazy or inexperienced and it's easy for them...


-Rob-
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#8 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 12:20 PM

Jonathan a 16mm BL is a " pro sound synch model " it may be old but in the past i shot hundreds of thousands of feet with them and so have many other people around the globe. :)


Yes I know John, I was mostly referring to learning other models besides the Bolex and just gave the SR and Aaton's as examples.
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#9 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 12:31 PM

Your teacher is a dope, as others have said film is film and the Bolex/BL combo is not bad at all, Kubrick shot allot of films in 1.33:1 non wide screen, was he wrong? If you love your workprint then you'll really love your answer print.


IMO There are allot of fools in the academic community who push digital because they are lazy or inexperienced and it's easy for them...


-Rob-


My grad school had nothing but digital recently, but enough students pushed for a 16mm film class so that it is being offered this fall. It is a COMPLETELY different discipline that everyone should have a basic understanding of even if they don't use that format for the majority of their careers.

Widescreen is about as ubiquitous as the Steadicam. Instead of using them judiciously, they appear everywhere now. So both have become the standard rather than an anxiously awaited aesthetic choice.
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#10 Billy Furnett

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 12:36 PM

Kathleen,

Sorry for the tangent here, please don't take it as critical on your part, as it's in fact the exact opposite.

Obviously there could be specific academic or other practicalities non apparent, but in general, I find it disappointing that a teacher would try to convert someone one way or another, because at some point it?s not just a means to an end being bandied about, it?s a whole medium of creative artistic expression being dealt with.

I?m certainly not saying your teacher is bad or is ill advising you, and I?m not trying to put words or meaning into his or her mouth for the sake of Film Vs Digital, but the notion (As put forth by anyone) of ?You don?t want to work in canvas, or marble, or wood, or oils, but instead should confine your creative expression to this that or the other.? seems rather limiting.

The Mona Lisa is still packing them in after the Etch?a?sketch was invented, but it makes the Etch?a?sketch no less relevant, however when someone in a teaching capacity ISN?T suggesting you try EVERYTHING you can to discover what best gets YOUR unique vision across, then it?s like they alone have been granted the knowledge and power to decide what should pack them in and what should not, and how, and why it will be so.

I can understand and respect teaching that which makes a skilled technician, and the tools by which to compete as such in an industry, but I can also understand and respect even more those who don't lose sight of the fact that artistically, only they can know, and the world should find out as they see fit to show it, what the best medium for their creative expression is.
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#11 Tim Carroll

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 12:58 PM

Short Thread Jack:

I service Arriflex motion picture cameras (16S, 16M, 16SR, 16SRII) for a number of university film programs across the country. Over the last few years I have been seeing a trend where the folks that control the fiscal budgets at these schools (folks who know nothing about art or filmmaking) are rejecting requests for money for film camera equipment and service, and pushing the schools to buy digital equipment. It may have something to do with the way they can write off and depreciate the video equipment quicker, as it becomes obsolete in just a few years, then is thrown away and there is no cost for routine service.

Whatever the reason, film schools across the country are having fewer and fewer working motion picture cameras for their students to use. It's a real shame, as motion pictures, shot on film, could be a dying art form.

Best,
-Tim

:We Now Return You To Your Regular Thread
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#12 Keneu Luca

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 01:29 PM

Kathleen,

I am about to shoot a short on my Arri S, which is also standard 16mm. Because of my experiments with anamorphic lenses (some of those experiments Ive posted on cinematography.com) I have the option of shooting 2.66 anamorphic. But because the nature of the shoot is very intimate, it is better for me to stick to the standard 16mm aspect ratio. There is no need for me to shoot anamorphic on this particluar project - I did tests shoots in both standard and anamorphic. Now, the anamorphic sure looks great - it has that spectacular scope, but its purely superficial for the purpose of this short, and I feel takes away from the intimacy and immediacy of the standard ratio for close ups.

Keep that in mind when choosing aspect ratios - what does your content need.
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#13 Will Montgomery

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 02:04 PM

I can understand and respect teaching that which makes a skilled technician, and the tools by which to compete as such in an industry, but I can also understand and respect even more those who don't lose sight of the fact that artistically, only they can know, and the world should find out as they see fit to show it, what the best medium for their creative expression is.

Every teacher in these schools has different opinions, perhaps in the next year she'll have someone that feels that way or at least encourages exploration of film just as much as digital.

I went to a major music school and found every teacher to have different ideas on artistic approach and that's what makes it great. Often they actually force you to do it their way and at the end of the class say now go out there and do your own thing your own way... strange but good for developing varied skills. The idea is to make you try it their way early on and take what you want from the experience. At least you will have strong digital chops and that will honestly be more marketable in the short run, but film experience will benefit you in every way... from lighting to framing to planning your shots.
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#14 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 02:08 PM

I just got an image of Von Trier giving me "Obstructions. . ."
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#15 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 02:26 PM

Whatever the reason, film schools across the country are having fewer and fewer working motion picture cameras for their students to use. It's a real shame, as motion pictures, shot on film, could be a dying art form.

Best,
-Tim



This is really a dis-service to the students when we see more and more top budget films rejecting the digital aesthetic and going towards either complete analog workflows (There will be Blood and American gangster for example) or using more advanced Film technique like the new batman shooting much of the beginning of the film in 65mm Imax...

Ask Spielberg if it's dying...

-Rob-
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#16 Tim Carroll

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 02:54 PM

This is really a dis-service to the students when we see more and more top budget films rejecting the digital aesthetic and going towards either complete analog workflows (There will be Blood and American gangster for example) or using more advanced Film technique like the new batman shooting much of the beginning of the film in 65mm Imax...

Ask Spielberg if it's dying...

-Rob-


Rob,

Not sure if I communicated what I was trying to when I wrote, "It's a real shame, as motion pictures, shot on film, could be a dying art form." I am bemoaning the number of students coming out of film schools who have not shot film because they did not get the opportunity; as the schools have less and less film equipment for them to use.

I fear that film will become a dying art form, not because of anything to do with its inherent beauty, but because the new generation of filmmakers lack the skills to handle the medium. I certainly do not believe the "Art Form of Motion Picture Film" should be dying. After all, it is my passion.

Best,
-Tim
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#17 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 03:06 PM

Rob,

Not sure if I communicated what I was trying to when I wrote, "It's a real shame, as motion pictures, shot on film, could be a dying art form." I am bemoaning the number of students coming out of film schools who have not shot film because they did not get the opportunity; as the schools have less and less film equipment for them to use.
-Tim



Tim, I think I was doing my best to agree with you.... :rolleyes:

-Rob-
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#18 Billy Furnett

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 06:28 PM

Will,

It stands to reason that you?re likely very right, one teacher trying to impress a single facet of the craft upon his students is probablly healthier than it is harmful in the bigger picture.

I?m guilty of the word ?Convert? getting a knee jerk reaction out of me, sorry.

But just in case any of you teachers out there are secretly plotting to overthrow the world one student at a time... we'll be watching you. lol

:)
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#19 Kathleen Lawler

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 06:33 PM

Thanks everyone for your help!
I am going to stand firm and shoot on 16mm.
However, I won't shoot on old short ends with a zoom lens (my original plan). I will borrow some money to buy fresh stock, and rent some primes.
It's my last opportunity to be DOP on a film - may as well make the most of it!
Kathleen
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#20 Martin Yernazian

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 10:14 PM

You go Girl!
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