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Which filmstock for short film


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#1 Heikki Repo

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 04:40 PM

Hello!

I'm starting a low budget 16mm short film production, and now I'm having the problem which stock should I select for my film. The thing is, I need to shoot both interiors and exteriors, the latter being mostly shot during early morning and day in August (quite lot of light here in Finland even at that time of the day) and the former during day and evening in rooms with large windows facing East, but mostly lit with movie (tungsten) lights.

I'd prefer shooting on one stock because of my small budget, and then filter for exteriors. I have been thinking about shooting on 7217, but the question remains, do I have enough light? Or, if wish to shoot on 7217, would I need more lights? I have at my disposal Arrilite 2000W and 2x800W. The interiors are quite small, at most 5m x 5m.

As it isn't possible for me to go and setup the lights well in advance to test my settings, and I have to buy recans from other country, I'd really need at least some estimates, whether:
a)rent more lights
b)buy 7218 for my production

Many thanks in advance!
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#2 timHealy

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 04:59 PM

I think you may have to consider a little more of the content and what look you are trying to achieve before selecting a stock. Perhaps you have already done that.

But generally speaking I would shoot on the slowest ASA film possible for quality. Slower speed kodak films with good lenses on your camera can give 35mm a run for it's money. Especially if you are going to TV or not a very big screen. The original Law and Order gave up on 35 a few years ago and have been shooting on 16 ever since without missing a beat.

Or if you are trying to go for an look with a bit of an edge, you can fool around with faster films and some post processing or DI color correction. But DI is the more expensive and more creatively controlled method.

Best


Tim
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 05:19 PM

I think you may be OK with the '17, the problem being, of course, that you'll have to light a bit harder because you might get into situations when you're fighting for a stop. I have to admit, i really like the way '17 looks through an 85, and in fact preffer to shoot that for daylight on my short films I'm working on (unless it's bright as blazes, then one needs the '01).
It might be worth it, though, in terms of your own safety, to carry some '18 just incase you get into a situation where you need a stop the '17 doesn't give.
Worst to worst you can always sell off your excess '18 later on (best to buy the '18 fresh IMHO for this reason, higher resale value if not used).

Of course, without intimately knowing the project, as you do, all of this is just conjecture and guess-ti-mation.

Edited by Adrian Sierkowski, 14 June 2008 - 05:20 PM.

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#4 K Borowski

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 06:01 PM

The original Law and Order gave up on 35 a few years ago and have been shooting on 16 ever since without missing a beat.

Or if you are trying to go for an look with a bit of an edge, you can fool around with faster films and some post processing or DI color correction. But DI is the more expensive and more creatively controlled method.

Best


Tim


I don't think you are right Tim. One of the spin-offs, Law & Order SVU IIRC, started and stayed with 16mm. The others are all still 35mm. This was more of a freedom-of-movement, rather than budgetary consideration, as obviously they can afford to shoot whatever they want for that show.

At 1080i, 500T 16mm (not sure which stock or which shows specifically, but I've seen a lot of 16mm high-speed film) can look very grainy, so be careful if you're shooting for High-Def 1080i and you want a fine-grained look.
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 06:47 PM

I only really notice grain @ 1080 on the 7218 when there's less contrast in the scene, but this happens, I feel with most film stocks (your eye is scanning for differences in your view, and as I normally notice grain on white. . .well ya know).
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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 07:37 PM

As it isn't possible for me to go and setup the lights well in advance to test my settings ...

Can you get a light meter, take it to the location about the time when you expect to be shooting, and get some readings of the ambient light levels in those rooms? Because otherwise you will have no idea whether 200ASA stock will be enough or not and no one else will either. With your limited selection of lights, you'll probably just be augmenting the natural light indoors so you really need to start by figuring out how much ambient light you have to balance to.

I think your idea of lighting to tungsten balance is a good idea - you'll usually have a greater quantity of daylight than tungsten in your frame so at least you won't be fighting to get exposure with full blue gel on all of your lights. Plus you can gel the windows CTO, cutting the daylight stop a bit more for better balance with your tungsten sources. Then there's no need to use an 85 filter inside.
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#7 timHealy

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 11:34 AM

I don't think you are right Tim. One of the spin-offs, Law & Order SVU IIRC, started and stayed with 16mm. The others are all still 35mm. This was more of a freedom-of-movement, rather than budgetary consideration, as obviously they can afford to shoot whatever they want for that show.

At 1080i, 500T 16mm (not sure which stock or which shows specifically, but I've seen a lot of 16mm high-speed film) can look very grainy, so be careful if you're shooting for High-Def 1080i and you want a fine-grained look.


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#8 timHealy

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 11:56 AM

I don't think you are right Tim. One of the spin-offs, Law & Order SVU IIRC, started and stayed with 16mm. The others are all still 35mm. This was more of a freedom-of-movement, rather than budgetary consideration, as obviously they can afford to shoot whatever they want for that show.

At 1080i, 500T 16mm (not sure which stock or which shows specifically, but I've seen a lot of 16mm high-speed film) can look very grainy, so be careful if you're shooting for High-Def 1080i and you want a fine-grained look.




I specifically mentioned it was the original Law and Order. The one with Sam Waterston. Not SVU or Criminal Intent.

If my statement about using 16mm is wrong, then the two members of the crew who work on the show daily and have so for years who told me about their workflow, are also incorrect.

But one of them suggested I speak to Bill Clair who shoots the show now about a few questions I have. If I find out something that is incorrect, I'll post a correction.

But I do doubt the show uses any high speed film for that very reason.

Additionally, the original Law and Order has been under some budget concerns as the show is getting competition from other investigative fictional TV shows. So they have been trying to spruce up the show in some ways and make cost cuts where they can, like shooting 16 instead of 35.

Best

Tim
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#9 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 04:54 PM

Some important questions have been overlooked: Is it 16mm, or Super-16mm? How fast are your lenses? What is the post-production workflow? What look are you going for - totally grain free?

Using one stock saves a lot of work for the camera dept. but in your situation, 7217 seems too slow for your interiors, while 7218 will be too fast for your exteriors. If you have a two stage mattebox, one stage will be taken up by the 85 filter, and even w/ an nd 1.2, you'll still stop down to 11 or 16!

I did a 1080 transfer of super-16mm 7218, and it is indeed grainier than I expected, but I view this as giving the image some "substance." Also, I have no idea how much noise reduction was used in the transfer.
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#10 Heikki Repo

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 05:12 AM

Many thanks for the suggestions. The project is shot on 16mm, not S16. The end product will be at this time DVD, but taking a HD telecine later on might be possible. The project is a semifictious historical drama, set into beginning of 20th century, and I'm trying to achieve kind of warm and clear look, certainly nothing gritty :)

Renting more lights isn't really a big problem, since there aren't that many shooting days. I guess I'll just have to do more research on how I'm going to build up my set lightings before deciding on the stock.

Many thanks, you all have been most helpful even giving those estimations :)
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#11 Nate Downes

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 11:12 AM

I specifically mentioned it was the original Law and Order. The one with Sam Waterston. Not SVU or Criminal Intent.

If my statement about using 16mm is wrong, then the two members of the crew who work on the show daily and have so for years who told me about their workflow, are also incorrect.

But one of them suggested I speak to Bill Clair who shoots the show now about a few questions I have. If I find out something that is incorrect, I'll post a correction.

But I do doubt the show uses any high speed film for that very reason.

Additionally, the original Law and Order has been under some budget concerns as the show is getting competition from other investigative fictional TV shows. So they have been trying to spruce up the show in some ways and make cost cuts where they can, like shooting 16 instead of 35.

Best

Tim

A friend of mine was on Law and Order a year back, and he mentioned the 16mm cameras being used, so I'm siding with Tim here.
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