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#1 Tyler Leisher

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 10:38 PM

My DP owns a Sony HVR-V1U, but I'm not sure if I want to go HDV for my first feature film.

I want the best possible chance for distribution (That is, blowing up to 35mm for theatrical release) but I don't want to shoot on film as it's out of my budget.. and worst case scenario I'd like a direct-to-dvd release.

So, should we get a 35mm adapter (For DoF) and shoot on the V1U or should I go rent another camera? What are the problems shooting on HDV when going to distributors?
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 10:46 PM

Look, at some point, if you want it to look like film, and if you want it to please distributors: suck it up and shoot film. Making non-film look decent is a skill all its own. At some point, accept no substitute, because nobody else will.

However, if you really can't afford it...

I'm very cautious about 35mm groundglass adaptors. Yes, they have a certain something; yes, they seem somehow to soften highlight rendering, but then at some point they're doing that by softening the whole image at a time when you want every last corpuscle of resolution you can possibly get. Plus, you then need a very good focus puller, one at least as talented as if you were shooting 35mm - although you could assume you'd need that anyway if you were to shoot long lenses for short depth of field on a video camera. They're also a pain practically speaking. You also end up having to rent horribly expensive PL mount prime lenses.

The Sony cameras are reasonably sharp and can be made to look OK with or without.

HDV is what any compressed format is. Liable to start blocking up.

P
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#3 Tyler Leisher

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 11:02 PM

I would love to shoot film, but for my first "break out" feature film I don't think it's going to be possible. I can try for it, but this is more of a plan b in case 35mm (or 16mm) doesnt work.

My only concern is really going to 35mm, there may not be a chance of it, but in the case that this film is well received and I find a distributor that wants to blow it up to 35mm, what can I do to increase the chances of pleasing the distributor?

Has there even been a film shot digitally that made it onto 35mm and into theatres? Either HDV, HD, on the RED or any other form of digital?
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#4 Michael Belanger

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 11:37 PM

Your best bet is to start at the top of the Sony food chain, the HDCAM series. The have a proven track record with 35mm transfers and fairly cinematic depth of field while being more forgiving than 35 as far as focus pulling.

Depending on your budget, work your way down the line. Next would be Panasonic Varicam, Sony XDCAM-HD, and Sony XDCAM-EX, and Panasonic DVC-Pro HD (P2). HDV would be your weapon of last resort because of the high compression ratio.

Then again, movies like Bamboozled were shot on mini-DV so if your content is up to par they'll overlook the minor details.

Oh, and as far as RED, I'd be worried about stability issues on a feature (seems like most people have 1 or 2 backup cameras on hand in case of failure), the narrow depth of field of 35mm (requiring that expert focus puller), and post-production issues. I don't know if I'd recommend it for your first project, getting your feet wet.
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#5 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 11:41 PM

Yes, there have been quite a few films that originated on HD and were transferred to 35mm for release. Generally ones that were shot on professional high-end cameras, though. Very very few movies, aside from documentaries, originate on HDV or prosumer-level cameras. In general, most people shooting on lower-end formats can't afford a film-out. This probably applies to you as well- my understanding is that a lot of people think that if a studio picks up your film, they will pay for the film-out, but that this is very infrequently the case. Also, being shot in HDV will drastically decrease your film's chances of being picked up at all, regardless of any of its other merits.

Movies shot on HDV and transferred to 35mm look like HDV transferred to 35mm. It's pretty much whatever you see on your screen plus a few analogue generations. Really though, you need to know that there is about a %.001 chance of this, your first film ever, actually getting picked up for theatrical distribution. Don't make all of your plans contingent on a shoot-the-moon scenario. Realistically judge your options and base your decisions on the distribution formats that you are likely to end up on. For that matter, be realistic about whether your first film ever is actually going to get into festivals or be seen anywhere other than on the internet by your parents. Most people's first films go nowhere, and for good reason.

I see way too many people like you wasting their money because they are stuck on technical issues and insist that they have to have so many pixels or so much depth-of-field. These are the least of your worries.
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#6 Keith Walters

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 07:01 AM

[

Has there even been a film shot digitally that made it onto 35mm and into theatres? Either HDV, HD, on the RED or any other form of digital?


Are you for real? Look I don't want someone to chime in here and say I'm very rude, as happened to another poster, but seriously, if you have to ask a question like that, you seriously need to reconsider whether you should be shooting a film at all.

Star War II & III, Superman Returns, Apocolypto, Click!, Once Upon a Time in Mexico are a just a few of the big-budget features shot on video. Not shot particularly well, in my opinion, but they are out there. Considering that Digital Cinematography as we know it has been going on for around ten years, the list is not all that lengthy, but I'm somewhat disturbed you don't seem to know that any general release films were shot on video.

If you are looking on a 35mm film-out as some sort of short cut into the big time, there are already endless amounts of absolute dross out there that were shot on real 35mm and released on 35mm big budget or no.

The capture medium is just one tiny detail out of the million other tiny details that go into making a successful film, but it's that only detail that a lot of people understand (or think they do). I've seen stuff shot by high school students on Mini-DV and edited on iMovie that's more entertaining that a lot of the tripe churned out by Hollywood, once you've shown them how a proper film actually gets made. And you know, a lot of the better stuff seems to be made by kids who have no real interest in pursuing film making as a career. Which says it all really.
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#7 Daniel Smith

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 08:11 AM

I'd use atleast a HVX200, cheap to rent, 720p, on-board cine gamma functions, 100mbits as opposed to DV which is 25. There are some examples on youtube of the camera in use with the Redrock adapter, gives you a rough idea of what it can produce.


Failing that, visit the local media college and offer to take on a few students and get them to rent some kit for free. Depending on how good the colleges equipment is...

Edited by Daniel Ashley-Smith, 21 August 2008 - 08:15 AM.

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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 08:41 AM

720p


...or... thereabouts...

100mbits


40, unless you're shooting 60p.

Phil
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#9 timHealy

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 09:10 AM

One can shoot a film on the old Pixel vision toy cameras and if the story is compelling enough it won't matter what it was shot on or looks like. In fact Jim DeNault did one years ago that got a bit of attention.

Having said that, 16mm is a great choice for young filmmakers. It is so much cheaper than 35 and the quality of Kodak film of late gives 35 a run for its money as long as one uses the slower ASA film stocks. Don't use the inexperinced idea that if one uses the faster speed film we'll have to rent less lights. It degrades the image too much (unless your story complimented with a degraded grainy image).

Having said that, if you can't afford 16 or 35 then go and get the best HD camera you can and make your film. I know of a filmmaker who was talked into shooting her film in 35 and it completely broke her financially. I don't know if was ever finished. Don't wreck yourself financially if you cannot afford it.

But I do agree with Phil, if you want it to look like film, then just do it right from the start. Otherwise just get a good HD camera. The HVX200 is probably a good choice reguardless of the actual data rates and specs.

Best

Tim
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#10 Daniel Smith

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 03:28 PM

whoops sorry assumed it was the same as Dvcprohd.
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#11 Stephen Williams

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 03:34 PM

whoops sorry assumed it was the same as Dvcprohd.



Hi Daniel,

100mbits @60p

Stephen
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#12 Matthew Buick

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 04:11 PM

How about Super 8, if you stick to slower stocks with a decent camera it'll look truly amazing, Super 8 film is (slightly) cheaper than 16mm, and it has to be said there aren't many Super 8 feature fim knocking around, so you do have exclusivity on your side, which I have a feeling is what you'd like. Just avoid Pro8mm for buying in stock, their packages are very tempting, and they have a vast array of filmstocks on offer, but a very poor track record when it comes to product quality.
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#13 Jim Keller

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 05:32 PM

I have a JVC GR-HD1 (HDV) camera at home, and a Panasonic AG-HVX200 (P2/DV) at work. Now, the HD1 has a few issues unrelated to HDV or not, but on the whole, I'm going to say that the question of whether HDV is good enough or not really depends on what you're planning to do.

For example, if you're planning any digital effects, the HDV footage is going to be too compressed for your effects artists to work with cleanly. (We have issues with the compression on the HVX200.) I've found HDV compression becomes very visible in scenes with subtle gradients, so moody lighting becomes much harder to pull off.

But, if your talking about a predominantly character-oriented story where the cinematography is not the focus, then HDV is just fine for a first feature. Remember that first features should be treated as a learning experience, not a way to get rich. In general, the way first features break even is when -- years later -- someone says, "Oh, look! It's so-and-so's first feature!"

If you've got the money to finish on 35mm, frankly, you've got the money to shoot on 35mm. Otherwise, you're building your experience, building your reputation, and creating a legacy for later, and your focus should be on telling a good story as cheaply as you can. The storytelling is what will get people to notice you, and give you the 35mm budget for the next one.
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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 07:05 PM

> whoops sorry assumed it was the same as Dvcprohd.

It is.

The codec compresses the same amount per frame regardless of frame rate.

DVCPRO-HD is DVCPRO-HD, it's the same codec. It writes 100Mbps at 60p. At lesser rates it's still 100Mbps on tape because it dupes frames to make up the rate. On P2 there's no need to dupe frames. Either way the data rate per frame you actually use is identical.

100/60*24 = 40

I view the HVX-200 as interesting for the price but if you're not after overcranking there is better that can be had. It's soft and noisy.

P
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#15 Richard Boddington

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 09:50 AM

My DP owns a Sony HVR-V1U, but I'm not sure if I want to go HDV for my first feature film.

I want the best possible chance for distribution (That is, blowing up to 35mm for theatrical release) but I don't want to shoot on film as it's out of my budget.. and worst case scenario I'd like a direct-to-dvd release.

So, should we get a 35mm adapter (For DoF) and shoot on the V1U or should I go rent another camera? What are the problems shooting on HDV when going to distributors?


This is an area I just happen to have a lot of experience with.

Honestly....the odds that any one will want to transfer your low budget indie to 35mm for theatrical release are basically zero. There are thousands of indies made every year, the vast majority remain un-sold and never generate a dime.

35mm is certainly nice, films shot on 35mm usually do better because the crew behind it is more experienced than those shooting on DV or HDV.

Consider this...Sundance receives 3500 feature film entries a year, from this they program 120, from that 120 only 5% will walk away with any sort of distribution deal.

I would not worry at all about theatrical distribution, unless you plan on doing it your self it won't happen. Soderberg spent 65 million on Che and last I heard it still has no distribution at all!!

You should concentrate on making the best film possible for the lowest price possible so you stand a chance of making your money back.

I wouldn't call "direct-to-DVD" a worst case scenario, that would be your BEST case scenario. Do you have any idea how many thousands of indie movies are hoping to get picked up for "direct-to-DVD" release?

R,
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#16 Rod Otaviano

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 11:24 AM

Consider this...Sundance receives 3500 feature film entries a year, from this they program 120, from that 120 only 5% will walk away with any sort of distribution deal.


I've recently read an article on Indiewire written by the former president of Miramax that basically corroborates everything Richard's been saying for the last past years. I personally think if you're on the budget and want to make a feature film, I think should not worry too much about theatrical distribution but focus on making something unique, different. If it's your first film and you don't have any money, I think the important thing here is to ... learn from the experience, of course, but try to be noticed. To succeed in the indie arena, you have to be original. That's my 2 cents.

Here's an excerpt taken from the article and the URL in case you want to read the whole thing:

http://www.indiewire...person_fil.html

"Fifteen years ago, the Sundance Film Festival got 500 submissions. This year, they received 5,000. Virtually all of these are privately financed. There's only one problem: most of the films are flat-out awful (trust me, I have had to sit through tons of them over the years). Let me put it another way: the digital revolution is here, and boy does it suck.

It's not enough to have access to the moviemaking process. Talent matters more. Quality of emotional content is what matters, period. In a world with too many choices, companies are finally realizing they can't risk the marketing money on most movies.

Here's how bad the odds are: of the 5000 films submitted to Sundance each year-- generally with budgets under $10 million--maybe 100 of them got a US theatrical release three years ago. And it used to be that 20 of those would make money. Now maybe five do. That's one-tenth of one percent.

Put another way, if you decide to make a movie budgeted under $10 million on your own tomorrow, you have a 99.9% chance of failure."


By the way, sorry for drifting away from the main topic.
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#17 Richard Boddington

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 12:38 PM

"the digital revolution is here, and boy does it suck."

I'll second that. And yet I'm starring down the barrel of "digital acquisition" on my next project :blink:

R,
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#18 Walter Graff

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 05:25 PM

You'd do just fine with the H1U you mention. It's a great camera and it makes a simply fantastic picture that would blow up perfectly well. Many of the other suggestions are great but simply unnecessary. This camera recoding on HDV rivals any of the older first generation HD cams such as the HVX so don't let people throwing apples and oranges numbers around fool you. Stop worrying that your film will be better than you think and concentrate on making a good film. I have to agree with another poster, odds are slim you'll find your first film released. So do what someone starting out would do in any field, get your feet wet and make your first film and see what you do right and what you do wrong. I have yet ot see anyone that concentrates on better equipment over anything else ever have a success. If it really is that good, it will not matter if you get a deal, odds would be your deal would be direct to video. If it made it to a theater it would be such a limited release as not to matter.
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#19 George Ebersole

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 01:22 PM

One can shoot a film on the old Pixel vision toy cameras and if the story is compelling enough it won't matter what it was shot on or looks like. In fact Jim DeNault did one years ago that got a bit of attention.

Having said that, 16mm is a great choice for young filmmakers. It is so much cheaper than 35 and the quality of Kodak film of late gives 35 a run for its money as long as one uses the slower ASA film stocks. Don't use the inexperinced idea that if one uses the faster speed film we'll have to rent less lights. It degrades the image too much (unless your story complimented with a degraded grainy image).

Having said that, if you can't afford 16 or 35 then go and get the best HD camera you can and make your film. I know of a filmmaker who was talked into shooting her film in 35 and it completely broke her financially. I don't know if was ever finished. Don't wreck yourself financially if you cannot afford it.

But I do agree with Phil, if you want it to look like film, then just do it right from the start. Otherwise just get a good HD camera. The HVX200 is probably a good choice reguardless of the actual data rates and specs.

Best

Tim

Excellent advise. Shoot what you can afford. Right now I have to keep pushing back my project because I can't even afford a good prosumer camera for a filmout. Scrimp and save so you can shoot on the format you want. And like Tim said, 16mm is an excellent option.

For an HD camera I keep hearing good things about Canon's XH-A1, which the one I'm hoping to use.
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#20 Corey Steib

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 03:54 AM

Excellent advise. Shoot what you can afford. Right now I have to keep pushing back my project because I can't even afford a good prosumer camera for a filmout. Scrimp and save so you can shoot on the format you want. And like Tim said, 16mm is an excellent option.

For an HD camera I keep hearing good things about Canon's XH-A1, which the one I'm hoping to use.



The best HD camera that I have heard of that was blown up to 35mm and looks great is the JVC HD100U. I just DPed a music video using my camera (the jvc hd100) i shot 720p at 24p (which looks like 16mm) but I am not going film out it is going to T.V. So if you have not budget then try the jvc hd100 because it is progressive and you will not loose any information as you would with interlace. Now I love film and I have worked on big budgets and small budgets as a 2nd AC and a 1st AC. So if you can get film get film but if not then shoot HD.
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