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Filming a digitally-shot projection


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#1 Stephen Alexander Griebel

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 10:26 AM

Sorry for posting in the General Discussion area, but I'd like to get input from all film AND digital guys (and gals) as well as yall in lighting, special effects, etc...

I prefer the look of film but the ease and economy of shooting digital. Has anyone tried to do both, shooting, editing, projecting digitally, then filming that with a crystal-synched 16mm or 35mm camera? It would be shot on something comparable to the big Red One (I have seen footage and find it too video for my taste) so it would be very high quality footage to start with.

How would it compare to a "naturally" filmed version of the same scene (what quality)? Would it perhaps produce something entirely different and unexpected? I don't have access to this equipment right now, so I thought I might ask if anyone out there does, might be worth the experiment. I've been writing my current project for the past three years and am getting to the fun part-- financing-- so I need to decide (for the budget) whether to go film or, if this test works as I hope, go this other route.

Another question would be whether it is possible to accomplish a flicker-free recording for the length of the "film" (digital hybrid I guess is more on the mark). Synching with a film projector has certainly been done, and I'm sure digital projectors run at a perfect 24fps, but hey, I'm only assuming.

Just think-- no more wasted film, you buy what you need. You've got the night-time sensitivity of HD digital cameras. I'm not sure if you can tweak the projector to shine brighter (thus allowing different speed film stocks) or if it would be bright enough from the start where you could use a slower film (less than 500) for a bit of grain-reprieve (I don't like grain overkill).

I've had this idea for a while and haven't been able to find any attempts from others, but I thought I'd ask you guys. Cheers!

Edited by Stephen Alexander Griebel, 21 October 2008 - 10:30 AM.

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#2 K Borowski

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 12:07 PM

Umm, until digital projection becomes mainstream, that is what is already done, except it is done on a much more sophisticated film recorder.

The results are still digital-looking. You can't make an apple into an orange. Some people say digital transferred to film is more pleasing, but it still doesn't look like film-orination. You're taking HD and adding dust and scratches to it, so really the worst of both worlds in my opinion.
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#3 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 12:39 PM

I think it's a waste of time and money. I agree with Karl, it's the worst of both formats.
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#4 Stephen Alexander Griebel

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 01:43 PM

Yeh, I've seen a lot of cheap DIY telecine jobs where people project super 8 or 16mm and record the screen digitally and it looks like film, so it makes since that it would be the same the other way around.

However, I would say that the current technique of xferring HD to film is done in a way to maintain the precision of the original (as well as the aforementioned lack of digital projection nationwide) not for artistic reasons. I am less concerned with such "sophisticated" ways of further blending film and digital (until they are one indistinguishable hyper-reality) than I am with observing how contrasty reversals and 16mm might see the same digital scene through various focal lengths and speeds.

I'd say it's a waste of time and money to shoot a great script in such an uninteresting format as HD. If you're gonna go digital, you need look no further than Inland Empire, which was, of course, much more "filmic" when I saw it projected on 35mm than on projected DVD. However, its aesthetic appeal is due to both Lynch's unique genius and the fact that he chose to shoot it on mini-DV, its pixels roughly equivalent to grain, but mainly the lower quality, which is why many out there prefer super 8 and 16mm.

Scott, I'd also say it's a waste of time and money to shoot an entire feature on film. Many filmmakers have found it absurd that you must run film through a camera to record what you see. Well, now you don't, only there's something about it which don't quite sit right, at least with this guy.

Anyway, I know someone with a theater room, so I might project a DVD of Red footage and film it in super 8 just to see. Will post results when I get them.
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#5 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 03:08 PM

Scott, I'd also say it's a waste of time and money to shoot an entire feature on film. Many filmmakers have found it absurd that you must run film through a camera to record what you see. Well, now you don't, only there's something about it which don't quite sit right, at least with this guy.

Umm... ok? I disagree?
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#6 Rory Hanrahan

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 04:20 PM

Hmmm, OK let's see:

? Film: waste of time & money? Uh, check.
? HD: waste of time and money? Um, OK, check.
? Mini-DV: Good origination format! *cough* Check.
? Downgrading 4k to Super8: worth trying? Hrrm, check?


Well if that's the case, I'm going into real estate!
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#7 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 04:33 PM

A couple of years ago I shot some 60i DV. Then I played back close to full screen on my laptop after editing and some color correction.

Using my ACL, I shot it on 16mm color reversal at 24 fps. It looked OK, no flicker or anything -sort of its own look, not quite DV and not quite film. Definitely better than DV projection and worth experimenting more with.

Just remember that most LCD screens and projectors are daylight color balanced. And trying negative stock would be better. HD video would obviously be better than DV

I really should continue experimenting with it . . .
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#8 Marcel Zyskind

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 04:54 PM

Sorry for posting in the General Discussion area, but I'd like to get input from all film AND digital guys (and gals) as well as yall in lighting, special effects, etc...

I prefer the look of film but the ease and economy of shooting digital. Has anyone tried to do both, shooting, editing, projecting digitally, then filming that with a crystal-synched 16mm or 35mm camera? It would be shot on something comparable to the big Red One (I have seen footage and find it too video for my taste) so it would be very high quality footage to start with.

How would it compare to a "naturally" filmed version of the same scene (what quality)? Would it perhaps produce something entirely different and unexpected? I don't have access to this equipment right now, so I thought I might ask if anyone out there does, might be worth the experiment. I've been writing my current project for the past three years and am getting to the fun part-- financing-- so I need to decide (for the budget) whether to go film or, if this test works as I hope, go this other route.

Another question would be whether it is possible to accomplish a flicker-free recording for the length of the "film" (digital hybrid I guess is more on the mark). Synching with a film projector has certainly been done, and I'm sure digital projectors run at a perfect 24fps, but hey, I'm only assuming.

Just think-- no more wasted film, you buy what you need. You've got the night-time sensitivity of HD digital cameras. I'm not sure if you can tweak the projector to shine brighter (thus allowing different speed film stocks) or if it would be bright enough from the start where you could use a slower film (less than 500) for a bit of grain-reprieve (I don't like grain overkill).

I've had this idea for a while and haven't been able to find any attempts from others, but I thought I'd ask you guys. Cheers!


Hello

I did this for a film, 9 Songs, back in 2004. We needed a print and didn't have the money to go through the Arri Laser. The film was shot on dv. Projected on a DLP projector, then shot on Fuji 64D. Had to do it twice since the first time we used the graded master which ended up to heavy and contrasty. But I still got an cinematography award for it in San Sebastian... For general release in England the print was more "normal" when we used the ungraded master. The film was initially only graded for dvd, hence the more contrast (not heavy contrast). It was just more than the neg could handle.
We used 1000ft rolls, the neg was later combined. I believe I shot 25fps on the camera. Can't seem to remember anymore.

All the best
Marcel
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#9 Stephen Alexander Griebel

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 05:09 PM

Thanks Saul and Marcel for the only constructive responses in this thread.

• Film: waste of time & money… Uh, check.

-- Cost of film, time spent loading (paying assistant to do it if you're too busy), lab fees, waiting for dailys, not being able to see your results immediately for review... Uh, yeh, check I guess. And inefficient to boot, lack of low-light sensitivity and bulky equipment. It's tough to shoot and go, get long takes without expensive, bulky magazines. I don't know what you're arguing.

• HD: waste of time and money… Um, OK, check.

-- I don't like the look. Others are with me. Of all my criticism of film, I prefer the look and that's a clincher for me. Even a good story can be uninteresting if the format is also-- movies are primarily visual and aesthetic, otherwise go read a book. Check again.

• Mini-DV: Good origination format! *cough* Check.

--I don't know what you're saying here at all really. I merely mentioned how Lynch's use of the digital medium, in this case mini-DV, was more INTERESTING than any other digital film I've seen. Once you get into $100K+ HD cameras-- Vipers and Cinealtas, you might as well be looking at 35mm (but then again, they don't for reasons above-- see the first "Check"). I don't even want to dignify that with a *cough* check. It's beginning to sound (and feel) like a physical in here.

• Downgrading 4k to Super8: worth trying… Hrrm, check?

-- It won't be anywhere near 4K as I can only find 2K and will be burning to a standard DVD. Super 8 is interesting to look at, I'm sorry you don't agree. Is it worth trying? I believe so-- thank bog in his Heaven that not everyone in this world shares Rory's puritanical views on experimentation. I asked the community here for empirical expertise, not opinions of close-minded people.

Your results sound interesting Saul, I'll let you know what happens with mine.

Anyway, off to see High Noon in 35mm.

Edited by Stephen Alexander Griebel, 21 October 2008 - 05:10 PM.

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#10 Rory Hanrahan

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 06:16 PM

I wouldn't consider my views "puritanical" at all, nor am I against experimentation. You may get your desired results by re-shooting a video projection on film, but the end result will be of a lower quality not just of the same material originated on film, but of the true HD original as well. I doubt it would be up to snuff as a traditional viewing experience, I think the "worst of both worlds" comment is on the ball, but go for it and see what happens? (As a side note, I almost commented directly after your topic-starter, but didn't want to be too negative. I'd like to thank Karl for pointing out the obvious.)

Then again, I'm one of those assistants that you can cut out of the loop with video. Give that a shot, and let me know how your production day goes (To wit: a loader is just as necessary with a digital workflow as they are with film.)

Also, just because you disagree with Karl, Scott F. and myself, doesn't mean we've added nothing to the conversation. We come from a different world apparently, where we spend a good portion of our time concerned with image quality.

Let's see, what else? "movies are primarily visual and aesthetic"? hold on, let me write that down?

I'm really not against your preferences, but if you're going to put out a mini-manifesto on the uselessness of film etc, sarcasm is the least of the responses you should be expecting.

Best of luck, and be sure to post your results (of the video - to film - to video transfer, hopefully squeezed to a bloody pulp via YouTube :P ).
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#11 Kyle Waszkelewicz

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 04:58 PM

You've got to remember that the 'look of film' that is so appealing all comes from film origination. You're not gonna gain anything inherently filmic through your proposed process, aside from the aforementioned flaws (I just mean technical degradations, no need to go into an argument over the organic beauty of dust and scratches). Since you're going back to digital for delivery, I highly doubt the results will be any better (read: more film-like) than if you simply used a film-look filter in post, which would entail much less effort and cost- your main arguments against film acquisition- than the proposed route. Most of the movies that were lasered onto film from digital that appear filmic do so because they originated on film (they went through a DI). You're not gonna magically erase the signs of digital origination by throwing film in the middle of the workflow.

But in the spirit of fairness, I will mention that I haven't actually seen this done (anyone wonder why?), and you could prove us all wrong. Godspeed.
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#12 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 05:08 PM

I did this for a film, 9 Songs, back in 2004. We needed a print and didn't have the money to go through the Arri Laser. The film was shot on dv. Projected on a DLP projector, then shot on Fuji 64D. Had to do it twice since the first time we used the graded master which ended up to heavy and contrasty. But I still got an cinematography award for it in San Sebastian...


That is awesome! I watched the film on DVD and couldn't believe it was DV. It goes to prove that a little ingenuity goes a long way against nay-sayer's predictions.

Keep up the good work!

S
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#13 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 05:16 PM

You've got to remember that the 'look of film' that is so appealing all comes from film origination.

But in the spirit of fairness, I will mention that I haven't actually seen this done (anyone wonder why?), and you could prove us all wrong. Godspeed.


The first paragraph is highly disputable, as Marcel said he did win a cinematography award by shooting DV and re-shooting that on film and projecting the resulting film print at a respectable film fest.

I have found that originating on video and going to film at any step of the process, like Julien Donkey Boy did, produces amazing film-like results, even if JDB was reshot on S8mm!!!.

Additionally, I also watched Cremaster 2, shot on HD and projected on 35mm at a local theater. I simply could not believe the movie was originated on video.

Again, naysayers will be proven wrong.
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#14 Stephen Alexander Griebel

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 06:30 PM

The way I see it (and Dave Mullen has mentioned this in response to another thread on projection) HD and the digital medium in general feels more lifelike than film, which is a bit ironic, as film has "character" in every single one of its flickers, scratches, weaves, and golf-ball sized pieces of grain, not to mention the fact that it is made from wood cellulose and cotton, as opposed to digital, which is pure raw data. Somehow, even in panning, etc it portrays life "truer"-- perhaps partially due to its economy and efficiency, thus its prevalence in reality TV, news (certainly true, at least with video), etc.

Anywho, digital's ability to capture life could serve as a rolling snapshot, and recorded on film that would otherwise be recording the same thing, only in reality. The thing is, I don't know, and the only person on this forum who apparently does, Saul Rodgar, said the result was something neither film nor digital. Wow, neither: to me that sounds worth experimenting upon.

To be honest, I thought there would be a little more support or at least curiosity, but oh well, enough squawking from me. I ordered a roll of Ektachrome 64t and some vision 200 with my "student" discount at Kodak, so I hope to have everything developed and posted in a couple weeks. I would prefer 16mm but I don't have the arri of my dreams quite yet, so this will have to do (only no crystal-synch...)

Will let you guys know as soon as I do.
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#15 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 10:59 PM

Saul Rodgar, said the result was something neither film nor digital. Wow, neither: to me that sounds worth experimenting upon.


I do stand by that statement. In the case of Julien Donkey Boy, which I saw a film print of, I could not believe such images were produced with crappy VHS-like video camera and then converted to film. It really took a life of its own. Kind of like a cross of two dog breeds. Not really one or the other but its own thing. One has to take it for what it is, not for what could have been or its lineage, etc.

Let the experimenting begin!!

:lol:

Edited by Saul Rodgar, 22 October 2008 - 11:00 PM.

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#16 Kyle Waszkelewicz

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 12:08 AM

The first paragraph is highly disputable, as Marcel said he did win a cinematography award by shooting DV and re-shooting that on film and projecting the resulting film print at a respectable film fest.

I have found that originating on video and going to film at any step of the process ... produces amazing film-like results,



Well Marcel also said the print that won was too heavy and contrasty, so I think the work's merits were its unusual, not-traditionally-film-like look. The point I was trying to make was that if you're going for the film-look, throwing film somewhere in the middle of your workflow isn't gonna give you a result superior (again, in this context read: more filmic) to any other work-arounds.

But I agree that this approach should give some weird cross-breed results that warrant experimenting with.
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#17 Stephen Alexander Griebel

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 01:40 PM

deep breath...and release...

... I doubt it would be up to snuff as a traditional viewing experience, I think the "worst of both worlds" comment is on the ball, but go for it and see what happens? (As a side note, I almost commented directly after your topic-starter, but didn't want to be too negative. I'd like to thank Karl for pointing out the obvious.)


Well, I do thank you for your initial discretion, Rory, but "traditional" is highly subjective and I'd say that what I'm trying to do is get back to "tradition" which was neither ultra-clear nor realistic, though due to technical limitations of the times.

Also, just because you disagree with Karl, Scott F. and myself, doesn't mean we've added nothing to the conversation. We come from a different world apparently, where we spend a good portion of our time concerned with image quality.


I disagree. I have only seen theories which expose your own ideologies of clarity as a precondition to our medium.

Kubrick didn't like modern stocks because they were too close to reality, and not just because Eyes Wide Shut was based on Traumnovelle, so he pushed it to its extremes. Renoir discussed with Rivette this very problem of how film stocks were getting faster and clearer IN THE 60s, and the problems that come with clarity. Oils will burn in theaters for smells (Japanese are currently doing this last I heard) and you will be immersed in a world indistinguishable from you own, and you may chose to experience the rustling of wind through evergreen leaves in a dark theater and not in the woods beyond it. Granted, Rivette and Renoir immediately agreed that you should not fight this evolution, and that you must not. However, I think had they known how close Kodak and Cinealta have come to reality, they may have changed their minds.

I love clarity for national geographic and things which are dangerous or impossible to see with your own eyes. However, movies are not real. They are an escape. If you want reality go stand on the street corner-- I believe that was said by old Hitch himself.

And I have not once written that film is useless, just absurd and tedious. This has been voiced by many top filmmakers over the years, including Coppola. For now it is essential. This much is obvious.

Finally, I would not do the boardmembers here, nor myself, the disgrace of posting these overhyped results on youtube. Clips will be hi-res, I assure you.
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#18 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 04:24 AM

Just because you didn't like my answer doesn't make it a bad answer. You seem to have already made up your mind that this is what you want to do; if you're really interested in finding out specifics on how to do it, then ask those questions. The questions you actually asked, and to which I responded, were about how it would look, and whether it have the convenience of digital combined with the look of film. Karl and I told you, correctly, that in fact it would combine the lower quality of digital with the inconvenience of film. It is not the same thing as doing a filmout from digital. I responded to the questions you asked; please don't tell me that my reply was useless because I didn't tell you that it would produce a unique and wonderfully artistic look.
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#19 Stephen Alexander Griebel

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 04:40 PM

Allow me to blow the dust off this post-- PHHHHHHHHW.

Alright, having sent the test roll out three weeks ago, it just arrived today. I was pleasantly surprised by the results. Due to the low light of the projection and the limited space of the theater room, I had to shoot wide open (1.4 on my Bauer 715 xl) and at 30-40mm focal length (about half of the Angenieux's 6-90mm range). Thus, the image isn't as crisp as possible (even for super 8) but I rather like what came out. Also, again for exposure reasons, I could not afford the stops for a daylight filter in camera, so I (easily) corrected it in post to match the source, though not for the file which is linked.

Shot at 24fps Vision2 200T, pushed 2 stops. I cropped the projected footage by zooming in a bit tighter to make a better image-- it was a compromise that I'm glad I made.

RED.mpg
SUPER8.mpg

As you can see, this is not the patronizing scratch, grain and flicker that Robert Rodriguez fed his eager fans in Planet Terror with a flip of the switch in Avid. My reasons are for the feel of film, not exactly grain, scratches or weave, but for the softening which the medium provides and how it used to interpret light. I know its all the same film nowadayz, but I believe the smaller gauge stocks (super8, 16) capture light the way 35mm used to, though one must deal with the inevitable grain.

The original projection is a slew of clips available on the many Red footage forums. The only footage I really liked was shot by nordeffects (the juggler stuff) but I guess I'm just a sucker for natural light, low contrast and a nice wide-angle lens.

If the links provided are too much of a bother, try these (my computer will be on to seed most of the day):
http://torrents.thep...544.TPB.torrent
http://torrents.thep...539.TPB.torrent
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#20 Daniel Porto

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 08:07 PM

If you want reality go stand on the street corner-- I believe that was said by old Hitch himself.


He also said that movies are real life with all the boring bits taken out. I agree with this statement more
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