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Todd A-O?


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#1 Paul Bruening

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 01:55 PM

http://cgi.ebay.com/...OX:NEWLIST#LIST
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 02:08 PM

Todd-AO was the 5-perf 65mm format that debuted in the Widescreen Revolution of the 1950's. The first production was "Oklahoma!", shot at 30 fps in 65mm, plus a 24 fps 35mm CinemaScope version. Then followed by "Around the World in Eighty Days", shot in both 24 fps and 30 fps 65mm. After those two movies, Todd-AO dropped 30 fps origination in favor of 24 fps since they could then make reduction prints to 35mm.

Todd-AO (Michael Todd in partnership with Americal Optical) was developed to compete with three-camera Cinerama.

Eventually Panavision came out with their 5-perf 65mm formats, Super Panavision (spherical) and Ultra Panavision (which used anamorphic lenses to squeeze a 2.7 : 1 image onto the 2.2 : 1 5-perf 65mm negative.)

See:
http://www.widescree...een/wingto1.htm

Last major movies to be entirely (more or less) shot in 5-perf 65mm were "Far and Away", "Baraka", and Branagh's "Hamlet". Most famous examples are probably "Lawrence of Arabia" and "2001". A great format.
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#3 Paul Bruening

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 02:56 PM

While this thing:

http://cgi.ebay.com/...OX:NEWLIST#LIST

is a Fries, what format is it closest to? I was just guessing that it classified as Todd-A-O. I assume it had to work within the technical confines of existing post systems from it's time.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 03:08 PM

It's a 65mm Mitchell camera -- Fries Engineering is a small company in North Hollywood that adapted it, probably reflexed it, changed the viewfinder, etc.

Todd-AO just means 5-perf 65mm in this case. It is interchangeable with Super Panavision 70 as a shooting format.

5-perf 65mm was or is a fairly standardized 65mm format. Not that there is a lot of digital post that supports it in terms of scanners, etc.

IMAX, by comparison, is 15-perf 65mm.
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#5 Thomas James

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 07:00 PM

Once the movie theatres switch to digital projection it will be pratical to shoot movies at 30 frames per second.
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#6 Paul Bruening

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 08:12 PM

Even though 30 fps costs more than 24 fps. The ease of conversion and digital post might be worth the extra costs. As Thomas mentions, digital projection changes the downstream requirements even of film taking. Why not just tolerate the higher film and lab costs for the convenience of staying 30 fps (60i) all the way down from shoot to show. I recall shooting 30 fps on CP16s for TV using VNF. It wasn't a problem except for exposure compensation which wasn't that pronounced and was just done on the meter. Wouldn't it be nice to not have all that conversion hassle and math going on in the film scan and record phases? Just 30 fps all the way.

Why did the Todd-A-O stuff run at 30 fps?
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#7 Paul Bruening

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 08:27 PM

Still gringing.

Given the savings inherent in my 2-perf rig, I could probably absorb the extra 1/4 increase in film and lab, ease up the hassle of conversions, and deliver a cheaper-in-post product to digital theaters.

This is realistic. It will take me a while to do some math on the real savings in transfer and post that a 30fps flow-through will yield compared to the neg and lab increase. As well, scan costs go up by 1/4. But, HD telecines would probably get cheaper if the telecine rigs didn't have to do a 3:2 and could just shoot a straight sync.
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#8 Thomas James

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 08:41 PM

The reason for Todd AO was that it was thought that a higher framerate such as 30 frames per second would be more suitable for 70mm film projection as the motion problems with 24 fps become more apparent in higher resolution formats. However there were distribution problems because many theatres refused to modify their projectors to run at 30 fps.

Having shot a lot of 30fps high definition video footage I can tell you that Todd AO is vastly superior to 24fps because it handles motion so much better yet it still retains that beloved film look.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 10:25 PM

A telecine session, based on time, isn't more expensive for 24 fps material getting a 3:2 pulldown for 60i recordings. Scanning is based on footage length, so of course if you shoot at 30 fps, you'll probably have more footage.

A Todd-AO camera isn't necessarily limited to 30 fps. Like I said, Todd-AO dropped the 30 fps speed after the first two features.
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#10 Thomas James

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 01:02 AM

Mike Todd never dropped the 30 frames per second. What Mike Todd did was to sell his company to 20th Century Fox who later butchered his creation down to 24 frames per second in order to save money. Mike Todd was a visionary and an artist who spared no expense to give his audiences the most fine detail and the best motion fidelity possible to create a total immersive experience. 20th Century Fox on the other hand are not artists but rather businessmen who only care about cutting costs and maximizing proffits. Real Todd-AO is and will always be 65mm film shot at 30 frames per second. Anything else is just a phony imitation.
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#11 Paul Bruening

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 09:39 AM

A telecine session, based on time, isn't more expensive for 24 fps material getting a 3:2 pulldown for 60i recordings. Scanning is based on footage length, so of course if you shoot at 30 fps, you'll probably have more footage.

A Todd-AO camera isn't necessarily limited to 30 fps. Like I said, Todd-AO dropped the 30 fps speed after the first two features.


Cost savings of going 30 fps from shoot to show would be buried deep in the operational efficiencies of transfer and editing. I'm uncertain how to estimate those savings and conveniences as real numbers. I do still like the idea of 30 fps-through. Doing this in 4-perf means more costs from the start. But, I'm saving enough in 2-perf and short-ends that the 1/4 increase in shooting budget might not look so loomingly large if significant savings in post are manifest.

This is still worth the thought.

I wonder how noticeable the motion aspect of 30 fps would be with T-scope imagery.
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#12 Thomas James

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 11:02 AM

What most people do not realize is that when you increase the framerate you also increase the sharpness of the picture. This is accomplished because what you are in fact doing is reducing motion blurring. The end result will be that your movie footage will have the appearance as if you used a much larger format . Thats "The Miracle of Todd-AO" which means that your footage will look better than the next larger format.
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#13 Paul Bruening

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 01:49 PM

Hey Thomas,

I got an answer from a capable and trusted post guy in the Telecine/DI thread on the merits of 30 fps. I had liked the idea of 30 fps film for the reasons you just mentioned as well as the merits of easy sync with 60 cycle technologies like video, computers and digital projectors. His reply indicated that the current transfer technologies make 24 fps film origination still more viable than changing downstream technologies, including both digital and optical projection. From what he reports, going 30 fps origination and converting back to 24 fps film recordation for optical projection yields dubious results. Apparently, the DCI technical standards favor 24 fps as well, making 30 fps digital projection a matter of reformatting the digital cinema system. This is a component that I did not know about. I had assumed that the technology worked on a 60i based system. I'll have to do some research to find some pertinent details.

I had kinda' thought that going 30 fps on my 2-perf system could buy me some increased detail and ease of post production. Oh, well. Another bad idea.
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#14 Thomas James

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 03:55 PM

For example Sony Digital 4K projectors support projection at either 24 frames per second and 48 frames per second or they support both 24, 48 and 60 frames per second depending on the model. 30 frames per second is supported by displaying each frame twice for a total of 60 frames per second. This idea that digital projectors will only be able to project at 24 frames per second is totally false. 24 fps projection will actually be 48 fps projection with each frame projected twice. One of the reasons for a digital projector is so people can watch the Super Bowl live in 4K via sattellite feed. Do you think that anyone is going to watch the Super Bowl at 24 fps ? Also the Blu-Ray format supports projection at 30 frames per second.

I believe the technology for projecting at alternate frame and even variable frame rates exists but that does not mean that the cinematographers are going to accept this technology but rather they will fight any change for as long as they can hold out. But now it is no longer even their decision because the technology exists for interpolating frames in between existing frames.
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#15 Paul Bruening

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 05:07 PM

Interesting. Assuming the USA goes 90-95% digital projection, would you recommend originating at 30 fps film and down-converting to 24 fps for foreign, optical projection?
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#16 Patrick Neary

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 09:32 PM

Here's something; I saw an HD documentary screened digitally here in portland awhile back, and it was obviously shot at 60i, but something about the projection took away that typical "game-show" look, and it really looked quite good, not video-y (as far as frame rate at least) at all. Maybe something about the technology of projection, or the fact that it was on a big screen, but it most definitely lost that nasty 60i feel and look somewhere in the pipeline.
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#17 Paul Bruening

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 01:03 PM

Hey Patrick,

Along the lines of your post, I recall seeing Get Smart on a Barco in Memphis. I was so fooled by the quality, I'd assumed most of it had been shot on film with only occasional use of digital acquisition. It turned out that most all of the footage that I thought was film actually came from a Panavision Genesis. I'm still a little stumped by my experience. I suspect that the projectors might "film-up" the image. Do you think that they design and tweak the things to make all their output indistinguishable from film projection? It would, then, be a form of post processing.

Even with all that, I feel fairly certain that 2-perf origination with 4K scans would look like 1st generation film all the way out to those lovely Barcos. Factor in 30 fps origination and that image could look pretty damn good. Better than a 4-perf, fourth generation, optical print, I hazard. What do you think?
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#18 Patrick Neary

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 02:01 PM

Even with all that, I feel fairly certain that 2-perf origination with 4K scans would look like 1st generation film all the way out to those lovely Barcos. Factor in 30 fps origination and that image could look pretty damn good. Better than a 4-perf, fourth generation, optical print, I hazard. What do you think?


oh for sure- Watching the last "Superman" digitally projected, I was really struck by how much better some of the film-originated previews (these were also digitally projected) looked compared to Superman, which was missing that nice organic quality and color you really only get with film. Plus the wide shots in Superman just fell to pieces, the definition was horrible.
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#19 Thomas James

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 03:26 PM

It is true that if higher framerates such as 60 frames per second are desired these can be captured with either film or progressive scan video and will result in footage that is completely free from interlace artifacts. However all of the experts and even those that promote a 60 frame per second digital or film display technology all claim that this footage looks exactly like video and the film look is destroyed. However this problem can be easily solved by using frame rate ramping technology that allows the cinematographer to choose the framerate that will be displayed to the audience which is custom taylored to the degree of motion. For example drama sequences of the movie may be displayed at 30 frames per second while action sequences are displayed at 60 frames per second.
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#20 Paul Bruening

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 12:34 PM

I haven't run across information pertaining to what you've mentioned. Personally, I'm hoping film will hold out long enough for me to get out of my financial hole and shoot a feature in 35mm before it's gets too rare and pricey or just gone all together. If shooting 60 fps makes film look like video, then, I'm inclined to not shoot at 60 fps. I was only contemplating 30 fps if it made post easy enough to justify the costs. Image improvements are welcome as well but not anything that means all the cost and hurdles of film just to end up with a video-like image.

Only opinion.
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