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Some questions about super 16


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#1 Robin Eriksson

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 08:15 PM

I´m thinking about shooting my next movie on 16mm which will be my first time shooting with film. Before that i have used HD cameras and 35-adapter.

As always it´s a money issue but I will just try to get as much money as possible and see if it will be enough.

Now, some questions. My school has a 16mm camera but it´s from the 70´s so unfortunately it can´t shoot super16, but what´s exactly the difference? I know using a bigger part of the frame means I get better resolution. I also heard that i can film longer. A regular 16mm stock can film 10min, right? How long can I shoot with super16? Does the depth of field change in any way?
The reason why I´m asking about super 16 is that I might be able to lend one. Do I need some special kind of film for super 16 by the way?

Overall, what is there to think about shooting with film for the first time? what´s the biggest difference from digital?

Lots of questions but I´m a curious guy when it comes to this so I hope anyone can help me.

/Robin Eriksson
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#2 Michael Collier

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 08:33 PM

16mm runs at 36ft/min. So a 400 ft load is about 11 minutes, 100 ft is about 2 min 45 sec.

Super16 is better with handling grain, since essentially it extends the frame to get the wide aspect ratio. It shares (roughly) the top, bottom and one side of a regular 16mm frame. If you wanted to put regular 16 into an 1.85 or 1.78 you must matte part of the top and bottom of the frame. super16 is already in a 1.78 ratio, so to get to 1.85 involves very little matting. If your goal was (for sake of argument) 4:3, then there would be no quality or DOF difference between the two, since you'd be cropping the sides off the super 16 to get to an equivalent gate of regular16.

There is a slight impact on DOF at a given field of view and impact Field of View of a given focal length lens between (r16 will have more dof compared to s16, s16 will make a given focal length look wider compared to r16, and visa versa). This is not very pronounced, certainly not as much as say, the jump from 16 to 35. Its much closer towards 16.
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#3 Michael Collier

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 08:46 PM

forgot the other questions:

Most 16mm film these days is 1R film, meaning there is sprocket holes on only one side of the gate. Unless you are buying old film you really won't have to worry. Just check with the rep that its 1R and your golden. 1R will also work in most regular 16mm cameras. Only a few require 2R film, and I think kodak's website has a guide that lists all that need 2R.

Biggest difference is quality and grain. Quality comes in better skin tones, more natural color reproduction, no aliasing effect when shooting high detail patterns, of course as is always talked about wider dynamic range (meaning it can handle contrast way better, and gives you more exposure lattitude, in case you want to print up or down, where video might fall apart) It also gives you better highlight handling, when something gets overexposed its a bit smoother transition into blown out.

The best thing you can do to prepare for the first shoot is read all you can on the workflow. Read all you can so that when you get your film back, your not destroyed because there's a giant scratch on the whole roll, or the film got fogged everytime you took your eye off the eyepeice, etc. There are a few things when working with film you need to think about that you might not concern yourself when shooting video. Make sure you know what those are, especially if nobody on your set has any film experience too. If you can get an experienced first AC. They can keep an eye out for you and teach you how best to work with the new tool.

Goodluck.
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#4 Mike Lary

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 09:42 PM

I also heard that i can film longer. A regular 16mm stock can film 10min, right? How long can I shoot with super16? Does the depth of field change in any way?
The reason why I´m asking about super 16 is that I might be able to lend one. Do I need some special kind of film for super 16 by the way?
Overall, what is there to think about shooting with film for the first time? what´s the biggest difference from digital?


Robin,

Super16mm cameras shoot 16mm film. There is no such thing as Super16mm film. What makes a camera Super16 capable is a modified gate, lens mount, and a lens that covers the wider film plane. When you're trying to determine how much running time you have, just refer to 16mm charts. A camera that takes 400' loads will run four times longer than a camera that only takes 100' spools. When people talk about Super16 being higher resolution than 16mm, it's in reference to the horizontal size of the image area, not the size of the grain.

For depth of field charts, there are some online calculators that do it for you. You could also download Pcam software if you have a Palm Pilot, or you can buy one of a number of books that have all the charts - The ASC Manual is one reference.

The biggest difference you're probably going to experience with film is having to use a light meter (unless you're in the minority of digital shooters that already use one). You'll need to properly expose your image without having a reliable visual reference. I'd recommend shooting some stills with a manual film camera, and using your light meter (not the camera's internal meter) so you can get into the habit and see the results fairly inexpensively.
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#5 James Martin

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 02:22 PM

I can second the importance of shooting 35mm stills film. I should point out ONE VERY IMPORTANT THING.

Most regular photo labs will feed the film to a digital minilab that will correct your images. ie. You could be exposing way off the mark and you wouldn't know about it.

Your best bet is to find a really good photo specialist and ask them for contact prints - you will know very quickly if you're getting the right idea. Also take a notebook and pen (sound silly, but it isn't) and mark down how you measured each shot.
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#6 Ian Cooper

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 10:29 AM

I can second the importance of shooting 35mm stills film. I should point out ONE VERY IMPORTANT THING.

Most regular photo labs will feed the film to a digital minilab that will correct your images. ie. You could be exposing way off the mark and you wouldn't know about it.

Your best bet is to find a really good photo specialist and ask them for contact prints - you will know very quickly if you're getting the right idea. Also take a notebook and pen (sound silly, but it isn't) and mark down how you measured each shot.



Alternatively, just shoot reversal (slide) film. You have to get the exposure pretty much spot on as there's no second printing stage to compensate. The latitude of reversal film is less than negative, but the contrast range is much greater and the colours can really pop out at you when viewed on a light box. If you've got access to a slide projector then you can see the 'big picture' and easily be crital of your focussing ability as well (assuming you're not using an auto-focus camera!). Reversal film has the advantage that you have to get everything right 'in camera' and none of your faults are hidden. If you're critical of the results it can be a very steep and effective learning curve!

Oh, and if you weren't aware, slide film is processed in E6 chemistry which 'yer average high street mini-lab won't offer. There are a number of excellent mail-order labs which will process the film and send it back by return of post though. If you haven't got a projector then you can possible save a little more cost by just getting the lab to return the film sleeved rather than mounted.
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#7 Fran Kuhn

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 07:02 PM

Your best bet is to find a really good photo specialist and ask them for contact prints - you will know very quickly if you're getting the right idea.



Hi James,

Good point, but be careful--a contact sheet, even from a good lab, can be just as misleading as a print from a one hour lab. It must be a PROPER proof--exposed only long enough to get the film edge (base plus fog) to print black. This will let you see what your exposures really look like. If the edge of the film (sprocket holes) isn't black, the lab exposed the proof too long.

Most labs simply print the proof so the average of all the images looks good. It's really best to look at the negatives and/or use a densitometer.

-Fran
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