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Dumbing down of the Industry


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#1 jef Hoffman

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 04:26 PM

As good as the look is, and this is certainly subjective:
From an experienced operator's point of view (who had shot film and tape and red);
Hard if not impossible to see focus.
Equipment ergonomics TERRIBLE. Compare HD Red Cam to Arri 235 for handheld
Balance of HD cameras is totally off esp with large mattboxes
Extra filters needed to DEGRADE the sharp image
Actors and Actresses horrified to see the pores in their skin
DP is locked in a tent miles away double checking focus with the 1st ac who needs to view on a LARGE monitor
Heat and electronics needed on camera burn the side of your head
Quality goes down because now we can just shoot the rehearsals, tape is cheap you know.
Other than that, it's a production accountant's dream saving tens of thousands in filmstock. But of course if the directors (tv mainly) planned in advance what to shoot, they would make their day and not burn so much film. Great for newsgathering though.

And as a sidenote,a Noted 'Hollywood' DP (actually Canadian) said in a promax site video interview, "...with film what we were getting was mathamatics, now we can see exactly what we are getting..." come on Jon, you knew how to get your look.
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#2 Eddie Willers

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 11:34 AM

As a producer, as much as I've always loved the the look of film, with today's budgets:
We are under 'orders' to shoot HD to shave costs. If the look is still there...fine.
Rental companies are practically giving away equipment
The states and Canada's tax credits allow us to shoot in HD quicker and less expensively.
To quote one of our director's, "If I could have two HD cameras on steadicams I would be overjoyed."
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 11:57 AM

Great for newsgathering though.



In the "old" days, News was "gathered" with film.

Today, news is "gathered" with tape or electronic files. Today, Behind-the-Scenes footage is typically "gathered" with HDCAM tape in a workflow that doesn't have the luxury of time (or talent) to deal with RAW RED files. RED is NOT great for "newsgathering." Your connotation (using "news gathering" that anything "tape" or "electronic" is crap is very illogical and misinformed.


The point is that there is far more done with electronic image acquisition than just "news gathering." It is not only an outright insult to anyone who acquires images with electronics, but illustrates ignorance of a changing industry.

Cameras are just tools. There is nothing inherently wrong with one format of acquisition or another so long as the most proper one is chosen for the given project.
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 05:36 PM

DP is locked in a tent miles away double checking focus with the 1st ac who needs to view on a LARGE monitor


This is an example of one of the many things you can optionally do with HD, but which you don't have to do. You don't have to put a lockit box on the camera, or sync its internal timecode - you can slate just like you always did, if you want. You don't have to put audio link receivers on the camera; you can do dual-system sound like you always did. You don't have to put the 1st and the DP in a tent; you can trust the operator, like you always did (VF issues notwithstanding). You don't have to run monitor cabling everywhere, you don't (usually) have to have a colorist-by-proxy "painting the camera" shot by shot. You don't have to have downconverters and LUT boxes and monitors and transmitters and CCUs and Apple Macs and trucks and tents full of gear and people.

These things are all conveniences for people. Of course, in a practical sense, these people are likely to be vocal about wanting their conveniences, usually to save post time and therefore money or be more certain about what they're doing on set, but it's not mandatory. These things don't encumber film origination because they simply aren't an option.

If this stuff is becoming a serious encumbrance, then it's up to the DP to slap on his "manager" hat and make some decisions. I don't hear about this happening much - I suspect most DPs really aren't good managers, in exactly this sort of sense - but at the end of the day you are not absolutely required to make any workflow changes at all. Slap a tape in it, expose, and go. All else is polish.

P
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#5 John Sprung

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 06:18 PM

These things don't encumber film origination because they simply aren't an option.


Well, given a finder tap, you can make a big deal out of video village if you want.




-- J.S.
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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 07:05 PM

Well, given a finder tap, you can make a big deal out of video village if you want.




-- J.S.


Not that it would matter since video taps are basically a framing guide.
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#7 Patrick Neary

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 07:10 PM

Not that it would matter since video taps are basically a framing guide.


Yes but it always seems that most of the people huddled around the monitor don't understand that.
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#8 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 04:42 AM

Rental companies are practically giving away equipment


Just exactly where are these places that are "giving away" all this equipment? I'll take as much as I can get and even bring all three of my trucks to haul it all away at no charge to them what so ever!! (WWWEEEELLL maybe a little gas money would be nice, but it's not a deal breaker) :rolleyes: BTW, I'm not sure what that particular director is shooting, but I have a sneaking suspicion, I wouldn't be all that impressed with the footage, then again who knows, maybe he's shooting a movie about senor citizens power walking through the Canadian wilderness and it'll look great. :rolleyes:
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#9 Milo Sekulovich

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 05:10 AM

Hi,
I've seen this as well....and it's been proven
all the time that shooting HD or Red does not necessarily
save time or money.

What irks me most are all the productions that have the budget to
shoot 35mm film but don't. Quite often they say it's for 'aesthetic reasons'
And yet one can see that they're just trying to
emulate film. Then just shoot film in the first place! I mean, why would
you want to deal with an inferior capture medium? Why would you want to
worry all the time about blown out highlights on exteriors, limited dynamic range
and crappy skintones?? And then try to fix all that in post??

And although there are good DP's shooting HD, I have to say the standard
of most of the guys I know who shoot mainly HD or Red is low. Most of these
guys have never shot film and they're lazy. I mean, you CAN'T afford to be
lazy shooting a feature on film. And those of us who've shot features on film know
what I'm talking about.

And video villages have been a problem for a long time. How often do you
see a director and DP standing right next to the camera watching the actors in
the scene right in front of them?

Regards,
Milo Sekulovich
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#10 K Borowski

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 05:43 AM

Not that film is a horse-drawn carriage (some people think that it is. . . .), but Jesus, the writing has been on the wall since Henry Ford set up the assembly line for automobiles 100 years ago. The assembly line doesn't require as much skill, but it sure is damned convenient. . .

But, in the mean time, I am going to keep shooting film. Even if I knew, that deep-sea fishing was goign to sink my boat, like it happened in "The Perfect Storm" I'd still go out and do it anyway. Does that make it foolish, doing what I do? Maybe, but it sure is heroic too. . .

Past lessons as experience be damned, film makes history, and it IS history. Do you see the paradox there?

Everything that got me into this industry is now driving me away from this industry. If it weren't for film, this field wouldn't exist, and I wouldn't be here. So what the hell do I do?

You know, it's ironic, my birthday is the same day as George Eastman's suicide. Is that just a coincidence, or a forecast of things to come?

Edited by Karl Borowski, 04 April 2009 - 05:48 AM.

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#11 Gary Lemson

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 11:55 AM

I am not convinced the general public really cares about origination format. We care, because we know the virtues of each.
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#12 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 03:25 PM

I've actually felt pressure in the opposite direction with HD. I haven't shot that much film but enough to know that exposure is often so much more critical on the day with HD because of the fact that you have 100 people watching big monitors that a lot of people in production expect will represent the final look of the film. How can anyone be lazy under these conditions? On the other hand, with film where you have 4 stops of latitude before you've really f?@ked up, it's actually much easier. You can forget about ND filters an AC might have left in the mattebox or a polarizer and still be fine later on. With HD, if someone tweaks the monitor wrong, you're screwed. It's a hell of a lot more difficult to shoot HD. I don't see it as a dumbing down but rather a trial by fire. A lot of folks are used to the freedom of a DI suite where everything shot on film can be fine tuned into gold from a negative that's actually a trainwreck. In HD, you have to do all that work on the day and if you screwed up, there's very little room to fix it. I can't speak for the dynamic range of RED but I would imagine based on what I've read here that it's somewhere in between.

Ellen Kuras mentioned on the commentary track of Personal Velocity, for which she won best cinematography at Sundance, that she felt DV was tougher than film because of the limited exposure. You have something like 1/2 a stop over or under before skin tones look wierd. With HD you have a little more room but it's nothing compare to film. I'm just getting tired of this perpetuated misconception that film is so much more professional and serious when the reality is that on the biggest features, film is almost idiot proof. The cameras, lenses and accessories just work. Everything works. On the other hand when you're working in this new pro/consumer world with HD and especially lens adaptors, it's a constant war of attrition.
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#13 K Borowski

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 04:18 PM

How can anyone be lazy under these conditions? On the other hand, with film where you have 4 stops of latitude before you've really f?@ked up, it's actually much easier. You can forget about ND filters an AC might have left in the mattebox or a polarizer and still be fine later on. With HD, if someone tweaks the monitor wrong, you're screwed. It's a hell of a lot more difficult to shoot HD.


Processing, loading, threading, and focusing with film are far far far more critical. So, just because you don't see the work that goes into it, doesn't make it easier, as a whole.

Do you think threading thousand-foot mags in the dark is easy? Or simple, or you can be lazy doing it? :rolleyes:
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#14 John Brawley

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 06:29 PM

. With HD, if someone tweaks the monitor wrong, you're screwed. It's a hell of a lot more difficult to shoot HD. I don't see it as a dumbing down but rather a trial by fire. A lot of folks are used to the freedom of a DI suite where everything shot on film can be fine tuned into gold from a negative that's actually a trainwreck. In HD, you have to do all that work on the day and if you screwed up, there's very little room to fix it.



Two things.

I agree that HD is harder to shoot with one caveat...if you want it to look good.

It's also easier to be lazier because there's the instant image when you turn it on.

and

The freedom of the DI suite comment is a bit misleading. I make *informed* decisions all the time to let things go on set because i know I can *save* it in the grade. That means we shoot faster on set and waste less time fixing lighting things. That saves the production time and money. It's cheaper sometimes to fix things in the grade than deal with things on set while everyone's watching.

And you point out correctly that HD doesn't have the same saftey net. It's looks only as good as it is on the day on the monitor.

So you now DO have to spend the time on set to fix things because there's no fixing them later. And that's why critical monitoring is important. Sure you don't NEED it and you can get some kind of PICTURE but really, if you want it to look good then you do need to go to the trouble of setting it all up.

The one thing that annoys me, is that the director often has a better picture than the operator. Not that i begrudge them this, but it make it hard when the operator has to work with an image that is only a poor rendering of what's being shot. Even harder if the DP is also operating.

jb
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#15 Chris Keth

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 08:14 PM

It's a shame that there is this supposed dumbing down. I know a lot of younger ACs that have never worked a film job. I have a friend like that who's been working in LA for 3 years. I feel fortunate to have the knowledge of working with film and I hope I'm able to keep it up and learn even more, to some extent at least.

Processing, loading, threading, and focusing with film are far far far more critical. So, just because you don't see the work that goes into it, doesn't make it easier, as a whole.

Do you think threading thousand-foot mags in the dark is easy? Or simple, or you can be lazy doing it? :rolleyes:


You can't be lazy doing it but it is a pretty simple job. You're right, one mustn't get complacent with it, though. I'll make the separation between terms and say the job is simple but not easy.

Also, focus is in some ways more critical with digital formats like the RED in 4k mode. You have the same calculated depth of field but I have observed, as other have, that the focus falls off very, very fast with the format's inherent sharpness. I find I really have to be on when I do RED jobs.

Edited by Chris Keth, 04 April 2009 - 08:17 PM.

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#16 K Borowski

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Posted 05 April 2009 - 08:35 AM

Also, focus is in some ways more critical with digital formats like the RED in 4k mode. You have the same calculated depth of field but I have observed, as other have, that the focus falls off very, very fast with the format's inherent sharpness. I find I really have to be on when I do RED jobs.


I completely disagree with this. Maybe bokeh isn't as pleasing with digital, but a S35 sensor and 35mm should behave in exactly the same way.

What about all of those F900 shoots we've all seen that they were trying to shoot as wide-open as possible on long lenses to try to achieve 35mm DOF?

Compare it to 16mm, and the only real difference I see is terrible colors, terrible latitude, and no grain.


Film OOF areas might be more pleasing to the eye, but the DOF is a property of hte lens, not the format. Film flatness probably means that the sides of the frame (left and right) are going to be slightly off of the optimal plane of focus, but we're talking about 1/1000s of an inch, in that case.
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#17 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 05 April 2009 - 09:07 AM

Processing, loading, threading, and focusing with film are far far far more critical. So, just because you don't see the work that goes into it, doesn't make it easier, as a whole.

Do you think threading thousand-foot mags in the dark is easy? Or simple, or you can be lazy doing it? :rolleyes:


In film we work with crews and there's usually a loader working with the magazines or 2nd A.C. And the 1st A.C. is pulling focus. But that's not what I'm talking about anyway. I'm making a point that as a DP to get HD to resemble film through lighting is far more difficult than simply shooting on film. There's zero margin for error. One is pretty much lighting the finished product on the day. Whereas with film the medium is way more forgiving to mistakes. Neither medium should brew laziness but the idea that HD is easier just because one can see the finished product is a backward notion. It makes it that much tougher cause the pressure is on to perfect it moment by moment, shot by shot under the same time constraints.
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#18 K Borowski

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Posted 05 April 2009 - 09:37 AM

Neither one is easy. They are both difficult, but in different ways.

Film had a sixty-year head start, at least (I consider early video to be the beginnings of HD).

Film's enemy is light before or after exposure. Digital reacts poorly when exposed to magnetic fields.

We live in a world that is exposed to both of these sources.
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#19 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 05 April 2009 - 12:59 PM

It would be nice if more producers understood and recognized the effort that goes into shooting HD well. Rather than seeing it as a "poor mans/amateurs medium" Perceptions are unfortunately responsible for a lot of hiring practices and business decisions and these perceptions sometimes represent narrow mindedness and or ignorance of the process.

It's helpful to more experienced and established DP's to maintain the notion that film is the more difficult of the two and that the only way to shoot anything professionally, is to have a huge budget and shoot on film. It ensures that those with the resumes to get such jobs, will get them and it keeps up and comers, well, up and coming. The reality is that if you gave a microbudget HD indie to someone who's only ever shot tier 1 productions. They'd likely lose their mind and take the whole crew with them. I've seen it happen and the resulting project looked awful. In HD, you can't just light up the location and call it a day. It's a lot stickier than most people think.

Edited by Michael LaVoie, 05 April 2009 - 01:03 PM.

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#20 Chris Keth

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Posted 05 April 2009 - 02:18 PM

I completely disagree with this. Maybe bokeh isn't as pleasing with digital, but a S35 sensor and 35mm should behave in exactly the same way.

What about all of those F900 shoots we've all seen that they were trying to shoot as wide-open as possible on long lenses to try to achieve 35mm DOF?

Compare it to 16mm, and the only real difference I see is terrible colors, terrible latitude, and no grain.


Film OOF areas might be more pleasing to the eye, but the DOF is a property of hte lens, not the format. Film flatness probably means that the sides of the frame (left and right) are going to be slightly off of the optimal plane of focus, but we're talking about 1/1000s of an inch, in that case.


You can disagree all you want but the high edge sharpness of digital video formats does create the illusion that the depth of field falls off faster than it is supposed to. I'm not talking about f900 shoots. That sensor is too much different in size than 35mm film to ever make a fine approximation of it's depth of field characteristics. I'm talking about 35mm size digital sensors.

I'm not the only person who has observed it firsthand. What firsthand evidence do you have to support your stance?
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