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Film or digital?


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#1 Michael Frymus

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 11:05 PM

I am looking around to buy a cheap camera to make some movies. I know film camera's are not cheap, but worth a shot.

I just want to know what would be the best way to go?
Is it best to get a film camera such as those in theaters. Or a camera with a memory chip?

I can see that having film would be a problem as I dont know how they edit and get the movie onto a computer. While the memory chip all you need to do is plug it in.

What do you think?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 11:38 PM

That's a rather broad question. How much did you expect to spend on the camera? What sort of "movies"? Features? Shorts? What sorts of budget will they have? What's your level of experience?
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#3 Jason Hinkle (RIP)

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 12:10 AM

I am looking around to buy a cheap camera to make some movies. I know film camera's are not cheap, but worth a shot.


To answer your question about film, in simple terms, you just send it to a lab where they develop it and transfer the footage to a digital format that you can use on your computer. Of course, that is simplifying a lot of technical details.

If you reply with your price range and a little info about what you want to do, I'm sure that people here in the forum can recommend a suitable camera for you.
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#4 Kevin Masuda

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 12:58 AM

Again, as David stated, it depends on your level of experience and such. If you really want to shoot film, may I suggest getting a super 8 camera on ebay and experimenting with that. You can buy super 8 film directly from Kodak or places such as Spectra Film&Video, they will also develop your film and can transfer it to video. You can also get a K3 on ebay which is a 16mm camera for about $200 or less. So there are some options for you, it just depends on your budget and your level of experience.
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#5 Simon Wyss

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 05:10 AM

Is it best to get a film camera such as those in theaters.

Since you are asking in the 35mm section of this forum and speaking of the theaters I advise to start right away with a camera for 35-mm film. It doesn't matter what machine you grab but that you build relationships with lab people here and there. From the beginning you'll be able to hand your strips to projectionists and enjoy all your successes and failures big on screens.

I am not being ironic nor sarcastic. On the contrary most seriously: Go cinema !
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#6 Dominic Case

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 06:08 AM

QUOTE (Michael Frymus @ May 26 2009, 06:05 AM)
Is it best to get a film camera such as those in theaters.

Since you are asking in the 35mm section of this forum and speaking of the theaters I advise to start right away with a camera for 35-mm film.


Simon, I promise I'm not deliberately picking arguments with your posts. But I wonder if it is wise for someone who suggests that they have cameras in theatres . . .is really ready for the large financial drain that shooting 35mm entails.

While the memory chip all you need to do is plug it in.

And Michael, there is nothing in film making that fits the description " all you need do is . . . .".

I reckon that people would choose to shoot on film because they know what a difference it makes. If you know as little as Michael admits to (which is fine, gotta start somewhere) I think he should keep the digital option open. A lot less learning to start with.

But David is right - more information please. What do you want to do?
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#7 Michael Frymus

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 08:29 PM

ok, well, my budget, im not too sure of.. But, I am looking to stick to around $4000 for the camera.
I am not looking to go on the complete best out there. just a camera that is good enough for recording movie like films in HD quality.

My first movie was/is supposed to be on WWII (d-day).

My objective is to create short films and give them to the short films festivals anywhere I can. I want to first start of with the smaller festivals and work my way up. But, I also don't know what the festivals use. Do they require film or digital. I looked over the film festival near a city near me (Toronto, Ont.) and I could not find any information on the requirements of the films or anything.

The short films festival is going to be a big part of my movie making. Making around 2-3 short films a year.
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#8 Michael Frymus

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 08:35 PM

However, this is not all im going to be doing. As being a magician, I tent to use a camera a lot. I shoot a lot of close-up shots of what I am doing so that the audience can see on a projector and recording some demos for other people as promo videos. Using the camera in my shows can use the standard hand held that you can purchase for around $300. but for making promos, well, it doesn't matter.

It just seems easier to do it on a memory card then film.
But, I dont really know the quality difference, and WHY to bother doing it on film rather than a memory card.
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#9 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 08:57 PM

ok, well, my budget, im not too sure of.. But, I am looking to stick to around $4000 for the camera.
I am not looking to go on the complete best out there. just a camera that is good enough for recording movie like films in HD quality.

My first movie was/is supposed to be on WWII (d-day).

My objective is to create short films and give them to the short films festivals anywhere I can. I want to first start of with the smaller festivals and work my way up. But, I also don't know what the festivals use. Do they require film or digital. I looked over the film festival near a city near me (Toronto, Ont.) and I could not find any information on the requirements of the films or anything.

The short films festival is going to be a big part of my movie making. Making around 2-3 short films a year.

"HD quality" is a meaningless marketing term. I think many of us are getting the impression that you're pretty inexperienced. That's fine, everyone starts somewhere. Here are my suggestions for you:

1. Your first order of business before you even pick up a camera is to start educating yourself about the whole filmmaking process, and in particular about cinematography and cameras. There's a link to Recommended Books and DVDs at the top of the forums; check out some of those books and start learning before you pick up a camera.
2. You haven't mentioned what your level of experience is with regards to filmmaking, so I'm going to assume that this is your first dip in the pool. Here's what you need to know about starting off as a filmmaker: Your first film- hell, your first several films, probably even your first several years worth of films- will be total crap that you'll be embarassed by. This happens to pretty much everyone and it's normal. So don't expect your first movie to be brilliant and don't expect to submit it to festivals. Rather, your first several films will be, and should be treated as, learning experiences.
3. Because of #2, you're really not doing yourself any favors by dropping $4k on a nice HD camera to start out with, unless that money is just burning a hole in your pocket. You want a decent camera that you can learn on. Here's my personal recommendation: Get yourself a decent, and cheap, digital camera that has full manual controls. Maybe a used DVX100, maybe a used GL2 or whatever. I just checked ebay, and either of these cameras should be available used for under $1500. What matters is not so much how it looks, because these cameras look fairly decent to begin with, and again this is more about being a learning experience. The key thing is that it's got full manual controls and that you learn to use them.
4. At the same time, if you're really interested in learning about film, and about how to compose and create images without pressing buttons on a computer (which is a really useful skill to have, and I'm saying this as a guy who creates images by pressing buttons on a computer), then in addition to the digital camera, buy yourself a cheap film SLR camera, a slide projector, and some reversal film. Shoot reversal, then get it processed and mounted as slides, which you can then look at on the projector. This is a great way to learn about every aspect of creating images, including lighting, exposing, composition, color, focus, etc. What's really great about it is that you can see exactly what you shoot, with no intermediate steps and no ability to cover your mistakes with digital twiddling.
5. Either way, make sure you set aside some money for other necessary gear like a tripod, lights, production design, and other essentials. A surprising number of people forget these.
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#10 Michael Frymus

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 10:04 PM

Well, I have been making movies/short movie clips/commercials, etc for about 2 years or so. maybe a bit more, on and off.

I've been doing it, but I never considered to do it as something as a profession. Or simply making a movie and being evaluated by others.
I never considered it and I just never bothered to learn or understand all the stuff.
I had the basic equipment, and it was and still is a pain to use. As I cannot do as many things as a normal camera would do. I had those cheap hand held cameras...

I'm considering to take it a bit more serious now.

I'm not also looking for some cheap stuff so, that I can use it this many times, then after a while its not good enough as it doesn't have this, or that and may require upgrades, etc. I prefer something that I can use, rather then have something decent and constantly upgrade or make better. I've don't that many times before, and I just decide to now stick to the best I can afford.
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#11 Dominic Case

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 10:37 PM

Really, the cost of the camera is only the beginning. You can pick up a 35mm movie camera of sorts (probably a Konvas) for whatever you want to pay - but any change you get from $4,000 will very soon disappear on the cost of film stock, processing and transfer.

You can pick up a DVX100 for half that, spend not very much at all on feeding it. Then you can get a top featured 35mm SLR for under $100 (they really are going for a song now) and feed it with 35mm neg for ever and a day, while you are working out how to shoot on film.

Meanwhile, very few festivals care what you shoot your film on. Some still require a 35mm print for the screening, others are happy with a range of digital (or even tape) formats, from DCI approved D-cinema specs down to DVD.

Many low-budget film makers are locked out of the 35mm festivals as the cost of tranferring their production to film (or back to film) and making a print turns out to be as great as the cost of making the film in the first place.

If you shoot on film, it is possible to finish the production entirely on film, and not have a digital copy at all, except for the edit. But I somehow suspect that you won't be following that path.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 11:34 PM

At your phase of development, you need something that allows you to shoot and edit as often as possible, for the learning experience.

I think any HDV-type prosumer camcorder in that under $4000 range that offers a 24P function would be fine for your purposes. I wouldn't worry so much about obtaining theatrical feature quality, not at your budget or experience level.

Now if you could wait for the 2/3" Scarlet from RED, the cheapest fixed-lens version probably, that may be what you want, though with accessories, it would probably climb out of your spending limit of $4000.

Otherwise, there are HDV cameras and tapeless cameras in that price range.

For example, Panasonic has some AVC tapeless cameras, the HMC70, HMC150:

http://catalog2.pana...fModel=AG-HMC70
http://catalog2.pana...Model=AG-HMC150

Check out the Canon HV20 or XHA1S:
http://www.usa.canon...p;modelid=14869
http://www.usa.canon...p;modelid=17885

or the Sony HVRV1U:
http://pro.sony.com/...product-HVRV1U/
http://pro.sony.com/...ameras/cat-hdv/

Some of these use HDV tape, some record to memory cards, often they have a version of each type.
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#13 Michael Frymus

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 11:47 PM

I was actually considering one of these cameras as it was also recommended by someone else:

http://www.vistek.ca...nder-mic-h.aspx
http://www.vistek.ca...-camcorder.aspx
*don't mind the price. This store is expensive, they normally sell under/around $4000.


So, I guess I'll stick with the non-film camera. Its simpler and cheaper in the end.

I did a search and found this site. Tell me if this is true, or if I am just going crazy..
http://dvfilm.com/specials.htm

$450/MIN to transfer from a HDCAM to 35mm film!
Is this true!?!?! :o
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 11:58 PM

The JVC's are a great choice if you can afford them.

Yes, $45,000 to transfer a 100 minute HD feature to 35mm is typical. You have to remember that $10,000 of that is probably the 10,000' of 35mm stock needed alone. There are somewhat cheaper methods but they don't look as good usually.

In this day and age, you're better off avoiding the film-out and showing the HD project digitally.

I'm not sure you really understand the costs involved in making a movie...
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#15 Simon Wyss

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 01:32 AM

Dominic, and I don't want to pick on anybody at all but this case is lost. <_< :)
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#16 Dominic Case

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 07:12 PM

$450/MIN to transfer from a HDCAM to 35mm film!
Is this true!?!?!

Can it be true? Wow, the prices are certainly coming down. In the early days it was priced in dollars per frame.
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#17 Michael Frymus

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 08:58 PM

hu, thats mad expensive. for someone like me, who is trying to make low budget films.
Like I said, I never bothered to learn of look at film cameras. I never knew that this would be so expensive.
Better know now then later.

So, I will definitely stay with the camera with non-film.

I finally found the rules section of the festival, and it said it accepts DVCAMS. So, I am good.
Even though I only saw 2 out of 50ish entries that did not use 35mm film.

So, what would be the important features on the DV Camera that I would need to look for?

Which would you recommend, why?
JVC GY-HD200UB Pro-HD Camcorder
JVC GY-HD110U Pro-HD Camcorder
XL2

Edited by Michael Frymus, 27 May 2009 - 09:00 PM.

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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 10:45 PM

The differences are listed here:
http://pro.jvc.com/p...camcorders.html

The Canon XL2 is not an HD camera, and DVCAM is not an HD format.
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#19 Armin Cesari

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 08:10 PM

I started my work with a ARRI IIC, an old 35mm camera very easy to use, you can find a complete kit camera and lenses on ebay with almost 1200€
then i find a lab in Italy that for encouraging young filmmakers to shoot in film, offers a complete service of negative and post-production with a low price
i bought negative (vision2 5260) + processing and telecine in 1,30€ per meter (2100€), i shoot one hour and i did telecine in DVCPRO, i edited it and they did the print ,
now i have a 20min 35mm film!
you can do the same thing for starting or get a 16mm camera and for shooting one hour you need 900€ for negative, processing and telecine, not bad!

good luck
Armin
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#20 Armin Cesari

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 08:12 PM

wow! my friend has done the filmrecording of his film 100min for 15,000€, your price is very high!!!
Armin

The JVC's are a great choice if you can afford them.

Yes, $45,000 to transfer a 100 minute HD feature to 35mm is typical. You have to remember that $10,000 of that is probably the 10,000' of 35mm stock needed alone. There are somewhat cheaper methods but they don't look as good usually.

In this day and age, you're better off avoiding the film-out and showing the HD project digitally.

I'm not sure you really understand the costs involved in making a movie...


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