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Film vs. Video A new question


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#1 John Adolfi

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 06:57 AM

I know every-time you see some headline posted like this a debate is soon to erupt. However I have a new angle to ask a question from. When I was young I remember as I experience today the thrill when a fresh roll of newly shot film comes back from the developer. The experience has been described as "magic" Taking that roll threading it up in a projector and viewing it on a large white beaded screen is just so cool.

Here's my question. For those of you who have felt this type of "magic" Do you get the same high when acquiring the same subject matter on a digital format that looks like film when viewed? So if you shoot super 16 and have it digitized and view it is it the same as if you shot it with a high end pro camera like a RED and view the footage?

Perhaps if you are shooting super 16 or 35mm for a living the "magic" no longer there because it's just a job for you at this point. Let me know I'm curious.

I'm thinking that a new roll of shot film projected onto a large screen has the most "magic" potential. What do you think?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 12:27 PM

Well, there's nothing like threading a roll of film you shot into a projector and seeing it on a big screen... but that's partly a nostalgia thing, growing up waiting for movies to start in a dark room. I even liked seeing 16mm science movies projected in high school classes (I went to high school in the late 1970's when we mostly watched 16mm movies in class, and sometimes 3/4" tape.)

I'm not sure there is any practical value to this sort of "magic" though in terms of making better movies. And certainly there is a stress-reduction factor in shooting HD and going home every night not wondering how it was going to come out.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 01:12 PM

I think you loose a bit of the magic, as well, when things go from hobby/passion to job and you're dealing with thousands of dollars of "product." In such times, it's not so much so a "magic" moment getting the film back as it is a "ok, everything's great we can now move on moment."
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#4 Oliver Christoph Kochs

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 01:41 PM

I have many movie cameras sitting on my shelf now. IMHO the problem with film is the many people involved in the process. In the whole production chain so much more can go wrong when working with film. Speaking of "magic": I had sleepless nights with scratched S16 film and horrible lab costs with scanned material that shrinks your budget to a minimum. For a 30 sec. commercial it takes about a week of hard work to have your shots ready in your workstation to finally color grade in HD. That's 4-5 days more for film and nobody is gonna pay for that anymore. If you insist on shooting film you'll no longer have a job. Period. But hey, privately i love my old Bolex and shoot a shortfilm with it from time to time. I then sit back and know that my b&w footage will last a hundred years exceeding all digital codecs and harddrives, and suddenly a new kind of "magic" is there. :)
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#5 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 09:54 PM

I was never emotionally invested in the tools so much as I was more interested in telling a story. Film, video, cave paintings... whatever it takes to tell the story in the best way a particular story should be told.

I mean, it is kinda neat to hear the classic sound of a projector starting up with the flicker hitting the screen, but that's mostly nostalgia as David has pointed out. Ultimately, nobody (save for a few professional purists) really gives a hoot what medium or format a movie was shot with. What matters is if the subject is interesting/funny/engaging in some way...and that they can hear it! They'll forgive a less than perfect image, but if an audience can't hear a soundtrack very well, then they'll give up and move on.
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#6 Jim Hyslop

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 10:40 PM

I know every-time you see some headline posted like this a debate is soon to erupt. However I have a new angle to ask a question from. When I was young I remember as I experience today the thrill when a fresh roll of newly shot film comes back from the developer. The experience has been described as "magic" Taking that roll threading it up in a projector and viewing it on a large white beaded screen is just so cool.

Here's my question. For those of you who have felt this type of "magic" Do you get the same high when acquiring the same subject matter on a digital format that looks like film when viewed? So if you shoot super 16 and have it digitized and view it is it the same as if you shot it with a high end pro camera like a RED and view the footage?

For me, it's not the same at all.

I grew up using an 8mm Bell & Howell spring-wound camera (and by the way, I really do mean "8mm" not "Super 8"). For me, the magic was in the anticipation - waiting for that roll of film to come back from the Kodak lab, setting up the projector and calling in the family, and finally turning on the projector to see how it turned out.

Shooting on film and having it telecined still has some of the same excitement and anticipation, but it does lose something without it being projected.

For digital, it's cool to see it right away if I want, but it really doesn't feel the same. Maybe that's why I avoid reviewing footage on set as much as I can - part of me still wants that fulfillment of the anticipation by waiting until it's been captured to the NLE, then reviewing the footage.

--
Jim
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#7 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 11:53 PM

I grew up using an 8mm Bell & Howell spring-wound camera (and by the way, I really do mean "8mm" not "Super 8").



My dad's Regular 8mm was my first camera too! It sits on my shelf as we speak. :)
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#8 Dominic Case

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 02:33 AM

Well, there's nothing like threading a roll of film you shot into a projector and seeing it on a big screen...

Quite a few years ago I was doing some work with a leading digital effects house. They were just moving from TVCs into film work for the first time, and they had bought a second hand 35mm film projector. I spent an afternoon cleaning it and setting it up in a spare room. Finally I had a roll of film running through it. Suddenly the room filled with people . . . . all the FX guys had heard the mechanical clackety clack of the machine, and had left their seats, drawn, almost like moths to a flame, to see a mechanically-produced image.

You are right - there is nothing like it.
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#9 David Rakoczy

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 07:28 AM

For a 30 sec. commercial it takes about a week of hard work to have your shots ready in your workstation to finally color grade in HD. That's 4-5 days more for film and nobody is gonna pay for that anymore. If you insist on shooting film you'll no longer have a job. Period.



Nonsense! I shoot :30 Spots all the time.. in FILM. Believe me, my job is not in jeopardy (anymore then anyone else's is in this fickle business). Transferring the Film to a hard drive makes importing the footage into a work station just a matter of drag and drop and a minute or two for the transfer to occur. Gimme a break. It is effortless. I don't know what you are doing that week but I assure you, once the footage is on my drive, I am editing straight away. 4-5 minutes maybe... but 4-5 days? :rolleyes: Non-linear editing is non-linear editing no matter what the source..
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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 07:37 AM

Actually I think you'll find that importing uncompressed HD footage for a typically over-shot commercial can take quite a bit longer than a couple of minutes, but that's machine time and ought to be cheap.

I'm somewhat alarmed by Mr. Mullen's contribution, though:

And certainly there is a stress-reduction factor in shooting HD and going home every night not wondering how it was going to come out.


You of all people still have that problem?!

That's the biggest problem with film. You shoot some tricky technical scene with a long reset time, the director looks at you and says "did we get that OK", and the only answer you can give him is: I uhoh, ask me in a week!

P
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#11 David Rakoczy

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 07:52 AM

Actually I think you'll find that importing uncompressed HD footage for a typically over-shot commercial can take quite a bit longer than a couple of minutes, but that's machine time and ought to be cheap. -P


Not all spot are 'over-shot-. I usually shoot 3 - 5 rolls for a :30 spot and it does not take long at all to import. Either way even if it took, say a couple hours, it would take just as long pulling from a digi source so I must be missing something in Mr. Koch's post or he didn't quite explain himself well. Sure it takes a copuple days to lock picture to begin Grading but that is true no matter what the source. I just don't see how a film acquisition burdens a show that much more (other than the transfer). As far as being afraid of film and sleepless nights... no guts no glory! I prefer to look at that time between wrap and dailies as "Exciting'... not fearful. ;) ... tho it is not for the weak of heart that is for sure!
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