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35mm-general picture average percentage of film print to film shot


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#1 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 05:03 AM

I know this is a VERY nebulous question but in the most general of terms, does anyone have any idea of what the average motion picture shot to print ratio is (35mm if that makes any difference)? Again, this would be printing for a work-print.
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#2 Paul Bruening

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 02:35 PM

Remember all those old B&W movies of movie making where the director would yell, "Cut. Print"? In the factory days they printed the good takes. At least, that's what my first film prof taught us to do. Every production I've been near enough to know about printed everything.
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#3 John Sprung

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 03:06 PM

For scripted TV shows, it was usually in the 60 - 90% range. On a really low budget, you can't afford a lot of takes, so you tend to print a high percentage. On a really huge budget, they print everything because it's not worth keeping track of. In between you might print less than they do at the extremes. You can always go back and print the takes that weren't circled if you get in trouble cutting. So, if you have more time than money, it may be a good idea to print less during production.

In the digital world, print-all becomes more affordable. But it's still a bad idea. If the other shows do circled takes, your dailies will be a lot longer and less good than theirs. From this the execs may draw conclusions.....




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#4 Dominic Case

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 05:38 PM

In the "old days" when people shot on film and printed on film because that's all there was, I remember that, for features we used to have a shooting ratio of around 10:1 or 12:1, and we used to workprint around 60% of the negative.

Of course these figures would vary from project to project: I'm thinking of what would have been an average budget for an Australian feature in the 1980s (before people stopped cutting on film), but very low by Hollywood standards, of $1m - $8m.

With lots of short takes, you might select fewer to print, saving on work print costs, but adding to the negative cutting costs. And as John says, with a really low shooting ratio you'd have fewer takes so you'd print more. But even the big shoots would still print circled takes only - it gives the director control over which takes don't even get seen by the editor (saving time in the cutting room, and maybe arguments later on).

In 16mm, the savings in print costs weren't as much, although the neg cutting costs were the same - so usually people would print all. This also reduced the inevitable handling marks on the negative.

These days it's rare to print anything except a few tests at the start of production, and maybe a roll or so a week, to keep any eye on things. That's for those features actually shooting on film.
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#5 K Borowski

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 05:58 PM

In 16mm, the savings in print costs weren't as much, although the neg cutting costs were the same [. . . ]


Why would cutting costs be the same with less than half as much to cut? :P
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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 06:25 PM

These days it's rare to print anything except a few tests at the start of production, and maybe a roll or so a week, to keep any eye on things. That's for those features actually shooting on film.


Another thing that some features have done is to cut on Avid, and then conform a film workprint from that for previews. There are a lot of choices now.





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#7 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 08:19 PM

Why would cutting costs be the same with less than half as much to cut? :P

takes the same time to splice a 35mm neg as a 16mm neg, (in fact it may take longer to do the 16 as 16mm requires more care) Same number of scenes results in the same number of splices. It may cost less per minute to print on 16mm (40 frames ft vs 16 for 35mm) so that would also encourage printing more of the 16mm shots.
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#8 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 12:08 AM

I was trying to figure out on a very low budget, shooting 35mm at a 6 to 1 ratio just how much of a difference it would be to print and cut as opposed to telecine and NLE the piece. I like the idea of being able to project the film on a theater screen and seeing how it plays because I firmly believe a film shown on a 20 to 50 foot screen projected on film is a different experience than seeing it on even a 5 foot HD television, so printing and screening the print on a dailies projector would be preferable, but it may be a luxury the production can't afford. A 90 minute picture with a 6 to 1 ratio equals 48,600 feet shot round it off to say 50K. Telecine costs about 6 cents a foot, that's 3 grand to telecine. One light, best light work prints run about 28 cents a foot. Printing a somewhat wishful 60%, that would cost 84 hundred at a more realistic 70% that would increase to cost to 98 hundred nearly triple, BUT projecting would show you exactly what you have, if the color is right, the focus is perfect, the composition is strong and the camera movement is appropriate and not over done or Cloverfield distracting. I suppose it comes down to how good a film maker you are, how good a negotiator you or your producer are and how low the budget is. Negotiating price would be critical, so along those lines, does anyone know of a lab that does work prints for less than .28 cents a foot?
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#9 John Sprung

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 01:50 AM

A 90 minute picture with a 6 to 1 ratio equals 48,600 feet shot round it off to say 50K.


So, shoot and telecine. Cut in video, then workprint the selects only and conform that nice fresh new workprint to the video cut. You may be able to print something more like 12K or even less that way. Basically, it's your movie plus handles.



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#10 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 06:18 AM

So, shoot and telecine. Cut in video, then workprint the selects only and conform that nice fresh new workprint to the video cut. You may be able to print something more like 12K or even less that way. Basically, it's your movie plus handles.



-- J.S.


Yeah, that makes a lot of sense especially for a picture with tiny budget. At full telecine plus 12K of prints, that cuts the cost down to about $6300, which should be doable even on an ultra low budget of say 30 to 50K. Thank you for the very good advice. :)

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 09 October 2009 - 06:21 AM.

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#11 K Borowski

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 09:52 AM

So, shoot and telecine. Cut in video, then workprint the selects only and conform that nice fresh new workprint to the video cut. You may be able to print something more like 12K or even less that way. Basically, it's your movie plus handles.



-- J.S.


Yeah, I agree. People here will dub me a film-purist, or more condescending terms for the former, but there really is no sense, in the 21st century, in making prints off of the master negative that are just going to end up going in the trash bin at the end of the editing process.

That is akin to the old phrase "lighting cigarettes with $20 bills."

About the only thing that film dailies can catch that video dailies can't (even this is nebulous now that HD dailies are becoming standard) are fine focus issues.
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#12 Paul Bruening

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 11:08 AM

Hey Stephen,

You know I have always offered you the very best of what I know. The concern you have expressed about a big screen perspective is an uncertainty that is better solved through editorial experience. I don't know what you've shot and cut so far. But nothing replaces sitting in front of that computer for hundreds of hours discovering and refining all of the decision planet of an editor's mind. The best thing, in general, for your current film production commitment is to shoot and cut a few shorter productions on a dime on the cheapest thing you can muster, VHS, even. I suspect that most of the uncertainties will then be behind you instead of in front of you.

Then, again, maybe not.
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#13 John Sprung

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 12:17 PM

About the only thing that film dailies can catch that video dailies can't (even this is nebulous now that HD dailies are becoming standard) are fine focus issues.


That and sync. We've had cases in which something looked in sync on the Avid, but you could see it was a frame out at full theatrical resolution.





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#14 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 11:18 PM

Hey Stephen,

You know I have always offered you the very best of what I know. The concern you have expressed about a big screen perspective is an uncertainty that is better solved through editorial experience. I don't know what you've shot and cut so far. But nothing replaces sitting in front of that computer for hundreds of hours discovering and refining all of the decision planet of an editor's mind. The best thing, in general, for your current film production commitment is to shoot and cut a few shorter productions on a dime on the cheapest thing you can muster, VHS, even. I suspect that most of the uncertainties will then be behind you instead of in front of you.

Then, again, maybe not.


As always,Thanks for the advice, Paul. Just to clarify though, I have shot and cut a LOT of video and with all due modesty am fairly familiar with the editing process. (I even had the dubious "pleasure" of cutting 8 hours of non continuations footage that had been shot as a badly done TV series, unsold of course, into 90 minute feature. I literally had to create a plot out of this mishmash of garbage and go so far as to take individual words edited together to create lines that were never in the original scripts to bridge gaps in a formerly non existent storyline. In the end, they had a 90 minute feature that actually had 3 acts and worked as a whole.) I have also shot and edited shorts, music videos and filmed live action stage plays among other things like test footage for practical effects and various other video when working on The Black Sky.

It's not so much that I have uncertainties, it's more that I want to make sure I'm accurate in my budgeting and in the end, I've given my audience the best work I can possibly do. Part of this is throwing it up on a 25 foot movie screen and looking at every little detail. I have a dailies projector (though I still need to buy a screen), the KEM flatbeds, the coding machines, splicers, mag film recorders. film winders, a high-speed rewind machine. I just need a synchronizer. Once I get my equipment shipped in from your place and set up, I'll be able to process dailies. (I still may leave negative processing to the commercial labs) but in the mean time, I'll have to use a commercial facility to do the work. I should still have an anamorphic negative splices, a pair of optical printers (one standard and one aerial image) I bought last year in Glendale, but I haven't talked to then in a few months so let's hope they haven't split with the stuff. :D
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#15 K Borowski

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 12:28 AM

That and sync. We've had cases in which something looked in sync on the Avid, but you could see it was a frame out at full theatrical resolution.


Yeah, good point John.


Funny, I was just watching something on TV today (maybe just my drink's effects in front of me) and I distinctly noticed that the sound was just a hair too fast.

I was thinking about this, and, even if something is fully in synch, it can still be off by 1/48 of a second, can't it?



Back on topic: Steve, if you can afford dailies, good for you, but remember, the end result is what matters. If it comes down to being able to print on film vs. having another stop of lighting, I'll go with the latter.

Yeah, there are things you can miss, but working with film is still that: work!

And stay away from your negative, my man! Resist the urge to tempt fate.
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#16 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 01:43 AM

Ah, a little work never bothered me. :D I actually find things like thing interesting and relaxing. I find a kinda Zen in it.. I TRULY don't plan on screwing with the negatives for a while, eventfully we will though, once we know a lot more that we know about film processing now as in lot's of practical application. Again, we're still in the planning stages, searching for money and making contingency plans in case we are unable to fund a project at this level at this point so nothing is set in stone. The business memorandum for Blood Moon Rising is out to several people with "resources" and we have had a few tentative verbal commitments but again, it ain't real, til it's real so we'll keep on truckin' till the total money is in escrow, in the mean time, I wanted to make more informed decisions and be accurate when I tell someone something.

To me, cheaper is.......cheaper but that's not always better. My opinion.
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#17 John Sprung

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 12:50 PM

I was thinking about this, and, even if something is fully in synch, it can still be off by 1/48 of a second, can't it?


Working with magnetic film, there aren't any frame lines. Every perf is fair game, so you can cut in quarter frame increments.

This was especially important to the music guys, as they would write cues to hit the exact length of the picture. Instead of a metronome, they used click tracks. I'm not sure exactly how that worked, but they had big hand-calculated books of tables in order to work that out. I have one of the old Paramount click books, but haven't opened it in years.




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#18 Paul Bruening

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 01:07 PM

As always,Thanks for the advice, Paul. Just to clarify though, I have shot and cut a LOT of video and with all due modesty am fairly familiar with the editing process. (I even had the dubious "pleasure" of cutting 8 hours of non continuations footage that had been shot as a badly done TV series, unsold of course, into 90 minute feature. I literally had to create a plot out of this mishmash of garbage and go so far as to take individual words edited together to create lines that were never in the original scripts to bridge gaps in a formerly non existent storyline. In the end, they had a 90 minute feature that actually had 3 acts and worked as a whole.) I have also shot and edited shorts, music videos and filmed live action stage plays among other things like test footage for practical effects and various other video when working on The Black Sky.

It's not so much that I have uncertainties, it's more that I want to make sure I'm accurate in my budgeting and in the end, I've given my audience the best work I can possibly do. Part of this is throwing it up on a 25 foot movie screen and looking at every little detail. I have a dailies projector (though I still need to buy a screen), the KEM flatbeds, the coding machines, splicers, mag film recorders. film winders, a high-speed rewind machine. I just need a synchronizer. Once I get my equipment shipped in from your place and set up, I'll be able to process dailies. (I still may leave negative processing to the commercial labs) but in the mean time, I'll have to use a commercial facility to do the work. I should still have an anamorphic negative splices, a pair of optical printers (one standard and one aerial image) I bought last year in Glendale, but I haven't talked to then in a few months so let's hope they haven't split with the stuff. :D


Never mind, then.
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