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Hd workflow and real prices: some questions


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#1 frederico parreira

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 01:34 PM

hello

i am creating this topic because there is a lot of information around, but i think some points nead clearing.

HD is arond to stay, and workflow and affordability are said to be the greatest advantages, comparing it with film. However, one reads the multiple topics on the matter, or one reads the daily prices of shooting with digital and the various workflows, and wonders...

Surfing the Arri website, we see that is more expensive to shoot with D 21 than to shoot on 16mm. Reading the topic where M. David Mullen talks about his problems with Red's workflow, and the way the production houses are dealing with the problems, and others, i start to question, and having no doubts that HD is in our future, what does it mean right now? What does it offer?

For really low budget projects, prosumer cameras are doing a somewhat good job, and offering excelent workflows, and footage you can edit on your above average computer.

And when you want to shoot with cinema cameras, on bigger (still small, for u.s.a standards) productions? What are RED or D 21 or F23 (etc) really offering?

I am under the impression that, considering the 'experiences' still occuring, the lack of experience, both from the cinematographers and the production houses, and even the prices and weird workflows, shooting on digital is a headhache and as expensive as super 16, or even 35mm.

Am i wrong? Who has insight on this?

thanks
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 04:41 PM

It may well be true, and I think it's mainly to do with both immaturity of the technology and producers' inexperience. I don't think it's really in doubt that avoiding the expensive silver-plated plastic clearly has the potential to save a very large amount of money; in fact, I'm absolutely astonished that the industry has managed to create a situation where copying some files around, even really big ones, somehow costs more money than running a highly advanced and very tightly-controlled chemistry laboratory as part of the postproduction process.

Three things spring to mind:

1) Producer and DP inexperience. I've seen both entities get sold enormous amounts of crap they didn't really need because they didn't know any better. I've also seen people waste time struggling with the hopelessly inadequate because they weren't properly advised. Saying this will annoy DPs, I know, but I've seen (and worked under) several who felt the entirely-understandable need to be in charge and specify everything, but simply didn't have the background to do it effectively. The result is that you end up missing stuff you need, which often saves money but wastes time, and end up having stuff you don't, which can often waste both.

2) Workflows for bayer cameras like Red and D21 may incur a fairly hefty postproduction penalty simply to produce editable offline material, let alone producing material for the final production. This is exacerbated by the inevitably proprietary nature of the software that does this work, which causes problems integrating it into preexisting workflows. It's a well-banged drum, but I consider any camera that doesn't produce a finished RGB image to be itself unfinished - all they're doing is saving themselves money developing the camera (and potentially increasing image quality by a trivially microscopic margin). I'm convinced this isn't the right way to go. Genesis (and by extension F-35) use a slightly different approach, but it's reasonably representative and demonstrates what I think is the way to do it.

3) Attitude. There's a huge range of widely-held beliefs about this stuff which are making it cost more than it should. Prime among these are obsessive concerns about data security and the demands this makes on time. I consider that some current systems are being held to vastly greater levels of reliability than that of which any photochemical process has ever been capable; the only reason we put up with 35mm reliability was the complete lack of any practical choice. That's great, and I would hesitate to argue against it, although I would question some of the technological implementations which take a lot of machine time and can force productions to rent additional hardware in order to parallelise tasks that should happen faster. Conversely, I've seen people spend inordinate time pursuing data security provisions which, when subject to even the most casual logical review, don't actually improve security significantly, or at all. There could also be a huge adjustment in the attitude toward postproduction hardware, especially at the medium to low end, but this is already getting a bit long and I'll leave it here.


P
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#3 George Ebersole

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 12:27 AM

It may well be true, and I think it's mainly to do with both immaturity of the technology and producers' inexperience. I don't think it's really in doubt that avoiding the expensive silver-plated plastic clearly has the potential to save a very large amount of money; in fact, I'm absolutely astonished that the industry has managed to create a situation where copying some files around, even really big ones, somehow costs more money than running a highly advanced and very tightly-controlled chemistry laboratory as part of the postproduction process.

Three things spring to mind:

1) Producer and DP inexperience. I've seen both entities get sold enormous amounts of crap they didn't really need because they didn't know any better. I've also seen people waste time struggling with the hopelessly inadequate because they weren't properly advised. Saying this will annoy DPs, I know, but I've seen (and worked under) several who felt the entirely-understandable need to be in charge and specify everything, but simply didn't have the background to do it effectively. The result is that you end up missing stuff you need, which often saves money but wastes time, and end up having stuff you don't, which can often waste both.

2) Workflows for bayer cameras like Red and D21 may incur a fairly hefty postproduction penalty simply to produce editable offline material, let alone producing material for the final production. This is exacerbated by the inevitably proprietary nature of the software that does this work, which causes problems integrating it into preexisting workflows. It's a well-banged drum, but I consider any camera that doesn't produce a finished RGB image to be itself unfinished - all they're doing is saving themselves money developing the camera (and potentially increasing image quality by a trivially microscopic margin). I'm convinced this isn't the right way to go. Genesis (and by extension F-35) use a slightly different approach, but it's reasonably representative and demonstrates what I think is the way to do it.

3) Attitude. There's a huge range of widely-held beliefs about this stuff which are making it cost more than it should. Prime among these are obsessive concerns about data security and the demands this makes on time. I consider that some current systems are being held to vastly greater levels of reliability than that of which any photochemical process has ever been capable; the only reason we put up with 35mm reliability was the complete lack of any practical choice. That's great, and I would hesitate to argue against it, although I would question some of the technological implementations which take a lot of machine time and can force productions to rent additional hardware in order to parallelise tasks that should happen faster. Conversely, I've seen people spend inordinate time pursuing data security provisions which, when subject to even the most casual logical review, don't actually improve security significantly, or at all. There could also be a huge adjustment in the attitude toward postproduction hardware, especially at the medium to low end, but this is already getting a bit long and I'll leave it here.


P

I think it's just really all about money. When PC's were evolving every few months during the 90s the computer you bought/built today was already obsolete. The microchip industry knew that, as did all the research firms. So what they did was space out the technology to allow the previous generation of computers to pay for the next. It's a business strategy that SONY is notorious for, and it looks like that same business model has hit motion picture equipment. The point here being the incompatible and newer file formats, hardware and such are essentially the nature of the beast. It probably won't go away for some time.

I interned for Rob Nilsson this past year, and he shoots using prosumer stuff. I think right now he uses a low end Panasonic, but in the hands of a capable DP (Mickey Freeman is the DP he uses most often) the stuff comes out just as good as if it were shot on normal to low grade 35mm film stock.

At least the Black&White stuff does. The color footage I'm going to reserve judgment on. It looks "okay", but the colors just aren't rich enough for my money. Back in March or April I was on a green screen stage using a high end HD camera (I think it was SONY's latest). The people manning the laptop who were marrying the actors with the green screen image took a while to get setup, but once they worked out their kinks we were done in just over a half day.

I'm not sure what's going on with the rest of the industry (LA, NY or Fla.), but the Bay Area seems to be on fairly solid ground with HD cameras.

Edited by George Ebersole, 24 November 2009 - 12:28 AM.

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Visual Products

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Ritter Battery

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