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Shooting digitally and having a 35mm print, under $ 10k..


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#1 Arun Gopalan

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 08:39 AM

Hey guys,

I am from India and just got an offer, my first, wherein we plan to shoot digitally and then have a 35mm print. The thing is the budget is very very low- just $ 10, 000 (i.e. Rs. 5,00,000). Marketing and advertising, etc. don't fit in this. Now what I was suggested by the producer was to use the JVC 800 to shoot and then have a print. But wasn't too happy with that. Have never used that camera and am really not sure whether it's 2k (or close to it).

The alternative that I suggested was to shoot with some 2k cameras and either have a digital projection or a 35mm print. Now with such minimal budget what are the cameras I could go for? I did go through 2k cameras, but am a bit confused! Moreover shooting on 2k and then having a 35mm print, is that ok? Will it look decent enough. Cameras like the Red One and Viper at present seem out of budget. Another option I have in mind is shooting with the Panasonic P2 with a 35mm adapter at 1080p. Though that wouldn't give me latitude and good colour, but still that saves a lot of money and a 35mm look will impress upon the Producer and Director. But is that good enough for a 35mm print? Also, JVC 800, has someone used it. At what resolution does it shoot?

Is shooting Super 16mm and then having a 35mm blow up a better option than digital? I ask this just coz of the latitude film gives. Any help would be appreciated!

Thanks.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 12:17 PM

$10,000 has to be the budget excluding the blow-up process, because any process for a feature-length movie going to a 35mm print will use up that money and possibly more. It costs nearly $10,000 just to buy and process 10,000' of 35mm intermediate stock, for example. So what does that $10,000 budget go up to? Shooting? Shooting and Editing?
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#3 K Borowski

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 01:12 PM

David, as the component of labor is substantially lower in India, and China (maybe raw-stock is lower-priced too), perhaps it would be cheaper to do a film-out there?


Even with that in mind, the budgetary requirements seem unrealistic.
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#4 Dominic Case

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 05:49 PM

David, as the component of labor is substantially lower in India, and China (maybe raw-stock is lower-priced too), perhaps it would be cheaper to do a film-out there?

The greater part of the cost of a film-out is not labour but the cost of the film recorder (the capital cost has to be serviced). Once the machine is set up, it's basically load and and leave.

Are we right to assume this is a feature-length project that is being discussed. I don't think Arun specified. It does make a difference to costs!
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#5 Glen Alexander

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 08:46 PM

AGFA is big in India with decent print stock, look for a cheap lab there or Bangkok.

Here prices are $50 USD per minute for festival reels.

Lower res you shoot on, the worse your transfer will look unless you pay big bucks for optical blow ups.

Edited by Glen Alexander, 07 December 2009 - 08:49 PM.

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#6 Fred Neilsen

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 07:40 AM

Is shooting Super 16mm and then having a 35mm blow up a better option than digital? I ask this just coz of the latitude film gives. Any help would be appreciated!


Generaly, the cheapest option is to shoot with what your distribution media will be, eg; 35mm, will be cheapest with 4 perf, next cheapest is S16 with an optical blow up), and then a DI (2perf, 3perf, Digital...) will probably cost a small fortune. So if a 35mm print is an absolute must, it makes the most sense to shoot film, either 16mm or 35mm 4 perf as the cost of stock/processing/contact printing (or even a blow-up) can sometimes be lower than a film out. [Short ends, SR2, cheapo processing, discounted blow up... but it can be done, and done well.

Edited by Frederik Nielssen, 08 December 2009 - 07:41 AM.

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#7 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 03:43 PM

Apart from the running time, is the requirement just for one 35mm print?
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#8 Arun Gopalan

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 10:25 AM

Sorry, wasn't too clear in my earlier post. The $10,000 budget is definitely exclusive of the prints. And yes, it's a feature length movie.. about ninety minutes. It's not just about one print, but we plan to release the movie on 35mm prints- the reason being digital projection hasn't picked up much in India yet. Only major cities and towns have the digital projection system.

I was of the opinion that shooting digitally, knowing thoroughly how I want the look, it would save me the cost of the negatives and processing, which could be used elsewhere, in post-production/grading and then have the final output on 35mm prints. There are a few DPs who suggested me to go with cameras like the Sony PMW-EX1/EX3. However they did warn me to know the exact look I want, understand the difference between film and digital and light up accordingly and then work on the post. The rental for such cameras is very low and being our first film (the Director's and mine) we would be at ease shooting digitally- as there's not much fear of wasting stock!! But the only thing that I am not sure of is how would something shot on such cameras look when blown up on 35mm.

On the other hand there have been a few DPs (like a few here) who actually suggested that it would be better and cheaper to shoot on S16mm and then have it blown up. But I really doubt the producer would go this way unless and until the shoot digitally and blow up on 35mm would look absolutely crap and costlier!!

So coming back to my question, will shooting digitally be cheaper as compared to shooting on S16mm in my case? And more important, will the blow up look good enough as the cameras I would be using (if I do go for the digital way) wouldn't be like Red, etc.? Two, if this digital way does look cheaper and decent enough, what cameras options do I have? I have had quite a few who did specifically mention the PMW X1.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 11:45 AM

Honestly, it would be very hard to shoot a feature in Super-16 for under $10,000, especially if you needed to end up with an HD master which you may or may not end up using for a transfer to 35mm. And it's very hard to not finish a feature to a digital master because you'll need that for video distribution even if you don't get a theatrical release. So ignoring the 35mm print issue, you still have to find a cheap way to end up with an HD master.

In terms of how various digital cameras look transferred to 35mm, go to the labs in India doing that work and have them show you their tests; I'm sure they've handled all sorts of formats by now. To some extent, people will cut you some slack in terms of how good a $10,000 feature is going to look anyway -- 35mm quality may not be expected even if desirable.
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