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Faking Formats


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#1 Keneu Luca

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 10:15 PM

This happens quite often. You see it in movies. TV shows. Commercials.

Youll see footage meant to look like home movie 8mm footage with artificial light streaks at the beginning and ending of each shot. And maybe some added jitterieness and flickering as if it was transferred poorly. But it wasn't shot on 8mm film.

Why not?

This is a frequent "trick" in projects that falsify home movie footage or some other alternate footage that is meant to stand out against the standard format for the movie or show.

Why not shoot the stuff in actual 8mm or super 8mm?

Im sure one argument is that there is more control to shoot it at a higher resolution origination and then fake it and modify it in post . And the majority of the audience wont be able to tell the difference. But when you start using that as an argument, you begin underestimating your audience and you are expecting them to be somewhat ignorant.

Do you want an audience of fools? Or do you want an intelligent audience?
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#2 Tom Jensen

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 10:31 PM

This happens quite often. You see it in movies. TV shows. Commercials.

Youll see footage meant to look like home movie 8mm footage with artificial light streaks at the beginning and ending of each shot. And maybe some added jitterieness and flickering as if it was transferred poorly. But it wasn't shot on 8mm film.

Why not?

This is a frequent "trick" in projects that falsify home movie footage or some other alternate footage that is meant to stand out against the standard format for the movie or show.

Why not shoot the stuff in actual 8mm or super 8mm?

Im sure one argument is that there is more control to shoot it at a higher resolution origination and then fake it and modify it in post . And the majority of the audience wont be able to tell the difference. But when you start using that as an argument, you begin underestimating your audience and you are expecting them to be somewhat ignorant.

Do you want an audience of fools? Or do you want an intelligent audience?


You answered your own question, you have better control. You could shoot roll after roll of super 8 footage and not get the sesired effect. It has nothing to do with making the audience seem foolish or unintelligent.
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#3 Keneu Luca

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 10:38 PM

You answered your own question, you have better control. You could shoot roll after roll of super 8 footage and not get the sesired effect. It has nothing to do with making the audience seem foolish or unintelligent.


That implies that 8mm or super 8mm is so difficult to control. Or that the DP lacks confidence in their ability to get the results.
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#4 Tom Jensen

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 10:59 PM

That implies that 8mm or super 8mm is so difficult to control. Or that the DP lacks confidence in their ability to get the results.


It sounds like you just want to argue. I don't know any DP who doesn't have the confidence to shoot Super 8. SO for the sake of argument can you give me an example and maybe I've seen it.
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#5 Keneu Luca

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 11:30 PM

It sounds like you just want to argue. I don't know any DP who doesn't have the confidence to shoot Super 8. SO for the sake of argument can you give me an example and maybe I've seen it.


It is an argumnet. Or you could call it a debate. But it starts with a question: Why? And I appreciate that you have decided to participate in the discussion; I am simply responding to your explanations. And I suppose I am arguing the validity or logic of the explanations.

Sure, Dp's and directors are free to do whatever they want. Do they owe me an explanation? No. But in an age where above-the-line talent love bragging about their techniques on dvd commentaries, I dont think its unreasonable to ask why.

One show that comes to mind is the credit intro sequence for the new show MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE. But I ve only seen it once, so I cant say for sure what this intro is trying to do. If this is meant to look like home movie footage of the 1960's, consdier the focal lengths of the shots and what kind of lenses home movie cameras of that era had.

Here is clip on youtube, although the quality is so poor that its pointless for this discussion. But I guess its better thasn nothing right now.


As more examples come to mind I'll post them. And if anyone else has suggestions of this process...feel free.
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#6 Ryan Thomas

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 11:31 PM

I think that the problem is that usually the results come out poorly. The show I've seen this a lot on is that new reality show on MTV, Jersey Shore.

They have all this "Super 8" footage mixed in as B-Roll of the Jersey Shore. It's sort of a shame though, because it could be a cool little thing added into the show, but because it's so poorly done, it just cheapens things.

If I had to shoot something that looked like something else...Honestly, I'd just shoot it with whatever camera would achieve the desired result. No need to reinvent the wheel here.

Edited by Ryan Thomas, 28 December 2009 - 11:33 PM.

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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 12:14 AM

Sometimes the reason is that you have rented one type of camera for the bulk of the shoot, and you don't have the budget to rent a second type of camera for special footage, so you shoot it with the camera you have and fake it in post.

It's not always a case of using a better format and making it look worse, I've done the reverse too in the sense that on some 35mm shows, we've had a 1/3" consumer DV camera to shoot home video type footage and found ourselves using that same camera to create both crappy surveillance camera footage but also news footage or talk show footage that would normally be shot on a 2/3" pro camera. Rather than get the actual type of camera to create home video, then surveillance footage, then glossy professional video.

As far as Super-8 goes, I've shot real Super-8 for scenes in movies, I love the rough quality it can have and the happy accidents. However, these were for brief sequences -- if I had to shoot serious scenes, big performances that needed good audio and long takes, and stuff that absolutely had to come back properly exposed and focused, etc. I'd be tempted to shoot on 16mm and perhaps frame it so I could blow-up the center to an 8mm area to get the grain, or maybe just push the film. For one thing, shooting in 16mm opens up the number of labs that can handle the footage and telecine places that can transfer it to HD. Plus maybe I needed to use HMI lighting and it was easier to find a 16mm camera with a crystal-sync motor.

But often on a mixed-format production, the main reason is to limit the number of camera types and accessories needed to an absolute minimum.
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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 12:34 AM

I would also add that it can be difficult to get S8mm footage transferred to the same format you're mastering the rest of the movie on at the same post house. I know for a fact my preferred post house doesn't have and solution for S8mm footage. Hence why were I asked to do segments of a film on S8mm and the rest on, whatever, I'd probably opt for 16mm footage, as David would. Now, were I doing a whole film, or a bulk of a film, what is 8mm, hell shoot it on 8mm and find the post house who can handle it and work with them to build up some trust.
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#9 Keneu Luca

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 12:37 AM

Sometimes the reason is that you have rented one type of camera for the bulk of the shoot, and you don't have the budget to rent a second type of camera for special footage, so you shoot it with the camera you have and fake it in post.


Im sure that is not an uncommon situation. And I find it truly bizzare. Care to mention projects where this was the case? If not I understand.

As far as Super-8 goes, I've shot real Super-8 for scenes in movies, I love the rough quality it can have and the happy accidents. However, these were for brief sequences -- if I had to shoot serious scenes, big performances that needed good audio and long takes, and stuff that absolutely had to come back properly exposed and focused, etc. I'd be tempted to shoot on 16mm and perhaps frame it so I could blow-up the center to an 8mm area to get the grain, or maybe just push the film. For one thing, shooting in 16mm opens up the number of labs that can handle the footage and telecine places that can transfer it to HD. Plus maybe I needed to use HMI lighting and it was easier to find a 16mm camera with a crystal-sync motor.


Shooting 16mm and recentering and zooming seems to be the smartest and most faithful way. Of all possible tricks, that makes most sense. In effect its the same thing. Better than shooting super 16 or 35 or HD and maintaining the original frame size but degrading in post.

Im sorry I cant remember examples right now, but its usually or maybe even always a case where the footage is silent; dialogue or good sound isnt an issue.

But often on a mixed-format production, the main reason is to limit the number of camera types and accessories needed to an absolute minimum.


To me that just sounds like "Look guys, were gonna build this house with just one hammer, but since we wanna keep things simple, if we need to, we'll use the wrench to hammer in some of the nails too."

I understand that maybe sometimes your hands are tied. But if it were up to you, wouldnt you always want to shoot the footage with the actual footage its meant to look like?
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#10 Keneu Luca

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 12:54 AM

I dont wanna beat this topic into the ground and I know Im being stubborn and in some eyes naive. Thats fine.

Of course in filmmaking we often do things that are fake. Fake blood. Stunt actors. Squibs. Fake snow.....etc

But usually those things are done out of safety or strict practicality. Im talking about something that is not at all impossible. There are many productions that do use the real thing. They do shoot super 8mm. They resist compromise.

The thing that makes watching authentic home movies so magical is the characteristic of the film itself. They dont even have to be your home movies. Can be complete strangers. Its the film. Thats what the magic is. It is that unique combination of what ironically is often thought of as an inferior medium.

Ok. Im done.

:)
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#11 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 01:16 AM

Its kind of like asking a chef to make a peanut and jelly sandwich. If they get it right, no big deal because anybody can make a PB & J, but if for some reason they use too much peanut butter or jelly drips out the of the sandwich, they can kind of look foolish.

It is riskier for DP's to shoot super-8 and the reward is less as well.

However, there are a few people that actually get called to show up with a super-8 camera and get B-roll footage, it is just up to the DP to approve a budget for it.

I presume all broadcast shows are now edit mastered on HD, and unfortunately the Super-8 to SD transfer industry was not able to seamlessly make the move to HD. Many places offer super-8 transfers, but as was stated above, not every place offers super-8 to HD and that can make it a hiccup for some productions that are trying to make their entire workflow as seamless and cost effective as possible.

There are however, productions that DO shoot super-8 for purposes of b-roll. When I shot on Dali Dali Dali, which was entirely shot on super-8, I felt as if almost all of the footage could have made excellent b-roll for any number of television shows. The combination of the fine grain of the vision stocks, nice color from ektachrome and velvia, and the two BW stocks really do lend themselves to solid b-roll options for productions that want to do flash backs or b-rolls.

Top editors in the field pride themselves on being able to create the look of super-8 from their editing software packages. Not only does super-8 have to be shot with the approval of the DP, if budget is at all an issue, there also looms an editor eager to either save the production money by using one of their turn key software effects to create a super-8 look, or they simply may insist on "doing it in post" so they can bill it as additional editing time.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 01:31 AM

To me that just sounds like "Look guys, were gonna build this house with just one hammer, but since we wanna keep things simple, if we need to, we'll use the wrench to hammer in some of the nails too."


Well, it's just like sometimes I have to light a large night exterior with an 18K HMI because I'm always carrying one around for my day work, even though I wanted to light the night exterior with a 24-light tungsten Dino or a 20K tungsten fresnel which I'm not necessarily carrying in my regular package. Everything has to be able to multi-task.

It's just a money issue. You get a limited package and you try to make it work for as much as you can before you reach for subrentals and day items, etc. Same goes for post. Producers want to avoid going to multiple post houses, or buying from different film stock suppliers, etc. That makes it harder for them to strike deals.

Yes, it bothers me too when something is obviously shot in the wrong format, like when they have a news clip in a 35mm movie and they shoot that in 35mm as well. Zooming shots in footage that is supposed to be pre-1950's bugs me too.
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#13 John Sprung

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 02:20 AM

Yes, it bothers me too when something is obviously shot in the wrong format, like when they have a news clip in a 35mm movie and they shoot that in 35mm as well. Zooming shots in footage that is supposed to be pre-1950's bugs me too.


My favorite along those lines is a B&W movie, probably 1930's - 50's, in which the characters in the story get their home movies back from the drug store and show them -- all nicely edited and mixed with music and effects. It was a fairly big time studio picture, too, IIRC. And one of the great unintentional laughs.




-- J.S.
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#14 Chris Keth

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 02:50 PM

...it just cheapens things.


Isn't that exactly the name of the game with Jersey Shore? ;)
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#15 Paul Bruening

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 03:18 PM

I used to have a girlfriend who faked her formats.
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#16 Chris Burke

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 03:39 PM

This happens quite often. You see it in movies. TV shows. Commercials.

Youll see footage meant to look like home movie 8mm footage with artificial light streaks at the beginning and ending of each shot. And maybe some added jitterieness and flickering as if it was transferred poorly. But it wasn't shot on 8mm film.

Why not?

This is a frequent "trick" in projects that falsify home movie footage or some other alternate footage that is meant to stand out against the standard format for the movie or show.

Why not shoot the stuff in actual 8mm or super 8mm?

Im sure one argument is that there is more control to shoot it at a higher resolution origination and then fake it and modify it in post . And the majority of the audience wont be able to tell the difference. But when you start using that as an argument, you begin underestimating your audience and you are expecting them to be somewhat ignorant.

Do you want an audience of fools? Or do you want an intelligent audience?



Here is an example of 7219.

This is an example of 7219 The processing and hd tk was readily available and easy. Granted I used a consumer grade camera because of its 220 degree shutter and went for a home movie look. I think that it is very easy and applicable in a modern day production environment.
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#17 Chris Keth

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 04:28 PM

I used to have a girlfriend who faked her formats.


Nice.
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#18 Keneu Luca

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 04:45 PM

I used to have a girlfriend who faked her formats.


So do you have any "home movies"?
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#19 John Sprung

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 06:14 PM

But it wasn't shot on 8mm film.

Why not?


One more reason: insurance. You could shoot S-8 side by side with your Arri or Panavision camera, but if you have only the S-8 and something goes wrong, the re-shoot is on your nickel.




-- J.S.
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#20 Chris Keth

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 03:04 AM

One more reason: insurance. You could shoot S-8 side by side with your Arri or Panavision camera, but if you have only the S-8 and something goes wrong, the re-shoot is on your nickel.




-- J.S.


What's the reasoning there? Surely the insurance company doesn't care what size film one uses.
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