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Film Is Dead! Long Live Film!


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#1 Tim Carroll

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 11:14 AM

It's no secret that for years I pushed film, especially with the Arriflex 16S cameras. I've been away from it for a while, shooting still photography and working with digital video in the GH-1 realm, trying to mate cine lenses with inexpensive digital cameras.

Yesterday I ran across a bunch of old test clips that I'd shot years ago with an Arriflex 16S and some "cheap" lenses, an old Schneider 16mm, and 25mm, one of those old Zeiss 8mm lenses that I always thought was sub-par, and an old Angenieux 12-120 zoom. And I took all the clips in their most raw form (some were from miniDV tape transfers, some from hard drive transfers) and converted them all to ProRes HQ at 23.98 fps. Threw them into Final Cut and strung them together, then output them in AVHCD and .mp4 to view on my Sony Bravia 32" flatscreen. And I was amazed at how good they looked.

So I compressed them (which definitely degraded the image) and put them up on the web site. You can view the long (19MB) clip below:

How 16mm holds up

Again, these were just test shots, and the hand held camera work is awful (probably had way too much caffeine that day) but the image quality is much better than I remembered. Everything was shot 16:9 with a taped off ground glass.

The church stuff was an attempt to create a dark/spooky religious environment. The train, flags and pan street shots were a lens test for the 8mm, 16mm, and 25mm respectively. And the end stuff of the young lady walking around, talking on the phone, was a test of the 8mm lens and was a miniDV transfer (which looked really good on the 32" flatscreen).

All of this was Regular 16, with cheap lenses. Makes me rethink shooting a project in 16mm, especially with the prices of 16mm gear at an all time low.

Just thought I'd share.

Best,
-Tim
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#2 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 01:07 PM

Nice footage, Tim. Was any of that shot in NYC?
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#3 Chance Shirley

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 02:05 PM

I still prefer 16mm to any of the digital cameras, but it is so expensive (especially the HD telecine). I've been shooting with a Canon 7D lately, and I'm willing to work around its limitations (aliasing, rolling shutter) because of the cost savings. But if I could figure out how to do it affordably, I'd happily go back to my Aaton LTR and Optar primes.
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#4 K Borowski

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 02:21 PM

You have to admit, though, that high speed Super 16mm, in the current workflow, can look very bad in 1080i/p on HDTV.


I still think 16mm is great. So does Dominos Pizza (am I breaking a trade secret having seen all the empty Fuji cans from their productions in late 2009, early 2010?). So does Friday Night Lights on FX (500-speed Fuji). I think FNL looks incredibly grainy, in a distracting, bad way. I'm sure a teeny bopper watching this show is thinking, "Gee, why is my signal so fuzzy?"

Compression and grain don't mix, IMO. I think if you limit yourself to 200T, 250D at the most, it can look very good, though.



Besides "Friday Nights Lights," and commercials finished in standard def., is there any new 16mm film even on television any more? I can't say I've really seen any.
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#5 Ian Cooper

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 02:45 PM

...Besides "Friday Nights Lights," and commercials finished in standard def., is there any new 16mm film even on television any more? I can't say I've really seen any.


Don't know about America, but the latest BBC series of "Spooks" broadcast last November was shot entirely on Fuji 16mm. Broadcast last September, the ITV drama "Albert's Memorial" was shot on 16mm Fuji Vivid160T, 250D and 400T.

Fuji are reasonably happy to advertise when their products have been used on projects, Kodak don't seem as keen, so no doubt there's been stuff shot on Kodak as well.
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#6 K Borowski

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 02:58 PM

Ian: Kodak only seems to want to advertise when their *35mm* products have been used, or at least that was true in the past B)
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#7 Tim Carroll

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 03:12 PM

One thing to keep in mind, this is all Regular 16 footage, not Super 16 footage. And the last footage, the stuff with the young lady talking on the phone and walking around, was shot Regular 16, transferred best light with a Spirit, to anamorphic miniDV. So that wasn't an HD transfer, wasn't transferred to hard drive, and just put on miniDV tape. And it was all shot with cheapy little Schneider lenses, and that one Zeiss 8mm.

I just think we've all kind of written off 16mm, especially Regular 16, and maybe we might want to give it a second look. I know I sure do. Again, a best light to miniDV transfer is not that outlandishly expensive.

Best,
-Tim
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#8 K Borowski

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 03:42 PM

TIm, let me clarify my position on the matter: I have not, nor will I ever write off 16mm film. However, I am not the one budgeting for television shows. Ultimately, the large-volume shooters are the ones who are going to determine if 16mm film continues to be made. I'm told the last Super 16 movie I worked on, over the summer, is the last one that is ever going to visit that city (not NYC, can't be more specific).

The little guys like us can never dream to generate enough usage to keep a corporation like Kodak happy. The producers and directors and other execs (to a smaller extent film school department heads) determine whether or not 16mm lives or dies.
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#9 Tim Carroll

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 04:00 PM

Hey Karl,

I'm not worried about Kodak discontinuing 16mm film production. Though I am worried that they will continue to discontinue certain stocks like they did with 7231/5231 last year. That hurt.

What I'm trying to point out on this thread is that 16mm never ceases to amaze me. Years ago when I shot my first Bolex footage with a Vario-Switar/EBM package I picked up for $200, I was amazed at the image quality compared with my new (at that time) Canon XL1s with the "best" lens available for it at the time, the Canon 14X manual focus zoom. The Canon package ran something like $4500 or something like that, but the little $200 Bolex/Switar package blew it away on image quality.

Still amazing what these old lenses and cameras are capable of. I just find it exciting. Probably because I'm weird.

;)

Best,
-Tim
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#10 K Borowski

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 04:24 PM

What about the discontinuation of Vision2 100T? That was like a kick in the b**ls too.



I am fairly certain that Kodak only continues to make any B&W movie film out of charity. Film schools are probably the only major consumers at this point. I wouldn't be surprised if they lose money on 16mm B&W film.

Again, look at commercial usage. I can't think of anything in 16mm since, what, "Pi."


Expect E-6 to get axed next. . .
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#11 Will Montgomery

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 04:31 PM

Tim, can you post some of these clips to Vimeo?
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#12 Tim Carroll

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 04:58 PM

Tim, can you post some of these clips to Vimeo?


Hi Will,

Why post them to Vimeo? Not sure the reasoning there.

Best,
-Tim
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#13 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 05:00 PM

Besides "Friday Nights Lights," and commercials finished in standard def., is there any new 16mm film even on television any more? I can't say I've really seen any.


The USA series Monk is all S16 though I dont know how new it is now. They recently starting broadcasting it in HD so it looks new at least. The Walking Dead on AMC is all 16mm too, and it is shooting its new season now I think.
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#14 Tim Carroll

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 05:07 PM

What about the discontinuation of Vision2 100T? That was like a kick in the b**ls too.


Hey Karl,

I missed that. Like I said, been preoccupied other places for the last twelve months or so. That's a real bummer. So now there's only the old 500T and 50D Vision 2 stock, the 200T, 250D, and 500T Vision 3 stock, and Double X, that's it. Wow, getting to be pretty slim pickin's.

All that footage of the young woman with the cell phone was Vision 2 100T (with an 85). That was great stock.

Best,
-Tim
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#15 Ian Cooper

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 03:23 AM

...So now there's only the old 500T and 50D Vision 2 stock, the 200T, 250D, and 500T Vision 3 stock, and Double X, that's it. Wow, getting to be pretty slim pickin's...


Or in the 'Green' camp:

Eterna Vivid 500T
Eterna 500T
Eterna 400T
Eterna 250T
Eterna Vivid 160T
Reala 500D
Eterna 250D
Super F-64D


so between the two manufacturers, that's x13 colour options and x1 B&W
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#16 Alessandro Malfatti

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 10:31 AM

It's true that 16mm doesn't look best at 1080i/p, but it's an unfortunately underused option for anything finished in SD or blown up to 35mm: Just look at how good The Hurt Locker or Black Swan looked. It's too bad that people are turned off by the cost of shooting 16mm and instead turn to digital video cameras, especially considering how costly and short-lived they are, while 16mm gear is getting dirt cheap. If only the stock and transfer didn't burn a hole into most people's pockets...
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#17 John Holland

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 11:47 AM

The sooner Kodak get out of motion picture scene the better and let them waste their time with Printers/ Scanners. Fuji just really know what people need/want !
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#18 K Borowski

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 01:02 PM

Ian, don't forget aFujij makes a B&W neg. film like Plus-X, probably for Japanese film students, and basically Reala coated for 16mm golf analysis.



Let's not forget, John, that Kodak and Fuji, preconceived notions and marketing campaigns aside, form an oligopoly, in this case, an almost perfect duopoly.

When one discontinues a stock, the other follows suit. So be careful what you wish for. If Kodak were to pack up today, the productions that didn't go digital would probably have maybe a 500T and a 64D stock to chose from at Fuji.
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#19 Robert Lewis

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 01:09 PM

The sooner Kodak get out of motion picture scene the better and let them waste their time with Printers/ Scanners. Fuji just really know what people need/want !


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#20 Ian Cooper

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 01:21 PM

Ian, don't forget aFujij makes a B&W neg. film like Plus-X, probably for Japanese film students


Is there?! - whoops, I haven't come across reference to that on their listings, hence why I missed it! :D
One I did forget is the new Vivid 250D, that was launched/announced last week.

...and basically Reala coated for 16mm golf analysis...


Lol :lol:
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