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One thing I despise about digital


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 03:37 PM

I love digital for many things, and I love film for many things, but one thing I REALLY HATE about digital, are all the goddamn takes! I'm logging clips for a prod company, footage of a construction project shot with a 5D, and there's six or seven friggin' takes of even the most mundane scenes. Simple stuff is filmed like a million dollar bridge explosion. There's a scene featuring a working filling out paperwork for a drug test, and there must be a dozen shots of the same thing, in every possible combination: two shot, one shot, over the should, pan from paperwork to guy filling it out, low angle, high angle, overhead. Jesus, how much coverage do you need? Is the shot of the drug test gonna make or break the film? How insecure are you in your skills? Get the shot, move the hell on. Even when nothing is going on, they're filming. Five, six takes of guys just standing around, which is a chance for the camera op to get all arty by doing rack focus, panning back and forth, shooting the guys standing through some other poop.

It's a paying gig, so I shouldn't complain, but man this is like watching paint dry. Hell, the only thing they didn't film WAS paint drying.

BR
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#2 Justin Hayward

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 05:08 PM

So you’re the guy cutting out all my cool shots ;)
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#3 Richard Boddington

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 05:27 PM

HATE about digital, are all the goddamn takes!


Yep. Film never stopped Kubrick from doing 1000 takes though.


R,
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#4 Brian Rose

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 05:39 PM

Yep. Film never stopped Kubrick from doing 1000 takes though.


R,


True, but he was one of the few who had legit reasons. Most directors should be forbidden from more than two takes, IMO.
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#5 James Martin

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 05:57 PM

I have worked with directors who use seven or eight takes and I can see the improvement in each. I've also worked with directors who have done multiple takes of inanimate objects.

If we were shooting on an ultra-tight film budget, my talented director wouldn't have been able to get the very best from his cast for fear of running over. By the same token, my inexperienced director would have been happy with one take of the plastic figurine.

You win some, you lose some.

I enjoy film, I enjoy digital.

If these directors - and I feel they're responsible, not the technology - are inexperienced, then they should learn. At least they are learning without it costing quite so much.

This is of course written from a british perspective, where film is phenomenally expensive!

Still, look on the bright side - if they'd been ultra efficient you'd have less work to do, and less money!
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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 06:33 PM

Most directors should be forbidden from more than two takes, IMO.


Harry Cohn at Columbia in the 1930's tried to institute a policy of allowing only one take to be printed. Frank Capra responded to that by not cutting, just having everybody go back to one with the camera rolling, and do it again. So, he only printed one take. ;-)





-- J.S.
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 07:35 PM

Maxima mea culpa. I'm terribly guilty of this.
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#8 Brian Rose

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 08:21 PM

And I don't mean to lodge the ole film over digital claim either. But one of the downsides of digital, especially file based, is some are inclined to shoot and shoot and shoot and where is the skill involved when you are filming everything? It's like being given an infinite number of darts to throw...sooner or later you'll hit a bullseye. I doesn't mean you're any good.

This all just boosts my respect for the guys who grew up only having film, and doing what they did knowing they couldn't afford to waste a foot, so they had to NAIL it on that first one or two takes.
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#9 Joseph Arch

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 03:28 AM

Film is not for amateurs.
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#10 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 03:48 AM

Film is not for amateurs.


Nothing stopping them, they just have to spend more money on the recording media and think before they push the button.
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#11 Tom Jensen

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 01:55 PM

You have to be careful questioning the director's intent. It's his prerogative to shoot what he thinks is necessary. You aren't the director and when you are, you can do it your way. You can always talk to him and tell him you are getting bogged down. Are they circling takes or is everything circled. Just don't get known as the guy who thinks he knows what's better than the director.
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#12 Ravi Kiran

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Posted 03 April 2011 - 12:42 PM

The digital shoots I've been on have been pretty good about not over-shooting stuff. If they feel like they've got something, they'll get maybe one extra take and then move on. Digital shoots of a certain scope still have assistant directors and a schedule to stick to.

However, I edited an ultra low-budget digital feature on which they were shooting the bulk of it with two cameras rolling for whole running times of scenes, and while the shoot days were short, it took me FOREVER to edit it. Not only did I have a mountain of footage to go through, I also had to edit around seeing the other camera operator or boom operator, out-of-focus shots, weird framing and camera moves, two people covering the same thing on EVERY take in some circumstances, etc.

Edited by Ravi Kiran, 03 April 2011 - 12:43 PM.

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#13 Pat Murray

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 09:21 AM

You have to be careful questioning the director's intent. It's his prerogative to shoot what he thinks is necessary. You aren't the director and when you are, you can do it your way. You can always talk to him and tell him you are getting bogged down. Are they circling takes or is everything circled. Just don't get known as the guy who thinks he knows what's better than the director.


I took his post as more a commentary on a trend. I've noticed it too and read/seen it mentioned elsewhere that savings for digital over film are being erased in post with excess footage. As some have mentioned, certain filmmakers with a big budget will do the same, but now you have even low budget directors who can now shoot and shoot and shoot. Perhaps, after a few years with getting tagged with large post bills, things will go to the way it was with film. Meaning, those who can afford and think they need it, will take as many takes as they desire, whilst lower budgeted productions will be restrained by their budget.
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#14 Matt Pacini

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 06:58 PM

I think the one cure for this, is for every director to have to edit his own film.
That cured me of over-shooting, I can tell you that for sure!
And cured me of a lot of other things too, like not getting enough CU's, for instance.

Matt Pacini
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#15 Brian Rose

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 09:40 PM

And my post was not questioning intent. It was just on the trend of overshooting. I have no criticism of what the director shoots, but when there's a half dozen takes, all identical, of some construction workers standing around...that's a bit excessive.
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#16 Gerald Moore

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 12:28 AM

Imagine editing Gone With The Wind. At least you have a PC. :D
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#17 John Sprung

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 01:03 PM

Imagine editing Gone With The Wind.


Yeah, Technicolor workprint was a pain. You had to print three matrices, and then the dye transfer workprint. But they actually did it that way a lot of the time. A B&W print of the green record might have worked in some cases, but the old timers I've talked to say that they didn't do that much.





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#18 Brian Rose

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 08:46 PM

Yeah, Technicolor workprint was a pain. You had to print three matrices, and then the dye transfer workprint. But they actually did it that way a lot of the time. A B&W print of the green record might have worked in some cases, but the old timers I've talked to say that they didn't do that much.


My impression is that they DID rely upon B/w dailies quite a bit. It seems especially unwieldy to have color dailies, since it meant having the films handled by Technicolor's facilities, to produce printing matrices and dye transfer prints. All this so they can be reviewed to determine if any retakes are necessary.

Jack Cardiff talked frequently about seeing black and white dailies, and in one documentary showed some frame clips. As a compromise, they would print in color a frame so he could check the color. But mostly they went off of a black and white print from the green record. This caused a few headaches though. In one instance, filmed in a steel plant, they for a brief moment thought the film hadn't come out, or was badly underexposed. Then he realized that most of the information (glowing hot metal) wouldn't register on the green record, but the red one!

Sigh, I'd give anything to be born eighty or ninety years ago so I could've worked for Technicolor...
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#19 John Sprung

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 01:47 PM

It was Richard Kline that I talked to at a dinner meeting. He said that color workprint was the norm, they hardly ever used B&W, despite the huge amount of work involved.





-- J.S.
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#20 K Borowski

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 07:10 PM

Kubrick shot 1,000 takes because he was paranoid. It's not like everyone was great art. He just liked having good takes on multiple rolls, probably from losing a shot.

Losing shots does happen though with film, and shouldn't be completely discounted.


As far as I am concerned about coverage, you should be happy, Brian, because you get paid by the hour, correct? Also, when digital shoots go over, they quickly show that digital is not as cheap as it is billed. There are very often instances where digital shoots cost more than film for that reason. The cost of labor far exceeds the cost of film.



But yeah, watching paint dry, or watching the same ad over and over, etc, can make it tedious. This is not hallmark of digital though. I assure you that leafing through ads at three, four, five in the morning on 35mm film (because the genius programming ad changes at AMC likes to discount the difficulty of spontaneously changing ad positions with film as opposed to with digital) can quickly drain one's appreciation for the format, Union wages and protection from the dregs of the industry included.
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