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Film Vs. Red


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#21 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 05:19 PM

How can this even be an argument?


Nigel, I wouldnt open a can of worms that you cant close. Many people on this forum have shot with high end digital cameras and can tell you the true cost if you dont "know a guy" or ridiculous scenarios like that. Look at the price of rentals if you really dont think an argument is there.
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#22 K Borowski

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 05:27 PM

Even 16mm is $160 for TEN minutes.


Of course, what about rental costs, the TIME to back up the data, etc.

Another interesting point: You talk about backing up onto LTO tape twice. Assuming your movie's considered culturally valuable (or commercially valuable to a studio): How many times would you have had to back up SINCE then?

Unfortunately, budgeting never takes this into account. The amount of backing up that you DON'T have to do with film eventually pushes a certain amount of economic advantage back in its favor.



Current cost for 35mm is over $600 for as little as ten minutes (more like 8-9 reasonably) of shooting time. Then send 900 feet to the lab at $0.25 (is that a currently valid number?) for a $225 bill. Clean and prep for telecine sometimes extra, then the cost of a transfer or two. Easily approaching $200/minute after all is said and done. 16mm is probably nearly half that.
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#23 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 06:38 PM

The idea that film and digital are even vaguely cost competitive is absolutely ridiculous.

It is certainly most obvious at the low end, where the cheapest half-decent digital stuff (probably DSLRs right now) is so enormously cheaper than any sort of film the argument doesn't even have to be made.

At the high end the cameras are cost competitive with film but the stock is enormously cheaper. You do get into a rather sticky area with post because HDCAM-SR is an extremely expensive tape format, but I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who record silly formats then moan about posting them.

P
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#24 K Borowski

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 08:35 PM

Phil: That's not true. There's definitely a price-point with 35mm short ends (yes I know we are so spoiled in the US, but hey, we MAKE the stuff so we ought to be a bit spoiled right?) and older cameras versus high-end digital where it can be really close.

DSLRs and HDV will still be cheaper, sure. But you can do a good job scrimping if you really want to.

You can still get 35mm ends for 10ยข/foot if you are really thrifty. That will get you 6x the film for the same price if you are willing to forego those epic 11 minute shots ;-)
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#25 Michael Olsen

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 10:40 PM

So. Now that we've all argued the merits of film and digital...

What do people think of Nigel's software? So far I've only seen one real reply.
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#26 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 03 September 2011 - 01:58 AM

What do people think of Nigel's software? So far I've only seen one real reply.


The software is okay but as was already stated, an app is not going to change the fact that RED has good shadows and film has good highlights. And also it was stated that why shoot digital if you want film look? I dont really know what else needs to be said about it.
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#27 David Desio

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Posted 03 September 2011 - 11:50 AM

David, me thinks you should not deal with such Producers if you actually want to make a living. As you know, Profit = Revenue - Expenses. And the wear and tear on your gear makes you very unlikely to profit if you are getting a low rate to begin with. I would think all DPs would push for film as a sort of test of what class of Producer you are working with. Unless of course you like being a bottom feeder.


Really? We're gonna insult people now? I was merely making a point and using past experience as an anecdote. By the way in dealing with such producers, I made a very nice day rate on those jobs. I Do not own a camera package but again was just making a point. Also, why would one immediately push for film nowadays? Unless they are ONLY doing the big shows; that would be ridiculous for every project given that they are all different beasts in regards to budget, needs etc. In a perfect world sure, but I don't know many DP's at my level anyway who have impressed a producer by blowing up the budget just to make a point.

Edited by David Desio, 03 September 2011 - 11:51 AM.

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#28 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 03 September 2011 - 03:06 PM

David, I am not insulting. You said that on some shoots you have a hard time convincing penny pinching producers to even rent HMIs. Now you turn 180 and claim that those same producers pay you a good rate and rent a nice digital package. You arent making sense.

Unless the "package" was a DSLR package, it isnt that great of a savings to shoot digital over say, S16MM? Unless, like I said, you "know a guy" who owns a rental house and is going to free ride you which most of us dont (at least I don't.)

If you disagree with this, put up some financial figures to back it up. Otherwise, don't accuse me of insulting you when you make producers out to be stingy and that would make you the lowest bidder (aka bottom feeder.)
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#29 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 03 September 2011 - 03:09 PM

Oh, and as Mr. Borowski pointed out, 35mm short ends can be had as cheaply as .10/ft (Actually, on my last short, I was going to shoot 35mm because my DP found a guy who had Fuji short ends for .075/ft). So that really makes the case for film.
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#30 David Desio

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Posted 03 September 2011 - 03:23 PM

David, I am not insulting. You said that on some shoots you have a hard time convincing penny pinching producers to even rent HMIs. Now you turn 180 and claim that those same producers pay you a good rate and rent a nice digital package. You arent making sense.

Unless the "package" was a DSLR package, it isnt that great of a savings to shoot digital over say, S16MM? Unless, like I said, you "know a guy" who owns a rental house and is going to free ride you which most of us dont (at least I don't.)

If you disagree with this, put up some financial figures to back it up. Otherwise, don't accuse me of insulting you when you make producers out to be stingy and that would make you the lowest bidder (aka bottom feeder.)


By calling me a bottom feeder you are insulting me. Yes, those penny-pinching producers were the SAME ones who paid a nice day rate for the department heads. They also wanted us to get them the best possible image for the lowest cost. I.E. they wanted to know why we needed a light that was so expensive when we could get tungsten units for less, or why the 1st couldn't do the job of both a 1st and 2nd. Producers HAVE to be stingy, it's their job to keep the budget in check and save where they can, isn't it?

By your response you seem to only take the big jobs that come your way...great. Glad you have progressed but for some of us working stiff who need to pay bills, our bill collectors don't care where the money comes from as long as the check clears. I have worked on projects that i'm proud of and ones that were merely a paycheck and a way to get my name out there. There's a difference between being a bottom feeder as you say, and someone who is trying to advance their career. We ALL start somewhere unless we are blessed to have such immaculate talent that we can jump right in to the big budget world.

Sorry if this sounds harsh but man, being presumptuous about someone you've never met irks me.

As for the film vs. digital cost, i'm not arguing your point at all...see my original post.
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#31 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 03 September 2011 - 04:44 PM

Im not being presumptous about anything. You were saying that some of the producers you work with are penny pinchers. Okay, fair enough. Now you say they care about getting "the best possible image at the lowest cost." That was my point all along. You still have yet to say what type of camera package said producers were in favor of. If it was an Alexa, RED, Viper, etc then it is highly unlikely that the producer was able to procure said packages for less than basic 35 package with short ends or a higher end S16 package with stock.

And it wasnt insulting to call you a bottom feeder. Maybe you arent but I dont know how else to take it if you are working with such a tight producer who cannot even see the merits decent lighting, how is such a producer going to care about the quality of your work vs some student or amateur who will underbid you? That's why it seemed plausible to think that you were the lowest bidder, or at least among the lowest bidders but the highest quality. Call me crazy but a producer who doesnt value lighting probably wont value experience much either.
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#32 Martin Hong

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Posted 03 September 2011 - 05:34 PM

No idea if anyone has posted this before.. But if you haven't seen it, check it out

http://www.zacuto.co...a-shootout-2011

Film was involved too in this test.. If i recall correctly.. Shot with Kodak Film stocks on ArriFlex.

The idea of the whole series was to show you the behavior of each available digital camera.

http://www.zacuto.co...a-shootout-2011
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#33 David Desio

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 11:59 AM

Im not being presumptous about anything. You were saying that some of the producers you work with are penny pinchers. Okay, fair enough. Now you say they care about getting "the best possible image at the lowest cost." That was my point all along. You still have yet to say what type of camera package said producers were in favor of. If it was an Alexa, RED, Viper, etc then it is highly unlikely that the producer was able to procure said packages for less than basic 35 package with short ends or a higher end S16 package with stock.

And it wasnt insulting to call you a bottom feeder. Maybe you arent but I dont know how else to take it if you are working with such a tight producer who cannot even see the merits decent lighting, how is such a producer going to care about the quality of your work vs some student or amateur who will underbid you? That's why it seemed plausible to think that you were the lowest bidder, or at least among the lowest bidders but the highest quality. Call me crazy but a producer who doesnt value lighting probably wont value experience much either.



Ok, to clear things up, these producers went back and forth depending on the project, between a varicam and a RED package. They are professional, but they do not like to cut into their profit margin. These are commercial guys I'm talking about. These guys DO in fact value experience and pay for it, for the most part. Yes, they couldn't afford a $1200/day DP but that doesn't mean I'm underbidding those guys. They are on a different level and not even competing for the same jobs. Also, though the camera package and stock may be about the same for film and digital, the post part of it would still be more expensive. See these guys, and a lot of people that I have worked with who originate on digital formats (in the commercial world) have access to basic editing suites at the very least and can ingest the footage, make an EDL, and even do a rough cut before sending it to an editor if that is even part of the workflow. Some do the post themselves, then build that into the price they charge the client.

Trust me, I'd rather not work for low-budget producers but I also don't see any offers for bigger shows coming my way at this point and I need to eat and build up a name for myself. I don't know of any other way than starting at the bottom.
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#34 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 04:16 AM

At the high end the cameras are cost competitive with film but the stock is enormously cheaper.
P

Not trying to be disagreeable Phil, but...
I've worked on films (shooting 35mm film) where the cameras were literally free. Accessories weren't, and lenses weren't in some cases, but the actual camera bodies were. When you consider what Alexas or Epics or even Reds are renting for, this is a significant savings. Probably somewhere between $2000 and $5000 a week minimum for a two camera show. That's a very rough estimate I know, but even $2000/week adds up fast. One of these films was 2 perf and while I don't know the exact budget comparisons the producers did, I do know that being able to shoot 2 perf and get the cameras for free was the exact incentive the producers needed to be convinced to shoot film instead of digital. That's a pretty great option in my opinion!
BTW, one of the shows with the free cameras carried 5 camera bodies (four 3 perf and one 4 perf). The other two free camera shows both carried two bodies. There are rental houses willing to make these deals on film cameras, and people should be aware of that. Rental houses want to keep their film cameras working.
Of course, this is in Los Angeles, and it's certainly different in different markets and parts of the world.
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#35 Robert Lewis

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 04:17 AM

How can this even be an argument?


I am not arguing any point, nor am I making any assertions.

Read my posting again. You will see that I am merely pose a number of questions to which, I would have thought, there might reasonably have been expected some convincing answers.

What I will assert is that the quality of film as opposed to digital imagery is entirely subjective. There is no definitive answer to the question of which is the "better".

That then leaves only non-qualitative issues to be considered, such as cost. That issue, in turn depends on what cost elements are taken into account.
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#36 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 05:44 AM

What I will assert is that the quality of film as opposed to digital imagery is entirely subjective. There is no definitive answer to the question of which is the "better".


Okay then Robert, if you had the choice and the budget was identical to shoot a RED or 35mm...which would you choose?

The defense rests...
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#37 Robert Lewis

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 06:59 AM

Okay then Robert, if you had the choice and the budget was identical to shoot a RED or 35mm...which would you choose?

The defense rests...


Matthew ... you seem to have forgotten ... I ask the questions! I do not provide the answers.

That having been said, I would expect any cost benefit analysis to deal with all aspects of cost and not least, labour, equipment, processing and the long term security of imagery.

By the way ... the defence is not able to "rest" without first having presented a case. LOL
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#38 Chris Millar

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 06:04 PM

Nigel,


You're from NZ ?

At least in Wellington ?

Aside from the Park Rd Post and Weta - those safety googles look very familiar ;)
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#39 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 09:08 PM

By the way ... the defence is not able to "rest" without first having presented a case. LOL


My "case" was the point that I have yet to meet someone (who isnt on a Jarred Land hosted website, that is) who would choose to shoot RED or any other digital cinema camera over 35mm if they had the choice. And you failed to answer the question of which you would choose if it were up to you so it seemed as though 35mm would be your choice as well. B)
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#40 Robert Lewis

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 02:51 AM

My "case" was the point that I have yet to meet someone (who isnt on a Jarred Land hosted website, that is) who would choose to shoot RED or any other digital cinema camera over 35mm if they had the choice. And you failed to answer the question of which you would choose if it were up to you so it seemed as though 35mm would be your choice as well. B)


I can accept that for "instant" requirement such as news gathering, digital imagery has a place and indeed has marked advantages over film, but I am far from convinced that that it is as "low cost" as some would have us believe. Unlike with film imagery, the constant changes in format and with them the need to use the latest technology, as the latest camera systems are introduced, in order to be with the "in crowd" just never seems to be reflected upon by those who advocate digital as the lower cost approach. As for the long term security of the imagery, it is interesting to note that that also never seems to be costed in by those who advocate digital, and yet the industry standard seems to be based on the long term recording of the digital image in the form of black and white film, which seems, at least to me, to be something of an acceptance that all is not so well in the digital world, and certainly not so low cost from the material, processing or space perspectives.

As for digital in the "film world" - that is to say the world of the cinema - it fascinates me that those who advocate the digital form seem constantly to seek the "quality of film"...which, interestingly, is how this thread opened. However I cannot think of one occasion when the cinema going public has been consulted on whether they wanted digital projection as opposed to film projection with the increased costs of admission which seem to be a concomitant of digital projection.

The perception of "quality", however, is highly subjective. What pleases one does not necessarily please another, which is why, in an earlier posting, I posed the question why this could not simply be respected. Choice is so important, it seems to me. It tends to lead to "quality" decisions.
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