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Think I'm gonna do my nex doc in film...


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 11:19 AM

So this new spate of digital cameras being announced about has me throwing my hands in the air. Every time I think I've found the one to save up for, they bring something new out, and I just don't know. The prices are getting cheaper, but not by much. Can't spend 10-15K on the Scarlett, certainly not 20K on the Canon, and all when they'll be rendered obsolete.

Up to now I've done fine renting, and I may keep on doing that. And for my next doc feature, you know what? I think I'm gonna shoot on film. I've got the gear, and that stuff doesn't go out of date. Just gotta buy the film stock. And dammit, at least my stuff will look different than all the uniformly slick HD being churned out by so many people who don't know what they're doing, who are just throwing their money around buy cams like they're sportscars, always keeping up with the Joneses. I'd like to see them shoot a pic on film.

I think I wanna do that. Wanna be different, and go against the trends. Not to mention, I might not have another chance to shoot something important to me in film, before I have no choice but to get on the HD bandwagon for good.

BR
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#2 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 01:04 PM

If it really is important to you then you will likely be happy you shot on film. Spend your time finding a lab to work with. Some are ridiculous with their prices and don't understand what's happening in today's market. Some do and will make realistic deals.

Don't get pricing until you are really ready to roll.
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#3 Brian Rose

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 01:29 PM

If it really is important to you then you will likely be happy you shot on film. Spend your time finding a lab to work with. Some are ridiculous with their prices and don't understand what's happening in today's market. Some do and will make realistic deals.

Don't get pricing until you are really ready to roll.


Lucky there too that I've got a great lab in Cinelab. They've been real champs, even giving me breaks on prices for spec work.

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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 07:04 PM

I'd also back CineLab. They handled Lab work for a shot for me and transfer and it was quite acceptable.
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#5 Marcus Joseph

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 09:57 PM

That's the right kind of attitude, I'd love to shoot on film again, in fact it could possibly turn out quite cheap if played my cards right, rentals are about the same as a Red camera for some 35mm cams down here. It's just film stock and processing that's the big bucks, plus how do you treat the processing? Most people probably do a one light telecine and then finish on that. I dunno if it'd be worth the hassle to go through all that and then finish that way cause of cost.

But I have this short project I'm hoping to pull off that I think I need digital cause there's too much running on the line with long takes that I just can't afford to go wrong. And that luxury to keep on shooting is quite essential, but it makes me feel completely amateur thinking about something like Children of Men and how gutsy they had with their extended takes, but then again they had millions of dollars behind them.

So unless I have millions of dollars behind me, I'll stick to cheap and fast methods, rather than gutsy and meticulous. But at the end of the day, I may not get millions of dollars behind me with that attitude. So I applaud your attitude to go the harder route for the cost of artistic merit.
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#6 Freya Black

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 08:27 AM

So this new spate of digital cameras being announced about has me throwing my hands in the air. Every time I think I've found the one to save up for, they bring something new out, and I just don't know. The prices are getting cheaper, but not by much. Can't spend 10-15K on the Scarlett, certainly not 20K on the Canon, and all when they'll be rendered obsolete.


Some things to think about here. Are the older cams really obsolete? I mean they still make the same pictures they did back at the time? Surely if the pictures were good enough then, they are still good enough now? Yes the newer cameras have higher and higher pixel resolution, but will your audience know or care how many pixels you used? Surely they will be more concerned with the content of your film or how beautiful it looks?

If the answer to the question is "no the pictures are not good enough now!", then really if we are honest we have to accept that they weren't really good enough earlier too, and if thats the case then you have to ask yourself are todays hyped cameras really good enough either?!!

Up to now I've done fine renting, and I may keep on doing that. And for my next doc feature, you know what? I think I'm gonna shoot on film. I've got the gear, and that stuff doesn't go out of date. Just gotta buy the film stock. And dammit, at least my stuff will look different than all the uniformly slick HD being churned out by so many people who don't know what they're doing, who are just throwing their money around buy cams like they're sportscars, always keeping up with the Joneses. I'd like to see them shoot a pic on film.


I would disagree that alot of that HD stuff looks slick, I've been quite shocked by the extreme poor quality of much of it. Anyway, that aside, the big argument against shooting docs on film, is that docs often have a higher shooting ratio, because of rolling the camera to catch whatever might happen. That's conventional wisdom, but I'm not sure it's always true. I think it depends on the kind of documentary you are making. I think a bigger issue might be the shooting time on mags. Shooting on 16, you are usually limited to a maximum of 11 minutes. That might not be so much even for a sit down interview. You can get 1200 ft mags for older cameras like the CP16 which takes you to 33 minutes but Kodak only offer a maximum of 800ft loads and while you can splice reels together in the dark room it's a world of hastle. If you have the capability to shoot 12fps with crystal sync, thats a possibility, otherwise you need to have a few mags ready to go and do quick changes. It's do-able tho.

However I would encourage you to use a cheaper video camera for b-cam, (something for backup) and also to consider in your future productions that documentaries usually allow mixed format shooting, so if the day comes where you feel it's more practical to shoot a bunch of stuff on HD, then don't forget, you can still capture more straightforward shots on film, you just need to think carefully about how it will work in the edit.

I would also encourage you to check out this film by Robert from cinelab:



Not exactly documentary but certainly documentation of an art performance and you can see from this a way of shooting that could work in certain doc-style situations.

Also, outside of the world of mainstream documentaries and reality tv, there are actually people still shooting doc type stuff on film. Jem Cohen for one, and Robert Fenz has also done some amazing doc-stuff on film.

It all really depends on what kind of doc you are going to be making, but yes, why not shoot it on film? Making a film is a huge effort so why not make it the best you can!

love

Freya
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#7 David Gregg

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 12:05 PM

Some things to think about here. Are the older cams really obsolete? I mean they still make the same pictures they did back at the time? Surely if the pictures were good enough then, they are still good enough now?

Good observation. Technology is one thing and the standards are relatively fixed, but the look and feel of digital images these days is becoming more and more like a good or bad wine vintage. Find a good looking vintage of codec and processing algorithm and it should be great until the wheels fall off (mileage and adjustments may vary)...

www.davidgreggassociates.com
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#8 Jason Reimer

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 02:04 PM

More power to you, Brian! The other day I was editing (or attempting to) some footage from my 5D, and my computer was having all sorts of issues, and I realized then the absurdity of the digital rat race. Not just cameras, but all of it. You can't keep up if you're not replacing stuff every two years, and then there's the whole issue of electronic waste, etc etc. Not that it's THE answer, but I just wanted to chuck it all and shoot something with film, whether it be motion, or medium-format stills, or the 8x10 sheets I'm gonna process tonight. Anyway, make it happen! You'll thank yourself for doing something you enjoy.
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