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90 min. 35mm film


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#1 Joseph Konrad

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 03:40 PM

Hello everyone,

I am posting here because I know there are some very experienced professionals who could help me find out the feasibility of what I am planning to do. I am moving to Chicago shortly and within a year I will be moving into a place with offices (one can be an editing room), an equipment room and a soundstage.

I would move to LA, but the workflow I am using is completely different and I think Chicago will do just as well.

The goal: Do a 90 minute low-budget film circa the 1970s.

-35mm film.
-My script
-Storyboarded so as not to waste film.
-Nagra 4.2, dozens of spools of 1/4" tape, and old Sennheiser directionals for capture on location.
-Arc lights- no HMI's.
-Using 100 speed film, max (although we can treat it as higher of course)
-Developing it at a good lab that can do "pushing" and tinting and etc.
-Cutting it on a Moviola or Steinbeck (I saw one on ebay recently for under $5000).
-Writing and copying the score by hand (I am a professional composer)
-Getting strings, piano, horns, drums into the soundstage. Neumann and Telefunken tube condenser microphones, 35mm magnetic film recorders, etc. (this is where costs start skyrocketing, even though this is "old" equipment nobody really uses anymore).


How much does this cost provided that this is an "easy", low-budget script, I am the cinematographer (I have much more studying to do), we use up-and-coming non-union actors, and we use non-union musicians? Are there any ways to cut down on costs while still using this workflow? Learning this equipment and producing a complete 90-minute movie this is way is by far the most exciting thing I can think of but I want to avoid all the pitfalls before I begin in earnest.

Thanks!
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 03:48 PM

Arc lights don't sound like a low budget option.
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#3 Joseph Konrad

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 03:48 PM

-35mm film. Preferably a bunch of unused, unexposed Kodak 5254 stock laying around. Realizing this is probably impossible, looking for the next best thing.
-Possible to somehow motorize a high-end 35mm still camera and remove the back so I don't have to pay Panavision? (need to run it past my engineering friends...might be a crazy idea).

Arc lights don't sound like a low budget option.

OK. Is that for buying them, operating them, renting them? Thanks

Edited by Joseph Konrad, 17 October 2012 - 03:50 PM.

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#4 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 04:59 PM

Arc lights don't sound like a low budget option.


And neither does the Steenbeck. I got mine for $1200 and that included delivery. $5000 is way too steep. If you can't find one for a cheaper price, rent one.
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#5 Joseph Konrad

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 05:09 PM

And neither does the Steenbeck. I got mine for $1200 and that included delivery.


Very good to know, thanks.
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#6 Joseph Konrad

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 05:17 PM

The reason I am using all of this old equipment is the same rationale as the experienced music production professionals on another forum when they talk about trying to imitate the 1960s, 70s, and 80s "sound" using digital.

They say, the mikes are different, the capture process is different, the filters are different, the entire mastering process is different. Trying to use digital and complaining about not getting that "sound" is the same as cooking a roast made out of tofu and being disappointed it doesn't taste like red meat. You can put all of the right spices on top, but the sound is going to be fundamentally different.
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 05:17 PM

Pretty much everything you're doing is designed to make your life more difficult than it need be.

Arcs are hard to source, hard to run, and eat up power-- so you're going to need gennys to run them. You can't just plug them into a wall outlet. using 100 speed film will also be hurting you-- primarily as there is no 100 speed film anymore. You'd be much better off getting ends and re-cans of 35mm film from other projects. And using 500T film when applicable.
Sure you can edit off of a work-print but you'll be spending money again you don't need to when you could move it all to the digital realm and cut it on damned windows movie maker, or FCP-X for far less than the price of a work-print and a Steinbeck.
I also honestly just don't see the point. This isn't going to really be a workflow you'll be dealing with in any later date-- so all the setup, equipment procurement ect is just pissing money away unless you're planning on always cutting off of a work-print and recording to 1/4" tape ect.

I honestly think it would be better to work with the equipment you'll likely be dealing with later on in your career. Not to say that you shouldn't shoot 35mm, of course you should if the story fits. But to purposefully go about making your job harder just seems like hubris to me and a very quick way to spend a lot of money and time on something that could've been done not only faster, but quicker, and to a level of quality on par if not higher.

my 2 cents.

--edit accidentally types 32mm film--

Edited by Adrian Sierkowski, 17 October 2012 - 05:20 PM.

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#8 Joseph Konrad

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 05:30 PM

^^What I may well end up doing as I start out is use 35mm film, but use the HMIs (yes, am aware that carbon arcs require special power), use digital audio capture, use Avid to cut it and other digital methods to put it together.

Then, if I am successful, I sink that money into procuring more and more analog equipment.

The idea would be to always make movies this way (independently). The dream would be to be able to always work with the same crew who were specifically trained in the operation of this equipment. But I want to take one step at a time. From what it sounds like, getting it shot on 35mm film at all would constitute an accomplishment the first time out.

I am shocked that 100 speed film does not exist any longer. Is that true for still film, or just moving? I still HAVE 100 speed still film- maybe I should have bought more of it!

Could Kodak be coerced into producing slower speeds again for certain projects? (like companies that burn a CD-R of a rare title upon request). What other companies produce film and is it conceivable that they could take special orders?

Edited by Joseph Konrad, 17 October 2012 - 05:30 PM.

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#9 Christopher Sheneman

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 05:37 PM

Pretty much everything you're doing is designed to make your life more difficult than it need be.

Oh snap! Bam! Hahaha- BAM! Oh no he didn't- oh yes he did! Wha- BAM!
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#10 Indiefilmstock

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 06:23 PM

Hi Joseph,

I can only speak to using 100T film, but it is around. Kodak discontinued their 5212 stock which was the last 100T they produced.

However, we buy back film stock and still have some. Most independent features want a faster film. So, when we bought back this film from commericials, it did not move very quickly (probably another reason Kodak got rid of it).

While we do not have 100,000', we have about 15,000'. But, I've got other sources who might have some (which I had previously declined to buy because the stock I had was not moving). Also, there may be some ends and recans available. Despite the age of the film, 100T has a very long shelf life.

Another option might be Fuji 125T. Unpopular for independent features for the same reason as the 5212, we could look into that for you. Fuji was used in many films to get a period look so this might work if we can find.

Or, you could compromise a bit and use a 200T in addition to the 100T. That would definitely expand what is available.

Richard Kaufman
Comtel Pro Media
www.comtelpm.com
richard@comtelpm.com
Tel: 818-450-1122
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#11 Pat Murray

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 10:25 AM

Pretty much everything you're doing is designed to make your life more difficult than it need be.

Arcs are hard to source, hard to run, and eat up power-- so you're going to need gennys to run them. You can't just plug them into a wall outlet. using 100 speed film will also be hurting you-- primarily as there is no 100 speed film anymore. You'd be much better off getting ends and re-cans of 35mm film from other projects. And using 500T film when applicable.
Sure you can edit off of a work-print but you'll be spending money again you don't need to when you could move it all to the digital realm and cut it on damned windows movie maker, or FCP-X for far less than the price of a work-print and a Steinbeck.
I also honestly just don't see the point. This isn't going to really be a workflow you'll be dealing with in any later date-- so all the setup, equipment procurement ect is just pissing money away unless you're planning on always cutting off of a work-print and recording to 1/4" tape ect.

I honestly think it would be better to work with the equipment you'll likely be dealing with later on in your career. Not to say that you shouldn't shoot 35mm, of course you should if the story fits. But to purposefully go about making your job harder just seems like hubris to me and a very quick way to spend a lot of money and time on something that could've been done not only faster, but quicker, and to a level of quality on par if not higher.

my 2 cents.

--edit accidentally types 32mm film--


Everything here is fair comment and needs to be said in a thread like this, but there's one factor you didn't consider and I don't think it has anything to do with Hubris. It's the artistic factor. I sometimes process my own film, edit on Steenbecks, as well as make my own workprints on a modified Steenbeck and there's just something about the hands on experience of analog workflow that fires up the artistic fires within me. Granted, the OP is willing to go way further than me and if I were to shoot a feature, shooting on film and using analog synths for the soundtrack is about as far as I'd be willing to go for the reasons you suggested. The money to invest in the old equipment plus time required to learn how to use it at a professional level.

Although collecting over time and spreading the use of the equipment over several projects, not all at once, might not be a bad idea.

Either way, I get it. Good luck to you.
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#12 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 10:40 AM

I agree with you on that Pat. I perhaps didn't qualify it enough in my response, but something such as this only really makes sense to me if you plan on carrying it over to future projects. But doing it just for the sake of doing it, I don't think, really is a valid reason. That's opinion of course, but-- for me-- I don't see the difference between making a straight cut on an NLE and making it on a Steenbeck-- and used to in College. But that's just me.
I also think that people get so stuck in their "period" idea that in order to make a period film look period they need to use stuff from that period-- that's a lot of periods, period! But in truth, I think you can approach such things with the modern helps we have and still arrive at the appropriate look you're after, so in that regards I don't see the point of making one's life much harder than it need be. Films are already hard enough to make even when you are blessed with the latest and greatest of everything-- crews included of course.

Again, take or leave the 2 cents. And no matter what I hope the OP and whomever else reads does what they think is best. I only offer to be a voice of dissent to cause consideration.
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#13 Freya Black

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 07:53 AM

The goal: Do a 90 minute low-budget film circa the 1970s.

-35mm film.
-My script
-Storyboarded so as not to waste film.
-Nagra 4.2, dozens of spools of 1/4" tape, and old Sennheiser directionals for capture on location.
-Arc lights- no HMI's.
-Using 100 speed film, max (although we can treat it as higher of course)
-Developing it at a good lab that can do "pushing" and tinting and etc.
-Cutting it on a Moviola or Steinbeck (I saw one on ebay recently for under $5000).
-Writing and copying the score by hand (I am a professional composer)
-Getting strings, piano, horns, drums into the soundstage. Neumann and Telefunken tube condenser microphones, 35mm magnetic film recorders, etc. (this is where costs start skyrocketing, even though this is "old" equipment nobody really uses anymore).

Thanks!


Not sure where to start with this thread.

To Arc lights, I'm not sure how common they were even by the 70's. Could be wrong but I suspect that at least by the late 70's there must have been alternatives. I don't have a clear idea on the history of that.

100T film. If you can get hold of some it will probably look amazing. HOWEVER, it won't look like film from the 70's just because it is the same speed. Technology moves on and it will probably be much lower grained film. I think that faster film from now, will look closer to 100T from the 70's.

You havn't thought about what lenses you are going to use and I can tell you now, that vintage lenses are presently being much fought over so that people can mount them on expensive digital cameras. I find it ironic that you havn't considered lenses as they can have a big effect on the look.

Of the stuff you mentioned. The thing that seems most do-able is the nagra. I think nagra recorders are still sometimes used even now, they are very nice. Vintage microphones all seems good there too!

I would avoid mag stock tho personally. It's one of those things that adds a big headache to your workflow.

If I were you I would identify which things are easy and which are more difficult for you and start with the easier stuff. You can certainly shoot on film. You can certainly use vintage microphones. You can certainly use vintage lenses. Lighting is more difficult perhaps but you could use tungsten lighting without getting into the world of Arc lighting. You can use faster modern film to make it a bit more grainy. You can do a lot of things.

Also it depends on what you are trying to achieve. There were a lot of films made in the 70's and they don't all look the same and over that 10 year period there were lots of technological changes too!

love

Freya
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#14 Joseph Konrad

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 08:43 AM

Thank you for that info Mr. Kaufman. It is great to know that there is still a source to obtain older film stock from. I do know they have a long shelf-life- I don't know how long, but 100T couldn't have been stopped too many years ago. I still can't believe they would do away with 100 and slower speeds. I have used 100-speed still film since I was 9 years old; it looks beautiful.
------------------------------------------
Everything here is fair comment and needs to be said in a thread like this, but there's one factor you didn't consider and I don't think it has anything to do with Hubris. It's the artistic factor. I sometimes process my own film, edit on Steenbecks, as well as make my own workprints on a modified Steenbeck and there's just something about the hands on experience of analog workflow that fires up the artistic fires within me. Granted, the OP is willing to go way further than me and if I were to shoot a feature, shooting on film and using analog synths for the soundtrack is about as far as I'd be willing to go for the reasons you suggested. The money to invest in the old equipment plus time required to learn how to use it at a professional level.

Although collecting over time and spreading the use of the equipment over several projects, not all at once, might not be a bad idea.

Either way, I get it. Good luck to you.


Thanks for your encouragement. I do plan to add equipment gradually so there isn't an impossible learning curve. At first I will likely just shoot on film and then use Avid to cut it- the final result, of course, will look like it did coming out of the lab (will not be computer processed) but the cuts will be made using computer.
----------------------
I also think that people get so stuck in their "period" idea that in order to make a period film look period they need to use stuff from that period-- that's a lot of periods, period! But in truth, I think you can approach such things with the modern helps we have and still arrive at the appropriate look you're after, so in that regards I don't see the point of making one's life much harder than it need be. Films are already hard enough to make even when you are blessed with the latest and greatest of everything-- crews included of course.

No, I definitely see where you are coming from. Why make things deliberately more difficult when you can try and achieve the same thing with a lot less headaches. The thing is that I don't consider this a period look- I think that movies done this way were objectively better. That goes for camera movement, shot composition, lighting style, the crispness of the dialogue, the actors that were used (part of why I want to operate away from LA). It doesn't seem period to me- it seems much more hard hitting and real than what I see today. That's just my opinion of course. I think a movie shot with last century's sensibilities can be just as relevant today. People my age just won't be as used to it.

I watched way too much 1970s TV growing up:







To Arc lights, I'm not sure how common they were even by the 70's. Could be wrong but I suspect that at least by the late 70's there must have been alternatives. I don't have a clear idea on the history of that.


100T film. If you can get hold of some it will probably look amazing. HOWEVER, it won't look like film from the 70's just because it is the same speed. Technology moves on and it will probably be much lower grained film. I think that faster film from now, will look closer to 100T from the 70's.

That's a good point that modern 100T would not look the same as 100 from the 70s. However, I do think that shooting 100 and then pushing it a few stops in the lab could bring out a lot of that grain but would also react much better to that hard-light, carbon arc lighting style than would a much faster film.

You havn't thought about what lenses you are going to use and I can tell you now, that vintage lenses are presently being much fought over so that people can mount them on expensive digital cameras. I find it ironic that you havn't considered lenses as they can have a big effect on the look.

Lenses actually are on my equipment list-I just neglected to include in my post. It is a very good point, though; lenses have an enormous impact.


Also it depends on what you are trying to achieve. There were a lot of films made in the 70's and they don't all look the same and over that 10 year period there were lots of technological changes too!

True- I am not trying to pinpoint a specific year so much as wanting to set up all of the equipment and tools that I believe go into making a textured, quality movie- and then spring off from there and experiment to get a striking result fitting the needs of the scene, the movie, etc. In other words I would rather sink the creative effort into the movie and have a certain look and texture that is guaranteed rather than trying to emulate something from the past with modern technology, which is a futile exercise anyway. I don't want to create a museum (although it may seem that way!), but a creative working environment.


If I were you I would identify which things are easy and which are more difficult for you and start with the easier stuff.

Great idea. This is my plan for the first movie.

Technical goals: Use 35mm format (maybe 2-perf) and analog audio recording on-set with correct mikes.

-35mm film.
-Nagra 4.2, dozens of spools of 1/4" tape, and old Sennheiser directionals for capture on location.
-Fast, "normal" film stock.
-HMIs.
-Whatever lenses are readily available.
-Avid Digital Intermediate, but just for purposes of CUTTING the film- do not digitize and manipulate colors. 
-Copy the ¼” on-set tape onto digital and synch in the digital realm. 
-Record the soundtrack with a small jazz chamber group.  Record however is easiest.
-ADR- Nagra, then copy to digital. 
-Final mix- digital. 
-Final cut is 35mm images exactly as they came from the lab, but have been edited together using a computer.  The final audio track has been assembled completely in the digital realm and has now been copied onto the 35mm optical track.  The movie is finished. 

Thanks again for all of this great advice!

Edited by Joseph Konrad, 19 October 2012 - 08:44 AM.

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#15 Joseph Konrad

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 08:56 AM

I remember reading something in this forum a while back about hard light, and the person said that when he saw hard light being used in modern movies (which wasn't that often), it looked hokey and out of place. I think that is not just because audiences are used to the other lighting style, but the fact that the film being used and the lenses being used do not necessarily react in as pleasing a way.
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#16 Simon Wyss

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 09:44 AM

http://motion.kodak....iles/circus.pdf

Carlo is my friend. He had a hard time with the lab he chose. The relation with your lab is important. Everything else can be bought but not a lab’s staff’s engagement.
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#17 Chris Burke

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 10:07 AM

have you readthis thread? Perhaps it is possible to get the stock you want, although today's 500T would be a stronger choice.
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#18 Freya Black

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 12:37 PM

Technical goals: Use 35mm format (maybe 2-perf) and analog audio recording on-set with correct mikes.


I think that 2perf is a really interesting idea. Many great movies were shot in 2perf techniscope. THX-1138, The Good The Bad and The Ugly etc etc.

Might give you a closer look to what you are going for in a way and of course be more economical. Cameras can be more of a problem tho. The eclair CM3 was the cheapest to convert. It's MOS tho. The Kinors are the cheaper option for sync 2perf. Konvas is not a good option for 2 perf conversion. ArriIIB maybe? dunno about the Arri stuff.

love

Freya
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#19 John Holland

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 01:25 PM

And some really good films shot in 2 perf in the last couple of years . On Fuji !!! Oh dear so sad .
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#20 Hal Smith

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 08:51 AM

I would advise seriously looking at how the Hollywood pros are using 35mm. Most of them that are still shooting 35mm do all of their editing in digital/video systems, they have their negative transferred to a digital medium, then put the negative away until they've locked their edit. With 35mm projectors increasingly disappearing from cinemas in much of the world, there are going to be "films" in release that never had a 35mm release print struck.
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