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The state of the 16mm workflow


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 12:36 AM

Hi All,

I'm in pre-pro on a documentary project, which I intend to shoot on 16mm black and white. While I have no illusions of finishing to a film print, I'm stil debating my workflow, and could use your advice.

First there is the issue of roughcutting. Do I get my dailies in HD, and essentialy do an online edit?

Or would it behoove me to follow a more traditional pathway, getting an SD wtih keycode, doing an "offline," and then getting only the takes I used transferred in HD...or at this stage in the game do I need to be thinking about 2K or 4K?

And while I don't plan to finish to a film print, does it still make sense to get my negative cut and conformed to the working edit?

Or am I perhaps missing something important, and should consider other, alternatives?

Thanks!

BR
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#2 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 01:24 AM

Brian, it depends on your end goal. I'm planning to shoot a feature on 16 and I want to do a self-distributed limited theatric release in art house theatres so I need to consider a film print. If you are going for a route like that, you may want to save by getting cheap one lights and making note of the timecode of the footage you wish to keep. Make your audio track based off this and then make your answer print from that. At least that's what Im going to try. I know it sounds risky but at least it will allow a true optical finish with no DI.

edit: Oops, I forgot to mention the interpositive. Looks like those are a bit pricey. Are you going to blow up? There goes another layer of cost.

Minimum though I think is:

Dailies for timecode
Answer Print
Interpositive
Dupe Neg
Release print

Although, if you want to risk it (original neg, that is), I believe you can just do an Answer Print with sound and use that as a release print. Dont know how it will look?
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#3 Mark Dunn

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:04 AM

You could cut out the IP if you only need a few prints. The forst answer print grade should be good enough to show- after all students can't usually afford a second, which ought to be for small adjustments or personal preferences only, barring mistakes in the first.

Edited by Mark Dunn, 06 January 2013 - 07:07 AM.

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#4 Thomas Aschenbach

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 09:46 AM

For the transfer it depends on whether you intend to shoot super 16 or regular. If super 16 then go with the HD transfer. If regular 16mm go 2K. 2K does not add much to super 16mm even if the file is 1.66 native to match the film, all your getting is 2048 x 1234 rather than 1920 x 1080. Since you are shooting B&W you do not need RGB files as 66% of the data will be redundant. Uncompressed 4:2:2 files will allow you the same 10 bit luminance info with less wasted data and easier data transfer requirements for computer playback.
Negative cutters for 16mm A&B rolls are hard to find and pretty expensive these days. You would need keycode to avoid problems and headaches. As said above, no fine grain and dupe neg would need to be made as you can print directly from your A&B rolls.
I am all in favor of finishing on film, especially with black & white. DI is a good option. 2K transfer of the negatives allows you to edit and do titling and other effects. You can then have a 16mm film out of the final show. If you do this make sure the negatives and prints are made on B&W stock. We have used this workflow with our clients and the results are great. We have some clients who still have A&Bs cut from 16mm, but most will still require some digital film recording for title composites and credits.
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#5 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 08:50 PM

I think it probably depends on your shooting ratio, if you plan to shoot allot of film you might want to go for a cheaper Pro-Res edit workflow and then make the decision to either neg cut and print or to do a 2k/3K scan of the final selects for Di assembly.

I would not bother to think about a SD workflow at this point, a HD or better transfer for editorial with be a 23.98 or 24.00 FPS transfer that you can make a neg cut list from or a scan EDL.

Like others have said it depends on what your final output will be, and if it is S-16mm, Standard-16mm, Ultra-16mm or some combination.

_Rob-
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#6 Brian Rose

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 12:42 AM

To answer everyone's questions, I'm shooting R16...at this point I'd love for a 1.33 full frame release, but I'll be keeping a 16x9 frame in mind if I need to compromise.

I highly doubt it will ever be finished to film. I guess 'm thinking more along the lines of archival preservation...does it behoove me to get the negative conformed...it would seem that 's more practical from a storage point of view, to have a conformed neg to archive, rather than all the cans of unused footage as well.

With that said, I'm aspiring to a rather low shooting ratio. This is an old school shoot, favoring pre-interview techniques and heavy preplanning. I imagine having as much of the film laid out structurally, so there is very little guesswork in terms of b-roll, and I can really tailor my interview questioning. In this manner, I hope to keep my shooting ratio below 10:1.

BR
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#7 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 12:48 AM

..... This is an old school shoot, favoring pre-interview techniques and heavy preplanning. I imagine having as much of the film laid out structurally, so there is very little guesswork in terms of b-roll, and I can really tailor my interview questioning. In this manner, I hope to keep my shooting ratio below 10:1.


What's the subject and quick background on your documentary?
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#8 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 03:44 AM

With that said, I'm aspiring to a rather low shooting ratio. This is an old school shoot, favoring pre-interview techniques and heavy preplanning. I imagine having as much of the film laid out structurally, so there is very little guesswork in terms of b-roll, and I can really tailor my interview questioning. In this manner, I hope to keep my shooting ratio below 10:1.


I've never done that type of work, only narrative, but less than 10:1 is quite common and shouldnt be a problem if you are realistic going into it. Some people talk as though 10:1 is an absolute minimum but that's not true at all. Of course, if you're a DP and you are working with a low budget Director who is never satisfied or doesn't understand about ratios, then you might run into trouble. Limit your coverage and you should be fine.
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#9 Brian Rose

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 09:46 AM

I'd LOVE to be around 4 or 5 to one, in an ideal world. But 10 to 1 to me seems pretty nice as well, coming from a world we're I've edited docs with a 25 or 50 or even 100 to 1 shooting ratio (which is just insane)
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#10 Brian Rose

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 12:11 PM

I would not bother to think about a SD workflow at this point, a HD or better transfer for editorial with be a 23.98 or 24.00 FPS transfer that you can make a neg cut list from or a scan EDL.

_Rob-


Rob, i'll be shooting native R16, and while I would like to preserve that AS, I'm prepared to frame and crop for 16x9, since ya gotta make some compromises to get aired and screened, no? And I rather want a healthy strong grain structure, so cropping and blowing up a tad certainly won't hurt in THAT regard.

Rob if I may ask, how would one be able to effectively create an EDL based on an HD version? Perhaps things have changed, but I was under the impression that keycode was for SD dailies. Is that no longer the case, or how else would I create an effective EDL for the scanner or neg cutter?

BR
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#11 Brian Rose

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 12:15 PM

What's the subject and quick background on your documentary?


It is a non-fiction mystery film, about a student from my city (Kansas City, MO), who disappeared without a trace while on a schol related trip to Chicago, and how the investigation has been stalled by the overwhelmed and disinterested Chicago PD, as well as the university which sponsored the trip.
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#12 Kevith Mitchell

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 12:05 AM

Brian, I'm in post with a R16 feature.  What I've learned is that you should get your transfer to PRO-RES files.  If you plan to make a print and want even more saturated colors , then also get QUAD files.  They will do a conform from the edited Pro-res and make a 35mm print.

 

It is very expensive to make a print, but if you must remember, you can't archive digital.  

 

If you do this, there is no need to see a negative cutter. 


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