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Possible to economically shoot on 16mm? What are today's options?

16mm negative cutter cutting 2k scan post workflow

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#1 Matt Stevens

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 03:32 PM

Gentlemen (and ladies), as some of you know I have shot on film and digital. My first short was shot on super16 way back in 2001 and I had a 35 blowup for festivals. 

 

A little trailer I cut in December from an HD scan of our blowup...

http://www.youtube.c...v=tMFRPMHTiZ0#!

 

Over the last three years I have shot a number of shorts, some using DSLRS and some 8mm (a format I love). 

 

Right now I am in talks with some people about a feature film project and while everyone wants to shoot on the RED EPIC, just because the EPIC is cool and easy and cheap (uh, yeah, ok), I want to shoot one of the three acts on film. The story lends itself to this as we need a different look for each act. 

 

I also want to be able to say "we shot on film" not only because it's an interesting talking point, but also because before long I think it won't be possible. 

 

What I need to know is this: What would you advise as the cheapest solution and workflow for shooting on Super 16?

 

35mm is out, naturally, due to cost. I like the look of super 16 and it's easy to find lenses in the NYC area. 

 

Back in 2001 when I shot my first short the negatives were processed, given a one light with time code and we edited in AVID. Then the negative was cut AB style and we bypassed creating a positive (because I was out of money) and made a 35mm print from the AB rolls. (For a feature we clearly would not have been able to skip the positive step)

 

It is now my understanding that traditional negative cutting is almost never used today. ???

 

The people involved with this planned film are almost 100% RED and 5D people and as you can imagine, mostly low low budgeters. Those that have shot on film were not in any way involved with post. 

 

So I go to you for ideas!

 

I hear things like, "It's too expensive to scan all that negative and color correct it."

 

So how about photo chemically, like it used to be done?

 

"No that's too expensive too." 

 

Etc. etc. 

 

Thanks for your help. 


Edited by Matt Stevens, 01 March 2013 - 03:36 PM.

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#2 Heikki Repo

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 04:35 PM

How long is the act? How much footage are you going to have? If it's a feature, I'd say the cheapest option is to have cheap SD onelight telecine done for all of the 16mm footage. Have it transferred with exact timecode. Cut the portion shot on film using this material and then do HD telecine or 2K scan according to the timecode. This way the transfer costs will stay low as you won't be needing the high end machinery and colorist all the time, only for the portions you really need.

 

Forget negative cutting. If you are going to have 35mm print you'll be doing it from digital master files and not optically. And it's also cheaper.


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#3 Dirk DeJonghe

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 02:27 AM

We still do 35mm direct blow-ups. Mainly for existing cut negatives were additional prints are required. Quality is still highest of all flows if you have a good negative.

 

Most S16 we do follow this workflow now:

 

1. Process, telecine with keykodes burnt-in to SD or HD ProRes (best light).

2. Customer edits and gives us EDL plus Quicktime reference with keykodes burnt-in.

3. Depending on shooting ratio, full selected takes are extracted and scanned to 2K DPX Log files.

4. Grading on Baselight.

5. Export to Quicktime HD and/or 2K DCP and/or 35mm recorded negative.

 

Needless to say, DCP prints are much cheaper than 35mm, no optical negative or Dolby license is required, etc...


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#4 Matt Stevens

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 09:13 AM

Heikki, the act in question is likely going to run 30 minutes, give or take a few. I'm hoping for a 3:1 ratio after extensive rehearsals but 4:1 is more realistic. 

 

We can even shoot regular 16mm and either crop of 1.85:1 or leave it 4X3 as cramped spacing for that act could work artistically. 

 

Dirk, you are way on over in Belgium! never been there, but hope to visit one day. 

 

We would be shooting in New York City and Jersey City so it would phenomenal were we to find a place capable of doing all of our post right here in the Big Apple. 


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#5 Heikki Repo

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 12:06 PM

Matt,
 
if you have the chance to buy film now, you could save a lot by buying Fuji stock. Have you seen http://www.filmstockclearance.com/ ? 400ft rolls for only 42 dollars per piece (excl. VAT). For about 500 dollars you could buy the film needed (4:1) if you act now and if it's possible for you to shoot either in daylight or light using HMIs. It won't really get cheaper than this, taking in to account that the film sold is in date and only overstocked.

Edited by Heikki Repo, 02 March 2013 - 12:08 PM.

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#6 Thomas Aschenbach

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 09:40 AM

Not trying to advertise, but I want to give some real numbers for S16mm/16mm digital workflow costs.
Lab Costs
For processing, leader, clean, Best Light HD 4:4:4 scan to hard drive it is $14.40 per minute.
For processing, leader, clean, 2K log DPX scan to hard drive it is $20.80 per minute.
Distribution Master Costs
DCPs are about $10 per minute + dx115 carrier and Hard drive.
Digital Output to 16mm (Pix Neg,Neg OT, 1st Answer print) about $150 per minute.



 


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#7 Chris Burke

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 11:35 AM

Not trying to advertise, but I want to give some real numbers for S16mm/16mm digital workflow costs.
Lab Costs
For processing, leader, clean, Best Light HD 4:4:4 scan to hard drive it is $14.40 per minute.
For processing, leader, clean, 2K log DPX scan to hard drive it is $20.80 per minute.
Distribution Master Costs
DCPs are about $10 per minute + dx115 carrier and Hard drive.
Digital Output to 16mm (Pix Neg,Neg OT, 1st Answer print) about $150 per minute.


 


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#8 Matt Stevens

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 01:10 PM

Chris, I think your reply is missing. 


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#9 Chris Burke

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 01:54 PM

I was on my mobile and it wouldn't accept my response, but.....

 

two grand (rounding up) for the 2k route isn't that bad, maybe you could shop around and find a better deal. Going the HD route may be cheaper, but 2k is probably best for picture quality. I have never used Video and Film solutions or Movielab, but have never heard anything bad about them. The thing is, 3200 feet of film (guessing how much you'll shoot) isn't a whole lot, so discounts won't be that deep. I would get the cheapest burn-in daily I could, probably SD and then scan selects at 2k or above. My first choice would be to get in touch with Cinelab, they could probably meet anyone's price, but for a 3k finish instead of 2k and yes, you do see a difference. Depending when you shoot,  Cinelab's new, fast 2k scanner may be online. I am just speculating based on what Rob has told me, but don't really know what or when with that scanner, but it might be the best bang for your buck. I know you want to stay in NYC, if I were you in this situation, I'd probably do the same.  Going out of town will probably be cheaper, but then you have to factor in shipping, probably about 100 buck total for shipping (there and back, insured). I don't know what labs there are in NYC anymore, but isn't Colorlab related to Video and film solutions? they are local to new york and still operate a lab.


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#10 Chris Burke

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 02:03 PM

I want to also say good for you for intending to do lots of rehearsal. I recently got quite infuriated with a young filmmaker who dismisses rehearsals as unnecessary, stating that he could just keep shooting takes until they got it, "for free" 'cause it was digital. I have given up on trying to teach people to prepare, it's giving me an ulcer.


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#11 Matt Stevens

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 04:30 PM

Thank, Chris. Rehearsal is a vital tool and I cannot for the life of me understand how any producer or director would be unaware of this. Last fall I did an acting cameo for a fiend (i was basically playing myself so it wasn't a stretch) and i was stunned how little the young director prepped. I showed up, waited, was put in place, talked to for about two minutes and then told 'Action!' We didn't rehearse at all. They were shooting with an EPIC and figured they'd just find the scene. I wanted to slap the director upside the head. 

 

Thomas, thanks for that information. i have sent an email to the DP and producer asking them to check out this thread. 

 

I am committed to shooting film while I still can. 16mm is THE look we want and I for one am not about to settle for creating the look in post. I also believe just the idea of shooting on actual film will energize the cast and crew. 

 

By the way, I'd be all for shooting the entire production on film but since more than half of the film takes place in a S.E. Asian country with no film labs, we have to shoot that section digitally.


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#12 Giray Izcan

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 09:37 PM

Matt,
Cinelab would definitely be your best bet. They are really understanding of low budget filmmakers. Btw, I just spoke with Kodak, and luckily, film is most definitely not going anywhere.
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#13 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 09:54 PM

We would be happy to try to put a few options together for you, I was just talking to the engineer in LA about the Xena scanner and the EDL system plus the HDR Double Flash system are almost ready to run. A pro-Res transfer plus developing would look like this at Cine:

 

3200' develop and transfer to prores @ $0.31/ft = $992.00 ( over 2000' discount 1080p 23.98 ProResHQ)

Approx 1000' of EDL select scans (3K DPX or 2K oversampled from 3K pin registered) @ $0.40/ft $400.00

EDL and Scanner setup plus drive copy charges = approx $100.00 ProRes444 pass $0.10/ft. =$100.00

 

So maybe around $1592.00

 

Double flash HDR scan pricing might be another $0.20/ft. depending on how much slower it makes the scan, should know sometime next week, then again if you send us some coffee in the morning we might throw it in..;-).

 

-Rob-


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#14 Thomas Aschenbach

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:24 AM

The prices I gave were off our published price list, which are very close to many other labs' price lists, and was using them to give an idea on a per minute price for 16mm. Matt, if you would like a quote I can email you one.

I was hesitant in writing the previous reply and decided to do so without specifically quoting this job. I don't think this thread or forum should be turned into a place for bidding wars, but remain a place for the exchange of information and ideas.

Robert, I don't think we have ever personally spoken. If you would ever like to discuss anything about the film/lab industry please feel free to contact me. There are not many of us left and it is important that we work to continue the availability of motion picture film lab services.


Edited by Thomas Aschenbach, 05 March 2013 - 08:25 AM.

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#15 Chris Burke

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 12:34 PM

The prices I gave were off our published price list, which are very close to many other labs' price lists, and was using them to give an idea on a per minute price for 16mm. Matt, if you would like a quote I can email you one.

I was hesitant in writing the previous reply and decided to do so without specifically quoting this job. I don't think this thread or forum should be turned into a place for bidding wars, but remain a place for the exchange of information and ideas.

Robert, I don't think we have ever personally spoken. If you would ever like to discuss anything about the film/lab industry please feel free to contact me. There are not many of us left and it is important that we work to continue the availability of motion picture film lab services.

Thomas,

 

Sorry if if anything I said  seemed to be ganging up on you. Keeping a positive, sharing attitude on the site is very important. I was just sharing what info I had for the OP. Your book rate for scanning is great and I do actually know of a short that used you guys, the results were phenomenal. Of course each job is different and priced accordingly. I often recommend to young filmmakers that they shoot S16 when they are considering film. Labs like you guys with your flexibility and understanding make it all possible. Thank you.


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#16 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 02:23 PM

Thomas I like what you are doing down there very interesting, I think we are in the middle of a big transition right now (obviously) where bigger lab structures with tons of sales people and allot of overhead are gone and small labs like Cinelab or Alpha Cine or V&F-S provide quality services in a more personal boutique setting. I recently read a book my girlfriend got me about Polaroid and how at the end of the old era the people who had bought the name had expected demand to fall off to zero but it did not and thus was born the impossible project.

 

Also I think scanning cost is coming down which puts film closer to being called affordable, I like to think of it as being investing in a film when you make a film and not in a specific camera or medium, however with film there is a tangible asset.

 

-Rob-


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#17 Will Montgomery

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 02:50 PM

What I find amazing is the cost of a high-end Spirit in the $75k range. Weren't these over a million dollars 10 years ago?

 

That being said, I generally think of money spent on transfer as paying for the colorist's time and I can vouch for Tommy as a great colorist and worth much more than his competitive rates. I just received a transfer from Tommy that was some old and poorly shot stock that he certainly got the best out of, much better than I hoped for. When I actually shoot well with decent stock the results are amazing.

 

Not to blow smoke but Robert's company is also great with service, expertise and quality. He helped me with some home movie footage in 16mm that looked great and that was before the recent upgrade to the facilities. It's a pleasure to have small responsive companies available to enthusiasts and people trying to work in a little film to an otherwise all digital project.

 

There are times when budgets allow (and demand) the swanky suck-up-to-the-client space at $800/hour (usually with Ad agencies who want to take half a day away from the office) and those houses are generally amazing in every aspect, it's just great to find the smaller boutiques that can afford to be kind to the little guys. 


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#18 Jeremy Cavanagh

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 04:25 PM

I'm a broadcast engineer and have been reading this thread with interest. I was especially interested in the comments bemoaning that directors now just treat digital recording as 'free' i.e. they just keep rolling and rolling, this is something I have noticed a lot from my side of the television industry. So I wanted to ask two questions: does this attitude of recording and recording because digital is 'free' force up post costs because there is far more material the editor has to sort through and manage and does the constant recording result in the people involved not concentrating on what's being shot, image wise, what is happening in shot, etc where as before if you only had 100 ft of film left you really had to concentrate lest you lose your chance.

 

BTW I overheard a conversation the other day between two film people that there is apparently a bank here in London that uses 16 mm film for its most critical security cameras (i.e. I think they said frame per second) because the bank reckons digital can be 'interfered' with and film can't.


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#19 Matt Stevens

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 10:11 AM

We had a big meeting over the weekend. LOTS to discuss. The feeling I was getting was "digital is here, embrace it." I'm definitely losing the battle. Now with the Digital Bolex nearing a release and word of mouth starting to look more positive, it's an option they want to consider. No doubt a Gobal Shutter is preferable to the rolling shutter nonsense of DSLR's, the Black Magic and even REDs. 

 

They have use of a RED EPIC at a crazy discount so that certainly is a positive. But certain projects require film and at least for the one project I have been discussing here, one of the three acts MUST be shot on film and i think i have gotten that across to them. 

 

This really is a brave new world. Not that I like it. 

 

To be continued...


Edited by Matt Stevens, 26 March 2013 - 10:12 AM.

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#20 Pavan Deep

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 12:35 PM

In short, it is economical to shoot on 16mm in todays environment, I am shooting my film on Super 16, the best way is to keep the shooting ratio low, I find when working with film [any format] this happens naturally as most regard shooting with film special [which it is], less time is wasted in the shoot and the edit. Digital is the buzzword, it's current, it's new and it may seem simple and cheaper, but this isn't always the case as I found out and my producers al agreed to go Super 16.

 

P


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