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How has the change from shooting on film to digital affected things on set?

film digital workflows conversion change research

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#1 Peter Lyngso

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 09:09 AM

Hello There,

 

I am an avid gear head and film student.  For one of my classes I have choosen to write a research paper on the change from shooting mostly on film to mostly digital or as its called the "digital revolution".  I am just curious how prevelent a change it has been on set and overall in the industry for actual professionals compared to what I have been reading.  Also if anyone happens to have any good articles on the subject I would be much interested to check them out.

 

thanks,

Peter Lyngso


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#2 Mike Lary

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 01:22 AM

'Side by Side' is a good documentary that focuses on this question and interviews some top dogs in the industry. What is your definition of an "actual professional"? 

 


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#3 Christopher Sheneman

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 02:11 AM

I feel little has change for the pros, but everything has changed for the indies. Digital capture has come into it's own, from capture all the way through distribution.

 

"Suddenly, one day some little fat girl in Ohio is gonna be the new Mozart…and make a beautiful film with her father’s little camera-corder, and for once this whole professionalism about movies will be destroyed, forever, and it will really become an art form.” - Francis Ford Coppola

 

 

 

 


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#4 Mitchell Perkins

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 04:32 PM


"Suddenly, one day some little fat girl in Ohio is gonna be the new Mozart…and make a beautiful film with her father’s little camera-corder, and for once this whole professionalism about movies will be destroyed, forever, and it will really become an art form.” - Francis Ford Coppola

 

 

 

 

 

Only thing is we're still waiting for that to happen, and I could be wrong but I think that quote is from the set of Apocalypse Now....(!)

 

You can't really democratize talent or inspiration I guess...

 

WRT to professionals on set I imagine any time saved not changing mags is used for more takes...or temper-tantrums if the budget is really big. Hopefully a professional will jump in and help you out.

 

I'll just take this opportunity to say I kinda thought film was good and replaced watching Southland, they do it so well!

But then I watch something film-captured and it always looks way way better. To me anyway.

 

Mitch


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#5 dan kessler

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 09:58 PM

In retrospect, that statement from Coppola was perhaps a little too off-handed.
It never was just about the camera.  It is far more about what happens in front of it
and behind it, both of which still demand "professionalism."  One of the dreams about digital
was that it would give indies the access they couldn't get with film, yet I find it ironic that today

it can be cheaper for an indie to shoot 35mm film (short ends and recans) than to shoot comparable digital. 


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#6 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 11:36 PM

 

....I kinda thought film was good and replaced watching Southland, they do it so well!


Mitch,
I didn't quite get what that meant about Southland. Can you explain that a bit?

Thanks,
Gregg.
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#7 Christopher Sheneman

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 12:37 AM

In retrospect, that statement from Coppola was perhaps a little too off-handed.
It never was just about the camera.  It is far more about what happens in front of it
and behind it, both of which still demand "professionalism."  One of the dreams about digital
was that it would give indies the access they couldn't get with film, yet I find it ironic that today

it can be cheaper for an indie to shoot 35mm film (short ends and recans) than to shoot comparable digital.

 

It's not cheaper, Dan, so shut up- ok? Shut your face and duct tape it so it won't talk anymore. God.


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#8 Chris Millar

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 12:45 AM

At least the term 'democratized' has been democratised.


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#9 Christopher Sheneman

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 12:46 AM

I'm sorry, Dan. I didn't mean that, I just get emotional when people, especially those who should know better, continue the film lie for their own selfish reasons. It forces the next generation to have self-hate because they're not using motion picture film or that they should, or they do and they can't afford it and their project gets sunk.


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#10 Chris Millar

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 12:51 AM

 

It's not cheaper, Dan, so shut up- ok? Shut your face and duct tape it so it won't talk anymore. God.

 

Call it (a) gaff(e)


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#11 dan kessler

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 11:48 AM

Chris, for an indie with a limited budget, equipment rental and post-production
for state of the art 4k digital is VERY expensive.  You CAN get 35mm film gear,
buy short ends and recans and cut on film for less money. Not talking about HD
or lower quality that you edit on your home computer, cause that is NOT comparable
to 35mm. Not talking about large budget or Hollywood, either.  Try reading what
I wrote, and don't tell me it ain't so, cause I know for sure that it is.
You show your occupation as 'student.'  I have a great many more years of
experience in this industry that you do.


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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 11:56 AM

 

it can be cheaper for an indie to shoot 35mm film (short ends and recans) than to shoot comparable digital.
 
Much as I hesitate to get involved in this little discussion, this is just absurd. Naturally there's a huge argument as to what "comparable digital" means, but the availability of video cameras that approach or exceed the abilities of 35mm has never been greater. Depending on the project it's quite possible that you could buy a reasonable video camera outright for the cost of the consumables and services that it'd take to shoot 35. If you don't want reasonable and prefer to insist on really excellent, renting even the very best digital gear is going to be much cheaper than film in almost all cases, which is, obviously, why people so often do it. I can't see how you'd possibly figure it any other way.
 
P

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#13 Mitchell Perkins

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 12:48 PM

At least the term 'democratized' has been democratised.

 

Its' always been available to anyone who wants to use it, with a "z"....heh

 

https://www.google.c...iw=1218&bih=906


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#14 Mitchell Perkins

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 12:50 PM

 

Mitch,
I didn't quite get what that meant about Southland. Can you explain that a bit?

Thanks,
Gregg.

 

I mean the show often looks so good I feel like it couldn't be improved upon. But it does fail now and then in certain light/scenes where film would not, and the shows I see that are film-captured look even better....**in my opinion**.

 

Mitch


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#15 dan kessler

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 02:40 PM

Okay, Phil, Chris, I wasn't expecting this, either,
but here are a few back-of-the-napkin calculations.
Most features are shot on an Alexa or Red or similar.
For a Red or Alexa camera alone, I see rates of around
$1600/day.  If we're talking about a feature-length project
requiring at least a few weeks to shoot, just the camera
rental alone is already in the neighborhood of $25,000.

Digital post will push that number much higher.

You can get 35mm short ends at around .10/ft.

Let's say the finished length is 9000 ft. Give yourself
a 5:1 shooting ratio, or 45,000 ft. total, for a cost
of $4500.  .15/ft to develop, around $7000 total,
.25/ft to print your good takes (9000 ft), $3000 total
or you can telecine the footage and edit on your
existing computer set-up

Total film cost approx. $15,000

You can buy a used Arri 2c or even a BL these days for a couple grand,
which you will own and take as much time as you want to shoot your project.
Our indie filmmaker can be resourceful and pick up other used gear in similar
fashion.

Even before post, we're still doing better than our Alexa-based project.


Do all projects pencil out this way?  No, but all I said was that it
CAN be cheaper.


 


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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 03:12 PM

This is silly, and I'm not going to entertain this conversation beyond my response here.

 

Your numbers are ridiculous. The rates you quote for Alexa are representative of a pretty decent shooting kit with good modern lenses and so forth, which is both far from the minimum cost, and will massively inflate your BL4 purchase numbers for matching equipment. Your 5:1 shooting ratio is effectively impossible to achieve for all but the simplest productions. Digital post for Alexa can be effectively free, as ProRes can be posted on computers that many people already own, and in any case remains a consideration for film as well unless you want to spend thousands creating workprints.

 

No, hang on, you do want to spend thousands making workprints, and cutting it by hand on equipment most people certainly don't already own, or even have room for.

 

I'm not blind to the differences between film pictures and those from digital cameras, and I'm no stranger to technological nostalgia. Even so, I find this need to engage in a sort of desperate rearguard action of claims that film can do things it can't to be absolutely laughable. An FS700 camera costs about twenty rolls (just under an hour and a half's worth) of 35mm film to buy. You can rent an Alexa body for about a roll or two of film per day, and neither of these comparisons include the expensive process and transfer steps.

 

You can make subjective claims about the characteristics of the image, if you want, but you can't reasonably claim that film is anything other than very, very, very expensive. That was always the problem, the elephant in the corner of the room, and that's why there was such a need to develop alternatives.


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#17 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 03:43 PM

Okay, Phil, Chris, I wasn't expecting this, either,
but here are a few back-of-the-napkin calculations.
Most features are shot on an Alexa or Red or similar.
For a Red or Alexa camera alone, I see rates of around
$1600/day.  If we're talking about a feature-length project
requiring at least a few weeks to shoot, just the camera
rental alone is already in the neighborhood of $25,000.


 

Sorry Dan, but in Hollywood today, you can get a pretty reasonable RED MX package for about $3500 a week. That's $10,500 over three weeks, which is a pretty normal indie shooting schedule (some even shoot in two!) An Alexa package would be considerable more expensive.

 

I agree with you that shooting 35mm is not as expensive as people might think, but to say it's cheaper than shooting digital is simply not true.


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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 04:04 PM

You have to factor in delivering the final 35mm project in a 1080P digital master at minimum, if not a 2K or 4K DCP.
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#19 Oliver Hadlow Martin

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 07:39 PM

I find it sad that no one factors in the archiving afterwards. Digital incurs significant cost overheads (data migration, new drives every few years) compared to film (store and ignore).

 

 

I think there is a scale. 

 

With the small budgets its Infinitely cheaper for digital.

But I can think it could swing the other way for digital when you start shooting loads and loads of data or big productions. 127 hours was 1TB a day over 8 weeks apparently. That is a lot of data, very expensive. Back ups, new drives, cost in migrating every few years. It all adds up.

You'd have to backup the digital footage to film after as well probably too. lol

 

But for someone like me, digital all the way. I'd love to be able to afford some 35mm though. 


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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 07:59 PM

The only decent long term storage solution right now is LTO, which I guess makes it difficult to objectively consider exactly how decent a solution it really is. It ought to be OK; the financial services industry seems to trust it, and the way it works technologically makes sense, but it would be nice to see it not as the only option. Although again it wouldn't, because then there'd be a standardisation issue. It is, at least, manufactured by a variety of different people. The drives are a bit spendy (by which I mean four or five rolls of 35mm stock each).

 

P


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