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Costs of 16 mm


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#1 Pavan Deep

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 05:30 AM

I am constantly hearing people say that working with film is really expensive so they have had to use digital instead; Clearly the high cost of film puts many off film, but are people simply dismissing the film option by making excuses that it’s too expensive and jumping on the digital bandwagon! There is certainly a growing trend amongst filmmakers choosing digital seeing it as the cheaper and easier option, but is digital always cheaper or easier? Digital offers the convenience of immediacy and the common belief is that it’s cheap, there seems to be an overwhelming tendency to just go with the flow, whereas film is seen as messy, cumbersome and old fashioned. I know film is expensive, but exactly how expensive is16mm?

 

Personally I feel if you want to work with 16mm you can, as it's still a very viable option, cameras are small and cheap and film is still being made. You have to work differently as there's no immediacy and if you're working to a small budget you haven't got the luxury to have a large shooting ratio as you might have with digital. You can even use an old 16mm camera, which can be bought for a few pounds and use it with modern film and get stunning results. 16mm cameras are easy to borrow [for free] and cheap to buy or rent, film stock is the only real expense, but it doesn’t have to be, as it depends on where you buy it from. I used to buy film from Fujifilm, it was very cheap, but they have stopped making film, Fujifilm is still available in the UK from Frame 24 and it is still quite cheap, I also buy film from DP's and even off Ebay at very good prices. Typically a 400 foot core of 16mm can be bought for £30.00 or less, that's about 11 or 14 minutes of screen time (24 or 18 frames per second), processing and digital scanning can be about £150.00. So using 16mm which is either 11 or 14 minutes can cost me under £200.00, it's not as expensive as everyone makes out.

 

High end digital systems like the Alexa and RED are difficult to get for free, they are expensive to buy and rent, a typical weekly rental package of RED or Alexa is normally in excess of £2000.00. Thus in my experience working with such high end digital systems can be more expensive than working with 16mm. Digital only becomes cheaper when working with pro-consumer systems such as the DSLR's, [unless you get the high end digital gear for free]. The quality from a DSLR is remarkably good and many try to make it look like film, though I don’t think this works well. In my opinion while the DSLR images look great on large television screens they don't always look so great on a large cinema screens.

 

 

Pav


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#2 andy oliver

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 07:38 AM

Currently here in the uk, 16mm can work out cheaper than super 8, widescreen charge £59.00 per cart of super 8 processed/tk paid. A 400ft core of fuji is around £60.00 inc VAT, tk and process at i-dallies is £140.00 (inc VAT).


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#3 Philip Kral

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 10:19 AM

I have to agree with you in some respects.

 

One 16mm camera can last you a lifetime (assuming they'll keep making the film), and the cost of film usually won't cost more then renting or buying the REDs or the ALEXAs.

       However,  if you buy one of these digital monsters and you make so many projects with it that it would of costed you more if shot on film, then it would have indeed been cheaper to shoot digitally. One film shot on film would be cheaper on film, but 20 projects would be cheaper using the same digital camera. 

      That's If you get that much work out of that digital camera. As digital photographers, we find ourselves stuck in the electronic "gadget trend." First it's the HVX, then you have to upgrade to an EX-1, then it's the RED ONE, then it's the RED EPIC, then it's the ALEXA. Unless your a rental house, Hollywood studio, or a DP who owns their own rig and obtain constant work, it's not worth it to buy something your going to replace relativity soon at the same cost to stick with film. Although It looks like the digital camera production may have plateaued with the EPIC and ALEXA and found an in between camera price wise in the Blackmagic.

     Then there's Dslr's, which are priced nicely for their quality but take an awefull bit of post production to look like film. At the price of a 5D, many are going to probably switch to the Blackmagic. But the DSLR loses it's cost benefit with the accessories you have to buy. DSLRs aren't exactly hand held worthy, and many are caught spending hundreds (If not thousands) on rigs and accessories to get it under the control they want. The Blackmagic I feel will have the same issues, even the RED line of cameras have that issue- they're basically big black boxes with a lens. Not exactly something you can put on your shoulder.  

      I could go on, but then I'd be on my way on writing a novel- this is already long enough. I personally hate the "Film versus Digital" debate. One shouldn't replace the other. They're both different mediums really, we should be choosing them based upon their aesthetics and what they can do for our stories. When a director I work with wants something super bright, sharp and clean, or a documentary- I recommend digital. When they want something organic and the cinematic feel- I push for film. It's like the painting versus film debate or Live Orchestra versus Gramophone.... except no ones debating they're just "going with it."   


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#4 Randy J Tomlinson

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 10:31 AM

in general i disagree with that thing called "film is expensive"

because if you do a professional project, as you mentioned, an alexa is more expensive to rent in a long term than to purchase a 16mm camera. but thats not the point.

i dare to say that when it comes to post production; digital postproduction will eat your coins and pennys like a piranha! my experience. i switched to 35mm, purchased a moviecam compact because i did a very carefull research, called up production companies and asked them for prices. i compared and it was clearly the 35mm which was cheaper!

 

you should watch this:

 

 

respectfully

randy


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#5 Pavan Deep

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 11:46 AM

The bottom line is that for an independent film-maker filming with 16mm currently works out cheaper than using RED or Alexa.
 
I don't like the film vs. digital debate either, but a friend wants to shoot a film and was told that Super 16mm was too expensive and was persuaded to consider using an Alexa but the cost of the Alexa package is working out quite a bit, it's the gear, transporting it and the insurances. I put together the cost of shooting the project on 16mm, the costs are far cheaper. 
 
Few emerging film-makers have the money to buy the expensive higher end digital cameras which depreciate quickly. While the DSLR's are cheap and great the post work takes ages, people try very hard to get that film look with endless hours using their laptops and countless Pulg-ins, the end result doesn't always look like film.
 
Pav

 


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#6 David Cunningham

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 01:15 PM

Especially with the availability of good short ends, recans and NOS discounts, Super16 can be way cheaper. The same is true with 35mm as well especially if shooting in 3-perf Super35 or 2-perf techniscope. You can get an amazing film production for very low overall cost.
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#7 Randy J Tomlinson

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 01:53 PM

Few emerging film-makers have the money to buy the expensive higher end digital cameras which depreciate quickly. While the DSLR's are cheap and great the post work takes ages, people try very hard to get that film look with endless hours using their laptops and countless Pulg-ins, the end result doesn't always look like film.
 
Pav

 

 

 

haha right! it's not just me, but many other DP's opinion: if you want your movie look like film then use film. everything else is a waste of time and you get more respect as well!


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#8 Heikki Repo

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 02:26 PM

Last Spring I was to shoot a very small budget commercial. At first I was about to use some DSLR but then I realized that since I own an Eclair ACL and I had some older film stock in the fridge I might as well shoot it with that. Ergonomics were certainly better, commercial has now its own distinctive look and it didn't really cost that much more than renting a DSLR (I didn't even contemplate higher end digital, too pricy). Take a look! (there's 2K original quality available as well, thanks youtube!):


Edited by Heikki Repo, 02 September 2013 - 02:31 PM.

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#9 Heikki Repo

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 03:04 PM

For more budget oriented users there are nowadays really cheap options for processing and scanning. An example: 85 EUR (excl. VAT) for 400 ft of 16mm ECN-2 processed and 2K scanned (for processing only 35 EUR). That's the local place I use (http://alhoslab.fi). If combined with Frame24 raw stock prices using 16mm film is cheap -- only  about 150 EUR for 400 ft of film, processing and scanning. For the price of one day's worth of Alexa rental (900 EUR) one can thus have 60 minutes of raw film+process+scan. Not that expensive I think.


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#10 Alain Lumina

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 06:09 AM

And don't forget the hard drives you have to buy over and over through the years as they obsolete if you want to keep your masters. Or a multi-thousand dollar tape drive. 

 

Film is its own backup. 


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#11 Will Montgomery

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 09:32 AM

Anyone shooting RED these days should know the value of a good colorist in the work flow. If there's a budget for color, there's probably enough to cover film transfer costs. I've found these days that good colorists will often work a great package deal on doing flat transfers if they are doing the final color grade on the project. Often because they simply love film and they have legacy Spirits laying around not being used nearly as much. The costs of film itself and processing is something, but not prohibitive.

 

The caveat is that we're talking projects with at least some budget. A one-man-band operation for internet bound corporate videos probably doesn't make sense to include film (although I try to do that!)


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