Jump to content


Photo

Ideal Cameras For A New Film School??


  • Please log in to reply
12 replies to this topic

#1 Enjay

Enjay

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Other

Posted 13 May 2005 - 10:58 PM

Hello Everyone,

Great site and a very informative forum indeed!

We are in the process of setting up, what may be the largest film school in Asia. As HD is now gaining world wide popularity and acceptance, we are looking at the possibility of equipping the school with the Sony HDV (Z1) Camera's (for 1st. Year Students) and then moving them upwards to either a Sony Cine Alta, Varicam or a Viper (for the 2nd. Year Students).

However, since the cameras are an expensive investment, any thoughts on what we should be careful about before making this investment and what peripheral gear would be needed additionally to make things work smoothly, would be highly appreciated.

Finally, your recommedations on the best choice between the Varicam, Cine Alta and / or Viper (for use by students), would be helpful to us as well...

Thanks in advance.

Enjay.
  • 0

#2 Laurent Andrieux

Laurent Andrieux
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1527 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • France

Posted 14 May 2005 - 04:12 PM

Hi,

After I studied 2 years in Louis Loumiere school and worked for 15 years as an AC and operator (in film and video), I've been teaching for 6 years now in both video and film schools.

I am not sure such a system as HD electronic cinema is much worth buying and owning for a schooL

Do you plan to have some productions sold/screened on a big screen ? that's the major question one should ask himself on this subject.

Honestly schools don't do that often enough so it's worth owning such a system. Also, for what is about the peculiar technics of HD cinema, renting is widly the best solution.

Most of your program, I guess, will be your students to learn, practise and posess the basics of directing, lighting, camera operating, editing etc. Most of their productions won't be sold.

You should consider shooting film for the high quality productions you may plan to set up and, again, renting is still a good position , though ownig some 16 mm, S 16 and 35 mm cameras seems to me a much better idea than buying and owning a HD camera, whatever mark and model.

You should also consider that the maintenance on these camera is a real problem, while film camera repare is I guess much easier to find in Asia, as well.

I was eating with the general manager of Kodak France, today in Cannes, and some famous french DoPs (Eric Guichard, Robert Alazraki, Jean-Michel Humeau...) and they all think that HD is not the close future of image quality. The amount of feature films shot in HD is negligeable, while television fiction films are nowadays shot in HD for an amout of 5 to 10 %, no more.

HD is an interesting support to know, work with etc. but it's going to be years before quality image is mainly shot in HD. If you want to teach image quality, basically teach teach film and consider renting for a HD course.

The only fact that you hesitate beetween different standards in HD shows that non of these systems has yet improved its continuation, and one should care about that in choosing a format for teaching in a school. 35 mm has.

As for the 1st year, I don't think the HDV is a very good choice. I understand HD (though it's not broadcast) 16/9 cheap cameras are very attractive, but the main problem with it is that it's MPEG, working with GOPs and mean you can't do much with it in post production (compositing etc). The HDV is design for the amateurs and "cheap" news reel production (ENG), not for fiction films even student ones, if you plan to teach editing as well in this school...

I would rather go on SD digital video or even DVCAM for video work (either first or second year actually).

Another point with the z1 HDV cam, that I had in hands from a sony rep here, is that you have no focus marks, no iris marks on the lens so unless you want to teach directing only, it would not be good for teaching camera technics. It's an amateur format...

I'm sure some people here are going to give my post controversal critics, for sure, and that would be actually interesting, but believe me, think it over before making your choice...

Regards.

Edited by laurent.a, 14 May 2005 - 04:17 PM.

  • 0

#3 Jon Amerikaner

Jon Amerikaner
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 70 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tel Aviv, Israel

Posted 15 May 2005 - 12:34 PM

I think the Panasonic Varicam might be a good option:
http://catalog2.pana...Model=AJ-HDC27F

Certainly, 16mm is a great way to learn. The problem is that the technologies are changing so fast that within two years of the purchase of a new camera, a better one will emerge. What would be ideal is if you could set up some kind of permanent rental with one of the manufacturers. They deliver their newest camera to you. And you and your students use it until a new camera is created. What you should advocate with the manufacturer is that since most cinematographers are hesitant to use an untested camera, your school could be the testing ground for the cameras. Your students shoot their projects and then provide footage to the manufacturer who in turn can show the footage to potential customers. I think some of us are wary about the footage created by the manufacturers because they do not always mirror the kind of environment found on a typical shoot.
  • 0

#4 Enjay

Enjay

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Other

Posted 16 May 2005 - 02:53 AM

Do you plan to have some productions sold/screened on a big screen ? that's the major question one should ask himself on this subject.

Honestly schools don't do that often enough so it's worth owning such a system. Also, for what is about the peculiar technics of HD cinema, renting is widly the best solution.

Most of your program, I guess, will be your students to learn, practise and posess the basics of directing, lighting, camera operating, editing etc. Most of their productions won't be sold.

You should consider shooting film for the high quality productions you may plan to set up and, again, renting is still a good position , though ownig some 16 mm, S 16 and 35 mm cameras seems to me a much better idea than buying and owning a HD camera, whatever mark and model.

You should also consider that the maintenance on these camera is a real problem, while film camera repare is I guess much easier to find in Asia, as well.

I was eating with the general manager of Kodak France, today in Cannes, and some famous french DoPs (Eric Guichard, Robert Alazraki, Jean-Michel Humeau...) and they all think that HD is not the close future of image quality. The amount of feature films shot in HD is negligeable, while television fiction films are nowadays shot in HD for an amout of 5 to 10 %, no more.

HD is an interesting support to know, work with etc. but it's going to be years before quality image is mainly shot in HD. If you want to teach image quality, basically teach teach film and consider renting for a HD course.

The only fact that you hesitate beetween different standards in HD shows that non of these systems has yet improved its continuation, and one should care about that in choosing a format for teaching in a school. 35 mm has.

As for the 1st year, I don't think the HDV is a very good choice. I understand HD (though it's not broadcast) 16/9 cheap cameras are very attractive, but the main problem with it is that it's MPEG, working with GOPs and mean you can't do much with  it in post production (compositing etc). The HDV is design for the amateurs and "cheap" news reel production (ENG), not for fiction films even student ones, if you plan to teach editing as well in this school...

I would rather go on SD digital video or even DVCAM for video work (either first or second year actually).

Another point with the z1 HDV cam, that I had in hands from a sony rep here, is that you have no focus marks, no iris marks on the lens so unless you want to teach directing only, it would not be good for teaching camera technics. It's an amateur format...

I'm sure some people here are going to give my post controversal critics, for sure, and that would be actually interesting, but believe me, think it over before making your choice...

Regards.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Gee... Thanks for your feedback!

Yes, we would be renting out 16mm and 35mm cameras as well... Infact we have already worked out an agreement for this with one of the local rental companies that also is the key promoter behind this school. However as a school we would like to offer the students the opportunity to get their hand dirty on an HD Film camera as well... Just gives them an overall understanding of all formats.

As regards to the service support in Asia, well Thomson have their own office here in India, as do Sony. Hence I do not really envisage major support issues with either the Cine Alta or the Viper as I am sure the manufacturers themselves would want these to be working in perfect conditions at all times, as this installation for them could probably be their demo site as well... :)

I understand that the Z1s are amateur cameras. However for 1st. term students, who in most cases have probably never touched any video / film camera, wont this be the ideal choice... Basic enough to show them how a camera works... what the different frame rates mean, etc.?

Once they understand this, they can then move to the rented 16mm and 35 mm cameras and then unto HD for film. Atleast that's my idea... :)
  • 0

#5 Enjay

Enjay

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Other

Posted 16 May 2005 - 03:01 AM

I think the Panasonic Varicam might be a good option:
http://catalog2.pana...Model=AJ-HDC27F

What would be ideal is if you could set up some kind of permanent rental with one of the manufacturers. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Aaah...! An utopian dream... ! :D I doubt any manufacturer would be willing to get into a permanent rental thing... they all just wanna sell their stuff. But yes, what I think is realistic is to get a real low cost on these cameras... Infact some deals that we have been offered are very, very attractive indeed. But we are just waiting to decide which brand we should go with and then negotiate on the lowest possible price for the same...
  • 0

#6 Laurent Andrieux

Laurent Andrieux
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1527 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • France

Posted 16 May 2005 - 05:14 AM

I see your point.

You have to figure out if it's worth buying a HD cam instead of renting, as "jamerikaner" also pointed this out.

Concerning the HDV, I think it's an interesting idea to have ones. At my school, we bought minidv cams and a XL1 when we bought the equipment 4 years ago, and if it was today, I'd probably get HDVs instead.

But :

" understand that the Z1s are amateur cameras. However for 1st. term students, who in most cases have probably never touched any video / film camera, wont this be the ideal choice... Basic enough to show them how a camera works... what the different frame rates mean, etc.?"

I don't totally agree with that. The main interesting thing with amateur cameras in a school is to learn framing and general terms of exposure and white balance, focus in the beginnig (you can show all this with a pro cam anyway), but...

Very quickly, after 1 or 2 months, you have to put them on heavy materials so they get used to the "normal" cameras as soon as possible... : focal lengths, focus and iris have to be engraved, the auto iris shouldn't be used, location of filters and controls have to be where they are on a pro cam, you must be able to generate a 1000 Hz and color bars, be able to record the sound correctly, get used to the weight and shoulder operating etc.

I actually am very upset with any "handycam" sort of thing 'cause it's so far from a shoulder work... they get used to the LCD monitor and not to the Viewfinder...

So it defenetly wouldn't be my only choice for 1st year students, aside from 16 mm I would provide them SD digital or DVCAM or DVCPRO cameras.

The other interest with the HDV can be found on special shooting when you need a light camera for fitting on a car, motorbike... though HDV is a bit heavier than mini dv cameras... and in prep.

You see, though we have these cameras here, we don't even use them in the beginning of the 1st year and give them straight the dvcpro25 and dvcam cameras so they learn exposure setting, white balance etc. and only use the amateur cameras for special shooting and in prep.

Regards
  • 0

#7 Nate Downes

Nate Downes
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1638 posts
  • Florida, USA

Posted 16 May 2005 - 08:44 AM

Have you considered using Zenit K-3 16mm cameras instead? Give the students more of the know-how that they would need, and cost less than the Z-1. Shoot your first stuff on K40 reveral so they can cut n splice it by hand, that fun stuff. Heck, shoot Super8 using some Canon 1014's. But the K-3 really is a great learners camera, simple to learn, tough to master.
  • 0

#8 Laurent Andrieux

Laurent Andrieux
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1527 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • France

Posted 16 May 2005 - 10:46 AM

Honestly, a school that's thinking of buying HD cameras, can get much better 16mm material than a k3 !

it's not crystal sync, not blimped, it's only 100 ft load, the mecanichal motor only allows something like 30 s of a continuous shot, the lens is not so good, and one should seriously forget about turning in into Super 16 since zooming is not possible anymore in that case...

The good choice for a school would be either aaton XTR prod, Arri 16 sr 3 or a second hand 16 sr 2, and thinking S16 would be the best, since you don't have to blow up for 35 if you do the post digitally and then transfer on a digital video standrad that you are working with, aside, seriously...

I would forget about super 8 in a school unless you are very poor, it's not professional.
  • 0

#9 Nate Downes

Nate Downes
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1638 posts
  • Florida, USA

Posted 16 May 2005 - 10:19 PM

Actually Laurent, I'd consider the K-3 more than ideal for a school environment JUST for those reasons you dismiss it. You force the students to have to learn how to pick their shots, how to be better filmmakers, because the camera does not leave much room for error. I know that I have become a better filmmaker after purchasing mine, it's broken me of a lot of bad habits that my Super8 cameras had given me.
  • 0

#10 Chien Huey

Chien Huey
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 76 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • New York, NY

Posted 25 May 2005 - 11:58 AM

Downix, I'm taking continuing education classes at SVA and I have to agree. They use Bolex H16 Rexes and its simplicity works for learning. I'm going to be taking their cinematography classes next semester which utilize the Arri S and SR cameras and I'm reading the Arri SR book right now to prepare. Most students in my filmmaking class could hardly handle loading the daylight spool - so I'd imagine that loading an Arri 400 foot mag would be way more than people could handle. I've never used a K-3 but I'd imagine that the same simplicity applies.

Also, I'd like to address the film vs. video aspect. Last year I made a very, very bad miniDV short. Definitely a majority of the blame lies in my lack of knowledge and insolent attitude at the time (I thought it would be easy - ha). But part of it I think lies in the "video is cheap" mentality. When I took the SVA filmmaking class I was very aware of the film/processing costs and as a result did much more reading/research/experimenting before I even shot a roll of film. Sure my attitude changed too (for reasons besides cost), but I'm sure the $35 per 2:47 run of TriX reversal stock/processing contributed the extra care I took with my final project.

BTW, I'm still working on the project and hope to post it soon for review.

Chien Huey
aspiring DP, but for now learning

Actually Laurent, I'd consider the K-3 more than ideal for a school environment JUST for those reasons you dismiss it.  You force the students to have to learn how to pick their shots, how to be better filmmakers, because the camera does not leave much room for error.  I know that I have become a better filmmaker after purchasing mine, it's broken me of a lot of bad habits that my Super8 cameras had given me.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


  • 0

#11 Laurent Andrieux

Laurent Andrieux
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1527 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • France

Posted 25 May 2005 - 12:56 PM

I'd imagine that loading an Arri 400 foot mag would be way more than people could handle. I've never used a K-3 but I'd imagine that the same simplicity applies.


I find the arri sr (whatever model from 1 to 3) and aaton (ltr or xtr) much easier to load than a bolex my self, if you consider high speed stock has to be loaded in total darkness, it's much more complicated to load...
  • 0

#12 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 12 July 2005 - 08:02 PM

I find the arri sr (whatever model from 1 to 3) and aaton (ltr or xtr) much easier to load than a bolex my self, if you consider high speed stock has to be loaded in total darkness, it's much more complicated to load...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Arri mags are very easy to load once you see the mechanics in the light once or twice. The only really dangerous thing you have to watch out for is not to decore the film when you take it out of the take-up side when you're unloading it (Yeah...speaking from experience here:P)
  • 0

#13 Eric Steelberg ASC

Eric Steelberg ASC
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 538 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 12 July 2005 - 11:31 PM

Don't underestimate the value of a 35mm camera and some prime lenses. That and some slide film.
  • 0


Tai Audio

Abel Cine

Ritter Battery

Rig Wheels Passport

CineLab

Paralinx LLC

Wooden Camera

rebotnix Technologies

The Slider

Glidecam

Visual Products

Willys Widgets

CineTape

Opal

Aerial Filmworks

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Metropolis Post

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Technodolly

FJS International, LLC

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Abel Cine

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

Metropolis Post

FJS International, LLC

Paralinx LLC

Visual Products

Glidecam

Tai Audio

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Wooden Camera

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Opal

Ritter Battery

The Slider

CineLab

CineTape

rebotnix Technologies

Technodolly