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#1 Nathan Walters

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 01:49 PM

I'm a fairly young cinematographer.  Note that what I am saying is geared towards my generation.

There is a ridiculous amount of resources for learning digital filmmaking.  Every 20 year old has a DSLR camera.  It's easy to go online and learn about Blackmagic, Red and other digital cameras.

But film seems to be a whole other beast.  I've read a good bit about film in misc books and some resources from Kodak and am starting to grasp certain concepts.  But no way would I be comfortable on stepping on set and shooting with film.  I hear certain directors and Kodak expressing how superior film is (though obviously everyone has their bias, I think it really depends on the project).  And I would love the idea of using film.  But the resources don't seem to be nearly as available.

So what's the best way, in today's digital world, for the upcoming generation of filmmakers to learn film?  What resources are out there?  And in a world filled with learning resources on digital filmmaking, don't you think there should be more movements on teaching the next generation how to shoot with film?

Would love to hear everyone's thoughts.


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#2 Heikki Repo

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 02:19 PM

Hi Nathan!

 

Being myself someone who hasn't gone to a film school and have learned to shoot on film on my own, here are some ideas:

1) Buy yourself a (spot) lighting meter and a film SLR

2) Learn how to expose film with that combination; learn zone system; what is EV and how those values correlate to ISO, aperture and shutter speed.

3) After you have learned to do exposures this way (it'll help you with digital cinema cameras as well) you can move to the next "learn by doing" -- get yourself a 16mm camera or go to some rental house and ask if you can test one of their cameras. Buy some film, learn how to load the film, expose your roll, learn how to unload the film and send it to a lab for processing and scanning.

4) Repeat #3.

 

Practice, practice, practice. And reading these forums and watching youtube "how to load film" -videos.

 

Film is surprisingly cheap to buy and process these days (except super-8). :)


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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 02:24 PM

In many ways it is easier because film is less sensitive to errors in exposure, it handles extreme overexposure better than most digital systems, and because we're all programmed to like the way it looks.

 

That said it is not a silver (ha!) bullet and it's perfectly possible to shoot pedestrian and boring material on film. A cheap short shot in someone's bedroom will still look cheap on 35mm.

 

Basically, put in a key light, meter that key light for exposure, light the rest of the scene to that level plus or minus about four or five stops depending how screamingly bright or dark you want various areas to be, dial the exposure into the lens and shoot, and you are unlikely to produce anything horribly unwatchable. 

 

Then do that a few thousand times and you might get somewhere...

 

P


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#4 Jay Young

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 02:27 PM

I have this exact same problem.  Of course, I started shooting on film because digital cameras were not a common thing when I was young.

 

I grabbed David's Book "Cinematography", Professional 16/35mm cameraman's handbook by Verne Carlson (Autographed!) and a host of other books.

I studied still photography, read about the negative chemical process, development, and learned to develop my own film both color and monochrome.

 

The major problem I see is that there are no excellent examples of "if you do this to Kodak 7219" then these effects will happen.

If you do this when you tell the lab to print, then these effects will happen.

 

Most of the books out there deal with the physical cinematography and lens/optical science.  I don't know what Vision3 500t looks like when exposed and developed at 160 ASA. I bet it looks wonderful, but who knows.  I was just the other day thinking that there should be just this sort of thing on youtube.  There are very brief videos of how to setup some equipment (Arri S / BL, Eclare, CP cameras &c), how to load, and there are excellent examples of lighting styles.  BUT, there are very few examples of FILM NEGATIVE being scanned and shown as an example.

 

I've tried my best to search out examples so I can get a sense of what a camera is capable of raw, and I don't know that there has EVER been a video made of a color timer adjusting printer lights. David seems to be the one that might best chime in on that point. I've finally started doing test on 16mm, and watching every new 16mm film negative production I can find.  

 

In the end, asking old guys how to do a job is I think the best way.  After all, we're all learning new things every day! 


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#5 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 02:46 PM

Truthfully, good modern color negative stock has a much greater dynamic range then most digital cameras. So even if you make a grievous error with exposure, you maybe able to learn from it and still have a good workable image. 

 

Technically film is a lot easier to shoot then people make it out to be. It has set rules and guidelines you must follow, all of which you can notate on a little card that you keep with you, to remind you what to check before shooting. Having a good meter is really the only thing you need because everything else is simply turning knobs on the meter and camera. You will learn what to meter within a given scene and use that skill to make a proper exposure over time. Reading books and understanding theory will only get you so far, experimenting and understanding the dynamics of film, really allows you to take that next step. I never got to shoot color negative in school, they always taught with black and white reversal, which is very challenging to expose properly. 

 

I highly suggest buying a wind-up Bolex R16 camera. They're really easy to use, have a fixed shutter speed and are cheap to buy with lenses. 100 foot spools are cheap to buy and process and they give you a bit more run-time @ 24fps then super 8, which is nice. Plus, there are no batteries necessary, so nothing really stops you from grabbing the camera and going to shoot. Then you can get the lab to process and make a  one light print of your film and project it. This way you can see exactly what your negative looks like without going through any digital processes. All of this by the way, isn't very expensive, you've just gotta buy a meter, camera, projector and go experiment! 

 

Once you get the techniques, then it's really easy to rent or buy a better camera and shoot something for real. 

 

I too am dismayed with the lack of film programs out there. I'd love to do something about it when and if I have money! 


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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 05:17 PM

The major problem I see is that there are no excellent examples of "if you do this to Kodak 7219" then these effects will happen.
If you do this when you tell the lab to print, then these effects will happen.
 
Most of the books out there deal with the physical cinematography and lens/optical science.  I don't know what Vision3 500t looks like when exposed and developed at 160 ASA. I bet it looks wonderful, but who knows.  I was just the other day thinking that there should be just this sort of thing on youtube.  There are very brief videos of how to setup some equipment (Arri S / BL, Eclare, CP cameras &c), how to load, and there are excellent examples of lighting styles.  BUT, there are very few examples of FILM NEGATIVE being scanned and shown as an example.
 
I've tried my best to search out examples so I can get a sense of what a camera is capable of raw, and I don't know that there has EVER been a video made of a color timer adjusting printer lights. David seems to be the one that might best chime in on that point. I've finally started doing test on 16mm, and watching every new 16mm film negative production I can find.  

I believe Geoff Boyle has some of what you are asking for in terms of exposure wedge tests: http://www.cinematog....net/index.html

Also there's also some good stuff in this book: http://www.cinematog...227#entry348665
In fact, read everything listed in that forum!

Of course, the best way to learn is to shoot tests for yourself, and the closing of so many labs has made getting film processed and work prints made much more of a hassle. I used to take a film post production class through the community college at my local lab, Monaco Film and Digital in San Francisco, now long gone. I would regularly take in 100' 16mm rolls shot on my own camera, order workprints, and watch them at home on my projector. If there was a problem, I could walk in and simply talk to the printer. It's a much more expensive and time consuming process now, so I rarely do it anymore.

Anyway, I think the important thing is to learn and internalize the main concepts of shooting celluloid. From there you can get a cheap manual film SLR or a 16mm Bolex and start shooting yourself. I would recommend getting Ansel Adams's books 'The Camera' and 'The Negative.' Buy a light meter, you'll definitely need an incident meter and later on you can get a spot meter if you want to try the zone system.

One of best tests to shoot when trying out a new film stock is called the over/under-exposure test. The goal is to see:

1. What happens when you under or overexpose the film while printing or scanning at the same settings?

2. What happens when you correct for those errors, in other words how much can you get away with?

Once you see the results, you should know:
1. How to best expose the negative to get the effect you want.
2. How much dynamic range you have to play with.
3. How much latitude you have to make exposure mistakes before irreversibly screwing up a shot.
4. How exposure will affect certain colors.

You would do this test for every film stock you plan on using for a particular project, and for every variable in processing that you will be using (different lab, push, pull, bleach bypass, etc).

You set up a scene in a dark room with a human subject facing the camera and light them evenly with a tungsten key light up to f/8. Put an 18% grey card, a color chart, and a slate in the foreground, also lit to f/8. In the background, hang a black reference like a piece of velvet and a white reference like a piece of white showcard, also lit to f/8. On the slate, put the film stock, the lens aperture, and the number of stops you will under or overexposing the image (0, +1, +2, etc). Meter using the recommended ISO/ASA rating on the box. Use ND filters to maintain a consistent stop throughout.

Start with a normal exposure, T8 or T2 with ND1.2. This is your baseline (0). Then start underexposing in 1 stop increments from there by scrimming down the lights and adding nets. I would try to go down to (-4) if possible. Then go back to your baseline (0). Start overexposing now by removing ND, you should be able to get to (+4). Now, send the film to the lab with written instructions:

Please print twice: 1. One-light Workprint for the first shot at the head of the roll. 2. Timed Workprint - please correct every shot to match shot #1.

You would do the same for the lab doing the scanning. Again, #1 is so you can see what over and underexposure actually looks like for creative effect, and #2 is so you can see how far you can go and still be safe.
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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 05:39 PM

I'll also add that you can shoot a modified 5219 and 5212 with your stills camera: http://cinestillfilm.com. You can buy it at B&H.
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 07:59 PM

I'll also add that you can shoot a modified 5219 and 5212 with your stills camera: http://cinestillfilm.com. You can buy it at B&H.

 

That's interesting that the company says that is not repackaged Vision-3 movie film but uses the same emulsion technology but for C-41 processing instead of ECN-2 (which requires a remjet step).  Don't know how they managed that.

 

But it would be fun to try out.

 

Not sure that a YouTube video of some timer working a Hazeltine or Comparator would teach you much about RGB printer light, since a cinematographer never gets to see those devices at work either.  Your best teacher would be a timer discussing the printing lights for something you shot.  Even better would be to shoot a test at different ASA ratings, all normal development, and have everything printed to match at normal brightness and projected in a print, and then look at the printer light values that come with the print (it comes printed on a slip of paper), and talk with the timer then in the screening room.

 

The ASC Manual has a good article by Richard Crudo about determining a good set of printer lights for your film.


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#9 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 09:48 PM

Hi David, they prewash the remjet off before packaging it so the film is very sensitive to overexposure. Normal C41 processing. Highlights halate red. I like the texture a lot. Have yet to try their 100ISO stock. I can check if they are KS or BH perfs when I get home, can't remember off hand.

Here are some stills I shot in Japan earlier this year with their 800ISO stock: https://flickr.com/p...157652229116972.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 10:00 PM

The remjet backing also acts as an anti-halation backing so does that mean this still stock is prone to halation?
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#11 Dirk DeJonghe

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 01:00 AM

A very good read to understand the basics of photography is 'The Negative' by Ansel Adams. It iteaches how to use a spot meter, the zone system and how processing and printing are used to create an interesting image; Not all is applicable to motion picture film, but many customers who have read this book at my recommendation were very satisfied. 'Expose for the shadows and let the highlights fall..'

Feel free to ask questions about traditional film grading (timing), I still do this on a daily basis (almost).


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#12 Simon Wyss

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 06:12 AM

The remjet backing also acts as an anti-halation backing so does that mean this still stock is prone to halation?

 

Please, absolutely no offense intended, but should we please not employ the expression remjet in conjunction with film?!

 

Revomal jets, underwater warm water jets are in use with processing machines, they spray away the soaked anti-halation gelatine back layer. That is the correct term, a backing or a back layer. There’s no such thing as remjet backing. I know that you know that I know that you know these things.

 

I feel a responsibility towards newbies and everybody not familiar with motion-picture film technology, to use the right nomenclature. It’s of course not the most important part of filmmaking. That’s why I am stopping here.


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#13 Miguel Angel

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 06:49 AM

Satsuki, thank you very much for introducing me to Cinestills! 

 

I have been using Kodak Vision XXXX for ages for my Leica but I had always to send the rolls away for being developed and the waiting period killed me. 

 

Now I can shoot and get the rolls developed in the same day! Awesome! :) 

 

I have bought 2 of each! 

 

Have a good day! 


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#14 Jay Young

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 07:17 AM

 Your best teacher would be a timer discussing the printing lights for something you shot.  Even better would be to shoot a test at different ASA ratings, all normal development, and have everything printed to match at normal brightness and projected in a print, and then look at the printer light values that come with the print (it comes printed on a slip of paper), and talk with the timer then in the screening room.

 

The ASC Manual has a good article by Richard Crudo about determining a good set of printer lights for your film.

 

Its this kind of information that is invaluable to those of us that didn't grow up with the process!  I'm starting camera tests now, and actually decided it would be best to process all of my current tests as normal, with slates marked for different rates.  I never knew to ask to have it printed twice!   Thanks for the info David, you're always a wellspring of awesome.


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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 11:26 AM

You don't have to print things twice, you shoot a series of shots of a person and a grey scale in fairly boring frontal light, at different ISO ratings noted on a slate and/or on a sign in the shot, and have the timer just time each shot to match each other based on the grey scale.

 

So you get a timed print where each shot is at different printer light values, generally the higher numbers are the overexposed shots printed down to normal.  You have a range of 50 printer light points to work in for RGB.  Roughly 8 points = 1 stop of density.

 

Most normally exposed footage prints in the high 20's at labs but you may find that you prefer the look of overexposed shots printed back down to normal in the mid 30's, for example -- generally the blacks will be snappier and the grain a little tighter.


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#16 Nathan Walters

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 02:26 PM

Wow an incredible wealth of information here.  Thanks everyone for sharing.

Looking at spot meters online and I'm shocked at how affordable they seem to be.  So definitely going to look into getting one. 
Also going to try to get my hands on a bolex r16 camera, if I can muster the extra room in the pocket book.
And of course "The Negative" by Ansel Adams.

I can't speak for everyone in my "upcoming" generation of filmmakers, but I think I speak for a lot of people when I say film seems like a very out of reach thing.  I honestly doubted I would ever come to use it until I recently read through "The Camera Assistant's Manual" by David Elkins and the ASC Manual, which are both very film focused and helped beat some concepts into my brain.  Now it feels much more attainable but I'm still trying to find that extra bit of information to somewhat "push me over the edge." 

------

One more, probably dumb, question.  Shooting mostly (lets face it, always) on digital, I'm often able to get away a lot with low lighting.  Film requires more light, am I correct?  So that's something I should take into account when shooting?  Definitely would appreciate some personal insight here.


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#17 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 02:43 PM

It's not really more light, per say, but since your fastest film is 500ASA and a "typical" d-cinema camera is generally nominally 800asa there will be some difference. Of course, that 2/3rds a stop (or we can be generous and say full stop) extra light you might need isn't impossible to get.

I will say, however, film deal a lot better with being over-exposed than under, so on a 500T I'd often rate it at 320 to get a little over-exposure to being with which we'd then print down.
I find, however, people often worry about the quantity of light they need as opposed to the quality of the light or of the right light in the right place for the scene (not always possible of course).

 

I recall very well on my days even back on the '18/'60 and '79 kodaks getting away with ambient lighting at night in many locations as a nice base from which to modify when I had to. I think you'll find much more trouble, or fulfillment depending on the project, from having the balance the lighting without the aid of a monitor-- and I mean that not just in intensity, but also in color. (plus and minus green, warming and cooling gels or on camera filters etc).

 

Another thing on the newer Kodaks, in 35mm, at least, I'd have no worries at all exposing 5219 at 1600 ISO for a 2 stop push and slight pull-down in the scan. It handles that very well, and as long as you're not cutting it with stuff say shot at 500 i don't think you'd really notice the granularity increase.

 

 

 

All that said, what i recall most from film was that I didn't have to worry nearly as much about the images being on the negative-- something will be there-- sometimes a happy surprise you weren't expecting but just works so well. It was much easier, in many ways, than these days with a bunch of arm-chair DoPs sitting around a monitor clamoring about minutia in a frame, or misinterpreting what they are seeing awfully (as much as I'd love to always have the right lut on a monitor on the day, that is not nearly always possible). And let's not even get into the DITman who can sometimes really cause waves.


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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 04:46 PM

Depends on what you mean by "get away with low light"...  

 

Many people rate 500T at 320 to 400 ASA or push it one stop but rate it between 640 to 800 ASA.  That's all within the same range as a Red or Alexa but the difference is that with a digital camera, you can use higher ASA ratings with relatively less noise increase compared to 500T grain, especially pushed, plus you have more flexibility to increase the shutter time... so yes, when you need to shoot in really low light level conditions, digital tends to be more flexible.

 

But for your average interior scene with artificial lighting, the light levels for 500T film are only slightly higher on average than with a 800 ASA digital camera.  Nowadays you have even more sensitive cameras though, such as the Sony F55 with its 1250 ASA base, or the Sony A7S still camera, which shoots at 3200 ASA when set to S-Log.

 

It's not a bad idea if you want to learn about lighting to work with a lower ASA film stock, it sort of forces you to not rely on available light.  If you can light an interior for 100 to 200 ASA and make it feel natural, then everything else will be easier, just like how it is a good skill to be able to light a stage set (or a night interior space) and have it look completely convincing for daylight.

 

I learned filmmaking by shooting Super-8 Plus-X b&w reversal and K40 Kodachrome, with only a 650w open-faced tungsten light and some photoflood bulbs (250w and 500w) in reflector dish housings, after than, 200T color negative seemed fast to me.


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#19 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 09:08 PM

 
Please, absolutely no offense intended, but should we please not employ the expression remjet in conjunction with film?!
 
Revomal jets, underwater warm water jets are in use with processing machines, they spray away the soaked anti-halation gelatine back layer. That is the correct term, a backing or a back layer. Theres no such thing as remjet backing. I know that you know that I know that you know these things.
 
I feel a responsibility towards newbies and everybody not familiar with motion-picture film technology, to use the right nomenclature. Its of course not the most important part of filmmaking. Thats why I am stopping here.


Oh all right Simon, anti-halation backing it is! Kodak always referred to it as remjet, hence my confusion. Yes, Cinestill halates red like crazy. Other than that, it looks great!
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#20 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 09:18 PM

image.jpg

Cinestill is 5219. BH perfs.
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