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Shooting on film - keeping track of how much film is shot


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#1 Albion Hockney

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 11:31 AM

I was just curious on a set shooting film who is in charge of keeping track of how much film is being shot. By this I don't mean for changing magazines, but for keeping track of how the production is doing so they don't run out of film/go over costs. does someone in the camera department usually talk to a producer about this? as a DP just now starting to shoot film on lower budget projects I am very worried about our shooting ratios and on the day I know I also don't want to be too worried about it so just curious what the delineation usually is.

 

thanks!


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#2 Jay Young

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 11:51 AM

Clapper/Loader - 2nd AC.

 

They keep track of the number of feet of exposed film, and the amount of unexposed stock ready to go. Or at least they use to.

They also load and unload the film, of course. 


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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 11:56 AM

You're basically budgeted for a certain amount of film for the whole project and the line producer/UPM will break this down into a daily average.  If you are shooting at a higher ratio than expected, the line producer who is ordering the stock and paying for it is going to find out and come down to the set and talk to the DP and then the director about why they are going to go over-budget on film.

 

Many times I've had the line producer come to set and say "yesterday you shot 7000' of film when you're only budgeted to shoot 5000' a day."  And you can tell him something like "yesterday we shot a dinner table scene with seven speaking parts that had to be covered" or "we did fifteen takes because the actor couldn't get through the dialogue"... In other words, it's not a trend.

 

Or maybe there is a real problem and you'll tell the producer "we are shooting a lot more takes or set-ups than we talked about in prep" -- meaning, it is time for the producer to have a chat with the director.

 

Now, sometimes after that chat, it just means that the budget has to be tweaked to accommodate the higher shooting ratio, but often that money has to come out of somewhere else, maybe the number of post days, maybe your D.I. session time will be cut, etc.  Or maybe you'll have to switch to buying short ends and recans when you didn't plan on that in prep.

 

I usually start out with a base of a 1000' can per page, or roughly a 10:1 ratio for 4-perf 35mm (10 minutes to the can, one page = one minute, etc.) so I can figure out if our actual ratio needs to be a percentage amount more than that.  In other words, if we are shooting five pages a day, I'd start out hoping we can shoot it on 5000' of 35mm a day.  Of course, if you are shooting 3-perf or it is a two-camera shoot, you'll have to make further adjustments to your calculations.

 

Yes, the loader who is doing inventory will be the first to tell you have much you are shooting every day, plus all that info goes to the lab and the lab tells the producer, etc.  Plus the info is on production reports, camera reports, script supervisor notes, etc.


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#4 Albion Hockney

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 12:28 PM

Thank you this is great info!


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#5 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 12:54 PM

Yea, David is spot on… clapper/loader.

However, as a DP, I always load my own mags. First thing in the morning as we're setting up for the first shot, I'll give my AC/Gaffer some directions, go back to the camera truck and load some mags. This gives me ample time to load the stocks I feel are necessary for the day based on the sides. Plus, and this is something I always tell people wanting to get into film; It's your ass when shit goes wrong. If you let a loader build the magazine and it jams, ruining a take or worse off, the whole roll, nobody blames the loader, they blame you. I had two bad experiences with loaders and I will never do that again. I load my own mag's, cameras, I check my own gates and I insure personally that every foot of film running through the camera will be exposed properly and usable in the final product. If there is something wrong, I will be the one to decide what to do about it.

I always aim for a 10:1 shooting ratio as well.

Log sheets are VERY important. A lot of people skimp on these. However, they really help with post production. I always photocopy my log sheets before the lab get's them. This way, my script supervisor and I can look at what we shot in our post-shoot meetings and discuss what the next day will entail. Plus, I use those sheets for editing, especially when cutting on film.

I've never once been in a position where I've shot too much and it's been a problem. Generally, when doing the budget, we account for a 10 - 20% overage when it comes to aspects of "film". This generally covers mistakes/over-shoots and allows the production to keep going without getting into financial worries. Yes, I've absolutely used up that extra 20% before, we've been "tight" on budget, but never overage enough to warrant taking from another department. It all comes down to proper budgeting and understanding the constraints of using film as a capture medium.
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#6 Miguel Angel

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 02:17 PM

With all my respects Tyler, I think your experiences with loaders have you biased (is that the right word? :)

 

Sometimes jams happen and it might be because the magazine itself got loose or because of how the loader loaded the magazine, or even the camera can go wrong and create a jam but that is something that producers, directors and directors of photography know that can happen and they are all "ok" with that. 

 

It is something that you don't want to happen but in a normal 3 / 4 months movie you are going to have a jam at some stage, because it happens regardless!. 

And then, you take the mag, put another one and shoot the take again and nobody gets angry nor upset. 

 

Now, if you have 4 jams each day.. that's something that you have to fix! 

 

If you have a very good loader, he / she knows what you are going to use for the day because there is a whole conversation between the loader and the cinematographer every single day, during the day and at the end of the day so he / she knows what you will be using for the following sequences. 

 

In fact, it gets better! he / she will have created a sheet with the necessities of the movie per day based on your instructions! :) 

 

And not only that but he / she will take care of the short - ends (something very important) and you know that he / she is a good loader when, at the end of the movie, you don't have short - ends left or very few (unless specified) 

 

Nowadays you wouldn't have to photocopy your camera reports because the loader would send you a pdf copy even before you hit the hotel ;) with all the instructions for the lab and etc.

 

In Europe, the loader has a conversation with the line production manager every single day regarding the feet shot and left and he / she is the one who orders the stock after talking with the cinematographer, usually that conversation is weekly or if something like what David described above happens (shooting more than expected), it is on a daily basis. 

 

Also, in commercials in Europe, the loader is the lab's point of contact and if something goes wrong he / she will know before the cinematographer and he / she will communicate that to the cinematographer. 

 

It is like that because usually the cinematographer is busy shooting during the day and, unless specified, the actual development of the film is early in the morning so the very first thing that the loader does when he gets up is to ring the lab and see what's going on and the lab keeps him / her up to dated. 

 

So, Tyler, you need a better loader next time! :) 

 

Have a good day!


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#7 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 03:05 PM

Admittedly, I've never had a professional union loader on any of my shows. When you work low-budget, you get what you pay for. I did a documentary shot on 16 with SR's and the director brought in "top industry guy" to take care of the film aspects. We shot three cameras and you can't make mistakes with doc's because you get one chance. Two of the three cameras jammed right at the beginning of the show, both because he didn't wind the take up reel enough and the film fell off the reel and filled up the mag. So we got maybe 50 feet in and the cam's jammed. Problem is, we didn't know until we stopped the cameras because we couldn't hear the cameras. During our scheduled mag changes, we noticed the perf's were torn. I slammed the next mag in and kept shooting, put my assistant on the camera to try and diagnose what was going on with the mags. I collected them and took them apart in the changing bag, sure enough my suspicion was right, we lost the first 10 minutes of the show. I've had similar problems on narratives, but as you said, it's no big deal. You grab another mag, clean the camera and keep going.

Part of my big beef is fingers on film and oil, greases, dirt getting onto the negative. I worked with this great crew shooting commercial's for a while and their loader was horrible. We'd get the transfer and the first 30 seconds of each load was dirty as all hell. I had a discussion with the lab and made sure they weren't somehow causing the problem. I then went over how the loader was putting the film into the mag's. Turns out, he didn't wear gloves and he'd touch the center of the film to help push it through into the take up side of the mag. He was leaving physical debris in the magazine itself, maybe left over food in his arm hair, don't know. I watched him load the Arri 3 once and you know that gate, it's simple. Man, by the time he was done, he had touched every surface of the film with his greasy fingers, yuck. It really dismayed me because I had no say since I was just a freelance gun. Unfortunately, the company moved to F900 and eventually went out of business, so that was the end of me shooting 35.

Anyway, on small shows, it's just important to keep an eye on these things since you can't pay for the top people who know what their doing.
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#8 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 04:54 PM

I've never heard of a film loader wearing gloves.
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#9 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 05:16 PM

I've never heard of a film loader wearing gloves.


Yep, cuz nobody cares.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 05:57 PM

What difference does it make if someone's fingers touch the first ten feet on a roll when loading? It's not like they can touch the film wound inside the roll.  I don't see AC's trying to thread a 35mm camera with white gloves on either.

 

I don't see finger grease as being any sort of contributor to dirt on a roll, what matters more is how clean they keep the mags, their changing tent, and the darkroom.

 

Yes, loading is an important job, just like balancing the load on a genie is an important job, or safety rigging a car mount, but you don't see me taking time away from being DP by doing those jobs.  In fact, it doesn't speak well of the DP when his crew is so bad that he has to do their jobs for them -- nor does it make your 1st AC look good if his loader is so bad that the DP has to go into the darkroom to load the mags.


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#11 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 06:07 PM

Again, on big shows when you've got big pay crew, you'd expect perfection. I don't even think about big shows because I will never be apart of one as a cinematographer, so it doesn't phase me. I only mention it because the OP is probably not making a big movie.

I just care a bit more for the medium then most and expect the best results. I see people touching original camera negative without gloves and I get pissed.
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#12 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 08:11 PM

I just care a bit more for the medium then most and expect the best results.

 

As do many others on this forum.

 

I've always loaded my own camera negatives but never with gloves.  And I've never experienced any adverse results because of that practice.  Personally, I'd be more concerned with a loose thread finding its way into the mag if the loader was wearing gloves.


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#13 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 08:21 PM

 

I've never heard of a film loader wearing gloves.


Has anyone ever seen this? .... Now for the debate over human nose grease as a gate lubricant?
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#14 Giray Izcan

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 11:37 PM

I know the negative cutters wear white gloves, but not film loaders. The first few feet of film is for threading etc anyways, so there is no picture on that part of the negative anyways. I personally like to roll out the last foot or so of the film instead trying to shoot and actual take to avoid having any scratched up takes during canning the film. Also, I've always done the nose grease trick, and has worked well for me.


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#15 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 02:06 AM

Editors wear white gloves, I've never seen a camera assistant wearing them. Good practice gives a film roll leader on either end (unless there's a run out at the end durimg a take), which is the part the AC will touch apart from the side of the roll, plus it'll be goiing through a chemical process afterwards.

 

Damage is more likely from mechancial things in the camera or magazine 


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#16 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 04:21 AM

Tyler - do you pull focus as well ? Also, what kind of gloves do you wear when you load your mags ? In my mind gloves would be more of a hazard with lint and fibres easily being deposited in the magazine.


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#17 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 01:34 PM

Yes, I always pull focus. I came from the ENG world and I like to be up next to the lens using the standard viewfinder. So my left hand is always available to turn knobs. If I have to pull more then one thing (zoom/focus/iris) then my AC will step in and help. However, I tend to use primes and light for a single stop.

The gloves I use are not made of cotton, they're made of a soft polymer. They are designed for this application and a camera service guy gave me a pair 20 years ago. I honestly don't even now where they are today! I don't shoot much film anymore. :(
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#18 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 02:14 AM

I ask because I have never ever seen a loader use gloves. I've seen an AC use silk gloves while threading the camera, but thats only because it was cold, and he would pull off his bulky gloves and leave the silk liner on for mag changes.


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#19 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 02:40 AM

p

The gloves I use are not made of cotton, they're made of a soft polymer. They are designed for this application

 

 

Specifically which application?  Loading magazines? Or something else?


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#20 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 03:38 AM

Specifically which application?  Loading magazines? Or something else?


They're actually made for NASA and building space vehicles. They're very soft and NASA prohibits them from leaving anything behind. So I assume DuPont made them for the space program. I've never seen these gloves anywhere outside of camera shops that are long out of business. I learned about film cameras from a professional Arriflex certified technician, so I just used his techniques and they work great.
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