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Kodak and the future of film acquisition


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#1 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 17 September 2015 - 06:24 PM

I'm at odds with the digital revolution. On one hand, we're seeing phenomenal technological increases which in tern, have lowered the price of equipment to acceptable levels. On the other hand, technology is moving so fast, buying in can be a complete waste of money. In my eyes, the digital revolution mainly exists because unlike film, digital camera bodies themselves determine the quality. It's less about lenses and more about the technology crammed into that little camera. Henceforth, everyone who buy's in, will have to upgrade no matter what. Digital has a built-in "sell by date", which makes the equipment/accessory manufacturers very happy. 

 

On the flip side you have film. Camera bodies are getting cheaper and cheaper as rental houses and production companies dump them in favor of next week's hot digital camera. It's become increasingly more difficult to deal with film production as well, with less labs and less competition, pricing has been flatlined across the board. Plus, in more remote locations, it can take days to get dailies back, making digital shooting seem almost like a necessity. Few years ago, it felt like the war between film and digital was over, one's and zero's prevailing over a physical image. 

 

During the process of budgeting a feature I plan on making very soon, I've been learning more and more about the state of film and wish to discuss some exciting changes. 

 

The first big piece of news is stock pricing. Kodak has all-new motion picture film department management. They brought in people passionate about keeping the business alive. They have new extremely aggressive pricing (more about that below) and they seem focused on continuing the development of newer stock technology. 

 

Second and something many people have talked about, the Alpha Grip mobile lab. This is currently based in NYC, but is two semi trucks that go on location to your movie and give you immediate dailies. By their estimate, they can process 20,000 feet of film per shift and pricing is negotiable depending on your shoot location. 

 

Third is this curious move of many early digital adopters, back to film acquisition. Danny Boyle's "JOBS" being mostly shot on 16mm and 35mm. Micheal Mann's new film "Ferrari" is slated to be shot in 35mm as well. Mann quoted as saying, he just saw "Heat" on film and can't believe how good it looked. There are many other examples of people making the leap back to film just for the look. 

 

Finally, film acquisition is now cheaper then it's been in decades. Part of that is due to reduced cost of stock and processing (more about that below) but the other part is due to the availability of 3 perf and 2 perf cameras. It's fairly easy to get 2 perf cameras from Panavision, Clairmont and Able Cine Tech. Thus 35mm film production cost has reduced substantially. Price to purchase super 16mm cameras has dropped to below most digital cinema cameras, allowing you to own a body and maybe even glass for the price of a decent digital cinema camera that will be out of date in 6 months and require even more expensive glass to shoot with. 

 

Now, down to the nitty gritty, the numbers! 

 

Kodak wants to sell stock. So they've got a new policy which basically lets the filmmaker negotiate stock price. I know that sounds too good to be true, but that's their new policy. Base pricing on 16mm is .36/foot and on 35mm .56/foot. This is a lot lower then advertised pricing and could be considered the new "high" as it can only get lower. Kodak suggests submitting a budget to them and they can try to match it. 

 

I've worked with FotoKem for years, but their pricing on film processing and transfer is also pretty negotiable. They normally charge .22/ft for processing and another .28/ft for 2k telecine with raw color space and production audio synced together and delivered as Pro Res files. However, when discussing pricing, they said the same thing Kodak did, submit a budget and we'll figure out how to make this work with your budget. In terms of the 4k finishing scan, it's roughly $2.50/ft, which is about average. They can't negotiate much on that rate, but they can do a much better rate on a 2k scan, but we all know distributors want 4k. 

 

When you start doing the math, you come to some interesting conclusions. 

 

These numbers are based on a 10:1 shooting ratio, 100 minute final film and 4k from acquisition through distribution. 

 

- Renting a 35mm 2 perf camera and spherical lenses, is about half the price of a Alexa or modern Red package

- Camera + stock cost on 2 perf film pretty much equals 4k digital shooting on RAW.

- Processing and transfer are really the only two "film only" expenses. Yes, they can be upwards of $30k for both of those things, just so you can have dailies. However, so far that's the only true expense I can see that separates film and digital. 

- With film of course you have to scan the negative after finished, but the cost of that is about equal to the post processing required to deal with digital RAW files from an Alexa or RED. I know that sounds whack, but check this out. Shooting digital in RAW takes more time to color and process then film. There is a lot of computer rendering time and that add's up very quick. Sure, if you can do everything at home, there is a cost savings. However, most feature films are going to use a lab and pay their pricing.  

 

With all that said, 2 perf 35mm (10:1, 100 min film, 4k workflow) came out to be $30k more then shooting 4k digital.  However, if your workflow switches to S16, still keeping the same 10:1 ratio and 4k finish, the pricing dramatically swings towards film. If you lower the shooting ratio from 10:1 to 5:1 and only finish on 2k, 35mm vs Digital acquisition becomes a wash. So it's really only that high ratio of 35mm AND 4k finish which equates to the $30k discrepancy. 

 

Finally, as technology increases, film stocks will get better and digital scanners will also get better. We all know that 4 perf full-frame 35mm negative can yield upward of 6k worth of information, yet we're not capturing that data at this time. So with film, we can always get more information in the future. With digital, what you capture is pretty much what you get on the back end. There is nothing we can do to magically make it look better. So today, digital isn't really a future proof acquisition format, it really isn't. Will the 6k raw files for "Revenant" exist in 20 years so we can distribute the film on our new 8k televisions? Most likely not and that movie will be stuck at whatever resolution it's finished at today. Smaller, lower budget projects will have even worse issues in the future, making a lot of our history of cinema disappear. 

 

In summary, film acquisition today is cheaper and higher quality then it's been since the format was conceived, well over 100 years ago. It has the longest shelf life of any other image capture medium. It has the best frame per frame dynamic range of any other medium. It has analog colors, like our eyes are use to seeing and if that's not enough, it's something physical, not just one's and zero's. So there really is no excuse for not shooting on film, it's just a matter of actually coming up with a budget and making it work. The net result is going to be a unique "classic" look that will hopefully remind viewers what visual content is suppose to look like. 

 

There we have it, my monthly rant on film! :)

 

Thanks for reading and please ignore the spelling, grammatical errors. I'm not a english professor, I shoot films and my language is the moving picture camera. 


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#2 John E Clark

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Posted 17 September 2015 - 08:06 PM

So from a handy online table, one finds that 2-perf 35mm film @ 24 fps, yields about 45 feet per minute. or 4500 feet of 'delivered' for the 100 minute feature.... but at a 10:1 shooting ratio, that would be 45000 feet.

 

So, for a 2k 'telecine' transfer, and about $1 per foot... that's about $45K for film processing (neglecting camera/lens rental).

 

Which for even a very modest budget of say $5M, is 'chicken feed'... probably spend much more than that on first class air fare per SAG requirements for the named talent...

 

But at a $100K budget... Film film is pretty much out of the question... and if that 4K scan is $2.50 just for the scan...  would that be just for the finished film footage, or would that also be for the 45000 feet... if so, that would be about $3.00/ft ($0.50 for processing $2.50 for scaning) or about $135K.

 

For 4-perf the burn rate is 90 ft/minute so double the above numbers.

 

As for the shooting ratio... this was my observation back when the Wife moved from Film film to Digital film for her wedding coverage... her shooting numbers 'shot' up... we would take perhaps 1200-1500 shots, and probably had about a 10% rejection off the bat for some image quality reasons... but she liked to deliver all that to the customer (much to the consternation of other photogs... but that's a different story...).

 

Post switch to digital... her image counts were about 2500-3000... with again the 10% rejection... but wading through the morass of images became... ugh... arduous... for both the Wife and the clients...

 

In my short film experience I've seen a similar trend of more takes... 'just in case' takes, etc. leading to arduous selection sessions and editing (not to mention the storage/processing requirements for more footage... then there's RAW...)...

 

My problem of course is that I don't work with paid talent, so, I do have to take more takes than perhaps a pro production does... just to get some performance that is reasonable. My typical goal is at most 3 takes...

 

And yeah, some of this is from the POV of director not necessarily the DoP... but some of it is, in that for more complex shots one may have movement, focus pulling, steadycam action, etc. which all needs to be choreographed.

 

I do like the Mac Truck idea for the processing... sure would take away the anxiety of putting exposed film on the FedEx truck...


Edited by John E Clark, 17 September 2015 - 08:07 PM.

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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 17 September 2015 - 08:55 PM

So from a handy online table, one finds that 2-perf 35mm film @ 24 fps, yields about 45 feet per minute. or 4500 feet of 'delivered' for the 100 minute feature.... but at a 10:1 shooting ratio, that would be 45000 feet.


When you account for waste, it's roughly 50,000 feet

50,000 x .56 = 28,000 (stock cost)
50,000 X .22 = 11,000 (processing)
50,000 x .28 = 14,000 (prep/audio sync/2k telecine)

So for $53k, all of you're "film" stuff is handled.

At this point, you can do a quick color and show your film. If it's bought, you can have the distributor help finance the final finish, which really is around $75 - $100k for music, effects, sound mix, coloring and 4k scan/DCP, no matter what you shoot on.

If you cut those numbers in half (5:1 ratio), the price comes in at a very reasonable $30k or so. Good actors, good script, lots of rehearsing, you can easily shoot something @ 5:1 and all you'd need is a 2 perf camera/lens rental.

Switch to S16 @ 5:1 ratio, you'll drop another $6k off your stock cost and may never need a 4k scan.
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#4 John E Clark

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Posted 18 September 2015 - 12:47 PM

When you account for waste, it's roughly 50,000 feet

50,000 x .56 = 28,000 (stock cost)
50,000 X .22 = 11,000 (processing)
50,000 x .28 = 14,000 (prep/audio sync/2k telecine)

So for $53k, all of you're "film" stuff is handled.

At this point, you can do a quick color and show your film. If it's bought, you can have the distributor help finance the final finish, which really is around $75 - $100k for music, effects, sound mix, coloring and 4k scan/DCP, no matter what you shoot on.

If you cut those numbers in half (5:1 ratio), the price comes in at a very reasonable $30k or so. Good actors, good script, lots of rehearsing, you can easily shoot something @ 5:1 and all you'd need is a 2 perf camera/lens rental.

Switch to S16 @ 5:1 ratio, you'll drop another $6k off your stock cost and may never need a 4k scan.

 

I was under the impression that 'distributors' where only buying material that was 'ready for distribution', including providing DCP packages, etc. with the filmmaker paying any cost up to that point.

 

Since I've not gone through this process... I only have the various postings on such topics for information.


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#5 Pavan Deep

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Posted 18 September 2015 - 02:44 PM

From my own experiences I have found that shooting Super 16 these days is certainly a lot easier and cheaper, despite the doom and gloom of lab closures and a lot of the old infrastructure disappearing, I find that for the small independent filmmaker it's actually become easier to work with Super 16. The other important thing is 'shooting ratio', film costs will always be dependent on how much film you shoot and process and then how you get that film scanned. Personally I've never understood 'shooting ratios' [realistically I am not going to shoot every shot 10 times, may be some shots but not all], for my own work 'shooting ratios' are tight, this is not because I don't want to shoot more film but mainly due to time, the longer it takes the more 'everything' [not just film] costs.

 

Pav


Edited by Pavan Deep, 18 September 2015 - 02:57 PM.

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#6 Manu Delpech

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 07:18 AM

Sorry for bringing this thread back from the dead, but Tyler saying you can negotiate with Kodak has me interested even though 0.56 $/ft for 35 mm stock is still really expensive, I see 400 feet rolls of Vision 3 at 150 $ a pop on the net, and it's fresh stock. Is there a way for a small production (skeleton crew, most of the money going into film stock, processing, telecine, scan, etc) to get even better prices than what Kodak is offering?! 


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#7 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 10:34 AM

You can contact Reel Good Films about short ends. The price you mentioned is closer to what 16mm retails for. 


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#8 Albion Hockney

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 11:49 AM

Sorry for bringing this thread back from the dead, but Tyler saying you can negotiate with Kodak has me interested even though 0.56 $/ft for 35 mm stock is still really expensive, I see 400 feet rolls of Vision 3 at 150 $ a pop on the net, and it's fresh stock. Is there a way for a small production (skeleton crew, most of the money going into film stock, processing, telecine, scan, etc) to get even better prices than what Kodak is offering?! 

 

you need to reach out to a kodak rep. tell them about your project and budget, they will help... as far as there new policy I donno tyler where did you hear that I would be curious what that is about because when you call kodak direct they still have fixed pricing.


Edited by Albion Hockney, 17 November 2015 - 11:50 AM.

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#9 Manu Delpech

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 01:16 PM

You can contact Reel Good Films about short ends. The price you mentioned is closer to what 16mm retails for. 

 

Done :-) they have good prices indeed. Thx for the suggestion.

 

I sent an email to the Kodak contact they have on their website like 4 days ago, nothing yet. We'll see if they can help. Thx.


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#10 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 01:41 PM

Sorry for bringing this thread back from the dead, but Tyler saying you can negotiate with Kodak has me interested even though 0.56 $/ft for 35 mm stock is still really expensive, I see 400 feet rolls of Vision 3 at 150 $ a pop on the net, and it's fresh stock. Is there a way for a small production (skeleton crew, most of the money going into film stock, processing, telecine, scan, etc) to get even better prices than what Kodak is offering?!


If you want one or two rolls, they probably won't be able to help. If you're shooting a feature and need ten thousand feet or more, that's when they perk up and be interested in talking with you.

If you PM me, I can give you the reps direct contact info for your area.
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#11 Manu Delpech

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 03:14 PM

Hey Tyler, I just got an answer, they can offer 30 % off the listed price, but since the listed price for a 400 ft roll is 316 $, it is still REALLY really expensive. I'd probably be shooting 8400 feet in 3 perf for a 25 min short film. 


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#12 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 03:46 PM

3 perf is 14min per 1000 feet.

So for a 28 minute film (easier math) @ a 3:1 ratio (which is tight, but doable) you'd be looking at 6000 feet.

So you're looking at:
$2800 for stock.
$1300 for processing.
$2000 for 2k RAW transfer and audio sync

So around $6200 for everything.

If you switched to Super 16mm the pricing would look like this:

$1200 for stock.
$756 for processing.
$1000 for 2k RAW transfer and audio sync

So around $3000 for everything.

I recently did a study that showed, 2 perf 35mm was only a tiny bit more money then Super 16mm. So if you can get a 2 perf camera to rent (depends on where you live) then you'll be in pretty good shape with 35mm outside of the extra stock cost per foot.

Now, those numbers don't include a 4k finish, which is where MOST of your expense will come from. Scanning negative is expensive and even with the help of our great members cutting you deals, it will be an added expense. Honestly, I'd telecine in 2k and leave it at that unless you need something higher res.
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#13 Manu Delpech

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 03:55 PM

I have all the calculations ^^ 5:1 ratio is where I'm going. Let's go through PM for the rest of the info ;)


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#14 Luke Randall

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 07:02 PM

Hey Tyler, I just got an answer, they can offer 30 % off the listed price, but since the listed price for a 400 ft roll is 316 $, it is still REALLY really expensive. I'd probably be shooting 8400 feet in 3 perf for a 25 min short film. 

 

Have you considered trimming your script so you need less stock, scanning etc? Depends on your intended distribution method, but 25 minutes is an odd length for a short film.

 

Some festivals won't even consider shorts over 10-15 minutes. Audiences can be even more fickle.

 

Cannes film festival for instance has a max run time of 15 minutes including credits.


Edited by Luke Randall, 17 November 2015 - 07:06 PM.

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#15 Manu Delpech

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Posted 18 November 2015 - 07:19 AM

I'm well aware of that Luke :-) Actually, many festivals accept up to 50 min (like Sundance), even though, of course, the shorter the better for programming it. However, it is meant to be this long and cannot be shorter, plenty of short movies that have been made into features were in the 20 min realm by the way. If the movie's really good, it will be seen. 


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#16 Jay Young

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Posted 18 November 2015 - 08:02 AM

Lets not forget that for whatever reason, Kodak says 7219 is on back order.  I don't know how a manufacturer of a product can be on back order of their own product, but whatever.

I can't buy 500T in 16mm currently from Kodak.  I haven't checked in a week or so.


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#17 David Cunningham

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Posted 18 November 2015 - 08:32 AM

Lets not forget that for whatever reason, Kodak says 7219 is on back order.  I don't know how a manufacturer of a product can be on back order of their own product, but whatever.
I can't buy 500T in 16mm currently from Kodak.  I haven't checked in a week or so.



Because these days the slit master rolls on an as needed basis on a very infrequent schedule. It's not like the old days when they basically produced as much as they could. Now they know for both qc and financial purposes they have to run low before they produce more so as not to risk sitting on stock or paying more labor hours than necessary.
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#18 Manu Delpech

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Posted 18 November 2015 - 08:58 AM

I'm guessing most of the 7219 is on The Walking Dead ^^


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#19 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 18 November 2015 - 09:36 AM

But at a $100K budget... Film film is pretty much out of the question... and if that 4K scan is $2.50 just for the scan...  would that be just for the finished film footage, or would that also be for the 45000 feet... if so, that would be about $3.00/ft ($0.50 for processing $2.50 for scaning) or about $135K.

 

Where are you getting this $2.50/ft number? That sounds like what you'd pay back in 2003: $.80/frame at 2-perf. That's nowhere near a realistic number. 

 

While I'd love to charge that much for a scan, something along the lines of $25,000-$35,000 seems more realistic for 45,000 feet of 2-perf 4k scanning in 2015 (And that's on a Northlight, a true RGB log scan, not on a high speed bayer sensor scanner, which would probably be cheaper).

 

...or are you including more than scanning in that (scene by scene grading, conforming, restoration, etc)? 

 

-perry


Edited by Perry Paolantonio, 18 November 2015 - 09:41 AM.

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#20 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 18 November 2015 - 02:34 PM

Hey Perry, I think he was using my number from FotoKem which is .11/frame @ 4k.

We'd scan selects, so 6000 feet roughly.
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