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Thoughts on getting a clean 16mm look?

16mm film negative kodak vision3

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#1 Marz Miller

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 08:01 PM

I'm shooting a project on Vision 3 250D & 500T 16mm soon, we will be scanning to 2K. I've only shot 16 mil once before and am hoping to get something that will look sharper than we got last time. This is what we ended up with last time.

 

http://www.marzmiller.com/ghost (this was also a 1080 telecine, not a 2K scan, processed normally and telecined at Fotokem)

 

Right now I'm thinking of shooting up a stop and a half and pulling one stop, as well as some de-graining in post. Any other ideas on how to get the look I'm going for?

 

I guess the look could best be described as I want it to look like very clean 35mm. We just don't have the dough for 35 this time.

 

- M


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#2 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 08:31 PM

Not to sound like a wiseguy, but you're not going to get a 35mm look simply because you're shooting 16mm.  And that footage looked pretty good to me.  The overall muted tones & lack of contrast is what put me off a bit.  But as you know, that can be controlled with lighting.  My advice would be to rated it normally, especially since you're going to be getting a 2K scan.  Even a 2-force push on 7219 looks good on the right scanner. 

 

Are you looking for a clean, near-grainless image?  If so, why shoot film?...


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#3 Marz Miller

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 08:45 PM

I really enjoy the skintones, color rendition and highlight rolloff of film, not so much the grain. You're right 16mm is going to look like 16mm. I was a big fan of how the 16mm sequences in Blue Valentine looked, and of course Lachman's work in Carol. Those felt very crisp, what do you think they did that we didn't nail in this one?

I'm not familiar with the term 2-force push. What does this mean? 


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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 08:47 PM

my advice from watching all of that is to take advantage of contrast. The more contrast your image has the less you'll notice the grain. I'd recommend also for the 500T rating it @ 320- though in truth; you may be better served, grain wise, by switching to 200T for all shooting and lighting to that for night shoots as well as, for the day stuff, using and 85ND.

 

The biggest issue is that the eye is going to look for "differences" so when you're working with flat images, the grain seems to pop out more.

 

yes a de noise would also help, but it's no panacea, you have to build your look into the camera.

 

Lets consider that whole sequence in the gallery-- it's all white-- just white. All the walls fall into a uniform tone-- and so of course the grain pops there because it's a random moving thing on a white field (well not so white here).

Imagine if you had some hits of light in the BG to break it up and give a pattern, which will help hide the texture of the grain.

 

Then consider your shot around 135-- here you are utilizing the massive dynamic range of film and we have a contrast, not extreme but the grain is almost UN-noticable (helped by a slower stock too i'd wager-- though in much of your day ext stuff you minimize the grain structure) 

 

Then look a 143--- it's a flat image-- so little contrast of course we'll be seeing every imperfection of focus, and grain.

 

 

Hope that helps.

 

 

though yes, if you want even less than 16mm done well, then you're looking at 35mm or digital capture.


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#5 Carl Looper

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 08:49 PM

Rather than trying to get a 35mm look (whatever that means) a better idea is just to get a better look out of the 16mm. But what you've got already looks just fine. I can't see any issue with grain. Grain is only an issue if you do a freeze frame and stare at it for more than a 1/48th second. Degrainers are not a good idea unless you are trying to optimise bandwidth. They will tend to make an image softer than it otherwise needs to be. Better to leave the grain in there. The grain is actually beneficial - it triangulates (so to speak) fine details and subtleties that might otherwise be lost.

 

But a way to improve a film scan is to increase the scanning resolution, eg. doing it at 4K, even if it is subsequently downrezzed to 2K. It improves the result considerably. An HDR scan also helps.

 

C


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#6 Giray Izcan

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 08:54 PM

It looks fine to me. What kind of lens did you use? Using sharper lenses help as well. if you resolve finer details in an image by shooting on sharper lenses, you could make it appear less grainy as well.


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#7 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 09:14 PM

I'm not familiar with the term 2-force push. What does this mean? 

 

Sorry.  Different way of saying I pushed the film 2 stops.  In this case, I rated the 7219 at 2K and pushed it 2 stops at the lab because I wanted a very contrasty & grainy look.


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#8 Wiliam Cardoza

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 12:06 AM

Is the Walking Dead still being shot on Super 16? ~ it's always looked really "clean" to me; I keep thinking it the lenses and perhaps shooting mostly 50D and HMI lighting  ...


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#9 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 12:11 AM

I'm actually one of those guys who loves film, but doesn't like grain. So I can feel your pain about the grain. The only REAL way to eliminate grain is to use lower ASA stocks. I've been doing some tests recently on Fuji 64D and Kodak 50D, but going direct to print with the stuff so I can see what it actually looks like. I've been blown away by the Kodak 50D 7203. It's a fantastic stock and honestly, you'd be surprised at how sensitive it is. We just did a shoot up in the snow packed mountains (pine mountain) near the grape vine and even in the shade at dusk, there was plenty of light. I also like shallow depth of field and that's something very tricky to get on S16. So lower ISO, good glass, longer focal lengths and keeping it wide open are the tricks I've always used to get that 35mm look without the grain.

Grain reduction tends to soften the image and it no longer looks crisp. Telecine's in general aren't quite as crisp as scanners either. So you were already on the softer side of things to begin with. I'm sure someone will argue that point, but it's true.

The cost difference between S16 and 2 perf 35mm isn't too bad. You may talk to panavision and Abel to see if either one can work out a deal on the camera. Panavision has great indy deals, I've priced stuff with them and was impressed. Stock and processing cost aren't much more either, you're talking 1.5x the money.

Another thing to try if you're concerned about interiors which are dark, is to shoot those on 3 perf 35mm. This will give you an image that's much less noisy then the S16, but also 1.85:1 instead of 2.35:1 like 2 perf. Then shoot all the daylight/exterior S16 to save money on those scenes. Mixing and matching 16 and 35 is cool, especially if you use 50D on the 16 and 500T (3 perf) on the 35mm. You can also get better deals renting a 3 perf camera then 2 perf camera, there are more available. 2 perf 35mm cropped to 1.85:1 is so close to the frame size of 16mm it's kinda not worth the effort.
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#10 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 12:16 AM

Is the Walking Dead still being shot on Super 16? ~ it's always looked really "clean" to me; I keep thinking it the lenses and perhaps shooting mostly 50D and HMI lighting  ...


It does look really good. I thought I read somewhere they did a telecine of everything.
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#11 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 02:30 AM

Beautiful work there, reminds me of 'Picnic at Hanging Rock.' It already looks quite clean and sharp for Super 16 to my eyes. You would have to switch to slower speed stock and sharper lenses to get more out of the format I think. 7203 50D and 7213 200T for you, plus Zeiss Ultra 16 lenses. A different scanning machine may help as well, Robert Houllahan and Perry Paolantonio would be the ones to ask about the differences.
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#12 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 03:32 AM

I pretty much so wholly disagree with most people on this thread which is a strange place to be in for me; but in all truth, at least what I saw on vimeo looked very soft and rather grainier than the S16 stuff I'd done in times past and overall it feels kinda "meh". Now the Meh is just a matter of taste, but either I've had some magical colorists or. . .

 

Even the last S16mm thing I did; while grain was present on 250D didn't look much like that at all.

In fact looking at all the S16mm stuff on my reel at present, and recalling back to even stuff I've shot on 7218, minus one or two highly stylized shots, the grain on this seems huge, and overly soft.  It to me feels like S8 i've shot before-- which is why I say, from my own experience, if you want to "hide" the grain, you need to light for more contrast.


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#13 Marz Miller

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 03:58 AM

We had some issues with the pressure plate being adjusted incorrectly (Arri 416). You can really see it in the wide of the girls on the football field, the right side of frame is softer than the left. Maybe that is where some of the softness comes from? I do agree that the flat look is mostly the lack of lighting. This whole piece is nearly all natural light and stolen locations! Next time I'll hopefully get to use more than a bounce!

 

All this talk of using sharper lenses is making me die a bit inside...we used the Zeiss Ultra 16s! 

Anyhow, anyone got opinions on the best spot in L.A. to get the scan done? I was quoted $800 to get 1800ft scanned at Cinelicious (on a Scanity), does that sound fair? Its a bit more than Fotokem, but I was disappointed in their telecine so I don't know if I want to go with them for a scan.


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#14 Marz Miller

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 04:04 AM

I'm actually one of those guys who loves film, but doesn't like grain. So I can feel your pain about the grain. The only REAL way to eliminate grain is to use lower ASA stocks. I've been doing some tests recently on Fuji 64D and Kodak 50D, but going direct to print with the stuff so I can see what it actually looks like. I've been blown away by the Kodak 50D 7203. It's a fantastic stock and honestly, you'd be surprised at how sensitive it is. We just did a shoot up in the snow packed mountains (pine mountain) near the grape vine and even in the shade at dusk, there was plenty of light. I also like shallow depth of field and that's something very tricky to get on S16. So lower ISO, good glass, longer focal lengths and keeping it wide open are the tricks I've always used to get that 35mm look without the grain.

Grain reduction tends to soften the image and it no longer looks crisp. Telecine's in general aren't quite as crisp as scanners either. So you were already on the softer side of things to begin with. I'm sure someone will argue that point, but it's true.

The cost difference between S16 and 2 perf 35mm isn't too bad. You may talk to panavision and Abel to see if either one can work out a deal on the camera. Panavision has great indy deals, I've priced stuff with them and was impressed. Stock and processing cost aren't much more either, you're talking 1.5x the money.

Another thing to try if you're concerned about interiors which are dark, is to shoot those on 3 perf 35mm. This will give you an image that's much less noisy then the S16, but also 1.85:1 instead of 2.35:1 like 2 perf. Then shoot all the daylight/exterior S16 to save money on those scenes. Mixing and matching 16 and 35 is cool, especially if you use 50D on the 16 and 500T (3 perf) on the 35mm. You can also get better deals renting a 3 perf camera then 2 perf camera, there are more available. 2 perf 35mm cropped to 1.85:1 is so close to the frame size of 16mm it's kinda not worth the effort.

I really would love to shoot 2-perf! I'll do a cost comparison and try to talk the producer into it...we won't be renting as students or anything though so I don't know what kind of camera discount we could get. What is considered a good 2-perf camera if we're doing a lot of running around and stealing locations etc? I had something that was going to be on 2-perf before that ended up falling through, we were going to use the Arri 235. 


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#15 David Cunningham

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 08:33 AM

So, my 2 cents on this is that your footage actually looks pretty good.  I think a lot of the softness is a combination of the scan, the lighting, and streaming video compression.  I bet that footage would look a lot better in the original format.

 

I agree that if you want the "cleanest" possible 16mm look you need to keep your ISO as low as possible.  If I am outdoors I try to use 50D at all times.  I actually find the trade off of increased softness due to a wider aperture in the shade worth the finer grain.  I find 250D to be pretty grainy.  The same is true for controlled lighting indoors.  If you can control the light, 200T all the way over 500T.  The 500 is great when you cannot control the lighting but far to grainy for me otherwise.  Please please please do not denoise.  It completely takes away from the look of the film.

 

The best way to get the tightest grain and sharpest image is to over sample as much as possible.  I have all my 16mm  (and Super 8) footage scanned at 5K by Cinelab or Gamma Ray Digital or 4K on the Director at MetoPost.  They provide these scans in Prores4444 (flat) at 4K.  I then master everything in 4K and then export to HD (for 16mm/16:9) or 2K (for Super 8/4:3).  Although, lately I have been uploading 4K to Vimeo and Youtube not so much for the actual resolution as much as to "fake out" the compression/bit rates on these sites to force higher bit rates despite the display they are being watched on being HD or less.  All these things yield a much tighter grain despite the fact that there is "not 5K worth of information" on the film... assuming you don't consider the grain itself to be "information".  In fact, the slow the speed the film and thus the smaller and tighter the grain the more important I feel it to be to scan as high as possible to render the grain correctly.  Embrace the grain... or shoot raw in digital and then grade in post to get your "film look"... that's what I say.

 

I am still a newbie myself when it comes to lighting, for sure.  It is KEY and possible the most important part of the production.  It's hard to get a good image from direct sunlight/spotlight as it is to get a good image in ultra low light/no light.  You need something to soften and diffuse the light source... some nice reflectors/diffusers, etc.

 

That's the end of my rant.  Sorry this example is not particularly good due to youtube, only HD and not he best upload in the fist place.  So, don't go full screen.  But, DO do HD and you will get a pretty good idea of what a good overscan and 50D can do in extremely contrasty lighting in a simple home movie setting/production:

 

 

Dave


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#16 David Cunningham

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 08:37 AM

Wowa... just watched that again and it doesn't even come close to holding a candle to the 4K Prores4444 master I have on my editing computer.  I'll try to find time to redo this and get a 4K upload to Vimeo and/or Facebook.  But, the very end closeup give you a good idea of just how nice an image you can get with just a simple Switar 25mm (non RX) lens on Vision3 50D.  My favorite part is the beautiful shadow detail in my wife's black coat while also preserving every detail of the bright white snow.  This was a fun day.


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#17 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 10:34 AM

I watched it at full-screen and it looks pretty good, Dave.  It also brought me back to my childhood and some of the snowy winters we had in New York City back in the 80s.  The music did a lot to evoke a sense of "sweet memories."

 

Was that your kid?  Adorable!


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#18 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 11:40 AM

I really would love to shoot 2-perf! I'll do a cost comparison and try to talk the producer into it...we won't be renting as students or anything though so I don't know what kind of camera discount we could get. What is considered a good 2-perf camera if we're doing a lot of running around and stealing locations etc? I had something that was going to be on 2-perf before that ended up falling through, we were going to use the Arri 235.


If you need sync sound, Aaton Penelope is where I'd go. Most of the big 2 perf shows use them and even though the mag is a pain to load and only holds 400ft, it's a super light agile camera. The only down side to shooting 35mm is the cost of rental just skyrockted because no longer can you get away with camera bodies and lenses that nobody is using, like S16. With 35mm, you've gotta use 35mm glass, which is what people on digital shows use. So you'll probably get a good deal on the body, but the glass pricing will be off the chart. Abel wanted 5600/week for the complete package glass and body. That number to me seemed so astronomical, I couldn't comprehend it and forgot all about it. But if you have a budget, most shops will negotiate heavily just to get cameras into people's hands.
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#19 Manu Delpech

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 02:53 PM

It does look really good. I thought I read somewhere they did a telecine of everything.

 

Only telecine indeed at Crawford up in Atlanta. It's one of the best looking things on super 16, but I agree that super 16 (although it looks terrific too in Steve Jobs) is really on the soft side, and the grain can be too much. 

 

I've done some cost comparisons between a super 16 package and a 2 perf one for one week of shooting, and there's barely a difference between the two. Might as well go 2 perf, it looks awesome, see The Place Beyond The Pines, On The Road, Silver Linings Playbook, all shot 2 perf and great looking. 


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#20 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 12:09 AM

We had some issues with the pressure plate being adjusted incorrectly (Arri 416). You can really see it in the wide of the girls on the football field, the right side of frame is softer than the left. Maybe that is where some of the softness comes from? I do agree that the flat look is mostly the lack of lighting. This whole piece is nearly all natural light and stolen locations! Next time I'll hopefully get to use more than a bounce!
 
All this talk of using sharper lenses is making me die a bit inside...we used the Zeiss Ultra 16s! 


Ah, well if you had pressure plate issues then it wouldn't really matter what lenses you used, since the focus would have been out at the film plane. There's really nothing you could have done on the day, short of having a technician there with you on location to fix it. How would you even have known about the problem until after the film was processed anyway?

Other than that, stopping down a bit further would help, T4/5.6. Avoiding unnecessary filters. Using the flags, side wings, and hard mattes that come the matte box to kill lens flare. Hopefully, someone can advise you on a better scanning facility to use.
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