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Questions about film aquisition from a student.


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#1 Brian Wells

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 01:57 AM

Hello group.

I've been toiling over how to approach film aquisition for a while and I'd like to hear thoughts about justifying the costs of S16mm or even S8mm aquisition and how you handle the post production side of things for different types of work, i.e. - transfer to tape, print for projection, etc.

Here is where I am at and a little about me. I'm a pretty young guy in college and am pursuing a non-film related degree, for practicalities sake, I suppose. I'm learning film through internships and becoming involved in production on any level possible.

The exposure I've had to film has been on regional commercials where they're using SRIII's and Spirit transfers, in other words, systems way outside of the reach of the "average guy" who's trying to learn hands-on. The other world I see are the folks shooting reversal s8mm and projecting it.

What's the middle ground here? What I'm sort of on the line about it the idea of purchasing (only because there are no rental houses within driving distance and shipping becomes prohibitively expensive) a LTR-7, shooting 400' of a different stock every other week ($120) and transferring at Bonolabs using the "tapeless" transfer option, which costs $162.50 for up to 15 minutes of runtime, plus a small charge for shipping and the hard drive rental. Has anyone else tried to learn film using something similiar? I'm completely overwhelmed with the idea of a $750/Hour spirit session and while that type of service could bring excellent results from excellent footage, I believe my hard earned dollars (and my parents dollars) would be better spread out over time.

My question is really indistinct. I'm sorry for that. I really wish to pursue this and am trying to make the numbers work. I'm from a family of engineers and well, we tend to deliberate over things a little too much, it's in my nature... please work with me. I'll do my best to study as much as I can on my own... and be reasonable with my concerns. HELP ME!!

What I'm really trying to ask is, what's the way you would encourage me to "get into film" using S16mm and transferring to some digital medium, even miniDV tape if necessary, to learn and hopefully be able to do this for a living someday.. Is reversal 8mm the way to go? It just seems like every way to shoot negative is expensive... at least to me.. either print it or transfer it. What other choices are there? How should I approach all of this?

Thanks.
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#2 Robert Hughes

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 05:24 AM

The world of 16mm is big enough to cover a lot of needs and budgets. Your experience with commercial shoots and the labs & techniques mentioned definately has been at the high end of the budget spectrum. Commercial productions are paying top dollar for a premium product; but what are your needs? If you have time, energy and a willingness to work with older gear you can reduce your costs tremendously.

Film stock, for example, is available in short ends and recans from dealers and on the web. I just bought a 250' short end of Vision 2 7217 off eBay for $25, or 10 cents a foot. If I send exposed film to Western Cine for processing at $.16/foot and wait until I've got enough footage to meet the local telecine's minimum rate, then I've saved a significant amount off the list prices you're paying.

You are shooting with an LTR7, which is a higher-end camera, and you are going through 400 feet every other week. What are you shooting, and what is your intended final distribution format? Are you using the appropriate medium? Would video acquisition meet some of those needs without significant quality loss?

Cheaper is not always better. How's that old line go? "If you want good apples, you need to pay a fair price, but if you're willing to take some that have been through the horse once, you can get it a little cheaper".
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#3 Brian Wells

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 06:31 AM

Thanks, Robert. To clarify my involvement in commercial shoots, I've worked as a P.A. and Slate Boy. That's it. So, while I'm pretty familiar with watching others use the tools and techniques associated, I really have no first hand/hands-on experience with any film equipment. I'm wanting to change that. My indecision is that I'm woefully uneducated on the acceptable comprises that may be taken to achieve similar results.

I like the idea saving wherever possible and certainly short ends of a very recent stock (i.e. - Vision2) from eBay seems a reasonably safe bet considering it's still fresh. Thanks for the tip. Hope your footage comes out better than imaginable!!

My interest here is shooting some stuff (what, I dunno, hopefully something well planned and executed) with the intentions of assembling a "film" reel to shop around to some local independent film groups and maybe a small ad agency. It could include a spec spot or two and maybe a short film. The idea is to finally shoot some film on my own dime to develop my craft--and hopefully have a usable marketable product in the end.. And, keep shooting on a regular basis to stay "in the groove". Hope this makes sense. Does this seem like a waste of money/resources or reasonable to learn motion picture film aquisition, telecine, post on my own time and the mentoring of folks who are a phone call away? This is kind of a weird idea, huh?

Brian
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#4 Sam Wells

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 10:29 AM

The Bono labs approach - which sounds interesting -- is a flat grade though. So you will have to be considerably invested in doing some kind of post grading/cc. Or have some kind of access....

Lets face it the move from making 16mm prints to telecine transfer is helping kill off 16mm as a good learning format.

Hundreds if not thousands of students buy DVX100's for this reason.

Unfortunately I think you have to define the middle ground yourself - as you suspect. I do think hands on is important, even if not with exotic gear. Even Super 8 which YOU expose will have a value that can't be derived from, you know - taking an SR3 out of a case and handing it to someone.

-Sam
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#5 Brian Wells

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 10:59 AM

Lets face it the move from making 16mm prints to telecine transfer is helping kill off 16mm as a good learning format.


Thanks, Sam. As they say, "you hit the nail on the head."

It's unfortunate the only way to view a $25 re-canned negative is
through a transfer that costs exponentially more than than the film itself.

That's debilitating at best. Here's to the future of the Apple iTelecine. (jk) :)

Brian
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#6 Rik Andino

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 02:45 PM

Have you asked yourself what you specifically want to learn?

Do you want to be a Director? (like most people)
Do you want to be a Cinematographer? (like everybody else who doesn't direct)
Do you want to be an editor? (like everyone who wants to write & direct)

:)

See there are many paths in filmmaking that you can take...
And they each require different learning processes...
So no one answer is the same.

The second question you might want to ask is
What are you going to be shooting with you camera?

Like Robert has mention R16mm straight is a good learning tool...
That's how many of us learned...

You can get a good Bolex camera or an Eclair and shoot R16mm...
Either get a print of the negative or shoot reversal and just project it.
You can find many good 16mm projectors for under $100US.
You can also buy your self some old editing splicers for around $100US as well...
And this will teach you the fundamentals so when you're ready for Telecine...

Telecine really is for people who want to do nonlinear editing
But it's not always the best way to learn...
Or at least the cheapest when it comes to filmmaking...


The last thing I'll say is if you're seriously considering filmmaking
You might have to consider moving to a location that's more suitable
At least for filmmaking like Southern California, Austin-TX, or NYC.



Eitherways
Good Luck
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#7 Robert Hughes

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 03:29 PM

If you're looking into learning with 16mm, use TriX Reversal, because it's cheap to buy and develop, you edit and project the original using commonly found equipment, and you get the authentic arthouse cinema result. Telecine is needed for transfer to video, but you don't need to do that at first.
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#8 Freya Black

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 12:27 PM

Lots of possibilities at the lower end:

You can get a S8 camera, and a viewer editor. Shoot Reversal and project it, or even get a cheap Telecine done on a workprinter or an old Rank or something.

You could forget about reversal and shoot the 200T and 500T vision negative stocks available in S8. Then you could do a transfer on a cheap old rank or on the shadow at flying spot in seatlle. Forde can process the colour neg.

You can get an old bolex or even a cheap Filmo or something. Obviously this means no sync sound but then you might not need that for a commercial or music video or something anyway. You can then shoot the colour neg, get it processed and have it transfered either at a higher end place or at:

http://www.tfgtransfer.com/

I imagine you could find something in betweenn the 2 extremes too!

I would be wary about buying re-cans off ebay. It's bad enough buying film off ebay when the cans are factory sealed still. I think you would be better buying from those places like dr rawstock or somewhere... Theres a few of them in the states.

You don't have to jump right in at the deep end, you could pick up a Canon S8 camera or a beaulieu S8 or a Bolex H16 or Filmo or something and start experimenting with the cheaper stock options.

S8 it is especially nice because you can get little viewer editors quite easily and play around with cheap reversal stocks to experiment with at first. Little viewers for 16mm seem hard to come by, but then again, you can always get a projector!

love

Freya
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#9 Robert Hughes

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 08:35 PM

The standard 16mm viewer is the Zeiss Moviscop, available used for about $75. Moviola also made a good viewer. Neither of these viewers is appropriate for Super 16, though. Your Super 16 viewing options are pretty much limited to video.

Super 8 is cheaper, lighter, just as fun and teaches you most the same skills you need to shoot 16mm.
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#10 Brian Wells

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 09:42 PM

Thanks everyone for your insight. I am really considering S8 at the moment.
Will search through the forums and ask questions as they arise.. seems like there are features I could access more affordably in S8 equipment (variable shutter angle and more framerate options) that I just aren't available in a S16 equipment package like an LTR7. There would be obvious compromises in image quality, but I think having more camera features would be more valuable than a bigger negative and sharper images, at least at this point and for what I need to do.

Thanks again.
Brian
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