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Just a thought: rock/pop concert footage on film

rock concert film footage

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#1 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 03:04 AM

Hello group,

 

Just a thought - very likely not feasible:

 

Disclaimer: the following is my personal opinion only.

 

Well I am a huge fan of good rock concert footage and since forever I feel true relief when I see that it was actually shot on film. I always disliked the old broadcast video for that particular purpose and I still dislike the modern digital video. There are a number of rock/pop concerts (and classical as well) shot on film back in the day. It must have cost a fortune and probably was hard work to change the magazines every 11 minutes (or so) for each camera - real fast. Needless to say: a lot of live footage was padded (no coverage) or incomplete. Yet even old transfers from 16mm to standard definition (say: early 1980s) look so much better than anything on video from the time (I count the 1990s as well).

I fully understand that young folks are so used to digital that film would not even be considered. I know the trouble with the lighting as well when it's a closed venue or night time footage. Yet I always wondered: there are quite a few bands from way back in the day (getting fewer each year) that still perform and release DVDs/BluRays that very obviously were very expensive to make - not to mention the entire live recording being processed and mixed in a high end studio after the fact.

 

So I was just wondering how anyone would solve the logistics to shoot a concert on film and how much it would cost (just as a thought). The lighting very likely has to be adjusted (as seen on some rare 35mm concert footage, which looks awesome). The solution to cut down on film cost is obviously going Super 16mm (which neatly solves the problem of dust, fluff or hair trapped in the film gate to a large extend) or 35mm 2 perf. Film stock obviously would have to be the Kodak V 3 500T, pushed one or two stops - fast cinema lenses are obviously a must have. To achieve as much coverage as possible I think a four camera setup (including one hand held on stage), plus a fifth camera for padding (obviously audience reaction and the likes) sounds reasonable. Shooting ratio then would be a little over 4:1 when carefully planned.

I'm not sure why this hasn't been done by any band, who can afford five trucks worth of equipment.

Yes: a two hour concert would need a lot of pre loaded mags - all with matching film stock - and obviously matching cameras and lenses.

 

Any idea why this never had been made in the past two or three decades (as I know of) besides from no one thinking about it and no film crew being truly prepared for that very reason (lack of demand)? I am talking about legendary bands (or reunion concerts for that matter) with huge budgets, that recorded on video what they (and many others, including myself) think of as treasures to be preserved for the ages. Just take into consideration how much money has been spent on stage design, lighting, and sound + custom music instruments. Why hasn't ever any film director approached a band with the idea to shoot on film in the past decades? Perhaps some did - unsuccessfully? I surely haven't seen any new film footage of concerts for a very long time.

 

Now we have tons of great live performances on video (which IMHO looks bad up until the early 2000s - and even that is only technically great, IMHO, not aesthetically).

 

I own quite a few concert DVDs and I always think: how much more awesome this would look on film, since I own also BluRays with film footage (16mm and 35mm) from the 1970s and '80s. Needless to say that IMHO it looks awesome. I just can't get over the video look. As for recent "footage", no matter how crisp and detailed: it always looks like an afterthought - like a TV broadcast. Not trying to beat a dead horse here, nor resurrect anyting. Just wondering...

 

Again: this is just my personal opinion - and I fully respect others. Thanks for reading.

 

Any additional thoughts about budget and logistics appreciated (just a thought experiment).

 

Thanks in advance,

Cheers,

Christian

 


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#2 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 03:42 AM

Worked on quite a few big concerts in the Uk in the 80,s as assistant or camera op .. all on super 16.. mostly Aatons due to hairless gate ..(well either no hairs or one big one through the whole roll !) .. 400ft about 11 mins @25 fps..

 

You dont have to pre load all the mags.. each camera usually had 4 mags and there would be a team of loaders.. in a room.. just loading away and running out to the camera,s to leave mags.. or runners to do it..  for sync we used a TC slate.. sometimes there would be some sort of audio hook up to the director.. but as soon as the band started you couldn't hear a single word.. usually a good thing anyway.. and we do a staggered start so the camera,s didnt all run out at the same time..

 

I guess video was just cheaper and for sure easier.. didnt need the five highly paid (in this days) loaders.. lab costs.. worries of hairs,scratches ..re loading camera,s on cranes  etc etc.. money must be at the bottom of the move for sure ultimately .. always is..but its still do able Im sure..  The George  Harrison tribute concert at the Albert Hall was shot on film.. s16..by alot of big name dp,s..in 2002


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#3 Kar Wai Ng

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 03:52 AM

The Coldplay Live 2003 concert material was shot on Super 16mm, with reportedly 9 cameras. The DVD looks pretty good. I'm sure there are more examples of "recent" concerts shot on film.

 

 

Any idea why this never had been made in the past two or three decades (as I know of) besides from no one thinking about it and no film crew being truly prepared for that very reason (lack of demand)? I am talking about legendary bands (or reunion concerts for that matter) with huge budgets, that recorded on video what they (and many others, including myself) think of as treasures to be preserved for the ages. Just take into consideration how much money has been spent on stage design, lighting, and sound + custom music instruments. Why hasn't ever any film director approached a band with the idea to shoot on film in the past decades? Perhaps some did - unsuccessfully? I surely haven't seen any new film footage of concerts for a very long time.

 


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#4 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 09:37 AM

Thanks for the replies. Yup: already back in the day when the Arrfflex 16 ST and BL cameras still were used for news coverage (I did small jobs at the TV station, including being a runner from the film editing room to the live telecine) they shot at 25 fps for PAL STDV. So you got about 11 minutes out of a 400ft (120meters) mag. Too bad they used that muddy, grainy Kodak VNF reversal for that. Well it had to be sensitive, cheap, in-house 'processable' (if that is a word) and reversal, to be slapped together on a Steenbeck flatbed editor. Some YouTube comments like "I'm glad they got rid of film" refer to this poor quality film stock.

 

Have a fan restoration project on BluRay (Genesis, London Rainbow 1973)- from a faded-to-red/magenta16mm print (!) Looks awesome. Color restoration/grading is ace. Sound was replaced from various sources (all stereo soundboards on cassette tape - at least way better than mono optical sound).

 

And yep: that's what I would do (and thought correctly that it is done this way): make sure the cameras start at different times. Not sure about close ups (zoom-telephoto). I guess the camera operator only shoots when they are all set and in focus. On stage hand held is obviously a wide angle prime, 10mm-ish on 16mm (?).

 

Will check on the concerts you mentioned above.

 

Thanks for the replies,

Christian


Edited by Christian Schonberger, 04 October 2016 - 09:39 AM.

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#5 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 12:56 PM

The Coldplay Live 2003 concert material was shot on Super 16mm, with reportedly 9 cameras. The DVD looks pretty good. I'm sure there are more examples of "recent" concerts shot on film.

 

Just watched some of this footage on YouTube (as far as I know only a standard definition DVD is available, hence the slightly soft appearance and no visible grain on YT). Looks a lot like the good old Fuji Etena 8673 500T to my eyes (what do you think?). Oustanding footage! Thanks for pointing this out.

 

Christian


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#6 John E Clark

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 06:17 PM

There is only one 'rock' concert film that I've ever liked...  "Monterey Pop"(1968), which documented the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.

 

Here's the film crew with cameras in hand or on shoulders... The fest took place about a year before I started being AWOL from home and wander California... well, until the cops took me in custody and returned me home... So there is a certain sort of nostalgia... but one thing I've never been is particularly nostalgic for 'film'...

 

Some of the modern digital cameras that can produce reasonably clean images @ ISO 3200 would have been great.

 

Film-crew-w-IDs.jpg


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#7 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 07:14 PM

There is only one 'rock' concert film that I've ever liked...  "Monterey Pop"(1968), which documented the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.

 

Here's the film crew with cameras in hand or on shoulders... The fest took place about a year before I started being AWOL from home and wander California... well, until the cops took me in custody and returned me home... So there is a certain sort of nostalgia... but one thing I've never been is particularly nostalgic for 'film'...

 

Some of the modern digital cameras that can produce reasonably clean images @ ISO 3200 would have been great.

 

Film-crew-w-IDs.jpg

Well I wasn't talking about film vs. digital. That debate is long over. Of course digital, still in its infancy compared to film, is getting better and better technically. I just happen to love the look of film for a lot of applications/projects. It draws me in and adds a lot to the emotion. In some cases I even prefer (Super)16mm to (Super)35mm. Just my own opinion. Film is a tool and IMHO it should still be a choice. That's all I'm saying. Last but not least: R&D for film has come to a screeching halt about a decade ago. In the 1950s 50ASA was considered "fast" - and it went on to 2000 ISO/ASA (500 pushed two stops).

 

Cheers,

Christian


Edited by Christian Schonberger, 04 October 2016 - 07:15 PM.

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#8 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 10:10 AM

This is concert footage I shot on 7 year old cold-stored 7218 wide open on super speeds. HD telecine to boot. No special lighting was done.

 

 

 


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#9 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 10:41 AM

This is concert footage I shot on 7 year old cold-stored 7218 wide open on super speeds. HD telecine to boot. No special lighting was done.

 

 

 

Awesome! That's of course the Kodak Vision 2 500T. Yep: you need some really fast and great lenses for that. Love the colors, on par with the Fuji Eterna 500T! 7 years cold stored: should be no problem. Got thee 100ft spools of Vision 500T (date unknown, probably early 2000s, probably lost about a stop, won't have it pushed though: too grainy) in my freezer (got it for free from short ends - perfect for test footage: one needs to practice when shooting on film). Not shooting any concert footage with my humble modded (already took it apart and did some refining - will go even further by modifying the gate)S 16 K3 (not to mention the lenses I have which you can't just use wide open, image will become too soft, but I'll see what that stock still is capable of. But I digress. Anyway: thanks for sharing: this looks awesome! Great work!

 

[Edit]: love the music production. Killer sound!

 

Which camera and lens(es) did you use?

 

Christian


Edited by Christian Schonberger, 05 October 2016 - 10:55 AM.

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#10 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 11:03 AM

Nice thing about concerts is that you don't need a "quiet" camera.

There are lots of cool syncing methods, from built-in timecode on film to small LED timecode displays near each camera. When magazines are changed, the operator can simply point the camera down at the reader for a few seconds and in post, you can automatically sync the entire reel, assuming the camera doesn't stop.

Most S16 cameras are coaxial magazine based, so it takes seconds to swap mags. You'd also stagger magazine swaps, to make it easier. Back in the day, Kodak made 800ft loads for the Aaton cameras, which helped with shoots like this. You could have two or three cameras on sticks with long lenses to cut back to during the closer/smaller camera magazine changes.

Most stages where songs are sung to an audience, have plenty of light for 500 ISO shooting. Obviously there will be dark sections, but it's no different then what the audience sees.

I do think there are still quite a few concerts shot on film. It's just, you've gotta be a fan of the music, or you won't know. In fact, I saw a recent picture from a Coldplay concert with a 416 on stage. I've also seen some recent pictures of other concerts with panavision 35mm cameras on stage. So I know people are doing it, if you know the bands and watch whatever product they produce.

The big problem with shooting film vs video and why everyone switched, is due to directing. It's hard and expensive to wire up a bunch of film cameras to a truck so there can be a director giving shot suggestions. Modern multi-camera video shoots, are so easy today with microwave transmitters and solid communications. It's easy to have a back room or small truck setup with a director inside, capable of seeing all the cameras and directing the shots. That's really the key to making a live show like this work and on film, it's A LOT harder to do that stuff.
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#11 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 11:05 AM

P.S. it's mentioned on Vimeo: Arri 416. Now that's a serious film camera!

 

That optical sound track at the start is a great idea - a very refreshing change from the usual film header, light leaks, scratches and sprocket holes (not to belittle that, but I think it's overused).

 

Lenses? Looks like primes (main camera 20mm-ish?)

 

Christian


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#12 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 11:22 AM

Thanks!

 

Tyler is right, it is definitely out there. And you definitely have the light levels with 500T. I would have shot it at a T2 if the stock were fresh. The thing about concerts is you don't need to dig into the blacks - most of that type of lighting is very low key and spotty. So to get the same effect you can essentially let those lights be your midtone. 

 

The lenses were Super Speeds - I stayed on the 16mm. 

 

In this case the label provided us with the live mixed track. I synced to the opening vocal, which was cumbersome, but took 10 minutes per track to nail. 

 

Yes - Arri 416. But I guarantee you I could have shot it with a 16S and got a very very similar image. 


Edited by Kenny N Suleimanagich, 05 October 2016 - 11:23 AM.

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#13 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 12:09 PM

Thanks!

 

Tyler is right, it is definitely out there. And you definitely have the light levels with 500T. I would have shot it at a T2 if the stock were fresh. The thing about concerts is you don't need to dig into the blacks - most of that type of lighting is very low key and spotty. So to get the same effect you can essentially let those lights be your midtone. 

 

The lenses were Super Speeds - I stayed on the 16mm. 

 

In this case the label provided us with the live mixed track. I synced to the opening vocal, which was cumbersome, but took 10 minutes per track to nail. 

 

Yes - Arri 416. But I guarantee you I could have shot it with a 16S and got a very very similar image. 

Thanks for the information. So you used great cinema prime lenses with T-stops. Yep, I reckoned it would be 20mm at the longest. 16mm is a nice medium-wide angle for 16mm film IMHO.

The good old Arri 16S, definitely a wonderful and very reliable camera - the only issue I have is that (to my humble knowledge) it can't be converted to S 16. Ultra 16 is fine, but you are forced to use the full height of the frame as much as possible to get max resolution. Seen cropped regular 16mm with Fuji 500T neg - very nice but definitely too much grain "crawl". That's my only personal issue with regular 16mm and Ultra 16: very little headroom for cropping/re-framing in post with high speed stock. Super 16 at least gives you some space for that. Great glass definitely is the key for low light situatuions.

 

Christian


Edited by Christian Schonberger, 05 October 2016 - 12:10 PM.

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