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Solving the 16mm Ratio Dilemna on a Budget-Thoughts?


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#1 Peter Gilabert

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 12:12 PM

Having a decent cond. CP-16R reg 16mm camera, I feel like these are my options for a wider aspect:
A) Go anamorphic. Pros: can always sell the lens if the camera dies, as Cp-16s can.
Cons: they cost twice what I paid for the camera, complicated, a headache, can I even put an SLR Magic Adapter on a -say Ang. 12-120? Maybe there's some cheap anamorphic 1.33 I don't know about?
B) go Ultra-16. I actually had the idea of buying a junky CP-16, removing the gate and filing it down myself to replace my current. If I over-file, just fix the framing in the editing program, worst case scenario, I put the old gate back in. It looks like two screws basically remove it, what could possibly go wrong? Heh.
C) shoot low Asa stock and re-frame later. Pros: the cheapest solution. Cons: I have a bunch of old stock I'd like to use, I bet it'll look too grainy.
Arrgghh, I just can't decide which solution is the most economical and/or the least headache- inducing. ?
Of course I could say screw it and stay 4:3, I just wonder how many projects in that ratio are ever taken seriously at all. (The idea is for an independent feature).
I know there are other solutions, (renting S16, etc) just wondering what others have experienced dealing in this area?
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#2 Mark Dunn

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 12:15 PM

Option C) doesn't require you to buy anything. You just need some sort of viewfinder mask. With modern stocks you could always crop widescreen from standard ratio. I did it as a student 35 years ago with 7247- grain wasn't a huge problem even with that. We had a letterboxed print to 1.66. It does effectively make your wide angle a bit less wide for a given height of field of view.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 26 November 2016 - 12:17 PM.

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#3 Peter Gilabert

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 12:28 PM

Good point Mark.
I was just worried it might look TOO grainy, especially with old stock. I'll test and see if I can live with it. Thanks.
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#4 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 06:33 PM

Big thing to think about is the 1.33X anamorphic lenses designed to give you 2.40:1 aspect ratio on S16, are cost prohibitive expensive. These aren't the 2x lenses designed for 35mm cameras, which you can get crazy good deals on if you look hard. If you're worried about budget, anamorphic should be thrown out.

Cropping the top and bottom changes the field of view and honestly, it just doesn't look good. I've done quite a few 2.40:1 aspect ratio productions shot with my blackmagic pocket camera which has the same frame size as S16 and identical field of view. It just doesn't look right, it looks nothing like the 1.66:1 frame. So cropping in my opinion isn't worth it either. Even if you shoot NEW stock, you're looking A LOT of your image.

Unfortunately, with super 16, the standard 1.67:1 aspect ratio is kinda what ya gotta run. There have been a few anamorphic S16 films as of recent and they are so bloody noisy, it's not even funny. If you cropped the frame top and bottom, you'd be blowing up the frame quite a bit and it would be MUCH more noisy. Plus you loose quite a bit of resolution in doing that. To keep the resolution high of the source material, I try to deliver stuff shot on S16 in the original 1.67:1 aspect ratio. I'd rather have bars on the sides -which shows the entire negative- then top and bottom because achieving that wider field of view is critical to the "cinematic" look. Some distributors refuse to accept anything but 1.85:1 or 2.40:1 which kinda sucks. I had one show bounce back because I delivered in 1.67:1, but they eventually caved in realizing that was the format.

In terms of Ultra 16, it's no different then cropping the top and bottom in post, you're loosing quite a bit of your frame. You could cut the gate on both sides, to use the physical limit and get maybe 1.70:1 out of it, but I don't expect anymore. Ultra 16 doesn't solve any problems.

So what are the solutions to this formatting issue?

- Change your mind... yea it's nice to have a wide screen look, but that look comes with high cost and if you're trying to save money shooting S16, you've gotta play the narrow gauge format game, rather then try to force the format to do something it really doesn't like to do.

- Shoot with 2 perf 35mm. You can get short ends for around the same price foot by foot of 16mm. Since you're in CA, getting a camera isn't too difficult either and the image quality will be much better. It's more like a Super 16 field of view, but 2.40:1 aspect ratio, which is pretty cool.
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#5 Peter Gilabert

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 08:39 PM

Thanks for the thoughtful feedback Tyler, but I fear you missed my original point: I HAVE reg 16 NOW and just want 1:67 / 16:9 etc. in the first place.
Just trying to figure out a way of avoiding the expense of going super16, especially since I have a CP-16R.
I know 1.33 anamorphic takes 4:3 to 1:67:1 (or 16:9 Or whatever it is) or so, that's good enough for me,
My question revolves around: pursuing that, i.e.a good example of using a certain anamorphic adapter to take 4:3 to a wider more acceptable aspect.
Having trouble finding specific examples of people using certain lenses/adapters to do that., on a CP-16R. Like, has anyone successfully used as anamorphic system to make reg16 wider with 1.33 and for how much and was it worth it or one big headache? Specific examples anyone?
Guess I'll just keep researching.
My other idea, as stated earlier is to grab a broken CP-16, take the gate out, file it myself for ultra16, and put that on my CP-16R.
Or, as suggested earlier, just shoot reg and re-frame later- for 16:9 or so -which may look crappy as noted by you.
Believe me I'm not obsessed with any wide screen stuff, just trying to take my awesomely wonderful but sad- could die any second cool old camera out of the Reg16 Zone without pulling my hair out or going broke.
Happy Filmsgiving!
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 09:06 PM

I don't you'd see any real resolution improvement from using a anamorphic adaptor in front of your lens to avoid cropping 16mm to 16x9 (i.e. you might be counteracting the improvement from a larger negative by using a less sharp lens) -- you'd see a slight improvement in graininess from not enlarging the image as much, but you'd have to ask yourself if that's worth the trouble of shooting with an adaptor.

 

If you had a PL-mount camera, you could try renting some 1.3X Hawk anamorphics, but the cost might not be worth it.

 

Perhaps a gate filed to Ultra-16 would be the best compromise...


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#7 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 09:33 PM

Sorry Peter, I missed "reg" in your first sentence. Usually people who talk about ultra 16, anamorphic and cropping the top and bottom, are looking for 2.40:1. I apologize for my assumption.

Super 16 cameras are very inexpensive today. I bought my Aaton LTR/XTR hybrid for $1500 bux, one just sold for $750 on ebay, so pissed I missed it.

I'm not a fan of the CP16R, I've shot quite a few things with one, including a music documentary with lots of interview material. I lost quite a bit of material due to a backplate issue that came up on our "B" camera as well. The non-orientable viewfinder also killed us in tight spots. It's a good straight 16 camera for $500, but if you're going to shoot a serious project, it's far better to invest in something more worthy of it.

Obviously the other solution is to simply modify the gate like you suggested, but you'd really need to use S16 glass if you did that since a lot of the wider lenses barley cover the straight 16 gate at minimal focus. I had a nice set of straight 16 glass that I tried to use on my S16 Aaton and was actually pretty shocked how far off it was, wound up selling it all on ebay in exchange for S16 glass.

So it's kind of a catch 22... I have very successfully shot and delivered 1.33:1 shot straight 16 material in a 1.75:1 aspect ratio before. It's actually pretty common with older movies to simply crop the top and bottom to meet the "HD" standards of today. It doesn't look THAT bad honestly, you're only scraping off a tiny bit of the top and bottom... unlike the 1.67:1 to 2.40:1 that I thought you were trying to do earlier - whoops. :)

Ohh... I just remembered, my college thesis film was made this same way... we had double perf B&W stock, so we had to shoot straight 16. So this is a 1080p telecine of early 7279 Vision 500T stock and Tri-x B&W stock. I cropped the top and bottom (zoomed up the image in post) to create this 1080p video. Someday I'll go back to the original source material and scan it, but this is about how bad it will get...


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#8 Giray Izcan

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 09:40 PM

I don't see any problem with cropping top and bottom to achieve 2:35 aspect ratio. I shoot on 4 perf s35 and crop top and bottom to 2:35 all the time without any weirdness or problems.
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#9 Peter Gilabert

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 09:55 PM

Oh, I get it,
Anamorphic is stretching the ORIGINAL recorded 4:3 image, and ultra16 and super16 record MORE image in the first place...so simple yet so profound.
I knew that. I'll just be...leaving ..now (runs out- slams door)
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 11:28 PM

A 1.33X anamorphic lens would use the whole 1.33 negative area to achieve a 16x9 image without cropping. Super-16 is actually a wider area than Reg.16mm so it would still be a bigger negative area even if you used an anamorphic lens on 16mm to avoid cropping.

Ultra-16 is somewhere in between, it ends being a little bit shorter than Reg.16mm because the image area has to extend between the perfs, so you crop a little top & bottom but gain a little on the sides.
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#11 Peter Gilabert

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Posted 26 November 2016 - 11:57 PM

Yes Tyler,
It actually looks pretty decent cropped like that, at least on my phone (and I bet acceptable on a bigger screen).
Now as to the question of using this older film I have, well I'll give it a try and do a test for graininess - 'cause the alternative- well I'm not sure if sitting with a dremel tool for hours and hours trying to file a gate down just so I can be pissed off about wide angle lenses vingetting is worth it.
I will try and watch your whole film when I have a little more time.
Cheers, Peter
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#12 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 12:06 AM

Just put the lenses you have on now and see where they vignette. If you don't see any edge of vignetting on the ground glass, then you're probably OK. But... that leaves the question, how are you going to match the ground glass to the ultra 16 gate?
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#13 Peter Gilabert

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 12:43 AM

https://www.dropbox....13 PM.jpeg?dl=0

That's my ground glass view. I'll see how close my widest angle comes.
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#14 Peter Gilabert

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 12:54 AM

Yes David,
Thanks for the clarification. I didn't really think it through as far as HOW a 1.33 anamorphic adapter on a reg 16mm gate gets a similar aspect as a super16 gate by itself.
Two different ways to get to 16:9 (approx.) but not looking like each other in the end.
And then there's the red-headed stepchild ultra16, just sitting there all lonely...
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#15 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 02:35 AM

That's my ground glass view. I'll see how close my widest angle comes.


Exactly. My straight 16 wide angle when focused close, would vignette in the ground glass, but not on the frame line. You'd see a tiny bit of edge distortion, but only at the corners, never on the flat sides of the frame.

The Angenieux straight 16 zooms were notorious for vignetting when at their widest, even when not focused close.
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#16 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 04:13 AM

Peter, are you developing an idea for a feature length project,  or are you just itching to shoot a feature?  None of the ideas about the format or lens system are meaningful without reference to what the film is.  If you don't have a developed idea then what about teaming up with a writer/director/artist who has a great idea...


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#17 Peter Gilabert

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 09:54 AM

Gregg,
Yes I am the writer-director in question, and the present cinematographer out of necessity.
If you or anyone else is curious, it's a comedy/thriller about a terrible inventor called "Fear of Life" and I've shot a digital teaser:
It could be described as if Woody Allen had to write a Twilight Zone episode.
I would love to shoot it on film but may have to shoot digitally and use film for dream sequences, etc. We'll see- I'm drawing up budgets for both scenarios.
It's written and I'm investigating resources.

Really appreciate all the helpful feedback, too.
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#18 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 12:29 PM

Interesting teaser... having just wrapped my 3rd feature in 5 years, this is what I've learned.

I think you should spend as little money as you can. My suggestion is to shoot digitally in 2k or 4k (not 1080p), this gives potential buyers no technical excuse to avoid your product. Also, without some known star power and a subject with mass audience appeal, it's difficult to recoup investment. So you've gotta think about it never being bought and simply recouping through your own marketing and distribution methods. There are literally thousands of sub $50k features made a year, all vying for the same audience. Unfortunately the DVD/BluRay market is officially dead in this country. So sadly, the ways to recoup investment are dwindling fast.

If you're just going out and having fun with friends (which is totally awesome and well worth it) then do anything you want. But if you really wish to make an impact in this industry and get recognized for your work, there is a very strict formula to follow and lots of hoops to jump through.
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#19 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 02:16 PM

Getting back to one of your original options, 4:3 seems to be making a bit of a comeback - especially with independent features like Ida (2013) and Son of Saul (2015,) which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, last year.

 

Also, have you done any short films?  Or are you jumping right into a feature?...


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#20 Peter Gilabert

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Posted 27 November 2016 - 03:46 PM

Yeah, I have considered 4:3 and haven't totally ruled it out. Yes I have made shorts. Thanks for all the ideas about proceeding!
Best, Peter
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