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#1 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 09:18 AM

Once again I'm up against it and being branded as the villian because professionals that should know better, don't.

We shot a thing in S16 with anamorphic lenses. I argued for 35mm just because I know how tricky and confusing anamorphic in 16mm can get for unititated, but to no avail.

Panavision provided us with a special made 1.66 ground glass with markings for the 1.2:1 anamorphic frame in the middle. I used the C-series lenses. My widest was a 30mm, so I also carried some pherical lenses for wider shots I couldn't achieve with the 30mm, which isn't very wide on 16mm.

I get a call from the best light telecine - everyone's panicking and they're screaming at me because they can see stuff in frame on the sides that shouldn't be there (light stands, cars, gennys and whatnot). I calmly explain that they have to use just the central part of the frame, unsqueeze that and everything will be fine, since those things are out of the frame lines and will not be used anyway.

Then I get the classic: "but that means zoooming into the negative - that will look poop on 16mm!!". I explain that yes, you have to zoom, but there is no other way to achieve anamorphic on 16mm, unless you use the whole width of the 1.66 frame - which not many are prepared to do since then your aspect ratio will be 3.32:1 - veeery letterboxed. Besides you're using the same amount of negative as a letterboxed S16 frame would have, so there is no difference in sharpness or grain compared to that. Now, this can be accepted from non-technical people, but when you're getting this misconception from colorists and support, then I just kinda lose the will to live a little.

But - It gets more confusing. "But normally you just stick a letterbox on at the top and bottom and that's it - you're not supposed to zoom, reframe or squeeze". Sigh.

At this point I decide to get down there myself. I'm really fired up now cause I KNOW I'm right, but I'm realizing that there is not going to be a happy end to this - I'm going to be the scapegoat, they're going to blame me (that's how it works here in the UK - blame anyone you can to get the heat off yourself) and that's it.

Naturally, when I arrive everyone in frame are tall and thin as sticks. It's not been unsqueezed properly and stuff on the sides are showing up. That no one in this room has reacted to this is perhaps not so strange, but that the colorist and his senior technical guy can't see it's not been done right is amazing.

Here's also a technical issues with telecine - they don't have fixed values for squeeze and unsqueeze, it's all done by eye on a little pot that you tweak. This makes the unsqueeze slightly arbitrary. What I sjould have done is made up a frame board, but there simply was no time to do it - it was a very hectic shoot.

I'm sharing this with you because I've run into a similar problem once before and I want you to be able to avoid these things for the future. Lessons learned:

1. Explain everything technical like you would to a child. DO NOT assume that technical people and professionals know what they're doing just because they've been around for a while. Draw, make diagrams - whatever it takes.

2. Explain again and again and again and again the difference between anamorphic and letterbox. They're not the same.

3. Don't be a nice guy like me and reason calmly - be a total screaming bitch and blame everyone else. If you're nice - people assume your guilty 'cause you don't fight as hard for your POW.

4. Don't ever shoot 16mm anamorphic unless you've made people understand what it entails and made clear that you will be throwing away large chunks of your negative.

5. Assume that no one except yourself have understood the fact that zooming in on a neg in telecine is not the same as losing resolution. Even very seasoned colorists and camera people can sometimes be heard saying that shooting a N16 neg is better than extracting the N16 frame from a S16 frame, because then they "don't have to zoom". This is absolutely false.

Phew - sorry. Just had to get it off my chest.

Edited by AdamFrisch, 17 June 2005 - 09:22 AM.

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#2 Chance Shirley

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 09:52 AM

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who runs into these problems.

I was working on some "bonus" features for an upcoming DVD release. One was a short movie (3 min.), shot in 16x9 video. On top of that, it's letterboxed, creating a final aspect ratio of 2.35:1 -- a very common technique for widescreen DVD video.

I finally got the "check disc" back from the distributor last week. The post house that did the encoding didn't create the short movie's MPEG 2 file correctly. It plays back at 1.85:1 with the actors looking very tall and skinny.

I called the distributor to tell them the post house messed up. They said it's too late -- the discs are already being replicated. I told them that whoever did the MPEG 2 work at the post house is incompetent and that the post house should issue a refund. The distributor didn't seem to care that much.

At least the feature film MPEG 2 encoding came out pretty good.

Edited by chance, 17 June 2005 - 09:55 AM.

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#3 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 10:43 AM

You're right about anamorphic 16mm; I'm confused. What is the unsqueezed aspect ratio?

Also, am I correct in guessing that you did not have an anamorphic viewfinder which unsqueezed the image? Is it not possible to extract a less extreme aspect ratio if you use the full width of the negative?
What size matte-box and filters did you have to use?

I think another piece of advice would be to make time to shoot a frame chart. (Better yet, a full blown test.) That's an instant where you can use your DP's prerogative and just say you're not ready until it's done.

Thanks for any info, and good luck!
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#4 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 10:45 AM

I have three Promos that I shot recently showing on a UK music channel. Every one of them has the band squeezed and skinny. Apparently, whoever digitized them into their system managed not to see the Large 'ANAMORPHIC 16x9' sticker on the tape case. They must also have missed the identical sticker on the tape, as well as the ANAMORPHIC written large on the clock.

It's not that difficult to get it right, surely?
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 11:28 AM

Hi,

Mike Most will tell you that the people who make these mistakes are worthy of not only the worship they receive but also the £100/hour.

Pah.

Phil
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#6 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 11:37 AM

You're right about anamorphic 16mm; I'm confused. What is the unsqueezed aspect ratio?


If you use the whole neg it's 3.32:1 which is a bit too much letterbox for normal taste. So what you do is you use the 2.35:1 as you would if you'd shot in 35mm. This means using just the 1.17:1 part in the middle (1.17x2 which is the squeeze = 2.35), and throwing away the info on the side. This means you're not using all the negative. Therefore, 16mm isn't very well suited for anamorphic lenses. Especially since the lenses made are made for 35mm and are not wide enough for 16mm.

Also, am I correct in guessing that you did not have an anamorphic viewfinder which unsqueezed the image? Is it not possible to extract a less extreme aspect ratio if you use the full width of the negative?


There are no anamorphic viewfinders for 16mm cameras, so you have to "see" through the squeeze or compose of a monitor that has been frame converted.

It is not possible to extract a less extreme aspect ratio than 2.35:1 without squeezing people or zooming in.

I think another piece of advice would be to make time to shoot a frame chart.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


That's what I should have done, but there was no time.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 11:44 AM

I'm about to go through the same issues but at least I have the director on my side.

I'm probably shooting a music video in London on the 28th. The budget is low and they told me it would be an HD shoot. I suggested that we use the Varicam (because I want to everything at 50 fps) and get the P&S Technik and Pro-35 adaptor to use anamorphic lenses on the camera. I explained to the director that the image would be 3.56 : 1 by the time it is unsqueezed (16x9 doubled in width) but we haven't decided whether to let it be that letterboxed or trim the sides to 2.35 or just resize it to 2.35 with a mild squeeze left in (it's a futuristic setting so some distortion might be OK.)

But it's definitely a situation where I might need to be there in post for this reformatting.

I would normally just frame for cropping 16x9 to 2.35 but I want the shallow depth of field plus anamorphic flares.
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#8 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 12:05 PM

You should definitely be there for post if you can.

How long you staying?
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#9 Nathan Milford

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 12:17 PM

Might I suggest this information, pertaining to the pain of anamorphic 16mm, be codified in the FAQ somewhere. I imagine it'll save someone's butt in the future >8)
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#10 Nathan Milford

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 12:24 PM

David,

Canon makes an anamorphic attachment for B4 mount cameras that might be of use. You can pop regular B4 mount lenses to give you 2.35 w/o all of the painful extraction and what not.

It inverts the image though, so the Varicam is your best bet as it does it nativly, the F900 needs a hard to obtain (and no longer manufactured) board to flip the image.

- nathan
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 01:23 PM

David,

Canon makes an anamorphic attachment for B4 mount cameras that might be of use.  You can pop regular B4 mount lenses to give you 2.35 w/o all of the painful extraction and what not.

It inverts the image though, so the Varicam is your best bet as it does it nativly, the F900 needs a hard to obtain (and no longer manufactured) board to flip the image.

- nathan

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Since this is just for standard def ultimately, I don't think it matters, quality-wise, whether I crop 16x9 HD to get 2.35 or use the 1.33X Canon adaptor, plus cropping is simpler.

No, I'm only doing this elaborate combo (P&S Technik plus anamorphic lenses) to create an unusual look, super shallow focus, stretchy out-of-focus highlights, anamorphic flares, etc. If all I wanted was a 2.35 image, there are simpler methods.

I'm probably just going to be there in London for three days.
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#12 Matt Pacini

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 01:36 PM

So, just to be clear, is the image you're cropping down to a regular 16 frame size?

If so, there's no benefit to shooting S16 anamorphic over regular 16, right?

MP
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#13 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 02:39 PM

Hi,

> London

Yaaay! Cinematography.com international piss-up!

Phil
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#14 Richard Boddington

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 04:54 PM

David,

I was just shooting in London last week. The strange thing was there was this guy at the airport holding up a big sign that said, "The UK Sucks, Go Home!!"

I looked at the back of his jacket and it said "P. Rhodes", interesting??????

In all seriousness I hope you don't have the same delays at Heathrow's immigration that we did. It took 90 minutes to get to the desk, yes 90 minutes!! I won't say why, I'll get blasted if I do, but it took 90 minutes.

I made a formal complaint in writing to the airport authority, and I wasn't the only person steaming mad. That is by far the slowest immigration clearance I have ever seen, and I've been through dozens of airports.

R,
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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 05:33 PM

Correct, anamorphic lenses have a 2X squeeze, so even with regular 16mm, you end up with a 2.66 : 1 image if the negative is 1.33.

In 35mm, the negative area used for anamorphic photography and projection is very square, Academy Aperture width but almost Full Aperture height, nearly 1.20 : 1 -- just like the early sound Movietone Aperture. Doubled in width, it becomes nearly 2.40 : 1.

Panavision is making a set of 1.34X anamorphic lenses to squeeze 2.39 onto 16x9 Genesis, but it could also be used on a 3-perf Super-35 camera, which also has a negative full ap about 16x9 (1.78 : 1).

They could also be used on a Super-16 camera except that the mounts will be Panavision, not Arri-PL.
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#16 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 06:46 PM

Dear David

If you are in London and not London (pinewood etc:-) it would be cool to hang out for a coffee or drink

I am shooting that Monday, that Thursday and leave for Malta for 8 days on the Friday - so depends what time you are free Tues or Wednesday - or the weekend before

Mail me - rolfe.klement@creativesunshine.com

thanks

Rolfe
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#17 DavidSloan

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 06:58 PM

It's quite extraordinary how often labs botch up people's work. Unless you are a DP on a production with lots of clout, it's all a gamble. I'm sorry to hear about your mess Adam, but I'm afraid yours is a story I hear quite often. It seems the only people in labs I find to be very thorough are the editors. These colorist, telecine guys are usually morons.
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#18 DavidSloan

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 07:00 PM

Hi,

Mike Most will tell you that the people who make these mistakes are worthy of not only the worship they receive but also the £100/hour.

Pah.

Phil

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


What's the dollar/pound exchange rate nowadays? These guys are making a clean $350 an hour in NYC.
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#19 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 07:14 PM

Hi,

Oh, OK, £175/hour then.

Having never attempted to enter the UK as an alien, I can't speak with any experience - except to say that the reverse is rarely true, and the last time I went in through LAX it was as near to a wave-through as I ever expect to find at a major US immigration bureau.

Then they forgot to return the I-94W departure record when I left, so my immigration status with the US is currently... in the hands of some unknown people in London, Kentucky.

Now that's not confusing, or anything.

Phil

Edited by Phil Rhodes, 17 June 2005 - 07:14 PM.

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