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The first time you shot 35mm....


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#1 Matt Pacini

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 07:00 PM

I was thinking about this while perusing some of the posts about "rent or own".

Describe the circumstances surrounding your first use of a 35mm motion picture camera.
I'm particularly interested in hearing from you guys who got hired on a production that rented a Panavision or Arri rig.
Did you panic?
Did you ask for an extra day rental so you could "play" with the camera with nobody looking?
Did you say you had shot 35mm when you really hadn't?

The reason I ask, is I think maybe what drives a lot of people to think about buying an old Arri or whatever, is so they can learn how to use the damn thing, without a full crew standing around while you're saying to yourself "hmmm, where's the freakin' ON button on this thing?"

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 08:32 PM

A DP could get away with lying about 35mm experience if he had extensive 16mm experience -- but a camera assistent couldn't. And if you are shooting with a complete sync-sound modern 35mm package, you'd be hiring a camera assistant. They can tell you where the "on" switch is, they're the ones that are going to thread it, etc.

Of course, you should hang out at the prep day before (35mm shoots generally always have at least one day of prep at a rental house.) Get familar with the camera, make sure you ordered the right groundglass, make sure you know the difference between a Full Aperture (Super-35) and Academy / Sound Aperture set-up when ordering the equipment.

I shot about a dozen short films in 16mm in film school when a friend of mine got a chance to direct a 35mm short film for Universal Studios as part of a Hispanic Filmmakers Fund or something. He lied to them that I had 35mm experience (they never asked me directly, thank God). But I wasn't too worried. The project was well-funded and I had a full camera crew PLUS an operator for a donated Panaflex package with Primo lenses. One day I had to do some operating when the operator called in sick or something and I did fine. I remember asking DP Tom Richmond for some advice and he was very reassuring. I said "but I don't know how to operate a geared head!" and he said "Neither do I -- just use a fluid head." It was all fine.

In fact, they made two shorts that same year and at the screening of the completed works, the DP of the other short, an ASC member, came up to me afterwards and said "how did you get the movie to look that good?" Their shoot had gone much more haphazardly while ours was very well-planned (I storyboarded everything.)

I've never had to load a 35mm movie camera in all the fourteen years of shooting 35mm, and I've done about 21 features in 35mm. I stopped loading film when I stopped being a film student.

So while it wouldn't hurt to own an old Arri-2C and learn to use it, the truth is that a modern Panaflex or Arricam is so differently engineered that there wouldn't be much similar.

And the "on" switch is usually on the operator side in front, or on the back, or both.
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#3 Dominik Muench

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 10:57 PM

excuse my question if thats stupid, but whats the difference between a super35mm and a sound aperture ? whats the aspect ratio got to do with sound ? apart from the magnetic strip on the side ?
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#4 J. Lamar King

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 11:16 PM

If you've shot enough 16mm there isn't any reason to get wigged out over shooting 35. This is when you'll grow to love your AC's. Of course you should do some testing if you're able, especially if you're going to be shooting scope.

BTW, a Super35 gate allows an image to be exposed on the area of the negative which is usually left unexposed with a sound aperature. It's left unexposed because that is where a sound track goes on a print. This is why Super35 requires an optical or DI step to anamorphize the image so it can be printed with a soundtrack.

Edited by J. Lamar King, 20 June 2005 - 11:19 PM.

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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 12:24 AM

First of all, most 35mm cameras EXPOSE Full Aperture (Silent / Super-35), although some may have a smaller gate that only exposes Academy Aperture (Sound). But the real question is whether your lens is optically centered for Full or Academy. If it is centered for the sound apertures (Academy / 1.85 / anamorphic) then the Full Aperture area isn't really meant to be used -- there's probably some vignetting, and the groundglass is set-up for you to compose within the Sound aperture anyway.

Super-35 doesn't necessarily mean a D.I. or even a conversion to 2.35 anamorphic. TV shows, for example, shoot Super-35 for telecine only. This means they expose and frame across the Full Aperture width, beyond the sound aperture area, and the lens is optically centered for Full Aperture.

For theatrical movies, the most common use of Super-35 is to compose for cropping top & bottom to 2.35, and then convert the image (optically or digitally) to 2.35 anamorphic. But some Super-35 movies have been composed for 1.85, in which case you'd have to reduce the image (optically or digitally) to the standard 1.85 format that exists inside the smaller Academy Aperture.

In 35mm, Full Aperture is the largest area you can use, with the image extending from sprocket row to sprocket row horizontally, and the top & bottom edges touch the next picture with a very thin frame line separating them. In 4-perf, Full Aperture is 1.33 : 1 and was what was used in the Silent Era. Super-35 is essentially Full Aperture.

In 3-perf, Full Aperture is 1.78 : 1 (16x9) which is why 3-perf is popular for TV shows transferring to HD.

Then when sound-on-film was invented (Fox Movietone), they used up a strip along the left edge of the print inside the sprocket row for an optical soundtrack. The optical center of the camera lens had to be shifted over. The width of Full Aperture was shaved from 1.33 : 1 to a square-ish 1.20 : 1 more or less. This was called the Movietone Aperture.

In 1932, AMPAS suggested that the projector gate that was masking off this soundtrack stripe from appearing on screen also mask a little off of the top & bottom, further shrinking the area used on the print, but making the shape less square, more rectangular, to 1.37 : 1. This is called Academy Aperture. Later, they cropped the top & bottom much more to create the widescreen 1.85 shape (and others like 1.66). This is called Matted Widescreen.

There is also Anamorphic Widescreen (CinemaScope).

Anyway, a camera can be ordered for Super-35 (Full Aperture) or for regular Academy / 1.85 / anamorphic aperture. Usually the gate is left to expose Full Aperture either way (knowing that a sound print will cover over part of this with the optical track), but the lens center is shifted over depending on which you choose, and a matching groundglass is installed.

If you are shooting 35mm for contact printing and projection (not optical printing or D.I.) then your choices for 35mm theatrical projection are the 4-perf 35mm standard 1.85 matted widescreen format using spherical lenses or 35mm anamorphic using anamorphic lenses on the camera. If you shoot in Super-35 but want a projection print eventually with a soundtrack, you'd be stuck doing some sort of conversion to one of these two standard projection format, either using dupes and an optical printer, or a D.I.
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#6 J. Lamar King

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 12:46 AM

See you learn something new everyday. I thought for contact printing the gate had to block the sound area. Is that not the case?
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 12:55 AM

No, the soundtrack area is masked off when making the print; the negative can have picture exposed there, it's just not used.

Here are some charts, the first from my Cinematography book, the second is just something I drew of some standard 4-perf 35mm sound aperture framelines:


Posted Image

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#8 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 05:29 AM

Depends if you are talking about being a DOP on a USD50M project - or where you expect to work -

I see many people who are frightened of 35mm or are in awe - but it is pretty easy - but expensive...

Owning the kit allows you to know the boundaries of what is and what is not safe for the camera - but playing with shutters, hand cranking, pin hole lenses etc become hard when you are on set shooting high key clean work - but does that fancy kind of stuff on your reel actually get you better jobs?

You can call Panavision and Arri and they will allow you to come down and learn the kit - this is designed for AC's though - and is free

Depends on size | budget of project as to how much you do or need to do. There are advantages to owning kit - but for financial returns the money would be better placed somewhere else

The most advantageous thing in my view is being able to spot good projects and that comes from understanding story, script,

and being able to get good projects which is based on relationships with writers, musicians, actors and directors etc

thanks

Rolfe
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#9 Dominik Muench

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 05:36 AM

that made things clearer, thank you. so many confusing numbers :/
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#10 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 07:30 AM

My first encounter w. 35mm was when I shot a short in anamorphic! It was in 1998, I believe, and I had just bought a konvas 2M with Lomo lenses. The camera I picked up in Miami, FL and the lenses I bought from Australia. I jumped right in (perhaps a very male thing) without second thoughts and without being very nervous at all.

It went ok, I suppose. I loaded and pulled focus myself, which was no small feat since the eyepiece of the Konvas was horribly dark and impossible to judge focus on. It was lit with practicals and shot on the old grainy Kodak 5296 - the first 500T stock released.

I soon realized that however much I enjoyed my little Konvas, it was never going to get me any work. And needing the money, I sold it a couple of years later. I don't regret this at all. If I ever want to own a camera again in the future, I'm going to make sure it's a camera that can be used on professional shoots. I wouldn't mind an Arri BL4s at some point, but it's really not a priority at all.
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#11 timHealy

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 08:50 AM

I agree with David that if you have shot a lot of 16 the move to 35 is an easy one. As long as you start using dollys as a camera platform and get away from tripods. But during my first 35 mm shoot the thing that I learned the most, which should have been obvious, is the difference in depth of field. I made a few decisions which lowered the amount of light I had - type of lights, gels, filters, etc, until I realized I had very little depth of field. So I started thinking along the lines that it should be obvious that depth of field decreases with a larger format. If a 25mm lens provides a "normal" look in 16mm and 50mm provides the same field of view in 35mm, then inherently a 35mm shoot will have less depth of field than 16mm. Other than that all went well.

my 2 cents

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#12 Nate Downes

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 09:19 AM

I've only ever done 1 35mm shoot, using an ancient Wall camera. I'd worked with 16mm before, so it wasn't all that hard. I've had more issues learning the loading differences between my B&H and my K-3's than between my 16mm's and the Wall.
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#13 Patrick Neary

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 10:36 AM

despite the added weight and bulk of the equipment, having that larger negative feels liberating compared to shooting 16, like stepping up from 35 to medium format in stills. On jobs, crew management also tends to be more of an issue, or needed skill.
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#14 Nguyen D. Nguyen

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 11:02 AM

It's hell.

Nah, just kidding. Being that I shot 16mm before, shooting my first test roll of 35mm was a bit daunting at first with my arri iic, but it really isn't that different aside from size and weight. Another thing I tended to notice is that when you shoot on 35, knowing there is more at stake, you tend to be a lot more careful and wary working within your limitations.

So purely in that sense, with more at stake, you plan better and (not always), your story tends to be better thought out since you feel your investment is higher than, say, getting a miniDV camera where the stock is technically infinite for 10 bucks.
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#15 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 11:59 AM

and somehow with 35mm the cast seem to know how costly and serious it is without anyone telling them and they tend to work harder and get it right first time, whereas on DV projects they seem to know they can do it hundreds of times - and it all gets soft , mushy and wasted - although John Ward was telling me about "Eyes wide shut" in 35mm - with 52 takes :blink:

Although on my first 35mm shoot the UPM had to tell me to stop telling the cast that shooting was costing £3 a second :) but it was self financed

thanks

Rolfe
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#16 Stephen Williams

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 03:10 PM

although John Ward was telling me about "Eyes wide shut" in 35mm -  with 52 takes  :blink:

Rolfe

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi,

I think 52 takes with Stanley K is quite restrained!

Stephen
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#17 Nguyen D. Nguyen

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 04:54 PM

Hi,

I think 52 takes with Stanley K is quite restrained!

Stephen

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Exactly my thoughts. I think Kubrick's philosophy was that the more you make an actor go through a take, the more they start to lose themselves in it (but they why not just rehearsals...). I think he currently holds the world record for number-of-takes on a dialogue scene from the Shining.
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#18 Nate Downes

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 05:28 PM

Stanley also had a habit of forcing actors to integrate themselves into a role. If an actor asked him "how should I do this?" He'd force them to do it every possible way till they said that they had enough.
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#19 Nguyen D. Nguyen

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 11:04 PM

Stanley also had a habit of forcing actors to integrate themselves into a role.  If an actor asked him "how should I do this?"  He'd force them to do it every possible way till they said that they had enough.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I hope to get to that point someday. I mean, being able to do that many takes without having to worry about the cost of stock too much. I think it was also Kubrick who said that film stock is supposed to be peanuts compared to how much you spend on paying the actors in a major budget.

But as for shooting for the first time, it's a wonderful feeling, I must say. Knowing that my arri iic is pumping the same 35mm stock and using the same lenses as high level professional productions, and part of a more than 100 year tradition is quite a thrill. So there was this feeling of "greatness" to it, even if it's just madness on my part, but it gets you motivated to do great things with those rolls of celluloid you have.

Thank god for short ends, eh?
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#20 Delorme Jean-Marie

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 03:22 PM

hi
i'm loading 35 cams and others for 8 years, pulling focus.... Now i'm starting a DOP work and i'm not afraid by holding a 35.
being camera assistant can help too, to become dop as well as sensitometri, lab process, color corection, composition ect....
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