Jump to content


Photo

Digital footage on 16mm film

film school 16mm digital blackmagic print

  • Please log in to reply
15 replies to this topic

#1 Paul Berenstain

Paul Berenstain

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts
  • Director
  • London

Posted 24 April 2017 - 09:13 AM

Hi,

 

I'm planning on applying to a film school this summer, for a directing course. My main focus has always been directing, with cinematography being both a fascinating hobby and something I've had to do for the ultra low budget films I've made.

 

Now, the requirements are that you submit at least two films, of which at least one "made on film (16mm, super 16mm or 35mm)". I've got plenty of digital films to submit, but nothing on film. So I have to make a new one.

 

I've never shot anything on film and, as much as I'd like to have this experience, it would be very expensive. Even with clearance stock, if you factor in renting the camera, developing, scanning, then making the final prints, it would run into the thousands.

 

So I've thought that, since I would be scanning the film anyway and edit it in an nle, I could forgo shooting on film and shoot digitally instead, making a final print on film.

 

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera has the right sensor size, dynamic range and resolution, so the way I figured, it would look very close to film. And the grain would be in the final print anyway.

 

Might be a weird or crazy plan, but that's why I'm running it people who've worked on film before. Any suggestions welcome!

 

Thanks,

Paul.

 

P.S. Regarding the ethics of it, I'm applying to a Directing course. Directing is the same, no matter the medium. If it was a Cinematography course it would've been a different story, but as it is, I seems like a pretty random requirement.


  • 0


Support Cinematography.com and buy gear using our Amazon links!
PANASONIC LUMIX GH5 Body 4K Mirrorless Camera, 20.3 Megapixels, Dual I.S. 2.0, 4K 422 10-bit, Full Size HDMI Out, 3 Inch Touch LCD, DC-GH5KBODY (USA Black)

#2 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19382 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 24 April 2017 - 10:19 AM

That would not fulfill the requirement to have made something on film. Sure, it doesn't make much sense as a requirement for directing so you should contact them to make it's not an obsolete rule, but don't deceive them. Why would you go to a school where you don't respect their judgement because if you get away with fooling them, you're never going to value whatever they have to teach you. Every time they criticize you or say something you don't agree with, you'll be thinking about how they weren't smart enough to figure out how you deceived them.
  • 0

#3 Heikki Repo

Heikki Repo
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 395 posts
  • Director
  • Finland

Posted 24 April 2017 - 10:28 AM

Hi Paul,

I have to disagree with you on whether or not shooting on film matters. Shooting on film is a different experience, even for the director. Knowledge of "film rolling" affects everyone on the set, especially actors.

When you are the director you have to know how prepare your actors for a shoot you might not have unlimited number of takes (which, to be honest, is rarely the case even for digital shoots; time on set tends to be even more expensive than film stock due to rentals & wages). Not having the ability to immediately watch your footage is also an experience worth having, in my opinion.

I suggest you follow the requirements and produce something on film. I think you won't regret it. :)

Is one of the requirements really a film print?
  • 1

#4 Pavan Deep

Pavan Deep
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 302 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • UK

Posted 24 April 2017 - 10:39 AM

An interesting yet perturbing post, I would like to pick up on a few things; firstly, I do not agree that ‘Directing is the same, no matter the medium’, Maybe you need to research this more. Why do you think it would be expensive to shoot on 16mm film? It seems to be common for people to assume that 16mm is too expensive, yet few explore the real costs. While no one says that film is cheap, it doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive either. If it is an essential requirement for this film school to demonstrate that you’ve made something on film then by making something on digital and passing it off as film is deceitful and immoral. When they say something has to be made on film; Have they asked for a print? Or are they saying the material has to be 'acquired' on film regardless of what it’s finished in? The reason I ask is most film 'acquired' material is finished and shown digitally. If they’ve asked for 16mm why don’t you borrow or get a cheap 16mm camera from Ebay and just shoot a 100ft roll, get it scanned and edit it, it will cost you very little, under £100 and this way you can demonstrate that you've made something on film and you’re not being dishonest. Have a look locally, online and at www.analoguefilmacademy.co.uk and see for yourself that shooting on film will be very rewarding and you'll be glad for shooting film, it's not just an effect.

 

 

Pav


Edited by Pavan Deep, 24 April 2017 - 10:50 AM.

  • 1

#5 Tyler Purcell

Tyler Purcell
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3110 posts
  • Other
  • Los Angeles

Posted 24 April 2017 - 11:50 AM

I mean as pointed out above, directing on film and working on set with film, is an entirely different experience then shooting digitally.

- You're constantly trying to get the best performances because you don't have the film to waste on dozens of takes.
- You're having to reload every 11 minutes on 16mm, so you try to get everything you can get done before a break during that time.
- Film cameras don't have playback or a decent monitoring system, so you'll be working much closer to the actors (looking through the viewfinder) and they can't see what the take is like, so there is a trust between the actor and director that isn't present on a digital set.
- Film cameras are bigger and heavier then most of today's cinema cameras, they can be a real challenge to haul around and you can't just get "any" shot you want, it takes real pre-planning.
- Since you can't see your work for a while, you've gotta actually plan your shoot properly. You can't just re-shoot after you watched the footage the day after shooting, it could take a week to get it back.

Now you could go out and rent an Alexa studio + cinema glass and force yourself to "pretend" it's a film camera. But the cost to laser it back to film is huge, around $600 - $800 per minute. As Pavan pointed out, most people just assume film is expensive when it really isn't. I just did a short narrative film on 35mm and it cost me around a grand for stock, processing and transfer (I own cameras and lenses). With short-ends today and labs willing to work deals, especially for students, you should be able to find a good deal in Europe somewhere for processing and transfer. Finding recan's isn't a problem either.

The big question is if the film school has film equipment. If they don't, then you'll have to find a rental house that will help you out. Most rental houses will give steep discounts for students. For instance, Panavision here in the US, does $500/day (3 day week) for a complete (4 or 3 perf) 35mm + spherical lens package. That's far less then any decent digital package.

Finally, I love directing on film. Camera reloading time gives the actors time to relax. Actors aren't all in your face about the framing because they can't even see it. When you're done with a shot, you simply move on, there aren't people standing around a monitor for 20 minutes trying to figure out how to make it better. When the camera rolls, people are more attentive and do better work because they know that money is running through the camera.

 

Ohh... I doubt they'll want a film print. Most schools don't care about that because it's an added expense that doesn't make much sense with DCI-P3 color space decent projectors we have to day. If they DO want a print, I'd shoot on 35mm because you have more options for making a decent soundtrack. 


  • 1

#6 Mark Dunn

Mark Dunn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2281 posts
  • Other
  • London

Posted 24 April 2017 - 01:48 PM

You say "made", so you need clarification- "made on film" implies not just shot, but cut and finished on film. That can be a tall order these days.

Where are you planning to go?


Edited by Mark Dunn, 24 April 2017 - 01:49 PM.

  • 0

#7 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19382 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 24 April 2017 - 02:58 PM

I doubt they meant shoot, cut, and print film, they probably just mean having shot something on film. They wouldn't take a print anyway, they'd screen a digital copy, so there's not much point in taking something digital and transferring it to film if they ask for a digital copy.

But I suspect that for the directing program, they aren't going to enforce the "must have shot on film" requirement, it's probably a bit outdated or they are just listing the same rules for the directing and cinematography program. Wouldn't hurt to ask them.

But it's not the hardest thing in the world to shoot one 3-minute 100' roll of 16mm and cut it into a 1-minute silent short film with music, which was what our beginner class at CalArts assigned. Chance to make something arty and visual for not a lot of money (and probably cheaper than recording digital to 16mm, making a print, and then doing a telecine transfer in an attempt to fool someone.)
  • 0

#8 Mark Dunn

Mark Dunn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2281 posts
  • Other
  • London

Posted 24 April 2017 - 03:12 PM


But it's not the hardest thing in the world to shoot one 3-minute 100' roll of 16mm and cut it into a 1-minute silent short film with music, which was what our beginner class at CalArts assigned. Chance to make something arty and visual for not a lot of money (and probably cheaper than recording digital to 16mm, making a print, and then doing a telecine transfer in an attempt to fool someone.)

Quite right, OP- you can rent my Steenbeck to do it.


  • 0

#9 Phil Connolly

Phil Connolly
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 345 posts
  • Director
  • London

Posted 25 April 2017 - 03:59 AM

What directing course would ask that you've shot on film before? Seems like a very strange request. Sure the experience of shooting film is different to digital. But it wouldn't help them judge your directing talent.  So they would reject an excellent director with a great film shot on digital because they have no film experience?  Madness especially considering that analogue film skills are less in demand now and will be even less important when you graduate. 

 

Personally I would be wary of a programme that demands this, as it represents an outdated view of the industry. Sure there is the argument about being able to work on a low shooting ratio. The thing is you could have shot film inefficiently with a massing shooting ratio and they would never know from the finished peace. 

 

I still think its good for film courses to include a shot on film project - it does help focus the students. I'm the external examiner for the Bournemouth Filmmaking and Cinematography BA and the results of their 16mm project are excellent. The students get a lot out of it, but to be honest most of the students careers will focus on digital - so its nice to do film while at school. But a program that demands it on application...hmmmmm


  • 0

#10 Paul Berenstain

Paul Berenstain

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts
  • Director
  • London

Posted 17 May 2017 - 05:10 AM

Thanks for all the answers. I agree that shooting on film is a different experience for everyone, but I don't think it's an effective requirement for a film school. I have contacted the school office and they said they want the film on dvd, with proof that it was shot on film. The school is The National University of Theatre and Film in Bucharest.

In any case, I was looking at the cost of film and, being close to London, I found a film society that will lend me an Aaton camera with 2 lenses for £120 for a week and Kodak film, 400 ft, with processing, at £195. These are the cheapest prices I could find. For a 5 minute film, with 4:1 ratio, it would come up to almose £600, just for shooting. Does anybody know of any alternatives for camera and stock that would be cheaper?
  • 0

#11 Chris Burke

Chris Burke
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1610 posts
  • Boston, MA

Posted 17 May 2017 - 12:55 PM

Shooting on actual film us one of the best exercises for film school. Why do you think it is not? It forces you into an economy of shooting only what you need and forces you to think about the shot. Could you use a bolex? Are they that expensive? Like David said, it's not that hard. Perhaps another point of the requirement to use film is to see who is who and how well you can handle a "film"shoot. Having only shot digital and being able to reshoot ad infinitum, may be what they want to see when you can not.
  • 0

#12 Ben McMurry

Ben McMurry

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 5 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • Rockville, MD

Posted 17 May 2017 - 02:00 PM

Now you could go out and rent an Alexa studio + cinema glass and force yourself to "pretend" it's a film camera. But the cost to laser it back to film is huge, around $600 - $800 per minute.

 

 

Tyler, those prices for film outs seem really high.  We use an ARRI Laser 2 for 35mm and also do 16mm digital intermediates and prints on our custom machine. Check out www.colorlab.com/pricing for our rates --- currently $325/min for 35mm and $175/min for 16mm which includes a negative, track, and print. 

 

As for film production, I (of course) agree. There's a pace and precision to shooting on film that I prefer.

 

 

 


  • 0

#13 Phil Connolly

Phil Connolly
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 345 posts
  • Director
  • London

Posted 17 May 2017 - 04:56 PM

Shooting on actual film us one of the best exercises for film school. Why do you think it is not? It forces you into an economy of shooting only what you need and forces you to think about the shot. Could you use a bolex? Are they that expensive? Like David said, it's not that hard. Perhaps another point of the requirement to use film is to see who is who and how well you can handle a "film"shoot. Having only shot digital and being able to reshoot ad infinitum, may be what they want to see when you can not.

I don't think anyone is questioning the value of shooting on film as an exercise to force you to think carefully about each shot when working on a tight ratio.

 

As a tool for admitting potential students to a film course its less useful, since they would have no way of knowing the circumstances of the shoot and have to take it on face value. I've done film shoots with a 20:1 ratio and digital shoots with a 5:1 ratio - people arn't automatically less economical with digital. Its true film shoots typically shoot on lower ratios and require more planning and care then digital. But its not always the case - you could have a rich kid with deep pockets and burning through film stock as much as a digital shoot. Get a good DOP and enough stock and the experience of directing on film and directing on digital is very similar 

 

So I don't know if i would automatically assume a filmmaker is "better" because they have shot on film. Actually I think this demand is problematic because film is expensive this could be considered an elitist recruitment strategy; that favours the potential students with deep pockets able to gain film experience and  discriminates against the poorer students that may not be able to afford film.  Especially on a directing course - you can tell if the potential student is talented from their reel regardless if they have shot film or digital. I've done university film programme admissions and looked at 100's of applications and the good ones stand out. I'd never demand film only, not these days, the risk of missing out on those great students that haven't got "film-film" experience would be too great. 

 

If it were me - I'd do something like filming my digital movie off a monitor onto super 8. Technically they couldn't complain or just apply to the NFTS and avoid all this hoop jumping


  • 0

#14 Paul Berenstain

Paul Berenstain

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts
  • Director
  • London

Posted 17 May 2017 - 05:59 PM

I don't think anyone is questioning the value of shooting on film as an exercise to force you to think carefully about each shot when working on a tight ratio.

 

As a tool for admitting potential students to a film course its less useful, since they would have no way of knowing the circumstances of the shoot and have to take it on face value. I've done film shoots with a 20:1 ratio and digital shoots with a 5:1 ratio - people arn't automatically less economical with digital. Its true film shoots typically shoot on lower ratios and require more planning and care then digital. But its not always the case - you could have a rich kid with deep pockets and burning through film stock as much as a digital shoot. Get a good DOP and enough stock and the experience of directing on film and directing on digital is very similar 

 

So I don't know if i would automatically assume a filmmaker is "better" because they have shot on film. Actually I think this demand is problematic because film is expensive this could be considered an elitist recruitment strategy; that favours the potential students with deep pockets able to gain film experience and  discriminates against the poorer students that may not be able to afford film.  Especially on a directing course - you can tell if the potential student is talented from their reel regardless if they have shot film or digital. I've done university film programme admissions and looked at 100's of applications and the good ones stand out. I'd never demand film only, not these days, the risk of missing out on those great students that haven't got "film-film" experience would be too great. 

 

If it were me - I'd do something like filming my digital movie off a monitor onto super 8. Technically they couldn't complain or just apply to the NFTS and avoid all this hoop jumping

 

I have applied to the NFTS for the third time now. It's not necessarily that I've lost hope of getting in, but even if I do get in, I'm pretty sure I couldn't afford it. In Bucharest I could go for free. Granted, not as good, but still a film school with resources, first-hand advice and people to collaborate with.

 

I don't agree that it's a good strategy either. They probably think that people who apply there have shot on actual film during their Bachelor (which in Romania they will have done), but that limits the pool of applicants by quite a bit. Some people have told me that this requirement is going to be removed soon, unfortunately not for this year.


  • 0

#15 Phil Connolly

Phil Connolly
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 345 posts
  • Director
  • London

Posted 18 May 2017 - 03:50 AM

Good luck either way. If they want a DVD submission it might be possible to fake a film look with post tools. Then master the DVD at a lower bit rate - it could hide the digital texture and make it difficult for them to spot a digitally shot film. A bit of grain, weave, neg dirt and TK and Kodak named in the credits. They might not spot it. Especially if its a good film and compression artefacts could be your friend here crank it up to hide the fine detail. For instance my reel is a mix of film and digital and on youtube the compression hides the difference enough to sport the difference

 

I got into the NFTS on the third attempt, what helped me was I did a lot of volunteering on NFTS shoots. So by the time I got in I'd got several DOP credits on NFTS films for the TV Diploma course. Ultimately I think I got in because the tutors had met me and seen my work ethic rather then having an amazing reel at the time. 

 

Luckily i got a scholarship or I wouldn't have been able to afford it.


  • 0

#16 Pavan Deep

Pavan Deep
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 302 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • UK

Posted 18 May 2017 - 05:04 AM

If filming with a pro 16mm camera is not essential then why look at Aatons or Arris? If it's about fulfilling a requirement think simple; Why don't you get a cheap 16mm camera? There's plenty for sale online like a Bell and Howell 240 or 627, these are around £30.00-100.00 and take 100ft daylight spools these are about £36.00, the 100ft will last 2.30 seconds at 24fps and processing and scanning will cost you about £55.00, so camera, film processing and scanning will cost you less than £150.00, all you have to do is just shoot something random.

 

Pav


Edited by Pavan Deep, 18 May 2017 - 05:05 AM.

  • 0




Abel Cine

FJS International, LLC

Quantum Music Works

Visual Products

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Willys Widgets

Technodolly

Aerial Filmworks

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Pro 8mm

Paralinx LLC

Tai Audio

The Slider

Rig Wheels Passport

CineTape

Metropolis Post

CineLab

rebotnix Technologies

Ritter Battery

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

ZoomCrane

Technodolly

Visual Products

CineTape

ZoomCrane

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Metropolis Post

Abel Cine

The Slider

Glidecam

Quantum Music Works

Rig Wheels Passport

FJS International, LLC

Ritter Battery

Pro 8mm

CineLab

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

Aerial Filmworks

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

rebotnix Technologies

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio