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The main problem with digital is....


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#1 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 07:13 AM

...that it breeds bad discipline.

 

Yesterday I shot a commercial where we racked up 8.5hrs of footage in one day. On a 12hr shooting day! Two cameras, and it was with kids, but still. Both were just rolling, all the time, indiscriminately. They never cut, prefer to walk into the scene and give direction, adjust wardrobe and makeup etc whilst cameras were rolling. Only time we had to break was for reloads. I just find it sloppy. How is the editor going to find the nuggets and little nuances in 8.5hrs of material? He won't. He'll just find the "printed" takes from the script girls notes, and won't even look at all the other stuff, because he can't, thereby missing many nuances or other performances that might have been even better.

 

I heard the other day about a longform production with similar approach where the editor had come back asking for a CU of a dialogue scene. Cinematographer and director said they know they shot it, but since it's buried in 150hrs of footage that no editor can ever sift through, and the script notes were not referencing it, it just becomes easier to do a pickup shot of that on set rather than trying to find it.

 

Such a f-ing waste. And such a f-ing sloppy way to make film. Infuriates me.


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#2 Jay Young

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 09:26 AM

I agree.  I cut cameras myself if this starts to happen.  If I even think I hear anyone on set say "just keep rolling" I just walk over and turn the camera off.  After about an hour, things get back to normal, and no one questions cutting any more.....


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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 09:34 AM

Believe me, Adam, I feel you. It's awful and honestly I think it gets worse every year.


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#4 Stephen Perera

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 09:40 AM

...that it breeds bad discipline. Yesterday I shot a commercial where we racked up 8.5hrs of footage in one day. On a 12hr shooting day! Two cameras, and it was with kids, but still. Both were just rolling, all the time, indiscriminately. They never cut, prefer to walk into the scene and give direction, adjust wardrobe and makeup etc whilst cameras were rolling. Only time we had to break was for reloads. I just find it sloppy. How is the editor going to find the nuggets and little nuances in 8.5hrs of material? He won't. He'll just find the "printed" takes from the script girls notes, and won't even look at all the other stuff, because he can't, thereby missing many nuances or other performances that might have been even better.

 

I heard the other day about a longform production with similar approach where the editor had come back asking for a CU of a dialogue scene. Cinematographer and director said they know they shot it, but since it's buried in 150hrs of footage that no editor can ever sift through, and the script notes were not referencing it, it just becomes easier to do a pickup shot of that on set.

 

Such a f-ing waste. And such a f-ing sloppy way to make movies. Infuriates me.

 

well its PRECISELY what I have just bought myself an Aaron XTR 16mm camera to establish proper discipline and retrain myself as I did when I shot Hasselblad + film....I purposely got a model with no video tap or electronics that will force me to take light meter and measure with a tape and all the rest of it!


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#5 John E Clark

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 11:16 AM

This phenomenon is not limited to motion picture capture... but also stills. The Wife and I use to shoot about 1000 still negs at a wedding... we went digital... typcally number of shots went up to 2000-2500... and one wedding was over 3000... ok, that one was a destination wedding in Israel that included about 4 days worth of the wedding party seeing the sights in Jerusalem and a field trip to Masada and the Dead Sea...

 

 

Then she would complain that going through the 'proofs' was arduous...

 

I use to put a bunch of the pictures into After Effects and make a stop motion like 'movie'...


Edited by John E Clark, 14 June 2017 - 11:17 AM.

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#6 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 11:33 AM

When I wear the hat of a cinematographer, I always tell the director in advance that we need to cut if there is going to be any lengthy delay OR another take within the same start/stop. However, when you're in a hurry and you've just gotta get things done, it's sometimes a pain to cut, reset and get back up again. On the last show I shot earlier this year, we stuck by a strong start/stop policy until the very last scene where we had literally 20 minutes to shoot 2 pages. We just ran both cameras straight for 20 minutes, but I had to deal with it in post, so one clip wasn't the end of the world.

Honestly, "waste" is one of the biggest issues with digital. The other issue is spending too much time on set making things look perfect in the monitor. I can't tell you how many hours have been wasted making a proper LUT on set and getting the monitors to look perfect. Heck, just moving village around all day long, moving that damn tent around in every "element" imaginable, making sure it's perfectly black and dealing with a director who works out of a tent, it's so annoying. Unless I'm getting paid a lot of money, I don't work with those kinds of directors anymore. I'm so tired of "absentee" directing, where the filmmakers don't trust the cinematographer and refuse to sit by their actors. When I direct, I'm right there with my talent, working with them face to face. Even if I don't shoot the scene, I let my friggen cinematographer and camera operator do their job! I'll glance over at the monitor to insure framing is right, but that's it. During the scene, I'm staring at my actors, sometimes even with the script in hand with my notes on them. When a scene is done, I wait a few beats and say cut, every, single, friggen, time. Never do I leave the cameras rolling.

My favorite thing to do is shoot something on film, with someone who is use to digital. They'll ask for replay... nope don't got it. They'll ask for a video village... nope don't got it. The first few shots are always amazing because directors are so use to wasting time, they freak out when the camera stops and they can literally move on. It's like, yea... I mean nothing else to do here folks, lets do the next shot. I think shooting on film saves CONSIDERABLE production time and with digital, the gadgets/toys/features, generally bog down the production. You can have all the discipline in the world, but if you have the opportunity to replay a shot, you're going to. If you have the opportunity to muck around with the white balance, shutter angle or ISO, you're going to since the settings are so vast in the digital world. I mean to me the complexity of shooting digital and making it look good, is just overwhelming for some filmmakers and it brings even the smallest productions to a halt.

So discipline is really only half the battle.
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 12:04 PM

I'll second the concern about gadgets and toys.

 

There's a lot of interest at the moment in having advanced on-set colour grading. I have never in my life worked on a production where I thought this was a good use of time. Yes, under current circumstances it's going to be necessary to have some sort of cube in the camera or monitor. The manufacturer's default log-to-709 cube is generally adequate for this. Sometimes it's worthwhile to come up with something custom if the production is going for some sort of extreme look with a lot of contribution from grading, but only sometimes, and that should be done before the day, based on test footage. This may be necessary, for instance, if there are lay clients watching monitors whose expectations need managing.

 

Any more than that, and those clients need to be prepared to pay to have someone come along and DIT the shoot - which they very rarely will.

 

P


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#8 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 11:20 PM

The funny thing is that the 'still rolling' type of shooting isn't cheap, which is the ostensible reason why so many commercial productions insist on shooting digitally in the first place.

And if there's a DIT with their full-size cart on set, transcoding and grading everything and going into hours and hours of overtime to do it, I can't imagine that ends up being any cheaper than shipping a bunch of film cans to the lab for processing and scanning.
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#9 Justin Hayward

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 11:10 AM

There was a production shot here not too long ago where somebody above the line insisted on shooting an entire fight sequence at 1000 FPS on the phantom with a bunch of rack focuses. When they watched the footage, the producers complained that most of it was out of focus and replaced the AC.
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#10 AJ Young

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 06:09 PM

Devil's advocate here, but I don't think it's a lack of discipline, but a method of operation for some directors.

 

I just recently did a feature where the director would keep rolling as actors reset to their first marks. He didn't like how cutting and re-slating killed the momentum of his directorial style. It honestly worked too; he was able to get great performances out of the actors. I spoke with the lead and he said that the takes felt more like theatre rehearsals; he could explore more and not be reminded that he's on a set. Of course, he never treated a take like a rehearsal, but the idea of building momentum for a performance is definitely valid.

 

That being said, I'm sure the director may regret such a move during post-production when he and his editor have to sift through so much footage. At that point, however, it's a discussion between the producer, director, and editor. Next time around, the director may cut more frequently, the editor will know what to expect for next time, or the producer will ensure that the script supervisor records timecode of what the director likes.

 

On set, I did my best to help facilitate my director's style. When actors would reset, I typically would either point the camera directly to the ceiling and keep it there until we were about to go again or cover the lens with my hand. My idea is that this method helps the editor scrub more quickly through the footage and find the "takes" within the "takes".

 

There were obviously times when constantly rolling wouldn't work. We had a fair amount of stunts so we inevitably cut and repositioned to our first marks. However, a simple OTS or MCU of a character during dialogue? Why not keep rolling?


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#11 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 07:23 PM

It's another reason I always push for shooting raw when possible.

Sure, I rarely get it, but when you do and you talk through the data requirements and how high those costs are, you can push your set back towards a more film-like discipline.

I'll do a rundown on shooting raw with the whole crew before we start shooting (just as I'd do with film), and talk it through specifically with the actors so that they know when the cameras roll, they have to be 'on'.

When you can insist on that level of discipline, it makes a big difference.

But good luck if you're shooting compressed Prores!
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#12 Justin Hayward

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 07:42 PM

Filmmakers are a long way away from the days of only "printing" the takes they like. 😊
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#13 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 12:21 AM

I wonder how many can draw a circle? In truth if an actor can't get back into it after a re-slate, perhaps you should work with more professional actors.


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#14 Chris Steel

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 05:03 AM

When the Director says "Why aren't we rolling?" so 1st AD calls for roll, we slate up, everyones set. Director walks onto set, starts to talk to the actors for 5 minutes, I have to change card as we don't have time on the card for the 10 minute scene...

 

I took to cutting the moment the director started talking to the actors.

 

I'd also leave the camera rolling at the tail of the scene for a few seconds as that director would call cut on the last syllable of the actors line.


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#15 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 08:09 AM

When the Director says "Why aren't we rolling?" so 1st AD calls for roll, we slate up, everyones set. Director walks onto set, starts to talk to the actors for 5 minutes, I have to change card as we don't have time on the card for the 10 minute scene...

 

I took to cutting the moment the director started talking to the actors.

 

I'd also leave the camera rolling at the tail of the scene for a few seconds as that director would call cut on the last syllable of the actors line.

 

 

Director seems to be a term used pretty loosely .. doesn't the sound person say something about overlap.. :).. whats that old joke.. there are only two grades on a film set, that you dont need to know anything.. runner and director ..


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#16 Justin Hayward

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 09:01 AM

I wonder how many can draw a circle? In truth if an actor can't get back into it after a re-slate, perhaps you should work with more professional actors.

Right. At what point do you draw the line? Cutting holes in the walls to hide the camera? Two way mirrors? Hiding mikes behind pictures? Eventually someone has to acknowledge they're making a movie and there's a process. I'm sure there are a handful of directors that have used not cutting the camera for strategic purposes to get better performances. I read that Sidney Lumet set up two cameras on Al Pacino's big emotional phone call in "Dog Day Afternoon" so they could do a second take without having to reload the film, but that's a master craftsman in a unique situation. I'm guessing most directors that do this these days just don't want to follow the usual process if they don't have to.
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#17 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 09:21 AM

I just think quite a few of them aren't super familiar with it. It's becoming, quickly, a situation where it's so cheap and easy to make a film these days anyone can do it, and so they do-- pop an ad up somewhere, pick the crew who apply and show up.


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#18 Justin Hayward

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 09:37 AM

Sure, but that doesn't sound like the scenario Adam Frisch was talking about.
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#19 Jay Young

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 10:19 AM

I just think quite a few of them aren't super familiar with it. It's becoming, quickly, a situation where it's so cheap and easy to make a film these days anyone can do it, and so they do-- pop an ad up somewhere, pick the crew who apply and show up.

 

The other problem is Feature length films shot digitally in 14 days with a crew paid less than $100/day.  Never cutting creates time issues.  More feature films want less days and less budget but more footage.  Producers need to understand what they are asking, just as much as directors. 


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#20 Rakesh Malik

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 01:08 PM

One of the... "filmmakers" that I've worked with on occasion complained that only being able to record 14 minutes at a time before reloading was a major problem, so he thought my camera was unusable. Yet I'm using it with those tiny cards to shoot a feature film, but a lot of is due to the fact that we're shooting with the sort of discipline you'd use when shooting on film.

 

What I think is the most ironic is that the "filmmakers" who are most obsessed with rolling all the time and also with using as many cameras at the same time as they can get away with are also the type who don't have any sort of plan when they start a shoot, and the shoots end up being a LOT longer than if they'd just done a better job of planning and only used one camera. 

 

I'm just glad that I didn't have to edit those. I wouldn't want to be the one who has to sift through all of that!

 

Especially since the same sort of folks who are that obsessed with generating footage are also less disciplined about slating...


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