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Regular 16mm v Super 16mm film camera conversion...

16mm super16 film s16

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#1 Stephen Perera

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 09:54 AM

...I sent my Aaton XTR XC to England for service, battery recell etc before I start rolling with it and Alan tells me the camera can't be converted to Super16mm as the "gate and ground glass have been swapped for regular 16mm only"......

 

so I stopped to think.....is it really worth all the hassle converting to Super 16mm after all?...

 

Am I going to shoot a film on 16mm film that's going to appear in a large cinema theatre screen........prob never....and if what I shoot appears on Vimeo, YouTube, and viewed on tablets and smartphones - ironically the iPad Pro screen is practically the 4 x 3 ratio - should I not just stick with standard 16mm format?

 

.....would appreciate thoughts.....no idea on the costs at this point to get the parts

 

I love it by the way.....the design and ergonomics and the feel of the Aaton...glad I bought it


Edited by Stephen Perera, 11 July 2017 - 09:55 AM.

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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 04:26 PM

I call complete bullshit... I mean it's one thing for the ground glass to have an issue, but it's super simple to recenter the lens mount and enlarge the gate.

I'll see if I can find a S16 gate. I got a lead on some parts.
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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 05:46 PM

I assume you;re talking about Alan Giles. He converted my Aaton LTR to Super 16, so it's not so much can't, than it'll be a more extensive modification than just doing the usual change over that you'd expect with an XTR..


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#4 Stephen Perera

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 06:25 PM

I call complete bullshit... I mean it's one thing for the ground glass to have an issue, but it's super simple to recenter the lens mount and enlarge the gate.I'll see if I can find a S16 gate. I got a lead on some parts.


Thanks Tyler appreciate the help man.....i want to get up and running asap as I'm doing a piece for a local charity on domestic violence I'm going to shoot on Kodak black n white stock and now this set back too......when I got the batteries back recelled from Alan I found the charger was not working.....so I got a friend of mine to rewire one for me and that didn't work either so I sent it all back to ALAN FOR CHECKING and that's the latest news.....set back after set back......
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#5 Stephen Perera

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 06:28 PM

I assume you;re talking about Alan Giles. He converted my Aaton LTR to Super 16, so it's not so much can't, than it'll be a more extensive modification than just doing the usual change over that you'd expect with an XTR..


Yes Alan Giles....he didn't tell me it could not be done but rather that I've been duped into buying a camera that can't be swapped over to super 16 unless I spend a couple of thousands to get the parts needed.....He said the ground glass and the gate are the expensive parts of the camera.....
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#6 Stephen Perera

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 06:35 PM

......before buying I researched Aaton cameras and checked the serial number of the camera I was buying and it was placed in the XTR category of serial numbers....i then downloaded the manual for it and it clearly said they call all be easily swapped over for super 16mm.....thus even though the eBay post said the format was 16mm I bought the camera anyway,.....thinking it could be swapped over.....i didnt give it any more thought.....seller said the batteries had to be recelled....

The camera came and it was in great condition....love at first sight to be honest....modern digital cameras just don't excite me....obv cos I can't buy an Arri with a set of PL mount cinema lenses.....

Then someone in here told me about Alan Giles in the UK.....he recelled the batteries for me.....been talking to him a lot and he even gave me a roll of film to practice on and loads of advice every time I speak to him.....

So here I am still waiting to actually be able to use the camera after all this time.....
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#7 Stephen Perera

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 06:40 PM

.....Was thinking......Tyler....could I just swap out the gate to a super 16mm affordably and just mask my viewfinder to the format and get by without having to change the ground glass too.....I've done this with Hasselblad before literally creating a guideline mask for myself to crop the 6x6 view
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#8 Phillip Mosness

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 07:09 PM

Out of curiosity, is your choice on the format an aesthetic one or more practical? Super 16 fits the HD aspect ratio closely with out much cropping, which is why many choose it these days, but if you prefer to shoot in 4 by 3 it was the standard for many decades.

Also I don't know if that camera's a good candidate, but there's also Ultra 16, which is easier to convert on some cameras, and lets you use a lot more lenses, and keeps the optical center in the same place.  


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#9 Stephen Perera

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 07:37 PM

Well I can only buy single perf 16mm kodak stock and I guess I have been swept along with the super 16 using most of the negative etx etc and thus the irrational conflict I have....
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#10 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 07:57 PM

.....Was thinking......Tyler....could I just swap out the gate to a super 16mm affordably and just mask my viewfinder to the format and get by without having to change the ground glass too.....I've done this with Hasselblad before literally creating a guideline mask for myself to crop the 6x6 view


The gate swap is easy... the ground glass is too. I'll see what I can dig up. No promises, but I gotta go over and find some shit anyway. When you get the camera back, I need pictures of the ground glass assembly and the gate. I need to see what could be different.
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#11 Todd Anderson

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 06:24 PM

Stephen, I would keep your R16mm Aaton and just start shooting and not worry about S16mm. With the new Kodak film stocks (especially the Kodak V3 50D) and a proper scan, you will be more than happy with the results.

 
Years ago, I started with a Beaulieu R16mm, and then I bought two Eclair ACL’s (both R16mm), and went through the trouble to convert one of my Eclair ACL’s to S16mm — mainly because at that time, before 1080P, it was beneficial to have a Anamorphic 1.78 transfer to DVD for the added resolution. But now with 1080P,  you can just have a 1:33 windowbox transfer at 1080P versus a 1.78 letterbox transfer and the resolution of the file will be the same horizontally, wether from a R16mm scan or S16mm scan.
 
What I mean with the above is, because a 2K scan is inherently 1:33:1 (2048 x 1536) if you scan a R16mm frame at 2K (also 1:33:1) , you are actually getting a larger file from the scan than if you scan a S16mm frame at 2K because when you scan a S16mm frame at 2K (1.66:1) it is actually a crop of a 2K scan to accommodate the horizontal aspect ratio. With R16mm, you get a ‘true’ 2K scan which is not cropped, if that makes sense. In other words, your R16mm 2K scan will be 2048 x 1536 as opposed to a S16mm scan that will be about 2048 x 1300, or so. Sure, the grain size will be slightly larger on the R16mm scan, but you will not have a lower resolution file to work with. Also, if you wanted to re-frame and were cropping for a 1:78 finish (I personally would just learn to love the wonderful 1:37 aspect ratio which stands out today in the sea of all those 1:78 digital cameras), or what have you, you would have even more flexibility for any reframing that may need to take place.
 
I sold my S16mm ACL before even using it a while back as I bought a S16mm Aaton XTR. I love my Aaton, but I paid at the time $2000 for a clean ground glass, because since it was a XTR (and not a XTRProd), it had that horrible ‘universal’ ground glass that Aaton’s had, which had markings on the same ground glass for 1.78, 1.33, TV safe, and all this stuff that made looking through the viewfinder and framing (at least for me) a nightmare (the XTRProd's could accommodate user changeable ground glasses, but not so with the plain XTR's or XTRPlus'). So, I had to pay $2,000 for that factory ground glass from Aaton (the camera itself was only $5,500 used) just to get a clean 1.78 ground glass with no other marking inside. I say this, because you are fortunate that you have a 1:33 ground glass that is pretty clean with not a host of other markings. So, again, another positive to the camera you got.
 
Again, keep your Aaton as is at R16mm and just start shooting! I have a Bolex (R16mm) and a 35mm ARRI 4-perf camera and I love shooting and framing both of them at 1:37, which is one of my favorite aspect ratio’s (partially, because I love shooting my medium format still film cameras in the square 6x6 medium format).
 
Coincidentally, I placed a wonderful R16mm zoom lens (that use to belong to my Eclair ACL) up on ebay with a Aaton mount. Read the description in the ebay listing, but it would be a very affordable high-quality zoom lens for your R16mm Aaton (and it is great being T1.8). The lens is EXC+ condition and you will not be disappointed, especially at the current price. Depending on what you are shooting, a light weight zoom is wonderful for certain projects (you do not need to break out the tape measure, but just zoom to focus, wonderful if a one-man band operation project) and then try to find some Zeiss Superspeeds at some point for projects where primes make more sense (likely priced around $500 to $1,000 per focal length).
 
Ebay link for the Angenieux 9.5-57mm H.E.C. T1.8 Zoom Lens that I mentioned above (below):
 
Starting bid at $499.00
 
 
eBay item number:  201985959358
 
 
 
- T

Edited by Todd Anderson, 12 July 2017 - 06:39 PM.

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#12 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 07:21 PM

The theatrical 2k format is actually 2048x1080 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Even if at HD 1920x1080 16x9 1.75:1 aspect ratio, you're still cropping the top and bottom of the 1.67:1 Super 16 image. I understand you'll get more resolution on the height, but unless you're presenting square, there are no gains.

So when you shoot straight 16, 4x3 1.33:1 aspect ratio, to get 1.75:1 you're cropping quite a bit of image. It does look really strange to have black bars on the sides of the image when shooting a modern project. When people see it, there is an automatic association with the project being old, rather then modern. People today are just use to the 16x9 frame size, which is basically every display device on the market these days including theaters.

For telecine, I tend to stick with 1080p scans, but for "scanning" you always want to overscan so I tend to go with 2.5k which makes that height resolution better.
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#13 Stephen Perera

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 04:46 AM

thanks everyone for the comments


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#14 Stephen Perera

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 04:55 AM

The theatrical 2k format is actually 2048x1080 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Even if at HD 1920x1080 16x9 1.75:1 aspect ratio, you're still cropping the top and bottom of the 1.67:1 Super 16 image. I understand you'll get more resolution on the height, but unless you're presenting square, there are no gains.

So when you shoot straight 16, 4x3 1.33:1 aspect ratio, to get 1.75:1 you're cropping quite a bit of image. It does look really strange to have black bars on the sides of the image when shooting a modern project. When people see it, there is an automatic association with the project being old, rather then modern. People today are just use to the 16x9 frame size, which is basically every display device on the market these days including theaters.

For telecine, I tend to stick with 1080p scans, but for "scanning" you always want to overscan so I tend to go with 2.5k which makes that height resolution better.

actually.... iPads like the iPad Pro is practically 4 x 3 format!

 

 

Stephen, I would keep your R16mm Aaton and just start shooting and not worry about S16mm. With the new Kodak film stocks (especially the Kodak V3 50D) and a proper scan, you will be more than happy with the results.

 
Years ago, I started with a Beaulieu R16mm, and then I bought two Eclair ACL’s (both R16mm), and went through the trouble to convert one of my Eclair ACL’s to S16mm — mainly because at that time, before 1080P, it was beneficial to have a Anamorphic 1.78 transfer to DVD for the added resolution. But now with 1080P,  you can just have a 1:33 windowbox transfer at 1080P versus a 1.78 letterbox transfer and the resolution of the file will be the same horizontally, wether from a R16mm scan or S16mm scan.
 
What I mean with the above is, because a 2K scan is inherently 1:33:1 (2048 x 1536) if you scan a R16mm frame at 2K (also 1:33:1) , you are actually getting a larger file from the scan than if you scan a S16mm frame at 2K because when you scan a S16mm frame at 2K (1.66:1) it is actually a crop of a 2K scan to accommodate the horizontal aspect ratio. With R16mm, you get a ‘true’ 2K scan which is not cropped, if that makes sense. In other words, your R16mm 2K scan will be 2048 x 1536 as opposed to a S16mm scan that will be about 2048 x 1300, or so. Sure, the grain size will be slightly larger on the R16mm scan, but you will not have a lower resolution file to work with. Also, if you wanted to re-frame and were cropping for a 1:78 finish (I personally would just learn to love the wonderful 1:37 aspect ratio which stands out today in the sea of all those 1:78 digital cameras), or what have you, you would have even more flexibility for any reframing that may need to take place.
 
I sold my S16mm ACL before even using it a while back as I bought a S16mm Aaton XTR. I love my Aaton, but I paid at the time $2000 for a clean ground glass, because since it was a XTR (and not a XTRProd), it had that horrible ‘universal’ ground glass that Aaton’s had, which had markings on the same ground glass for 1.78, 1.33, TV safe, and all this stuff that made looking through the viewfinder and framing (at least for me) a nightmare (the XTRProd's could accommodate user changeable ground glasses, but not so with the plain XTR's or XTRPlus'). So, I had to pay $2,000 for that factory ground glass from Aaton (the camera itself was only $5,500 used) just to get a clean 1.78 ground glass with no other marking inside. I say this, because you are fortunate that you have a 1:33 ground glass that is pretty clean with not a host of other markings. So, again, another positive to the camera you got.
 
Again, keep your Aaton as is at R16mm and just start shooting! I have a Bolex (R16mm) and a 35mm ARRI 4-perf camera and I love shooting and framing both of them at 1:37, which is one of my favorite aspect ratio’s (partially, because I love shooting my medium format still film cameras in the square 6x6 medium format).
 
Coincidentally, I placed a wonderful R16mm zoom lens (that use to belong to my Eclair ACL) up on ebay with a Aaton mount. Read the description in the ebay listing, but it would be a very affordable high-quality zoom lens for your R16mm Aaton (and it is great being T1.8). The lens is EXC+ condition and you will not be disappointed, especially at the current price. Depending on what you are shooting, a light weight zoom is wonderful for certain projects (you do not need to break out the tape measure, but just zoom to focus, wonderful if a one-man band operation project) and then try to find some Zeiss Superspeeds at some point for projects where primes make more sense (likely priced around $500 to $1,000 per focal length).
 
Ebay link for the Angenieux 9.5-57mm H.E.C. T1.8 Zoom Lens that I mentioned above (below):
 
Starting bid at $499.00
 
 
eBay item number:  201985959358
 
 
 
- T

 

thanks for the information much appreciated


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#15 Freya Black

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 08:39 AM

It does look really strange to have black bars on the sides of the image when shooting a modern project. When people see it, there is an automatic association with the project being old, rather then modern. People today are just use to the 16x9 frame size, which is basically every display device on the market these days including theaters.
 

 

 

I kind of disagree with this. I notice a lot of music videos now are deliberately switching up the aspect ratios. There are a lot of new music videos being made in 4:3 and even some where they seem to have shot in Red Anamorphic mode without the Anamorphic lenses.

 

It's actually considered kind of cool to have different aspect ratios these days. I guess because a lot of movies have been switching it up on that score lately. Theres been quite a few movies where the aspect ratio changed during the course of the movie.

 

I don't think a lot of younger people have the association that 4:3 is old. I was in the garden with a little FM radio recently and talking to a girl and she was facinated by it and was like what is that? I had to explain a few times what it was to her because she had never seen something like it, so even though she knew you could get radio programs over the air she had not really seen someone with a little handheld radio before. A lot of younger people now won't even know that 4:3 is any kind of a thing beyond being a bit different. They will probably see it as strange like you say but not neccesarily old fashioned. It will depend on their experiences. (and strange might not be a bad thing!)

 

Also here in Europe there is a lot of TV that is still 4:3. Also I don't think people notice that much whether something is 4:3 or not on youtube. There is a lot of stuff on YouTube that is 4:3 and nobody thinks anything of it especially if they are not watching full screen. If they are watching on a phone or ipad or something it might even fit the screen better. Although they won't think "Oh it's great it fills the screen". They probably won' t think about it at all. The association with 4:3 being old is for people who are either thinking of old Academy format movies or probably more likely people in the states who are thinking about when TV used to be both SD and 4:3 but here in Europe it didn't really work out quite that way so it's different.

 

However there is a younger generation now for who TV is not such a central thing in their lives and I'm afraid to say the same is probably true of cinema too and the internet is a mish mash of aspect ratios 4:3 and 16:9. I mean sometimes people on youtube even encode the aspect ratios wrong, or people film with their iphone in portrtait orientation and it's all just largely normal there.

 

Can you see what I mean Tyler?

 

Freya


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#16 Stephen Perera

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 08:44 AM

good points Freya.....I am European too....at the end of the say I have the dilemma os sticking with a 16mm camera format or wasting more time, money and effort going super16mm ....of course Im trying to convince myself haha


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#17 Freya Black

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 09:05 AM

I have the same kind of conflict myself sometimes. I have an old ACL that is only 4:3 and I could get it converted to Super16 but it would cost money and I could probably make some kind of film or a lot of a film for that kind of money.

In which case it would probably be better to just shoot it in 4:3.

 

I like the fact that Super16 uses the extra bit of negative... It's very cool in that sense... and of course like you say if you are shooting 4:3 on single perf film you feel like you aren't using all the negative. The other issue I have is that I like framing stuff in Super16 or even wider and I feel less excited and sure about framing in 4:3 but I'm sure I could get over that and to be honest it might be nice to have different pieces of work in different aspect ratios because I like trying out different things and having more creative options.

 

If it were me I would see if Tyler can find you the Super16 bits but if he can't I wouldn't worry about it.

In fact even if he can track down the magic parts (which I actually believe he might be able to) then maybe you should shoot this project in 4:3 anyway and get it sorted and then when the parts arrive you could get it converted and shoot your next project in 16:9.

 

The only problem you might run into with that is that if you are trying to build up a reel it might not work so well on a little youtube or vimeo window to switch up the aspect ratios so dramatically. Personally I would still go with it however on the basis that I believe it is good to get {#stuff#} done rather than hang about till something bad happens. You can always reframe the footage for your reel if you need to. Definitely not ideal but I don't think these are the days where worrying about what is ideal are a good thing. You could even crop the 4:3 stuff to 14:9 BBC style to make it fit on your reel without making the aspect ratio change or the crop be too dramatic.

 

So lots to think about but mostly I wouldn't worry about the aspect ratio because I think the way things are going, it will either be considered super cool to switch up your aspect ratios or the future will be aspect ratio agnostic.

 

Freya 


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#18 Freya Black

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 09:09 AM

Another thing to think about. The people who are doing this on music videos and stuff are not doing this because they have an old standard 16mm camera because they are in fact usually shooting on Red or Alexa Studio, or something like that, where the standard is to shoot 16:9 but they are looking to do something different, so they are doing this stuff very deliberately.

 

I think it's sometimes because they think it will work really well on phones and computers and stuff but sometimes it really does seem like they are just doing it to try to be different.

 

Freya


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#19 Todd Anderson

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 09:18 AM

I understand what you are saying, Tyler, but I happen to agree with Freya. Also, considering with digital projection, there is no restriction for theatrical options aspect ratio wise these days. And in my comments above, I was suggesting that the gain in a true 2k scan by shooting R16mm vs S16mm was if one planned to finish at 4x3, which was my suggestion (versus cropping). I love shooting interiors, and with 4-perf 35mm (with the extra headroom and foot room), I just kind of fell in love with 4x3, versus cropping for 1:78. The openess of the frame felt natural, and considering lenses are round, you could get a sense that the falloff makes more sense for an image considering it is truer to lens design. Anyhow, to each their own. But I tend to agree with how Kubrick felt, and that is use the whole negative of which ever format you are choosing (I even finish in 1:66 for S16mm and prefer that older European standard versus 1:85 theatrical). I was also pleasantly suprised when I saw 'Jackie' in the theaters (shot S16mm), and that they decided to project that at 1:66, as well.

-T
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#20 Freya Black

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 09:45 AM

Yeah I wouldn't even crop the Duper8 (ouch I forgot we are calling that MAX8 this week!) stuff to 16:9 but keep in at 14:9 and use all the negative.

 

I really don't believe aspect ratio is going to matter in the future which will be a bit of a blessing and a curse.

Some things are already being delivered in multiple aspect ratios and that is likely to be a future thing too.

 

A lot of things are going to end up more like the internet is...

In some ways that will give more freedom but I know some people aren't going to like it too because it will mean things will get more loose which has a downside to it as well.

 

Freya


Edited by Freya Black, 13 July 2017 - 09:47 AM.

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