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#1 razerfish

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 06:42 AM

Rented it this evening because I saw that it was shot in H.D. Wanted to see how it looked. I was impressed.

A few questions.

1) Can HD look like this after the editing process, or does it look like this because it was transferred to film?

2) Camera angles. I noticed that when they cut from long shots to closer shots, the camera angle didn't change much, not like the 30% rule they teach in film schools. Who picked these angles? The DP or the director. Two instances I can think of are when the girl slides down the shute in the bank and when the old lady gives the speech about the missing DEB in the lecture hall. They went from long shot to medium close up of the same angle.

3) Lighting. I noticed a very strong back light on the girls' heads, especially the blonde girl, more so than I notice in 'films.' Did this have to do with it being shot on HD?

Thanks.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 01:10 PM

The home video versions are all made from the HD master using downconversions -- the movie was transferred to 35mm anamorphic but this was only used for making release prints. We did not do a telecine back to HD, etc. No real point unless you really want to add some more artifacts like dust, gate weave, grain, etc. to make it more film-like. Personally, that's a really expensive method of adding a "film look" and I think it only is necessary for movies shot in interlaced-scan video, where the original video looks too "raw".

Plus since we transferred this to 35mm anamorphic by cropping the 16x9 HD image (composed for this cropping to 2.35 in mind) and converting it to scope, for the home video master we could use the whole 16x9 frame when needed (like to make the 4x3 version) whereas if we used the film-out in a telecine, we'd be panning & scanning from a 2.35 image.

We were really pushed for time so sometimes we just had to grab coverage by zooming in from the same camera position rather than move the camera over. Anyway, I think the 30 degree rule is a nice idea but can be broken. If the shot changes in SIZE radically enough, then it doesn't have to change in ANGLE as much -- the point of these rules is to create smoother cuts because cutting two shots that are too similar in size or angle, especially if there is any matching problems because they were not shot simultaneously by two cameras, will look jumpy. But even jump cuts are OK now and then.

I did a lot of hot backlighting on the hair deliberately, but yes, video tends to burn up a little faster so the same amount of backlighting would look less strong on film -- however, in my case, if I had been shooting on film I would have compensated by making the backlight stronger, so it was not an accident in this movie that the hair was so backlit.

I do find that backlit hair is probably the easiest way to spot digital versus film, both for how it burns out but also for how it interacts with any sharpening being used. Even with the Genesis demo that Allen Daviau shot, it's the backlit hair in sunlight that allows you to spot the Genesis shots versus the 35mm shots.
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#3 razerfish

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 04:26 PM

David,

Thanks for the information.

What impressed was the look of the movie. The image was satisfying to me, which is a relief because we'll be doing a feature soon enough and I've been worried about high def. I can get a decent deal on the gear, but I wasn't sold on the image quality.

I'm not articulate or knowledgable about cinematography to articulate the question properly, so here's the crude version: can we (my own team?) achieve a similar look using the F900 on a small budget? No film out, no fancy post production can't be done locally, just shot well and color corrected using whatever NLE system we employ. Can it still have a similar look?
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 08:46 PM

Sure, assuming you know what you're doing. Good lighting matters more than anything else, as long as you don't screw up something in the camera recording. I've never done anything complicated in terms of the camera menus; it's basically lighting & composition, exposure, etc.

Check out "Jackpot", my first 24P HD feature, shot in 15 days for about $400,000. I only had a week to get to learn about HD and the F900 before we shot the movie.
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#5 razerfish

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 04:05 AM

Sure, assuming you know what you're doing.  Good lighting matters more than anything else, as long as you don't screw up something in the camera recording.  I've never done anything complicated in terms of the camera menus; it's basically lighting & composition, exposure, etc.

Check out "Jackpot", my first 24P HD feature, shot in 15 days for about $400,000. I only had a week to get to learn about HD and the F900 before we shot the movie.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I managed to find this movie after some looking. I can live with this kind of image. Didn't feel to "video-ish" to me. Will certainly work for the kind of budget I'll be working with.

Thanks for the help.
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#6 Keith Mottram

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 08:23 AM

I've never heard of the thirty degree rule, what does it actually mean? I was never taught it at film school in blighty.

Keith
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 11:45 AM

The rule is just that when you move in from the wider coverage to the tighter coverage, you should not simply push, punch, or zoom straight in, but move to a different angle as well to create enough of a difference to make a smoother cut.

In Walter Murch's book "In the Blink of an Eye", he mentions a study of bees that showed that if you moved their hive just a little, they would get confused at the new position and think it was not theirs, but if you moved them and the hive miles away, they would assume it's still the same hive in a new location. The point was that either a cut has to be a perfect match or it has to create a radical change, but a minor change in image size or camera angle would be too similar to the previous shot and create a jump when cutting.
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#8 Keith Mottram

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 12:08 PM

thanks david, i've never really thought about 'rules' in all my years of editing, I of course have rules that I follow- but they are more instinctive than a 'rulebook' aproach. This thirty degree rule has never sat in my head per se, but i can see how it works. i remember being taught about 'crossing the line' and thinking how wierd to be taught such a thing as clearly it would look wrong, but i guess sometimes it's good to have base rules to free you up, so to speak. Just out of interest do you ever have rules that you work to when your planning on shooting a scene?

keith
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 12:32 PM

Well, sometimes a scene can be a bit confusing to cover in terms of crossing the line, like shooting a circle of people talking to each other. Well, it's not confusing, but often I find myself arguing with the script supervisor who wants every possible eyeline covered, which would take days, so at some point you just have to say "look, the editor will just have to cut here before he cuts there so as to create a new line... because we can't cover all potential eyeline crosses."

Truth is that the "rules" are quite basic, so I find myself these days thinking more about how I can creatively bend or break or ignore those rules, since following them is second-nature and I'm trying to break myself of that conservative habit. But you really have to understand editing to know how to break these rules.

One odd discussion I have on set is the notion of whether a POV shot has an "eyeline" -- technically if you are shooting someone's POV of someone else and that other person looks back at you, they should be looking into the lens. And a POV of an inanimate object like a house has no eyeline -- the camera should just be where the person whose POV it is was standing. The object being viewed has no screen direction.

I had that argument with a script supervisor who asked me to get a POV shot of a cabin in the distance in the woods and make sure that the cabin was "right to left". I said "it's a POV shot, the cabin can't have a screen direction..." She said, "but they were looking camera right, so the cabin has to be looking camera left".... "it's a cabin, it doesn't have eyes!"

I mean, technically, in a true POV the subject should be center-framed, not artistically composed to one side, because when we stare at something, we don't "compose" it.

Not to knock on script supervisors, but some of them have an incredibly pedantic, simplistic notion of editing and coverage, mostly book-learned. Many have never sat in an editing room. Of course, in their defense, many times they work for directors and DP's with even a worse knowledge of screen direction issues.

In another instance, I was shooting two people facing camera looking at an off-camera monitor, and then I turned around and shot their backs in the foreground with the monitor facing camera. I kept the monitor to the same side of camera and them on the same side of camera in both directions, but obviously the two people standing side-by-side naturally swap screen positions when flipping to the reverse side. Well, the script supervisor wanted to swap them so that the same person was screen-right of the other in both camera angles, which is ridiculous because now someone standing to their left was standing to their right.

Same thing happened on another shoot where two people facing each other were leaning against a mantlepiece on a wall. One character while talking sets his drink down on the mantlepiece on screen right. Well, when we went to the reverse over-the-shoulder angle, the script supervisor wanted them to set the drink down opposite the mantlepiece (in mid air!) so it would still be set down on screen right, which makes no sense since the mantlepiece was obviously now on screen left.

This is the sort of simplistic, pendantic thinking that some people do when considering screen direction. I mean, obviously when shooting raking shots of two people driving in a car, the background naturally goes in the opposite direction on one of two angles -- you don't drive the car backwards to make the direction match!
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#10 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 02:25 PM

I'm crap at the crossing line stuff and have always been. I just go with the feel and never analyze it and it has worked well for me except on one occasion.

But I've always argued that if people stand in their right position, look at eachother or the way they're supposed to, then there can't be any mistakes made. Then it's up to the camera to go in the right position. Sure one often adjusts an eyeline here and there because it feels weird (even though they're looking in the exact same direction they did in the master or whatever).

There's always this endless over-analyzing of that rule on set - and it drives me nuts 'cause I find it's such a film school conversation.

Put the camera anywhere. Does it feel weird and/or confusing? Adjust or move the camera until it doesn't.
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#11 timHealy

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 04:45 PM

I had that argument with a script supervisor who asked me to get a POV shot of a cabin in the distance in the woods and make sure that the cabin was "right to left".  I said "it's a POV shot, the cabin can't have a screen direction..." She said, "but they were looking camera right, so the cabin has to be looking camera left".... "it's a cabin, it doesn't have eyes!"

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Very funny stuff David!

Best

Tim
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#12 razerfish

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 01:39 PM

Sure, assuming you know what you're doing.  Good lighting matters more than anything else, as long as you don't screw up something in the camera recording.  I've never done anything complicated in terms of the camera menus; it's basically lighting & composition, exposure, etc.

Check out "Jackpot", my first 24P HD feature, shot in 15 days for about $400,000. I only had a week to get to learn about HD and the F900 before we shot the movie.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


David, I watched the director's commentary of Jackpot and am wondering where most of the budget went. At first I figured on the cast, but they said everyone got only something like $250 per day (SAG low budget agreement mins). With such a short shooting schedule and so few actors, that wouldn't add up to more than $10 or $15K. Or did the lead get a much larger salary than the rest? Was it the cost of getting the music rights? If not the cast or music, what cost the most money?

I'm asking this because I will probably be able to get an HD package for a scream of a deal, production gear, access to quality actors (no, not regular working actors like Jackpot had, but good local actors), experienced crew - grips and a good production designer, (not an experienced DP yet, though), for nothing or next to nothing. What is the biggest cost driver then? What was it for the Polish brothers?

Edited by razerfish, 15 August 2005 - 01:45 PM.

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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 04:50 PM

Well, $400,000 is a pretty low budget.

That included all of HD post including a $70,000 film transfer. HD downconversions, online, etc. was probably about $50,000.

I think most crew people got paid about $1000/week, so you figure for a number of people that's $4000 (3 weeks shooting / one week prep) So for 20 people, that's about $80,000. That's just a rough estimate.

So that's maybe $200,000 right there, not including cast costs.

At $250/day, a 6-day week means $1500/week per actor, figure on an average of five or more actors a day for three weeks and the total might be $25,000 (probably more than that -- I'm just tossing some figures around.)

This doesn't include editorial costs (paid editor for a couple of months, plus assistant), sound editing, sound mixing. Nor camera rental, lighting & grip, and cost of locations, often two per day. Nor production insurance, feeding the crew & cast for three weeks, etc.

But the main thing is that this was budgeted all the way out to completion, including the HD-to-35mm transfer, which is rare for an indie film. Many films that say they only cost $50,000 or less to make ignore the hundreds of thousands spent later to get it ready for a theatrical release.
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#14 razerfish

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 05:47 PM

I didn't think about the film transfer. And what exactly is a HD downconversion? I've have some stuff shot on the F900 but the person who owns the camera downconverted it to DV for me so I could edit it. Is that the same thing or am I thinking down-rezzed? I'm hoping this can be done much cheaper now it was when you shot Jackpot.
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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 09:13 PM

Yes, a downconversion is a form of downrezzing. "Format conversion" usually refers to PAL-to-NTSC or NTSC-to-PAL, so "downconversion" usually means from HDTV to NTSC or PAL, often for offline editing using standard-def decks in the editing room.
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#16 razerfish

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 10:58 PM

Yes, a downconversion is a form of downrezzing.  "Format conversion" usually refers to PAL-to-NTSC or NTSC-to-PAL, so "downconversion" usually means from HDTV to NTSC or PAL, often for offline editing using standard-def decks in the editing room.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


David, with the advancements in HD editing that's happened in the last few years (months?), wouldn't these costs have come down tremedously? I have a fast editing machine now that can do HD, and I'm about to have one with even more power -- two dual cores and memory in the terrabytes.

So if I'm not doing a film transfer (not on my tab, anyway), and editing in house, wouldn't my costs basically stop once shooting stopped? Am I missing something?
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