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What camera/format for outdoor feature doc


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#1 Andrew Wheeler

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Posted 05 October 2005 - 08:41 PM

I have a question that everyday i feel like I have a different answer to. Any input would be appreciated. Im going to be doing a feature documentary for the first time. Me and the person Im working with are very excited about the project and have high hopes for it. We are making the film with the thought it will make it into theatres. I know it sounds very ambitious, but besides the potential for great content, there is possibly some great selling points as well. With that said, the project is going to be shot in a few countries from south east asia all the way to south america and the US. Initially I was planning for shooting super 16 but i asked an old teacher for advice about it and she said i was crazy for wanting to shoot on film. She said it sounds like a video project all the way. Dealing with less equipment with customs, film on airplanes and extreme temperatures was better suited for video. I still want to shoot film but Im wondering what people think. Of course it would definitely be less to shoot on video, just stock, processing, and transfer would be alot. I have a sync super 8 set up as well which part of me would rather do than video anyways. There will be alot of travelling and hiking equipment to remote places with this film. It is mostly an outdoor/nature documentary. I know many of the pros and cons of each format but im having a really difficult time making a decision. Any input whatsoever would be greatly appreciated.
thanks
andy
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#2 Robert Hughes

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Posted 05 October 2005 - 10:49 PM

You have to make a choice from the information you have available to you. What are the most crucial goals that you have to meet? Are they artistic, logistical or economic? What do you want the final result to look like? Have you secured enough funding to allow you a choice of formats? Can you afford to run a 10:1 or higher shooting ratio on film? Would you need to telecine everything, or only usable takes? If film costs are out of reach, can you find video equipment that will meet your image requirements in bright, contrasty outdoor scenes? Can you afford the post production costs of taking video originated footage to a presentable 35mm print? How will the climate and weather affect your gear? What is your backup plan in the event of equipment breakdown (240 miles outside of Kathmandu)?

Lots of questions. Only you can figure out the answers for your particular project. Good luck.
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 04:32 PM

Consider shooting HD as an alternative. Film can be awkward in a traveling documentary with a small crew, although it's certainly done sucessfully all the time.

HD (rather than standard def video, or super-8 film) will give you good resolution for theatrical presentation with less expense than film. There are a couple robust professional cameras out there. Personally I'd look into the Panasonic Varicam for something like this, or maybe one of the newer pro-sumer HD cameras. But as Mr. Hughes pointed out there are lots of factors to consider.
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#4 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 11 October 2005 - 02:15 AM

I have a question that everyday i feel like I have a different answer to. Any input would be appreciated. Im going to be doing a feature documentary for the first time. Me and the person Im working with are very excited about the project and have high hopes for it. We are making the film with the thought it will make it into theatres. I know it sounds very ambitious, but besides the potential for great content, there is possibly some great selling points as well. With that said, the project is going to be shot in a few countries from south east asia all the way to south america and the US. Initially I was planning for shooting super 16 but i asked an old teacher for advice about it and she said i was crazy for wanting to shoot on film. She said it sounds like a video project all the way. Dealing with less equipment with customs, film on airplanes and extreme temperatures was better suited for video. I still want to shoot film but Im wondering what people think. Of course it would definitely be less to shoot on video, just stock, processing, and transfer would be alot. I have a sync super 8 set up as well which part of me would rather do than video anyways. There will be alot of travelling and hiking equipment to remote places with this film. It is mostly an outdoor/nature documentary. I know many of the pros and cons of each format but im having a really difficult time making a decision. Any input whatsoever would be greatly appreciated.
thanks
andy


Andy,
Are you taking most of the crew form here, or is there a posiibility to hire people forom there?
Maybe this will reduce the overall cost, accomodation for example and air tickets.
I would go for film with the 1st AC from your location as so with the sound engineer.
All the others can be found on locations and probably u can do it with film.
As for the telecine u need one light telecine with keycode that u can edit off line on a MAc or pc suite.
This are just my suggestions, tht you don't need to follow.
Dimitrios Koukas
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#5 Dickson Sorensen

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 08:20 PM

" Dealing with less equipment with customs, film on airplanes and extreme temperatures was better suited for video."

If this is a project that will involve extreme weather conditions shooting on film is a plus. Film cameras are more rugged in terms of the transport mechanism. If you had equipment problems and had to replace a camera in an out of the way place it would be easier to match the look of the rest of your project with a different camera obtained locally. Film may cost more are the results worth it?
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