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The HD Revolution?


Guest dpforum1968
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Those who have posted before me have pretty much espoused my view. I'd just like to add:

 

Perhaps you'd be happier posting on the Videomaker.com web-site.

 

I have a deep love for film and film cameras. I repair, coddle, strip and nurse film cameras for a living. I have a respect for them as marvels of engineering and for thier history. I am desigining my own primitive film movement based off of the old 'drunken screw' movement. But I can also recognize the coming of age of Video. Sure the quality is not that of film, but who is to say it won't be in the future. As proper, competative video technology makes it to the market and standardized post-paths emerge who knows what will happen.

 

Film is great. Film is good. If I had my way I'd shoot film all the time, but the F900 makes some pretty pictures! The Varicam is a wonderful tool!

 

But at the end of the day they are just tools.

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Drunken screw?

 

(No, I'm not propositioning you, I'm asking what is it?!)

 

I too am fascinated by the construction of film cameras. I can't even explain why without getting gushy and sentimental. For whatever reason, they just really grab my interest. Honestly, it wasn't the hi-8 camcorder I got for a high school graduation present that got me into making movies; it was seeing the first 16mm film I'd ever shot on my Bolex being projected on a 45-year old Steenbeck flatbed. But I think there is room for both [film and video] in the industry, and there always will be. I remember discussions similar to this one from when I was pursuing a degree in 2d animation and I would say the same thing: it's all art, and we will all find a way to enjoy these art forms regardless of whether they are "old" or "new".

 

So anyway, what is this drunken screw you speak of? I'm curious.

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For me the most interesting aspect of digital is in the areas of DI, and - potentially/hopfully electronic digital projection (and I love a good film print as much as good camera stock).

 

Given a certain level of integrity in the post and presentation path, i.e. the ability to preserve the original photographic (or imaging intention) OR the abilitry to do interesting things with it (I'm currently attempting to regard DI as faster/flexible optical printer, esentially) AND with a projection / exhibition format(s) that don't degrade those intentions,

then it won't matter so much what format you shoot in the sense that you'll get all of what you put into it, be it 35mm, 16mm, HD, Pixelvision :D etc

 

-Sam

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So anyway, what is this drunken screw you speak of? I'm curious.

 

See: http://www.theasc.com/clubhouse/inside/beg.htm

 

The Old Moy & Bastie 35mm *swoons*.

 

In the patent encumbered early film world many camera engineers had to get pretty darn crafty to make a camera that didn't upset someone else's patents. Basically attached to the crank there is a shaft, at the end of which is a cylinder with a groove cut in it that snakes, like a wave around the circumference of the cylinder. Engaged in that grove is a long screw that is attached to some kibbles and bits that drive the claw. As the shaft turns, so turns the cylinder and the screw rides in the groove osscilating back and forth thus creating the eccentric movement that drives the film.

 

That's a streamlined representation of what's happening, but it gives you a good idea. If you ever get the opportunity to see it work, you'll understand quickly how brilliant it is!

 

I also think the Biograph camera is pretty darn neat, see: http://www.soc.org/opcam/06_sp95/mg06_biocam.html

 

Each bloody frame was 2"x2" (neg was bigger I believe) with no perforations. It's sprockets were half coated with rubber and the other half bare. The rubber would grip the film and drag it down then the film would be punched so a perforation would be made (and it would act as a reg pin). The frames were irregularly spaced on the negative but this was resolved during printing.

 

Pretty crafty stuff. Sure they all had thier problems, but nonetheless crafty.

 

On a side note: Give Rhonda at SCAD my regards. I hope to finish the overhaul on your LTR shortly.

 

- nate

Edited by nmilford
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Film may be a lot of things -- more archival, more flexible, more expensive, "pretty", whatever, but it's nonsense to say it is more artistic. If you placed a block of wood or granite or marble in front of a sculptor, one medium may be more appropriate for the work to be attempted, one medium may be what the sculptor is more trained to use, but it's the heart and mind of the sculptor that will turn that block into art.

 

It's also nonsense to use words like "never" or "forever" in regards to anything -- i.e. "digital will never be as good as film". That's as dumb as those people who write that "film is dead."

 

As for HD not "lasting", well, four of my HD features were transferred to 35mm Estar internegatives, so they have just as good a chance of lasting as anything else shot in film. As for archiving digital material, yes, it's a major challenge but with SO MUCH shot daily in digital mediums around the world, it's not like archivists haven't been addressing the problem. However, I believe that a properly stored piece of film has more long-term survivability than a digital storage medium. While digital has the advantage of being potentially lossless in duplicating it to another medium, the problem to be solved is to find a way of doing that transfer work on a regular-enough basis before the earlier digital format is so long-obsolete that any devices to play it back have disappeared. That may require that entire digital archives duplicate themselves every decade, which may or may not happen. Again, I'm sure there are some solutions that are more reliable, but a well-stored piece of film has the advantage of being left alone for very long periods, ignored, and then being retrievable.

 

So I'm not going to argue about the archivability of film, just the notion that it is inherently more artistic as if it were magic or something. Some artistic mediums are more flexible and easier to work with -- oil paints as opposed to acrylics, let's say -- which will make it the medium preferred by more artists. But that does not confer artistic qualities on the medium itself; art could be produced with more difficult to work with materials.

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then it won't matter so much what format you shoot in the sense that you'll get all of what you put into it, be it 35mm, 16mm, HD, Pixelvision biggrin.gif etc

 

I just got my Pixelvision camera fixed. I really like it, but it sure isn't 35mm.

 

John Mastrogiacomo

Spectra Video :D

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Guest dpforum1968

Well to answer an earlier question:

 

I will be asking people if they want ketchup with their fries before I pick up an HD camera.

 

(underwater shooting would be the exception as that is a special case).

 

As to my GPS co-ordinates for dropping the HD cameras out of the helicopter, I don't know what they are. But I'm glad you've agreed to at least toss them overboard, you've taken a big step forward, I'm proud of you.

 

Any whoo, I leave on Sunday for a one week shoot in Vegas and Arizona, all 35mm of course. So you won't hear from me for a while, but I'll be Baaaaaaaaaack :-)

 

DC

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Great shooting match !

 

But how about getting rid of TVs to keep more cinemas open.

 

The state of film exhibition in this country is severely lacking, unless you live in a very large metropolitan area. However, even those off-the-map cinemas struggle to sell pop and candy or memberships in order to keep their doors open.

 

Or, wait, I like the "tool in the toolbox" comments (as if tools are somehow "neutral" and don't effect the way we look at the world or live in the world):

 

How about we use our TVs (digital, analogue, etc) for coffee tables? Then, spend more time at the cinema, or spend more time bring good work to local cinemas.

 

 

What remains tragic in all of this is that seeing older films (foreign, classics, ethnographic, documentary, experiemental or whatever) is nearly impossible, or requires long waits of 10 years before it makes the rounds again. It's seems that most film releases, once they make the rounds, are relegated to video home viewing and in the case of well-funded films all the overstock prints are shredded.

 

I'm going to see Undertow tonight here in downtown Portland, Oregon. It will probably last about 2 weeks at the Regal Theater its screening at, then play a couple second run theaters and be gone from Portland in 6 weeks. Then remain forever on video.

 

The Cinemas seem to be dead, or in a state of ill health, much more than "film".

 

 

Keep the shooting match up...having fun watching from the side lines.

 

 

Regards,

Alain LeTourneau

 

P.S. Thanks Nathan Milford for all of your help with my Aaton search.

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Again, I'm sure there are some solutions that are more reliable, but a well-stored piece of film has the advantage of being left alone for very long periods, ignored, and then being retrievable.

 

The excellent long term storage characteristics of properly processed and stored film can be seen daily in theatres and on television (e.g., Bonanza, Star Trek, etc.) I remember one of the demos shown by Kodak at the SMPTE Technical Conference when the Spirit telecine was introduced was a HD transfer of a Fred Astaire movie from the late 1930's. IMHO, the image quality (even in B&W) surpassed anything being shown from the dozens of "live" cameras on the exhibit floor.

 

I've heard that John Lowry and others are transferring old films and filmed television shows at 4K, including the early "I Love Lucy" episodes, and they look great on HD.

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I think there is room for both [film and video] in the industry, and there always will be.

Perhaps ---

 

Film has been the dominant shooting medium for close to a century. But consider how things are shifting to a new equilibrium.

 

A hundred years ago, you might have seen a few seconds of film in a nickelodeon on your way to a concert, an opera, or a stage play. Today, live theater still exists, but on a much smaller scale -- a much smaller market share. There are plusses and minuses to every choice. You lose the immediacy of live performance, but you gain the ability to edit and use closeups. You lose grain and some dynamic range, but you gain a huge amount of control in color correction.

 

Economics drive the market share shift, and as market share changes, it also drives the economics in a vicious circle. In the 1990's, almost all TV shows were shot on film so as to be protected for HD. Today, sitcoms are almost all shot HD, and single camera shows are starting to change over. Where the end product is shown electronically, the economics are driving things to tape shooting.

 

Raw stock manufacture and developing are going to get more expensive per foot as volume decreases. As the prices go up, fewer projects will be able to afford film. Low budget features are already shooting HD, and as time goes by we'll probably see digital shooting working its way upward on the budget scale. Five to ten years out, we'll probably see a new equilibrium point with a much smaller absolute volume and market share for film origination. The question is how small.

 

Separation technicolor had many disadvantages and some advantages as a shooting system. The price/performance point of multi-layer negative eventually drove it out of existance. Could digital cameras some day do the same thing to film? I'm not saying it'll happen for sure, but it isn't out of the realm of possibility.

 

 

 

-- J.S.

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Well to answer an earlier question:

 

I will be asking people if they want ketchup with their fries before I pick up an HD camera.

 

(underwater shooting would be the exception as that is a special case).

 

As to my GPS co-ordinates for dropping the HD cameras out of the helicopter, I don't know what they are.  But I'm glad you've agreed to at least toss them overboard, you've taken a big step forward, I'm proud of you.

 

Any whoo, I leave on Sunday for a one week shoot in Vegas and Arizona, all 35mm of course.  So you won't hear from me for a while, but I'll be Baaaaaaaaaack :-)

 

DC

 

 

You're more than welcome to stay a couple extra weeks.

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Imagine a world without any more film. Simply digital capture to digital computers to digital projectors. Sounds like an economic workflow to some... And I don't mean digital at its current state without film, I mean 20 years down the road when it is so cheap that everyone has HD. But, uh, since when has art been about saving money, that sounds more like business, and while money ultimately makes the decision, as a community of artists we should make decisions based on what we want. Now honestly, how many times have you heard a director say.."I really want that video look." Probably about as much as you hear them say "lets shoot on 8mm," maybe even less. Yes it may be faster. Yes, the bank can watch over your shoulder. But when those things happen, regardless of what medium you are using, are you really making art? Can good art be made by committee?

 

I want someone to convince me that the new Star Wars looked better then 35, or even super 16. The story was just as cheesy as the old ones, but all i saw were the electrons flying around, CGI this, composite that.

 

Many people recoil, an artist uses whatever medium he sees fit! But the medium has a meaning. Ask Pixar. They don't try to make The Godfather, they embrace their medium. The point is, digital is not film. Even if they make those individual color receptors in the ccd smaller then the silver grain in film, which may never be possible, it still won't be film.

 

What I see video doing right now, is facilitating the wishes of the money people. Faster turnaround, faster editing, cheaper. You don't like it? Add some grain, or distortion, or maybe another character? Why not? Absolutely video can be used creatively, no one said it can't. I've seen some really cool stuff done on Pixel-Vision cameras. But right now, those with money see it as a film replacement. If i told you, I want the best image... 65mm, why not? If i told you on a budget... 16mm. If i told you image didn't really matter, no one can tell anyway, use this. Now the producer is the DP, and Im a camera op/gaffer. Welcome to 1984.

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Well to answer an earlier question:

 

I will be asking people if they want ketchup with their fries before I pick up an HD camera.

 

(underwater shooting would be the exception as that is a special case).

 

DC

Why would underwater shooting be an exception? You can get an underwater housing for a 35mm camera just as easily as you can get one for an HD camera. I'm just curious why this is your only exception.

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Bingo! Bkk204 you hit the nail on the head with your comment...

 

"Now honestly, how many times have you heard a director say.."I really want that video look."

 

Sooooo many people working with HD, BetaSP, and DV, try to obtain the look of film. Film people never try to obtain the look of video. Film is the "higher" look people aspire to have. I remember in my days as a producer for one of the national networks in Canada, we would stretch nylon over the back of the lens of the BetaSP camera to give us more of a film look. We wanted that bigger budget, professional, film look, but the cheap buggers we worked for would never let us rent film gear.

 

Finally I bought my own film gear and did a few projects for them, boy did the suits like how it looked!

 

As to the underwater question: The reason I say I would use HD underwater is for a few reasons. 1) I don't have a housing for any of my 35mm film cameras but I do have a housing for my three chip DV camera 2) On land you can re-load a film camera without any problems when you roll out, underwater you would have to surface to re-load. This is a problem when you're at 65 feet, you can just pop up and down to re-load a film camera. You'll get decompression sickness for sure. The HD or DV cameras do allow you to have a 1 hour roll. 3) Size of the camera is also an issue, the new Sony HDV looks like it would fit into my housing quite nicely. You need a much bigger housing for 35mm cameras as you have to house the batteries as well.

 

I would love to shoot 35mm underwater as well, and maybe I will one day. But for now I think HD can work for this application.

 

DC

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Second, HD will never match the way film captures light and shadow etc.  Can you imagine the Sopranos shot in HD?

 

Yes. Easily. In fact, I would venture to say that it likely wouldn't look a whole lot different than it does right now. And certainly not different enough for at least 95% of the viewers to even notice. And with the "big chip" cameras like the Genesis and the D20 arriving, the difference in a project that's distributed solely electronic (i.e., television) is going to be even less.

 

To say that digital systems will "never" match the way film captures light and shadow is to be blind to the reality of the situation. While it is true that the current generation of electronic capture technology cannot match the current generation of film technology in terms of pure resolution and color depth, it is foolish to assume that this state of the technology will continue. Besides, there are many characteristics that are far more immediately apparent to most viewers than resolution and color depth - depth of field cues and grain being two of them. With a 24 fps frame rate, depth of field equal to that of 35mm film (achievable in the Genesis and D20 due to the size of their imaging planes), and no visible grain, to the vast majority of viewers images from these devices, when presented as HD television broadcasts, not only are the equal of film, but surpass it because they don't have the "degrading" effect of grain. And to the remaining viewers they look similar enough to film that they will likely not know the difference. For some proof, I offer Star Trek Enterprise - a show that has switched from film to HD video this season, and for all practical purposes, looks identical to the film product. And this is with 2/3" HDCam capture. I've worked in film for essentially my entire adult life, but I'm not blind or close minded. Personally, I'm excited by the possibilities of high quality digital capture, and I think everyone who loves the art of visual storytelling should be too. Don't be a slave to your own comfort zone.

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yes they are coming, they will be good answer to our question.

we will see is it same of 35 or not? sensor size is same so picture must be same too.

anyway I think the problem not only depth of field. so you cant correct it just with big sensor.

 

the pixels are not equal with grains.

grains are 0.3 - 5 microns... pixels are 7-9 microns.

D20 is single sensor so every 4 pixel is one dot. it means 36 micron is one dot.

 

negative 0.5 - digital 36micron

anyway film will better capture the colors. (by mats)

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Guest dpforum1968

Yes the HD cameras are improving with their bigger image sensors etc etc.

 

But, don't forget that Kodak and Fuji are not just rolling over and playing dead. They continue to develop newer and better film stocks that HD cameras will need to compete with. Also the transfer technology from film to tape will also get better and better.

 

It amazes me how I can buy a $300.00 Eyemo on ebay and shoot a modern 35mm film stock through it and transfer it to HD. You would then need the latest HD camera costing more than $90,000.00 to compete with the image from a 50 year old Eyemo and 35mm film!

 

I've seen plenty of tests at Deluxe Toronto, even the oldest 35mm film cameras armed with the new stocks and an HD suite can make the new HD cams beg for mercy. That says a lot about the power and beauty of film.

 

HD Cam and all other HD tape formats will go the way of the Dodo, just like one inch, 3/4, and BetaSP are now obsolete.

 

Also, one must always keep in mind that film is a chemical reaction video is electronic. Personally I find the chemical reaction of film far superior in image quality to HD cameras.

 

I predict that in 10 years some one will develop "Super HD" which will be twice the resolution of the current HD. Then we'll start all over again, new cameras new monitors, etc etc.

 

All I'll have to do is re-scan my 35mm negs onto the next big tape format of the week.

 

DC

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You're conveniently ignoring the elephant standing in the corner of the room: you can record 50 minutes of footage on a $60 HD cassette. How much does 5,000' of 35mm stock cost to purchase, process, and transfer to HD? A lot more than $60...

 

Sure, you're paying for quality but there may be other factors that come into play. I did a dialogue intensive feature with eleven actors and two cameras shooting 70 hours of material in HD, the equivalent of 380,000' of 35mm stock, probably over $200,000 of stock, processing, and telecine costs -- versus about $6000 of tape stock.

 

The director never asked for HD but he said he wanted: (1) a lot of depth of field; (2) ability to color-correct the image digitally for a final 35mm print; (3) ability to shoot a lot of footage with two cameras running on everything; (4) shoot some scenes against greenscreen for composite effects; (5) compose for a 2.35 aspect ratio; (6) have a very fine-grained image. Doing all of this in Super-35 using a digital intermediate process just wasn't in the budget. Doing Super-16 would have been a problem to get the 2.35 aspect ratio with a fine-grain image plus doing greenscreen work, plus we'd still be spending the same money on the digital intermediate. HD solved most of those issues. We did a test and he liked the look so we shot the film that way.

 

If you can afford to shoot film and you like shooting film, then more power to you. Film is great and it's not going away in the near future. But give the video-bashing a rest for a little while because it sounds like you are trying to make yourself out to be superior to the rest of us because you "only" shoot in 35mm. I have to work with different directors to tell a wide variety of stories with actors on a budget, so there are a lot of factors that come into play when choosing the approach to making the movie, and they change from movie to movie. Some stories aren't even supposed to look like a typical 35mm movie; I just read one script that is mostly the point of view of a student documentary filmmaker working with a DV camera, intercut with dramatic scenes shot on film, the idea being to SEE a difference in the two formats. By your logic, only the scenes shot on film will be artistic...

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Once you rule out a format as having an inherent aesthetic value, you tend to categorically compare the technical aspects of two different forms of a technology. This results inevidably in one format being superior and the other inferior; if it didn't there wouldn't be any point in comparing them in the first place.

 

This comparison anchors the generic ideas around the argument. Film has more resolution, more depth of field, more color depth, highlights, shadows etc. so it is definetely - in a modernist sense -"better". What this "better" is, is hardly ever argued.

 

One thing is utterly frustrating. Having to shoot HD beacuese you don't have the budget for film. I don't get this. It's not going to be the same film. Trying to persuade your producers is painful, but it's worth the battle. Is shooting HD as a cheaper replacement of film an artistic compromise? You have to draw the line somewhere and as an artist one shoud be very aware of where the line is.

 

Since HD has that "unorthodox look" any HD feature that pretends to be a 35mm feature, in my opinion, makes a vital mistake. HD is a very self conscious medium and this has a very definite affect on the narrative and the narration. It's like saying Collateral would be a "better" film if the HD portions of it were shot on film. Who's gonna notice!

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Hi,

 

As well as the media cost elephant, there's the postproduction cost elephant. It's possible to purchase outright a desktop system capable of cutting from HDCAM (or any HD-SDI source) more cheaply than a few days in a W1 suite, assuming you're capable of staffing it.

 

Phil

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Star Trek didn't switch over for artistic reasons though. That's the whole point most of the people in the film camp are trying to make. Art isn't about money. They switched over to save money. Enterprise was never really art, even when it did originate on film. It has always been about doing spin-offs of older episodes to make a buck. Believe me, I've been watching Star Trek since I was a boy and there are episodes and movies that are truly in my humble opinion, works of art. As for Enterprise, the show almost got cancelled last season because no one watches it anymore. Most Star Trek fans have caught on to the recycling of stories that the show regularly employs along with predictable story lines. Without Enterprise though, UPN is fu**ed, so they had to keep it. My question about Enterprise is why did they even come out with it so soon after Voyager went off the air? MONEY.

 

Regards.

~Karl Borowski

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Some of the HD features I shot were a case of me talking them UP from shooting it on DV, as the funding was actually tied to the movie being shot digitally.

 

No, HD doesn't look exactly like 35mm, it looks like HD -- and usually my first step with any director is getting them aware of exactly what the "HD look" is rather than snowball them into thinking there's no difference with 35mm.

 

I had one feature where the director had already made the same idea as a short film in HD and she said she preferred the HD look for that particular project.

 

HD is an alternative to 35mm, just like Super-16 is. You are trading off some image quality because some aspect of working in HD is better suited for the project or the budget.

 

I would never argue that 35mm isn't technically better. I'm arguing that it is inherently more "artistic" which is nonsensical. It may be the preferred tool by many cinematographers -- including me -- because of what it can do and how it can be manipulated but the medium itself does not confer the "art" into the final product, the mind of an artist does. A sculptural artist can work with scrap metal, after all, and create art with it.

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