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Here is the catch, what the budget doesn't say is the cost SAVINGS from not having a DIT. From not renting digital cameras (film cameras are far less money to rent) and all the time-savings you have during production with not shlepping around a crazy video village.So when they say it cost 750,000 for "film" I think they're only tacking onto the budget, rather then doing a direct comparison.

I don't see how a film loader would cost much less than a DIT on set, especially when one does not need super expensive gear nowadays for the dit if you don't need on set fully graded dailies, live grading and multi camera arriraw transfer capacity (like hundreds of terabytes of very very fast raid storage etc depending on how much one shoots per day and how it is stored for post). You would not get these with film either so a fair comparison would be a laptop, two of about 10tb raids, necessary amount of sata drives for storage and a silverstack license + ups's . can be couple of thousand bucks depending on what you buy but nothing fancy really...
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I don't see how a film loader would cost much less than a DIT on set,

Well for many reasons. The biggest one is that a film loader could also be an AC. So when they aren't loading film, they can be handy in other ways. On my shows, my film loader takes care of base camp and runs camera related gear to set when needed. A DIT won't do that.

 

Also, DIT's generally charge a lot of money for their "rig" where a loader charges for themselves only.

 

one does not need super expensive gear nowadays for the dit

Ya sure do! If you're a laptop DIT, you aren't a DIT in my book. No laptop is fast enough to do the work necessary on a set unless you don't mind working at home as well. You've gotta show up with a decent grading monitor and a whole kit, including hardware fast enough to transcode and grade raw files in quicker then realtime, so you can spit out dailies super fast. Storage is actually the easy part, have the production pay for it. Every DIT I've worked with has $10k+ into their rigs.

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I don't see how a film loader would cost much less than a DIT on set...

Local 600 DITs have a much higher day-rate than a loader, which is basically an entry-level position in the camera department (if you're not counting the Camera PA). They are usually the last one out at the end of the day, still dumping the last mag and making copies. So they make a lot in overtime as well.

 

Not to mention the DIT kit rental, especially if they are live grading or creating looks on set. That cart ain't cheap. They make more than anyone in the camera department except the DP. And if you factor in all the rentals and OT, they may even make more than the DP in some cases.

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Local 600 DITs have a much higher day-rate than a loader, which is basically an entry-level position in the camera department (if you're not counting the Camera PA). They are usually the last one out at the end of the day, still dumping the last mag and making copies. So they make a lot in overtime as well.

 

Not to mention the DIT kit rental, especially if they are live grading or creating looks on set. That cart ain't cheap. They make more than anyone in the camera department except the DP. And if you factor in all the rentals and OT, they may even make more than the DP in some cases.

 

 

It is incredible to see how things have changed since I started.

Back in time a film loader wasn't an entry-level position at all, no DP would leave the management and loading / unloading of the stock to an entry-level position person.

 

Sometimes the pressure that a loader had was really high because the cameras could be rolling faster than he / she could unload / load so the loader had to be a really experimented person to know how to manage the times and etc.

 

And in Spain and Ireland the payment was exactly the same as a 2nd AC because the loader could assist too if needed.

 

Have a good day.

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When I say entry-level, I mean being at the bottom of the chain-of-command in the camera department (not including PAs or trainees). Not that it requires no specialized skill or training. It certainly is an important job, no question.

 

When I started, you moved up from loader to 2nd AC and didn't look back. Now that it is very difficult to find experienced loaders, perhaps that has changed as more experienced 2nd ACs with film experience are being asked to load more often. At least, that is what I hear from my AC friends.

 

I certainly don't miss being in the truck flipping mags. The paperwork and inventory was the most challenging part for me. It was a hard job that required skill and responsibility. That said, you certainly knew where you stood in the chain-of-command. On a one or two-day commercial job, the DP might not even know your name.

 

Not so with the DIT, who might travel with the DP from job to job as a key hire. I've never heard of a loader being a key hire, but maybe it has happened before. Anyway, I think we can agree that DITs make more money than loaders...

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Maybe you misunderstood my post, I was directly comparing the loader and dit positions so that the dit would not be required to do more on set than a film loader would normally do. Tyler's comparison would mean that the film loader would have a Alpha Lab or other mobile film lab on set all the time to be able to do direct graded dailies on set from film negative which is not the reality in most productions.

My example was using onset offloading and backups and the dailies were finished during the night so that they would compare to working with a separate film lab.

 

It is true that removing a 1000' film roll from the mag and reloading the mag takes less time than offloading and backing up a 256gb memory card (assuming a comparison between 35mm film and arriraw shoot) but depending on the production the amount of work may be about the same. In some productions the offloading is done by the 2nd ac and no separate dit is used...

 

Here it is normal to use the laptop based pelicase dit kits on smaller jobs and heavier kits are mainly used when multiple cameras and onset grading is needed. The laptop kits are actually totally fine for dailies if shooting prores with 1 camera and applying the lut without extensive grading needed. The laptop systems limit render speeds (especially if using mac based systems with obsolete graphics cards) but don't affect transfer speeds that much depending on which kind of verification is used for the data

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Right, but it's usually understood that if you are shooting on film then you will be shipping to the lab, unless you happen to be shooting within driving distance of one. So that cost is built into the budget.

 

I think if shooting film is even an option for a particular job, then it's probably not the type of production where the DIT would show up with just a laptop. Otherwise, the budget savings from shooting digital would be too great.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just to clear up a couple of points on the post route for LCOZ. The rushes were flown daily from Columbia to the UK, and whilst shooting in Northern Ireland most days there were two deliveries.

The film was scanned 4K for the final conform and grade - double flash HDR using the Arriscan. The film negative was created from the 4K output using a High Speed Arrilaser. There are three prints in existence all struck from the master negative - as far as I know all three prints are still in the UK.

 

Always love the debate on cost of film vs digital - for film, budget is always dependent on discipline and shooting ratio. I don't need to chip in on why I think film is better - all I ask is for people to look at the pictures, and make your choice. LCOZ is an epic and I saw print projection again in the last couple of weeks and it is captivating. My only disappointment was that at 141mins it should have been longer. When films look like this they are a dream to watch...

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It came out here but it's in very few theaters, so yeah, waiting for the BD. I wholeheartedly agree with letting people look at the pictures, but I'm still stunned sometimes that most people don't see, or don't get the difference, it's always frustrating to defend film (let's not talk about Reddit :D ), you can tell most people it would look & feel completely different on film compared to digital, and they would still tell you "so what, who cares". Ugh.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Watched this last night. Beautifully shot film. It has a soft, dream-like quality, but it still feels immediate and tangible. I particularly loved the the lighting in the British interiors, where the light doesn't fall perfectly on the subjects, and often there's barely any light on them at all. Many of the shots seemed to be on the razor's edge of underexposure. And that ending, wow.

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Saw this a couple of hours ago. It's the best-looking film of 2017 so far, and a very well-done adventure.

 

So many wonderfully-lit and staged scenes. Loved the ones Fawcett defending his sightings to the RGS crowd, and the reporter interviewing him in his house

 

All the oval bokeh and flares, too...

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From this month's AC:

 

"using Vision3 500T 5219 stock -- color-corrected in daylight with a Tiffen 812 Warming filter -- for the majority of the production, with some sequences capture on Vision3 200T 5123 & 50D 5203."

 

It says Khondji considered shooting night exteriors in the jungle digitally, they tested firelight with the Alexa & 5219 film, pushing the stock up to 2 stops. "There was hardly any difference at first glance, but when we got closer on the skin we saw little things that we liked better on film." "Working with film feels more organic. I can push the negative, I can flash it like we did with The Immigrant -- and we took flashing much further this time."

 

That's why it also looks that way. His film flasher of choice is Arri's VariCon, it uses a variable color and intensity light source to illuminate a glass filter that fogs the image, raising detail and sensitivity in the shadow areas without affecting the midrange or highlights. He knew a large portion of the film would be lit by warm firelight, and he used the VariCon for the film's night exteriors as well as day and night interiors to cool the shadows, giving the negative a blue record that colorist Yvan Lucas could later manipulate in the digital intermediate.

 

Khondji also selected C-series lenses often wide open, he enjoys shooting with anamorphic between T2.5 and T2.8. For the underexposure in parts, he cites (along with Henri Rousseau's images d'épinal) Royal Geographic Society's photos from Fawcett's expeditions as inspiration to take an extreme approach to photographing the Colombian jungle: "There's a photo of the explorers sitting in a group in the middle of the trees, with beards and big hats, and they're covered in filth -- they look completely destroyed by nature," Khondji describes. "That made me think that in the jungle we should try to destroy the negative, to make it feel like they're in the s---,. I underexposed in some scenes, and overexposed up to 2 stops in others, so the grain starts to really blow up and you lose detail."

 

Practically all the film was shot on dollies too, Khondji & producer Anthony Katagas attempted to convince Gray that a Steadicam would be easier in the jungle's uneven terrain & unpredictable weather, but Gray held firm to his commitment to dolly moves only. They also had a pretty small lighting package. The VariCon wasn't used for the final scenes, since the humidity was so high that the filters were fogging and the photo-black tape used to hold the filter pack together wouldn't stick. Khondji pushed the film 1 stop to boost its sensitivity instead.

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Depends on why you are flashing, if to get a flashed look of lifted blacks, you can do that in post but you may see a little bit more grain in the shadows. If you are flashing to lower contrast and lift shadow detail on the negative and then plan on correcting the blacks and contrast in post, then you'd want to do it in camera because the end result is not intended to look flashed (milkier).

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have just come back from seeing this. I saw it on a smaller screen in a multiplex cinema. The film was projected on a screen with what they say is a latest-generation Barco projector (I haven't managed to find which model it is).

 

It looked very bright and crisp; at times, it didn't even feel as if it were shot on film. There was grain, but it was made up of such small particles, it seemed to me.

 

I'm so illiterate at this things, so since I'm seeing a few references here to the film stock being either underexposed or overexposed, could someone tell me where was that evident in the film?

 

All the way home, I kept thinking that this almost didn't seem like a Khondji film. Sure, there were brief appearances of some of his signatures, such as the quite noticeable use of practicals, diffused lighting (but not a whole lot it; there was harder lighting in there, too), that greenish yellow cast over the whole picture, which for some reason reminded me of Magic in the Moonlight, but there the cast was of different shade, and because of that cast, a ton of colour correction (which, if I got it right, some say is a Khondji trademark).

 

It was a beautiful film. Before I saw it, only one review, in the Wall Street Journal, was negative, and that review also mentioned that the copy the reviewer saw was murky. The one I saw was very bright. I did wonder, however, if anyone else from around here who saw it noticed a lot of out-of-focus things which I thought should have been in focus. The most glaring of these was that shot of those people on a terrace.

 

Another thing: I don't know if this is just some fault in the copy I saw, but near the right bottom angle of the image there was a weird red blotch of irregular shape, something that reminded me of a trace sun can leave when damaging a photo. I don't know what that was.

 

I expected a little more tableaux or iconic frames worthy of being immortalized in a screenshot or two, but overall, I'm quite content.

 

It is a lovely movie. The time past by at just the right pace, not too fast and not too slow, and the ending was satisfying, something which I thought it wouldn't be.

 

I look forward to more of your opinions.

 

P. S. The film will be out on DVD and Blu-ray on 11 July 2017, 2 months and 3 days from today.

Edited by Alexandros Angelopoulos Apostolos
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It looks very very good, specially considering they were working with a short schedule and modest budget for such an ambitious film. Khondji claims in the AC article that he found inspiration in the work of several painters, but I would also say that he also had in mind the works of some master cinematographers of the 70's: Gordon Willis, Vittorio Storaro and Vilmos Zsigmond come to mind. The picture has the organic quality (it's soft, grainy, milky, rather low-con and pastel looking) of "McCabe and Mrs. Miller", "Heaven's Gate", "Godfather Part II" or even "Bound for Glory" (well, that was Haskell Wexler) mixed with some locations and color choices that also remind of "Apocalypse Now".

 

Most time Khondji is more after crafting an atmosphere than getting pretty images, but also finds the right places to show his lighting skills, sometimes using unconventional ways to light people and his sets. He's not afraid of degrading the quality of the images, or let the faces of the actors underexposed through the picture, or use anamorphic lenses almost wide-open most of the time, something that's not usual for period pictures, as it creates a very shallow depth and introduces some artifacts that most DPs would avoid for this kind of motion picture (somehow it reminded me as well of "The Charge of Light Brigade" shot by David Watkin in 1968 using wide-open Ross Xpress anamorphics). This picture makes clear than James Gray and Khondji make an outstanding duo, if there were doubts after "The Immigrant", which I love in every way.

 

Overall "Lost City of Z" is a stunningly well photographed motion picture, very big in scope and very brave in approach!

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I remember when I first read Watkin say that he used Ross Xpress lenses on "Charge of the Light Brigade", saying that Roger Fenton shot photos of the real war in Crimea on the same lenses. But that war was in 1854 and the Ross Xpress didn't come out until 1914 (so obviously Fenton used pre-Xpress Ross lenses).

 

Plus the movie was made in Panavision anamorphic. So I don't know what he meant by that, did he get some Xpress lenses converted to anamorphic, and how did he find short-enough focal lengths to convert since Xpress lenses were made for large format cameras, etc.

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  • 7 months later...

50:1 for film???

 

I've shot almost 30 features in film and the majority were 10:1, a few of the more expensive ones were almost 20:1. Or are you saying that you can shoot a 50:1 ratio on 35mm film (about a 1/2 million feet of 35mm, about $250,000 in stock alone) before you cross over the costs of shooting on digital? Because a lot of line producers would question my math the next time I told them I wanted to shoot/process/telecine a half-million feet of film -- and then scan selects for a D.I. finish -- and would it still break even with an all-digital production.

 

Film is a valid choice but it is not without budgetary consequences.

 

I think Elaine May shot at 120:1 ratio for MIKEY AND NICKY. It made the movie cost three times its original budget. 1.4 million feet of film were shot, about three times as much as used for GONE WITH THE WIND. She had three cameras rolling for hours.

 

It definitely sunk her career, she didn't direct again for ten years...and then when she did, she made ISHTAR.

Edited by Samuel Berger
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