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16mm dying...


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But I don't agree that 16mm has much of a future in professional broadcast. Today with 4K, it just can't really provide broadcast resolution or standards. It will of course survive in the same way as Super 8 has, used for it's look to enhance a creative look, maybe as a flashback sequence etc, but as part of mainstream, no.

Well, this year alone, there have been three major motion pictures shot on Super 16mm. That's a pretty big number for a "dead" format.

 

Also... most theaters are still 2k and even the majority of UHD BluRay disks are simply upscaled 2k images. So people shooting on S16 and finishing in 2k for theatrical release isn't a big deal.

 

I'm doing deliverables for Sony right now on the movie I'm finishing and they could care less about 4k deliverables. Mostly all deliverable for television is 1080p. Yes, Netflix and Amazon originals are 4k, but they accept 1080p for all other "purchased" content.

 

When the paradigm changes, when 2k is flat-out not accepted anymore, the format will slowly decline. I personally don't see that happening within the next 5 years.

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We are currently working on four feature length 16mm films, and many many more smaller 16mm projects.   One thing I will say about the film to digital workflow is that the quality and cost of scanni

I don't think 16mm is dying at all. What I do think is that the digital image is accepted, with all of its flaws and fallacies as a "film alternative". There are also many many new producers who may h

I really hate to see a thread like this because i'm really excited with my Bolex setup and doing 16mm photography with it. I'm really hoping to shoot, make workprints, and have the occasional nice tra

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Aronofsky shot his latest on 16mm, confirmed yesterday, starring J Law, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, etc, he said they used digital cameras for the last day of shooting for CGI heavy sequences.

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It is very interesting to read how much has changed since I started this thread. D21's? :blink:

 

But I don't agree that 16mm has much of a future in professional broadcast. Today with 4K, it just can't really provide broadcast resolution or standards. It will of course survive in the same way as Super 8 has, used for it's look to enhance a creative look, maybe as a flashback sequence etc, but as part of mainstream, no.

 

Sorry, I wish I could be more positive about the format, but I don't think it has a great future.

I think you're making a fair point, broadcast compression definitely doesn't like 16mm, however this is nothing that a little "cheating" with grain reduction software can't fix. Of course losing the visible grain of 16mm means losing part of its charm, but when using 16 as a cheaper substitute for 35 (as in I'd like to shoot 35 but can only afford 16 and that's still better than digital) grain isn't what one is looking for anyway. I say this from my own experience, I recently shot a short film on 16mm which if it had been possible I'd have shot on 35mm, but it was just not a possibility since 16 was already straining my humble budget. Afterwards I used grain reduction software for a less noticeable grain, there's still some visible grain, but much less. This way, compression even for internet streaming doesn't affect the image quality as much as it would without grain reduction (in which case the image looks quite awful as soon as you need a certain amount of compression).

Same would go for broadcast television, be it HDTV or 4k. A slight grain reduction does wonders to handle compression. Without it, image quality would suffer even more. I won't deny that, as I said, since you're wasting one of the defining qualities of 16 it would make more sense to go straight to 35mm so as to not have to deal with this problem, but if it's simply not economically viable, it seems like a better plan B than digital video.

 

Now I just hope I don't get ostracized by the community here for admitting to using grain reduction software...

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Standard Issue Pro-Film Observations

 

1) Even as a micro-budget writer/director/producer, I find there are important non-obvious benefits to using film which- surprisingly- can lower costs on even micro-budget shoots, or give higher production quality for the same cost, as well as having important psychological effects on performances.

 

2) Although younger cast/crew are less likely (unless very visually acute) to be film fans, these tend to be the lower paid participants due to less experience.

 

3) I have noticed that when I submit DP/Actor casting/crew calls and include the fact that the film will be shot on "real Film" ( I like to rub in the reality of film) I got inquiries from highly experienced DPs way above my league who, like the original poster, regret that film is being abandoned in the name of "efficiency above all" ( Or more recently "Graphic accuracy above all") . They want to pass on the knowledge they have. For drama, it's not about how sharp it is , but about how much emotion it conveys.

 

It's been pretty humbling hearing war stories from DPs who lit Fred Astaire ("He's a sweetheart") movies and described Sophia Loren's makeup routine. He had a whole suitcase full of light meters and depth of field calculators. I never even went to film school. Would never have happened if I didn't advertise I was shooting on film.

 

*To date I have only a DP/operator or a DP/operator and AC

 

4) As far as actors, I tend to get highly intelligent actors who know film history, and people who have seriously studied. On something like LACasting you get a lot of people who were simply the best looking people in high school and aren't really serious students of acting.

 

5) EXPENSIVE is better. In the long run. By this I mean that the casual, "text me when you're nearby" digital culture has fostered a sense that each moment is not unique, that it can always be done again, digital memory use is free, we can try as many takes as we want, etc. This feeling of safety, however, is completely opposite what best fosters the creation of intense, lifelike performances.

 

I always mention to actors and crew that scanned footage (16mm) on a hard drive costs about $50 per minute including film, processing, scanning and drives.

 

If a man has an argument with his wife, that moment goes by once, and what is said can't be un-said. Ideally, the actors, are at some level aware of money/opportunity sliding away with each second of their performance, they feel PRESSURE in the good sense, it activates them that they play it like the last scene they will ever record. I don't have an 50 person crew that's obviously eating up money, there's only 3-5 crew on set, but I don't want a droll, "Hey we're carefree, modern and casual, smart people with digital, who can do as many takes as they want."

 

As a director, I want it to feel more like real life, like "I'm not sure if this will work, and I only have one chance." ( Actually they have about three chances. And that's it.)

 

Life goes by once, and so does film

 

6) Even on internet forums film continues to help me. Twice I've had David Mullen, someone near the top of the whole DP world answer technical questions for me on this forum. It is hugely encouraging.

 

7) I feel there is some random quality that is embedded in film that can't be done currently with digital, and even if it could the psychological aspects above would not be present. And I am not talking about magic or nostalgia, I mean actual neurological activation of visual cortex through mechanisms known but not researched in relation to film. I honestly feel my whole nervous system is more affected by film although I don't know the exact theoretical basis.

 

8) I invite anyone to post a single frame digitally acquired that matches the emotion conveyed by this one frame grab from STORY OF A PROSTITUTE. The image shimmers with hard to define beauty.

 

Additionally, I'm pretty sure this was shot in 35mm at the time, with current 16mm stock shouldn't better resolution be possible?

post-34466-0-95647000-1476646678_thumb.jpg

Edited by Alain Lumina
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Sorry, I wish I could be more positive about the format, but I don't think it has a great future.

And yet, you started this thread - "16mm dying..." - nearly 8 years ago B)...

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Why might finally kill it is HDR, if that ever takes off -- I was playing with some footage at a post house and even 3.2K Alexa footage shot at a standard 800 ISO, which is cleaner than most 35mm negative photography, has more visible noise when shown in HDR on a 4K monitor. The post supervisor was telling me that they struggled doing an HDR version of a 35mm-shot series because the grain was so enhanced by the HDR pass -- I can't imagine how they'd feel about 16mm.

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Sorry, I wish I could be more positive about the format, but I don't think it has a great future.

 

 

Well, this year alone, there have been three major motion pictures shot on Super 16mm. That's a pretty big number for a "dead" format.

 

When the paradigm changes, when 2k is flat-out not accepted anymore, the format will slowly decline. I personally don't see that happening within the next 5 years.

 

I think Adam is looking at it from a European perspective, where s16 used to be the format of choice for music videos and high end narrative work, not to mention the thousands of feet shot every year in Natural History, rather than from an American one, where s16 has always been a niche format. Super 16 was effectively killed in Britain when the BBC started refusing to accept it for broadcast because of compression issues. The move to s35 digital acquisition just hastened its demise.

 

Here in the US, I don't think it was ever a popular choice for TV shows, although there have been big shows that have used it, so perhaps its decline has been less noticeable. 3 'major motion pictures' using it probably accounts for around 600 rolls of neg stock, so it's hardly a huge money spinner for Kodak.

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3 'major motion pictures' using it probably accounts for around 600 rolls of neg stock, so it's hardly a huge money spinner for Kodak.

Sure, but in my mind that's a pretty healthy format. Even when 16mm was at it's height in the 70's and 80's, there were only a hand-full of 16mm films with huge stars and wide releases. I'd beg to say, 16mm became more popular when stocks got better in the 2000's, but even then there were huge gaps between movies.

 

Think of it a different way, how many movies are in the theaters shot with a Blackmagic URSA 4.6k? Maybe one? There are literally thousands of that very capable camera on the market today, yet we don't see any of them producing big movies, like we do with 16mm. Mind you, none of the 3 S16 movies released this year that I know of are "American", they're all foreign investment films, with American actors.

 

So sure, those three mass-released theatrical films don't amount to much for Kodak and the lab's, but there are another dozen or so S16 features that won't be in the theaters here in the US. So there is a pretty healthy market on the low-budget side.

 

I do see a day on the horizon where Kodak decides to invest in making a new stock once more. Lets all hope when they do, it can re-vitalize the narrow gauge formats once again.

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Probably the single biggest hit 16mm has taken in the last few years was NFL films dropping it in favor of digital. They literally shot millions of feet every year. I thought that might be the end of the format when that happened.

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I was going to post the same thing. It was something like 12 miles per week... I bought some stock from them last year and drove down to pick it up. Their archive is massive, and the film storage still had hundreds of cans of fresh stock. They said that the main factor for them switching was the delivery deadline for "Inside the NFL" moving up one day, and it was simply too tight of a turnaround for processing and telecine,

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Probably the single biggest hit 16mm has taken in the last few years was NFL films dropping it in favor of digital. They literally shot millions of feet every year. I thought that might be the end of the format when that happened.

I actually purchased one of their SR-2s went it showed up on ebay.

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Here is a Music Video we handled the processing scanning and final color. Directed by Alex Perry

 

total footage shot 3200 feet of Super 16mm

the band was ecstatic shooting on film,and it ended up costing less than their than their digital Alexa shoots.

 

http://vevo.ly/30dcKL

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  • 3 months later...

Just shot two extremely low music videos on Super 16 with fresh stock and some old 35mm stock. One of them was fairly undisciplined and we shot a ton of extra footage but even then a rough estimate would be it added about $2500 for film, processing and 4k transfer. I own the cameras, but renting the cameras would have been 1/3rd the cost of an Alexa.

 

Super 16 definitely looks different than everything you're seeing these days and that's a "strategic advantage" for music videos especially, I'd argue for dramas was well.

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