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James Malamatinas

The Hobbit shooting on RED EPIC - big news?

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Even television shows that were traditionally shot on tape, at 60i (soap operas mostly) chose 24 frame capture when they could get their hands on affordable 24P cameras.

 

This has nothing to do with spatial resolution. It has to do with psychology and conditioning and conditioned preference that viewers have for 24P.

It was also the fact that 24p can be sped up 4% to give artifact-free 25fps for PAL countries. Converting 30fps to 25 fps is vastly more difficult.

 

Before 24p we had the ludicrous situation of footage being shot on film at 24fps, Telecine 3:2 Pulldown-ed to 30fps NTSC for editing, and then standards converted back to 25fps for the PAL release. That generally meant we were seeing brand-new prime time programs with dramatically lower image quality than shows shot and edited on film 20 years before!

 

Quality conscious producers (and they do exist, contrary to what you may read here) had the choice of doing a completely separate PAL scan and post (with identical conform not always possible because not all Post houses have the same facilities available in PAL and NTSC), or supplying the final images on a traditional cut negative for separate PAL and NTSC scans.

 

With 24p, you can more or less emulate this process using video. It is not generally realized that that was the real purpose of cameras like the F900. The idea making movies on it to be shown on 50 foot screens was a wet dream conjured up between Panavision, George Lucas and Sony's marketing people. None of the Sony tech people I knew at the time though it was viable idea, but woe betide anybody who dared venture such a blasphemous opinion!

 

Meanwhile, slightly off topic, but the Samsung Wave cellphone I recently got for free (by switching to a cheaper plan!), shoots genuine 1280 x 720 (I've measured it!) HD video, which is a flysheet less resolution that what Star Wars Ep2 was captured on, BEFORE editing and four stages of film printing.

 

I can shoot over 2 hours of HD on a 16GB Micro SD card, and a lot more at 640 x 480. OK the OLPF is not optimized for that, and it's MEPG4, but like the 5D, the actual results are very impressive on a big screen.

 

I'm not planning on making any movies on it, but it does make you wonder where cameras generally will be in another 5 years time. I'm betting that we'll see a bigtime return to the 35mm still film size imaging, just like all the other small format consumer film formats eventually drifted back to 35mm. Where will that leave the Epic etc?

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Traditionally Soap Operas have opted for the reality look rather than the film look because Soap Operas deal with everyday life. With the advent of high definition television the progressive scan 720p format with its 60 frames per second capability seems to be the best choice if one wants both a reality look and to avoid the interlace artifacts of 1080i.

 

However for Cinema audiances do seem to prefer 24 fps at least for the drama portions of the movie. But for the fast action sequences 24 fps loses its monopoly in the court of public opinion.

 

But 3D is a whole different ball game. Most Directors of Photography fail to realize that 3D cinematography produces such a realistic image that the motion artifacts of 24 fps stand out like a sore thumb. Even though audiences complain about headaches and nausea after watching 3D footage shot at 24 fps DOP's insist that the film look must be maintained at all costs.

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Before 24p we had the ludicrous situation of footage being shot on film at 24fps, Telecine 3:2 Pulldown-ed to 30fps NTSC for editing, and then standards converted back to 25fps for the PAL release.

 

In 1987,Doug Jaqua of Pacific Video (later Laser-Pacific) came up with the idea of tracking the 3-2 sequence back through the NTSC editing process, and doing a PAL conversion that re-constructs the original film frames.

 

 

 

 

 

-- J.S.

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Traditionally Soap Operas have opted for the reality look rather than the film look because Soap Operas deal with everyday life.

 

& I always thought it was because those were the cameras the video studios were equipted with back then.

 

Which makes me wonder why did 'Shirley Temple Story Book Theater' opt for the reality look?

...or 'The Muppet Show'?

 

Might it have something to do with the lack of another video option at the time, rather than over thinking some intellectual aesthetic concept for pouring uot "footage" quck and chear?

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The soaps originated back in the days of live radio. In the early 1950's, they migrated to live TV, which was, of course, shot on video cameras. 2" quad video recording started in 1956, but only for the big budget prime time stuff. Later, when the installed base of quad machines had grown enough, soaps started doing post.

 

 

 

 

 

-- J.S.

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The images we made today were stunning, rich beautiful color and the resolution of a vistavision camera all in a package the size of a Hasselblad 501. We are shooting 2.40 at 5K, there wasn't a hiccup from the cameras all day, the data was flawless, and there was a lot of it.

 

Sounds pretty good to me. Still no comment about ease of use, ergonomics and workflow, but I'm sure those will come. It looks like Red has a winner.

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For soap operas I believe it was always an aesthetic choice. Had a film look been required they would have shot the episodes using 16mm film cameras. But since soap operas deal with the reality of everyday life a film look is not required.

 

However audiences that pay to see a movie desire the film look rather than looking at a giant television screen at least for the drama portions of the movie. But with 3-D the motion artifacts of 24 frames per second are so noticible that higher frame rates are required at least for the fast action sequences in order to avoid headaches and nausea.

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For soap operas I believe it was always an aesthetic choice.

 

I think it's budget more than anything.

 

 

 

 

-- J.S.

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For soap operas I believe it was always an aesthetic choice. Had a film look been required they would have shot the episodes using 16mm film cameras. But since soap operas deal with the reality of everyday life a film look is not required.

 

They did a show a day. Shooting, editing and printing would be to time consuming and expensive.

& as JS points out it was the Age of Live TV.

It was apractical choice, aesthetics had nothing to do with it.

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Do some of you feel a little intimidated by a camera? I'm not really understanding the negative talk of Epic, especially when most have never even seen the results. The other question I have is, if you go to the theater and watch a movie shot with Epics and you like the image as much as 35mm, will you come on here and say you were wrong for talking all the poop? Or will you never be able put your opinions aside and admit it?

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Lol, are people here still debating film vs digital? That debate is over. Actions on the ground have overtaken the talk. It's almost like the Iraqi Info Minister saying "Digital is not overtaking film. Film will stand for ten more years...." Even as the tanks are visible behind him.

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Lol, are people here still debating film vs digital? That debate is over. Actions on the ground have overtaken the talk. It's almost like the Iraqi Info Minister saying "Digital is not overtaking film. Film will stand for ten more years...." Even as the tanks are visible behind him.

 

Tom,

 

I respect your work, but I wish you or some one else on here could post some verifiable data to show what format all Hollywood films where shot in 2010.

 

When you say things like "the debate is over" it is frankly a bit nonsensical, sorry I don't mean to be rude. However, I am at Deluxe Toronto on a regular basis and the suites are still transferring thousands of feet of 35mm per month. So I really don't know what you are talking about?

 

As I mentioned on your Facebook thread, Chris Nolan is not using digital for the next Batman movie so I guess if your logic follows I can pronounce....video is dead. I mean after all this is a Hollywood blockbuster that is not using digital, so digital must have just been a passing fad that is now over.

 

R,

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Chris Nolan does not count because he uses 65mm film. When one says that film is dead we are talking about the death or obsolescence of 35mm film. Using 65mm film future proofs a film production for a long time before it becomes obsolete.

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But why do some on here talk poop on something like the Epic? I mean would it make some happy if RED went away and nobody ever started a company that pushes digital cinema? Where does the hate come from? I don't get it.

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The only thing I can come up with is, jealousy, intimidated, afraid of the future being a level playing field. So many great artist would never be known if paint brushes cost 10,000 bucks. I would think a camera like the Epic will bring out more talent.

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Tom, it looks like we crossed posts with Reduser :-)

 

Lol, are people here still debating film vs digital? That debate is over.

 

Hopefully, yes. The way I see it, It shouldn't be "VS", it should be "AND/OR".

 

Actions on the ground have overtaken the talk. It's almost like the Iraqi Info Minister saying "Digital is not overtaking film. Film will stand for ten more years...." Even as the tanks are visible behind him.

 

I respectfully disagree with this. First of all, as I wrote elsewhere, I cannot understand why this whole thing has to be about "victory of digital", "death of film", or tanks on the horizon. I think the freedom to choose between different media should be something to be happy about. When film eventually goes away (i.e. when it won't be used for the majority of feature film productions) the choices will be fewer than the ones available today: hopefully we won't lose anything during the "transition", but i wouldn't be surprised if there were some compromises we'll have to deal with.

 

And the tanks may be visible, but frankly the "future" is not here yet: probably the United States industry will be first in this evolution, but here in Europe we still see LOTS of film being shot (not to mention the fact that most movie theaters are still using film projectors). I don't know what's the situation like in other countries, but in Italy there's almost no digital in television series (yet), it's all mostly still filmed on 16mm (and occasionally on 35mm); commercials are still shot on 35mm (though I heard digital is being used increasingly and it's now almost 40-50% of the market, up a good 10% from 2 years ago). Where you really see a huge impact of digital is in short films and no/low budget projects, but those are mostly moving from miniDV up to DSLR. On the other hand, from what I've seen, Ireland is mostly using digital. Just two examples to say that the perception of digital replacing film is not the same as the reality of film still being used for a lot of stuff. Maybe 1, 2 or 5 years from now things will be different, maybe not. I just don't understand why people are so eager to proclaim the death of film.

 

 

When you say things like "the debate is over" it is frankly a bit nonsensical

 

Totally agree with Richard on this.

 

 

I would think a camera like the Epic will bring out more talent.

 

It'd be great, wouldn't it? Unfortunately, I don't think that's the case. Talent is one thing, technology is another. A talented filmmaker with an old miniDV camera could do something incredibly better than a talentless one who's using an Epic (or a Genesis, an Alexa, 65mm, etc), The camera is just a tool..

 

just my humble 2€c :)

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Chris Nolan does not count because he uses 65mm film. When one says that film is dead we are talking about the death or obsolescence of 35mm film. Using 65mm film future proofs a film production for a long time before it becomes obsolete.

 

Uh is this a sarcastic post?

 

R,

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It'd be great, wouldn't it? Unfortunately, I don't think that's the case. Talent is one thing, technology is another. A talented filmmaker with an old miniDV camera could do something incredibly better than a talentless one who's using an Epic (or a Genesis, an Alexa, 65mm, etc), The camera is just a tool..

 

just my humble 2€c :)

 

 

 

 

I know that talent is within. But there are a ton talented cinematographers that like doing indy stuff and want to have the quality of what the big boys use. And your right you can shoot Blair Whitch with a high 8 camera but you can't shoot Planet Earth in high 8. Technology does enhance talent in some fields. Not really talking about story telling

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The day that film dies is the day when all film shooters strive for the video or reality look. We see this already happening because NFL films is now shooting 16mm film at 120 frames per second which may be a subconcious attempt to achieve the video look or at least an attempt to compete with video cameras.

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I know that talent is within. But there are a ton talented cinematographers that like doing indy stuff and want to have the quality of what the big boys use.

 

I can understand that, but have you honestly seen an increase of quality in indipendent movies since Red (or any "affordable" digital camera) came out? According to them, they've sold almost 10000 cameras: assuming only a tenth of those have been used only once for a narrative project, have you seen a thousand movies shot on red in the last 2 years reaching your movie theater? Have you seen the new Kubricks coming out of their parents' basements because of the digital evolution?

I think it's great that the quality of the images coming out of digital cameras is approaching the quality of the "big boys", and since it's reasonable to think that digital will become the medium of choice in the future, the better it gets the best it is for everyone, but that has almost nothing to do with the ability to tell a story.

 

Technology does enhance talent in some fields. Not really talking about story telling

 

Yes, but we go back to the point I was trying to make earlier: if there's no talent, technology will do very little. If, on the other hand, there's talent and hard work, then technology can help, but at the same time it becomes what it's exactly supposed to be, a tool in the right hands.

 

Was - insert title - a great movie because it was shot on - insert medium - or because the story was great and well told?

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I think it boils down to this. Even if you have a lot of talent, most of the time you will not be taken seriously unless you have the picture quality to showcase your talent. In the past no one would even look at your work unless it was shot on 35mm film. Now due to the fact that Epic films are being shot using digital cameras a film maker is almost guaranteed an audition when he presents his trailer to a producer for financial backing or the producer has to come up with another excuse to exclude the film maker.

 

Right now a digital film maker can argue that the picture quality is greater than a conventional 35mm film production.

 

1. A digital 3-D production is already commanding higher ticket prices than a 2-D film production although film cameras can also be used for 3-D production.

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I think it boils down to this. Even if you have a lot of talent, most of the time you will not be taken seriously unless you have the picture quality to showcase your talent. In the past no one would even look at your work unless it was shot on 35mm film. Now due to the fact that Epic films are being shot using digital cameras a film maker is almost guaranteed an audition when he presents his trailer to a producer for financial backing or the producer has to come up with another excuse to exclude the film maker.

 

Right now a digital film maker can argue that the picture quality is greater than a conventional 35mm film production.

 

1. A digital 3-D production is already commanding higher ticket prices than a 2-D film production although film cameras can also be used for 3-D production.

 

 

I think people care more if the story is good.

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I think people care more if the story is good.

 

Me too.

 

Even if you have a lot of talent, most of the time you will not be taken seriously unless you have the picture quality to showcase your talent.

 

Some pretty good directors shoot their first movies on what you would consider "lower" media, but what puts them on the map, amongst other things, is the quality of their stories and their skills as storytellers, not the tools they use.

 

Now due to the fact that Epic films are being shot using digital cameras a film maker is almost guaranteed an audition when he presents his trailer to a producer for financial backing

 

Can you please point me to that magical place where a director is almost guaranteed an audition or a meeting with a producer solely based on the fact that he shot a trailer digitally? I have a couple of friends that would be greatly interested in that....

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