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35 mm film camera (Aaton Penelope or else) & HD monitoring?


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Hey everyone,

 

 

I'm looking into the whole shooting on 35 mm 2 perf thing right now for my first "professional" short movie, and what scared me mostly about 35 mm was not being able to really see what's being shot other than on a shitty quality video tap or assist, but I read here the other day someone talking about using an HD monitor and feed it the composite signal from the camera and having a much better quality, is this really possible?

 

I read otherwise about the HD IVS by Arri but it seems ridiculously pricey, otherwise, it seems like the Penelope has actually a pretty decent, much better video feed, what do you guys think?

 

Love this forum by the way, so many resources !

 

 

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Guest Stephen Murphy

The video tap on a film camera shows you the framing only. Your cinematographer will be using his skill and experience to give you the right images for your film. Video taps are a relatively recent addition to mainstream cinema (early 80's I think) and plenty of great movies were made before they existed. Spielberg, Nolan, Wes Anderson etc and all the other directors that continue to shoot film use the same video taps that you have access to. It doesn't seem to affect them.

As a director I'd advise you to look through the lens when setting the shot with your DP so you can see the proper frame, then use the video tap to judge framing during the rehearsal, and then if possible watch the actors with your eyes during the take.

And hire a good DP of course....

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^^ what Stephen said.

While I have a tap for my SR3, I am often lucky that directors I work with don't even want to see it, unless were doing some kind of rig where we can't put our faces on the eyepiece.

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Thx a lot for the good, fast response ! I was just watching the BTS on Revolutionary Road, and Mendes was watching the footage being shot live on a monitor, quality seemed quite bad obviously, but at least it gives you some feedback, I was just scared that it's so shitty that if it comes out shitty, you wouldn't notice it ^^

 

I'm only going to shoot 35 mm 2 perf if I can get a really good, experienced DP, one that I can trust especially since I'm very visual and I have every shot planned & conceived in my head. I'll have a budget of 30000-35000 $ for a 20 min short film, I was first planning to shoot it digital (Alexa) because to be honest, although I always wanted to shoot 35 mm (there's just nothing like it really, no matter what filters or grain plugins you use), the fact of not having a direct, HD monitoring of what's being shot, and seeing it right in front of you, having to wait for the film to be transferred to really see what you've got, it kind of freaked me out.

 

But I'm seeing that film might not be that much more expensive especially with Kodak, or Panavision or else willing to make deals, and I'm counting on that. Plus, all my visual references are 35 mm film really, so it just makes sense, Now, I have to convince the producer (who's probably going to laugh at my "demand" & freak out at the same time) that it's the right thing to do.

 

 

It's really cool to find so many resources & info on this forum, helps a lot !

Edited by Manu Delpech
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I'm living in France & shooting in France :D (but the movie is in English)

 

So yeah ^^ I'm kind of trying to see on the AFC if I can find some good DP's, I sent two big DPs an email, fully knowing how preposterous it is of me to even ask those guys considering their body of work to go shoot a small, low budget short film, but I'm being bold :D

Edited by Manu Delpech
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Guest Stephen Murphy

There are plenty of great DP's in France. I'm sure you'll find someone. Or you could fly someone in from London, Germany, Poland etc You have a healthy budget, and you're centrally located within Europe so you've lots of choices.

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Keep in mind the latitude of modern stocks is vast, so there is a great deal of room for error exposure wise. You are also buying the best data storage medium there is, giving you a lot less worry about back up. HD taps, the ARRI, is very expsensive. What gives? Always a hurdle. It seems to me that in this day and age, you could make a much more affordable HD video assist with all the bells and whistles. What about hacking or using a GoPro as a tap? It would give you HD with HDMI out, maybe flicker free and would cover your whole viewfinder. You could just tape the thing in place. I wonder if it could be mounted to a tap? Hmmmm.

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I should have reread your title. If you are shooting on a Penelope, while it is not HD, the video assist is great and gives you very good looking feedback, your final film image will only look better.. You can do frame grabs, I think.

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Thx for all the great advice there: I indeed read about the Penelope video assist being really good, and it's flicker free too ! I just got off the phone with my producer and his answer at first was "No way, forget about 35 mm", then I talked about all the research I did, Fuji film stock being super cheap, 35 mm 2 perf: 50 % less cost in film stock & transfer compared to 4 perf, transfer from film to digital files Pro Res very cheap, camera equipment a bit higher than digital for sure, but still affordable. He was actually considering it at the end :D

 

Now, I gotta keep researching it, Find a great DP I can entrust with 35 mm, then the rest of the crew (producer kept telling me that we'd need more people on set, I wonder how they do it on movies with skeleton crews, seems to work perfectly (ie Mud for example)

 

@Stephen: Can't fly anyone here I'm afraid, we'd need to pay for the hotel (although we will with the DP anyway), pay for food, producer tells me there should be 20 to 30 people on set (what the hell), most of the team will be working pro bono (aside from DP, post production people, etc), that's part of what they do (association that helps young filmmakers and gives them the infrastructure), then the lighting package, etc, etc. I can't see myself flying anyone here, unless he's willing to be paid btw 5000 & 6000 dollars for a week's shooting (at the very least), but I'm hoping we can get a good DP for less.

Edited by Manu Delpech
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quality seemed quite bad obviously, but at least it gives you some feedback, I was just scared that it's so shitty that if it comes out shitty, you wouldn't notice it ^^

 

Film doesn't really come out "shitty" unless you badly overexposed or underexposed it which can be quite hard to do unless you are very inexperienced with film. Mostly it just comes out magical in my experience. :)

 

Just saw "The Inn Keepers" by Ti West which I suspect didn't have a huge budget but which looked really nice. That was shot on 2perf.

 

Freya

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BTW London is only just over the water. You can get the train there from France now! It's not far at all and not expensive. The big cost would be as you suggest hotel housing and the like. Transport cost is very minimal.

 

Stephen has a lot of experience shooting on film (Super16, 2perf, Anamorphic 35) so could be worth talking to.

 

Check out this video:

 

 

Freya

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Thx for the references, but getting a DP other than French would be complicated, the film will be shot in English, but most of the crew will be French, that might be complicated for the DP to communicate with other members other than myself and the actors.

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Thx for the references, but getting a DP other than French would be complicated, the film will be shot in English, but most of the crew will be French, that might be complicated for the DP to communicate with other members other than myself and the actors.

 

Good point! Also if you can get a great DP from France it's just easier anyway! :)

 

Whatever you decide to do I hope it goes great! It sounds like a fun project.

 

Freya

Edited by Freya Black
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Thx, for those who know those movies, it's going to be in the vibe of The Spectacular Now, Perks Of Being A Wallflower, that kind of thing, so inspired by indie movies lately (also Mud, Place Beyond The Pines, etc), sort of a coming of age story with teens.

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Thx for all the great advice there: I indeed read about the Penelope video assist being really good, and it's flicker free too ! I just got off the phone with my producer and his answer at first was "No way, forget about 35 mm", then I talked about all the research I did, Fuji film stock being super cheap, 35 mm 2 perf: 50 % less cost in film stock & transfer compared to 4 perf, transfer from film to digital files Pro Res very cheap, camera equipment a bit higher than digital for sure, but still affordable. He was actually considering it at the end :D

 

Is 2 perf expensive in Europe? In the US, you can get incredible deals on decently equipped packages. I have heard that 2 perf is popular in Europe and maybe that is why higher prices.
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@Chris:

 

I found the Penelope at 4000 bucks for 10 days, complete package with standard accessories, color video assist, 4 400 feet mags. Plus Aaton is french, that sounds like a pretty decent deal to me.

 

By the way, I just watched Into The Wild again to get an idea at what Fuji film looks like in action, looks good obviously, although with the color correction and everything, I'd need comparisons btw Kodak Vision 3 & Fuji Eterna to see the higher contrast & more vivid colors from Fuji (supposedly), On The Road (Eric Gautier once again like ITW) was shot on Fuji as well. It seems all big productions and indie movies are shot on Kodak though. I read about the differences btw Vision 3 & Fuji Eterna, or Vivid, and it sounds interesting, Fuji film is so cheap, but I gotta look at what Kodak can be bought for.

Edited by Manu Delpech
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Freya you should have a done a link to " Coward "

 

heh heh! I like Mrs Peppercorns magical reading room a lot tho and it's easy to find other stuff from there.

 

Coward would be better obviously as it's shot on anamorphic 35mm but Mrs Peppercorn is more my sort of thing.

It's definitely the kind of thing I'd like to be making if I had that kind of money. It's also closer to my own tastes in cinematography other than the digital aspect of it.

 

I'm not keen on world war themed movies. Probably because I saw a lot of them growing up as my dad used to like to watch that stuff. I think it was cause he had a strong interest in history. See the start of Tideland for more details.

 

Having said that Coward is a great short with a touching story.

 

Freya

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By the way, I just watched Into The Wild again to get an idea at what Fuji film looks like in action, looks good obviously, although with the color correction and everything, I'd need comparisons btw Kodak Vision 3 & Fuji Eterna to see the higher contrast & more vivid colors from Fuji (supposedly), On The Road (Eric Gautier once again like ITW) was shot on Fuji as well. It seems all big productions and indie movies are shot on Kodak though. I read about the differences btw Vision 3 & Fuji Eterna, or Vivid, and it sounds interesting, Fuji film is so cheap, but I gotta look at what Kodak can be bought for.

 

"Black Swan" was Fuji. as was "Hurt Locker", "FishTank" and "Let the Right One In".

There obviously used to be loads shot on Fuji and FujiFilm used to maintain a list but I think it is gone now.

 

http://www.alexandrosmaragos.com/2010/12/black-swan-canon-7d.html

 

Freya

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Yeah, Shotonwhat is a great source as well to know which film stocks, which cameras, etc movies were shot on. I contacted Kodak and am waiting for a response, I think the visual style of the movie will make me lean towards Kodak more with richer blacks, maybe more neutral colors (Fuji apparently has a different rendition to colors). I think though that it's kind of telling that practically all movies shot on 35 mm these days are shot on Kodak, I've checked and only a select few are shot on Fuji film.

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Yeah, figures, but it seems you can still get Fuji film pretty easily and pretty cheap. I'm waiting to hear from Kodak, it's probably going to be more expensive than Fuji but I'm hoping they can do some good deals.

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Kodak has been very good to me in the past-- but I have personally found they seem to be nicest on the east coast of the US.

The Fujifilm was a very nice stock. I was never a big fan of the F64, at least not in S16mm, but the Eterna 400 had something magical for me.

I also kept meaning to shoot Reala 500D, but that would be a 35mm only affair and it's hard to find a project which would've benefitted from color miss-matching of a D stock at night.

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Snap ! Just contacted one of the biggest post production facilities of the country to get an idea on the prices, and the whole thing (which would be from scanning, processing to color correction in state of the art theater room all the way up to DCP) is about 15 K, which I find absolutely huge, maybe they could work on the prices a little bit if I asked, who knows.

 

The scanning & processing of the film in 2K along with slight color correction (of the dailies) plus saving on HDD is about 2000 dollars, which seems like a fair price, I used as a reference 2000 feet of film, which is about 45 min running time considering the actual short will be about 20 min, so that gives me a bit of leeway, I can still buy more film if needed. Another 1000 dollars for conforming.

 

Now, where this is getting really expensive, is the color correcting they're offering: 6500 dollars for 16 hours of work (which seems like too many hours for me). What I don't get (but I'm waiting for a call to know that) is that they have two services: 2K color correction and another one, but called HD color correction for master, so I don't know if this is a choice or if the two go together.

 

 

I think that for the color correcting part, I'll get a good colorist rather than do it in the facility, plus that 15 K for the whole process doesn't include actually editing the movie or doing the sound design & mixing.

 

What do you guys about handling the budget? 50 percent goes to principal photography, the other 50 % go to post production?

Edited by Manu Delpech
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