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Hrishikesh Jha

Whichever low budget camera can get me exactly this look.

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Hey guys.

I am obsessed with a certain look of film. grainy, sunny, raw, gritty. I can only use certain words to explain them as I am a technical noob(I am a scriptwriter). Now I have somehow gathered some funds and created a memo to make my first film.

 

This film that I am posting the link of is called a the woman in Black(1989). Which camera can get me this certain look- the closest possible. I am not talking about any other factor- the set, budgets, art designs....just the visual aspect. Keep in mind i would give it my best shot in post to color correct it.

 

I have a 1000 dollar budget(but if I get some good opinion and I see it will make a difference I will go for that).

 

Here is the film. It's so.....cinematic and gritty. It's a TV movie and I want this atmosphere. Not the atmosphere of the remake.

 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7eQ5sFNUg9M

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IMDB lists "Woman in Black"(1989) as shot on 16mm film, with no indication of what film stock. The Blackmagic Desgn Pocket Cinema Camera is with in the $1000 budget ($995...) body only, and has a sensor nearly the same size as Super 16mm film. The camera can capture 1080p, in 'Raw' with 12 bits of level resolution, and ProRes 10 bit resolution.

 

You would have to buy a micro 4/3 lens, or a 4/3 adapter for a number of DSLR lenses from such manufacturers as Canon or Nikon.

 

I have an old 28mm Nikon lens and a $60 4/3 adapter, which requires manual focus, but would be 'cheap' to buy these days. I also have a 14-140mm 4/3 zoom lens.

 

The normal lens for that sized sensor is about 17mm.

 

 

However 'exact' looks aren't 'bought' with a camera, these days that is 'bought' by using a computer based editing system, and using various 'effects' to obtain the look, in addition to whatever may be captured 'in camera'.

Edited by John E Clark

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That's a pretty small camera budget -- other than a Blackmagic Cinema Pocket Camera, it sort of limits you to DSLR video, maybe a used Panasonic GH3 for example. And we aren't even talking about lenses or other support. You'd have to add the grain in post. Of course, there may be a Super-8 or 16mm camera in that price range, but then you'd have to pay for film stock, processing, and scanning, etc.

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That's a pretty small camera budget -- other than a Blackmagic Cinema Pocket Camera, it sort of limits you to DSLR video, maybe a used Panasonic GH3 for example. And we aren't even talking about lenses or other support. You'd have to add the grain in post. Of course, there may be a Super-8 or 16mm camera in that price range, but then you'd have to pay for film stock, processing, and scanning, etc.

 

I thought about getting a 16mm camera and lens setup some time ago, just for the sake of 'shooting some film'... now that I could actually afford to feed it film... well... maybe...

 

But even then I seemed to be wanting to get into the $1500-2000 with a reasonable camera and set of lenses.

 

Even for the Pocket, a 'good' c-mount lens with Super 16mm coverage is in the $6-700+ price range...

Edited by John E Clark

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With that kind of budget you are probably going to be limited to something like a second hand DVX100B or maybe a second hand HVX200 with a firestore if you have the lighting to make it work. Maybe a GH1 with the hack and some lenses? Depends on the price of second hand GH1's where you are.

 

Do you have access to any cameras already??

You are going to have a hard time getting a vintage 16mm film look these days especially on such a low budget.

 

Freya

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That's a pretty small camera budget -- other than a Blackmagic Cinema Pocket Camera, it sort of limits you to DSLR video, maybe a used Panasonic GH3 for example. And we aren't even talking about lenses or other support. You'd have to add the grain in post. Of course, there may be a Super-8 or 16mm camera in that price range, but then you'd have to pay for film stock, processing, and scanning, etc.

See here's the thing:

I am a scriptwriter and I know nothing of shooting films or camera technology(apart from the bare minimum). I have enticed a mutual friend who wants to be a lead actor and whose father is well off and will pay for the film expenses. I have the location scouted and I want an atmospher which is remee scent of old school film stock. However, I have decided to film only a few segments in film and the rest in digital.

 

What I understand is the camera doesn't really matter. Like in the 600-800 range I can get a decent camera which I can practice with. Practice is the most important aspect. If I can convince with my approach, I might get the funding to shoot some in 35. And I'll always have this camera. With this in mind...

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I'll say this much, a camera body is the last thing you need to make a movie look like that. I agree that "hiring" a cinematographer with their own package, is a far better proposition then simply buying a camera and trying to recreate a look which is mostly lighting and mood created on set.

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It depends. Many cinematographers, myself included, and those around here, are always open to negotiate rates-- though normally that's done ya know, if you like the person's work.

That said, I am sure it would be much cheaper for you to find a local as I'm in LA and getting up to Canada is pretty expensive.

The real money isn't in the camera, as Tyler mentions, it's in the grip and lighting kit and production design you need to get to any given look. Cameras factor into that; but a skilled DoP can make most cameras get images you'd love (within reason) if you have the kit, time, and design with which to do it.

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I'll go ahead and say you will never get this kind of look with a digital camera. Chroma, noise, patterns, It juste doesnt work...nothing digital looks quite like film. I know it, my roommate has a Red Dragon and anything he tries won't recreate that organic look cinema had with tape-based cameras. And that is why I bought a Canon XL2. For about 700-800$, you can find a mint one. The XL1 used to be the warHorse of video cameras, and Canon implemented a cine look into the completely revamped version of it. It does have 3 1/3'' CCD sensors, you'll have to zoom in and shoot wide open using NDs if you want short depth of field, but it largely pays off in the unique look and harsh contrasts/feel of the image...

 

Edited by Jean-Marc Plante

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And for the love of God...Stay away from the BMPC... Horrible video features, horrible noise patterns, useless camera monitor (Not accurate AT ALL), huge DNG files, 15 mins running time batteries. Cost of lens (But you might find some nice16mm like Angenieux zooms lens online or local vintage photo/video shops), 2.7-8x crop factor makes it impossible to get wide shots if not using super16 lens, and you'll have to rig the whole thing anyways, it's gonna cost you 2-3k to have a working setup with all the accessories. It really is NOT worth it IMO.

Edited by Jean-Marc Plante

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And that is why I bought a Canon XL2. For about 700-800$, you can find a mint one. The XL1 used to be the warHorse of video cameras, and Canon implemented a cine look into the completely revamped version of it. It does have 3 1/3'' CCD sensors, you'll have to zoom in and shoot wide open using NDs if you want short depth of field, but it largely pays off in the unique look and harsh contrasts/feel of the image...

 

 

I'd forgotten about the XL2 and it's a great suggestion too. A very underated camera that was eclipsed in the shift to HD. Obviously it's still a digital camera so it isn't going to get you close to film but personally I always felt that CCD's gave a lot better image than the newer CMOS based cameras.

 

As for depth of field, that Central TV movie didn't feature a lot of shallow DOF either and deep depth of field might be a good thing on a very low budget movie in any case.

 

Freya

Edited by Freya Black
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I'll go ahead and say you will never get this kind of look with a digital camera. Chroma, noise, patterns, It juste doesnt work...nothing digital looks quite like film. I know it, my roommate has a Red Dragon and anything he tries won't recreate that organic look cinema had with tape-based cameras. And that is why I bought a Canon XL2. For about 700-800$, you can find a mint one. The XL1 used to be the warHorse of video cameras, and Canon implemented a cine look into the completely revamped version of it. It does have 3 1/3'' CCD sensors, you'll have to zoom in and shoot wide open using NDs if you want short depth of field, but it largely pays off in the unique look and harsh contrasts/feel of the image...

 

I'll go ahead and say you will never get this kind of look with a digital camera. Chroma, noise, patterns, It juste doesnt work...nothing digital looks quite like film. I know it, my roommate has a Red Dragon and anything he tries won't recreate that organic look cinema had with tape-based cameras. And that is why I bought a Canon XL2. For about 700-800$, you can find a mint one. The XL1 used to be the warHorse of video cameras, and Canon implemented a cine look into the completely revamped version of it. It does have 3 1/3'' CCD sensors, you'll have to zoom in and shoot wide open using NDs if you want short depth of field, but it largely pays off in the unique look and harsh contrasts/feel of the image...

 

Holy poop, you made this movie?

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Pocket camera has been fine every time I've pulled it out. You have yo build it out right; but there's no real complaints from editorial on the most recent project where it's "C" cam to 2 Sony F3s.

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Pocket camera has been fine every time I've pulled it out. You have yo build it out right; but there's no real complaints from editorial on the most recent project where it's "C" cam to 2 Sony F3s.

I've had very bad experiences with it. Loved the F3 though! Very stable camera with great specs when used properly. I guess it's the same with the Pocket.

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And for the love of God...Stay away from the BMPC... Horrible video features, horrible noise patterns, useless camera monitor (Not accurate AT ALL), huge DNG files, 15 mins running time batteries. Cost of lens (But you might find some nice16mm like Angenieux zooms lens online or local vintage photo/video shops), 2.7-8x crop factor makes it impossible to get wide shots if not using super16 lens, and you'll have to rig the whole thing anyways, it's gonna cost you 2-3k to have a working setup with all the accessories. It really is NOT worth it IMO.

 

I own two Blackmagic Pocket cameras and they are awesome, nothing like what you describe. Furthermore, with Pro Res 422 HQ capture and CInema DNG color space, you can fit 40 min onto a single 64gb SD card and not have to change the battery once. Wide angle, telephoto and zoom lenses are easy to come by from a multitude of manufacturers used on ebay and with a speed booster, you can bring them back to native focal length. I've use Tamron Nikon mount zoom lenses with all manual control and they work awesome. My standard glass is from Rokinon and the whole kit is about $2k on Amazon, for 6 primes.

 

In post production, the files are linked without any importing or transcoding directly into Avid, Final Cut Pro and Premiere. Pro Res uses the computers GPU for playback, meaning you can run multiple video layers unrendered without dropping frames, without the need to run a proxy version first and then upres later. With DaVinci's integration, applying lookup tables to the Cinema DNG color space files is a cinch, tweaking and exporting is even easier, using the power of DaVinci for finishing, rather then your editing tool.

 

I've been shooting film and digital cinema for two decades and I've been nothing but impressed with the Blackmagic Pocket camera. They aren't for big hollywood movies, it's not their design what so ever. They are for low-budget, run and gun style of shooting where you've gotta "get that shot" on the first take and move on. Perfect documentary camera because of their size, ease of setup and most importantly, extremely high-quality final output.

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Well Thank you for clarifying, i've had nothing but bad experiences with it so far, all of them having been thrown this camera upon me on-set, without any prep, with slow panasonic zooms, no reference monitor whatsoever, and no trial of the actual product fo any sorts. I guess I will give it another try when the opportunity comes, and will take the time to test it out.

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This question comes up a lot, so many people want to recreate a ‘look’ that they have seen, a ‘look’ which is created by film in this case 16mm film, film cameras don’t affect the ‘look’ of the film, virtually any film camera can be used. The ‘look’ is achieved through a combination of processes such as the processing, scanning [or printing], the lens plays a major role but most importantly it is the film stock that is responsible for the 'look'. In today’s world arguably a ‘similar look’ can be created with digital systems, but usually in the post and after spending considerable time grading, after which one has to ask whether it has been worth the probable expense and hassle, especially since the ‘look’ can be so effortlessly created by using 16mm film.

 

Contrary to popular belief film does not have to be expensive or difficult to work with, sure once you’ve got the camera package [which is available cheaply these days] you have to pay additional for the film stock, processing and scanning. 16mm cameras can be borrowed, many are just lying around idle, they are very cheap to rent these days too and buying one can be very cheap, there are so many and finding the right one may seem tricky, forums such as this are full of information about 16mm cameras. I buy 16mm film from wherever I can, such as the Internet, places like Ebay, off other camera operators and filmmakers. Others I know who use 16mm like students and individuals do the same. Despite the doom and gloom of lab closures there are still a few options.

 

Film costs come down to how much you shoot, with film a lower shooting ratio will mean you shoot less film, so your stock, processing and scanning costs will be low and other costs may also be low too, such as time, costs of actors and crew, setting up costs and insurances. Of course it all depends on what you are doing and 16mm film may prove to be an expensive option or it may be a cheaper option, but in either case you shouldn’t dismiss 16mm film if that's the 'look' you want and perhaps you should seriously explore the 16mm film option.

 

Looking at the film you mention, I would guess it has been shot on Kodak and has gone through a complete photo-chemical workflow, from editing, negative cutting to printing and most likely a print has been telecined, probably on a Rank Cintel, this workflow will affect the 'look' too.

 

Pav

Edited by Pav Deep

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This question comes up a lot, so many people want to recreate a ‘look’ that they have seen, a ‘look’ which is created by film in this case 16mm film, film cameras don’t affect the ‘look’ of the film, virtually any film camera can be used. The ‘look’ is achieved through a combination of processes such as the processing, scanning [or printing], the lens plays a major role but most importantly it is the film stock that is responsible for the 'look'. In today’s world arguably a ‘similar look’ can be created with digital systems, but usually in the post and after spending considerable time grading, after which one has to ask whether it has been worth the probable expense and hassle, especially since the ‘look’ can be so effortlessly created by using 16mm film.

 

Contrary to popular belief film does not have to be expensive or difficult to work with, sure once you’ve got the camera package [which is available cheaply these days] you have to pay additional for the film stock, processing and scanning. 16mm cameras can be borrowed, many are just lying around idle, they are very cheap to rent these days too and buying one can be very cheap, there are so many and finding the right one may seem tricky, forums such as this are full of information about 16mm cameras. I buy 16mm film from wherever I can, such as the Internet, places like Ebay, off other camera operators and filmmakers. Others I know who use 16mm like students and individuals do the same. Despite the doom and gloom of lab closures there are still a few options.

 

Film costs come down to how much you shoot, with film a lower shooting ratio will mean you shoot less film, so your stock, processing and scanning costs will be low and other costs may also be low too, such as time, costs of actors and crew, setting up costs and insurances. Of course it all depends on what you are doing and 16mm film may prove to be an expensive option or it may be a cheaper option, but in either case you shouldn’t dismiss 16mm film if that's the 'look' you want and perhaps you should seriously explore the 16mm film option.

 

Looking at the film you mention, I would guess it has been shot on Kodak and has gone through a complete photo-chemical workflow, from editing, negative cutting to printing and most likely a print has been telecined, probably on a Rank Cintel, this workflow will affect the 'look' too.

 

Pav

Thank you so much for this. I will look into 16mm films. But are the film stocks still available or are they hard to buy/find?

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Just search the forums and the Internet, you'll find lots of information that 'film isn't dead'. 16mm film is still being made and processed and is still being used professionally in film and television, apart from Kodak there are other manufacturewrs such as Orwo and Foma's black and white films, there's Agfa's Aviphot colour reversal, though FujiFilm don't make 16mm film anymore, there's still plenty of it available and then there's Ferrania Film they'll be introducing new colour reversal film in 2015.

 

Pav

Edited by Pav Deep
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Well Thank you for clarifying, i've had nothing but bad experiences with it so far, all of them having been thrown this camera upon me on-set, without any prep, with slow panasonic zooms, no reference monitor whatsoever, and no trial of the actual product fo any sorts. I guess I will give it another try when the opportunity comes, and will take the time to test it out.

I figured as much… Plus, if you don't use real cinema glass, ANY camera is worthless. Imagine putting micro 4/3rd's glass on a Alexia! (if it could fit). All the quality of the camera would be lost immediately.

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if you don't use real cinema glass, ANY camera is worthless. Imagine putting micro 4/3rd's glass on a Alexia! (if it could fit). All the quality of the camera would be lost immediately.

This isn't really true. DPs use all kinds of glass all the time. Modern MFT lenses out-perform 50 year old cinema glass quite easily. Stills lenses can be of extremely high quality. Saying that a camera is worthless because you don't have a 'Movie' lens on it is ridiculous.

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