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Jon O'Brien

2 perf and S16

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Are there any cinema release movies being shot today on 2 perf 35mm or S16? I know that cinemas are only showing DCP pictures these days, in most cases, but want to know if I can go along and see what a movie shot on 2 perf or S16 actually looks like in the cinema. I like the look of film grain. Just wondering if the definition of the image is generally going to be sharp enough for 'general audiences' today, or if people are going to be sitting there thinking "what's wrong with the image? It's blurry and poor quality". I don't have a particular genre of film in mind. Could be a small independent picture or a big feature.

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Are there any cinema release movies being shot today on 2 perf 35mm or S16? I know that cinemas are only showing DCP pictures these days, in most cases, but want to know if I can go along and see what a movie shot on 2 perf or S16 actually looks like in the cinema. I like the look of film grain. Just wondering if the definition of the image is generally going to be sharp enough for 'general audiences' today, or if people are going to be sitting there thinking "what's wrong with the image? It's blurry and poor quality". I don't have a particular genre of film in mind. Could be a small independent picture or a big feature.

 

In a Valley of Violence was a Ti West film shot on 2 perf as was The Inkeepers.

Black Swan was Super16 and the new horror film from Darren Aronofsky is also supposed to be Super16, so you can keep an eye out for that when it is released. Apparently there are some trailers for it running against certain screenings of Dunkirk.

 

Freya

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Just wondering if the definition of the image is generally going to be sharp enough for 'general audiences' today, or if people are going to be sitting there thinking "what's wrong with the image? It's blurry and poor quality". I don't have a particular genre of film in mind. Could be a small independent picture or a big feature.

You'll never know that the audience is thinking unless you ask them. Contrary to popular belief, the larger majority of people going to the movies aren't pixel peepers. The things that cinematographers and photographers look at are usually over looked by people who's not into those things. Most people don't see moire or aliasing for example.

Edited by Reggie A Brown

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You'll never know that the audience is thinking unless you ask them. Contrary to popular belief, the larger majority of people going to the movies aren't pixel peepers. The things that cinematographers and photographers look at are usually over looked by people who's not into those things. Most people don't see moire or aliasing for example.

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The Fighter, American Hustle and Joy are all 2 perf. Jackie, Carol were S16. Those are just a few that come to mind. What Reggie stated is correct though. If you are concerned about less than one percent of the audience, OK, but otherwise no one will care

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In 2016 there were a few S16 snd 2 perf releases. I haven't heard of any major releases of those this year, but there may have been one or two.

 

Kodak generally promotes anything shot on film, so the best resource is to hit up their site and see the list. Then you can go to IMDB and check the specs. http://www.kodak.com/US/en/motion/customers/productions/default.htm

 

Doug Liman's new movie 'The Wall' is coming to a theater near you and is S16. Probably the best thing to watch as he's a real film buff.

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On The Road, The Place Beyond The Pines, Too Late, Outlaws & Angels, Mississippi Grind, Kill The Messenger, etc are 2 perf and look **(obscenity removed)** awesome. The Wall looks crazy soft though, it's ana 16mm, but I've seen much sharper super 16 elsewhere (like One Tree Hill for example).

Edited by Manu Delpech

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I will go and see some of these films, thanks for all the tips. Will keep an eye on the Kodak website too - good idea. 2-perf to me seems ideal.

 

With arty projects, but still in 2.40:1 aspect ratio (if that's what you want to make your film in) if you're going to go for a more grainy, gritty look, why not go more in the opposite direction and shoot in S16 with spherical lenses and crop in post. With modern film stock and digital post would probably look great - sharp enough for the cinema, for certain types of movies. Maybe?

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Well, if you take away the noise/grain issue, the moment you crop S16 you really alter the field of view. Now everything looks like you're shooting with long lenses, even wide shots.

 

With larger frame size formats like 2 perf 35, that issue isn't as much of a problem. However, it's still an issue with 2 perf because techniscope was designed with the sound track area in mind, so with modern 2 perf cameras, the image is actually wider then 2.40:1 in camera. You're actually throwing away negative space, like you would be with S16. Obviously, 2 perf is better on film usage. However, I do feel 3 perf is the ultimate format and what most things are shot on today.

 

When I was doing my research on buying a 35mm camera, I realized it was perfect because I never wanted to shoot square and I felt 1.75:1 (which is the base aspect ratio of 3 perf) was a great starting point. I almost always shoot stuff for the standard HD 1.75:1 aspect ratio ANYWAY because it just works with every distribution method properly. Also, I like what a 24mm lens looks like on 3 perf 35mm, it has a really beautiful wide angle look that is hard to achieve when cropped down to even 2:1, let alone 2.40:1. Plus any digital display device would be using less pixels for a 2.40:1 presentation.

 

So yea, as someone who shoots film every week, I prefer 3 perf 35mm over pretty much anything but 65mm. I like spherical lenses, I like fast lenses, I like a wide lens choice, I like small/quiet cameras and I like having the ability to select any aspect ratio I want, which is why 3 perf is such a powerful format. With short ends being so widely available, I've switched to productions over from S16 to 3 perf 35 and they've come out exceptional. I can't wait to share after things are edited later in the year!

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Very interesting Tyler. Yes, I think 3 perf sounds great - the ideal I suppose in many ways. Saw a 3-perf camera for sale the other day more than the price of a decent new car. I can dream. 2 perf is very close but just has the slight problem of needing to check for hairs in gate. But I don't follow one thing. If final outcome is, say, 2.40:1, doesn't 3 perf have the same problem as S16 with wide lenses no longer being wide enough. Are there good solutions around this problem? I must admit I hadn't thought of that.

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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Nope, no problems with wide lenses on 4 perf and 3 perf if you don't crop. The moment you crop down to 2.40:1, you kinda loose a lot of that field of view.

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When you crop 3 and 4 perf, you crop vertically. Field of view has more to do with horizontal angle of viewing.

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If final outcome is, say, 2.40:1, doesn't 3 perf have the same problem as S16 with wide lenses no longer being wide enough. Are there good solutions around this problem? I must admit I hadn't thought of that.

In my experience, cropping from 1.85:1, or 16:9, to 2.40:1 usually mean going one lens wider. So if you have a CU on a 50mm in 16:9, you'd need a 35mm to keep the same vertical FOV when cropped to 2.40. Unless you habitually use very wide lenses when shooting 16:9, you're unlikely to find it hard go wider.

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The wider you go however, the less depth of field and the more potential lens distortion. If you're looking for that really nice S35 shallow depth of field look on a wider shot, you can't really get that if our cropping the image so much.

 

Obviously with S16 it's far worse then any S35 format. But 2 perf will never look like 4 perf anamorphic where your using the entire frame and compressing that wide of an image into it.

 

Also, with 3 perf you could use 1.3x anamorphic lenses to get close to 2.40:1 aspect ratio, but retain all that negative space.

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Setting aside specialty features like lens flares and bokeh, what is the overall difference in 'look' between, say, 2 or 3 perf spherical lens cropped to 2.40:1 and 4 perf Panavision anamorphic, if digital post prod for both and distributed as a DCP? Is it just that 4 perf anamorphic will have slightly higher definition and less grain, seeing it in the theatre, or is there much more to it than that? I think David Mullen said that there is a big difference when it comes to shooting interiors or CUs in general as it gives the DP a lot more freedom in placing the camera. There does seem to be something about anamorphic that 'looks really cool', beyond just lens flares (lens flares don't interest me much). But shooting with 2 or 3 perf does seem such an attractive proposition with smaller camera/lens set up and so much simpler and less expensive for getting into 35mm.

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So there is some confusion with formats that should be explained.

 

4 perf and 3 perf can be shot academy gate or full gate, super 35mm. Academy basically reserves the side of the frame for a soundtrack, for film prints. Full gate, or open gate Super 35mm uses the full frame width, the way films were shot PRIOR to the sound on film days.

 

2 perf is ONLY academy gate, so you're actually loosing quite a bit of negative space reserved for the soundtrack. Yes, there are full open gate 2 perf movements made, but they're wider then 2.40:1 so some cropping would have to be made for theatrical. 2 perf also has a big problem because the top and bottom of frame are literally on the edge of the gate, so if there were any hairs or debris in the gate, you couldn't crop them easily without loosing quality. 2 perf is great for saving money, but that's about it.

 

So quality wise, Super 35mm 3 perf would be your best option because you can crop the top and the bottom to 2.40:1 and not loose much from the 1.75:1 aspect ratio of the original format. Plus, it allows for some wiggle room for re-framing, where 2 perf does not. James Cameron use to shoot 4 perf Super 35mm because he could shoot 4:3 for television and then crop 2.40:1 for theatrical. It was a super clever idea and it makes his movies on video, look MUCH BETTER then the competition who always had to pan and scan left to right on a 2.40:1 in order to get the action in frame. Today with HD home video, everyone just runs the movie the way it was in the theater, with bars at the top and bottom.

 

Anamorphic is a whole other bag of worms because most anamorphic lenses are softer then spherical lenses, there are just too many elements involved. So right away, you're using softer glass, which is fine and all for digital, but on film it's nice to shoot with crisp glass. Obviously A LOT of people still shoot anamorphic 4 perf 35mm, it's very popular and it is the highest resolution vertical 35mm format in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio (vistavision is horizontal 8 perf 35mm, so much higher quality) It's also the only way to get 2.40:1 prints made without doing an optical blow up (expensive) and/or digitally making them. If you wanna go photochemical 2.40:1, ya really gotta shoot 4 perf, academy gate anamorphic.

 

So here is a breakdown:

 

4 perf Super 35mm anamorphic has the most real estate of all formats when shooting 2.40:1

3 perf Super 35mm spherical has the 2nd most real estate.

2 perf Academy 35mm has the 3rd most real estate.

 

When you take into account film stock, camera and lens rental, anamorphic 4 perf is generally too expensive. I don't even have it listed on my budget spreadsheet.

 

3 perf cameras are so widely used today, they can be had for less money and they use 25% less film then 4 perf. Plus renting spherical lenses, is A LOT CHEAPER then anamorphic.

 

2 perf cameras are impossible to find, they're either on shoots or they're expensive to rent. The added benefits of film savings, is kinda negated when you spend more on the rental package.

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Not sure I'd use the term "Academy gate" in 2-perf or 3-perf but I know what you mean, which is to use the Academy width rather than Full Aperture / Super width... though since 3-perf Full Aperture is 1.78 : 1, there are almost no requests in that format for the less wide Academy width gate. 2-perf, on the other hand, is 2.66 : 1 in Full Aperture, so many people might choose an Academy width gate.

 

4-perf and 3-perf full aperture use the same amount of real estate when cropping to 2.40 : 1, it's just that you waste less film by using 3-perf.

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I remember reading not all that long ago here (I think) that in the US it's still the case that business types are inclined to ask if someone who has shot a 'feature' has made it in 4-perf 35mm for them to even consider bothering to watch it to see if they want to distribute it. You know, that it doesn't quite have the industry allure if shot in 2-perf. I'm not at all talking artistic or even technical considerations here. Just business. Does that still apply, even if it's still going to be released as a DCP? Yes, I know most features are totally digital now, for instance in Australia that is completely the case. I'm talking about the US. And of course I'm only talking of projects that, for whatever reason, were chosen to be shot on 35mm.

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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If your project is shot on film, it absolutely gives it clout. It doesn't really matter 16 vs 35, but having a 4k digital deliverable can be an added bonus. It just shows you were being more serious then the guy shooting on his DSLR.

 

Honestly, if your making a project where the type of camera used has any bearing on it being bought, then you probably didn't shoot on film. Most movies shot on film, are a bit higher end then that and have distribution before they go into production.

 

There are a few rare cases, Too Late is one of those cases. A super low budget film that was shot 2 perf 35 and distributed on film. Unfortunately, the print I saw looked horrible and the film itself, wasn't that great. It needed someone to punch up the script a bit, it was too slow and didn't hold my attention well. It was sad the producer was there for the screening and when I asked if there was gonna be a new print, he said that was the only print they had. So clearly, the movie was never going to be released theatrically and they were just paying for the theater time, which is too bad.

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I read here

 

http://www.digital-intermediate.co.uk/examples/2perf/2perf.htm

 

that 2-perf actually turned out clearer and sharper than 4-perf anamorphic when shown in theatres. I'm really surprised about that. I always thought that 2-perf, in the days when everything was shown on 4-perf projectors, never looked as good because it had to be optically enlarged and anamorphosed when printed.

 

Also, when film was still completely edited by hand using splicers and cement, why did people complain that 2-perf was difficult to splice due to there being no space between the frames, as wouldn't this also have been the case with 4-perf anamorphic (no space between the frames to hide a splice)?

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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The problem with anamorphic lenses is that in general, they are softer then spherical glass of similar length and speed.

 

But for "prints", direct non-optical, 4 perf anamorphic is better.

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