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Jon O'Brien

Super 16

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One thing, though, about 1.3x anamorphic S16 is that it comes out naturally at close to 2.39:1 but regular 16mm 2x comes out wider, so if you want a cinemascope ratio you have to crop the sides or have overspill on the sides of the screen when projecting. No wonder most people just crop S16 letterbox style if they want it wider since real estate is lost either way.

 

Just like music, filmmaking is an exercise in solving puzzles. No wonder most people shoot on digital.

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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Well, you've got me interested in this anamorphic projection again, Mark. I'd be interested to see how you did it, if it's not too much trouble for you. I didn't realize the lens attachment could have a largish gap between it and the projector lens, as long as all the image passes into the rear element. That is probably doable.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/ffr2S4sjz9U53ZMp7

That's not a 'scope lens btw, it's just to illustrate the idea. I sold mine on some time ago.

Edited by Mark Dunn

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It seems to me that these days with digital distribution and projection, the low grain of Vision 3 film stocks, and the great cameras and equipment still available for rent today, that Super 16 is becoming even more interesting than it was before as a medium for photographing movies designed to be shown at a large theater.

 

What movies have you seen at the cinema that were shot on this gauge and looked great? Is grain a problem to contemporary theater audiences/online streaming/DVD blue ray audiences?

 

How would anamorphic 2.35:1 Super 16 look at the theater compared to the same aspect ratio photographed with spherical, but cropped in post?

 

And finally, projection, for home movie use. Does anyone have any advice/anecdotes regarding converting a projector to Super 16, or for converting a projector to Regular 16mm cropped to 2.35:1 in the projector gate? I realize that with this option there would be a heavier loss of clarity.

 

Do film camera repairers generally undertake modifications to projectors? I'm not very engineeringly inclined so would have to get someone to modify a projector.

 

 

 

 

Jon,

 

Super 16 stocks from Kodak Vision3 are amazing. Good Shadows and ability to withstand harsh daylights. I shot this feature with the intention to show it as 1:11.85. I lit it slightly over sometimes to keep the whole frame dense. in some scenes I did shoot with bare minimum and the grains don't blow up. We projected it on a big screen and it was okay. Certainly not 35 standard but not many could make out the format.

 

During D.I. people tried to make 2.4 :1 print out of it. It didn't quite looked like I had intended it to. the Focal lengths everything looked wrong. We reverted back to tall format.

 

In distribution there is a mindset that unless a film is scope it really isn't a film. I disagree. I have seen so many 16mm format film projected in tall format and they look good.

post-61663-0-78031200-1544610491_thumb.jpg

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"with the intention to show it as 1:11.85."

 

I meant 1:1.85. :rolleyes:

Too bad.

I like the idea of Ultra Panavision cubed.

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Hi Prashantt, I agree S16 often looks great for feature movies.

 

On another unrelated note, but relevant to this thread, one thing I've noticed in theatres is that with features shot on film sometimes the brightness levels with digital projection seems slightly out of calibration. This is something I need to look into more. A few movies shot on film in recent years look great when viewed on a tv or computer screen but not always so great at the cinema. But many such films look totally great - such as The Force Awakens which looked brilliant in my opinion at the cinema. I noticed this slightly darker look with two films I went to see recently and I don't understand yet what the cause is - perhaps it's simply a problem with the projector at the local cinema. At times the image looks slightly underexposed. Could it possibly be related to the scanning? I wouldn't have thought so. Images shot on digital look brighter and more saturated (at my local theatre at least). Just a projection issue. Curious.

 

I actually wonder if the heavier grain in some movies shot on film actually needs to be compensated for by adjusting for projection brightness. Almost if the grain blocks out some light. Please excuse my arty and non-scientific speculations.

 

With regards to aspect ratio I've always been most interested in 2.40:1 or in 2.20:1. It's just a personal preference. My favourite films are nearly all in these ratios.

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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Jon.

 

Digital projectors are expensive beasts to begin with. Compared to the lamp in a conventional 35mm film projector, the lamp of the digital projectors cost double and have half the life span. Lamps are easy culprits.

 

Other digital tech repairs entail a team of people coming and fixing things, unlike simpler repairs on 35 projectors. Nothing ever gets cheaper with digital. A theatre chain guy once offered me a visit to the projection booth. Just one guy to oversee the functioning of 6 or 8 digital projectors. In the corner they had stacked up all the old 35 projectors. they don't have space for warehousing them. offered to give it away to me for about $1500. :-D

 

During Digital Intermediate colour grading due care is taken that the film shows a decent contrast range and brightness range even on a very basic old school television screen. This is particularly important when Dir/DoP shoot a film with lots of low key lighting shots. On the big screen of Baselight grading suite everything looks stellar, problems can happen at low end theatres. So they balance things out.

 

On a large negative format 2.4 looks good, especially if you are shooting anamorphic. It's a joy.

My point was on S16 a scope looks a bit strange. Cropping that tiny neg leaves nothing :-) Super 16 should be the way it is meant to 1.66 or 1.85. they are not bad formats. The entire story telling in the form of framing and shot execution could be different from Anamorphic 35. So tall formats too have a place for a different type of storytelling.

 

I loved the late 90s and early noughties when still quite a few Hollywood films were shot on spherical 35 for 1.85 projection. I liked it.

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I actually wonder if the heavier grain in some movies shot on film actually needs to be compensated for by adjusting for projection brightness. Almost if the grain blocks out some light. Please excuse my arty and non-scientific speculations.

 

regards to grain structure being an issue for projection brightness, may be someone with more experience needs to enlighten us here. Where is David Mullen? :-)

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The last time I saw 16mm projection was in early 80s. I lived in a small township. Every weekend they showed Bollywood movies on a giant screen with 35mm projectors. sometimes they showed documentaries or children's films or maybe some off beat movies on 16mm. The audience crowd wasn't that big though but still a lot of us sat and watched those movies.

 

Fast forward to 2010s, era of multiplexes. Some auditoriums have big screen and 800 seats and sometimes there are only 10 people sitting and watching the movie. Its a waste of resources - electricity, staff, air-conditioning, etc.

 

May be somebody will take a cue and start a chain micro movie parlours with 16mm projection with a seating capacity of say 20-30 people. I am sure there will be plenty of content coming forward.

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Interesting comment from Manu Delpech, post #20 in 'S16 Anamorphic - On a budget', https://www.cinematography.com/index.php?showtopic=74665&hl=%2Bhawk+%2Bv-lite+%2Blens&do=findComment&comment=478978

 

"Anecdotal, but The Wall (Doug Liman) that takes place entirely in the Iraqi desert, entirely shot on super 16 anamorphic with the Hawk V-Lite 1.3x and the 50D stock looks good although it is very soft, I actually found it softer than The Wrestler, or the super 16 portion in Steve Jobs or some of the best super 16 footage out there with a 2:40 extraction. Close-ups can look surprisingly good, and the 50D (blown up on a big screen) yields minimal grain but some medium close-ups and the wides really look soft."

 

I haven't seen many S16 productions at the cinema, so will start doing it, and begin with 'The Old Man and the Gun'. Saw Mother last year for that reason but that was cropped spherical, was maybe just a bit too grainy I thought, and was almost entirely shot indoors. I'd like to compare results in the theater with the Hawk v-lite anamorphics. How do you keep track of all the latest cinema releases shot on S16 - is the best way to keep checking the Kodak site?

 

Mother looked kinda crappy imo. It depends really. Steve Jobs for example, the super 16 first act looks gorgeous, surprisingly "sharp". The Newsroom (Aaron Sorkin): Pilot on super 16, looks gorgeous. Jonah Hill's Mid90s looks beautiful too, etc.

 

The Kodak site is where it's at usually, sometimes, I just search all over the internet if I can find any kind of information on what format was used for said film or sometimes, you can just tell from the trailer.

 

I'm surprised by Mark saying the Vision 3 stocks are so "clean" he had trouble telling Fallout was film. Fallout looks dirty as hell in IMAX, way dirtier than anamorphic 35mm looks like at its best (Ready Player One is a great example lately). I've seen some other DPs say this and I'm not seeing it. There are some rare films, especially lately, that look quite clean but overall, you can always tell when a film is shot on film unless you're sitting way back in the room.

 

Then yeah, if you sit way back, you're not going to be able to perceive any kind of texture anyway. But sitting reasonably close, that's where it shines imo. About Westworld, are you watching it on TV? Because on cases like this, I think the compression via broadcast is just so strong that the texture is messed with, it becomes quite clean although 50D was used a lot on the first season and that's 3 perf.

 

I personally love it when the stock is push processed, and they get that grain to pop. Linus Sandgren is a great example of a DP who shoots mostly on film between O.Russell and Chazelle and there's no way you'll mistake that for digital.

 

I had some test invoices done for a project of mine, to see the comparative costs between super 16 and 2 perf, and there's like a 2K difference in my case. 2 perf is the way to go, there's a major leap between 16 and 2 perf, and 2 perf has a lovely texture (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, On The Road, most of First Man, American Hustle, I Tonya, etc)

Edited by Manu Delpech

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Mother looked kinda crappy imo.

 

 

Sorry, gonna hijack. Mother! was garbage, start-to-finish. I didn't mind the visuals so much as the trash medieval mystery play. I have a Dutch reformed education and that's the sort of story every theatre major was trying to do for their independent study. It wasn't clever, shocking, or interesting. I don't know if you've ever heard of the evangelical traveling play called "Heaven's Gates and Hell's Flames," but it's as bad as it sounds. Just zero theological/spiritual understanding.

 

I have nothing against a good spiritual story from any religion (I'm something of a believer myself), but that film was insulting to everyone's intelligence. I mean, Star Wars handles religion and faith better and it doesn't handle it very well at all. Rant over. Sorry.

Edited by Timothy Fransky

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Check out "The Last Laugh" on Netflix. S16mm documentary. Ballsy move to do all the interviews on film. Very clean scans and appears to be shot with a zoom lens.

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I had some test invoices done for a project of mine, to see the comparative costs between super 16 and 2 perf, and there's like a 2K difference in my case. 2 perf is the way to go, there's a major leap between 16 and 2 perf, and 2 perf has a lovely texture (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, On The Road, most of First Man, American Hustle, I Tonya, etc)

Personally, I'm not much of a fan of 2 perf for a multitude of reasons. The main reason is the added cost of camera rental and post production. Most rental houses and transfer shops charge MORE for 2 perf cameras and transfer work. Second, 2 perf has hard frame lines so buildup of emulsion particulates on the bottom of the gate is very common. So most films shot on 2 perf, actually are forced to crop the frame lines out when doing post, thus making the frame even smaller then it already is. Third... to get 2.40:1 aspect ratio, you're not using the full width of the frame, basically throwing away roughly 3mm of frame on the soundtrack side 21.95 X 9.47. Very few 2 perf cameras cover the full super 35mm width and those that do are 2.55:1 aspect ratio, basically the same as full width 2x anamorphic.

 

There is only 1 benefit to 2 perf... using less feet which means you can use less negative.

 

With 3 perf cameras are easier to come by. They're ALL full width cameras, so 1.78:1 aspect ratio native which means on average your "cropped" 2.40:1 frame is roughly 3mm larger on all dimensions (height and width). The best thing is that 3 perf cameras are pretty standard these days, so cost isn't a consequence. Plus, you're nowhere near using frame lines, so you can adjust in post which is a HUGE benefit. Plus with a larger frame size, you can punch in without losing any quality over 2 perf.

 

Personally, I feel 16mm requires a lot of work to look good these days. You've gotta be meticulous about cleanliness, stock, exposure and post. So where it is cheaper to shoot 16mm over ANY 35mm format including 2 perf, for a small production with short-ends and help from camera rental/post, you can shoot 3 perf for around the same price camera rental wise just 2x the cost on processing and transfer, which may not be that bad.

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Second, 2 perf has hard frame lines so buildup of emulsion particulates on the bottom of the gate is very common. . using less feet which means you can use less negative.

Good point here. 3-perf is definitely a great option...saves 25% in film costs but gives you flexibility in post.

 

Personally, I feel 16mm requires a lot of work to look good these days.

 

True. Unless it's the look you're going for...like new Redford movie or Walking Dead or even a high-end home movie look. When you're in the 35mm world however there are more and more arguments to go digital (***gasp!***) with the most modern cameras.

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I actually wonder if the heavier grain in some movies shot on film actually needs to be compensated for by adjusting for projection brightness. Almost if the grain blocks out some light. Please excuse my arty and non-scientific speculations.

 

regards to grain structure being an issue for projection brightness, may be someone with more experience needs to enlighten us here. Where is David Mullen? :-)

 

It isn't a factor. Only print density and projection parameters determine the brightness of the image on the screen but there's a standard for open-gate screen brightness in film projection (16 foot-lamberts) so prints are optimised for that. I assume there's also one for video projection.

There isn't going to be a revival in 16mm. release printing. That bird has flown.

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