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Is it really cheaper to shoot in digital ?

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8 hours ago, Max Field / Macks Fiiod said:

Kids out here are watching every movie on their phone and laptop through multiple degrees of digital compression. You'd be surprised how little people care. I'll be like "ew look at that digital noise" and physically point it out and they'll be like "huh? what? oh I guess but whatever it's just a movie". Getting up to adjust the contrast so I can see the shadows better and everyone else will say "stop toying with it it doesn't matter I can see the faces its fine".

Yup, it's depressing but I'll also be depressed if my film looks like a glossy, flavorless, bland thing, it's our job to care really. How people consume things is not our problem. And there'll be a community of die hard film fans who will care and notice and appreciate.

Edited by Manu Delpech
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Where I live there are a lot of people who love movies and like seeing them on the big screen. It's true, most don't even know about the digital/film thing but they like discussing beauty of image and cinematography after the show. I think it's great that we have digital and film because it provides variety - subtle, but it's there. To my eye, the new phones and tablets are perfect for exhibiting film movies on. Sure they might be compressed making it impossible to see even a hint of grain but the image quality is good enough on a good phone to see subtle but important differences between digital and film. That's my view and I' sticking with it 🙂 Anyway, it always comes back to: what does the filmmaker care about?

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I must say though, I'm over my objections with digital cameras, and I concede that they are great. But for my own films, short and insignificant as they turn out to be (possibly), I will be shooting on film because it's part of the fibre of my being. It's my choice. I've got 600 ft of 50D in the fridge, so what do you expect. Film to me is the future, and I know a lot of others feel the same way.

Currently scouting for locations.

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https://www.kodak.com/motion/Blog/Blog_Post/?contentId=4295008512

Dan Mindel on the budgeting for "The Cloverfield Paradox"

 “We priced the production for digital versus analog film, and the Paramount executives were convinced it was going to be cheaper for us to shoot it digitally. We estimated that we would shoot between 10 to 15,000 ft of 35mm per day. The overall figure for shooting on film actually came out $150,000 cheaper than digital. This was in part due to the fact that film cameras and film lenses are a fraction of the cost of the digital equivalents, which are rented at top dollar. Additionally, with film you don’t have the expense of a DIT or data storage on set. It was a really good exercise in economics and demonstrated that film production can be perfectly reasonable financially.”

 

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Ohh and don't forget, Cloverfield Paradox is Netflix produced, 35mm isn't even on their list of appropriate cameras. 😛

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2 hours ago, Ravi Kiran said:

https://www.kodak.com/motion/Blog/Blog_Post/?contentId=4295008512

Dan Mindel on the budgeting for "The Cloverfield Paradox"

 “We priced the production for digital versus analog film, and the Paramount executives were convinced it was going to be cheaper for us to shoot it digitally. We estimated that we would shoot between 10 to 15,000 ft of 35mm per day. The overall figure for shooting on film actually came out $150,000 cheaper than digital. This was in part due to the fact that film cameras and film lenses are a fraction of the cost of the digital equivalents, which are rented at top dollar. Additionally, with film you don’t have the expense of a DIT or data storage on set. It was a really good exercise in economics and demonstrated that film production can be perfectly reasonable financially.”

 

I think thats just magical thinking - what deal are they getting with Kodak where 10,000ft of film costs less then a days hire of an Alexa and a stack of hard disks? The cost of 10,000 ft of 35mm stock is more then a weeks hire of high end digital camera and thats before you even process the footage.

In the UK the book rate of 10,000 ft of Kodak 35mm is £3875. I can hire an Alexa Mini body for around £500 per day. A DIT maybe costs £350 per day, £500 would be more then enough for data storage for a single days Alexa rushes. 

So even if they got the 35mm kit for free, all the lab work and transfers for free(good luck getting that) - they would still need a greater then 50% discount on the Kodak stock just to break even with an Alexa shoot cost wise. 

Film lenses cost the same to hire as digital lenses do they not? All the other bits and bobs grip, matt boxes etc cost either the same or less on a digital shoot. The only really saving is perhaps a 35mm camera body can be hired for less then an Alexa body. But I don't see why you'd get extra discounts for lenses and support gear on a 35mm shoot, its mostly the same stuff

I love film, but stories like this don't seem credible. 

I would find it hard to believe any feature budget would find digital costing $150k more then film, unless its comparing  Alexa 65  vs  Super 16 or some other very unique uneven situation. 

Or do US DIT's cost several thousand dollars a day to hire?

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As above.. don't believe all these articles .. the figures are just not real.. anyone can see that.. you can rent older Alexa,s for very cheap.. film lenses cost less. ?.. straight away you know who ever wrote or gave this story is talking rubbish..

Film is great but it does cost more.. its just empirically so.. why has Digital almost totally taken over .. in all markets.. drum roll .. its cheaper !.. 

Kodak can give it away or 80% discount it.. which is probably why they went bust in the first place ..but apart from that its more expensive.. closed book.. you dont even need a DIT .. a lot of productions just have data wranglers ..  on a very modest day rate... there is a touch of the flat earth's going on with the film disciples ..  no one hates film but to say its cheaper is just ..well.. nuts..unless its being given away for free

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I think what people are forgetting about is the budget and working on union shows. Rental houses charge out the ass for modern equipment on those big shows. Where for older stuff, someone like Panavision will give a "free" camera body or two, if they rent lenses that aren't rented for digital, which at Panvision they have lots of lenses that digital people don't like. So they probably got two quotes from Panavision and the digital was more than the film by an astronomical number. By the way, this is something that's happened to me with Panavision as well, so I get it. 

In terms of the crew, DIT"s on non-union shows are $500/day. Some of the Union guys I know charge $1000 labor and $500 for their kit PER DAY.  Then you also need a video village wrangling team, which is not as necessary on a film show. So cost savings in labor on a union show, could be around $2-3k a day easily. 

Then you deal with storage and this is a big deal. Everyone inflates the pricing of hard drives, it's just what they do. So a DIT will come in and charge 2x what an actual hard drive costs. They'll also need A LOT of drives on location. Since film is processed and then stored at the lab or post house directly, there really is no need for shuttle drives, which again for you and me is a very little cost difference, but for a huge show where everyone is charging exorbitant amounts of money for everything, I can see there being a pretty heavy cost difference. 

Finally, you actually work faster with film. I don't care how disciplined you are, with digital nothing stops you from rolling the camera all the time. With film, you need to be far more disciplined because you will waste time on every reload. So you're constantly working to make sure you've rehearsed and are getting what you need right away, rather than shooting until you run out of cards or time. On smaller films, this discipline already exists. On big union shows, it does not. This alone, saves the production a lot of money and can reduce schedule time. 

Yes the cost of film is expensive, but Kodak does offer pretty incredible deals to a studio shooting a feature. When Mindel calls up his kodak rep, they aren't charging him full boat. Where Fotokem may charge full boat for their services, reality is that most films do a telecine anyway, which is cheap. They'll then only scan the scenes from the final cut to scan, which saves a great deal of money. Post winds up being a lot cheaper as well because the images coming off the scanner are pretty damn perfect already, with wide dynamic range and generally higher resolution than normal digital capture. 

Yes, we all know on low budget shows, we can get deals on all of this equipment and the cost to shoot film would be much greater. However, even my math shows the difference between shooting on an Arri Alexa in 4k vs shooting on 3 perf 35mm, with a 4k finish is around $68,000 USD with a 10:1 ratio and 90 minute movie. $68,000 is not a lot of money, in fact it's nearly a no-brainer to shoot on film when the costs are that inconsequential. Sure on a big show they may shoot 30:1, which would bring the cost up to a little bit north of $200k. However, that's nothing for a $30M production. 

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12 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

I think what people are forgetting about is the budget and working on union shows. Rental houses charge out the ass for modern equipment on those big shows. Where for older stuff, someone like Panavision will give a "free" camera body or two, if they rent lenses that aren't rented for digital, which at Panvision they have lots of lenses that digital people don't like. So they probably got two quotes from Panavision and the digital was more than the film by an astronomical number. By the way, this is something that's happened to me with Panavision as well, so I get it. 

In terms of the crew, DIT"s on non-union shows are $500/day. Some of the Union guys I know charge $1000 labor and $500 for their kit PER DAY.  Then you also need a video village wrangling team, which is not as necessary on a film show. So cost savings in labor on a union show, could be around $2-3k a day easily. 

Then you deal with storage and this is a big deal. Everyone inflates the pricing of hard drives, it's just what they do. So a DIT will come in and charge 2x what an actual hard drive costs. They'll also need A LOT of drives on location. Since film is processed and then stored at the lab or post house directly, there really is no need for shuttle drives, which again for you and me is a very little cost difference, but for a huge show where everyone is charging exorbitant amounts of money for everything, I can see there being a pretty heavy cost difference. 

Finally, you actually work faster with film. I don't care how disciplined you are, with digital nothing stops you from rolling the camera all the time. With film, you need to be far more disciplined because you will waste time on every reload. So you're constantly working to make sure you've rehearsed and are getting what you need right away, rather than shooting until you run out of cards or time. On smaller films, this discipline already exists. On big union shows, it does not. This alone, saves the production a lot of money and can reduce schedule time. 

Yes the cost of film is expensive, but Kodak does offer pretty incredible deals to a studio shooting a feature. When Mindel calls up his kodak rep, they aren't charging him full boat. Where Fotokem may charge full boat for their services, reality is that most films do a telecine anyway, which is cheap. They'll then only scan the scenes from the final cut to scan, which saves a great deal of money. Post winds up being a lot cheaper as well because the images coming off the scanner are pretty damn perfect already, with wide dynamic range and generally higher resolution than normal digital capture. 

Yes, we all know on low budget shows, we can get deals on all of this equipment and the cost to shoot film would be much greater. However, even my math shows the difference between shooting on an Arri Alexa in 4k vs shooting on 3 perf 35mm, with a 4k finish is around $68,000 USD with a 10:1 ratio and 90 minute movie. $68,000 is not a lot of money, in fact it's nearly a no-brainer to shoot on film when the costs are that inconsequential. Sure on a big show they may shoot 30:1, which would bring the cost up to a little bit north of $200k. However, that's nothing for a $30M production. 

You are amazing !! Thanks for your writting time 🙂

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Still its a bit of a straw man argument, film is cheaper because on expensive shows Panavision and Union DIT's over charge for digital gear. 

I guess its possible to argue that digital is more expensive on the grounds that big budget productions don't budget carefully ( and of course we know they don't).

But on a modest production, with a good PM thats shopped around to source all the staff and equipment - as Tylers own figures show film costs more.

If there was minimal price impact of shooting on film vs digital, we'd all be doing it a lot more

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Posted (edited)

If you're clever, know what you're doing, and put in the research, for independent filmmakers making short films, I do think that for approximately equal quality, that 35mm film using your own gear possibly works out the same price or approximately so as hiring an Alexa and all the other kit from a rental house. All things considered. Post and everything. Or put it this way, at worst, film wouldn't be much more in cost, and if you're really into film you won't care about such a small cost difference. You know, artists complain about the cost of paint. They always did. Oils cost more but who cares - just paint less and do a great job on what you do produce. But I've never worked it out exactly, the film/digital cost difference for short films. I do know there's just no way I would buy high-end digital gear. I'd only do that if I could work with it and make the money back reasonably quickly.

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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31 minutes ago, Jon O'Brien said:

If you're clever, know what you're doing, and put in the research, for independent filmmakers making short films, I do think that for approximately equal quality, that 35mm film using your own gear possibly works out the same price or approximately so as hiring an Alexa and all the other kit from a rental house. All things considered. Post and everything. Or put it this way, at worst, film wouldn't be much more in cost, and if you're really into film you won't care about such a small cost difference. You know, artists complain about the cost of paint. They always did. Oils cost more but who cares - just paint less and do a great job on what you do produce. But I've never worked it out exactly, the film/digital cost difference for short films. I do know there's just no way I would buy high-end digital gear. I'd only do that if I could work with it and make the money back reasonably quickly.

in some of our previous short films it was cheaper to shoot certain small scenes on 35mm film than on the FS7. But that mandated about 2.5:1 shooting ratio and the use of my ancient beaten up Cameflex and old Nikon lenses. Part of the price difference was that the FS7 was in another city and the logistics would have been too much to pick it up +return each day just for some small inserts and 3 shot scenes which were scattered on multiple weekends. 

I gathered larger amounts of rolls before sending them to processing and telecine so that it was possible to save lots of money on shipping costs (maybe about 1000 bucks or so. shipping back and forth via courier to another country tends to be expensive compared to the processing costs of small amounts of film)

 

The great thing with film is that you don't need to pay the whole price of the shoot up front like when purchasing or renting a digital camera. So instead of renting a digital camera kit for, say, 600 euros a day and paying it fully before getting to shoot anything with it or paying right after the shoot, you would just purchase the film you need for, say, 4 days which could be for example 800 euros, then after it is shot you don't need to develop it right away but can instead wait to gather more funds and in reasonable time period it will go to the processing depending on how long you want to wait (for me the low budget stuff can usually wait exposed in the fridge for about 2 or 3 moths maximum before needing to develop it and for small doc stuff I can even wait more than 6 months before sending it for processing) so that you will need to pay the shipping to the lab and developing much later if needed (can delay it even months if needed and if you can stand the small density changes) . then when it's processed you will get the roll back and you can wait even years before making more to it. 

So even if the indie film stuff is more expensive, you don't necessarily need to pay the whole cost right away and it may be more economical that way because you can spread it to longer time period of months or even years. 

If you want to shoot lots of rolls in short time period and need immediate dailies then it is not very economical for indie productions I think. And if doing larger productions you can't wait with the exposed material so you lose the advantage of having possibility to spread the costs to a longer time period instead of always paying everything full upfront.

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Posted (edited)

I think this discussion is only for the low budget films. As Tyler brought up, for big $$ films, you can do as you like and film vs digital cost is inconsequential.

I think the issue will be as the old timers (film trained) die off, the young guns (digital trained) coming up will have a harder time with film. You can see how it went with 3 strip Technicolor...a lost art.

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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I am not arguing against film  or that it's not worthwhile. Just that to shoot film cheaper then digital you tend to have to jump through some hoops. E.g short ends, very low shooting ratio, very expensive digital. 

I know of a filmmaker shooting films on tiny budgets with 16mm. But it's DIY processed 16mm on a 2:1 shooting ratio. It's possible to make a good film this way. But it's pretty non standard.

So yes film can be done cheaper and maybe digital can be expensive too. 

What I am against are these blanket statements that go out on this forum of "film is cheaper" without qualifying them. Because 9 times out of 10 it's not

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With tiny budgets, you shoot with an iphone, that's what Steven Soderbergh is doing. 

I've built A LOT of non-union low-cost budgets, many of them actuated and honestly, film ALWAYS costs more than digital, period. The numbers range from $25k - $90k more depending on what film format you're using. Tacking on another $100k to your budget when your entire budget is $250k, is not possible. Tacking on another $100k to your budget, when your entire budget is $5M is way more possible. 

It all comes down to how much money you're willing to spend. 

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Posted (edited)

I'm not convinced Tyler. Yes, often, a film project is more expensive. But "ALWAYS" as you put it in capitals, no I don't agree at all. As I said above, in some cases it may be about the same cost and who knows sometimes cost less. I'm talking shooting 2 perf with affordable lenses don't forget. Sure, it's a low-budget indie way to be a filmmaker but all I'm saying is that it's not "ALWAYS". Remember, only a sith deals in absolutes. Just joking mate. ("mate" in Australia = "friend").

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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I mean, if I own all the equipment for filmmaking both digital and film... Of course, film is going to cost more money to use! I mean it's a no-brainer. 

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Posted (edited)

The problem with this debate is that it did not define what digital is, or what film is for that matter, and became a blanket statement as Phil noted.

When I shot my film last Summer, on Hi-Def, which is digital, it was between buying film, or buying costumes for the cast, so I went with costumes. Even if Kodak gave me the film, I still would not have been able to see a frame of the movie yet.

Like Tyler,  I own all the equipment used in all my films, whether it be 8MM, Super 8, 16MM, or Hi-Def, and no film stock was cheaper to shoot with than the Hi-def mini dv, I shot last year's movie on.

 

What I would have wanted to shoot on may be another story.

Edited by Tim Smyth

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On 4/24/2019 at 11:25 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

Ohh and don't forget, Cloverfield Paradox is Netflix produced, 35mm isn't even on their list of appropriate cameras. 😛

That's because they made the movie with Paramount, Paramount sold it to Netflix. However, Scorsese got to shoot The Irishman on film (50/50 it seems as the first half featuring deaging required digital, the rest is film). 

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What I wonder, as an newbie, is how strong is film's infrastructure after you're done shooting? How many labs can process it well outside of fotokem? You even have people like Deakins saying the stock itself isn't what it used to be. At what point does it just not make sense to shoot film? 

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37 minutes ago, Dylan Gill said:

What I wonder, as an newbie, is how strong is film's infrastructure after you're done shooting? How many labs can process it well outside of fotokem? You even have people like Deakins saying the stock itself isn't what it used to be. At what point does it just not make sense to shoot film? 

Deakins thinks alexa's footage is equal to film ... 

So i do not pay too much attention to his 'opinions

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Posted (edited)

As to whether film stock has degraded in quality, have a look at 'Far from the Madding Crowd' (2015) and you will see it's definitely just as good as it ever was. It was all shot completely on 35mm film.

Edited by Jon O'Brien

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2 hours ago, panagiotis agapitou said:

Deakins thinks alexa's footage is equal to film ... 

So i do not pay too much attention to his 'opinions

Sure what the hell does Roger Deakins know about film and Digital .. best ignored by experienced directors ..

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11 hours ago, panagiotis agapitou said:

Deakins thinks alexa's footage is equal to film ... 

So i do not pay too much attention to his 'opinions

😀Too right, 60 features, an Oscar, three BAFTAs, hasn't a clue.

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22 minutes ago, Mark Dunn said:

😀Too right, 60 features, an Oscar, three BAFTAs, hasn't a clue.

Im pretty sure the learned director from Greece has alot more under his/her belt than this  Deakins fellow.. never heard of him .. I mean whats his experience with film.. must be very limited to make such an idiotic statements .. next he,ll be saying the earth is a sphere.. clown.. 

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