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Patrick Cooper

Cropping regular 16mm to 16:9

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I know in another thread that I had considered getting a Super 16 camera but came to the conclusion that they're just too pricey. And it's been a while since Ive checked out prices for second hand 16mm equipment. I didn't realise that prices had gone up for used gear. So now another option I'm considering is cropping regular 16mm to 16:9 aspect ratio in post. I would mostly be shooting on 50D so at least grain would be reasonably tight. 

With regards to the cropping, at first I assumed that all I had to do was crop the top and bottom of the image. Though if it's anything like the super 8 transfers Ive had done, there would be areas of black (pillars) on the left and right of the main image area that would also need to be cropped. So likely, the cropping's going to be pretty extensive. After cropping, I would like to end up with 3840 x 2160 content. Though would a 4k scan be enough resolution to achieve that? Say for example I found a company that could scan regular 16mm at a resolution like 4096 x 2304, by the time I crop the black pillars on the sides and top and bottom of the image, would I be close to a 3840 x 2160 resolution or would it be significantly less than that? In other words, would a 4096 x 2304 scan be enough to get a 3840 x 2160 crop from regular 16mm? To me, this seems unlikely. Realistically, would I need a higher resolution scan like 6k to get a 3840 x 2160 crop? If that's the case, maybe the extra money spent on those super high resolution scans could be better invested in a Super 16 camera instead!

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it depends on the scanner. some of them can do optical cropping and some of them crop on the sensor or need to be cropped in post. You would generally want a optical zoom capable system to be able to crop to the Regular16 frame efficiently because most of the sensor cropping systems are setup for S16 so you would lose more resolution than what you calculated from the dimensions.

Regular 16 is generally fine when cropped to 16:9 frame especially if the lenses are good and you are shooting slow film like the 50D. I shoot most of my stuff with similar settings and cropping the end result to 2:1 ratio. 

S16 becomes very important if you are shooting 2.39:1 image and intending to use it for cinema release. That would mean lots of cropping + magnification if doing similar framing with regular16.

The resolving power of the regular16 does not quite match the UHD format but the audience won't complain so it is more of a logistical question I think. If the UHD is your delivery resolution then it makes sense to stick with that. 

Upscaling is not that big of a deal if you end up with less than UHD resolution after cropping. You just need to get it scaled up right to get to the desired resolution. Upscaling is used all the time with for example all the Alexa originated material and it works fine so no reason to abandon a workflow just because the resolution numbers don't seem to match at first 🙂 

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Posted (edited)

Aapo, thankyou for your reply. I do admit that I'm tempted by the Canon Scoopic. Looks like it has a very nice lens from various clips Ive seen. Though with cropping regular 16mm to S16, there seem to be a number of disadvantages. 

Another option that came to mind is renting a Super 16 camera. I do have some ideas for a shoot involving a female model (mostly close ups.) Sort of like what you would see in a shampoo ad with beauty shots and hair flipping.  I'm visualing a nice sunny day outdoors with a reflector and possibly a scrim. It would be nice to rent something like an Arriflex SR3 for this. Though renting is not without it's issues either. For one thing, I live in a small city with a small population. I have my doubts there is much in the way of businesses here that rent out motion picture film equipment. I actually wonder if there are any at all. Also, for this shoot, I would probably get by with 100 feet of film. Though if I'm planning to rent the camera for one day (specifically for the shoot) what if I don't finish off all the film? I wouldn't want to waste it by shooting random stuff after the shoot (trying to finish it off before returning it.) 

Though maybe I could finish off the film by shooting some hair flipping at high frame rates (that should use up a lot of film.) Of course I would do so after Ive completed all the other planned shots at 24fps. 

Edited by Patrick Cooper

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That actually makes me curious about what movie crews do when they've completed all the shooting and they've got a fair amount of film left in the magazine at the end of the last day. I wonder how they finish it off. Perhaps they do lots of extra takes of the last shot? 

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43 minutes ago, Patrick Cooper said:

That actually makes me curious about what movie crews do when they've completed all the shooting and they've got a fair amount of film left in the magazine at the end of the last day. I wonder how they finish it off. Perhaps they do lots of extra takes of the last shot? 

they are cutting the film so that only the amount that they shot is sent to the lab. The unexposed film is put back in the film can and either used later OR sold to a broker as a short end.

That is exactly how short ends are made in the first place and that is why they are much cheaper than factory sealed film. They are leftovers from film productions when they only shot part of the roll and then did not need the rest. 

Recan is a film which is put into the magazine and threaded but was not needed so it was put back in the can again. So it is ALMOST full roll but was opened and the first couple of feet were exposed.

Clearance film is factory sealed full cans which were bought for a production and stored properly and never opened, then sold back to the broker when the shooting was done. So they are leftovers which are just stored by the production but not used at all. One can get factory new film cheaper by purchasing these so I recommend clearance as the first option when considering film stock for indie productions

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the cost of the leftover roll is insignificant for a movie production, but the TIME COSTS A LOT to shoot it. So it is cheaper to just cut the roll from the middle instead of using lots of time to shoot the rest of it. It is much cheaper to even throw it away than to shoot it.

It is just a bonus for them is someone pays even SOMETHING for the short ends so that they don't need to go to waste. Big productions like to use full rolls as often as possible so they would not use the short ends much by themselves

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