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Alex Anstey

"The cinematographer of Knives Out wants to end the film-vs.-digital debate”

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57 minutes ago, Robin R Probyn said:

Industral films !... no no no..they are very important "Corporate Communications films " galvanizing the workers to move ever higher in their endeavors .. 

😂😅😆

I know those all too well. I still shoot and edit those every once in a while. Doing one right now actually. It's for the same guy I edit his narrative features for and money is... well money and I don't want him going away on me. 😛

 

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1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

😂😅😆

I know those all too well. I still shoot and edit those every once in a while. Doing one right now actually. It's for the same guy I edit his narrative features for and money is... well money and I don't want him going away on me. 😛

 

Yes .. sometimes we must toil on the harsh coal face of the visual landscape .. I could have been a contender .. I could have toted that Aaton ..  Robin Deakins  BSC.. I mean its pretty close right .. I had a light meter at film school .. I had a beret even ..  but... then all the kids and divorces .. a bitter and twisted videographer.. tilting at windmills ..  pass the Sake ..

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2 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

Is... this... master... named William Shatner?

Its.. worse .. than .. that ...Jim... 

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Just chiming here to say that I don't really know where all the people who shoot film on music videos / shorts / etc find the money for it to be honest!

I'm preparing two €1M / €1.5M movies at the moment (which is a normal budget for normal movies here).

 I would like to shoot one on Super 16 + anamorphic and it is impossible to make it work (not because of the camera and the lenses which cost nothing in the overall budget but because of the cost of film + processing + scan)

The other one is Alexa 65 / Monstro and the camera kit + storage fits perfectly within the budget. 

When I try to pitch Super 16 to producers on short-films we look at the costs together and the budget increases, minimum, by 70% so it is always unfortunately a no go. 
Maybe in USA is different and you have loads of different offers but in UK / Ireland the cost is demential. 

 
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39 minutes ago, Miguel Angel said:

Just chiming here to say that I don't really know where all the people who shoot film on music videos / shorts / etc find the money for it to be honest!

I'm preparing two €1M / €1.5M movies at the moment (which is a normal budget for normal movies here).

 I would like to shoot one on Super 16 + anamorphic and it is impossible to make it work (not because of the camera and the lenses which cost nothing in the overall budget but because of the cost of film + processing + scan)

The other one is Alexa 65 / Monstro and the camera kit + storage fits perfectly within the budget. 

When I try to pitch Super 16 to producers on short-films we look at the costs together and the budget increases, minimum, by 70% so it is always unfortunately a no go. 
Maybe in USA is different and you have loads of different offers but in UK / Ireland the cost is demential. 

 

Do they factor in the cost of a DIT/digital lab on set though? + back-up storage of dailies etc.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Miguel Angel said:

 I would like to shoot one on Super 16 + anamorphic and it is impossible to make it work (not because of the camera and the lenses which cost nothing in the overall budget but because of the cost of film + processing + scan)

400 feet of super 16mm film costs £99. That's 11 minutes of film. At a 10:1 shooting ratio a 90 minutes film you'd have to pay ca. £9000 for stock and £4500 for scanning. Even if your ratio goes up to 20:1 you'd be looking at £27k. Why would that not be possible on a £1million budget?

In regards to short films, I'm not sure where you get your figures from or how big your short film budgets usually are, but Super 16 is very affordable.

Edited by Uli Meyer
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Posted (edited)
58 minutes ago, Uli Meyer said:

400 feet of super 16mm film costs £99. That's 11 minutes of film. At a 10:1 shooting ratio a 90 minutes film you'd have to pay ca. £9000 for stock and £4500 for scanning. Even if your ratio goes up to 20:1 you'd be looking at £27k. Why would that not be possible on a £1million budget?

In regards to short films, I'm not sure where you get your figures from or how big your short film budgets usually are, but Super 16 is very affordable.

Now try to do that with Ektachrome (which is the stock that we want to use), long takes, a PA flying 3 times / week from Spain to London to deliver the stock (amount that has to come from the camera budget), lab processing, scanning (not in 2K but in 4K).

I'm not arguing with you though! I'd love to shoot in on Super 16! and maybe it will happen. 

Regarding short-films, I'm going to put you two examples:

Budget, circa €6000.
1 day shooting, super limited lighting setup and super limited crew: Gaffer, 1st AC, 2nd AC, data wrangler. Production had the two producers and 1 PA, 1 person for H&MU, 1 production designer + 1 assistant. 
Alexa Mini + Superspeeds, we ended up with around 1 hour of raw footage.

I wanted to shoot it on Super 16 and let's say that we aim for 1 hour of raw footage. 

(Prices below from Frame 24)

Process Paid: Stock + Neg Developing + 2K Scan
£1 917.60 (£2000 with shipping to Ireland) - €2209
Super 16 camera kit in Ireland for 1 day (because they don't have Super16 lenses in Ireland and they have to rehire them) - €1104

We have already spent €3313, more than 1/2 of the budget in the camera kit and stock!.. what do you do with the actors, locations, transport, etc, etc, etc? 
The producer, who is very good, said no. 
 

Budget -  €50K

Amount of raw footage - Loads AND really really long takes so if you shoot one take and it doesn't work you have to change the roll.. and hope that you can use the short-ends for an insert (which didn't happen). 

I didn't want to shoot it on Super 16 though! 😄 it would have been a mistake. 
 

1 hour ago, Alex Anstey said:

Do they factor in the cost of a DIT/digital lab on set though? + back-up storage of dailies etc.

They do! However I don't use a DIT / Digital lab on set ever. 
I only need a data wrangler, which seems to be way cheaper than a DIT apparently. 

 
 

 

Edited by Miguel Angel

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The problem with film in the modern world is that unless you are a very large production, it is so much more expensive than any plausible digital acquisition that you will almost always get better overall results by spending the money on production design.

If the cost of film is even a slight concern to any production, that's a sign that it isn't really affordable.

P

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Miguel Angel said:

Alexa Mini + Superspeeds, we ended up with around 1 hour of raw footage.

That is a 40:1 shooting ratio. Way too high for shooting film if you don't have the money.

If you know exactly what you want, make the film in your head and on paper (storyboards), plan each take carefully and rehearse, you can get that ratio way down. Hitchcock apparently had a 3:1 shooting ratio average so the studios couldn't mess too much with the film he had imagined. It is a different kind of discipline.

Edited by Uli Meyer
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10 minutes ago, Uli Meyer said:

That is a 40:1 shooting ratio. Way too high for shooting film if you don't have the money.

If you know exactly what you want, make the film in your head and on paper (storyboards), plan each take carefully and rehearse, you can get that ratio way down. Hitchcock apparently had a 3:1 shooting ratio average so the studios couldn't mess too much with the film he had imagined. It is a different kind of discipline.

100% this and harks back to my initial post when starting this thread - film brings discipline and thought.

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14 minutes ago, Uli Meyer said:

That is a 40:1 shooting ratio. Way too high for shooting film if you don't have the money.

If you know exactly what you want, make the film in your head and on paper (storyboards), plan each take carefully and rehearse, you can get that ratio way down. Hitchcock apparently had a 3:1 shooting ratio average so the studios couldn't mess too much with the film he had imagined. It is a different kind of discipline.

 

6 minutes ago, Alex Anstey said:

100% this and harks back to my initial post when starting this thread - film brings discipline and thought.

Tell that to directors nowadays.. and actors! They all want to shoot rehearsals, actors move around the place without doing the same thing twice, etc, etc. 

Last thing I shot on film (and Alexa) was a short documentary, we didn't have storyboards but we knew what things we wanted to emphasise with film. 
It worked beautifully!

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3 minutes ago, Miguel Angel said:

 

Tell that to directors nowadays.. and actors! They all want to shoot rehearsals, actors move around the place without doing the same thing twice, etc, etc. 

Last thing I shot on film (and Alexa) was a short documentary, we didn't have storyboards but we knew what things we wanted to emphasise with film. 
It worked beautifully!

Yeah, it's a crying shame as take 482 is very rarely any better than take 1. If anything, as the actors tire, it tends to go downhill. And don't get me started on continuity/energy!

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I never think 3:1 is a reasonable shooting ratio to suggest to anyone -- that's three set-ups that cover a scene, one take each!  Or a single-shot scene, three takes...  The lowest I've heard of personally from fellow indie filmmakers is 5:1.  I did a 7:1 feature once and that was very tight.  Most of my low-budget features shot on film were all 10:1.

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6 hours ago, Miguel Angel said:

Tell that to directors nowadays.. and actors! They all want to shoot rehearsals, actors move around the place without doing the same thing twice, etc, etc. 

That’s true, you really need buy-in on a low shooting ratio from director and actors to make it work. The project has to be right for it. 

Even so, I agree with David that 3:1 or 5:1 is not realistic for most narrative projects unless you’re John Ford and don’t shoot coverage or long takes. Anything with dialogue especially.

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I suggested 10:1 earlier on. The 3:1 ratio is what I read about Hitchcock and I have no idea if it is true. He was known for knowing exactly what he wanted and meticulous planning though. That was the point I was trying to make.

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57 minutes ago, Uli Meyer said:

I suggested 10:1 earlier on. The 3:1 ratio is what I read about Hitchcock and I have no idea if it is true. He was known for knowing exactly what he wanted and meticulous planning though. That was the point I was trying to make.

I understand now... though I doubt even "Rope" managed a 3:1 ratio. Maybe.

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Posted (edited)

Dear friends,

During our time at home the last 5 months, I've come to realise that I was missing something in my day to day work. And that was film (as in the look) and the work ethic involved in shooting that particular medium. Actual celluloid.  I've been scanning my old negs and slides for months at night and told my self that if I get another film I will push for film no matter what.

Chance be it that the next film would be a small period piece set in the 1880's albeit with an ultra low budget (for the ambitions) of $1.5m.
And we want a painterly rugged canvas to display the film on.

I was pushing the producers hard to make it work on 2 perf 35mm and got quotes from here and there and shot tests etc, but ended on s16mm. This was our plan b anyway and 35mm was just too expensive for us. We are doing a 2K scan once progress with log dpx files and dailies graded for editorial. The 1.85 format actually suits me better as it's not as claustrophobic as 2.39 and definitely the size of cameras and lenses lend themselves better to these small old 1800's farm locations and having to run around with kids.

And as we are working with kids so we factor in 16:1 shooting ratio which for our 25 day shoot equals to 6 rolls of 16mm a day. Give or take.

Now the tricky part. Several people on the film had to sacrifice their economic gain to make it work. This is an utmost privilige to be able to do this (in these economic different times) but personally I see it as a thing worth doing for this particular film. I'm lucky that I once in a while get sponsored by big brands when promoting their stuff (I shoot commercials).

There are savings on DIT and some camera package etc, but we still need to ship stock to London and leave space for unforeseen things. Like more film stock.

We just had a pre shoot day last week and we are over the moon about the look of 16mm. I can't believe it's been almost 10 years since I shot a feature on celluloid. I was nervous for days waiting for the results from the lab. One thing is to shoot some film for your own project alone, but having a full crew with sfx and vfx and having convinced everybody that film is the right way it certainly brought up tensions in my body that I've not experienced since digital has taken over. This will quiet down once we get going full speed. Kodak take my money. Literally.

Edited by Marcel Zyskind
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1 hour ago, Marcel Zyskind said:

Dear friends,

During our time at home the last 5 months, I've come to realise that I was missing something in my day to day work. And that was film (as in the look) and the work ethic involved in shooting that particular medium. Actual celluloid.  I've been scanning my old negs and slides for months at night and told my self that if I get another film I will push for film no matter what.

Chance be it that the next film would be a small period piece set in the 1880's albeit with an ultra low budget (for the ambitions) of $1.5m.
And we want a painterly rugged canvas to display the film on.

I was pushing the producers hard to make it work on 2 perf 35mm and got quotes from here and there and shot tests etc, but ended on s16mm. This was our plan b anyway and 35mm was just too expensive for us. We are doing a 2K scan once progress with log dpx files and dailies graded for editorial. The 1.85 format actually suits me better as it's not as claustrophobic as 2.39 and definitely the size of cameras and lenses lend themselves better to these small old 1800's farm locations and having to run around with kids.

And as we are working with kids so we factor in 16:1 shooting ratio which for our 25 day shoot equals to 6 rolls of 16mm a day. Give or take.

Now the tricky part. Several people on the film had to sacrifice their economic gain to make it work. This is an utmost privilige to be able to do this (in these economic different times) but personally I see it as a thing worth doing for this particular film. I'm lucky that I once in a while get sponsored by big brands when promoting their stuff (I shoot commercials).

There are savings on DIT and some camera package etc, but we still need to ship stock to London and leave space for unforeseen things. Like more film stock.

We just had a pre shoot day last week and we are over the moon about the look of 16mm. I can't believe it's been almost 10 years since I shot a feature on celluloid. I was nervous for days waiting for the results from the lab. One thing is to shoot some film for your own project alone, but having a full crew with sfx and vfx and having convinced everybody that film is the right way it certainly brought up tensions in my body that I've not experienced since digital has taken over. This will quiet down once we get going full speed. Kodak take my money. Literally.

Looking forward to see what you shoot you have a fantastic body of work so far.....chapeau......long live film! haha

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I'm doing a short on 35 next month.  I feel its worth it.   I could shoot it on an Alexa, but I want a different look and feel. 

I do not subscribe to the opinion that they look "the same".  

I also agree with the other comments - Actors have no direction, and Directors have no specific thoughts.  Last year, I worked on a film in which the Director had shot 197 minutes of edited footage, in the first 10 days, for a 90 minute film.   I feel there is a way to get back to the discipline of filmmaking, but coming from a background of digital - cost is negligible -  DSLR beginnings, there are a fair few actors and directors who need a check in the reality of work ethic.  It could also be argued that there are producers who need to not be taken in by marketing.  Shooting in 8K or beyond is interesting, but pointless.   Low budget films from $1-5m still have producers who purchase ready made external hard disks for storage, backup, and live editing, at the lowest cost possible. It happens daily.  While we, in the field, argue for the minimum redundancy. 

I realise that an arguement can also be made that there is no backup of a film negative, which, once lost in shipping or destroyed by the lab, must be recreated.  However, I feel it is a far more safe option, than risking the lowest paid (or un-paid) camera team tranee or digital utility person to make sure the camera data is safe. 

Its sad that film processing is rather expensive in Europe.  To compare, the best average prices I could find in the US for stock + processing + scan one hour of footage (2000 feet of 16mm) comes to between 1500 - 1800 euros.  Its on the high end for sure.  

 

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I don't think the "which is safer" argument works well in either direction, I've lost footage both on film shows and digital shows, perhaps slightly more often on film shows but it is rare either way, otherwise no one would be able to get insurance! As for the "lowest paid" camera team person being a risk if you shoot digital, the same thing can be said if you shoot film, the loader is the lowest paid member of the camera team (who often hands the film off to a PA to take to the lab, another low-paid position) -- in fact, if you have a DIT on a show, who gets the same union rate as an operator, it may be a case where the highest paid member of the camera team (other than the DP) is in charge of protecting the digital footage!

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Posted (edited)
On 8/16/2020 at 3:58 AM, Miguel Angel said:

Just chiming here to say that I don't really know where all the people who shoot film on music videos / shorts / etc find the money for it to be honest!

Oh the cost is very low if you have your own equipment and deals on processing/scanning. Most people who shoot film, have those things these days. In fact, many people around the country have purchased high-end scanners and are offering services for WAY less than you'd think. Shops like Color Lab, have incredible processing/scanning combo prices that make it very affordable. 

16mm stock is currently $197/roll for Negative and $220/roll for Ektachrome (400ft) Run time is 11 minutes ish. 

Processing + 4k scan is around .45/ft $180 + $197 = $377 + tax/freight = $415 or so per 11 minutes. (color lab 16mm Spirit 4k transfer)

So if you're doing a music video, what's an additional roughly $2k onto the budget for 5 rolls? I mean if you can't capture your 3 minute (on average) music video in 55 minutes of raw footage, I don't know what to say. 

On 8/16/2020 at 3:58 AM, Miguel Angel said:

When I try to pitch Super 16 to producers on short-films we look at the costs together and the budget increases, minimum, by 70% so it is always unfortunately a no go. 

That's so strange, I haven't experienced that at all. I just did a feature, where we shot 60 minutes of it on 16mm (the rest of the film was shot on 35mm, ripped from other projects that had already been shot) and we only used 20 rolls of film. We got the stock for 20% off, by simply asking Kodak. We got the processing and scanning for deals because we asked. Then everyone took a slightly less day rate in order to make it all work budget wise and bam, we made a feature film. I'm actually about to do another one of those in a few weeks, super low budget, self funded 16mm feature, probably a 3:1 shooting ratio and it won't cost much at all. 

If you shoot film like digital, throwing way takes like there is no money running through the camera, then it's not worth shooting film. Your budget WILL GO UP a lot if you're up around 20:1 or higher shooting ratio. 

My typical 90 minute 10:1 shooting ratio 16mm budget is around $65k. So if you have a 1 million dollar budget, what's $65k? 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

So if you have a 1 million dollar budget, what's $65k? 

A shooting day? Three locations? A name actor? Your entire grip & electric package?

No matter what budget I am working on, at some point the producer is down to asking what equipment I can send back to find a few dollars to save...

Shooting on film only happens when producer and director want it to happen and are willing to make the effort and spend the money. 

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1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

My typical 90 minute 10:1 shooting ratio 16mm budget is around $65k. So if you have a 1 million dollar budget, what's $65k? 

According to your 11 Minute numbers that should be $34k, not $65k. 

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1 hour ago, Uli Meyer said:

According to your 11 Minute numbers that should be $34k, not $65k. 

I think the 65k includes rental for a 24 day shoot. But yes, the "film" aspect is around $34k. 

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1 hour ago, David Mullen ASC said:

No matter what budget I am working on, at some point the producer is down to asking what equipment I can send back to find a few dollars to save...

Shooting on film only happens when producer and director want it to happen and are willing to make the effort and spend the money. 

Oh absolutely. Talking a producer who doesn't want to shoot film, into shooting film with a tight budget, is a non-starter. 

Generally if the producer and director aren't already onboard with film, then you aren't going to convince them otherwise. 

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