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2-Perf 35mm Techniscope


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Just looking at the wikipedia page for films shot in Techniscope, and I am really struck by how about two thirds of the films shot in this format were in the 1960s. The past 40 years have seen very very few in comparison, and in the past 20 the only filmmaker who seems to have a preference for it is David O. Russell. Are there disadvantages to shooting 2-perf? 

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The format disappeared after the mid-1970's and was resurrected just a decade ago or so.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Techniscope#:~:text=Techniscope or 2-perf is,in 35 mm film photography.

It was originally developed by Technicolor Rome in 1960 and the company had a package deal where if you shot 2-perf and took the footage to Technicolor, they would do the blow-up to anamorphic and make dye transfer prints. And it was possible to go "direct to matrix" from the original negative through an optical squeeze in a optical printer (to make it into a 4-perf anamorphic image) and onto the three b&w matrices used to make dye transfer prints, thus maintaining whatever quality they could get out of the 2-perf negative.

So when Technicolor discontinued the dye transfer printing process in the mid-1970s, the format disappeared -- no one wanted to pay the costs of making a blow-up in an optical printer through an IP and IN, to only to end up with grainier prints (compared to dye transfer) but also at a time when the number of release prints were declining and if you shot with anamorphic lenses, you could make several prints for theaters off of the negative. Or you could make an IP and IN using contact printing.

2-perf wasn't resurrected until digital intermediates became commonplace and the origination format didn't have to match the projection format (and even more so once digital projection became the norm.)

The other problem was that in the 1970's when 2-perf disappeared, it was just the time when "modern" quiet reflex cameras like the Panaflex and Arri-BL came on the market, so the only 2-perf cameras that existed were from the 1960s -- Arri-2C, Mitchells, Eclair CM3's, etc. No modern quiet sync-sound cameras were made with 2-perf movements.  So it wasn't until the 2000's that it seemed worth making some 2-perf movements for modern film cameras.

The 2-perf frame sort of locks you into a 2.40 image unless you want to crop the sides. As with 4-perf anamorphic, the space between the images on each frame is very small, making hairs in the gate a bigger deal and making it hard to do any resizing and reframing in post. And there are some issues with gate flares.

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Also I believe there's less negative area than 3 perf Super35 cropped to 2.4:1? Because the native aspect ratio of 2 perf when using the sound strip is 2.67:1? So you need to crop the sides a bit.

 

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I personally don't like 2 perf for a few reasons. 

1) You're pretty much stuck at 2.40:1 (yes I know it will go wider with a super 35mm gate). So if you want to shoot 1.85:1 or 2:1 which is my favorite aspect ratio, you're cropping a lot of the image out. 

2) You have hard frame lines,  which means if there is any dirt in the gate, you're basically screwed. 

3) Cameras that shoot 2 perf, are usually sold for a premium and quiet ones for sync sound, are pretty rare. 

4) Forget about the photochemical finish process, you're essentially doing an optical blow up to anamorphic 4 perf, which never looks good. Its extremely expensive to do this work and very few places in the world can do it with any quality. 

5) It's harder to get the shallow depth of field super 35mm look with 2 perf. It's possible of course, but trickier. Gotta go with longer lenses in most cases. This is still a problem with 3 perf, but not as much. 

There is really is only one advantage to 2 perf, which is the lower cost of stock. One could argue, 2 perf camera's are quieter and less prone to static build up on the gate due to the slower speed, but those aren't the main advantage. It's primarily a cost savings and rightly so, you do save a considerable amount of money shooting 2 perf. For a feature film, the difference adds up and for lower budget productions, it maybe the only way to go. 

I personally prefer 3 perf because it's a native 1.78:1 image. This means I'm always cropping for 1.85:1 or 2.40:1 which gives me room to reframe in post AND crop out any hairs/dirt that could be on the frame line. Plus since you're pretty much always cropping, you can adjust the frame quite a bit. 3 perf also gives you the super 35mm width, which means if you're shooting for 2.40:1 aspect ratio, you actually get a larger negative to work with. 

 

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Damien Chazelle an Linus Sandgren shot a good chunk of First Man on 2 perf too. On The Road is 2 perf, The Place Beyond The Pines and I Know This Much Is True (with some 3 perf for VFX) are 2 perf. Such a great format.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just thought I’d chime in as I have a 2-Perf techniscope Arri 2c as well, paired with an Angenieux 25-250 as well as a couple Kilfitts and a Schneider 50. I’ve also adapted the lenses to PL which I use on an Ursa 4.6k. 
 

While currently I’m not doing much with it as I no longer have any work so I can’t afford to shoot much, I did use it a fair amount last year and found it to be easy to use and scanning to a 4K DI makes it easy to integrate into projects. It gives a look just like a French New Wave movie or a Sergio Leone western for the simple reason that it’s the same thing they used. 
 

I’ve never really understood the hair argument. It’s not something you hear as to why not to use Super 16. I have had a hair once on film but have had it many more times with digital sensors. Just deal with it - post is all digital so getting rid of a hair, especially at the bottom or side isn’t an issue. Or spend more and do a 6k scan. You learn to clean it out regular. 
 

Speaking of Super 16, 2-Perf offers more film area, even cropped to 16:9. 
 

Cost, obviously, is a big plus with 2-Perf. You use half the film, but perhaps more importantly you can easily find 35mm short ends and Recans. Not true with 16mm. I like getting rolls around 200’ as they go right into the smaller magazines. I can also feed my 35mm Minolta SRT, my Nikonos, my Rollie 35, etc and by shooting with Cine film all the time and developing at home with an ECN-2 kit (available on Etsy and now CineStill) so I can shoot some stills and see how things look. 
 

Don’t forget you get longer run times as well. Fewer film changes. 
 

I’ve even used it as a kinda still camera of sorts. Six seconds of film fits nicely on a developing reel and makes a nice scan with several frames stacked up. 
 

I have integrated some into my digital projects and while not all clients dig it there are some that really do. I film lots of classic car events and it’s always a hit and sets me apart from the young gimbal mobs. They have silky smooth slomo and I’ve got widescreen grain with history. (Actually, not much grain). 
 

Film choice is Kodak 5219 - I tried a lot of 5203 but it’s much more finicky. 500T seems to give great colors and is much faster to get balanced. Pushes nicely for low light and in bright sun an ND will knock it down. 
 

I’m hopeful this year we can crawl out of our caves and pick up where we left off!

ECCF4A2E-9B98-4D25-890D-50B2B1859A5C.jpeg

Edited by Jim Perry
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1 hour ago, Jim Perry said:

I’ve never really understood the hair argument. It’s not something you hear as to why not to use Super 16.

Good question. 35mm moves a lot faster, builds up a lot more static electricity and henceforth, can deposit hairs more frequently. You don't get those problems with 16mm nearly as much. In the 6 years I've been shooting 16mm religiously, (10 - 40k ft per year easily) I have only had ONE SHOT with a hair on it. My fault, I let the magazine sit on the carpeted floor with the dust cover off overnight and threw it on the camera without looking. We also generally crop super 16 down to 1.78:1 or 1.85:1, so light dust/hairs don't effect the image. 

Where I don't shoot a lot of 35mm sadly, I do work on other peoples projects on a regular basis as a editor and colorist. The amount of hair removal/cleanup I've had to do would shock you. Sadly due to NDA reasons, I can't show you footage, but needless to say we've had to do major cleanup on a professionally shot commercial shot on 2 perf. This is the same experience I have heard from so many of my other friends who shoot it. Religious cleaning of the gates helps a lot, but it's nearly impossible to see the build up at the bottom of the gate (top of the frame) and were always having to crop that out. You would be shocked how clean my 35mm gates look, but that's mostly thanks to Aaton's amazing anti-static gate, not due to my cleanliness. 
 

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Speaking of Super 16, 2-Perf offers more film area, even cropped to 16:9. 

If you work on 1.78:1 aspect ratio. 

2 perf is 15.60 x 8.76
S16 is 12.19 x 6.86

So roughly 2mm difference all the way around or 1.6x larger. 

However, with 3 perf you're looking at 24 x 13.5. That's a 2.4x increase in negative size over 2 perf for only 1/3 more money. 
 

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Cost, obviously, is a big plus with 2-Perf. You use half the film, but perhaps more importantly you can easily find 35mm short ends and Recans. Not true with 16mm. I like getting rolls around 200’ as they go right into the smaller magazines. I can also feed my 35mm Minolta SRT, my Nikonos, my Rollie 35, etc and by shooting with Cine film all the time and developing at home with an ECN-2 kit (available on Etsy and now CineStill) so I can shoot some stills and see how things look. 

I mean if you're thinking about the past yes. But people are charging a lot of money for short ends these days. I use to buy and sell short ends and that business has entirely dried up. We pushed through an average of 40,000ft per year buying/selling 35mm short ends and in the last year, that industry has dried up. I think the main reason is because people are simply keeping the film and shooting it. So unless you can wrestle the film away from the owners with your wallet, I don't see the future of short ends being the amazing deals it was in the past. Plus, even if you can get the film for lower cost, processing and transferring your film is more expensive with 35mm than 16mm for finished minute. 

Let's take film out of the equation, let's say you got it for free. 

Retail processing is the same across the board, around .25/ft 
However, retail transfer varies between formats. For 2k S16, it's around .40/ft but for 2 perf, it's around .60/ft 

So for 400ft of 16mm you get 11 minutes of finished film for $260 bux.
For 2 perf you get close to 9 minutes for $340 bux. 

If you're making a 10 page script at 5:1 ratio = 50 minutes of film. Just the cost above goes from $1300 to $2040 for the same amount of runtime. Just imagine if you're buying stock, the pricing skews heavily towards 16mm. This is why so many people shoot it, not only because it's a more efficient format, but because you're paying more than 1.6x more, for an image that is only 1.6x larger. Assuming you're not shooting 2.40:1 in which 1.3x anamorphic lenses are tricky to rent, but exist. 

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Film choice is Kodak 5219 - I tried a lot of 5203 but it’s much more finicky. 500T seems to give great colors and is much faster to get balanced. Pushes nicely for low light and in bright sun an ND will knock it down. 

Yea, I believe 19 is the most current of their formulas. It's a great stock, many people use it the way you do, as their one and only stock for exterior daylight and interior. I actually shift my stocks based on lighting. I generally use 250D for nearly everything exterior, or 50D on rare occasions like the desert. I like shallow depth of field, so I try to keep my stop as open as possible, so I ND the living crap out of the 250D to get it in the F5.6 range. For properly lit interiors, my go to stock is 200T these days. I absolutely love the results, very crisp image without the noise floor of 19, but only 1 stop difference. So I simply allow it to be underexposed by a stop and the results are epic. 

In this frame, I set my meter to 200 ISO and the key was 1.0 and the face was "under". I shot at 1.5 and honestly, didn't make any changes during the scan compared to the much brighter scenes prior and after this moment. If I had, maybe I could have retrieved more detail in the face, but on my 4k 12 bit 444 coloring suite in full bandwidth color, it really looks great. 
EOL_COLOR_TEST_1_47.2.thumb.jpeg.00463a855c8ae769b4e04fa159ec8722.jpeg
 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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The 3 perf and 2 perf images were identified and either cut together or a few wipes between the formats were used. Only a few times could the slightest difference be noticed between the two formats. Granularity was about identical, sharpness was indistinguishable, once or twice the contrast was not identical to the 3 perf. Even an optical push-in didn’t cause significant degrading of the 2 perf image. If the shots had not been labeled I don’t think anyone could tell the difference between the two.

 

Awesome 2-perf 35mm discussion guys! Here was my old ARRI 2B Techniscope 2-perf movie camera (1958) with the ultra rare Fellini Door  it was a super hot rental for many years (yes this door was invented for the famous Italian director Fellini !!!). I have only seen two 2-perf Techniscope IIC or IIB movie cameras with a Fellini Door ever and mine was one of them.  I just sold it this year after shooting with it for years to upgrade to a newer 2-perf movie camera so by summer 2021, I should have either the ARRI 35-3 2-perf (1983)  or the  235 2-perf  (2003) (yes I actually have the 2-perf movement...probably one of 3 or 4 DP's that privately own one including myself in the entire USA !).  Will be renting either the 235 2-perf or 35-3 2-perf  in summer 2021. Those of you that haven't shot with a Fellini Door ... I highly recommend it for your ARRI IIC or IIB movie camera ... pure "scope viewing" be it anamorphic scope or Techniscope this was my favorite VF ever on the IIB (will also fit the IIC perfectly as well).

IMO I agree with most everyone on both the 2 and 3 perf format. I think it depends really on the story you are trying to tell. I found an old post from Bruce Taylor he seemed to sum up the whole Techniscope discussion vs 3-perf with the Kodak seminar. As with Bruce and Jim Perry I agree with them on the 2-perf as the best for "feature film" only format there is. There is a reason Sergio Leone choose the format besides economics...it looks so darn good!  But I also agree with Tyler on 3-perf as that format is so versatile; feature films/ TV webisodes and flexibility of anamorphic or spherical lenses. The Aaton Penelope is the ideal movie camera IMO since that is a fast 2/3 perf switchable and I like both formats. ARRICAM, 235 or are 2/3 perf  swappable ... but take much longer to install/de-install the movement . Since either 2 or 3 perf is for the most part indistinguishable, it really comes down to personal / artistic preference, aspect ratio, Film TV/webisode (2:35 vs 16:9/ 1.85:1 ) and your story. As long as low cost 35mm film stock or short ends can be found, and good film lab rates for 35mm film lab process can still be found, 2-perf is about same costs as S16, another hot format as well.

Any analog film format is a fine choice ... as long as it looks great for telling the story, is economical and keeps filmmakers shooting real film !

ARRI 2B Techniscope Cinematography Electronics 80mm T1.4 Leica lens.jpg

Edited by Rob Guerrero
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42 minutes ago, Giorgio Taricco said:

ARGHHHH!! A Fellini door! That's very rare, there is one for sale at the moment, costing more than my ARRI  Techniscope camera..

Link please! 🙂

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Agreed, a very good discussion! I believe I saw Rob Guerrero’s listing on share grid as well as the fact it sold. 2-perf Arri 2c or 2bs are hard to find and mostly in Europe. 
 

While I’ll admit my purchase was probably influenced by old photos of Sergio Leone beside Tonino delli Colli or Kubrick, or McQueen filming Le Mans, I also had to put it into a business plan of sorts. I’m often battling Young Turks with their Reds and Alexas and needed a way to stand out without breaking the bank. The Arri 2c looks like a movie camera (for good reason, 30 years of being the goto camera), runs like a tank, a fair number of spares and lenses at reasonable prices and a cost of about a Used Red Scarlet. Film and developing costs were reasonable for my short marketing videos and there’s a fair amount of brands using film to promote their products. Nike, Adidas, Louis Vuitton, etc have all utilized film in their productions, and many use a 2.40 aspect ratio. Clients are also well trained to know film is more expensive, despite the truth that when you add in hard drive space, camera cost, depreciation, etc it very well may put film as the cheaper alternative. I’d also argue film is faster to shoot as it is not endless - more planning and actors tend to take it more seriously. They really apologize when you have to do a second take. 
 

As for costs, I never had any problem adding in the film expenses to my budgets and they were often one of the smaller line items. I found I could reliably get short ends for about .28¢ a foot vs .49¢ for new stock. Thankfully, I’m about an hour away from Cinelab and Rob there is as good as they come and his prices are very reasonable. 
 

While I’m hoping to start using it for some narrative films, I’ve been happy, overall, fitting it into my existing work. Adding in a bit of history and film mystique adds value while the lower costs of 2-Perf keep expenses down. Why pay double for full frame just to toss half of it out?
 

As the head of Bentley marketing told me, “it’s not selling a car, it’s selling an experience.” Clients like seeing it and I really enjoy using it, which after ten years of digital I’d have to say I was a little bored. Tired of the format wars and constant upgrades. 
 

in the event you want to see Arri2Cs in action I made a Pinterest board. Some great history. 
https://pin.it/7tX9DH0

FF036F39-0C04-4091-B958-9DAF094AE6FD.jpeg

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It’s built in on the side. You hook your thumb and there’s a rest for your fingers on the front. Makes it easy to hold. That, combined with the motor/handgrip make it easy for handhold shots. 
 

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By the way, that’s Ermanno Olmi in the photos. His movies are great but the story on how he made them is better. 
 

He started work making industrial films for a company then used the equipment, a few coworkers and some locals to make dramatic films and became somewhat famous. I love how he took real situations and used real people to make his movies. 

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With 2 perf for films made to be seen on a big screen with digital projection, the audience can just see a suggestion of grain without it becoming too noisy as can be the case sometimes with Super 16. 2 perf looks very sharp in the theatre. It's the format just made for the current cinema experience where you want a real film look. It could be coming into its own now ... if only there were enough cameras around. I now prefer the look of 2 perf and Super 16 in the cinema, for features, to 4 perf anamorphic, which these days with digital post and projection looks almost indistinguishable from something shot with a digital camera.

With film prints projected in cinemas, shooting with 4 perf anamorphic or 65mm was ideal.

I also don't understand the concern about gate hairs. As David Mullen points out above, 4 perf anamorphic also has very little space between the frames. I think it would be great to also shoot 2 perf in 2.20:1 ratio, cropping the sides a bit.

 

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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4 hours ago, Jim Perry said:

 

FF036F39-0C04-4091-B958-9DAF094AE6FD.jpeg

That's interesting. It's a pretty long lens he's got on the 2C, on the turret without lens support. I always wonder at what point lens support is needed.

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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I believe that’s an Angenieux 25-250 3.9. I have the same lens and while it does better with support as Dennis Hopper used in The Last Movie it can hang on the turret which is also how it was used in Easy Rider. I have a rod support Sam’s Cine 2c base that I’ve been able to mod to use the bracket that takes a Cinema Products Zoom motor which is real cool. 
 

I also found a Rod and bracket like Hopper used which is much simpler and connects to the Arri 2c matte box support. 
 

I’ve learned a lot from looking at old photos about how different people used and set up the camera. 
 

42915088-9103-4C80-B854-2712EA3BAE73.jpeg

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Hi all, I think that many of the issues of shooting two perf will  be resolved:

Problem: Sync two perf camera's. Instead of hoping for it, you have them made. I have had four KINOR 35 2 perf camera's converted or found on ebay, and now two ARRI BL4's and one Arri III from the camera rental houses that have went out of business. I had my bl4 converted to two perf by the great ANdree Martin at AM Camera!

Workflow: the cost of digital scanning has come down with the emergence of scanners from black magic or moviestuff retro scanner, and  Kodak opening new labs was big.

Raw stock:Kodak has emerged from bankruptcy and films rumored death has been greatly exaggerated.

anders2.jpg

Anders1.jpg

Edited by victor huey
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6 hours ago, Jim Perry said:

Crazy talk. We bought ours a few years ago for $5k! For $25k you can get a 3 perf Arricam LT package. 

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