Thread: You can afford to shoot film rather than digital

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  1. #1 You can afford to shoot film rather than digital 
    Senior Member rick.lang's Avatar
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    Here is another view on the use of film in indie shorts instead of shooting with a digital camera. All post after film development is digital though. I'm skeptical. What do you think? Are you convinced?

    http://www.indiewire.com/article/ale...ent=1440685000
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member DPStewart's Avatar
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    Well the cameras can certainly be bought or rented SUPER cheap.

    Film is always something you can figure the exact cost of because you can find your cost-per-foot to buy and to process.

    I think if you're careful and do a lot of pre-production then yeah, the price is fine.

    My only beef is that I really don't much like the look of 16mm film. I LOVE 35mm, but low-fi look of 16mm to me only really shines now if your trying to get a retro look.
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  3. #3  
    Senior Member LochnessDigital's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DPStewart View Post
    My only beef is that I really don't much like the look of 16mm film. I LOVE 35mm, but low-fi look of 16mm to me only really shines now if your trying to get a retro look.
    Oh man, I love the look of 16mm. More for me.

    The Walking Dead:






    Babel:


    Last edited by LochnessDigital; 08-30-2015 at 06:27 AM. Reason: Images rehosted to Imgur.com
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  4. #4  
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    If lit well, 16mm can look fine. For example, I didn't know One Tree Hill was shot on Super 16 until I read so. I'm not holding it up as the paragon. I'm just saying that there is a difference between it and the look of my student films, also shot on 16mm.

    The article is right: You can get film cameras for next to nothing, and if you keep yourself to a few takes, then the cost of film and processing should fit into a decently budgeted independent film.

    That being said, despite film's lovely image, it has: indiscreet camera sizes, a limited array of lenses, higher graininess per ISO, a max of about ISO 1600, the requirement of a light meter (unless you're Douglas Slocombe), a 10-minute shot limit, a medieval media-change routine, next-day playback, and no sound.

    Does that mean I think someone who chooses film today is a fool? Absolutely not. In fact, I would be slightly more interested in seeing their film. If you choose film, are you making a grave mistake? Of course not. Maybe you're a little too nostalgic, too hipsterish, or whatever, but no problem. On Day 10 of your 20-day shoot, will you be kicking yourself for choosing film, when it's hard enough as it is to make a good movie? Possibly.
    Last edited by combatentropy; 08-29-2015 at 08:23 PM.
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member DPStewart's Avatar
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    OK....I had no idea these 2 are shot on 16mm film.
    I think they both look great. I mean really really good.

    I guess maybe that's what you get when you have access to more high level stock, processing and lenses and cameras.

    Everything I've ever seen that was "indy" or shot by people I knew looked FAR MORE like the stills in the article linked in the first post here.
    THAT is the look I don't care for.

    I would VERY much like to know how the HUGE difference is achieved - the difference between the Low-Fi look of the stills in that article vs. the stills posted right here.


    Quote Originally Posted by LochnessDigital View Post
    Oh man, I love the look of 16mm. More for me.

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    Revanche:




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  6. #6  
    Don't forget Black Swan and Beasts of the Southern Wild!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jaI1XOB-bs
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF7i2n5NXLo
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member LochnessDigital's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DPStewart View Post
    I would VERY much like to know how the HUGE difference is achieved - the difference between the Low-Fi look of the stills in that article vs. the stills posted right here.
    Photochemical processing and how it's scanned can really affect the quality.

    16mm photochemical generation loss:


    More info here:
    http://cinelicious.tv/news/post-maga...th-valley-days

    I'm sure lensing is also better for the big budget 16mm movies/shows.

    Scrubs was also done on 16mm:







    Quote Originally Posted by TheRenaissanceMan View Post
    Don't forget Black Swan and Beasts of the Southern Wild!
    I forgot about Black Swan!





    And some stills from Beasts of the Southern Wild:





    Last edited by LochnessDigital; 08-30-2015 at 06:22 AM.
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member rick.lang's Avatar
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    Great ideas. I think the link I posted showed a rather unattractive example with poorly lit pushed footage with more grain in it than Malibu beach. The shots you offered don't look like they were made cheaply (although Beasts of the Southern Wild was a relatively low budget indie movie as I recall). Your shots look terrific.

    I think there is a difference in shooting film and immediately going digital via telecine and the way movies used to be: shot on film, processed and coloured chemically, cut and edited as film strips, mastered on film, printed on film, distributed and shown to audiences on film. Costs really mount up when it's all film. The original link only went the first step to capture a film look of sorts with the potential lovely latitude and wonderful knee and shoulder of film, then went digital right after that.

    Alex also understands he was given film at discounts and helped along the way. Finding a lab in most parts of the western world that handles cinema film is a great challenge in most jurisdictions. Working with them to get the look you want chemically is likely not a cheap indie option. We're not all going to get the attention given to Quentin Tarantino.

    I think for the indie, the days of chasing a true film production are numbered. Digital comes with its own headaches but the amount of control you can have over your final product and the near complete removal of multi-generational loss can make for a satisfying result that you can manage on a modest budget. Have sensors caught up to film? Maybe some, maybe none. But digital is a new medium still finding its own aesthetic.

    We'd all love to be able to work with film too, but shooting digital first isn't such a bad way to produce product to get you noticed and eventually provide the budget to do film right. If there are any theatres left that will still have film projectors when you're ready to do film from beginning to end.
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  9. #9  
    Senior Member DPStewart's Avatar
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    I can hardly believe some of these are 16mm film.
    Especially Scrubs because I always thought it had a very modern, clean, almost like great high-def video look.
    I still think there is some MAJOR factor that's still not being accounted for here.

    The stills above from Beasts of the Southern Wild look like the 16mm stuff I saw when I was working in Chicago - and that town had plenty of decent processing facilities.
    That's the look I think of when when someone says "shot on 16mm film".
    How you get from that to the incredibly clean, slick, rich, high-resolution look of Scrubs, Walking Dead, or Babel?
    There has to be more to it.

    Black Swan I always thought was shot on something less than 70mm for sure - I think it was a little obvious - but I never researched how it was done.

    My point is that I strongly suspect that whatever it takes to get that Walking Dead or Scrubs or Babel look is out of reach if you don't have that kind of budget.

    Whereas even in an average town like Phoenix you can rent an Arri Amira for your shoot and it would cost the same as the 16mm filmstock and processing, and then afterwards FOR FREE you can learn and work and perfect some pretty standard post grading and achieve a result that will look pretty spectacular.
    I just don't see that happening with 16mm film if you don't have access to the top-level resources that these big-shots in these stills have.

    I don't mind the discussion of the craft - in fact I love it.
    I just think it shouldn't be implied that an Indy or lower budget crew can get those kinds of killer results. That's all.
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  10. #10  
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    My experience with 16mm film has varied greatly. It's all about how much you put in, is what you get out. In school one of my projects required shooting a short on film, having little money I did it as cheap as I possibly could, I bought some old expired film stock on eBay, used only the gear the school provided and sent it to the cheapest lab I could find in the states. All up I spent something like $500-$750 AUS.

    Another group went all out, they bought fresh stock from Kodak, mainly ranging from 50-250 asa (lower grain noise), hired some 16mm superspeeds and sent it to the only lab in Australia with a quality reputation. From memory processing/scanning is something like $800 an hour. But of course the results they got were pretty gorgeous and it dosen't look far off from some of the examples posted above. They would've spent something like 10K on all that. From what I've heard the Telecine is a big factor, the difference between a quick 'one-light HD tele' and a 'scene to scene UHD ARRISCAN' is massive. This is the film here: https://www.facebook.com/disappearshortfilm/timeline, you can probably find a trailer for it somewhere.

    In a way the difference isn't all that different from digital, spend money on a 5D you get 5D images, spend money on an Alexa and you get Alexa images.
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