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class="style10">16 mm Low Budget Features

class="Paragraph">Published : 1st August 2006

class="Paragraph">I am trying to help a director to convince the producers of a low budget feature (400K EUROS), an Action horror, to shoot 16mm instead of HI DEF. Reason is that all the locations are VERY dark and the 320 ASA of HI DEF is still no match for the REALA 500 (done tests on locations), and there are lots of slow motion shots.

class="Paragraph">Still the grey suits are saying there is no successful low budget horror/thriller shot on 16mm, and that being a straight to video thing we should shoot video (sic... I know). The extra cost of shooting 16mm is marginal, considering that the shooting ratio of this Director is extremely low.

class="Paragraph">I was thinking of the recent DOG SOLDIERS. Anything else springs to mind? Also if anyone can point to a site that gives some info on what most low budget makes at the box office will be great.

class="Paragraph">It is a great script, potentially a cult in the making.

class="Paragraph">Franz Pagot AIC
Director of Photography/Underwater Cameraman
GBCT MBKS BAFTA

class="Paragraph">http://www.franzpagot.com

class="Paragraph">mob +447770520757
London UK


class="Paragraph">I find it very hard to believe that 16mm will be better in low-light than HD. What kind of tests have you done? What was the HD camera? You may get a little more ASA out of the stock, but the grain is going to be a bitch. Dog Soldiers was mostly shot day for night and it looked quite poor in the few sections that were clearly shot at night. I'm sure there's a way, but unless aesthetic is gritty/low budget look, you'll probably be safer going with an HD camera.

class="Paragraph">Recently the big-budget horror film "The Cave" was shot in very low-light situations using HD (the 950) and everyone was very pleased with the results at 4:4:4. I would do some more tests if I was you, and also try different cameras as comparison.

Jim Eagan
NY editor/cameraman


class="Paragraph">Hi,

class="Paragraph">>Reason is that all the locations are VERY dark and the 320 ASA of HI >DEF is still no match for the REALA 500 (done tests on locations)

class="Paragraph">You surprise me. How did you arrive at the 320 figure, and how did you apply that on set - with a light meter? When shooting video as it should be shot for later grading, that is a stop under, I have found the 320A figure to be wildly inaccurate.

class="Paragraph">> and there are lots of slow motion shots.

class="Paragraph">Varicam?

class="Paragraph">> The extra cost of shooting 16mm is marginal

class="Paragraph">Then - and I'm sorry to be blunt - you are doing something silly. At that level you will be using properly experienced camera crew, one of whom at least can be dismissed. Did you factor this in? What postproduction procedures are you planning?

class="Paragraph">Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London


class="Paragraph">I agree that if finishing to 35mm film then 16mm is still less expensive. But I'm not sure about the rest of what you said.

class="Paragraph">Mitch Gross
NYC DP


class="Paragraph">Uh... hold your fire, I do not want to turn this into a HD vs FILM thingy.

class="Paragraph">I'll be more specific, but bear in mind I do not have all the answers, and you have to take into account that the director prefers the film route. Anyway, please take into account the following : I was brought onto the project late, the previous DoP tested on HD on location (bear in mind we will not have any lights, none, zilch, this is how the director wants it) it is all available light.

class="Paragraph">The projected tests of his HD against my 16mm test were... uhmm...miles apart. I cannot to re-shoot HD tests on location for now (not available at the mo), but I have done a small test somewhere else for the director and the blacks are just not there in HD for what we are doing within the constraints.

class="Paragraph">I cannot choose the camera or the lenses if shooting HD (and I really do not mind shooting HD providing I can choose the tools, especially the lenses) because the Production Company has their own HD kit (F750) that can normally be rated at 320 (+ -). I normally treat different HD cameras as if different film stocks, and as I said I do have good HD experience.

class="Paragraph">There are quite a lot of underwater scenes, and I cannot get hold of a UW housing for the 750. I do have my own 16mm housing though. Post: all in house, quite poor quality results if you ask me, and it makes me cringe. If we go 16mm we will have to go to a different post house that has already match the budget given for post, and they are brilliant.

class="Paragraph">Phil, crew is not an issue, I will have a very small crew, but the schedule is horrendous, and even if shooting HD I will still have a 2nd AC. By the way, I don't have a1st yet, wanna join? Also bear in mind I can get hold of REALA very cheaply and same goes with the processing, I will pull some favours.

class="Paragraph">Please, stick to my original post, I know that there are a lot of issues and a very heated debate re HD vs film, but in this case I only want to help a good Director having more control over a film that, honestly, it's quite brilliant. There is a lot of politics in this project, I wish I can just stick to my job, shooting HD or film wouldn't make any difference for me under normal circumstances.

class="Paragraph">Franz Pagot AIC
Director of Photography/Underwater Cameraman
GBCT MBKS BAFTA


class="Paragraph">I'm with you Franz. its difficult to juggle the merits of each format within our needs to the their needs. In the middle of an HD series in the UK, if I can help with lens choices/cameras etc. let me know.

class="Paragraph">BTW Zeiss Digiprimes look awesome (I own some)and compare well even on the 750P.

class="Paragraph">Good Luck
Dan Cam op UK


class="Paragraph">>Still the grey suits are saying there is no successful low budget >horror/thriller shot on 16mm

class="Paragraph">I guess they never saw one of the most successful horror films ever shot on 16mm that got Sam Remy his start, Evil Dead. But that was not much of a cult film either Come to think of it, Night of the Living Dead was little film that perhaps they missed as it isn't that well known, nor was much of a cult film, and another small film called Blair Witch was shot on both DV and 16mm, but perhaps they never heard of that either because it was so limited in it's popularity. Of course, there was League of Extraordinary Gentleman. Oh, sorry that was NOT a horror film shot on 16mm, just a horrible film. I could go on but these are all films that the grey suits might have never heard of.

class="Paragraph">I guess the real question is, is it true that a format ever determined the success of a product?

class="Paragraph">I thought story might have something to do with it, but I could be wrong.

class="Paragraph">Walter Graff
NYC


class="Paragraph">>Still the grey suits are saying there is no successful low budget >horror/thriller shot on 16mm

class="Paragraph">The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was low budget and it shoot on 16mm and has made millions!

class="Paragraph">A few years ago there was a low budget psychological horror film "Session 9" which was shot on HD by DP Uta Briesewitz. She did a very effective job and garnered lots of acclaim for her cinematography. There was an American Cinematographer article about it as well.

class="Paragraph">Wendell Scot Greene

class="Paragraph">Director/DP - Los Angeles, CA


class="Paragraph">Walter Graff at Bluesky Media, Inc. wrote :

class="Paragraph">>I guess they never saw one of the most successful horror films ever >shot on 16mm that got Sam Remy his start, Evil Dead.

class="Paragraph">Texas Chainsaw Massacre seemed to do a fair amount of business, too.

class="Paragraph">Robert Jackson
DP
Santa Rosa, CA


class="Paragraph">Unless I misunderstood, the film he's shooting is not just low budget, but entirely shot with natural light. Based on that, a gritty/documentary look may very well be appropriate to what the director wants.. And no one is arguing against grainy horror films being very successful. The question is whether you want to paint yourself into that corner. HD may very well give you more options in creating a unique look, different from a clichéd grainy 70s horror. I'm not saying that HD is the best choice here, but based on what you've said so far, I'm not sure that you've given it a fair shot.

Jim Eagan
NY editor/cameraman


class="Paragraph">Check out 'Dead Man's shoes'
Dir. Shane meadows, DP Danny Cohen
Fantastic film S16 Low budget.

class="Paragraph">Dan Bronks
DP
UK


class="Paragraph">>Still the grey suits are saying there is no successful low budget >horror/thriller shot on 16mm

class="Paragraph">The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (shot on ECO!), would be a good example.

class="Paragraph">Walter Graff at Bluesky Media, Inc. wrote :

class="Paragraph">>Come to think of it, Night of the Living Dead was little film that perhaps >they missed as it isn't that well known, nor was much of a cult film.

class="Paragraph">Shot on 35mm, too.

class="Paragraph">>I'm not saying that HD is the best choice here, but based on what you've >said so far, I'm not sure that you've given it a fair shot.

class="Paragraph">Remember that the Sony 750 has a very different personality than the Sony 900.

class="Paragraph">Jeff Kreines


class="Paragraph">>Come to think of it, Night of the Living Dead was little film that perhaps >they missed as it isn't that well known, nor was much of a cult film.

>Shot on 35mm, too.

class="Paragraph">Thought the original was 16. Learn something new every day.

class="Paragraph">Walter Graff
NYC


class="Paragraph">I know for sure you can go even into the ~ 5 fc turf (Digiprimes are proper attire for this intimate, if not candlelight dinner) the HD route; I think the issue vs well since I don't know Reala first hand I'll say V2 - is do you want to engage in anti-nuclear activism with your practicals, highlights or engage the grain issues; gain vs grain: you want the techno look or the movie look ?

class="Paragraph">Sam Wells
film/../etc/nj


class="Paragraph">Jeff Kreines writes:

>Still the grey suits are saying there is no successful low budget >horror/thriller shot on 16mm

I worked on "The Evil Dead" as a stunt double/fake shemp/PA back in the early 80's. That was shot on 16mm (with a BL and an old Mitchell...) and its done very well for itself.

Ha, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell came to my Detroit high school film class to teach Super-8 filmmaking. They used some of that dough to live on while they finished "Evil Dead".

Kind of how I got my start. They got me a PA gig for a local producer.

Peace,

Kurt Rauf
Las Vegas Dir/DP


class="Paragraph">Well, I worked on a very low-budget ($100k Aus) Australian horror-movie, shot on 16, and that one was bought by a distributor in the US. Their reason was that these kind of movies go straight to DVD, and there is always a market for these kind of movies, so the investment would be returned with almost everything they put on the market.

class="Paragraph">My ?.02

class="Paragraph">Cheers

class="Paragraph">Martin Heffels
/filmmaker/DP/editor/
Maastricht, the Netherlands


class="Paragraph">No successful low budget horror films shot on 16? Actually, almost ALL the successful low budget horror films have been shot on 16!

class="Paragraph">Stepping away from tis, you point out a very specific situation with a particular HD camera package limitation v. a particular 16mm camera package capability. I'm not sure what you're even asking anymore -- it seems from the information you give that the deck is pretty stacked. What is your producer's answer for shooting underwater sequences if they have no housing for their HD camera?

class="Paragraph">Show him the numbers and let him chew on it.

class="Paragraph">Mitch Gross
NYC DP


class="Paragraph">Jeff Kreines writes :

class="Paragraph">>Still the grey suits are saying there is no successful low budget >horror/thriller shot on 16mm

class="Paragraph">Err, I didn't write that. I responded to it...

class="Paragraph">Jeff Kreines


class="Paragraph">>Still the grey suits are saying there is no successful low budget >horror/thriller shot on 16mm

OK, who are these 'grey suits' and how do we get rid of them!

Cheers,
Jeff Barklage, s.o.c.
US based DP
www.barklage.com


class="Paragraph">>Still the grey suits are saying there is no successful low budget >horror/thriller shot on 16mm

class="Paragraph">I have been to the Markets (Milan and Canne) to sell movies. The first question always asked is "Are there any stars?" and the second is "Is it in 35mm colour?”.

class="Paragraph">Sometimes perception is reality.

class="Paragraph">Mik Cribben- IA Local 600 and 52
NY/Miami


class="Paragraph">Thank you for the feedback guys, greatly appreciated.

class="Paragraph">To stay on topic bear in mind I am dealing with really "grey suits", people who have no experience of filmmaking, just good at making money in the financial sector.

class="Paragraph">Their reasoning is simple : it is for video release we shoot video. We have a camera that we bought spending money we use it we have the facilities and people on paybook we use those proving that EVEN films shot on 16mm (that they consider same as super8 ( I swear, they said that ) because the hype on HD), are successful will allow us to shoot this project on film, that will let the director to use people that he thinks will bring his project where it should.

class="Paragraph">Especially re post production, unless we go film, he'll have no
control, and me with him.

class="Paragraph">Not quite simple uh?

class="Paragraph">If going 16mm I can even have few prints for peanuts, because few facilities that have seen my tests and the script are really interested being part of the project. We will not have that luxury if we go HD. They want to do most of the underwater sequence in MAYA, and their operator is...uh, don't start me on that.

class="Paragraph">I have pulled a favour with a UW tank and most UW equipment and safety crew at good rates, so we can do it for real. The look of the film is gritty and grainy, but at the same time with deep blacks and mixed temperatures. I know I can achieve it even on a XL2, but this is not the point.

class="Paragraph">The cry for help is : where can I find info on 16mm features of the horror action genre that made well at the box office?

class="Paragraph">Hope this clarify more. Please, any pointers?

class="Paragraph">--
Franz Pagot AIC
Director of Photography/Underwater Cameraman
GBCT MBKS BAFTA

class="Paragraph">http://www.franzpagot.com


class="Paragraph">Hi,

class="Paragraph">>Especially re post production, unless we go film, he'll have no control, >and me with him.

class="Paragraph">Why not?

class="Paragraph">Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London


class="Paragraph">Phil Rhodes

class="Paragraph">>Why not?

class="Paragraph">Because shooting HD we cannot choose camera and lenses, the post facility or the people to work with, as explained already. The production company made their millions producing direct response TV ads, they have a full HD post house, but the operators working in there are.... grrrrrrrrr.... honestly don't start me on that. When the director mentioned that my 16mm test looked like BLACK HAWK DOWN and that is what he wanted, their response was that BHD lacked definition and you couldn't see much because there was too much contrast and distributors and TV stations will reject our film. Surreal to say the least.

class="Paragraph">I was desperately try to stay away from a general HD vs Film debate, I think that has been covered enough in the past and I am sure that it will keep us busy for a long time.

class="Paragraph">On some jobs DoP’s will not be able to choose the equipment, post and people they want. I have turned down a TV series recently because the Producers have already planned all the lights positions in advance with the help of a Post production "expert". They showed me all the sets previsualized with the lights and their type, height, intensity, temperature.

class="Paragraph">When I candidly pointed out why they wanted me for that job (you guessed even camera positions and lenses have been planned already) the (very flattering) answer was because of my brilliant reel. Really?

class="Paragraph">Thanks but no thanks.

class="Paragraph">There will always be compromises to satisfy the Director's vision, to meet the budget or to make things work, but that...no, I am not paid to switch lights on and off (that's a gaffer's job anyway). I don't even tell some of my gaffers what light fixture I want "up there". And if they suggest a better position I take their advice. If they suggest a XENON instead of a PAR, fine, I work "with" them. Other gaffers I work with prefers very precise instructions. I adapt, no fuss.

class="Paragraph" I also hear you saying that on some jobs (SFX) you have to follow a strict plan, previsualised in 3D STUDIO or MAIA. Fine, I have done that to death, but there's project and there's project. Sometimes on a film of a certain type you have to light following your instinct, you want to suggest handheld or you suddenly realize that the planned 25mm was a bad choice and the 40mm is what you need watching the Director blocking the scene and describing the emotion.

class="Paragraph" But I digress...like some of you have (still really interesting stuff came out, worth treasuring).

class="Paragraph">So... one last time...please... does anyone know of any more low budget action horror films shot on 16mm that did well at the box office? Or does anyone know of a source on the web for that (tried IMDB already)?

class="Paragraph">Thank you

class="Paragraph">Franz-who-loves-HD-and-anything-you-can-record-an-image-on-Pagot.

class="Paragraph">Franz Pagot AIC
Director of Photography/Underwater Cameraman
GBCT MBKS BAFTA


class="Paragraph">>They want to do most of the underwater sequence in MAYA, and their >operator is…uh, don't start me on that.
>I have pulled a favour with a UW tank and most UW equipment and >safety crew at good rates, so we can do it for real.

class="Paragraph">http://theonion.com/opinion/index.php?issue=4133

class="Paragraph">"an insult to the great men and women who spend countless hours in front of computers creating incredibly realistic CGI icebergs. "

class="Paragraph">Sam Wells
film/.../nj/usa


class="Paragraph">I love CGI stuff and been shooting SFX in abundance, but note that in this case we are not talking of Pros or people (great men and women who spend countless...) who loves their job, more of employees going to work 9-5 and not interested in creating something good and original, just cobble something together quickly and go home. In one of the MAIA tests the sun was moving with the pan (!) and when I pointed out that is not possible, the operator kept insisting that the computer cannot be wrong. I wanted to cry. Give me good CGI underwater and believe me I happily stay dry and give my creaking DCS affected joints a dry rest, been enough in the water.

class="Paragraph">Regarding the article... uhmm, is the guy for real? It seems more a provocation to me...

class="Paragraph">--
Franz Pagot AIC
Director of Photography/Underwater Cameraman
GBCT MBKS BAFTA


class="Paragraph">> http://theonion.com/opinion/index.php?issue=4133

class="Paragraph">>"an insult to the great men and women who spend countless hours in >front of computers creating incredibly realistic CGI icebergs. "

class="Paragraph">Ok... you got me....
Should have read other articles...

class="Paragraph">Franz Pagot AIC
Director of Photography/Underwater Cameraman
GBCT MBKS BAFTA


class="Paragraph">Hi,

class="Paragraph">Actually underwater is probably second only to space in being the easiest environment for CGI - depending, of course, on what you're depicting. There was some great stuff done for the Seaquest TV series quite early on.

class="Paragraph">Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London


class="Paragraph">Phil Rhodes wrote :

class="Paragraph">>Actually underwater is probably second only to space in being the >easiest environment for CGI - depending, of course, on what you're >depicting. There was some great stuff done for the Seaquest TV series >quite early on.

class="Paragraph">This statement conclusively proves that you've never been involved in doing any underwater CGI environments.

class="Paragraph" Mike Most
Chief Technologist
Cineworks Digital Studios
Miami, Fl.


class="Paragraph">Phil Rhodes wrote :

class="Paragraph">>There was some great stuff done for the Seaquest TV series quite early >on.

class="Paragraph">Just curious. How old were you when you saw Seaquest on TV?

class="Paragraph">I remember watching Flash Gordon on TV and not realizing I was watching special effects either.

class="Paragraph">Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


class="Paragraph">Hi,

class="Paragraph">>This statement conclusively proves that you've never been involved in >doing any underwater CGI environments.

class="Paragraph">And that statement finally exhausts my patience with your arrogance. Yes, I have, if some time ago. There are such places as "not in Hollywood" in which media work is done; there are people other than you who do it.

class="Paragraph">Now, what exactly do you mean? The difference is in the details, of course, but since very few underwater animals are furry, even doing character animation isn't going to break the render bank. My experience of doing underwater stuff is deep blue fog, lots of volumetric lighting, caustics, and the occasional rock, which is not tremendously taxing of either technology or technique.

class="Paragraph">Do I need to explain any of this terminology?

class="Paragraph">Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London


class="Paragraph">Yep, Mike is right. Probably one of the most difficult in fact.

class="Paragraph">I shot UW model work because the CGI wasn't good enough and I have shot UW to simulate zero-g space environment for CGI because the CGI people was struggling achieving believable results.

class="Paragraph">CGI needs, like good lighting, time and skills.
Nothing is simple and straightforward in this industry.
Shall we move this to POST?

class="Paragraph">Franz Pagot AIC
Director of Photography/Underwater Cameraman
GBCT MBKS BAFTA


class="Paragraph">Hi,

class="Paragraph">>Just curious. How old were you when you saw Seaquest on TV?

class="Paragraph">Old enough to realise the constant backlight was a failing!

class="Paragraph">But my point was that it was not bad for, what was it, 1993?

class="Paragraph">Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London


class="Paragraph">>I guess the real question is, is it true that a format ever determined the >success of a product? I thought story might have something to do with >it, but I could be wrong.

class="Paragraph">The following is my humble opinion, and not meant as a personal attack on any individual 'Hamster of Doom', that might read this.

class="Paragraph">One of the scariest things I've seen so far, is how the suits (even on student sets) just don't seem to "get it." Not everything can be fixed in post (i.e. Plot).

class="Paragraph">Story is EVERYTHING. Without it, what would we be lighting?

class="Paragraph">How do you light a scene? Read the script.
Where do you place the camera? Read the script.
What is the actors motivation? Read the script.
How do you cut the scene? Read the script.
What type of music do you use? Read the script.
How should the audio mix sound? Read the script.

class="Paragraph">(Just for the suits)
Who should you market it to? Read the script.

class="Paragraph">Matt Efsic
Student - Brooks Institute of Photography
Ventura, CA


class="Paragraph">Obviously story is important, but so are the skills of the storyteller in telling it. Otherwise, everyone's production of "Hamlet" would be just as good as anyone else's. Otherwise, you wouldn't need a skilled cinematographer to make a movie, nor an editor, etc. Why bother if the only thing that matters is story? Just shoot everything on Mini-DV in auto-exposure in a wide-shot... Saying that only story matters is like saying that the most important thing about DaVinci's Mona Lisa painting is the person who sat for the painting, and how it was painted is irrelevant.

class="Paragraph">You can't separate form and content so neatly.

class="Paragraph">The audience doesn't really care, but they expect us, the filmmakers, to care. The audience just wants to enjoy the end result of all our hard work...

class="Paragraph">David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


class="Paragraph">"OK, who are these 'grey suits' and how do we get rid of them! "

class="Paragraph">Men In Black Suits - M.I.B.S.
Men In Grey Suits - M.I.G.S.
(Not allowed to specify 'Men', as it is discriminator to the female 'Suits'.)

class="Paragraph">Persons In Grey Suits - P.I.G.S

class="Paragraph">"Get rid of the P.I.G.S!"? In this day in age, language like that might get you locked up as a suspected terrorist.

Matt Efsic
Student Filmmaker - Brooks Institute of Photography
Ventura, CA

class="Paragraph">... The previous comments were meant as dark humour, I have no wish to overthrow our current government, other than by the legal means (i.e. Voting).


class="Paragraph">>The audience doesn't really care, but they expect us, the filmmakers, to >care. The audience just wants to enjoy the end result of all our hard >work...

class="Paragraph">I love your Hamlet analogy David but I think you got the above sentence wrong. They don't expect anything from us. Our job (without their knowledge) is to immerse them in a story as if they are living it. Seeing a movie is to escape in ones own mind and you can't get scared if I leave the lights on.

class="Paragraph">When the story is good, the character development believable, the sound is perfect, and the continuity visually works and is told from an 'eye' that the audience can step into, you have a successful end result. That is good storytelling.

class="Paragraph">I have stated that cinematography alone is not what determines the success of a film, but I'll make a better point; every element of a film is like a swatch of cloth. One bad stitch makes a defect that makes it not sellable. Every element is one of those weaves. The public does not care how we stitch that material, only that it does not suffer from any great defects

class="Paragraph">Disclaimer : My opinions, thoughts, and beliefs are my own and may not reflect yours. The use of the pronouns "you, "some", and "many" to name a few are generalizations and without a proper name attached to them are not references to anyone reading my posts.

class="Paragraph">Walter Graff
Director
BlueSky Media, Inc.


class="Paragraph">David Mullen wrote:

class="Paragraph">>Obviously story is important, but so are the skills of the storyteller in >telling it.

class="Paragraph">Not only that, but successfully marketing a movie frequently depends on it being the right product at the right time. Sometimes everything comes together and a film is exactly what people want to see at that moment in time. A year earlier or later and it might have been a failure. You probably couldn't sell a Blair Witch-style project right now, but at the time it was done the kind of Internet-based campaign that was used to drum up interest was a new thing and reached a lot of people. It was also one of the earliest cases of DV and film being used together in a compelling way.

class="Paragraph">The project was ripe for its time.

class="Paragraph">Peckinpah's use of coverage running at multiple frame-rates was as captivating as "bullet-time" when audiences first saw it. In the span of a few years the technique had been overused and looked cliché (ditto for "bullet-time"). Right now snap-zooms seem to be in vogue again. Ten years ago it would have been considered amateurish to "shoot CV" for a feature. The ways you tell a story are inescapably tied to the moment in time when you expose the film. Only you can decide if now is the time for a 16mm feature to stand out in some particular way.

class="Paragraph">Rob Jackson
Santa Rosa, CA
DP


class="Paragraph">>note that in this case we are not talking of Pros or people (great men >and women who spend countless...) who loves their job, more of >employees going to work 9-5

class="Paragraph">Look, Franz. Can we loan you some money for rent or something? The answer is very, very obvious. DON'T TAKE THIS JOB! Run! Hide! They're crazy! They're idiots! It's all going to turn to shit, and you won't be able to save it! You're a good shooter, find other jobs elsewhere! And yes, The Onion is 100% satire.

class="Paragraph">Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


class="Paragraph">>Obviously story is important, but so are the skills of the storyteller in >telling it. Otherwise, everyone's production of "Hamlet" would be just as >good as anyone else's.

class="Paragraph">and

class="Paragraph">Walter Graff wrote :

class="Paragraph">>Every element of a film is like a swatch of cloth. The public does not >care how we stitch that material, only that it does not suffer from any >great defects.

class="Paragraph">To all,

class="Paragraph">I believe that Walter conveyed what I meant to say, far better than I did.

class="Paragraph">Perhaps I overemphasized a bit, but please don't misunderstand my previous post on the importance of story. I am only saying that all of our positions exist to enhance the story, to tell it as best we can. Would shooting in auto-mode in a wide shot help tell a story? Perhaps it would, but most likely not.

class="Paragraph"> Its just that what I have seen in some of my fellow students is the emphasis on the format a project is shot on over the project itself. Not taking into consideration the look and feel of the format, and how that can change the way the story is interpreted.

class="Paragraph">Am I saying that there is one best way to tell a story / make a film? No. There are an infinite ways to tell a story / make a film / skin a cat (who here wants a skinned cat? J ). Some seem to work better than others.

class="Paragraph">I truly respect both of your opinions / knowledge (David, I read and refer to your book, Cinematography on a regular basis).
Thank you,

class="Paragraph">Matt Efsic
Student Filmmaker Brooks Institute of Photography
Ventura, CA


class="Paragraph">Hi,

class="Paragraph">>note that in this case we are not talking of Pros or people >(great men and women who spend countless...) who loves >their job, more of employees going to work 9-5

class="Paragraph">Bear in mind that this sort of work-related depressiveness is the norm, even fashionable, in the UK, even at quite high levels.

class="Paragraph">Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London


class="Paragraph">Phil Rhodes wrote :

class="Paragraph">>And that statement finally exhausts my patience with your arrogance. >Yes, I have, if some time ago. There are such places as "not in >Hollywood" in which media work is done; there are people other than >you who do it.

class="Paragraph">Knock it off, Phil. I don't see any arrogance in pointing out that in my opinion, what you said was flat wrong.

class="Paragraph">>Now, what exactly do you mean? ....My experience of doing underwater >stuff is deep blue fog, lots of volumetric lighting, caustics, and the >occasional rock, which is not tremendously taxing of either technology >or technique.

class="Paragraph" No, not if that's all you're going to do. But if you want to do a realistic underwater environment, you need a lot more than what you just described. You need underwater flora - all of which must move realistically for an underwater world. You also need a lot of particulates in the water, all of which are moving believably and looking right. You need believable shadows on any underwater sea life you create, and these shadows are dependent upon depth and amount of topside light. You need bubbles when necessary, specifically if you have any people in the scene, underwater craft, or even other sea life. You need to heavily texture any wrecks or any other sunken man made features, and you need to have any accumulation of things like barnacles or underwater plant life or coral properly moving. You need very specific specularity maps on all of these items to make them react properly to light. And you need to specifically tailor all of this to whatever angles need to be shot in this environment. In other words, underwater CGI is "simple" - and that's a very, very relative term - only if you're doing a quick, cartoon-like image. If you want a photorealistic environment, it's a hell of a lot more complicated than that. That's not arrogance. It's fact.

class="Paragraph" Mike Most
Chief Technologist
Cineworks Digital Studios
Miami, Fl.


class="Paragraph">>Can we loan you some money for rent or something? The answer is >very, very obvious. DON'T TAKE THIS JOB! Run! Hide!

class="Paragraph">Thank you Tim,

class="Paragraph">It is getting close to that, I might not take this job but at the same time it is really a brilliant script, great cast and the Director is very good and I work with him a lot on music promos.

class="Paragraph">It's a tough one, and that's the reason why I was trying to find money facts on similar projects to be able to swing Production towards a more creatively controllable route.

class="Paragraph">Regarding what Matt wrote

class="Paragraph">>How do you light a scene? Read the script.

class="Paragraph">Unfortunately "the grey suits" cannot read or don't want to read… Unless it's something with dollar signs on it...Their comments on the script were anything from "why does it have to be 90' long, aren't most films 40'?" to "We understand why there is no sex in it, but can't they make love at one point?" and so on... hilarious. I started writing it all down in case "LIVING IN OBLIVION" needs a sequel.

class="Paragraph">Franz Pagot AIC
Director of Photography/Underwater Cameraman
GBCT MBKS BAFTA


class="Paragraph">>I might not take this job but at the same time it is really a brilliant script, >great cast and the Director is very good

class="Paragraph">I recently finished one of those, "The Big White", with director Mark Mylod (cast Robin Williams, Holly Hunter, Harrelson, Ribisi, etc.). I think I only lost about $60K all told on the job (they dicked us around for a month doing test screenings). We did fabulous work on it, though - it was all shot spring for winter, and the finished film is funny as hell. Be nice if it got released sometime.

class="Paragraph">Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


class="Paragraph">Franz,

class="Paragraph">To answer your original question, I went to IMDB Pro (the version you have to pay for), and did an advanced search. There you can specify genre and negative format. For all types of projects, I got 196 titles as a result. This included shorts and TV. Perhaps this can help you in compiling a list of films in that genre that were shot on 16mm.

class="Paragraph">Most of the titles I got were shot in the '80s, and included anything from Buffy the Vampire slayer to The Evil Dead. The most notable recent title was Suspect Zero (2004, cinematography by Michael Chapman) - this film made use of all formats. I hope that helps.

class="Paragraph">Ted Hayash
CLT
Los Angeles, CA


class="Paragraph">Franz,

class="Paragraph">I'm pretty sure Shaun of the Dead was shot on S16. If you're not familiar, it was a UK horror comedy that was very successful in the US.

class="Paragraph">Jendra Jarnagin
NYC DP
www.floatingcamera.com


class="Paragraph">According to IMDB, Shaun was shot anamorphic 35mm. Certainly would have been appropriate to shoot on 16 though considering its predecessor.

Jim Eagan
NY cameraman/editor


class="Paragraph">Here's a current one, S16 with a DI to 35. If not previously mentioned.

class="Paragraph">Can't comment on the quality technically or otherwise. I think it got an AC Magazine write-up recently ?

class="Paragraph"> http://www.thedevilsrejects.com/

class="Paragraph">Directed by "Rob Zombie"

class="Paragraph">Which might inspire some kind of choice in pseudonym for you if the Grey Suits prove obstreperous but you go ahead anyway .

class="Paragraph">Sam Wells
film/.../nj/usa


class="Paragraph">Got to this thread kind of late (as usual). Busy weekend.

class="Paragraph">You’ve got a tough situation with the pointy headed video engineers. These are the same type of guys that broadcast letterboxed TV programs inside a pillar box on an HD television channel because “the tape it’s on is Betacam” ... So ... “it’s not HD so we have to transmit it in the pillar box” and you wind up with a black bar all the way around the image on your HD set, when they could have just scaled it. I can’t scale it up on my TV because Sony engineers thought “no one will transmit anything that is not 16:9 on an HD channel. That’s the non-creative mindset you’re dealing with.

class="Paragraph">I’m just going to give you some pro-Super 16mm points since I know that format intimately, and there are many here that know HD much better than I do and can point out that mediums strengths very well.

class="Paragraph">Some things that I suggest you keep in mind:

class="Paragraph">Remember that depth of field is always an issue in feature films. Excessive depth makes the image look flat and two-dimensional, unless there is a LOT of image resolution (like a deep focus shot in 65mm or IMAX). Generally, less depth of field will always look more 3 dimensional, as long as you have enough depth to keep the subject in focus. In other words, you can’t have just one of the actor’s eyes in focus.

class="Paragraph">Super 16 has the same depth of field as 35mm if you shoot 1 2/3 stops more open on S16. This also depends on having top notch lenses and perfect camera calibration because you need the maximum resolution too, not just the shallow depth.

class="Paragraph">So if you were to shoot at T1.5 (1/3 past 1.4) you would have the same depth of field as 35 mm at T2.8, which is what most of the X-Files show was shot at. I’ve shot stuff at this T-stop and got very nice results. Transferring to HD will show less apparent DOF that transferring to SD (PAL ect.)

class="Paragraph">You can get a similar effect with 2/3 in HD cameras by shooting 2.5 stops more open, but that becomes difficult, because you would need T1.2, and there are no zooms anywhere near that fast. The best you can get is the DigiPrimes at T1.6.

class="Paragraph">You could also use the P+S Technik Pro 35, but you must convince them to invest over 23,000 EUR to buy one (or rent it) plus rent (or buy) the 35 format lenses to go with it. There is also a light loss through the P+S unit, I don’t know how much. It’s a great tool. It does something to video that nothing else can. But for your low-light project it may not be the way to go. I’d talk to an experienced user.

class="Paragraph">So, you could shoot on 500 ISO film in Super 16, using the Zeiss Super Speed lenses, all T1.3, from 9.5 to 85 mm (plus the Illumina 8mm T1.3). You would need VERY little light level. The grain in nearly invisible in NTSC transfer, I have not had the opportunity to test transferring 500T to HD.

class="Paragraph">I think with horror genre, the more you can NOT show, the scarier it gets. So shallow D.O.F. Will work to your advantage here.

class="Paragraph">I think we’re getting to the point where you could argue that Super 16 quality today is equivalent to 35mm quality 30 years ago. The resolution of the film in terms of MTF response has nearly doubled in that time. We’ve got lenses to match.

class="Paragraph">It seems to me that the edge enhancement that is inherent in all HD cameras to make up for the lack of actual resolution will cause problems with your makeup and effects. I think on some of the best camera you can turn this off but it’s always on by default.

class="Paragraph">The more natural fall-off of MTF response from an S16 film/lens combination may prove more forgiving of the effects and makeup while still looking sharp.

class="Paragraph">All this said, I think it’s crazy to shoot available light on ANY format. Controlling the light is so important it makes a bigger difference than anything else.

class="Paragraph">All I have time for now, hope this helps.

class="Paragraph"> Jorge Diaz-Amador
Designer / Technician
CinemaTechnic, Inc.
Miami, FL USA
http://www.cinematechnic.com


class="Paragraph">> you would need T1.2, and there are no zooms anywhere near that fast

class="Paragraph">Yes there are. Most HD zooms are that fast. My el-cheapo standard def ENG zoom is that fast, and while you obviously wouldn't want to shoot a feature on a Fuji S20x6.4, it's not at all unusual.

class="Paragraph">I doubt anyone would be complaining if he shot it on 35 at T4, either, which would give you exactly the same depth of field as an F900...

class="Paragraph">Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London


class="Paragraph">Phil,

class="Paragraph">I said :

class="Paragraph">>you would need T1.2, and there are no zooms anywhere near that fast

class="Paragraph">I meant HD quality zoom lenses. Anything less would loose enough resolution to lens aberrations that the depth of field effect would NOT be achieved since resolution in a major factor in this.

class="Paragraph">Phil Rhodes :

class="Paragraph" >Yes there are. Most HD zooms are that fast. My el-cheapo standard def >ENG zoom is that fast, and while you obviously wouldn't want to shoot >a feature on a Fuji S20x6.4, it's not at all unusual.

class="Paragraph" Most HD zooms are T1.2? T1.2 would need to be f1.1 or f1.0. The fastest Fujinon HD zooms are T1.6.

class="Paragraph">The Fujinon S20 x 6.4RM is T1.4 but it is for 1/2 INCH CHIP. This will not work on an HD camera, and if there was one with a 1/2 inch chip then you would need to open up the aperture even more to get the same depth of field.

class="Paragraph">On a 1/2 inch chip you would need to open up 3 3/4 stops to get the same depth of field as 35mm, so you would need T 0.8 to match T2.8 on the 35mm camera.

class="Paragraph">You'd have to open up 1.8 stops to get the same DOF with 1/2 inch chip as you get with Super 16. So to match T1.3 on the S16 camera you would need T0.7.

class="Paragraph">It gets totally pointless when you get down to the tiny 1/4 inch chips on some of these video cameras. A 3.6 stop ratio between S16 and a 1/4 inch chip camera. So T1.4 on the 1/4 inch chip camera looks like T5 on the S16 camera.

class="Paragraph">Also, I'm not an optical designer, but designers I have worked with tell me that the faster the lens the closer the rear element has to be to the image (film or chip) plane. The famous Zeiss 50mm f0.7 lens Stanley Kubrick used on Barry Lyndon had it's rear element only 3mm from the film plane. It could not be used on any reflex camera and needed a highly modified Mitchell BNC in order to be used as a cinematography lens.

class="Paragraph">Since most electronic cameras today use 3 CCD prisms, which extend the back focus considerably, you will not see faster apertures on the lenses for these cameras. It's just an optical impossibility. Zeiss would have made these lenses if it was possible on the 3 chip prism, since they are experts in f1.2 cine lenses.

class="Paragraph">I don't think much faster than f1.2 is possible on the cine cameras due to the spinning mirror clearance. That's why we haven't seen anything faster since the mid 1970's.

class="Paragraph">If anyone decides to check my math (you're more than welcome), I'm using the DIN Super 35 aperture of 18 x 24mm as a basis for calculation. Also if anyone knows of lenses faster than T1.6 for 2/3 inch HD cameras please post.

class="Paragraph"> Jorge Diaz-Amador
Designer / Technician
CinemaTechnic, Inc.
Miami, FL USA


class="Paragraph">This may be slightly off topic but still relevant to where the discussion has progressed --

class="Paragraph">I thought the distance from the rear element of the lens to the film plane must stay equal to the distance of the film plane to the ground glass, otherwise the focus will not be correct.

class="Paragraph">But in the last post it was mentioned that the speed of a lens is partially a function of the distance from the rear element to the film plane.

class="Paragraph">Also relevant because I've noticed the same lens I've been using vignetting on one camera and not on another, which raised this rear element distance question in my brain already.

class="Paragraph">Can anyone help me sort this out? Thanks,

class="Paragraph">Chris Teague


class="Paragraph">>Also, I'm not an optical designer, but designers I have worked with tell >me that the faster the lens the closer the rear element has to be to the >image (film or chip) plane.

class="Paragraph">Partially not true. Cannon made a 50mm 0.95 years ago that worked perfectly on their 35mm still camera, with fully functioning mirror box. Though some lenses may need to be very close, this is more representative of the manufacturers decisions, than necessity born out of the speed.

class="Paragraph">Who knows, maybe every lens manufacturer is placing fast lens rear elements close to the film planes these days. Maybe they knew how awful that Canon 50mm 0.95 lens was ... then again that lens dates back to the 1960's. I'd think lens technology has made a few steps since then.

class="Paragraph">I still wonder if HD lenses are existing optical designs that had their multicoating largely reduced. Multicoating, for all it's contrast benefits, reduces lens sharpness. Removing it, increases sharpness.

class="Paragraph">Of course that doesn't account for manufacturers getting a huge break in design parameters. With HD lenses they don't have to worry nearly as much about "film plane" real estate ... leading to the possibility all they needed to do is chop off some of the coverage increasing parts of the lens designed for greater coverage, leaving the initial optical design intact.

class="Paragraph">Years ago I postulated "Life is good. How often does one get paid more for doing less?"

class="Paragraph">For what it's worth, I'm sure I'm largely wrong, but equally certain there's some truth to this.

class="Paragraph">Format coverage is one of the toughest hurdles to cross in lens design. To illustrate the point, using old dusty information ... one of the sharpest lenses made in the history of all lenses was the 25mm 1.9 Aspheric found in Kodak's 110 Ektramax camera.

class="Paragraph">So good were some of these plastic mould aspheric 4 element lenses, they were pulled from the manufacturing line and used for much more critical purposes. The ones left to be installed in these pocket cameras were already better than any competitors'.

class="Paragraph">Cliff Hancuff
Washington, DC


class="Paragraph">>I’m just going to give you some pro-Super 16mm points since I know >that format intimately

class="Paragraph" Ah Jorge,

class="Paragraph"
I wish guys like you were around years ago when I started...It would have saved me years of apprenticeship.

class="Paragraph">Thank you so much for this and I am sure a lot of people on CML will save your post in their archives.

class="Paragraph">It's a great refresher for old bones like mine, and I have to admit I don't really shoot 16mm much anymore, mostly 35 and HD now.

class="Paragraph">Anyway, it's fascinating what my original post brought up.

class="Paragraph">I think that unless I convince the grey suits with the material that I have put together (thank you to all the off list replies, fab stuff) I will turn the job down.

class="Paragraph" With my heart bleeding, but after years of hard work and some achievements I am not prepared to be that accommodating. Plenty of people queuing up... anyone?

class="Paragraph" Franz Pagot AIC
Director of Photography/Underwater Cameraman
GBCT MBKS BAFTA


class="Paragraph">>Maybe they knew how awful that Canon 50mm 0.95 lens was

class="Paragraph">I own a rather nice 13mm f/0.9 (AR Switar on a Bolex C-8SL)! More seriously, what's the rated _f/stop_ of the Master Primes - t/stop being t/1.3? (and I presume Super Speeds as well) Just curious.

class="Paragraph" PS owners of Leica Noctilux-M f/1 50mm's, a rabid bunch, are referred to as "Noctiloonies", apropos - a looney being a person driven mad by moonlight. There's a really excellent PDF brochure on the lens linked at:
http://www.leicacamera.com/produkte/msystem/

class="Paragraph" objektive/normal/index_e.html

class="Paragraph">Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


class="Paragraph">Cliff,

class="Paragraph">Where did you hear this?

class="Paragraph">>I still wonder if HD lenses are existing optical designs that had their >multicoating largely reduced. Multicoating, for all it's contrast benefits, >reduces lens sharpness. Removing it, increases sharpness.

class="Paragraph">This goes against everything I know about optical coatings. Contrast and sharpness are inextricably linked. Can you refer me to anything on this?

class="Paragraph"> Jorge Diaz-Amador
Designer / Technician
CinemaTechnic, Inc.
Miami, FL USA
http://www.cinematechnic.com


class="Paragraph">Tim,

class="Paragraph">All the newer Zeiss super speed lenses and the Master Primes are all f1.2 / T1.3.

class="Paragraph">The older Mk. I bayonet 35mm primes have the 18, 25 and 35mm at f1.2, the 50mm at f1.3 and the 85mm at f1.4, but all have iris rings marked T1.4. I guess they picked the average and ignored the tolerance on the 85mm which was almost certainly a T1.5. On the MK. II version they made the rear elements bigger on the 50 and 85 so they are all f1.2.

class="Paragraph">With the C-mount design, you can have rear elements at about 17.5mm from the film plane, so it is easier to get rear element close. Bolex had a Switar 26mm f1.1 which would probably be T1.2.

With Super 8, the mount was probably closer to the film. Also remember that when the image circle is smaller you can make a faster lens because you are concentrating all the light gathered on a smaller area.

class="Paragraph">The bigger the format the tougher to make a fast lens.

class="Paragraph">>I own a rather nice 13mm f/0.9 (AR Switar on a Bolex C-8SL)! More >seriously, what's the rated _f/stop_ of the Master Primes t/stop being >t/1.3? (and I presume Super Speeds as well) Just curious.

class="Paragraph">--
Jorge Diaz-Amador
Designer / Technician
CinemaTechnic, Inc.
Miami, FL USA


class="Paragraph">>Contrast and sharpness are inextricably linked. Can you refer me to >anything on this?

class="Paragraph">...ack, I missed this. I hope my previous post to the list clarifies. It's not so much documentable commentary, than it is my over caffeinated opinionating. Seems logical, but who knows what I'm missing.

class="Paragraph">>Where did you hear this?
>I still wonder if HD lenses are existing optical designs that had their >multicoating largely reduced. Multicoating, for all it's contrast benefits, >reduces lens sharpness. Removing it, increases sharpness.

class="Paragraph">It's not what I heard, it's what I wondered out loud to this list a couple years ago. Coating reduces sharpness, trading the reduction of flair and increased colour saturation/contrast for the loss of lines/mm ... trading "real" sharpness for apparent sharpness ... certainly a bargain, as tradeoffs go.

class="Paragraph">By way of example, Leica lenses are not particularly sharp, compared to other mass market, high quality, 35mm still lenses. Where they collect all their ooo's and ahhh's is from their gorgeous images created by the highest colour saturation /contrast in the land.

class="Paragraph">From what I understand a reduction of contrast is desirable in HD stuff.

class="Paragraph">Contrast and sharpness are inextricably linked. Can you refer me to anything on this?

class="Paragraph">It's not so much documentable commentary, it's more my over caffeinated opinionating. I could site uncoated, low contrast lenses with well over 100lines/mm sharpness, on the order of double the sharpness of many Leica lenses, but that still won't add documentation of how contrast and sharpness aren't always linked. Seems logical, but who knows what I'm missing.

class="Paragraph">Cliff Hancuff
Washington, DC


class="Paragraph">>It's not so much documentable commentary, it's more my over >caffeinated opinionating.

class="Paragraph">I think what you are missing is the range of frequencies across the colour spectrum. With uncoated optics the spectral differences would lead to diverging axes of refraction, thus reducing sharpness. Your uncoated optica would work great if the light was only of a specific wavelength, but put in some blue and red and whatever across the spectrum and it will invariably lose the lines/mm race.

class="Paragraph">Mitch Gross
NYC DP


class="Paragraph">>Your uncoated optica would work great if the light was only of a specific <wavelength, but put in some blue and red and whatever across the >spectrum and it will invariably lose the lines/mm race.

class="Paragraph">I reading your response and thinking about those uncoated lenses I know have 100+L/mm sharpness ... they're all old graphic art process lenses. For a moment I thought I understood, since orthochromatic film is what they focused on.

class="Paragraph">If what you say is true, it still leaves me wondering why they remain so sharp, albeit uncoated, since they are rendering panchromatic light (kinda' sorta') onto orthochromatic film.

class="Paragraph">I am aware of some ultra sharp lenses that were used in microfiche work that have hundreds of lines/mm and required sodium vapour lights for their sharpness. That's not what I was referring to, when I mentioned my thoughts that sharpness and contrast are not always related.

class="Paragraph">If anyone wonders, this batch of coffee is from Kenya.

class="Paragraph">Cliff Hancuff
Washington, DC


class="Paragraph">I'll take a reduction in bench test resolving power over veiling glare and off axis flare any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

class="Paragraph">Sam Wells
film/../nj


class="Paragraph">> It's not what I heard, it's what I wondered out loud to this list

class="Paragraph">I wonder if we can stick to facts rather than flights of fancy.

class="Paragraph">It doesn't help anyone to see wild opinions that are at odds with all available info posted here.

class="Paragraph">Keep it real folks.

class="Paragraph">--

class="Paragraph">Cheers

class="Paragraph">Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based
www.cinematography.net


class="Paragraph">Chris Teague wrote:

class="Paragraph">> Also relevant because I've noticed the same lens I've been using >vignetting on one camera and not on another, which raised this rear >element distance question in my brain already.
>Different cameras? Such as Aaton Arri? Bolex rex 4 and Bolex RX?

class="Paragraph">Need some more specifics.

class="Paragraph">Could be a function of many things, how much the ground glass sees outside the frame, if it is a standard 16 lens being viewed on a standard 16 g.g. or on a super 16 g.g.

class="Paragraph">--
Steven Gladstone
New York Based Cinematographer
Gladstone Films
www.gladstonefilms.com
917-886-5858
CML East Coast List Administrator


class="Paragraph">>I wonder if we can stick to facts rather than flights of fancy.
>It doesn't help anyone to see wild opinions that are at odds with all >available info posted here.

class="Paragraph">Geoff, We're still working' on my education. I still can't figure the commonly held belief that contrast and sharpness are inextricably tied.

class="Paragraph">I remember your fondness for Cook lenses and their lower contrast levels, but can't recall you ever commenting on their lack of sharpness.

class="Paragraph">Cliff Hancuff
Washington, DC


class="Paragraph">The bigger the format the tougher to make a fast lens.

class="Paragraph">Thanks for the info - I have a partial set of Mk2's that I still use quite often. I haven't shot any Regular 8mm in a while, but when I did, with that slow K-chrome, a fast lens meant being able to shoot in real shade _at all_. Super 8mm I never liked much (what's the point of a bigger small in crappy cartridges when there's 16mm?). I have another mirror-reflex Beaulieu 8mm that'll shoot 64fps, and has a nice Schneider 1:1 tele-macro. If anyone wants to shoot high-speed macro in 8mm, give me a ring. Perfect for beer pours!

class="Paragraph">Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


class="Paragraph">Phil Rhodes wrote:

class="Paragraph"> > Is that actually how the spec's written?

class="Paragraph">Yes, because the standard flange focal distance is always given as an absolute: e.g., Arri's is 52mm.
The depth gauge used to measure the FFD is then "zeroed" at 52mm, thus the tolerance is + or - 0.01mm

class="Paragraph">>Usually tolerances are given as a percentage where the >absolute distance isn't known, which would seem to make >sense where focus varies as a proportion of the distance.

class="Paragraph">I'm sure you can work out the math, if you need it as a percentage.

class="Paragraph">Brian Heller
IA 600 DP