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Features Combining 35mm and Tape

>Published : 11th March 2007

>I've been talking with a director friend about a feature project he's had on the back burner for a good while now, that may get into production next year. One of the things he's been planning to do, from a financial point of view as well as an artistic one, is to shoot on two different formats, tape, (possibly HD), and then 35mm. There is a major transition in the story that would justify two different looks, though I myself might prefer to achieve this in a different way. Another factor is that one half of the film will involve a lot of car interiors at night.

>Can anyone recommend features that have been shot with both film and tape like this that I might have a look at ?

>Due to the fact that you'd have to carry 2 sets of gear all the time to maintain any flexibility in scheduling, I'm not sure there really would be much of a cost saving in the end.

>Larry Manly
DP
London


>Michael Mann's 'Collateral' was shot on both 35mm film and HD.

I believe the HD was mostly used for night exteriors and the car interiors.

Stuart Brereton
DP, UK


>Laurence Manly wrote :

class="style2">>>Can anyone recommend features that have been shot with both film >>and tape like this that I might have a look at ?

>Collateral.

>But see it in 35mm, not on DVD.

>There all the horrors will be evident. Of course the in-car lighting didn't help things... what were they thinking?

>Godard's Éloge de l'amour mixes 35mm B&W and DV quite nicely

>Jeff Kreines


>Jeff Kreines wrote :

class="style2">>>There all the horrors will be evident. Of course the in-car lighting didn't >>help things...what were they thinking?

>They were thinking this is what Michael wants to see. And since Michael was quite happy with it, they were correct in their thinking.

>Just because you (or anyone else) didn't like it doesn't mean it was wrong or inappropriate. It means that you didn't happen to agree with the director. And it's his picture.

>Mike Most
VFX Supervisor/Dir. of Post Production
Westwind Media
Burbank, CA.


>Michael Most wrote:

class="style2">>>Just because you (or anyone else) didn't like it doesn't mean it was >>wrong or inappropriate. It means that you didn't happen to agree with >>the director. And it's his picture.

>True enough.

>That doesn't mean I can't say that it looked really horrendous. Many on this list have written me privately to agree, but don't want to say so publicly. There is (as Mr. Bush may be learning this week) still a time for people to say that the emperor has no clothes. (Though Mr. Mann is hardly an emperor.)

>I do think the lighting of Jada Pinkett Smith, in the back seat of the car, bordered on criminally negligent! As I have said before, when you are shooting in a moving car in LA, with lots of lovely light coming in and moving around the actors as the car moves, why overpower that light with weirdly unmotivated light emanating from the rear of the driver's seat? I realize that unmotivated light can work nicely, but in a supposedly realistic film you just sit there wondering if the previous passenger had left a small stockpile of plutonium in the back seat, and that was the light source.

>Jeff Kreines


class="style2">>>That doesn't mean I can't say that it looked really horrendous. Many on >>this list have written me privately to agree, but don't want to say so >>publicly.

>Heat looked much better.

>Robert Houllahan
Filmmaker
www.cinelab.com


>Jeff Kreines wrote:

class="style2">>>That doesn't mean I can't say that it looked really horrendous. Many on >>this list have written me privately to agree, but don't want to say so >>publicly.

>I second that emotion.

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>I liked the look of Collateral for the most part from what I remember. I thought it was a decent movie. Heat is far better though.

>Daniel Bronks
DP
UK


>Does the Beeb still mix tape interiors with film exteriors on shows?

>Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


>>>Does the Beeb still mix tape interiors with film exteriors on shows?

I had asked that same question a couple months back and it didn’t raise much response.

>I had my own guesses but I was interested to know the original thought behind it, because the difference was quite jarring to my Yank eyes when I'd watch, and I'm not sure if they wanted to create that feel, or if they just gritted their teeth and went with it...

My guess was that they simply didn’t have any confidence in video to do the exterior shots.
But I could be wrong.

Jeffery Haas
freelance shooter and editor
Dallas


>Aw c’mon on lads . . .

>A debate about the aesthetics of Michael Mann is not what I'm looking for.

> I have an issue of AC that deals with Collateral somewhere in the house so I'll track that down, but what I'm really looking for is examples of features where film and tape have been used to give 2 different looks within the film, whether it's been successful or not. Maybe a film where this has not been successful could be more instructive.

>This is just some thing the director of my potential project is talking about. I'm interested, but not convinced, and feel that the 2 different looks he's hoping for could be achieved in other, perhaps more subtle ways while shooting the whole movie on film, or maybe the whole thing on tape.

>The budget on this movie will not be huge, and the section he wants to shoot on tape involves a lot of night exteriors and car interiors on dark country roads which will have to be shot with somewhat minimal lighting. All adding to the fun.

>Larry Manly
DP
London


>Laurence Manly wrote:

class="style2">>>but what I'm really looking for is examples of features where film and >>tape have been used to give 2 different looks within the film, whether >>it's been successful or not.

>Off the top of my head, some examples :

>Try picking up a copy of Love Actually from a couple years back. Both the prologue and epilogue are shot on video, whereas the rest of the movie is shot on film. For what it's worth, I thought the switch worked really well.

>If you're interested in mixing footage where the video is shot by the characters, this is done in American Beauty and Pulp Fiction (I remember listening to Tarantino talking about the scene where Mia shoots Vincent on video - I believe it's on a DVD commentary somewhere - worth a listen).

>The Blair Witch Project mixes film with video throughout the movie.

>And this is really straining my memory here, but if I remember correctly, a few shots in Run Lola Run also made the switch to video.

>Hope this helps,

>Adam Estey


>Laurence Manly wrote :

>>Maybe a film where this has not been successful could be more >>instructive.

Which is why I mentioned the Godard film (successful) and the Mann film (imho, not successful).

>I do see great potentials for films that mix various formats, though it could also just lead to messy, sloppy filmmaking. Make that messier, sloppier filmmaking.

>Jeff Kreines


>I'm surprised no-one's mentioned any of Atom Egoyan's films.

>His most famous, the Sweet Hereafter, uses a little bit of video.

>Calender mixes the two very well.

>Next of Kin, Exotica, Speaking Parts.

>Duraid Munajim
Cinematographer
Toronto


>Hi,

class="style2">>>Does the Beeb still mix tape interiors with film exteriors on shows?

>Not for decades, no.

>One constantly gets the impression that the US impression of the UK is based on Monty Python and has yet to be updated.

>But we do apologise profusely for Keira Knightley.

>Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London


>Laurence Manly wrote:

class="style2">>>I have an issue of AC that deals with Collateral somewhere in the >>house so I'll track that down, but what I'm really looking for is >>examples of features where film and tape have been used to give 2 >>different looks within the film, whether it's been successful or not.

>In that case, you may learn a great deal from Collateral, Mr. Mann's somewhat biased opinion notwithstanding.

>I have seen Collateral both on film in a first run theatre, and on DVD. On DVD, the differences between the film and tape sections are no nowhere near as apparent/glaring/pleasing as they are on film. In any case, you should see Collateral and decide for yourself. However any professional camera people who claim that they didn't notice or didn't mind those differences, must have seen a different movie, or else they anticipate being hired by Michael Mann.

>Mann's comments remind me of some advice I got as a young AC about to enter the screening room for the first time. The DP pulled me aside and said: "Listen kid, that no matter what we see, that's what we wanted."

>It's still pretty good advice.

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>"15 Minutes" is an example of what I think you are looking for. The video was used as a point of view of one of the bad guys as he documented he and his partners crimes.

>Cheers

>Mark Eberle
DP-LA


>Pavel Cerenkov, Gaffer

>Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


>Only saw Collateral on DVD but I agree, despite the shortcomings of HD (which there are many), they really shot themselves in the foot with the ugly fluorescents in the car. As if HD needs a reason to look flat and ugly..

Well, I believe Full Frontal the Soderbergh movie has a mix of both. If there's a stylistic reason/motivation for the changes in format throughout the film I'm sure it will work fine. The Soderbergh approach was 35mm for the "Hollywood" sections of the movie and mini-DV for the "reality" sections (if I remember right). Trying to treat the different looks equally and blend them together is probably a bad idea though. If there isn't a motivation for it, what you'll have is part of the movie looking professional and the other parts looking cheap. HD can get away on it's own, but putting it up side by side with 35 is going to make its differences really stand out.

>Jim Eagan
NY editor/cameraman


>Laurence Manly wrote :

class="style2">>>Maybe a film where this has not been successful could be more >>instructive.

>Not wanting to open the debate again about "Collateral" (which I liked!) but watching the Insider again there are a few sequences that on the DVD look like video transfer (Al Pacino on forced vacation beach hut) I cant remember the print as it was a while back but was Michael Mann experimenting with the Sony 900?

>Guess somebody out there will know? (Might be my dodgy DVD)

>Dave Le May
DP
London
www.davidlemay.com


>I thought they used a lot of electroluminescence?

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.

Walter Graff
Director
BlueSky Media, Inc.
888.435.5428 ext 31
Cell 917.217.9766
www.bluesky-web.com
Offices in NYC and Amherst Mass.


class="style2">>>One constantly gets the impression that the US impression of the UK >>is based on Monty Python and has yet to be updated.

>No, it's slowly being updated by the impression created by "Fawlty Towers", but for some of the more intelligent among us, it's already been updated by "the Black Adder".

>Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List
http://www.cinematography.net


>Either way, LED's or mini-flos, it looked very flat and ugly to me. Which is not to say that LED’s and Kinos automatically look ugly, but I felt they were used in the most obvious and stylistically lazy way possible in the car scenes. I've personally shot car scenes using mini-flos and the effect was very similar to what they got in Collateral.. And what really disappoints me is that Mann set up the car scenes in interviews as the HD sections of the film, whereas I know there were other scenes shot in HD that looked 10 times better. And as bad as they looked on DVD, I can't even imagine what they looked like projected off a print. But maybe this is what Mann/Beebe were going for. I don't think it hurt the flow of the narrative at all.

Jim Eagan
NY editor/cameraman


>Either way, LED’s or mini-flos, it looked very flat and ugly to me.

>I wasn’t talking about either but was talking about electroluminescent sheets.

>Here’s something to think about. In my lighting classes I often tell folks that I am like a walking disk drive always remembering many different natural lighting scenarios from the time I could remember.

>Such as the warm sunlit room with the particles of dust visible in the beams of sunlight that I remember as a seven year old, or the blue tone in a bus at night from the fluorescents I remember from this summer. I tell folks if they want to learn how to light learn to see light as it is and what it does and then when its their turn, modify what they saw till it suits them. I ask folks to sit in a car at night and look at themselves in various natural scenarios.

>Many of those scenarios actually end up being close to what they did in Collateral. Wrong. No such thing when watching a film, only subjective reactions which are by definition biased. But someone had that catalogued in their head and it wasn’t wrong to them so can only be one interpretation of life based on one individual.

>Walter Graff
BlueSky Media, Inc.


>Having worked at those light levels with even lower res than an f900 I'd almost speculate the cab scenes looked the way they did due to a little too much play with signal levels in post.

>Dave Stump may argue here

>Look at the Fincher / Miranda Heineken spot for what you can really do now (OK might help if you have a Viper)

>P.S : Godard's "Éloge de l'amour" is a good call, no pretence of seamless intercutting but taking each style (35mm B&W, DV) out to the edges.

>Sam Wells
film/.../nj


>"Natural Born Killers" by Oliver Stone is my choice for a film that explores the effect of different looks. The beginning is video transferred to 35.

>The canned laughter does effect that look. The scariest parts, I think, are the 16mm B&W. The 35 colour just looks like normal slasher fare.

>Mixing HD and film may not be that apparent to most people-especially on the
small screen.

>Edwin Myers, Atlanta dp


>Jeffery Haas writes:

class="style2">>>Does the Beeb still mix tape interiors with film exteriors on shows?

>Before decent EFP technology came along they had no choice. But that was a long time ago.

>Now we Yanks mix 24p and 30i footage in TV news/features, and it looks just as tacky.

>Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA


>Sam Wells wrote:

>>Godard's "Éloge de l'amour" is a good call, no pretence of seamless >>intercutting but taking each style (35mm B&W, DV) out to the edges.

I'll submit this: "Run Lola Run. 35 mm and some DV thrown in to the mix.

>Mark Smith
DP NYC


>Jeffery Haas: wrote

class="style2">>>My guess was that they simply didn’t have any confidence in video to >>do the exterior shots ...But I could be wrong

>Remember 25 years ago, even News was originated on film, when outside of a studio. The video options at that time weren’t very portable!

>Stephen "cut my teeth on 7240" Williams
Zurich


>Me to after the horrors of 7240 , found the delight or Eastman colour 1st 7251 50 asa and then 7254 100asa , ext. as in Fawlty Towers etc . shot 7254 . looked good ,the problem was the old Farts ,[thinking it was just called studio lighting ] didn’t know what they were doing really when it came to colour in the studio , my 1st time lighting a studio interior for the Beeb was awful , it looked great lots of soft back light , and bounce key , but the guys in racks said yes it looks nice but we don’t do it like that at the B.B.C. and carried on looking at their Vectorscopes , or what they had been trained to looked at , very sad ,glad to say a few years later , I think people changed their sad little mind .

>John Holland , lighting cameraman
London


>American Beauty mixes DV (some of which looks like it was shoot by the talent) with Connie Hall's brilliant film footage.

>Paul Mailman
DP/USA


>Clearly everyone was watching this footage on the set, in full clarity on HD monitors, so I don't doubt that this is what everyone wanted at the time. But "mistakes" do exist in cinematography, lighting choices are not entirely subjective. They cease to be simply "artistic choices" when, to the typical/majority of viewers, they distract from the story being told, weaken it's ability to connect with the audience. Most DP's choices are probably within that grey area where, at worst, they're simply adding nothing more to the text.

But let's say that the Foxx/Cruise car scenes were lit with green-gelled 5k's, so that the faces were overexposed (exposure kept to see "into the night"), and green. Foxx/Cruise look like aliens.. except for when they are in scenes outside the car. We as the audience are left wondering, why are they bright green in the taxi? That's a distraction, that adds nothing to the story. Now underexposing them to the point that you just barely can make out their eyes/silhouettes, that could potentially make sense. But the opposite? With odd collared gels? I doubt it.

Jim Eagan
NY editor/cameraman


>"Not wanting to open the debate again about "Collateral" (which I liked!) but watching the Insider again there are a few sequences that on the DVD look like video transfer (Al Pacino on forced vacation beach hut) I cant remember the print as it was a while back but was Michael Mann experimenting with the Sony 900?

>Guess somebody out there will know? (Might be my dodgy DVD)"

>'The Insider' is all 35mm.

>Max Jacoby
Lux/UK
www.imdb.com


>One thing I would like to point out in this discussion is that both Dion Beebe and Paul Cameron were nominated for an ASC award for their work on "Collateral".

>Dan Donovan
Senior Marketing Executive
Panavision Hollywood


>Dan Donovan wrote:

class="style2">>>One thing I would like to point out in this discussion is that both Dion >>Beebe and Paul Cameron were nominated for an ASC award for their >>work on "Collateral".

>True enough. And it is a peer nomination, so we know that politics aren't involved, like, say, the Oscars – where "Ordinary People" beat out "Raging Bull" for the "Best Picture," and Gordon Willis was ignored until getting nominated for Zelig and eventually Godfather III, hardly his most significant work.

>I was impressed to see how many of the winners of ASC awards were not ASC members -- that would never have happened 30 years ago.

>Jeff "ok, I was joking about politics" Kreines


>About 5 years ago I shot a drama involving an inter-cut video with film sequence for a police surveillance operation scene. Well when I saw it I couldn't believe how jarring and ugly the cuts became. It was disgusting. It made the viewer so distracted by the film process that it detracted from the story. After much arm twisting, I actually re shot all the tape stuff from a monitor at the editors on S16. Although it still looked different it sat a lot better.

>I know it was a different device but these mixed formats can ruin a film. In some cases like the afore mentioned Natural Born Killers, it can be an interesting idea. The point is, it's a risk, it depends how it's used and I don't know how you can tell if will work before hand, other than to shoot a test scene.

>Cheers

>Daniel Bronks
DP
UK



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