Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

My First Feature Meeting

Published : 4th October 2004


I'm going to my first ever meeting for a low budget feature and am a bit unsure on how to present the format options.

Not knowing full the budget or what the end market is, I would like to come up with suggestions to shoot S16mm, I assume 35mm is out of the question and as a last resort Ill go HD.

My concern is that the producer might consider a digital format like SD/HD and the plan is to convince them that the advantaged of shooting S16mm on the Vison2 fine grained stocks for an optical blow-up to 35mm, is the only way to go.

For me its obvious that even consider shooting a feature on SD is silly and doesn't have the same production & distribution value as say S16 but is it for a budget minded producer?

I don't know if a TK at 2k rez Spirit/C-Reality then output to 35mm is at all feasible to think of here, any advice is very welcome?!

The film is pretty straight forward and without special f/x or matte work.

Since I haven't had and wont have time before the meeting (due to work) to phone around to the labs for quotes and ideas, I was hoping someone has been in a similar situation and I would love to hear suggestions on how to and with what info I should approach them with.

Thanks

Flemming Jetmar
DP London



Dear CML'ers / Flemming,

Arguments to shot in Super 16 :

* Your project will be in a format that, whatever will happen in the future, always can be scanned to others video formats.

* Good resolution and deep color space

* The cine camera is more easy to operate in low budget situations.

Video cameras needs at least a good and middle monitor. If you want security, waveform and vectorscope. Film camera with light meters, small monitor to video assist are smaller than video cameras and your tools.

* If you want to shot a suddenly scene, a film camera starts faster than video cameras.

* I don't know why (in really I know why), but when we shot on film the people take more attention in your works. Then, the results in general are a little better.

This is my ideas for now. I hope I help you a little.

Best regards,

Adriano S. Barbuto
DP
Sao Paulo / Brazil



>I don't know if a TK at 2k rez Spirit/C-Reality then output to 35mm is at >all feasible to think of here, any advice is very welcome?!

Well I've just made some tests in Rome for a low budget production scanning S16 with a C-Reality in an HD-dual link (1080 24p 4:4:4) mode and it sucked. There was some coloured noise. I'm not sure is the post house fault.

I've seen the beta we TK'd and it looked nice, I don't know if 1920x1080 is too much for 16mm or the problem is something else. suggestions?

Leandro Pedroni



For guaranteed results bring a single black glove and a pair of duelling pistols.

On a serious note, find out what their budget is before you even suggest a format. My experience is that if you push a format that they can't afford they may simply keep talking to DP´s until one suggests a format they can afford.

And if they are VERY secretive about their budget you may not want to work for them anyway.

Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"
http://www.artadams.net/



The complete budget picture is really not your job -- it's the producer's. But you can tell him that while shooting HD is cheap, the post costs can be very high, especially if you finish to a 35mm film print. The costs can be so high as to outspend the costs of shooting in Super-16. And then explain that everyone always struggles to achieve a "film look," yet Super-16 has it built in. Rule of thumb; if you plan to finish to film you're generally better off shooting in film in the first place both for costs and aesthetics.

And shooting in film is not so expensive anyway. The camera package rental is significantly less than an HD package, even without the very necessary large HD monitor or waveform. And in the US, I use the rule of thumb of $25 per minute running cost (includes purchase of raw stock, developing and SD video dailies), so a feature is likely only spending about $15,000 - $20,000 on film. This may sound high but is dwarfed by the cost savings of an optical S-16 to 35 blowup compared to a laser burnout of HD to 35 in post. And if the production can be a bit frugal about shooting ratios during production then the savings will be even greater.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP



I was recently involved with a low budget feature project that had intended to shoot 35mm. I had worked with the director before and in discussing the look of the film I thought that doing a Digital Intermediate might be the way to go. I knew they couldn't afford that as well as 35mm so I suggested that we shoot Super16.

This seemed appropriate for other reasons too. Three of the principles were kids (down to six years old) and I knew we wanted to run a lot of film. Lots of handheld in small locations...made sense on a number of levels.

I made my suggestion to the producers that we should shoot super16 only if it would buy us a DI. They crunched some numbers and found it would actually save them a little bit of cash.

We viewed the first reel of a feature shot here in Toronto on super16-2k scan-35mm print.

It looked great! yes it is still S16. It will never be 35mm. But it sure beats an optical blow up and offers you a load of options for tweaking your "look".

(Note: unfortunately the feature I was supposed to do pushed their schedule in to my wedding date and I had to bow out...they are continuing with the S16 DI route though.)

Dylan Macleod, csc
Toronto, Canada



>I've seen the beta we TK'd and it looked nice, I don't know if 1920x1080 >is too much for 16mm or the problem is something else. Suggestions?

I don't see how 1920 x 1080 is "too Much" for 16mm, in the sense that I don't see how you can have too much res in the sense that 5242 could be "too sharp" for 16mm optical ---

But for sure the Digibeta viewed on a monitor could hide noise that your film out reveals.

I'm amazed at C-Reality's ability to see detail in my negatives but this is SD, it can look beautiful but I don't know how far you can go with it.

Please let us know what happens with this.

Sam Wells



>I don't know if 1920x1080 is too much for 16mm or the problem is >something else

> Something else

We used 7212 and that's what we got :

http://www.horrorvacqui.com/dpx/colonia.2391.dpx

http://www.horrorvacqui.com/dpx/colonia.4280b.dpx

Those are a couple of frames (8 megs each) from the TK in 1920x1080 4:4:4. I really didn't expect that kind of noise.

Leandro Pedroni



Leandro writes:

>Those are a couple of frames (8 megs each) from the TK.

It's not much of a test. (It might help if it were in focus.)

Did you print this film? Do you know the printer lights? Is it underexposed, perhaps seriously? Also, it's especially soft on the left side (not just focus, looks like a camera or telecine problem).

How does it look projected on a screen, from timed work print?

Something is very wrong. But from the test frames, it's very unclear who is responsible.

If you're going to bother to shoot a test, do it with some care. There is little you could learn from this test.

Jeff Kreines



Dylan Macleod wrote:

>(Note: unfortunately the feature I was supposed to do pushed their >schedule in to my wedding date and I had to bow out...they are >continuing with the S16 DI route though.)

And you didn't postpone your wedding date?

Good for you.

Steven (Just married a few months myself) Gladstone

Steven Gladstone
New York Based D.P.
www.gladstonefilms.com
East Coast CML List administrator



Thanks guys!

Very helpful as always.

Just got back from a 14h shoot and my meeting is very early tomorrow morning, I'll will be back with more interesting questions if I get the job...

Flemming Jetmar
London DP