Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

When S16 Makes Sense But Money Talks

Published : 23rd November 2013

Dear fellow cinematographers,

I have a conundrum, film vs digital on a feature which screams to be shot on s16.

Myself and the director are currently in a film or digital battle with a producer over a feature which is shooting next year.

The film is set in the late 60s and the aesthetic myself and the director wish for is s16. It’s a no brainer.

The producers point of view, and quite rightly is one of cost. The producer also poses the question "what is being shot on s16 these days any way."

So, friends, please can you share your experiences of having this conversation with producers.

Has anybody done a film vs digital costing for a project which they could share? I have my own, but would love to know anybody else's workings.

I’m going for a 7:1 ratio, which I think is do-able, and at times we may even go less.

We are not completely opposed to digital if we can find the right feel when we are shooting, so if anybody has suggestions for digital cameras which have the feel of s16, I’m all ears. The Ikonoskop is something I would welcome and anything s16 size or style from Aaton or anyone would be great.

We will be shooting summer next year, based in France for the majority of the shoot.

Thanks for reading,

David Cawley
Trying to be a DoP
London


>> The producers point of view, and quite rightly is one of cost. The producer also poses the question "what is >>being shot on s16 these days any way."

On cost, last I ran the numbers it was about $20/minute to buy raw stock, get it processed and transferred. I would caution that this is a fairly old number and most of the vendors it is based upon are either out of the S-16 business or out of business period. You have to see what services are available where you will shoot.

Another aspect of cost is gear rental, and I should think that these days you will be able to get quite the deal on a stellar S-16 package. That may help offset costs depending on the length of your production.

As far as who shoots S-16 anymore, tell him to check back the last few years worth of Oscar winners and it might jog his memory of some significant productions. If it were me I might respond to such a question with "Who cares? If anything it will help set us apart from the crowd as something special." Depending on the producer's nature that could win him over or get you fired.

Mitch Gross
Director of Communications
Convergent Design


Surely the storyline is king for all concerned.
If the storyline calls for s16 and both yourself & director confirm that, then the producer(s) should be doing everything in their power to make that happen.
If he/she can't make it happen, then fair enough...but IMO it's a bit lazy and alarm-bell-ringing for someone to counteract both yours and the director's expert views with 'What is being shot on s16 these days any way?'

Cheers
Serge Teulon
DoP
LDN


Big parts of Captain Phillips was shot in Super-16.

David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


Hey There,

Try to shoot S16 if you can. Nothing I've found yet has that texture or feel yet. If you are looking into the digital option I find the Ikonoskop clumsy and just doesn't work yet as a camera. It's a great image but the
view finder is very frustrating. Test it and see if it's applicable for your film. One digital option I've been impressed with is the Alexa with 2/3'' optics. Somehow gives it a rougher sensibility.

Would love to hear any results from your testing looking for S16 look.

Best

Antonio Cisneros
cinematographer
LA


I always made this argument: because film has wider usable dynamic range, it is easier to light for, and it reduces the amount of time spent lighting. This translates into overall cost savings.

It's a good argument; I have lit scenes with a single light and no fill and got away with it on film. I don't think you can get away with it on digital cameras yet, although it gets better every day.

Scott Dorsey
Williamsburg, VA.,


Mitch Gross wrote:

>>As far as who shoots S-16 anymore,

Is The Walking Dead still shooting S-16? They've just been picked up for a 5th series I see.

If it's an aesthetic 'no brainer' and you're not shooting for 6 months I'd say the onus is on the Producer to find any additional money required over what sounds like a bountifully lengthy (pre)preproduction period.

I'd start speaking to labs in France ASAP though. Even if they process S-16 today they may not by the time you shoot. Negotiate a price now, rather than when they are having to keep the facility open just for you.

Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Hi David,

I advise filmmakers on using S16 constantly in my position as Technical Coordinator at the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative. We keep an extensive inventory of film, Kodak, Fuji and ORWO, here at the coop. It's easier for
us to rally for it because we make donated stock available to members for free up to a limit each year.

However, now is a good time for trying to ask for special support from Kodak to take a project from digital over to film. The reps tend to be quite responsive right now to helping out filmmakers. Often, there are odd
and end cans at the lab that they will liberate for independent filmmakers.

Same with labs - I recommend Cinelab in New England for all S16 work:
http://www.cinelab.com


Cinelab hands down offers the best deals and are very considerate and supportive of the S16 format. Especially if a direct to prores transfer is good enough for the project, I would bet Cinelab could make the project very very affordable.

And it is important to remember that S16 was created to answer the very problems of the expense of shooting larger formats. I believe it is still an accessible format these days, compared to the high end digital camera
system rental rates per day. I mean of course if the alternative is shooting on a 5D its going to be more expensive, but older SR cams and the lensing for those systems overall as a rental expense can be much cheaper than say shooting Alexa or Red. Depending how far down the aesthetic road you want to explore, I'd recommend buying an old used Bolex and sending it to Jean-Louis Seguin at Concordia University to be modified into S16. That way you own the system and could re-sell it after production, cutting the rental expense entirely out of the equation.

I'd say it is definitely still a viable and affordable route to go, when you consider all the incredible stocks that you can pass through the camera and the kind of visual results you will get.

--
ALEX BALKAM | TECHNICAL COORDINATOR | THE ATLANTIC FILMMAKERS COOPERATIVE

PHONE 902-405-4474 ext. 1 | FAX 902-405-4485 | techcoordinator@afcoop.ca
OFFICE ADDRESS | 5663 Cornwallis Street | Suite 101 | Halifax, NS B3K 1B6
MAILING ADDRESS | PO Box 2043, Station M | Halifax, NS B3J 2Z1
www.afcoop.ca


>> The producers point of view, and quite rightly is one of cost. The producer also poses the question "what is >>being shot on s16 these days any way."

"The Hurt Locker" did pretty well.

Clark Graff
VFX Supervisor - DIT - Propellerhead
Toronto ~ Vancouver ~ Los Angeles


>>We are not completely opposed to digital if we can find the right feel when we are shooting, so if anybody has suggestions for digital cameras which have the feel of s16, I’m all ears. �.... anything s16 size or style from Aaton or anyone would be great.<<<

If you contact the processing labs iDailies in Acton or Bucks Labs in Slough. The best help for you is to prove that the following 2 processing labs are receiving a lot of cinematographers work who are originating on 35mm or s16mm.

The BBC would you believe have backtracked from their own boffins poo pooing about originating on film and are now accepting drama etc originating on FILM contact the processing labs iDailies in Acton or Bucks Labs in Slough

Michael Johns g.b.f.t.e.---UK


"If the storyline calls for s16 and both yourself & director confirm that, then the producer(s) should be doing everything in their power to make that happen."

I.e. producer should have no input on how the film is produced!

Really? Is that how you see guys and gals see that as the job of the producer? A glorified procurement agent who should not have any input on how the film should be 'produced'?

I am really getting old...

Riza Nur Pacalioglu M.Sc.
Producer
Silver Productions, Salisbury, England
http://silver.co.uk


 

Have them check out Black Swan, Babel, Moonrise Kingdom, The Motorcycle Diaries, The Hurt Locker, The Queen, Factory Girl, Leaving Las Vegas, or the others listed here:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Films_shot_in_Super_16

It certainly has a look, but it sounds like it is what you’re after.

I wouldn’t recommend using Super 16 if you are planning to do a lot of VFX shots though grain and soft images [that can’t be resolved even with a 4K scan] will make your VFX supervisors and compositors hate you.
I would do all of that stuff with 35mm, same stock to keep it consistent.

I’d imagine the French government and Aaton would love for you to use their gear though :)


Todd Sines, director, sines@scale.la
+ SCALE
+1.646.258.5214 mobile
+1.646.543.3329 studio
http://scale.la | http://toddsines.com



"The producers point of view, and quite rightly is one of cost. The producer also poses the question "what is being shot on s16 these days any way."

Producers not only need to deliver a product on budget, but also deliver a product that will hold up in the course of time. It needs to be produced on a medium that can allow it to be copied onto any new formats that comes down the production pipeline in the future. Film is the only format that I know of that can be transferred to any other format with a quality image consistently. Remember Tape to Film Transfers? Remember SD to HD blow up conversions? Great quality image huh?

Storage is another consideration. A major animation studio here in Burbank had a successful release of a feature full length theatrical product. This prompted, surprise surprise, a sequel. An attempt to use scenes from the original material was blocked due to the magnetic medium upon which the original was captured and stored had deteriorated to the point of being unusable, after only five years in storage. The unusable scenes were re-shot using the original animation art work. Now, magnetic storage is no longer the medium of choice, point being that film has always been a reliable archive medium. It also preserves the potential future exploitation value of the product. "Gone With the Wind" is an example of exploiting film archival material and re-releasing it, more than once, with format changes and colour grading improvements.

If you want to win over the producer, speak to him/her in their language, bottom line. Film capture, unlike digital capture, is probably the only medium that you can use to insure the future exploitability of a product, in that film can be bumped up to any format, even the ones that have yet to be introduced, with a reasonable expectation of a quality image, and a quality earning profile.

Best,
Tom Anderson, DP
Burbank


Hi David,


I applaud you're wanting to work in S16mm. Aesthetics aside, if your producers/financiers want the increase the film's chances of winning awards and selling, shooting on film is a wise investment. They should consider the statistic that the last 2 Sundance Film Festivals only 5% of the shows in competition were shot on film, and yet they won 100% of the coveted Grand Jury Prizes for US Dramatic (and in 2012 World Dramatic and US and World Cinematography as well). Beasts of the Southern Wild (S16mm) and Fruitvale Station (S16mm) were both sold for well over the cost of production, and launched careers. I discuss this in greater detail in the recent issue of In Camera:

http://motion.kodak.com/motion/Publications/InCamera/INSIGHT_Paul_Korver.htm

We also recently produced and posted a short that was the only celluloid shot submission to the Canon / Ron Howard "Project Imagination" film contest. We shot S16mm, did a 4K HDR scan output to 4K DCP… and won! The film is called Here and Now and just premiered in NY at Lincoln Center.

Here are some other legit films that are In Production or that we've recently completed DI Scanning for:

LOW DOWN - S16mm
Director: Jeff Preiss
DP: Chris Blauvelt
Cast: John Hawkes, Elle Fanning, Glenn Close
Status: 2K DI Scan & Dailies @ Cinelicious

LOVE AND MERCY - S16mm / 35mm
Director: Bill Pohlad
DP: Wyatt Garfield
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Paul Dano, John Cusack
Prod Co: River Road Entertainment, John Wells Productions
Status: Post Production

PING PONG SUMMER - S16mm
Director: Michael Tully
DP: Wyatt Garfield
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Lea Thompson, Amy Sedaris
Prod Co: Nomadic Independence Pictures, Compass Entertainment
Status: 2K DI Scan, Dailies Final Color & DI Deliverables @ Cinelicious

I'm happy to speak with your producers about potential ways to maximize film image quality while saving costs using newer high resolution, pin-registered tapeless workflows from film.

Best,

Paul Korver
http://cinelicious.tv


It's also worth noting that the BBC are now willing to accept S16 acquired
projects again.

Ruairi O'Brien,
DP
Ireland
www.ruairiobrien.com


You might also consider using the Kodak lab in the Czech Republic, still processing s16 and 35, very reputable & very reasonable.

GK Griffin
Cinematographer/Prah

==++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Definitely go digital. Haven't you heard, film is dead?

Stephen Webb
Producer
UK


It works both ways Riza.


If for example a Dp requires a crane for a shot but the producer says that it's something that they can't afford, then the director and the Dp have to come up with a creative solution, to get a shot which accompanies that part of the storyline. The producer will expect that from his Dp.

So in that case what is a Dp? A glorified plan B agent?
Or do they just bang their feet on the floor and say nothing else will do?
Of course not...they try and find a solution.
The point being is that whatever your role, you try your utmost before you say that it can't be done.

The producer's comments of "what gets shot on s16 these days anyway?" comes across as defensive and lazy.
As a Dp I would find that pretty obstructive...which surely as part of the collective 'production', nobody should be.

From all the replies on here we can also see that there are companies out there which are accommodating to filmmakers who require to shoot on film.

Which is great to hear.

Cheers
Serge Teulon
DoP
LDN


 

>>Definitely go digital. Haven't you heard, film is dead?<

I sincerely do hope this is a comedy line.

Michael Johns g.b.f.t.e.
UK


Would love to hear any results from your testing looking for S16 look - Antonio Cisneros

Please have a look at this link

http://www.storyinframes.com/archives/2013/11/02/frame-grab-from-2k-scan-of-s16/

These are framegrabs from a scan of S16 shoot of a low budget ad film I did recently. S16 is a good format. I don't know why people keep bashing it.

Prashantt Rai
Cinematographer
Mumbai


Has anybody done a film vs digital costing for a project which they could share? I have my own, but would love to know anybody else's workings.

David Cawley

David,


I really wish you get to shoot on S16. The look is unique and is something which is hard to reproduce in the post when shooting digital. I am a great fan and advocate of this format to filmmakers who are on a budget. I am starting an indie feature shoot in a week's time and we are shooting on S16. The director and Producer sat down and ran the numbers across all digital acquisition formats and the best bucks we get is from S16. It is turning out cheaper for the producer.


Prashantt Rai
Cinematographer
Mumbai


"Would love to hear any results from your testing looking for S16 look."


here is the correct link --


www.storyinframes.com


regards


Prashantt Rai
Cinematographer
Mumbai



>> Has anybody done a film vs digital costing for a project which they could share? I have my own, but would >>love to know anybody else's workings...

I'm sorry, but the only way the two are even remotely cost competitive is if the project can maintain a very, very low shooting ratio. In today's world, that is usually no longer possible. You also need some reasonable access to both a processing and a transfer lab. In many parts of the world - hell, in most parts of the largest countries - that is no longer available without incurring some rather serious shipping and logistical costs.

I know everyone has a great attachment to film - even I sometimes do - but it is not really a cost competitive or practical shooting medium unless some very tight rules are established that most modern directors (and producers, for that matter) simply do not want to be bound by. That's the fact, at least in most of the world. It is, of course, possible that in some areas - India among them - it might be a little less true. But not a lot.

Mike Most
On Location Services Director
Technicolor Hollywood
Los Angeles, CA.


I would observe that a reasonably low shooting ratio is not a bad idea in itself, quite apart from the media choice

One must WANT the visual depth, creamy skin tones and soft highlights of film, and be glad to pay extra in stock+lab+transfer for it, knowing that within a few years, film is an option that may not be available (or at least practicable) at any price.

Tim Sassoon
SFD
Venice, CA


>> I'm sorry, but the only way the two are even remotely cost competitive is if the project can maintain a very, >>very low shooting ratio.

He said he was planning a 7:1 shooting ratio, which is indeed low.

For the low budget feature world, the cost difference need not be so great. In part this is because rental rates on excellent S-16 gear is dirt cheap these days. Let's actually run some numbers, shall we?

For now I'll stick with my old $20/minute for raw stock / developing / transfer. Wouldn't mind hearing from a lab person who has done the math more recently. Assuming a 100 min. feature, that's 700 min. of film exposed, or $14,000 in cost.

Let's also assume a 4-week shoot, or at least an 8-day month rental. A basic Alexa kit - camera, zoom or prime set, sticks, monitor and other minimal support - should run in the neighbourhood of $2500/day. So that's $20,000 for the job.

A similarly kitted S-16 kit is around $600/day. So $4800 for the job.

Cost to shoot S-16: $14,000+$4800=$18,800

Cost to shoot Alexa: $20,000

Now, there's a pile of ways to rework these numbers and shift them around. I could certainly see the S-16 number creep over the Alexa one. And one might choose a different digital camera. But the point is that given a smaller production that needs to keep the schedule short and simply won't have time to build up a high shooting ratio, the difference in cost between shooting S-16 v. Alexa is not far apart.

Mitch Gross
Director of Communications
Convergent Design


Mitch Gross wrote:

>> But the point is that given a smaller production that needs to keep the schedule short and simply won't >>have time to build up a high shooting ratio, the difference in cost between shooting S-16 v. Alexa is not far >>apart.

What Mitch says. It also seems a little ironic that "future proofing" is being touted as a reason for shooting 4K.

Given the costs of continual media migration for digital, what's more future proof than film.

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


It is cost competitive and I have proved it.

Please read


http://www.vincentdepaula.com/Files/AC%20Article.pdf

VINCENT DE PAULA
CINEMATOGRAPHER
Vancouver / LA



>> Wouldn't mind hearing from a lab person who has done the math more recently. Assuming a 100 min. >>feature, that's 700 min. of film exposed, or $14,000 in cost.

Perhaps. But that's also not factoring in shipping (necessary unless you're shooting somewhere that still has a lab and a transfer facility that's willing to meet the prices you're talking about), negative handling, scanning for the DI, dirt cleanup, and a number of other attendant costs that we both know about. Of course, if the production is OK with an HD video finish, the original transfers could serve as the final scans.

As someone else said, if you want to shoot film today, it should be for creative reasons, not financial ones. And the budget should be realistic based on the experience level of the director, the level of preparation that's possible, and the ability of the cast to take direction during rehearsal, and not need to find the scene while the camera is rolling.

BTW, does anyone really shoot anything with only a single camera these days? I haven't seen that happen for a long, long time....

Mike Most
On Location Services Director
Technicolor Hollywood
Los Angeles, CA.


Michael Most wrote:

>> BTW, does anyone really shoot anything with only a single camera these days? I haven't seen that happen >>for a long, long time....

Depends a lot on the sort of work you are doing...

Mark Weingartner
LA DP vfx etc


>> BTW, does anyone really shoot anything with only a single camera these days?
>> I haven't seen that happen for a long, long time....

A lot of indies still shoot with a single camera. The last five features I’ve shot have all been single camera and my next one (in December) will be single camera too.

Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Administrator, CML
http://www.cinematography.net
cell: 818-645-2787


>> For now I'll stick with my old $20/minute for raw stock / developing / transfer. Wouldn't mind hearing >>from a lab person who has done the math more recently. Assuming a 100 min. feature, that's 700 min. >>of film exposed, or $14,000 in cost.

I think we could squeeze the Develop and Dailies to $8 a minute at Cinelab and include shipping drives for dailies back to wherever, and I am not sure exactly what Kodak would do for a stock package price but I would bet that they could do similar or at least $10/min if not $9 or better, So maybe $17-18 /min is possible today.

Soon we will be able to offer 2K for a bit more, with a newer colour camera scanner, so one could consider a better than HD 'Finishable' ProRes444 file as a daily for a lower budget picture and that might tighten up those numbers allot.

Robert Houllahan
Film Maker
www.lunarfilms.com


Firstly thank you CML community for your wisdom and input. Everyone’s 2 cents soon adds up!

Mr Gross, you speak the same language as myself and the director, we feel that shooting 16 will give us a talking point, something to make us stand out and not only that I believe that film changes a set. It has been my experience when shooting film in the last 12 months that the cast and crew are excited by film and treat it a little differently to digital.

Thanks to for your number crunching. The ratio is indeed low, perhaps I'm underestimating in order to achieve my aim of getting to shoot film, but I have discussed it with the director and with one of our influences being À bout de soufflé, you can probably see why the radio is low. This is a cat on the shoulder picture, following a characters movements, a little less traditional. I have achieved lower than 7:1 before, but perhaps by accident rather than intention.

Mr Teulon thanks for the support, myself and director are sold on 16 as the way to go.

Mr Mullen, thanks for the info on Captain Phillips!

Mr Cisneros, Thank you for your input and I completely agree with you about the look and texture of 16, its really really special. The point of the Ikonoskop for myself and the director is to have something light, with 16mm depth of field. I appreciate the tips on the camera itself, I really will need to test my options if the picture shoots digital and will definitely be posting any tests.

Mr Dorsey, thanks for your thoughts, and you clearly have balls!

Mr Townend, thanks for your input and I will get looking into local labs to our location. I think I will need to find something within driving distance in France, Italy or Switzerland in order to convince the producers. They will no doubt want to see dailies, as to will the myself and the director.

Mr Balkam, thanks for the tips on reps etc. Appreciate it.

Mr Graff, quite right!

Mr Johns, we are going to make that very point to the producers about the BBC/major broadcasters and talk to the labs about whose processing.

Mr Sines, thanks for the VFX tip! We have very limited VFX and plan to do most effects in camera including a lighting strike using a Tesla Coil! I actually have my own Aaton which may or may not be used in the shoot, but it gives us a little more sway if the camera body is free!

Mr Anderson, thanks for your perspective, not one that anybody else mentioned. Thank you.

Mr Korver, Thank you for your input, a real gem or a response and I may take you up on your offer to speak to the producers, although I would have to carefully navigate this. Congratulations on your win!

GK Griffin, thank you, I will look into it!

Mr Webb, kiss my ass.

Mr Johns, "Haven't you heard, film is dead?" is half serious, but I bet Mr Webb doesn't take on the cinematograph community with a follow up statement.

Mr Rai, thank you for the link and your input on the numbers, I price digital as cheaper but we are only talking a few thousand.

Mr De Paula, thank you!

Mr Most, thanks for your figures, and yes single camera is all the rage in the indie world as far as I'm aware, especially when you’re on a budget and shooting Alexa or red.

Ms Gallant, there you go!

Thanks everybody!!!

David Cawley
Cinematographer
London


>> Definitely go digital. Haven't you heard, film is dead?

You are being ironic, right?

Jeff Kreines
Kinetta
WWW.kinetta.com


>Mr Graff, quite right!

You Sir are a gentleman.

Clark Graff
VFX Supervisor - DIT - Propellerhead
Toronto ~ Vancouver ~ Los Angeles


" Firstly thank you CML community for your wisdom and input. Everyone’s 2 cents soon adds up!
Thanks everybody!!! "

Englishmen do have such good manners, I must admit. What a wonderful summation of the whole discussion. David just won the CML globe award.

regards

Prashantt Rai
Cinematographer
Mumbai


>>Mr Webb, kiss my ass.

You know I love you Dave, but not that much. And it's "arse" dear boy.

With my Director's hat on, I'd say s16 would be a brilliant choice. 7:1 is entirely achievable, BUT you and your Director have to be very disciplined and have a good handle on how it's going to cut. In fact, if you can I'd suggest you do pre-vis.

With my Producer's hat on I'd have to argue for digital, especially if I had concerns regarding shooting ratio and experience shooting film (not saying I would in your case).

>>You are being ironic, right?

Actually Jeff, I was picking up on a discussion I had with Dave a few months ago about whether film has a future (yeah I know, a bit naughty as the rest of you weren't party to the conversation!) My basic thesis is that I genuinely think film's days are numbered, not because of a lack of quality, not because "digital is better" and certainly not because of a lack of passion amongst cinematographers, but purely because of the economics of manufacturing film and process chemicals. We live (for the most part) in a capitalist economy and I suspect there's a point fast approaching where it's just not profitable any more.

>>Englishmen do have such good manners
>>Prashantt Rai

I refer you to the first quote of this reply.

Stephen Webb
Producer/Director/Wind-up Merchant
UK


IF your producer is serious about what they are doing then there are TWO rules that are of greater importance: The first rule of filmmaking is of course to deliver a good story-- well told. Rule number two: You want your movie to LOOK like a movie. To that end the decision is going to be with FILM no ifs ands or buts. Now I have read a lot in the whole film vs. digital debate, and the argumentation ranges from the deeply technical to a sense of aesthetics that is well -- way out there (getting better performances from actors? I don't know, but the point has been argued) For me it is SIMPLE. Film and Digital LOOK DIFFERENT.

I have heard all kinds of "indie" movie makers tell me that they can't tell the difference between digital and 35mm. They don't have eyes. I can tell the difference between digital and Super16mm. SO CAN OTHER PEOPLE Case in point. When I decided that I was going to go back into filmmaking (this time as a career), I attended a few film festivals to see what everyone else was doing. Well everyone else was shooting on digital video, and that's exactly what their movies looked like-- VIDEO. I took my girlfriend along with me and this is important. She had no particular interest in movies other than watching them -- in other words she was not interested in the process of making movies nor anything about the gear.

Though a technical person herself (she was involved in electronic industry, but not camera related) she had no interest, nor knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes in the making of a movie-- so we have a perfectly neutral person here, not one that had picked a side for this or that reason. I do know that she was not really impressed by the movies she had seen at the festivals, and did not show any enthusiasm for my choosing the movie business. She thought (and expressed as much) that my movies would be no better than what she was seeing at these festivals.

I shot footage for my feature film on Super16, sent it off to Colorlab. Got a work print back and threaded that up into the projector to see what it looked like. I turned the projector on, and the images flashed up on the screen and the FIRST WORDS that practically blurted out of her mouth was "Wow! That even LOOKS like a movie!" This was just some shots, mostly transition shots, that I had done (no real scenes yet) and yet she NOTICED a difference in the look, and that difference IMPRESSED HER.

Now, what about Hollywood movies shot on digital? Well those movies are shot on high end cameras like the Panavision Genesis or the Red Epic, and they STILL have to undergo scene by scene colour correction and film look filtering to look like much of anything (and I, and apparently some others, can STILL tell the difference between them and a movie shot on film). So the bottom line is what does the producer want? A movie that LOOKS like a movie, or just another shot-on-video production?

Here's an interesting observation you might pass on to your producer:

"Here’s a surprising fact that independent producers may want to consider before they write off film as “too expensive”: There were 120 films in competition at Sundance this year. Based on our research and conversations with Kodak and Fuji only 5% were shot on film… and yet that small minority took 100% of the most coveted Jury and Grand Jury prizes in the US and World Dramatic competitions, as well as winning the Excellence in Cinematography Award in the US Dramatic category

And I got that here:


http://jamesriverfilm.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/the-true-cost-of-filmmaking-in-the-21st-century/

As for labs; here on the east cost you have CineLab in New Bedford Mass.

http://www.cinelab.com/contact.html

And Colorlab in Rockville MD.

http://www.colorlab.com/contact-us/

There's probably more, but these two are my personal faves, and yes they will give you some good deals.

don't know much about labs on the west coast other than Deluxe has a really good reputation:

http://www.bydeluxe.com/

Hope this helps.

Mark King
Cinematographer, Director, Producer
Kin0pic Studios


>> Film and Digital LOOK DIFFERENT.

Well, yes. There was an argument put forward in the early days of digital acquisition's foray into mainstream studio film making that despite looking 'different' it was simply a matter of everyone growing accustomed to a new aesthetic. I wonder how George Lucas feels about the decision to shoot the next Star Wars film on 35mm...?

But digital camera manufacturers continued in the ambition to emulate film's look and it wasn't until they came close that Cinematographers of note began to endorse their products.

Ironically every successive generation of film stocks always promised ever tighter, finer grain structures at faster speeds. The holy grail of film manufacture that was being strived for would've been a grain free 800asa stock. And few, if any were discouraging this progression.
Then, bingo! grain free 800asa digital acquisition arrives and some people start to realise that 'the baby's been thrown out with the bath water'.

My first few experiences of going to watch a film specifically to see what the Genesis, the Viper, the Red and particularly the Alexa looked like on a big screen were confusing and conflicting. And until a couple of years ago I was watching 35mm prints created from digital acquisition. And the 35mm print DIGNIFIED the digital origination medium to an enormous and quantifiable degree.
Now that I regularly see feature films shot digitally and projected digitally, having never been within a country mile of gelatine & silver halide the shortcomings of the origination medium finally show through.

There isn't a digital camera yet that doesn't look 'video-y'. And the problem manifests itself mostly in how motion is rendered.

I would disagree that most people can perceive this difference. It's VERY subtle and varies from shot to shot based on a variety of factors - some I could guess at, others I couldn't. It's a 'vibe' that sporadically reaches into my presence of mind and nudges me out of the viewing experience, 'this looks *off*, like a big TV' :-(

I'm not a naysayer over digital projection per se - it looks good and I don't object to seeing 35mm film exhibited that way. Only the wilfully obstructive would argue that digital grading is a step backwards.
But Digital acquisition is still a way off being an exact emulation of photochemical acquisition and that is STILL the gold standard. Regardless of the fact that 35mm film stocks have arrived at their current aesthetic by happenstance there is NO legitimate argument for forcing the public into accepting a new aesthetic. Film works. And by that I don't mean on just a purely technical level - it works on our brain; our subconscious, our emotions, how we form memories and empathies. 24fps and grain and a fixed dynamic response are imperfect representations of our vision and surroundings but it works on our minds in a very specific and successful manner.

Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London