…I cannot seem to get past
this, "Have you shot HD before"? [An experienced
film/tape person wrote that this is being thrown up as an
obstacle to his shooting an HD project.]
It sounds like the occupational stereotyping that is pervasive in this industry, as in : "Have you shot commercials before?" "Have you shot in Des Moines before"…"Have you shot on Tuesdays before (but not if its raining!)" etc.
My conjecture is that "concept" people (agency types, etc.) who are not technically oriented are making these statements? (Yes? No?)
I'm originally a video engineer by training. I work with film people all the time. I agree with you. I see no big difference between shooting HD, film, video, etc. Certainly if you've shot Lo-def video, which apparently you have, its pretty much the same.
And you are correct : Adding depth to your crew by including a couple of people who are video or HD oriented could certainly overcome any perceived or real obstacles.
Lew Comenetz - Video Engineer
This is so familiar, Lou -
I used to shoot a lot of stereoscopic 3D video, and the guy who owned the company and I used to joke about people who called us up with questions like this. "Yes, you've shot forks, but can you shoot spoons?" I can understand broad categories, sports, food, etc, but sometimes it just gets ridiculous.
Remember though, that they're not technologically conversant, yet it's their chequebook that's on the line, and they want to cover their ass and feel safe, and this is new stuff, and there is a learning curve for them before they can be comfortable with this new tech. After all, how do THEY know if it's not that different. And it is different in some ways, hell look at the arguments we get into here.
>And it is different in some
ways, hell look at the arguments we get into >here.
And they should think it's different, because I want to be paid more than video rates to shoot HD.
I think we should start a hi-def version of The Freemasons. We will zealously guard the details of our craft, have secret handshakes, and if any of us tells a producer it's not as hard as we make it out to be they shall suffer a brutal and heinous demise.
Then hundreds of years from now we can morph from an all powerful secret society to an organization that runs bowling leagues and enables members to drink in private temples that remind one of an old barracks.
Art Adams, DP
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"
>I think we should start a hi-def
version of The Freemasons. We will >zealously guard the details
of our craft, have secret handshakes...
One important part of any secret organization is having a list of people who are not allowed to join.
Who's it going to be this time?
>One important part of any secret
organization is having a list of people >who are not allowed
I'm sure I'm already on it. Never mind.
Art Adams, DP
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"
This reminds me of a shoot I did a few years back when I was
even younger and even more naive - There was a commercial
and the company wanted to shoot it on HD - the Cinematographer
who was film based didn't like the idea of using HD because
he said he didn't understand it and so asked his Focus Puller
to Camera Operate - the idea was that the Focus Puller had
video experience - I was actually a student but also working
as a clapper loader at the time but was hired as the Focus
Puller as I had film experience; the idea was that with the
video experience and film experience we would be OK - well
we probably would have been but we decided to go right through
the menu and started messing around with the gamma and setting
"knee points" - which looking back we probably shouldn't
have done as we didn't know what we were doing! - The camera
was a bit of a nightmare as the back focus kept going out.
However, since having that on my CV I've not had a problem
working on HD shoots!
Anna Carrington (Anna in England is a female name to those of you unsure)
Camera Assistant (sometimes operator - currently having an identity crisis!)
I shot doc's in my early years on reversal film VNF 100 &
400 yes it had to be right on but I did not have a monitor
to tell me. I had to know it was right on by my light meter.
I worked in news film when I first started for 2 years and
hated the job but I learned exposures and how to do them quickly.
There was a time where I did not even pull out my light meter
I just knew what the exposure was. I would shoot 5-10,000
feet a day. I would go out with a reporter drop her or him
off and pick up another and shoot, shoot, shoot! after 2 years
of this I wanted to do commercials and lite. again with all
of this as education !
CAN I SHOOT HD ?
I get many replies have u shot HD? Producers and some directors
today do not realize what a Dp is!!!! We are not camera people,
shooters, operators. The thing I have been told by video people
is do you understand the scopes? wave form, spectra scope?
Yes I know that 1 volt of video and 7.5 is black level so
what! creatively who cares? If I want a dramatic look and
its very low on the scope but looks awesome who cares ? the
reality is... the Dp look as in film. so its HD video do u
want crap that a lot of the world is seeing or do you want
the look of film? The background that we all strived for!
Sorry to be such a pain but it bothers the shit out of me after years of work and to hear people with no knowledge of the industry say these things.
This is a GREAT site!
Thanks for letting me vent!
>I worked in news film when I first started...I would shoot 5-10,000 feet a >day.
What does the list think about the fact that nobody's getting this kind of experience anymore? It's something I'd value enormously. The fall of film from news shooting, and the almost complete disappearance of Super8 from domestic shooting, means that the first exposure to film anyone has is liable to be on the first promo, ad or feature they get involved with.
Certainly makes film school more useful, but I think people need to be more accepting of the fact that this kind of experience is simply not available any more - it's not like people are saying "No, I won't take the news job on film, I'll take the news job on BetaSP."
>I think people need to be more
accepting of the fact that this kind of >experience is simply
not available any more - it's not like people are >saying "No,
I won't take the news job on film, I'll take the news job
So it seems like you’re talking about me. ha ha ha. I didn’t go to film school instead I got a degree in TV because that’s what I could afford in state and was told that I went to the best school in the region. I have never had the opportunity to shoot film. I've missed out on the opportunity to AC a few spots because of other obligations. I have shot news and I'm sure everyone knows that film has no place in news anymore.
Documentary, and news magazine format programs, yes it can work. But news is so fast paced that video makes it logical.
Back in the late 70's when I shot news on film, it was a very
rushed process to light, shoot and get the stock back for
the process for 6pm news. I remember in 1979 the TV station
acquired 4 RCA video cameras I believe they were TK76 I used
them a little but stayed with film. I have friends that still
shoot for television and still do video because they switched
to video and I was bull headed and stayed with film.
I also remember a Ikegami 35 Handy Lookie camera, it was like a triangle and had a large cable that went to big brain unit. I just could not see using that at the time because I could be so much faster with my cp16 or Frezzolini. And the images were pretty poor too.
In all this HD thing has changed the industry quite a bit. Seems its fitting in between 16 and 35 ? Is that the consensus by the few of you who are shooting both HD and Film?
I received a e-mail yesterday about all the TV shows on the air done on HD. I was astonished at how many there actually are. So it seems that film is still on top for higher end commercials and features.
Have most of you CML DP's shot HD and do you get request to shoot HD instead of film?
>I received a e-mail yesterday
about all the TV shows on the air done on >HD. I was astonished
at how many there actually are.
It's still very much "on top" for television too, if you're not shooting a multicamera sitcom. Every drama on all 4 major networks this season is shot on film, with only one exception ("Joan of Arcadia"). I don't expect that to last forever, but it is still very much the case.
IATSE Local 600
>It's still very much "on
top" for television too, if you're not shooting a >multicamera
I might be a newbie but it sounds an awful lot like the noises that must have been heard here on Earth back in the Pleistocene era just before those meteors started raining down. I love film like any good student but I refuse to wind up in the cloud of boulders and ash.
I avoided the La Brea Tar Pits the first time around when Steinbeck and Moviolas went the way of the Dodo bird. With all due respect to the venerable masters that have given us all a century of celluloid grandeur, it is safe to argue that the digits wont stop till they is on top. I'm too old to switch careers and too young to start complaining about "those young whoopershnappers and their confounded digital corntrapshuns".
I still dream of learning as much as I can about film because regardless of what comes about, it is true that the film techniques WILL carry over and MUST carry over into the digital era if we are to expect anything of artistic beauty to remain. I don’t want the future of cinema or video to wind up looking like a live action version of "Toy Story".
But isn't this the case throughout the film industry? I taught myself exposure and film basics using a Bolex super 8 in the late 1970s and early 80s, then went on to film school where we used Vhs and U-matic, then later 1 inch, 16mm and 35mm formats. I learnt just about everything it was imaginable to learn and pushed the possibilities of our limited funding to the maximum.
However as soon as one stepped outside the cosy government assisted film school doors, the (for often reasonable good reason) self protecting film industry shunned us all. 'you haven't come up through the ranks' 'you have not served your time as an assistant' etc. etc. were all I ever heard in the first couple of years, even though, as an AC I taught several (now well known) DP´s some very valuable stuff re. lenses, filtration and composition etc.
Many of my peers, and me to a certain degree, shoot a lot of animation and SFX. (On 35mm with big lights in big studios). The holes for breeds of pigeons that materialise because of this when looking for other work is maddening sometimes.
Hey, so that is the way of the world. Personally I don't lie to get a job but many people do. If you have never shot HD, say you have! Who is to know as long as the results are good?
Actually, I remember now that in 1982 I tried to join the British film union ACCT so a short film I had directed and shot on S8 could get shown on national TV (a requirement for broadcast at the time). I was not allowed to join because, as I was told at the time, the union were only inducting women that month even though my papers were in order! What was that all about?
Bollo*ks to it all!
Phil Rhodes writes :
>shoot 5-10,000 feet a day. What does the list think about the fact that >nobody's getting this kind of experience anymore? It's something I'd >value enormously.
Tape is cheap. Why not just establish a nominal ASA for your video camera and do a lot of shooting on your own with an exposure meter. No field monitor. Keep notes. Sit down at the end of the day and watch your dailies. Try different approaches every day. Give yourself time limits at a location.
Then give yourself NO time limits at the same location. One day, go out with just your bare lens. Next day with all your filters, etc. Set interesting challenges for yourself...
It ain't film, but it's reusable!
>Tape is cheap. Why not just
establish a nominal ASA for your video >camera and do a lot
of shooting on your own with an exposure meter.
As a what though, Dan ? A way to learn photographic exposure ? I have my doubts.
Aside from the whole issue of assigning "ASA" to a video camera, from my perspective the ASA or EI of a film stock is, sort of just the introduction, it's like one of those name tags that says "Hello, My Name is Vision 250D"
>In all this HD thing has changed
the industry quite a bit. Seems its fitting >in between 16
and 35 ? Is that the consensus by the few of you who are >shooting
both HD and Film?
In all, the "mystery" is no mystery. It's not as good as S-16 in my opinion- the initial hype is over, the market sucks for various reasons and one of them was the false promise of HD. The format wasn't ready and the cameras weren't either. Funny thing is now HD is threatened by SD 24 P. Why bother? seems to be the attitude. Everyone working for peanuts.
If you give a writer a gold pen or a plastic pen, does he work for less money writing w/ a plastic one? Shouldn't we all make more money since this great equipment saves money? It's a farce. And lots of shows have gone back to film because of various reasons and complications.
On the other hand, I was in a production meeting yesterday talking about a feature to shoot on hi-def, and they were perfectly happy to accept my contention that "I've shot lots of video, it's basically the same thing." And no, I didn't bore them with all the tiny details of why it sometimes isn't the same thing, and they're perfectly happy.
Speaking of which, we're going to be looking at equipment soonish, and the director has told me he definitely wants to be able to overcrank. As far as I know, this limits us to the Panasonic system. Where in London can I see a filmed-out demo of this? Even preferably alongside similar F900 material?
Jeffery Haas writes:
>I avoided the La Brea Tar Pits the first time around when Steinbeck and >Moviola’ s went the way of the Dodo bird.
Reminds me of walking past the CBS-TV production centre on W. 57th Street in NYC many years ago, and seeing a huge picket line out in front. Turns out the film editors were up in arms about being forced to use those newfangled flatbed editing machines!
>regardless of what comes about, it is true that the film techniques WILL >carry over and MUST carry over into the digital era if we are to expect >anything of artistic beauty to remain...
Marin County, CA
Sam Wells writes :
>Aside from the whole issue of assigning "ASA" to a video camera, from >my perspective the ASA or EI of a film stock is, sort of just the >introduction
Of course. I was merely suggesting a way for Phil to get some pseudo-film practice. Tape isn't film but I don't think it can hurt to set up various shooting challenges and confront them "film-style" -- i.e., without some of the crutches (field monitors, etc.) that video normally provides. IMHO, getting to know the characteristics of your medium in "film" terms (hence, being able to better previsualize the results without the crutches) can't hurt a videographer.
This kind of exercise should be especially useful for the videographer who's faced with shooting HD for the first time in stripped-down mode (doc shoot, normal settings, no DIT, no decent monitor).
Marin County, CA
>And lots of shows have gone
back to film because of various reasons >and complications.
The one comment you hear from directors who have worked on HD shows like "Joan of Arcadia" (single camera 1 hr drama's) is that the back focus "problem" (ie having to check so frequently) is a MUCH bigger momentum killer than film mag changes ever were.
Everyone working for peanuts.
>If you give a writer a gold pen or a plastic pen, does he work for less >money writing w/ a plastic one?
HD and DV advocates are constantly harping about how much money is saved on lab costs and film stock,etc. OK fine, they don't have those horrible lab costs and they're saving all this money. If that's the case, then why don't they use the money they save on paying for the best people they can get to make the most out of what IS an inferior format to film?
>why don't they use the money
they save on paying for the best people >they can get to make
the most out of what IS an inferior format to film?
Good point. A lot of knuckleheads making decisions.
IMHO...This is a valid question to ask, especially of the
AC. As a cinitechnician I have had to help bail out crews
who were not familiar with the gear they had. They all claim
to know all about every piece of camera gear ever made and
that will be invented next month, but really don't have a
In our shop we always welcome the AC's who wish to come and play with new gear. The more they know about how to use it and care for it, the less repairs we have to do and fewer late night phone calls.
There are many of our film friends whose only involvement with video is a fuzzy tap camera and a combo8. Now we are asking them to check the back focus in the lens and then pull focus with offset barrel marks.
I know I am preaching to the choir since the kind of people who log into CML are the same ones taking apart a new remote head outside my shop door. But the next time a producer asks if you have shot with the new DEFPOTEC Image Capture system with the X4000 crystal recorder you may actually want to make sure you or your AC knows how to do the field setup alignment of the Snipe Hunter circuit.
"We make it, you break it."
>But the next time a producer
asks if you have shot with the new >DEFPOTEC Image Capture
system with the X4000 crystal recorder you >may actually want
to make sure you or your AC knows how to do the >field setup
alignment of the Snipe Hunter circuit.
Didn't Panavision & Clairmont modify the circuit board mounts for their DEFPOTEC Image Capture systems and make them much beefier, thus lessening the need for Snipe-Hunter circuit field setup alignments?
Hee hee hee.
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List
Marty Brenneis writes:
>But the next time a producer asks if you have shot with the new >DEFPOTEC Image Capture system with the X4000 crystal recorder you >may actually want to make sure you or your AC knows how to do the >field setup alignment of the Snipe Hunter circuit.
Amen to that.
It is essential for film people venturing in to 24p and HiDef etc. that they learn about video. It is also essential for video people who are venturing into "film" style shooting learn what "film" style really means.
As an example: Film AC’s are accustomed to having a "check out" meaning they go to the rental house to examine and test the equipment they will be using on a given job. They make sure that all the various components work together, etc. This is generally the time that AC’s become familiar with new gear, even though they may not be using it on the current job.
On the other hand, traditional video rental companies, who previously rented to ENG, to Broadcast outlets, and to corporate clients generally did not provide for a check out. As often as not the equipment was delivered, or simply picked up with a quick look to be sure everything was there.
Anyone doing that now with an HD package with primes, follow focus, zoom motor, matte box, filters, monitors etc. is only asking for trouble on the shoot. DIT or engineer or not.
I would say that the number of emergency calls from AC’s with a basic video question is nearly equal to the number of emergency calls from video folks wondering how to power a Microforce, etc. Explaining depth of field and pulling focus to video guys can be a time consuming exercise.
Having said all that, how can a rental company be expected to provide a check out day and intensive training in the operation of DV cam that will rent for $100?
IA 600 DP
>Didn't Panavision & Clairmont
modify the circuit board mounts for their >DEFPOTEC Image Capture
systems and make them much beefier, >thus lessening the need
for Snipe-Hunter circuit field setup alignments?
I've been burned too many times using autosnipe & have gone back to hunting snipe by eye.
Now, Snark hunting is a different story.
Sam "Good Will" Wells
>Obviously their way is better
though, they're film people.
This is stupidity, and it works both ways. It also has got to stop.
Things that work in the "Film" world don't necessarily work in the video world, and vice versa.
Back focus - In the Film world that is "Flange focal depth, and NOT to be touched. In the Video world, it is a little knob that you can adjust.
Did the Expensive Video zoom track properly? Or was the back focus out? Zooming in, makes Depth of field more critical as the image size is so much bigger, but zooming out makes the back focus/flange focal distance much more critical.
If the "back focus/flange focal distance " is out then I doubt anyone is going to be able to pull focus on a shot well, video people or film people.
It is important for whomever is doing a job to be familiar with the specific idiosyncrasies of that format and equipment. As video equipment moves from the news gathering market into "Movie" Production, the practices associated with using video equipment will HAVE to transform to be closer to the practices associated for Film equipment. Which means CHECKOUT DAYS. Why, because you are using the equipment in a different environment, you must adapt your procedures to that environment.
Or would you take your BetaCam out for an underwater shoot without an underwater housing? Of course you only got half a take (if that).
Phil, you obviously have a huge chip on your shoulder concerning film, and that you feel you are less of a shooter because you shoot on video. Or you feel others think you are less of a shooter, well get over it, it is exhausting putting up with these ridiculous time consuming posts where you don't read what others write. If you really feel that NOT having shot film hurts your career potential do what the rest of us have done - SHOOT FOR FREE to get it on your reel. BUY/RENT/Borrow a Bolex and go shoot some footage. Just STOP WHINING ABOUT IT, it is in everything you write.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Everyone has an Agenda, why does everyone feel the need to hijack posts with their own agenda. My agenda is I feel this whole Film/Video debate is such a colossal waste of energy. Now we are discussing how because a person missed focus pulls it is because they are "Film" people?
Me, I'm just a Person person.
Cinematographer - Gladstone Films
Cinematography Mailing List - East Coast List Administrator
Better off Broadcast (B.O.B.)
New York, U.S.A.
>Film style focus pulling is
successfully used on video shoots all the >time...
I recall a DP telling me that his Focus Pullers always work off of large HD monitors away from the set. This DP had more video experience than I did so his opinion weighed heavily. He claimed you could not work efficiently in the "film style". Had I not done a previous HD 24p project I may have taken his advice and asked my Focus Pullers to work a series in this way. At the time there were more "ENG style" lenses than "cine-style", except if you rented from Panavision (which was not possible for this shoot due to the Producer's prior commitment to another rental house).
Fortunately, we were able to rent the new Canon 11x and 21x lenses, and although I had to give up the convenience of pulling iris via paintbox - I was glad I picked cine-style lenses that allowed the assistants to work "film style" (for lack of a better word). I know they used the on-board monitors at times to "cheat", but 95% of the pulls were measured (or skilfully estimated distances by our two Focus Pullers : Bobby Truitt and Paul Janossy). I did suffer though since the wireless/remote iris systems were not what we're used to in the film world such as Preston's, Scorpio, etc. The system we had was basically a new prototype that had a lot of problems and essentially ruined a lot of takes until we finally forced the sub-rental of 2 Scorpios.
An added measure of insurance was that we adapted our methods as well : I stood at the director's HD monitors, like Edward Scissorhands with 2 remote iris controls in my hands (not as reliable from further away at the DIT station), and keeping an eye on focus. On rare occasion the DIT would also catch a slight buzz on his monitor - but again the focus was solid 99% of the time and we had few problems working in this way.
But back to the Focus Pullers working off the monitor. I'm aware of certain 35mm film shots allowing one to pull focus off of the on-board monitor -Transvideo on a camera with a good video tap - but I could not fathom how one could do a Steadicam shot pushing into a choker or a long-lens shot with people running towards you and pull focus flawlessly as you reacted to an image on a monitor. It seemed rife with problems and begging to have buzzes constantly. Is it soft or the #1 SFX? Should I trombone the focus a little to see if it gets sharper? And what about the times when you cannot have that large HD monitor? And how far away are the Focus Pullers in their own little DIT tent doing this? I'm certain had I done it that way we would've been fired after 2-3 days.
Again, apparently the above-mentioned DP has done it the "video way" - this is purely anecdotal from him and his assistants - but I also know that a few weeks prior his assistants had dragged him to Panavision to see real lens markings.
LA based DP
Jeez I pulled focus on the fly while shooting, hiding the
breathing in moves, on lo-budget EFP industrials years ago.
Good thing I didn't know it was an international political issue, I didn't have the UN Secretary Generals' phone #.
>I have worked with at least
four film-oriented AC’s who tried to measure >focus for
standard def video, and who blew shots again, and again, and
Could they have been trying to measure from the nonexistent film plane? As far as I know, the distance markings on video lenses are based on measurement from the front lens element, not the image plane. (Someone please correct me if I'm off the mark, as it were, or if there are significant exceptions.)
Marin County, CA
Dan Drasin writes :
>As far as I know, the distance markings on video lenses are based on >measurement from the front lens element, not the image plane.
I don not believe this is true anymore. But any decent AC (don't know what AC's Phil's been working with) should tape out the lens and compare the marks to their eye to see if they are accurate. This is what is done on even the most basic checkout of either film or video packages. I've used film lenses where the marks didn't come up accurately--why on earth would I assume that an unknown video lens would? Also, if the video lens is employing a front-mounted wide angle or telephoto adapter as is so common these days, then these devices routinely throw off the marks. On my own personal Century wide angle adapter I have a seconded set of focus marks with a reference dot that I employ as my accurate marks whenever the adapter is mounted. How did I set these marks? I made sure my zooms regular focus marks were tracking accurately compared to a tape measure (easy to do once the back focus is set) and then did it again with the adapter in place. The entire exercise took maybe half an hour and it is entirely accurate.
If an AC does not know how to check a lens and camera to make sure it will track focus properly to it's marks then that AC has no business pulling focus on that camera. If the person does not know then the person should learn. This goes for film or video or whatever.
Cine-style lenses like the Zeiss DigiPrimes and cine-style zooms by Canon and Fujinon are marked for measurement from the image plane. ENG style lenses are marked for distances from the from of the lens. That allows the camera operator to gauge/guess distance from the front of the lens to the subject while positioned with their eye at the viewfinder.
Somewhere I had an e-mail from someone at Fujinon outlining the rhyme and reason to their system, which series of lenses were calibrated which way, but I can't find it right now. Perhaps someone from Canon and Fujinon is lurking and will chime in.
The best way to know which way the lens you're using is marked is a simple test with a tape.
Randy Miller, DP in LA
>inform the DP and/or producer
that they've fixed it, and it was :
A.) Your fault, or
B.) A problem with your gear
>I can't begin to tell you the number of times I've seen this scenario play >out.
I remember one time the production manager for a client called up frantic about the DSR-570WS being "stuck in service mode". And that EVERY control wasn't responding as it should be.
This sounded really strange to the tech who took the call, and promptly sent a driver with a replacement body to the set which (thankfully) was only about 10 minutes away. When the camera came back everything checked out fine. The DP wasn't available to come to the phone when the call came in, and when the tech called the production manager to let them know that everything was okay with the body, the tech asked again to speak to the DP or at least for more detailed information to the problems the camera was supposedly having.
The production manager called back after speaking to the DP, and said that "The DP says that the cameras white balance keeps changing for no reason, and that the camera is in service mode."
The tech then asked the production manager to have the DP call in as soon as possible.
After a few hours the DP called in and immediately started complaining about how the "problem" with the camera and the subsequent delay in getting the replacement camera made my company look bad, and my rental house wasn't his choice and that he always goes with [much larger company] and doesn't ever have idiotic problems like this.
My tech then informed the DP that the camera was actually just fine and that he had been operating the camera in "EZ Mode" and that ATW (auto white tracking) had been turned on. The DP said "Well since I've never shot with this camera there was no way to know to know how to change these settings." The tech informed the DP of 1) the manual that was included with the camera, and 2) the feature is easily identifiable in writing on the side of the camera and could have been discussed during prep (No prep was ever done, the camera was delivered to set). The DP hung up.
The production coordinator called back at the end of the day and said that the DP is blaming the equipment and because of the problems they're not paying for the camera rental.
The tech then explained how it was 100% operator error and that there was nothing wrong with the equipment. I don't know if that DP has worked much with that client, because even after the delivery of a 2nd body and all the service/support that client has never come back for another rental. Welcome to Hollywood.
Senior Camera Rental Agent
Newer video cameras, especially those designed for film style
work, often have an image plane, and if they don't, its pretty
easy to derive and mark one.
Illya Friedman writes :
>The tech then explained how it was 100% operator error and that there >was nothing wrong with the equipment.
Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not limited to Hollywood -- or to video.
IA 600 DP