Re: why we shoot film/contrast ratios and sensitivity

From: 40 Frames (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Mar 07 2006 - 09:47:17 PST

Anna Biller wrote:

> I've never been on an HD shoot, but I've heard of this hideous "video
> village" phenomenon. I have some friends who do sound on independent
> feature films, and they say that the quality of technicians on film
> sets has gone down tremendously in the last few years. Being able to
> instantly watch things after shooting has indeed made everyone very
> wishy-washy and indecisive. People no longer trust in their own
> decision making, and DPs don't know how to light. There is so much time
> spent running to and from the video village, and shooting every
> rehearsal just in case, and being sloppy on every level because you can
> always shoot more, that this costs enormous time. And half the DPs
> shooting on film are fired in the first week because the dailies look
> so dreadful.

This is the angle Eastman Kodak has taken with their recent Super 16
presentations ("16 the number that works" and "16 you got it made" and now
the new one "stop by shoot film".... EK lets people shoot I believe one
minute of EK stock on an Aaton A-minima).

I attended an EK presentation here in Portland (probably two years ago)
which had a number of cameramen (yes, all men) and one producer (a woman).
One of the camera guys was Eric Edwards, someone considered a high profile
shooter in the NW (does national work, shot several of Gus Van Sant's
films with John Campbell).

All of these guys and a gal were on this panel to talk about why they
budget for and choose to work with film when they can. The video village
was of course mentioned, in addition to the temperamental nature of HD and
SD cameras. The result was everyone on the panel stating that film shoots
went faster and less time is wasted on insignificant details....and in the
end the latitude of film allowed the producers to "fix it in post".

The basic thrust of the arguement was "time is money" and "film is
quicker". Of course they mentioned latitude, contrast, accurate color
rendition, but these comments came more from EK reps that were present,
the panel moderator, and the film-on-video EK presentation. Most of the
panel members, having to deal with creativity in a very bottomline
fashion, all said film allows you to "do more set-ups in a given day".
This is the industry quickly. (If you read the trade papers
you notice that Super 16 is a choosen format for narrative and TV work
exactly for this reason. Most so-called low budget narrative shoots are
10-30 days long.)

I think this is why film capture is doing so well in the market. It's why
buying good glass for 16mm cameras is still an expensive proposition (esp.
Super 16 zooms). It has less to do with film looking better. So let's hope
that film can continue to allow people to work faster with better results.

It goes without saying that this industry position does little for the
continuing existence and use of 16mm print stocks. So support your local
archive and ask them to keep striking 16mm presentation prints of
preserved elements rather than opting solely for video presentation.
(I walked out of The Electric Edwardians...I lasted 10 minutes, but the
video projection and poor music score was enough to cause me to think of
something better to do.)


Alain LeTourneau
Pamela Minty
425 SE 3rd, #400
Portland, OR 97214
United States

+1 503 231 6548
Skype ID: frames40
email suppressed

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