View Full Version : First project on Film, what do I need to know for Post?

03 March 2005, 10:46 PM
I'm a student on a filmschool where we learn to make movies on video. But one of my classmates has to make a project (not a schoolproject) that he wants to shoot on film. And since I'm sort of the tech-guru of my class, I'm a sort of technical supervisor on this project. I learned a lot from various websites, articles and seminars (I went to the Color Grading preview of Discreet on IBC2004). But there are still some things that I don't fully understand.

I know in theory how to edit. A Standard Definition tape with keycode on screen is my footage for the offline edit. But is there a standard for how that footage is delivered on tape? I live in a PAL country, so do they just speed up the footage to match the 25FPS to 24FPS or is it another method.

Also, we need to scan it for Animation and Colorcorrecting purposes. I guess we'll get *.cin or *.dpx files. But the documentation I read about colorgrading involved a LUT or something. I know what this thing does (in theory), but do I really need it (it doesn't need to be superperfect) and how do I work with it in an Aftereffects enviroment? And how do I have to deliver it to the Post house that prints it to film again.

I hope someone could tell me more about these things. Keep in mind that the project is low-budget, everything needs to be done on normal PC's or MAC's.


03 March 2005, 12:04 PM
Is the whole film low budget? or only the PostPro?
I mean, film to tape and back to film is really expensive.
What film format are you working with? 35mm? 16mm? Super versions of the former?
What type of Postpro will you need to do? Just Color grade?

Sorry for so many questions, just trying to narrow things down.


03 March 2005, 01:01 PM
Thanks for your reply.

The director has pitched his project and got approval and his tiny budget. The end result has got to be 35mm. For the rest we have to figure it out on ourselves. The project is kind of a long trailer/commercial length but I don't know that much yet. It will need some kind of 2D animation, but that's all I know at this point.

In this pre-production stage he wants to look if he could shoot it on film (16mm). Like I said, I'm sort of the tech-guru in my class. So he came to me for advise. I could tell him some things that he needs to arrange to get the film scanned and printed later. If that arrangement would become too costly, He has to look at other possibilities.
But because there are also a lot of tech details that come with film production, I proposed that I would be more involved in the project. He agreed, and so I got the job as technical supervisor (but that's just to have a name for it).

The crew (all students) won't be paid, they work for studypoints and experience. Most of the companies that will be involved do their job on sponsorbase or give discounts. So productioncosts are kept very low to make this thing possible.

The questions I asked are mainly to get tech answers, not on how much it would cost.
I just don't want to have a tech problem to result into not being able to make this possible. And it could be that this production won't be shot on film after all, but on HD or Digibeta and then printed to 35mm. But then I would know these things for the future.

03 March 2005, 04:31 PM
I see what you mean, but the problem you are facing is totally tied to costs. Ah, the business part of art, always overlooked.... ;)
I mean, as an example: If the project is shot in 16 mm (because everything is cheaper) you, as head of PostPro, will have to deal with tons of problems, as 16 mm film is not of the stable kind (nor are those cameras nor itŽs mechanical parts), meaning that youŽll get a scanned sequence where things move erratically, which will give a lot of headaches only to stabilize it, to work properly on the sequence. Not to mention that the frame is smaller and even when blowing it up to 35mm is possible, you are going to face quality problems. The cost (time) problems will be on your side. Even when the artists are not being paid, youŽll have equipment and maintenance costs.
16 mm is great for some kind of things, student projects with little or no PostPro or quality requirements, its sought-after soft look,... whatever.
If you shoot on Super-16 or Super-35, things will get much worse, as these films only have sprocket holes on one side. There it goes the stability......
Consider buying the book "Visual Effects for Film and Television" by Mitch Mitchell. ItŽs not a totally technical manual but he thouroughly helps you understand why you should do something and why you shouldnŽt.

For scanning and filming rates you better contact the facilities directly, as they might have special arrangements if this is a student project. Specially considering that it seems youŽll need to digitize the whole project, and that is expensive (not to mention moving it back to film, which is still more expensive).

Will you be in charge of the editing, or only the effects?

If you are after tech-only advices, there are a few to consider (out of mind, there are more for sure):
- Get in touch the sooner with the facility thatŽll deal with the scanning and the filming back (or those you might be considering). Ask them everything you need and what they need back, and youŽll work out the best solution for both parts. This is no techie, but common practice and a sound one.
- If you can, get image sequences, not video (interlacing is a mess) this way you wonŽt need to convert to 25fps
- Watch your black levels. Always.
- Watch motion blur if you are to compose 3d into plates (or even 2d).
- Watch gamma values.
- Work in float always if at all possible, and of course those .cin or .dpx will help keep everything at maximum quality (10 bits Log or 8/16 bits Lin). But will require a lot (and i mean a lot) of storage capacity and a rock solid way of moving things back and forth (if you are on a network consider minimum Gigabit Ethernet, you donŽt want to take longer in moving frames between workstations than it takes them to get rendered). And this again means money.
- Avoid mixing 10 bit Log scanned footage with 8 bit Lin (or 16 bit Lin). Go fully one way or the other. Lin (Linear) will make your life easy.
- .CIN is not that much used anymore, though still valid, of course. Consider OpenEXR ( .
- Watch your black levels. Always. (did i said that before?)

Any decent compositing software will have presets to convert 24 to 25 fps and this is an easy conversion (unlike NTSC that requires 3-2 pulldown), but as i said above, keep things simple and avoid video if you can. If video is mandatory you donŽt want to get PAL resolutions, minimum should be HD, but separate frames are still much better.

That 2d animation might be easier to do than something in 3d (famous last words...), but you really need a complete breakdown of what will be required. The appreciation of the difficulty of a shot should never be left to a client.
If only 2d is needed you might get away with simpler setups, unless that 2d is to interact with the real plates (then you have 3d involved).

Sorry if i canŽt hand you more than general issues but you need more details of what you are to do.

If i were to shoot something similar, iŽd rent a 24P HD camera, as it will be possibly cheaper than going the way of the Lab and the Scanning facility. This way youŽll have already everyting in digital and only will need to film to 35mm when all is finished.

Get several quotes and compare. Every country is a different world regarding costs.

sorry for such a rambling

03 March 2005, 02:25 PM
Ok, well thanks for the info. I guess you are right, I need more details. And I will check that book out, thanks for the tip!

03 March 2005, 09:59 PM
Have you seen the movie "28 Days"? If not, take a look at it. It was shot on PAL DV, with high end lenses on Canon XL-1s. It had a very 16mm like feel and looked pretty good back out to 35mm.

I completely agree with RoundPixel. The cost of film, camera, and processing has to cost a fortune, compared to say renting a HD or HDV camera for a day. Not to mention the "overhead" full res film is going to take to do post on it. These files are going to be huge and require large hard drives to store. And you won't be able to edit any of this in real time unless you have a 4:4:4 editing system. Enen George Lucas talks about how much they save by using tape instead of film. It was hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions in the end for film stock and lab work.

I don't know off hand how much film scanning is going to be, but here is a place in Europe somewhere with a average list of cost to rent HD cameras. unless you can get some place to donate the camera, film and processing, it could cost thousands of US dollars just to get get the film stock and your footage into the computer.

as you can see an HD camera cost 5x as much as a HDV camera.

if you did it in HDV you would be able to edit right on a normal PC pretty easy and the file sizes wouldn't be that bad. you would also have a higher res image in 1080i at 24p.

here is just a sample page for sending in 16mm film to transfer to digital to edit. 1200 feet of film, which I think is about 30minutes of footage is 300$ just for one transfer.

I know a 1 hour tape for an HDV camera is only like 15$ and HDV camera for a day cost maybe 200$.

here ya go, 400feet of 16mm from this place cost nearly 200$.

so that would be for 1 hour of 16mm film, 2400feet $1200 plus $600 to transfer to digital.

for that, you could almost buy a camera. (if my numbers are right)

just food for thought, but for me HDV would be the cheapest and easiest way to go, yet still give you high enough res to make it out to film.

03 March 2005, 07:37 AM
Just a quick note here.

1080i means that video is interlaced (that's what the i stands for). Therefore this resolution is not progressive.

About hdv cameras
As of today, only Sony and JVC have HDV cameras. JVC does 720 progressive at 30fps.

Sony, on the other hand, claimed at launch time that its cameras did 24fps, but on a later statement they said that 24 was simulated. Regarding progressive shooting, sony does it at 480p. This camera also shoots in 1080i and 480i.

Their higher end (higher priced) model, the HVR Z1U will record at 50, 60, and 25(progressive) fps.

I personally work with a JVC HD10 and I can tell you that 720p looks awesome, it is also great for green/blue screen work. The main advantage of the sony one is that it has 3 ccd's, but with proper lighting, the HD10 will give you a good run for your money.

By the way, JVC will be showing their new HDV 720p 24fps 3ccd camera this april. I look forward to this event!



03 March 2005, 02:59 PM
I can't tell that much anymore online, because alot of details are on a need to know basis. But I can tell you that it will be shot on 35mm. Scanning is done for free and Printing is part of the expenses.

Thanks again for the info.

03 March 2005, 03:17 PM
Congratulations then, 35mm is the "real thing" :thumbsup:

Just in case i forgot in my former ramblings, try if at all possible, to get as many camera details as you can, such as focal lens, height above ground, distance to talent, whatever you think important without being a pain. You never know when youŽll need to matchmove anything...... and these details take little time to have them written down.


03 March 2005, 06:00 AM
Wow! 35mm is what a filmmaker (except George Lucas, of course) dreams to do at least once in his life, congratulations! Images are BEAUTIFUL in this format.

I'll be shooting a short film in hdv in a month, once I get the costumes done. My first option was to shoot on 35, but the cost was almost 6 times more than hdv (that means around 8,000 usd more!!). The nice thing is that hdv 720p looks like 16mm, is far less expensive :), and it makes it quicker to review dailies.



03 March 2005, 06:30 AM
are you scanner at 2k or 4k??

04 April 2005, 04:05 PM

I decided to do a short film in HD. As i'm the producer and writer of the film. I just want to know how the project went over all with HD in terms of expense during editing and resolution.


04 April 2005, 11:11 PM

The shooting will start next week, but this is my second short in HDV, and I can tell you that everything costs more or less the same. I used to edit in vegas, but I got the HDV update for Premiere Pro (available online).

The only thing that you need to consider when using JVC's HDV camera, is to light as if you were lighting for film, since the camera is not very sensitive to low light conditions. That might raise your budget a bit, but the quality as compared to DV is superb!



04 April 2005, 05:24 PM
> hdv 720p looks like 16mm

Not at all.

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