Film Cameras

Discuss techniques and films related to VFX

Film Cameras

Postby tc123 on 02/6/2012, 5:24 pm

Hey guys,

This will probably be a dumb question... but i have been wondering it for a while now and would appreciate it if someone explained it to me!
So the only camera i've owned is a Canon digital camera - you plug it in, transfer the footage to your computer, start editing. Pretty simple right?
So my question is you know those film cameras they use in the movies? How do they work? Is it as simple as plugging them into a computer and starting to edit (because i thought it was all captured on film?). I have heard some movie editors say they use Avid? And i know some films use After Effects so how does this work? I guess i'm just confused as to what they do with the film once they've shot everything. And is sound shot seperate to the video?

Thanks alot
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby Faust on 02/6/2012, 5:46 pm

No, you cannot just plug it directly into the computer. Film is a thin sheet of plastic that is covered with photosensitive silver halide salts, so it must be transferred onto a computer with something called a telecine transfer box and a multiplexer.

Also, sound can either be recorded separately or optically recorded on the film strip. The latter would look something like this:

Image
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby tc123 on 02/6/2012, 5:56 pm

thanks so much for your quick reply and your helpful links!
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby tc123 on 02/6/2012, 6:00 pm

so would film editors use a telecine to transfer their work to a computer if they wanted to add effects and what not?
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby Faust on 02/6/2012, 6:15 pm

tc123 wrote:so would film editors use a telecine to transfer their work to a computer if they wanted to add effects and what not?


Yes. Before computers, VFX were done on a great big machine called an optical printer:

Rob Neal wrote:
Visual effects (or optical effects, as it was then known), used to be a photographic process, combining elements of film, copies, negatives, holdout mattes and suchlike, all combined in a mechanical monstrosity known as an optical printer:

Image

Star Wars, and many others used this technique (The pic above is the original ILM one). Now with digital technology, it is all done in a computer, but the medium is still usually film which means it needs to be scanned, individually, frame by frame, and then handed over to the VFX guys. The final FX shots are then re-transferred back to the master neg for editing and printing. These days though, as cinemas are going all digital, the entire movie may be scanned, and then edited and colour corrected. This is known as a digital intermediate. Sometimes this may be then transferred back to film, or kept purely in digital form.

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Re: Film Cameras

Postby tc123 on 02/6/2012, 6:18 pm

thanks so much for your replies
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby Faust on 02/6/2012, 6:33 pm

No problem, glad to help! :D
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby jax_rox on 02/6/2012, 7:00 pm

These days, no-one records sound onto the film, it's always recorded onto a seperate recorder.

When working with film the post workflow goes something like this:

You shoot your film - with film, unlike digital, you don't see exactly what you are getting whilst shooting so all the footage you take is sent daily to a processing lab which processes the film and then will perform a 'one-light' telecine transfer. This gets it into the computer and it is then either saved onto HDCAM SR tapes or as a Quicktime file (or both). The footage then gets sent back to you on set so you can see what you have and don't have and also gets sent to the editor who goes through every take and every sound file and syncs them all up and then they can start creating a rough cut. Once the editor creates a cut with the Director, an EDL (edit decision list) gets sent back to the lab, who then put the film into a scanner and 'scan' the needed shots frame-by-frame into the computer using an Arri Scanner at a rate of 8fps. This is also known as a DI. This then gets assembled in an 'online edit' and any footage that needs vfx or titles gets sent over to the vfx department. Once all the vfx footage its back, the film then gets sent to the colourist for grading. Whilst that happens, the Sound Designer starts on the sound mix, and the composer creates the music which then gets put onto the film. Once the film is finished, DCP packages are created for digital projection, and film outs are done via an Arri Laser which literally lasers the finished film back onto a roll of film.

The process can differ slightly, some people like to work with a DI right from the start, rather than a telecine but that's the essential workflow. Last time I did some price checking for a ten minute short film with telecine of rushes, DI, online conform, and a day with a Colourist - it was going to cost around $15-25k..
Working with film is certainly not cheap ;)
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby tc123 on 02/7/2012, 12:55 am

yeah i read that the clapperboard is used as a reference to sync everything up nicely, am i right? :=~

wow! that's not cheap at all... no wonder motion picture budgets are always so high..especially with the amount of people working on them
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby jax_rox on 02/7/2012, 2:59 am

Yes, a clapperboard is used as a reference. Some film cameras allow you to record time code and that gets jam synced to the clapperboard and the sound device so that in the telecine, it all syncs up automatically. However, clapperboards are still used not only for shot references but also as a backup in case the timecode slips out of sync (as it inevitably does).

Yes, that's not even considering the cost of the stock itself - a 400' roll of 16mm costs about $200 and gives you about 10 minutes of shooting time. 35mm is double that at $400 for 400'. Given most films try to shoot at between a 5:1 and a 7:1 ratio, you're looking at around 10-14 hours of footage for a 2 hour movie. You can do the maths and figure out how much that film stock is going to cost ;)

On top of that, each film print of a feature film costs ~$2000 (IIRC) each, so if you're putting it into 100 theatres, there's $200,000 already - your budget is up around $500,000 without even even factoring in the fact that you may make prints for other territories and countries, and more than 100 cinemas, or factoring in any costs of locations, crew, camera and lighting equipment, sound equipment hire, the costs of expendables, travel between locations for your crew, lenses, props, costumes etc etc. You can see why budgets are so high..
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby davids2 on 02/7/2012, 9:41 am

Yeah, most cameras do still run on film, but the Red cameras (http://www.red.com/store) shoot very good quality film digitally. They are less expensive then a lot of other cameras also.
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby Mufti on 02/8/2012, 3:36 am

That said, more and more big Holywood movies are shot on digital now. The Hobbit, the next Spiderman, the Avengers, Prometheus, Battleship, some bits of Men in Black III, Total Recall, The Bourne Legacy, Skyfall [the new James Bond], The Great Gatsby. I think this year, most of the big movies will be shot on digital.
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby jax_rox on 02/8/2012, 4:58 am

Mufti wrote:That said, more and more big Holywood movies are shot on digital now. The Hobbit, the next Spiderman, the Avengers, Prometheus, Battleship, some bits of Men in Black III, Total Recall, The Bourne Legacy, Skyfall [the new James Bond], The Great Gatsby. I think this year, most of the big movies will be shot on digital.


Bourne Legacy and Battleship are both shooting 35mm on Panaflex Millenium XL2s. Spiderman, The Hobbit and The Great Gatsby are being shot in 3D so had no real other choice than to use digital.

There are quite a few large name movies shooting either parts or entirely on digital. For 3D especially, you can really only use digital. That said, the majority of films are still shot on 35mm. It used to be 90-95%. Obviously with the advent of the Red Epic and Arri Alexa, it has gone down but it's still majorly used in Hollywood. Digital cameras are also being used as B cam or pickup cameras - including the 5D. I wouldn't go as far to sat that most big movies of 2012 will be shot on digital because film is still very much what Hollywood relies on, and what most people are used to working with. That said, it is likely going to be impacted very much by what happens with Eastman Kodak. As the company tries to reshuffle itself, if it can relaunch and stop itself from going under, you will probably see motion picture continue to be the mainstay of Hollywood, or alternatively if Fujifilm can slot themselves in where Kodak used to be. Even still, someone will pick up the motion picture film arm of Kodak (seeing as it's the only profitable area of the company at the moment) and continue making film. I think it's going to be a long while yet before film is completely dead.
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby Michael_Szalapski on 02/8/2012, 7:25 am

Interestingly, all the action scenes from Act of Valor were shot with Canon 5d Mark II's.
Source. And an interesting entry on the film's cinematographer's blog. (I think any digital video/film shooter would benefit from reading his blog.)
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Re: Medicine Men Treated Patients

Postby Michael_Szalapski on 02/9/2012, 7:36 am

arileapsics wrote:Medicine Men Suckling Breasts...

Wow, the spambots are certainly getting creative. Also, 318 spam posts from this one guy alone? These bots are getting more and more flood-y.
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby Mufti on 02/11/2012, 3:21 am

jax_rox wrote:
Mufti wrote:That said, more and more big Holywood movies are shot on digital now. The Hobbit, the next Spiderman, the Avengers, Prometheus, Battleship, some bits of Men in Black III, Total Recall, The Bourne Legacy, Skyfall [the new James Bond], The Great Gatsby. I think this year, most of the big movies will be shot on digital.


Bourne Legacy and Battleship are both shooting 35mm on Panaflex Millenium XL2s. Spiderman, The Hobbit and The Great Gatsby are being shot in 3D so had no real other choice than to use digital.

There are quite a few large name movies shooting either parts or entirely on digital. For 3D especially, you can really only use digital. That said, the majority of films are still shot on 35mm. It used to be 90-95%. Obviously with the advent of the Red Epic and Arri Alexa, it has gone down but it's still majorly used in Hollywood. Digital cameras are also being used as B cam or pickup cameras - including the 5D. I wouldn't go as far to sat that most big movies of 2012 will be shot on digital because film is still very much what Hollywood relies on, and what most people are used to working with. That said, it is likely going to be impacted very much by what happens with Eastman Kodak. As the company tries to reshuffle itself, if it can relaunch and stop itself from going under, you will probably see motion picture continue to be the mainstay of Hollywood, or alternatively if Fujifilm can slot themselves in where Kodak used to be. Even still, someone will pick up the motion picture film arm of Kodak (seeing as it's the only profitable area of the company at the moment) and continue making film. I think it's going to be a long while yet before film is completely dead.


I stand by what I have said. Apart from The Dark Knight Rises, give me the list of big budgeted movies [I'm not talking about all the movies produced in Hollywood] shot on film for 2012, I'm sure the list will be shorter. And even indie films are moving more and more toward digital. I did not say film was dead, and hopefully, it will never be, but, in a 2-3 years, it will be the exception rather than the norm across the spectrum of budget.
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby jax_rox on 02/11/2012, 4:51 am

Indie movies will be shot on digital simply because it is cheaper, as I said above shooting on film is far from cheap.

Hollywood movies shooting on film? Well there's a couple you already mentioned.. Also whats the definition of 'big budget'? As well, the 3 that you mentioned that are being shot in 3D digital are exceptions simply because they are being shot in 3D and the others are only a couple out of the how many Hollywood movies shot each year? The fact that a few big budget films are being shot on high end digital doesn't change the fact that Hollywood still very much runs on film. These days though, there's much more of a choice so you can make the choice based on your film's needs, look, budget, workflow etc.

Anyway:
Bourne Legacy, Battleship, MIB3, Safe House, GI Joe, Wrath of the Titans, Hunger Games, Rum Diary, 21 Jump Street, American Reunion, Cold Light of Day, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Expendables 2, Breaking Dawn: Part 2, Lincoln... etc.

There are a lot of films being shot digitally with the advent of the Red Epic and Alexa, but to say most of the big movies will be shot on digital is not necessarily true.. And I'm not even sure that it will be the 'exception' depending on how Kodak surfaces out of it's restructure. Film is still very much alive in Hollywood and whilst it is being used a lot, to say that most films will be shot on digital is not really true..
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Re: Film Cameras

Postby Rob Neal on 02/11/2012, 6:54 am

davids2 wrote:Yeah, most cameras do still run on film, but the Red cameras shoot very good quality film digitally.

Pardon!? *sprays tea across the room*
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