Author Topic: Still not happy with DV...  (Read 7079 times)

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MacGuffin

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Still not happy with DV...
« Reply #30 on: September 12, 2003, 10:06:09 AM »
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One director's take on the latest digital camera
Source: Los Angeles Times

Director Robert Rodriguez has always had one eye on the bottom line. His 1995 book, "Rebel Without a Crew," explained how he was able to shoot his debut feature, "El Mariachi," as quickly and cheaply ($7,000) as possible. That attitude followed him to Hollywood, where the scope of his projects has increased while he continues to keep his budgets and shooting schedules lean.

So it's no surprise that Rodriguez hasn't hesitated to embrace Sony's new HDWF900 digital motion picture camera. The camera, developed by Sony's Broadcast and Production Systems Division, resembles a VHS camera in its size and ability to record on videocassette but digitally records film-quality images with considerably less effort than film cameras.

Rodriguez's move to digital, which he used to shoot his recent features "Spy Kids 2" and "Spy Kids 3-D," along with his latest, "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," puts him in a select group of directors, including George Lucas and James Cameron, who have moved, ahead of the industry, to adopt the new technology.

Rodriguez recently met for the first time with the camera's inventors, Satoshi Yamaga, national product manager for digital cinematography, and Yasuhiko Mikami, national marketing manager for movie and TV applications, to discuss the camera, its long development and its practical applications.

Question: In a way, is this camera trying to combine both a TV camera and motion picture camera into one?

Mikami: Yes, it can be used as an ordinary news-style camera, shooting at 30 frames per second . You can also switch it to work at 24 frames per second, like film cameras. This is the very first time we've been able to create a camera that can be used in both worlds.

Q: Does this camera almost do the cinematography for you?

Rodriguez: No, you still have to light it. But you can light much more to your eye. To get the shot, you don't need to bring all this equipment over and use the light meter and think, "Well, if the soup is this temperature tomorrow " You don't have to do all that crazy stuff.

Q: Why did you decide to shoot digitally?

Rodriguez: After "Spy Kids," I was not doing certain movies simply because of the hassle of shooting on film. It's like painting with your eyes closed. The next day [after shooting] it gets developed and sent back to you and you get to see if you even got what you were trying to get. A lot of times you don't. It's why movies take a long time and cost a lot of money. What digital does is, it frees you up to be able to shoot much faster, to be able to see the image while you're shooting it. You don't have to say the traditional "That was great. Let's just do one more."

Mikami: I happen to be a film guy as a hobby. Shooting with film, especially black-and-white film, as a hobby is a great thing. It's so pleasing to your eye. But to people like Robert, who are in the film business, it's not a hobby. It's a business, and he wants to be productive; he has certain goals to meet.

Rodriguez: What do you think the difference is between the look of digital and the look of black-and-white film? Do you think you could get that look with digital?

Mikami: If you are looking at large negative [film], it might take some time for digital to beat that. If it's ordinary 35-millimeter [film], I think we're getting very, very close. Shooting in film is very much like improvisation, like jazz. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you get the results right. There aren't many people in this town who are very good at it. With digital, the average hit rate becomes higher.

Q: Is there still an advantage to shooting film?

Rodriguez: I did a whole comparison, side by side, pros and cons, before doing "Mexico," and the only reason I could see to shoot on film was nostalgia. If you were to compare the hard cost of shooting on film to shooting on tape, you'd save millions of dollars shooting on tape. I know I never could have shot [this film] with the schedule and budget [$29 million] we had.

Yamaga: From our point of view, if we add one more paintbrush to creative people, that would be wonderful.

Q: Why has it taken so long for picture to follow sound into the digital realm?

Mikami: In the early 1980s, when we had our first-generation, high-definition camera, you needed a truck to carry the recorder and the camera-processing circuits. We were dealing with five times more detail when you compare standard-resolution film to high-definition. It took us nearly 20 years to come over that. Once we did, we were able to pack all that computing power into a hand-held camera.

Q: What's the advantage of digital filmmaking for the average moviegoer?

Rodriguez: It just looks better. It looks a lot cleaner, and it gives you better colors. People get confused. They look at digital and say, "Yeah, but it doesn't look as grainy as film does." That's like saying, "CDs are great, but they don't have that snap, crackle and pop like my old vinyl records." That's the medium, that's not the music. You're so used to it, it doesn't mean it's wrong when it's gone. [Digital] is even better for movies without effects — run-and-gun or personal movies — because of how it treats the actor. You're moving at the speed of creative thought.
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SoNowThen

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« Reply #31 on: September 12, 2003, 10:11:12 AM »
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Mac, do you or anybody know about changing lenses on this kinda camera? Because that's my only complaint about the really great digital cameras -- we need more latitude with the kind of lenses we can use.
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Ghostboy

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« Reply #32 on: September 12, 2003, 10:13:47 AM »
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It's funny. For all intents and purposes, HD video is far better than film in terms of visual quality. Our hangups over the difference between film and video are actually drawbacks to film, which have over time become good things to our eyes.

If I was given a decent budget now, I'm not sure what format I'd choose to shoot on. After seeing 'Once Upon A Time In Mexico,' they seem so much closer. They both can get you what you want, for the most part. It's not necessarily about what's right for the story anymore.

Redlum

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« Reply #33 on: September 12, 2003, 11:03:31 AM »
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OUATIM looks great but I wonder if some of the greatest examples of cinematography in the past couple of years could have been matched by up-to-date digital cams. Could Conrad Hall for example (regardless of his experience with digital), created that amazing shootout in the rain in Road to Perdition?
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metroshane

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« Reply #34 on: September 12, 2003, 11:15:50 AM »
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To me the look of the movie is very important...but it seems that most people ruin their films by having bad sound.  Studies have shown that people will pay attention to programs with bad visuals (static etc) but won't stand for bad sound.  It's just annoying.  

Does anyone here have any opinions on these various dv's sound qualities?
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Redlum

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« Reply #35 on: September 12, 2003, 11:25:24 AM »
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Quote
Q: Why has it taken so long for picture to follow sound into the digital realm?


The sound is done as it would be on a movie shot with film cameras.
\"I wanted to make a film for kids, something that would present them with a kind of elementary morality. Because nowadays nobody bothers to tell those kids, \'Hey, this is right and this is wrong\'.\"
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Ghostboy

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« Reply #36 on: September 12, 2003, 12:28:53 PM »
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Quote from: SoNowThen
Mac, do you or anybody know about changing lenses on this kinda camera? Because that's my only complaint about the really great digital cameras -- we need more latitude with the kind of lenses we can use.


With the Sony F900 models, the full range of Panavision 35mm lenses can be used (if you rent the camera from Panavision). They were designed to be compatible.

In regards to whether Conrad Hall could have used it for Road To Perdition, no. It's still not quite there. But for many kinds of films, where that sort of texture and richness isn't the issue, it's just as viable an option as film.

mutinyco

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« Reply #37 on: September 12, 2003, 08:27:40 PM »
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Generally speaking, I still think film is better for capturing images. I've really liked the look of films that have then gone through a digital intermediary (O Brother, Panic Room, etc.), though I can't say that pictures shot digitally look so good when projected on celluloid. O Brother, for instance REALLY popped on the big screen. We're going through a transition right now. Once movies are projected digitally that line is going to blur until there's no real need for film anymore.
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« Reply #38 on: September 12, 2003, 08:37:16 PM »
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Quote from: mutinyco
until there's no real need for film anymore.


never gonna happen. thats like saying that with the internet, one day there wont be any real need for books.

mutinyco

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« Reply #39 on: September 12, 2003, 09:03:06 PM »
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It's about economics. I'm not saying film won't exist, but within the next 10-15 years the great bulk of all motion pictures will be digital.
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Ghostboy

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« Reply #40 on: September 12, 2003, 09:20:30 PM »
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And also TV. I think that'll be a big area for HD to takeover. Is there really any need for Friends or somesuch to be shot on 35mm?

mutinyco

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« Reply #41 on: September 13, 2003, 10:37:03 AM »
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I think one of the big hold ups are the DPs. People get arrogant about shooting 35mm. It's an ego thing. They'll only shoot 35mm. Of course, I usually find these are the least talented shooters.
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« Reply #42 on: September 13, 2003, 10:56:01 AM »
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Quote from: mutinyco
I think one of the big hold ups are the DPs. People get arrogant about shooting 35mm. It's an ego thing. They'll only shoot 35mm. Of course, I usually find these are the least talented shooters.


I think that's an unfair statement. I know it wasn't meant to be a blanket statement, though. However, if someone were to misinterpret your statement to say that "if you're really talented, you wouldn't be afraid of DV", they would be wrong altogether. That'd be like saying that Altman isn't talented because he refuses to cut on computers.
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ono

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« Reply #43 on: November 03, 2004, 06:00:09 PM »
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Can anyone recommend any good digital video lighting books?

Already checked this thread, just for your reference.  That's mostly film stuff.  And I already have Painting With Light by John Alton and Film Lighting by Kris Malkiewicz

 

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