Ultra 16mm w/FX, action. . .?
So I'm conceiving a project, which will include a good deal of camera movement, action, and effects, to be shot in the Ultra 16mm format. Even more, I plan on converting my Bell&Howell filmo and Arriflex 16ST for this. (If you want even more nitty-gritty, I'm planning on shooting this B&W, then colorizing later.)
For anyone who can might know a thing or to and shed some light, what are the pros/cons of this plan, and why. What would expect, in a case like this, to have to deal with; what might I have to worry about compromising or losing, since this will involve action and effects; and what do you think can be done to compensate for the various issues, or make the most out of this idea?
I know this might sound crazy to a lot of you, but my point isn't to debate the matter or try and get input at to the overall feasibility or foolishness of it. I admit that I'm not a cinematographer, so don't try changing my plan through bringing up my lack of credentials.
Just looking for knowledge.
Well since you asked...
Camera conversion to Ultra16 might be expensive... it takes some precision work and there's more to it than just replacing the gate. The cost of the work itself might be more than the Arri is worth, and definitely would be more than the Filmo is worth.
Ultra16 is a very weird orphan format. While any film lab can process the stock, there are very few labs that can do Ultra16 transfers... most of them don't have the proper gates for Ultra16 in their Ranks or Spirits or whatever telecine device they have. Many labs will probably never have even heard of Ultra16. You might be able to tell just a hint of difference if your transfer is a 4K DI, but that'd be pretty unheard of. A 2K, 1K, or 1080 DI would be much more the norm... and on those you'd never be able to tell the two formats apart.
It's tons of extra work to gain a tiny tiny sliver of extra negative that will make little or no difference. If you shoot Super16 and matte the finished project to the Ultra ratio I'd bet big money that absolutely no one would be able to tell the difference, especially shooting BW which will have a finer grain structure anyway.
I can't think of any.
Curious why as to your Ultra16 choice you say you don't want to "debate the matter or try and get input" yet "I admit that I'm not a cinematographer" in the same paragraph... in a post that is asking for advice.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Shooting B/W and colorizing later - do you know what a staggeringly pains taking and time consuming job it is to colorize monochrome film? OK, if that's what you really want to do (and I'd love to see the results), but how about shooting in color and making a B/W intermediate, at least you'd have the option of going back to the original rushes if it didn't work out?
What a shame to ruin the camera. And for what? 1.4mm in aspect ratio. LOL!
[Carlton Rahmani] "in a case like this, to have to deal with; what might I have to worry about compromising or losing"
You apparently do not understand that you are going to ruin a camera and only gain 1.4mm in ASPECT RATIO which as nothing at all in the world to do with RESOLUTION. That 1.4mm is a very big deal when it comes to getting the camera to work properly, in sync with the optics, gates, registration, and pin.
My opinion is you are thinking about the image acquisition of your project all wrong. You can shoot on 16, the equipment you already have, and still have plenty of RESOLUTION to crop the frame where you want it. You could even shoot on Kodak 7219, desaturate it, export the b/w frames to a printer and use crayons to color them in.
You absolutely SHOULD NOT ruin a camera, for what amounts to a misunderstanding between ASPECT RATIO and RESOLUTION.
[Carlton Rahmani] "I admit that I'm not a cinematographer, so don't try changing my plan through bringing up my lack of credentials." You brought it up. Not me. You have no idea what you're doing, and you should not ruin a perfectly fine camera.
There are stylistic, financial, experimental, and perhaps even 'spiritual' reasons I've decided to try this out. And my question was posed, mostly, to anyone who has experience with Ultra16mm, or even super16, particularly when it came to effects and action. Period. Admitting that I'm not a cinematographer--out of deference to the craft at its highest form; any idiot with a camera and some lenses can say call themselves a 'cinematographer--has nothing to do with it. I've DONE about as much research as I have time or resources for (evidenced by the futility of posting here), and know enough of what I'm talking about to not be dissuaded by a few words of someone who otherwise has no interest in MY project.
I didn't want to leave my choice of format up for debate--again, I was only looking for some actual information, not opinion--because no matter WHAT I put, someone's always going to say, essentially, "That's a stupid idea, you should try *this*. . ." Seriously, I could put the same question up, though talking about Super16mm, and someone would chime in about using REDs--because only an IDIOT would use film these days, and you can get even greater resolution and a more convenient workflow sticking to all digital.
It is not 'ruining a perfectly good camera' when all you do is shave off a little from the film gate. Firstly, these are older cameras that no one uses, unless they're film students wanting to do something 'artsy/authentic'. Secondly, the 4x3 aspect ratio is basically extinct; and even if I get that an ugly image bleeding out past where it should be, all I have to do--like you all said--is crop it.
Richard, I've checked out your stuff, and have to say you are not the person to tell ANYONE they don't know what they're doing. I guess you gotta bend your neck back pretty hard in order to look down your nose at people from where you're at.
The only reason why I'm bothering to reply to any of this--I guess it was pretty foolish of me to think I could get any real input--is so no one unfortunate enough to come across this threat thinks that one can be reasonably cowed into not standing by their vision only because a couple of equally unremarkable persons said they should. There's no good to try and convince otherwise.
I don't intend any of this for you Andrew. Like you, I'm looking forward to seeing the end result. As an example, here's a cool colorreel I find to be inspiring:
Moderators: If my tone is unsavory, feel free to kick me off the forum. I doubt I'm going to post here again, anyhow.
As a forum host, I don't find your tone unsavory... childish, maybe.
You can't expect to post on a professionals forum, basically admit that you have zero experience in doing what you are trying to do, and get mad and stomp your foot at people who give you input. Even if it's input you don't want to hear.
I've been a professional cinematographer for more than two decades, have worked with just about every film format there is short of 70mm or IMAX, I have directed and DP'd literally thousands of professional projects, I've shot hundreds of miles of film, have worked with projects ranging from local to the highest network level, and although I don't tout them or even display them I have earned enough awards to build a small house. I know what I'm doing.
You asked about camera movement, action, and visual effects as related to the U16 format. That answer to that is, obviously (to anyone with experience), it makes no difference. There will be ZERO difference in any effects concerns, prep, or results than if you were shooting S16. U16 brings with it absolutely no special needs, requirements, detriments, or advantages compared to S16 or even standard 16mm. If you can do it with those formats, you can do it with U16. Is that what you are asking?
The only difference you will run across is that with the other formats is that it's easy to get a lab transfer... whereas with U16 you'll have to look pretty far and wide to find a high-end lab that can make you an adequate DI. You'll even have to look relatively hard to even find a lab that knows what "Ultra16" even is, or that it even exists.
Also, if you insist on having your gates cut, don't do so without testing your lenses to make sure they will cover the U16 frame. Many 16mm lenses may not. All 35mm format lenses would, but not necessarily 16mm lenses.
If you have any other questions, and choose to ask them (and respond) in a civil tone, there are many COW professionals such as myself here who gladly and freely give of their time to be of assistance. If you can't do that, please look elsewhere.
And by the way, your research should have told you that camera techs have found that not all 16mm cameras can be converted to U16. Some are better candidates that others. Neither of your cameras is on that "easily converted" list.
Best of luck,
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Very nicely put.
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
part-time instructor lighting/camera
Academy of Art University/Film and Video (grad school)
[Carlton Rahmani] "Richard, I've checked out your stuff, and have to say you are not the person to tell ANYONE they don't know what they're doing. I guess you gotta bend your neck back pretty hard in order to look down your nose at people from where you're at."
I didn't say my stuff was good. I said you don't understand or know the difference between RESOLUTION and ASPECT RATIO. Shaving 1.4mm off the gate is a very big deal.
Also I have shot a lot of 16mm and s16mm.
Almost the entire video you linked is 1.33, silly child, and I think they are pretty images.
Forgive me but didn't Super 16 get it's start because someone filed the gate of an Eclair? I wonder if the Super 16 movement experienced the same kind of resistance. I imagine it was word for word but who knows and who cares because resistance is like the wind that makes the kite fly.