The Future of Digital Filmmaking

31 replies [Last post]
frankieroberto
Offline
Joined: Mar 13 2001

Calling all DV Filmmakers!

I am looking at independant filmmaking projects using DV to shoot features or shorts. I'm comparing this to how Hollywood is turning to digital technology and asking what the future will be.

If you are making a DV movie, are are thinking about it, what do you think the chances are for yor movie to get mainstream success? How will your movie be distributed?

The MiniDV format isn't quite up to what George Lucas will be using for Star Wars II, but there is clearly a convergence of the consumer and professional industries, and this may allow the independant filmmaker to compete with the big studios for audiences in the future.

How confident are you that this is the direction which the technology will be leading us in? Will digital have a good or bad long-lasting effect on independant filmmaking?

Thanks,
Frankie Roberto

------------------
Want to help a Researcher looking at the future of digital filmmaking? Contact me: 20391@sevenkings.redbridge.sch.uk

Want to help a Researcher looking at the future of digital filmmaking? Contact me: 20391@sevenkings.redbridge.sch.uk

nattt
Offline
Joined: Aug 14 2000

We here at NOITAMINANIMATION are working with Panavision. We have seen the future and film is dead. George lucas isn't using even half of what the new technology is capable of.

nattress.com - Filters for FCP & Color
red.com - 5k Digital Cinema

Jim Bird
Offline
Joined: Sep 15 2000

Hi,

I do not know where Digital Video is heading when it comes to main stream (Hollywood), but DV does offer an opportunity for many people from all walks of life to create (film and edit) their own video productions. This will continue to happen and grow as software and hardware gets better and cheaper.

As far as distribution is concerned, e-commerce selling video tape on the web and video streaming on the web, now that ASDL has come along (this will grow with time), will offer small people with good ideas to have a presence and an outlet for their work.

For me good technical quality is important, but for me, a good production needs originality and content i.e. ideas from the human brain.

Digital has a future; there is no doubt.

Jim Bird.

Richard Choroszewski
Offline
Joined: Sep 28 1999

I think DV follows the same path as that already trodden by DTP (desk top publishing). Plenty of people thinking that they can break into the 'professional' arena, but only a very few with original ideas, luck, and lots of perseverance will make the leap.

But at least (like DTP) the 'mysterious arts' of the filmmaker will become more familiar and accessible.

Storm/Edius3.01 PAL 3Ghz Pentium in ASUS P4G8X M/board WinXPProSP2. 3x120G ATA & 2x300G Sata Raid0. 1024Mb DDRAM, Matrox Parhelia, 2xTFT 20" +SB Audigy2Platinum

frankieroberto
Offline
Joined: Mar 13 2001

Is it realistic that digital will merge independant and professional filmmaking or will there always be a divide? Is the gap going to open or close?

------------------
Want to help a Researcher looking at the future of digital filmmaking? Contact me: 20391@sevenkings.redbridge.sch.uk

Want to help a Researcher looking at the future of digital filmmaking? Contact me: 20391@sevenkings.redbridge.sch.uk

Billwill
Offline
Joined: Sep 17 2000

I'm not sure how many people who use this message board are independant filmakers or have aspirations to mass distribute their work.

I for instance am starting to make short DV movies for entertainment at my film & video club. If any get a bigger stage frankly I'd be suprised. Not just because I have small ideas and limited ways to shoot them ie with small casts, minimal lighting and sound f/x, but also because my camera (Canon XM1) and edit rig (DV500) has all sorts of hardware shortcomings that broadcast kit costing £10k to £15k doesn't have.

I'm about to get a cheapo steadi Cam to give me more stable tracking shots, but my only chance of achieving broadcast quality productions are probably limited to happening to catch the next concorde flying through the air on fire!

But I use DV to experiment with in a way that celluloid filmakers simply couldn't have done. So maybe with lower running costs to contend with, DV filmakers will become more interested in, and get better in competing for more business.

So my guess is that George Lucas is safe for the time being. But maybe not for too long...

Billy Ellwood is on Vimeo http://www.newcastleaca.co.uk at the film club

Rookie
Offline
Joined: Sep 27 1999

It's already happening!

Although I'm not a fan myself, Lars Von Trier and his other Danish "Dogma"-friends are already shooting on video and distributing their films around the world.

Heck, Von Trier has even won several international awards for these films!

Rookie

vega1970
Offline
Joined: Oct 10 2000

Hi, I simply had to post my angle on this topic, but DV is BIG, and it's getting bigger ! As a indie filmmaker myself I have been shooting movies with my 'Big Dogz' cast members since 1989, making short movies and getting bolder every year. In 99 after a few years in silence I invested in a Sony DV camera, and the quality amazed me, since then I have invested in a Pyro capture card and software to help with FX and I am in the middle of shooting a feature which will come in at about 60 mins. I hope that the end result will be good enough to get distributed. Time will tell.

So long Suckas !!!

Alan Roberts at work
Offline
Joined: May 6 1999

Bill's right. DV and NLE give us the tools to experiment with and find out how limited our imagination is. Good films/programmes are made by people with internal fire and imagination, good kit is largely secondary and comes once your reputation is established.

But it lets us shoot great holiday snaps.

------------------
alan@mugswellvillage.freeserve.co.uk. Delete village for a spam-free diet.

Louis
Offline
Joined: Jan 30 2001

Yes DV has definately got a very big future, though the next StarWars/Waterworld/Independence Day etc
Will never (at least not in our life time) be shot on any of the DV formats. I myself use a Canon XL1, We would all like to believe that making a big hit on DV is possible but at the end of the day the quality is light years away from what 35mm film produces, yes DV is fantastic quality, but unfortunately it is a differnt (the wrong) kind of quality, and before anyone shouts "Blair Whitch Project" well my guess is that this film was a one off publicity stunt never to be repeated, as for Von Trier, if anyone has ever seen his films you will see what i meen about quality, DV looks like news footage or documentary footage i.e. it looks too real, if you tried to shoot a film like Henry portrait of a seriel killer on DV it would look like a snuff film and the public would be outraged at the realism, 35mm film on the other hand has a soft freindly kind of quality that makes it look like, well film. All this is kind of like compairing Vinal records to CD, CD is cleaner sounding but just dosn't have those lovely warm velvety tones that an L.P.would give played back on a Lynn Sondec LP12. Just one more thing, the actor Tim Roth refused to do an advert for ITV about 8 months ago because they were going to shoot it on DV, he said he didn't like the way he looked on DV and insisted that they shoot on 35mm, they did and it cost them an extra £125,000 for film stock and processing.

[This message has been edited by Louis (edited 15 March 2001).]

robo
Offline
Joined: Aug 15 2000

Yeh, but the Tim Roth thing is more to do with the angle of the sun light reflecting off his buttocks than anything else. Rule number one: Never Pay Any Attention To Those Who Have Got To The Top Of The Heap - same heap as every one else, they don't smell any sweeter for being at the top of it!

Rookie
Offline
Joined: Sep 27 1999

quote:Originally posted by Louis:
...as for Von Trier, if anyone has ever seen his films you will see what i meen about quality, DV looks like news footage or documentary footage i.e. it looks too real...

But then of course, Von Trier is not even trying to make the footage look good.

According to his (and his friends) "dogma"-rules you are not allowed to use lighting equipment, filters, colour-correct or enhance the footage in any way(!)

Rookie

Rookie
Offline
Joined: Sep 27 1999

quote:Originally posted by Louis:
...All this is kind of like compairing Vinal records to CD, CD is cleaner sounding but just dosn't have those lovely warm velvety tones that an L.P.would give played back on a Lynn Sondec LP12.

But, then again, most people buy CD's these days don't they?

[This message has been edited by Rookie (edited 16 March 2001).]

Alan Roberts at work
Offline
Joined: May 6 1999

Let's get back to the fundamentals for a while.

Film and Top quality tv are near equivalent in real quality terms. Film has rather more resolving power but at much lower amplitude than does tv (the MTF is very different). HDTV can record more useable resolution than 35mm film. That's the result of lots of measurements done by me and others. Film can capture a gretaer contrast range than can video, but video captures the range that it does with less damage done to it (flare, halation etc). Tricks with the transfer characteristic in top-end cameras can get another 3.5 stops onto the tape. Again, that's the results of many measurtements and experiments done by me and others (I get paid for this sort of thing).

The real argument here is over the comporession format. DV is a phenominally good format for a variety of reasons, low cost, durability, reasonably low compression factor, and above all, access to the "dub" signal. This dub signal is the comporessed bitstream, that which travels over 1394 "firewire". If we edit in this bitstream, we lose nothing in multigenerationn copying and editing, And that;s where we win over all other formats except HDCAM, D1, D5 and D6. All other editing formats insist on returning to the fullrate video between generations.

So, although DV has a higher compression ratio than does "serious" digital video formats, we can stay at "first generation" quality throughout editing. And that's the single greatest contribution it could have made. The consumer market is several years ahead of the broadcasters/filmmakers in this respect.

While DV is a great consumer format, it doesn't have the image quality of top-end kit. But it stays at that level while the top-end kit may start to suffer after many copy generations.

The biggest disadvantage that DV kit has over the rest is that the cameras aren't near as good. So the image we put onto tape isn't as good as a Digibeta etc, unless we're prepared to pay the same sort of price (lenses are about £5k for a 15:1 zoom). DV has a niche, it's small and cheap, but don't get big ideas from it, it has its limitations.

Just my 2 pen'orth. I'll stop rambling now.

------------------
alan@mugswellvillage.freeserve.co.uk. Delete village for a spam-free diet.

nattt
Offline
Joined: Aug 14 2000

And that's just normal HDTV! The Panavision stuff is way ahead of that again - with room for expansion too. And there's features in their technology that only a few people know about that will revolutionise the industry more than just going digital. As I said before, we've seen the future, and it's great!

nattress.com - Filters for FCP & Color
red.com - 5k Digital Cinema

Alan Roberts at work
Offline
Joined: May 6 1999

Yup, cinema has been using kit that makes HDTV look like toys, for years. Processing and rendering frames at 4000*3000 and greater is perfectly normal and has been for a long time, in 16-bit linear or more (that's 16 bits each of RGB). Last I heard of was a 24bit system somewhere in Soho.

Louis
Offline
Joined: Jan 30 2001
Quote:
Originally posted by Rookie:
[B] But, then again, most people buy CD's these days don't they?

Most people buy VHS tapes these days also, but anyone that knows anything about anything will tell you that Betamax whiped the floor with VHS. DVD music is far supirior to CD and just for the record MP3 losses a ton of information due to the funny compression, rendering the format crap and only suitable for teenagers with silly MP3 players.

Unicorn
Offline
Joined: Apr 12 1999

Ah, the old Beta argument: Betamax had a slightly better image quality, but the machines were expensive due to Sony not licensing the technology, and the original Beta tapes were shorter than VHS and hence less useful for off-air recording. VHS won because it was the better format for most people, even though the image quality wasn't quite as good.

As for MP3s, I have a CD system that cost over UKP2000 new (though I was smart enough to buy it used for much less 8-)), and it's packed away because I couldn't be bothered to set it up again after moving. I have most of my CD collection on my hard disk as MP3 files and it's vastly less convenient to hunt out the right CD, put it in the machine and find the track I want than to just click on the name in WinAMP or XMMS.

Or, to bring this back more on topic: image and sound quality are only really important to tech-heads who are willing to spend the extra money and live with the inconvenience. I don't know about anyone else here, but I've seen movies shot on DV or lesser formats which I enjoyed much more than some of the recent multi-million pound 35mm blockbusters coming out of Hollywood; not to mention the majority of appalling 35mm movies made in the UK.

P4-3.06/2GB RAM/2500GB IDE/SATA. Avid Media Composer, Liquid Edition, Premiere 6, Lightwave, Vue 6, eyeon Fusion 5. DV and HDV editing/compositing.

James Iles
Offline
Joined: Mar 16 2001

I am making a DV short film and have made other short films and documentaries in the format. The main reason for using the format is because it is low cost. But there are many digital formats around making life a little bit more complicated in pre production. But it always comes down to cost. As far as distribution is concerned many film festivals now accept video, the main format being Beta SP but changes seem to be heading for Digi Beta, as in every case though you should always check the format requirements. So there is high prospects for shooting on DV and still getting a decent distribution in theatres, not forgetting that broadcasters accept DV. At present if I were to make a first feature I would shoot on 35mm. In perhaps two or three years I may want to shoot on 24p HD. But the deciding factor for me will always be the MISE EN SCENE of the film. Format can play a very big part in the look of a film. However, in getting across talent to potential distributors, funding bodies and studios, digital is a great tool.

Louis
Offline
Joined: Jan 30 2001

I agree here with you James. Just one last question for everyone here, If you won five million on the loto tommorow, what equipment would you buy ?
I think i would go for one of those Panovision 35mm things, a huge F.O.film crew, oh and some guy called Stephen Spielberg and to hell with the cost of film and then i would join the snob brigade.

Unicorn
Offline
Joined: Apr 12 1999

Personally I'm intending to make a DV feature late this summer; but, at the end of the day, the only reason for making it is so that I can go to investors next year and say 'look at what we made for five thousand pounds, just think what we could do with two million'. If we get some kind of distribution deal and make a profit then great, but if it does no more than get the cast and crew paid work on bigger movies then I'll be happy enough.

P4-3.06/2GB RAM/2500GB IDE/SATA. Avid Media Composer, Liquid Edition, Premiere 6, Lightwave, Vue 6, eyeon Fusion 5. DV and HDV editing/compositing.

Louis
Offline
Joined: Jan 30 2001

Well said Unicorn !!

M.J.Edwards
Offline
Joined: Mar 13 2001

To all: Excellent discussion going on here! I don't want it to stop. Soooo...

Let's have less talk of Spielberg and Lottery wins and other such pie in the sky. The Star Wars series, like the Gulf War, was just an opportunity for various hardware manufacturers to try out their new kit (while the future-transposed one dimensional Arthurian plot unfolds).
All the relevant points about DV seem to have been made here. We all agree it's cheap, flexible, etc while at the same time hankering after the next step "up" in picture quality before being dragged down by the bottom line. Was it ever thus. I have a friend who shoots wedding videos on a seven grand camera which makes me squeal with envy every time I see it. Conversely, I've shot and edited a 40min film on a single chip palmcorder that he, in turn, said he couldn't have made himself.
Our drooling over cameras and edit suites just creates a market (hence the ridiculous number of different digital formats) when what we really should be doing is shootin/story boarding/script writing. We all know once our entralment of technology has settled it will be original ideas and techniques that remain. If you doubt this just check out the last 100 years of still photography history. And realise we are repeating it ; only this time at 25 frames per second.

[This message has been edited by M.J.Edwards (edited 22 March 2001).]

frankieroberto
Offline
Joined: Mar 13 2001

quote:Originally posted by M.J.Edwards:
...If you doubt this just check out the last 100 years of still photography history. And realise we are repeating it ; only this time at 25 frames per second.

Yes, but still photography is also going digital now so it's in a similar period of instability isn't it?

I agree with your points on the quality over format arguement. If your film ever does become popular you can always do a transfer to 35mm (though obviously that doesn't make as good as if it was shot on that format).

The point is that cheap consumer digital filming technology (DV, etc) has encouraged lots of amateurs to think 'I can do that' and go out and make a low budget film. There are now thousands of these, so what will happen with them. Is it a passing fad or a future key component of the film industry?

------------------
Want to help a Researcher looking at the future of digital filmmaking? Contact me: 20391@sevenkings.redbridge.sch.uk

[This message has been edited by frankieroberto (edited 22 March 2001).]

Want to help a Researcher looking at the future of digital filmmaking? Contact me: 20391@sevenkings.redbridge.sch.uk

nattt
Offline
Joined: Aug 14 2000

HDTV panavision looks better than 35mm film.

Graeme

nattress.com - Filters for FCP & Color
red.com - 5k Digital Cinema

Alan Roberts
Alan Roberts's picture
Offline
Joined: May 3 1999

Graeme,

It's interesting you say that, because it's the line I've been peddling in professional circles for about 12 years now, first with the old Eureka 1250 kit and now with HDcam. The Eureka cameras were all 1" saticon (or 30mm plumbicon) and were sharp as razors (and uncompressed onto 4 D1 recordewrs or 4:1 onto D1 or D5) but the lenses were (still are) huge. That alone made the pictures spectacular. Even though HDcam has a higher spec (officially) and it doesn't put anything like as much resolution onto tape (7:1 compressed) and 2/3" format, it still blows the socks off 35mm. Comparisons I've seen (and done) between HDcam production and film production always show HD as sharper and cleaner. To emulate film performance you need to roll off the hf performance (not just turn of AK) and add a lot of noise.

I reckon even HDcam is equivalent in resolution and noise (grain) to Vistavision (35mm sideways) or 70mm by the time it's been printed and projected.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

nattt
Offline
Joined: Aug 14 2000

Alan,

I've only recently become involved with HD with my company's work with Panavision.

What they have done to the Lens is way above and beyond anything they've done before, even for film, and they've taught the Japanese engineers of the Sony HDCAM back a few things too.

If you're at NAB, come and see us on the Panavision stand and say hi!

nattress.com - Filters for FCP & Color
red.com - 5k Digital Cinema

lipper
Offline
Joined: Aug 24 2000

So i'm gona put in me two penuth,
I think that dv offers us a format that is pretty lossless for a prety good price with decent res'.
Now as far as the future goes its got great future but in its own leauge, trying to compare it to 35mm film is like trying to compare rally car racing with formula 1.
Isn't it all about making the audince forget the the picture is Accquired buy anyform of Equippment,but rather more filling the Screen with something that captivates the attention so well we forget all our little ideas of what the footage should look like.
Obviosly if your making a nature doc' you want good detail for extra wumph and awe, but saying that DV has decent res' you just need the extra lense set ups.
So whats my point? what ever the format, look at the Quality then think about what you can do to make the viewer forget,thats the talent that will give you future what ever your using.
sorry if that sound damn corny but im an entertainer not a Tecno Boffin.
Thanks for readin'
lipper

Alan Roberts
Alan Roberts's picture
Offline
Joined: May 3 1999

I'm having a look at the Panavision HD lenses sometime in the next few weeks, or at least my boss tells me I am. What I've read is good, but I know they started from the ground up having first tried to modify film lenses. It doesn't take long to realise that they're in different leagues (and attract different primums).

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

sukh
Offline
Joined: Mar 26 2001

OI!!! NOOOOO!!!
it's all about lighting NOT the format u use.

I have seen a Film shot on HI8, it looked like 16mm and it was all down to lighting, and a droped frame.
so there.

also the viewing public dont care what its shot on they just wanna see the hero/heroine.

oh yeah one other thing. Urban gothic. great series shot on video.
and jam, but that was bent!

Alan Roberts at work
Offline
Joined: May 6 1999

Sukh, if you look back through enough of the archives here, you'll find that a lot of us have been saying exactly that for a long time. Look for contributions from Ray Liffen, Tom Hardwick, myself, and quite a few others; we repeatedly say that the visual effect is first defined on set by lighting, secondly by the intelligence behind the camera, and only a distant third by the technology.

And a long time means a long time (like over 30 years in my case).

vega1970
Offline
Joined: Oct 10 2000

Slightly off topic but...
Did someone say Jam..as in Chris Morris ?
I missed that show...and Brasseye but I Loved the Day today..can anyone lend me a video of the two serials I missed ? Or I could send you a blank video ?

So long Suckas !!!