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The Director's Chair Issue #64 – March 30, 2006 (Digital vs Film)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

March 30, 2006          Scene 7 – Take 3

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Web Site: http://www.actioncutprint.com


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1.  Introduction
2.  A Very Special Event
3.  FTX West 2006
4.  Scriptwriting Events
5.  Filmmaking Resource Center Blog
6.  Action-Cut-Print
7.  Feature Article – Digital vs. Film
8.  Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
9.  Share This Ezine
10.  Suggestions & Comments
11.  Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
12.  Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #64 of The Director’s Chair (Mar. 30, 2006)

I would like to say hello to all my subscribers from around
the world: Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland,
Israel, India, Russian Federation, Cocos (Keeling) Islands,
Spain, United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Sweden,
Yugoslavia, Japan, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Ireland, United
Arab Emirates, Netherlands, France, Hong Kong, Belgium,
Ethiopia, Romania, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Nepal,
Uruguay, Sri Lanka, Puerto Rico, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Mexico,
Nigeria, Argentina, Sudan, Hungary, Iceland.

NOTE: If your country isn’t represented here, please let me
know and I will add it to this list.

1) FEATURE ARTICLE – This month’s Feature Article is called
“Digital vs. Film: Some Post Production Complexities” by
Kulwant Rajwans. Since the fast rise of HD has penetrated
much of the market, particularly the home camcorder market,
it would seem logical that making films with a prosumer HD
camera would prove to be less complicated (and maybe less
expensive) than the more traditional methods.  As it turns
out, this may not be necessarily true.

2) VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – If you would like to contribute
articles, tips, links of interest, industry news,
interviews, special event dates or other resources to The
Director’s Chair please email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com



Peter D. Marshall


Rarely do I mention a book or an event that is unrelated to
filmmaking in this ezine, but last weekend, Trilby and I
went to a three day seminar that virtually changed our

The goal of the seminar was to help people identify and
overcome the hidden obstacles that hold them back from
reaching their full potential in terms of both success and

And if there was one word to describe the philosophy of this
seminar, that word is “ACTION” – because it’s what you DO
and what happens in your life AFTER the seminar that really

I’m not going to say anything else here about this event.
But if you want to discover what over 250,000 other people
have experienced – in both immediate and long term changes
that include higher incomes, greater net worth, better
relationships, true power and a sense of inner peace, click
here now: mailto:inner-wealth@aweber.com

3. FTX WEST 2006

The FTX WEST Film and Television Expo will be held in
Vancouver, Canada on October 12th & 15th, 2006 with an
estimated five thousand attendees and nearly eighty
exhibitors in attendance. This Trade Show and Conference
will showcase the latest and greatest in film & video
technology from around the world.


1) Finally, an event that brings you writers of the movies,
television shows and commercials that you respect – directly
to you – in person. Don’t miss Scriptwriters Showcase, the
largest gathering of screenwriting talent ever assembled!
Only Final Draft and scr(i)pt magazine could bring you an
event of this magnitude. Scriptwriters Showcase features
unprecedented opportunities to learn from the professionals
who drive the entertainment industry. A full three days to
learn about your craft, from the writers and execs you look
up to. April 7, 8 and 9, 2006.

2) Screenwriting 101 is an online class for beginning
writers or writers wanting to brush up on the fundamentals.
For four weeks you will interact and study under the
guidance of your instructor to jumpstart your writing and
hit the ground running. Also, two online LIVE lectures
during office hours to help you as you do your assignments
and work on your script. Students gain enough knowledge to
continue writing their screenplay, start their first
screenplay, and finish.

3) 8th Annual Scriptapalooza Screenplay Competition
We are accepting feature film screenplays!
Supported by the Writers Guild of America, west Registry
First prize is $10,000 and screenwriting software for the
top 30 winners from Write Brothers. Over 70 production
companies are reading all the entered scripts! All thirteen
winners will be considered by Scriptapalooza’s outstanding
participants; A Band Apart, Samuel Goldwyn Films, HBO,
Material, Disney and many more.

4) The 2006 Script Pimp Screenwriting Competition is an
international competition open to all original,
English-written feature film screenplays that have yet to be
produced, optioned or sold. For the 4th consecutive year,
Script Pimp will host the 2006 Script Pimp Awards Party at
the Hollywood Improv. Over 20 companies have already
reserved their tickets to meet the writers of Script Pimp’s
twenty best in 2006. http://www.scriptpimp.com
mailto:pro@scriptpimp.com to make reservations.


Check out the Filmmaking Resource Center blog at:
http://www.bloglines.com/blog/PDM for filmmaking tips,
articles, movie news and film reviews. Please use this
resource center to ask questions (and answer questions;) to
read daily film and TV news; and to submit your own
filmmaking tips and stories.

Filmmaking Resource Center – http://www.bloglines.com/blog/PDM

6. ACTION-CUT-PRINT! –  A Website for Filmmakers

If you are a Film or TV Director; a working professional who
wants to Direct; a film student who wants to learn more
about Directing; or a “student of film” who just wants to
know more about Filmmaking from the pros, Action-Cut-Print!
is for you!

Take a moment now to visit http://www.actioncutprint.com
where you will find over 1500 Online Resources for
Filmmakers, Filmmaking Tips and Articles, a Film and TV
Bookstore and Film Directing Workshops.

7. FEATURE ARTICLE – Digital vs. Film

“Digital vs. Film: Some Post Production Complexities”
By  Kulwant Rajwans

Last week I had a meeting at a post-production studio to
discuss my options for my next film which is to be shot this
summer.  I figured that since the fast rise of HD has
penetrated much of the market, particularly the home
camcorder market, making my film with a prosumer HD camera
would prove to be less complicated (and maybe less
expensive) than the more traditional methods.  As it turns
out, this may not be necessarily true.

The main issues when it comes to considering the complexity
and cost of post-production are what type of processes the
film must go through to have the desired look, and where the
film will be exhibited.  At the outset of a project, it
would be beneficial for filmmakers to decide what format he
or she will be exhibiting his or her movie.  For example, if
you plan to release your film in Theatrical (35mm),
Theatrical HD, DVD, or television, then there are options
that are worth considering.

As an independent filmmaker, you are likely to exhibit your
movie at festivals on DVD and on television.  Take note that
today there is a large growth in the amount of digital
projection systems at festivals; however, there are so many
digital films that that there is growing competition for

If you are shooting digital, often the rational presented is
that the tapes are cheap and there is no added cost for
processing the film stock.  For the past couple of years,
camera manufacturers began launching low priced prosumer
digital cameras which attempt to provide the qualities of
HD, including offering an HD look, but cost only a fraction
of the price!   Also, professional editing software is now
affordable and capable of operating on a home computer
system so the financial risk of making a movie is perceived
to be minimal.   To better understand if this rational makes
sense, let’s look at the way professional post production is
done and if it is in fact less complicated to shoot your
project in film.

35mm & 16mm film

Let’s begin with the scenario that you’re shooting your
project in film.  You’ve made arrangements with the
post-production studio and given details about your project.
Let’s look at a very general overview of what goes on.

Here’s an example:

Production dates
Type of project
Format to be shot on
Formats to be output on
Sound Completion requests
Special requests (FX/Sound/Colour/Titles)
Project due date

Presume that you film each day and send the film and sound
to the lab for the dailies to be processed and the sound to
be synced and transferred to a format that you can have your
editor begin capturing and cutting.   It is at this time
that the film goes through a process known as the ‘3:2
pulldown’ to be converted to a digital tape.  The 3:2
pulldown is where 24fps (film) is converted to 30fps (film).

Although NTSC is said to run at 30fps, it actually runs at
29.97fps with 2 fields per frame.  Essentially, one is
transferring 4 frames of film to 5 frames of video.  This
means that it is running 0.1% slower than 30 fps, so to have
the transfer lined up properly the film must be slowed down
by 0.1% during the transfer and the fields transferred
accordingly.  The end result is not really noticeable to the

CLICK HERE http://www.actioncutprint.com/digitalvsfilm.html
to see diagram of 3:2 Pulldown.
4 frames of film are transferred to 5 frames of video.

Once the film is completed and you have finished editing
your process you export a list known as an EDL (edit
decision list).  This list is used to perform an online edit
of your film at a Post Production Studio where they will
also do a final colour correction of the movie.  Once that
is all done then the project is outputed onto the different
formats that you have requested.  If you have shot on 16mm
there will be an additional cost to blow up your film onto
35mm, and take note that 16mm has a grainier feel.

Shooting HD-24p

Now, let’s look at the situation where you’re shooting your
project on HD-24p (High Definition) and want to output it on
35mm.  Although I feel that film still looks better I
believe that HD is going to play a more prominent role in
film and television productions, and understanding HD’s
format is going to be beneficial.

When it comes to the post-production process it is very
similar to film post-process but HD has the added benefit,
among others, of the flexibility to colour correct while
shooting during production, and the film shooting process
does not allow for this during production.  However, in the
case of HD, having a film print made requires another
technology which generally means added costs.

To output a digital project on film, a scanner is used to
burn each frame onto film.  This added complexity can be
very expensive and the price has generally not decreased
over the past couple of years. Note that once you choose
this route, post production houses usually charge by the
minute, and it would be prudent to investigate the rates.

Shooting Prosumer 24p & SD (Standard Definition)

The process that many independent filmmakers are using today
is shooting on what is commonly referred to as a prosumer HD
or a SD (Standard Definition) camera with the idea of
converting it to film just like the HD-24p scenario.  What
most people do not know is that prosumer cameras are
generally a capture-only format.  This means that when you
want to convert to film you now have the added cost of
capturing/converting it into HD and then another expense to
have the project burned onto film.

To understand better, SD has a 4:3 aspect ratio and captures
at 29.97fps NTSC while standard 35mm film has a ratio of
1.85:1 and operates at 24 fps

CLICK HERE http://www.actioncutprint.com/digitalvsfilm.html
to see diagram of Frame Sizes / Aspect ratios

Having provided a brief sketch the differences of
post-production process between film and digital, I would
suggest to filmmakers that they should consider the type of
venue in which their film will be exhibited, and to learn
more about the details involved in the post-production
process prior to commencing their shoot.  Keep in mind that
film projectors are still the dominant projection system in
theatres today and that shooting on digital may not always
seem to be the easier way at the end of the day.

Kulwant Rajwans graduated in Film Studies from Ryerson
University in Toronto, Canada. He formed his own production
company and has directed numerous short films and TV
Commercials.  He is currently in pre-production on his next
film expected to be completed fall 2006. Kulwant can be
contacted at: mailto:krajwans@rogers.com


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