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High Definition Video for Independent Filmmakers
A How To Guide for Digital Filmmakers
Welcome all! This is my blog to share my latest research,
thoughts, etc. on utilizing HD for independent filmmaking.
YES, I am available for consulting
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
All content copyright 2004-2007 Mike Curtis.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Landmark Theaters buys 4K projectors sight unseen! They have agreed to buy about 60 of the as yet unreleased 4K projectors (4096x3072 pixels).
Mike's Comments:This seems dubious. Mark Cuban is behind this, he's a huge digital advocate, and for that I applaud him, but this move seems inappropriate. For starters, at present only the very very highest end special effects films are even CONSIDERING finishing their digital intermediate process at 4K (SpiderMan 2 had a 4K DI, but a lot of the effects were simply uprezzed 2K files). "OK," you might say, "they'll be ready for the future." ...but that's not right, why not wait until the demand is there? Why not wait until the product is ready for it? Why not wait until there's 4K product and demand, and THEN plunk down for whatever is the latest and greatest. These Sony projectors are around $100,000 if I recall correctly, and this is EXACTLY the kind of bleeding edge technology that drops RAPIDLY in price over time. My bet is that this is a nice deal to announce for Sony and Landmark, but the terms of the deal are 6 this summer and 58 over time. I bet they either never finish this contract or alter the terms before completion (such as drop the price or quantity of delivered units, or buy alternative units). It just seems nuts to commit to this at this point in time.
Screenwriting template in Word - eventually, you'll probably want to use real screenwriting software (aka Final Draft), but in the meantime this will get you started (via Cinima Minima).
Apple article on importing Motion projects into Final Cut Pro HD - it is straightforward, but here ya go (found via Philadelphia's FCP user group site)
Exporting clips from FCP HD to get into Motion - this is a link to the Philadelphia Final Cut Pro user group site's link to the Apple article.
FireWire out doesn't work after installing Motion if you have an older version of FCP installed. Again via PhilaFCPUG.
Issues with graphic sizes (in pixels, not megabytes) when moving stuff from FCP to Motion - details on if you've scaled a graphic in FCP and move it to Motion. Again via PhilaFCPUG.
Article on compression for shiny disks - Ben Wagonner, compresion guru, has a lot to say about compression options available for non-web usage. (found via Cinema Minima)
Apple's Blu-Ray stance - commentary on Apple's decision to join the Blu-Ray group...and all that that implies...
...plus there are a whole bunch of other links on the Philadelphia Final Cut Pro User Group Site. Just put it on your list of daily things to check, as well as Cinema Minima. Most of what they post is relevant and/or interesting.
An essay called "Back to the Future" about all the different times that video has attempted to supplant film. This puts HD in an interesting context.
Apple doc with all supported file types for import and export via QuickTime. This is handy stuff to know - is TIFF supported? What about 16 bit TIFF? What about layered Photoshop files? With layers or no? All answered.
QiPO is a simple little one trick pony application - it takes QuickTime movies in, and generates previews, either via icons or picture preview stills. Handy and useful to make storyboard stills of what you've got in your footage.
Making movies the new fashioned way - some folks wanted to make a movie about werewolves, so they asked fans what they wanted in a werewolf movie. 2 million hits in 3 months on the message boards. An interesting approach within the genre realm. (found on Cinima Minima)
Popwire ships Windows Media 9 Export Component for QuickTime. It can be used with any application that exports QuickTime, including but not limited to Final Cut Pro, Compressor, Cleaner, After Effects, etc.
Imax pushes into 3D for films. Mike's Comments: They mention Polar Express as something that has been converted from 35mm theatrical to 3D Imax. Considering that all of the material was computer generated, and most of it 3D rendered, I wonder if they went back to source files and re-rendered the multi-camera (one for each eye) passes, or if they had some quick/cheap method of matte extraction to generate depth layers for each eye? Certainly, 3D computer graphics rendered movies would be much easier to make 3D after the fact than a shot on 35mm feature.
African films go digital - because it's the only way they can afford to produce local cinema right now.
DIY Cinema - article about Tarnation, movie picked up for distribution made for $200...plus about $400,000 in music rights.
Caonpus Workflow to debut at NAB - they'll have various network, encoding, editing new goodies at the show
Boxx workstations Certified for BlackMagic cards - Boxx is now offering Premiere Pro based solutions using the BlackMagic line of cards. Somewhere I heard that it supports realtime 10 bit effects - that's good news.
Movie costs down, profits up - Average cost of making and promoting a full-on Hollywood movie dropped below $100 million dollars. Movie receipts $9.54 billion.
One for the good guys - a bill is being proposed to legitimize fair use again in a post Digital Millenium Copyright Act era.
Wanna download TV shows & stuff but getting lost in the jargon? Read this.
...and finally, dessert - a cute little video critiquing our over reliance on drugs to fix our problems.
Whew! That'll keep you busy for a while...
I have a MS Word Screenplay template, too ... with instructions on how to use it in screenplay format. It even shows how to use the keyboard commands. The link is: http://www.cyndigreening.com/more/screenplay.doc
And despite Spiderman 2 being 4k DI with all the visual effects uprezzed from 2k to 4k, did anyone notice?
The logistics of doing all the vfx of Spiderman 2 was such, that it would have been impossible to render out in 4k and still meet the release deadlines.
But projecting a feature in 4k doesn't mean the DI had to be done in 4k. Most DIs are done in 2k, and can easily be uprezzed to 4k for the digital projection.
Product is product, I'm sure that projectors can handle HD and 2k material as well.
You can't assume that the cost of such specialized professional hardware will actually drop in cost rapidly.
Projection system isn't the only cost. There is infrastucture for the system, such as backup power, control systems, storage systems, etc. Some of which, won't drop in cost much.
The movie going public doesn't care what is used for digital projection be it 2k or 4k
What will be interesting is if Landmark will acutally use the digital projectors for other events, if that business model works, we may see a faster adoptation of digital projection.
About IMAX, Sony Imageworks had a separate team that worked with the digital 3d media of Polar Express to create the IMAX 3D version simultaneously.
The future of Digital Intermediate is 4k (and higher), and the studios are interested in it for those films they want the highest quality possible. The cost issue won't be much of an issue in the next few years, because it'll just get cheaper, especially as companies come out more intergrated solutions.
Right now you have the DI facilities working out the pipeline themselves. This is basically the beginning of the DI life cycle, just like digital post production in general 10 years back.
As it is, audiences are seeing a release print that's 4th generation removed from the original, so a slight softness from a 2k to 4k blowup isn't going to matter, but even that isn't going to be an issue, because a 4k projector should be able to project in a lower resolution if needed.
Even if Sony's 4k projector is 100k (maybe more?), I don't think a 2k will be half the price. It was only a few years ago, a Barco DLP was 100k, and that was only 1080 HD. Besides Mark Cuban has money to burn, so if he wants to spend 10 million to outfit 60 theaters, that's not something he's going to notice.
Since Landmark will have 60 theaters all digital ready, I wonder what kind of distribution deal can be set up with them directly, and what the up front costs will be.
Again, why pay top dollar for an unproven technology, when there isn't content to distribute in that fashion, and what content there is isn't at that resolution?
Granted, I'd LOVE for 4K 16 bit to be the industry standard, and while you can uprez 2K to 4K, WHY BOTHER when you can just project at 2K?
Why spend extra money, now, for something of hopeful future value? This may turn out to be a great move on their part, but again, I think it's early, I think the tech is unproven, I think there isn't content and there isn't a market for it yet. The only possible providers of 4k content over the next several years is major Hollywood studios, who would have to decide to distribute it in a DRM'd fashion to these facilities. Cuban is a huge HD proponent with 2929 and I'm glad of that, but HD is under 2K. Again, why upres to 4K when you can project at 2K?
IF there were content, studio willingness to project digitally with a mutually acceptable DRM regime, THEN this might make sense. To jump the gun by years must mean that Cuban doesn't care about dropping an extra $20K per screen right now.
As much as I'd like to see this all work out, I still think somebody will balk on this contract.
It's been established years ago, that 4k is equal to true 35mm film negative size. But for years, most film scanning as been done at 2k, because it's easier and cheaper to work with.
As more films do 4k DIs, it'll become the standard to work in. It's still in the starting stages,and it'll be up to the post houses doing DIs to work out their pipelines.
Now on the distribution end, I think it's all over the place. I have no idea how it's going to go.
Is 4k projection overkill? For a lot of films sure, for some, it's not.
Is the technology unproven? Sure, but someone's got to try it out. Mark Cuban doesn't have any hangups of being that someone.
I bet Sony will be giving him all their expert help to make sure it works. I don't see them not doing their best to make sure this technology delivers what they promise.
In the end, the filmmakers and studios really really care about having the highest quality DI master possible, especially with all the millions they put into making and marketing a movie.
Sure DI technology will get better, faster and more streamlined in the future, but why redo all the work again, if your current DI master holds up well. Especially these days when a lot of DIs are NOT from a cut negative.
Beyond the script writing there are a raft of collaboration features as well as pre-production, production and post production tools integrated right into the program. The programmers are ambitious and they seem up to the challenge.
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