Slugline

Simple, elegant screenwriting.

Needables
  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
    Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
    Panasonic
  • TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM
  • The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    by Stu Maschwitz
Saturday
Mar182006

Less is more

In digital cinema, there’s a lot of focus on “more.” More resolution, more sharpness, more data rate, more color fidelity. Even more frames per second. 

But cinema is not about more. Cinema is about less.

24 frames per second is just about the bare minimum for viewers to perceive smooth motion on a big screen, and yet when audiences are shown projections of high-def video running at smooth 60fps they boo it off the screen because it looks like a giant, crystal-clear soap opera.

Cinema is not reality. It works better when we view it through a veil of non-reality. Flicker, grain, lens flares, filters, diffusion, smoked sets, artful lighting, nonlinear response curves, restricted framing, subjecting POV, dutching, color correction, vignetting, 180º shutters, and my personal favorite, shallow depth of field.

Some of the most cinematic digital images I’ve seen lately have not been from a Panavision Genesis or a Dalsa Origin, but rather from a Panasonic DVX100a equipped with a device that would have engineers screaming in protest — a lens adapter that allows 35mm SLR lenses to be mounted on a DV camera. The lenses make an image on a VistaVision-sized vibrating groundglass upon which your DVX’s lens is focussed. The result is the kind of shallow depth of field that no DV camera can produce. You get some vignetting. You get some softness. You get some flaring and some haloing. You get cinema.

Check out the G35 at cinemek.com. Watch the demo movies. Most were shot standard def 24p. Some are post-processed using Magic Bullet’s Look Suite.

Yeah, I want an HVX200. I love shooting with the latest and greatest HD beasts. But I’m seeing my trusty DVX100a in a new light these days. It does less and has less, and that is in fact just what we need sometimes.

Reader Comments (16)

Hi Stu,

Do you have any idea how this - lowbudget - adapter compares to the - more expensive - Pro35/Mini35 adapters that already exist out there?

http://www.pstechnik.de/en/digitalfilm-pro35.php#http://www.pstechnik.de/en/digitalfilm-pro35.php#

The G35 has more in common with P+S Technik's Mini35 than their Pro35, as it is designed to work on cameras with fixed (non-removable) lenses. I've used the Pro35 (on an SDX900), and it's a great tool. The genius of the G35 is that it doesn't bother with optics to flip the image right-side up! This allows it to be much more compact and presumably less expensive. It also vibrates rather than spins its groundglass, another space-saving trick. But of course it's up to you to figure out how to flip the image vertically while shooting and posting. There are some insights about that on the cinemek.com forums.

March 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterStu

The DOF would even be greater than on the Mini35 or Pro35 if I'm not mistaken, if the G35 uses a Vistavsion (8 perf) size ground glass. (approx twice the size of academy aperture - 4 perf that the other adapters use) How much is too much DOF I wonder?

March 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDean

As a DP Stu that shoots film and HD I have to agree with your post completely. Recently I got to review a plasma screen hooked up to a DVD player that upscaled and made the 25P 50P and I saw a beautiful movie like Hero suddenly feel like I was watching a reality tv show or news broadcast. To add to your post, particularly in composition, it's about restricting the view to include only the elements you wish to present to the audience that matters, to create stories, because fiction and the telling and sharing of a story is one of the fundamental aspects of being human.

March 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDale McCready

Hi Stu,
I am an HDV shooter who uses the Redrock M2 adapter. I chose that adapter over the Cinemek one due to the Cinemek's reliance on a static ground glass, which struck me as a bad design choice - and it has proven to be one, as now they are completely redesigning the unit.
I wanted to let you/people know that there is an extensive article on th subject of low cost 1/3" HD cams and adapters, written by Rodney Charters the DP of 24, in the most recent issue of Showreel Magazine.
Links to the article and some footage i have shot can be found on my blog (sorry, if I am not supposed to add links...)
http://burstcity.blogspot.com/

March 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBurst City

Dean, you are correct. Using SLR lenses and an 8-perf image area woill allow even more shallow DOF than would be possible with cinema lenses on a 4-perf image area. I see this as a plus -- it just expand the range of options and allows you to achieve shallow DOF with lenses that may not be the fastest on the block.

March 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterStu

Dale, I'm glad to see you mention these frame-rate increasing DVD players. They are evil and must be abolished!

March 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterStu

Augustine (AKA Burst City),

Please feel free to post links and opinions. I am familiar with that excellent Showreel article -- they covered Magic Bullet as well.

If folks not familiar with it would like more info on the Micro35, check out:

http://www.redrockmicro.com/micro35.html

What I really love about those guys is that they also provide instructions for building your own homebrew 35mm adaptor! They also have some great words why we're all so interested in this stuff:

http://www.redrockmicro.com/dof.html

March 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterStu

I actually like the idea of the "Vistavision" size ground glass myself. For a given ground glass surface finish the relative size of the "grain" of the glass is also reduced when re-imaged on the sensor. I think re-inverting the image is problematic (read bulky) using the Mini35 prism method. Whether rotating or vibrating the GG you would have to deal with the increased inertia and balance (vibration/noise) would become critical.

March 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDean

The Showreel article was an excellent piece. Next issue they are going to see how things hold up in post, so that should be interesting.

In terms of flipping the image, there are several methods, obviously flipping your production monitor upside down. If you only use the LCD, then you can place a small magnet on it to flip the image.

One adapter, the Letus Flip inverts the image and it's smaller that some adapters that don't invert the image. In the current version the light loss was about 3 stops though, but there has been a revision that should only lose one and a half.

March 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

> Cinema is not reality. It works
> better when we view it through a
> veil of non-reality.

Can cinema be so narrowly defined? I don't think so. Nor do i think film is necessarily better with a dollop of bling. People prefer 24fps and grain, -not- because it's technical shortcomings distance it from reality, but because that is what traditional film has been shot on, and therefore what they associate with good filmmaking. Higher frame-rates and the absense of grain remind most viewers of soap operas, and so by association viewers hate it. Filmmakers will continue to shoot at 24 and run grain filters on their footage because that's safe and what audiences are comfortable with. Lars von trier is an exception.

my two cents...

March 28, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterscott

Having shot a lot of HD now, I can say that my opinion of grain has changed considerably to where I now can only think of it as noise. I love film, especially 35mm, but it's not the grain I like. It's the content and the opportunity that film provides through budget and careful consideration that makes it enjoyable to work with. I think once people are used to the clarity of HD associated with good content it will become more readily acceptable and grain adding tools will slowly vanish. Most film stocks are pretty grainless now, I'm having to do all sorts of pushing to get grain when a director wants it now with the newer stocks.

That said, I can't see 60FPS being desirable. Great for games, news sports etc. But for storytelling? Not my cup of tea. I think the slow framerates help signal to the audience "this is a story...suspend disbelief now... you are now entering Zooropa"

May 3, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDale McCready

I have desired to add the Cinemek G35 to my dvx100A for a loooong while but no word on when the thing will be available again. Shame. I like the design. It looks perfect for the run and gun stuff I do sometimes.

Now what?

November 14, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkeith Hill

Yes, the G35 has sadly not been heard from in a while. My subsequent post lists a few other options. The relative merits and availabilities of 35mm adaptors are routinely discussed at DVXuser.com, and there's a thread or two specifically about the delays the G35 has suffered. A friend of mine just got an M2 for his HVX, so I'm looking forward to shooting with that soon!

November 14, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterStu

Hi,

I'm not coming here to spam, so I hope you don't take offense to my post, but...

I'm a sometime indie filmmaker and all-round tinkerer. I manufacture and sell a device that functions in a similar fashion to the Guerilla35. If you are or were interested in that product and since it is not out yet, you might be interested in my device in the meantime: http://go-35.com

As others have said, the Guerilla35 featured a static design - no moving parts, and yet the image was near grainless.

I believe I've achieved results of the same quality, and in fact under many conditions would put my adapter head-to-head with the devices that oscillate or spin.

The decision to make it static is one of simplicity: easy, quick setup, no external power required, no noise produced in operation. Where some might see the decision as a flaw, personally it's the way I preferred to shoot. Since no one made such a device, I went out and did it myself.

I hope you're all in good health and all my best for your filmmaking endeavors!

- jim

November 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Not at all Jim, welcome to the party! I've been following the development of your adaptor on DVXuser.com and the footage I've seen made with the go-35 looks spectacular.

November 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterStu
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