May 10, 2015 at 11:42PM, Edited May 11, 12:18AM

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Why I Regret Shooting in RAW

Hi guys,
I'm interested to hear some others thoughts on this...
I recently made a microbudget feature for $25k (raised through crowd funding and personal savings).
I was the writer/director/producer on the project and had a very small crew.
I am not in any way a tech savvy filmmaker. I don't know much about lenses, cameras, lighting, etc. My work is very character and dialogue driven with a focus on personal relationships. I like to shoot series and leave the camera running so I can experiment with the actors performances.
So as some of you more tech-savvy folks may imagine, I ran into HUGE problems when I let my DP convince me to shoot using his Black Magic camera in RAW rather than ProRes.
I wasn't too sure what the difference was, so he sent me comparison videos, and I did agree that the RAW looked slightly better. But if I could go back and do it all again I'd choose to shoot in ProRes. Heres why:
- We had to spend about an extra $2000 on SD cards and hard drives. The cards filled up so quickly that it was a constant cause of anxiety on set. One day we even ran out of card space and had to drive to Sammy's camera in the middle of the shoot to pick up another card for $280!
- We had MAJOR problems in trying to convert the files to a watchable format. I tried a number of different programs that did not work. The DNG files would show up on the drive but we couldn't find a way to play them in sequence. This resulted in me not being able to see ANY dailies until the whole film wrapped shooting and I had time to hire someone to convert the files for me (more money spent....)
- The editing process is so much harder and more time consuming. Making the proxy files, etc. It's been driving me nuts.
So I can understand why some directors would choose to use RAW, but for directors like myself, with dialogue driven, character based projects, I would strongly advise against it.
Would love to hear others thoughts on this subject!

122 Comments

Always do a proper test of any new technology before you use it on an actual shoot.

With any high bit-rate format you are going to need a lot of memory cards to shoot with or have a dedicated person to be constantly dumping new footage to hard-drives and clearing your camera cards so they are ready to be used again.

RAW footage can be amazing with how much correction you can do in post ( color-correction, gamma and contrast correction, and color grading ), but you have to be prepared for the workflow.

May 11, 2015 at 8:26AM, Edited May 11, 8:27AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32574

well said Guy

May 14, 2015 at 11:29AM, Edited May 14, 11:29AM

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I think that RAW is still too much of a cutting edge technology. What will come (and probably sooner rather than later) is a way of packaging RAW up in a way that you can handle it just as easily as if you were using mp4 etc. but still retaining the level of control in post production. As for memory, £30 for a 128Mb UHS-1 SD card does help on the storage problems.

May 16, 2015 at 8:56AM, Edited May 16, 8:56AM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
961

"What will come (and probably sooner rather than later) is a way of packaging RAW up in a way that you can handle it just as easily as if you were using mp4 etc."

Enter Red.

May 19, 2015 at 4:52AM

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Álex Montoya
Writer/Director
429

Ouch! Thanks for sharing your on-the-set experience!

May 11, 2015 at 1:00PM

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Alex Zakrividoroga
Director
3766

If the average punter is busy wondering whether you used RAW or not, then you should film something more interesting.

May 11, 2015 at 7:04PM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
961

So with the $25K you didn't have money to hire an editor/DIT to be on set? I'm guessing you thought it would be really easy huh, and tried to save money. Dude and where are you buying $230 SD cards? I'm guessing you used the Black magic pocket, since it's the only one that uses SD cards. And your DP did not have his own memory cards? Seems like you are getting robbed by your crew or whoever is helping you. Even the largest 128gb Sandisk extreme SD cards cost $100 tops, and an SSD would be a little less.

This argument over prores or raw means you did not think about your post process at all. Any decent editor would have no problem with raw footage and this would be advised to make your film more post friendly. If you knew you were the one editing, why didn't you try and test the files to see if you could edit them? Do you really care that little? FYI that camera is made by blackmagic and they provide a free program called divinci that makes transcoding those files a breeze. All of your problems/questions could have been solved in 5 minutes with a simple google or YouTube search. If you cannot learn to transcode footage, you need to hire an editor.

May 12, 2015 at 8:39AM, Edited May 12, 8:39AM

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The sarcasm and condescending tone is strong with this one.

May 12, 2015 at 4:01PM

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Keane
Director + DP + Editor
216

troll alert!

May 14, 2015 at 11:30AM

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My goodness, how rude. It's not the director's job to know every last thing - it was also the responsibility of the DP and editor to establish a viable workflow ahead of time, and it was the DP's responsibility to plan for the storage requirements rather than running out of SSD or SD card space on set. I can't guess exactly which media she meant; SSD is only one letter away from SD, and you are wrong about the price of SD cards - they can go up to $900 for a 512gb U3 model.

But the director said up front that she wasn't technical. It's the responsibility of her crew to support vision, not to just do whatever they think is best and leave her holding the bag. I do think the lesson here is not so much 'don't shoot raw' as 'don't let your crew sweet talk their way out of their responsibilities.' If there were problems reading DNGs on a daily basis and the DP didn't straighten that out immediately it was deliberate, probably stemming from an unwillingness to have his work scrutinized and critiqued.

The sad fact is that I have seen a lot of DPs act this way over the years. I was in computers for many years before moving into the arts and it's a disappointing truth that many people in technical roles a) are not really that knowledgeable and bullshit their way out of awkward situations, and b) use the technical knowledge they do have to throw their weight around.

May 16, 2015 at 4:44AM

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Eddy Robinson
Writer/Director
222

"It's not the director's job to know every last thing"

Many of the best directors would disagree...

May 18, 2015 at 2:29AM

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And it sure isn't the DP's job to make sure the director has dailies to watch. I feel like what was missing here was a D.I.T to set up a proxy workflow.
Then again, the DP probably should have read the situation better and figured out on his/her own that there wasn't the budget nor man power for a raw workflow with this particular director and her style.

May 19, 2015 at 6:39AM

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Whether I am best or not, I disagree too. The problem with knowing too little about the departments under you is that said departments can easily lead you astray. You have to know something about what the people you are leading are doing. Maybe not as much as them, but something more than the OP seems to.

February 1, 2016 at 5:02PM

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Robert Ruffo
Director/DP
282

With today's fast changing technology, the Director, DoP need to know about this matters... And especially in small independent production... a director has to know.. But, the DoP should also know and inform about the work flow, this is the WORST about this DoP... He screws the trust he gets, screws the director and investors, and the crew...
I feel sorry for you, Sophie...

May 19, 2015 at 8:04PM

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It IS absolutely the director's job to know every last thing about how his/her project is being shot! No two ways about it. The DP did what he believed was best for the project. The Director's lack of knowledge is the problem here. The "dialogue driven, character based project" excuse is a lame one. If you're going to direct a film, learn your craft. The look of the film is YOUR responsibility. Period. Stop passing the buck.

May 22, 2015 at 7:27PM

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Steve chase
Director
180

Agreed 100%. The director is not just someone who "tells the crew what they like". You need SERIOUS creative, people, and technicals skills. It's not a position to be taken lightly.

Best of luck though, no doubt you will be more knowledgeable next time!

May 24, 2015 at 4:53PM

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appreciate your straight-forward, no nonsense answer.
consequently, i'd like your input on the following:
i have a rather constricted work space.., 19' wide by 15' deep [8' high wall + 7' from wall] green screen area utilizing a 20' X 15', foam-backed green-screen [already purchased].
my intention is to light it from above [and, possibly from the side] using either kino flo or led lighting [which i intend to construct myself in order to save money].
any suggestions as to the choice of lights and/or their number and configuration.
thanks.

May 16, 2015 at 10:08AM

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I have a feeling NinjaMonkey is a "theory filmmaker," with a lot of head knowledge and no actual experience. That's the vibe I'm getting.

May 16, 2015 at 1:23PM

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I can imagine how frustrating that was! Glad you shared your experience so others can find this when they're doing their research :)

May 12, 2015 at 10:30AM, Edited May 12, 10:30AM

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You have to test the workflow before starting the shooting ! That's a rookie mistake.

Raw is not the issue but it's a professional format and you haven't been professional enough. First you cannot accept that your DP doesn't know how to playback his footage, it's a huge deal! If something went wrong, you will know only when it's too late!

So yes, don't use RAW if you don't know anything about it and if you want want to leave the camera running but cannot afford the storage to do.

May 12, 2015 at 12:09PM, Edited May 12, 12:30PM

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AvdS
1160

Well she is depending on the DP to do his job.

May 14, 2015 at 12:18PM, Edited May 14, 12:18PM

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Great article. Thanks!

May 12, 2015 at 12:13PM

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William Scherer
Writer/Director/Producer/Fine Art Aerial Photography
281

Thanks for the comments, guys! Yep, definitely a rookie mistake to not test this work flow. Like I said, this was my first feature. I was the writer/director/producer and do not come from a technical background. But, you live you learn, right. I won't make that mistake again.

To the angry Ninja Monkey guy: I'm not saying ProRes is better than RAW. I'm saying it would have been better for ME (someone who cares more about story and performance rather than technical perfection). And I did a lot of google/youtube searches on the topic. It was no where near as easy as you make it out to be.
And nope, I didn't have an editor on set. Wanna blast me for that too? ;-)

Ultimately I put way too much trust in my DP. Lesson learned though, and still I'm happy with how the footage looks, now that I can actually view it and cut it together.

May 12, 2015 at 2:05PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

Although Ninja Monkey was very condescending his words have some truth to them. It is just as easy as he made it out to be. Wish he shared it in a more constructive way though. Also Sophie may I ask which editing program you are using?

May 13, 2015 at 7:28PM

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Charles C.
Editor/ Director/ Director of Photography/ Wannabe Thinker
835

Hi Charles. I am doing a rough cut on PremierePro. I then hand over to another editor to polish it / make adjustments, and then onto color correction, sound mix and such.

And perhaps I was googling the wrong stuff but I spent countless hours on the net, trying to find answers and I wasn't able to. But if you think I'm lying... Hey, I give up.

And yup, Ninja Monkeys attitude is a shame. This was the first time I posted to this website. Ironically enough, I've been reading articles on here trying to do more to educate myself on the technical aspects of filmmaking. Some people have been genuinely helpful in their comments, but I don't think I will ever post again. Cause I've spent too much time defending myself rather than learning. I'll stick to reading other peoples posts from now on.

I think there are a lot of filmmakers out there like me though, maybe just not on this website. Oh well.

May 13, 2015 at 9:34PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

Meh ignore him. The saying 'you can't please all of the people all of the time' is truest with a creative don't let it deter you for reaching out for help again ignore him. But as far a you googling I'm not saying you're lying haha. Now as far as working with RAW with the hindsight you have now working with RAW in the future should be an easier experience for you.

As far as hard drives and storage I'd recommend grabbing these we use them all the time at my production house for 6k raw footage: http://www.amazon.com/Passport-Ultra-Portable-External-Drive/dp/B00E83X9...

Not the best drives in the world but great for the value and you could grab about 4tbs of storage for less the $250. Also I asked about the editing program you used because if I'm not mistaken (I primarily use FCPX so I know it can't) but Premiere Pro should be able to edit RAW black magic footage natively in the application. Also as someone else suggested if you download Davinci Resolve 11 for free and can transcode everything yourself again all hindsight things but at least you know for next time.

My recommendation take this a rough learning experience and grow with it I'd recommend shooting RAW for 85%-90% percent of things you shoot especially Narrative work. At work we shoot with a Red Dragon and at home and on freelance gigs I shoot Blackmagic and I'd say Raw is worth the extra workflow in most scenarios.

I'll end my rant haha. I hope you continue to post Sophie and grow with the community don't let post like Ninja Monkeys stop you in the future. Good luck on your post work for your feature!

May 14, 2015 at 1:31PM

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Charles C.
Editor/ Director/ Director of Photography/ Wannabe Thinker
835

Hi Sophie, please do not let a bad comment ruin this for you! It really helps the rest of us who are also new to read these! Don't bother to try to defend yourself, reply to the ones that help in a way you understand.

I am also contemplating it all in my pre-planning stage. I love that you dared to post and please do again!

Good luck with other projects! They say each film gives us needed experience so please share the others you do!

Searean

October 25, 2015 at 1:57AM

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Searean Moon
Director/Writer/Producer
197

You should not "regret" trusting your DP, they are supposed to know more than you about the technical side of production, that's the whole point of hiring someone as it's extremely difficult for you to do everthing alone.
The further you go in your career, you cannot second guess the people you hire, but you have to hire competent people!
Shooting RAW is not a mistake for the Blackmagic cameras, it's the only way to get the maximum dynamic range out of these cameras, but shooting RAW is not necessary for every scene unless you have the budget. Raw can be used just for those high contrast scenes where it's a benefit and then you can transcode as you download your files to a compressed format as you see fit. Raw files are just a tool and your "DP" needs to know when to use it and when not to. There are cheap phone apps that will tell you how much drive space you need based upon what camera and codec you are shooting, so if you know how long you are recording you can plan on purchasing drives to cover yourself.

As far as "putting too much trust" in your DP, you will be far worse off on your next project if you micro-manage the production and not let your department heads do their job, the only failure was to hire someone with the necessary skills to do the job, but as you said you like the look of the footage, then I would have to say the DP did his/her job well and any issues you have with storage will be forgotten when you screen the film. Be thankful you were not shooting film @ $200/roll= 11minues of running time! Your $25k feature could have cost you $25~50k just for film and processing and transfer to HD.

May 12, 2015 at 2:31PM

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Malcolm Matusky
Producer
169

As a director you HAVE to be able to trust your DP any you did nothing wrong by instilling that trust.
Though I also have to agree that RAW is infinitely better than ProRes and there are very user-friendly work flows out there to deal with Cinema DNGs, it should not have been a huge problem.
It also depends if you have someone experienced to grade the film, if they can use a RAW file properly you'll have something stunning, if not you might as well have shot on an I phone.
In any case for 25k a RAW work flow is most certainly possible and may have (without you knowing) actually make the filming more efficient and less expensive!

May 12, 2015 at 7:03PM

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James Coote
Director of Photography
176

when you go into color and effects. Your vfx team and colorist will thank you.
Unless I'm covering an event or have an overnight edit. i would still go for RAW almost under any circumstance if it is available to me. sometimes ergonomics will not allow for that.

May 12, 2015 at 9:08PM

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Kazu Okuda
Filmmaker
1327

So sorry to hear about your bad experience, Sophie. Yes, RAW can be a major pain and is not always an automatic choice due to the reasons you cited, especially for low budget films. There is a good discussion by experts on when it would be appropriate, check out http://www.cinema5d.com/do-we-really-need-raw-video-dan-chung-clinton-ha.... One view was that it makes most sense in scenes that need a lot of latitude in grading.

May 12, 2015 at 11:06PM, Edited May 12, 11:12PM

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Sekhar, this video is extremely helpful. Thank you so much for sharing it!
The hope for my original post on this topic was that other writer/directors like myself, who don't know all the ins and outs of the latest camera technology, might take a much closer look than I did as to the advantages/disadvantages of shooting in RAW. This video has a lot of great info, and is easy enough for even people like me to understand! ;-)

May 13, 2015 at 12:01AM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

Something that does not come in mind in the first place is when to use raw vs prores. Raw is great to recover information in the shadows and highlights, if you don't need that, use prores. You can save up a lot of time and resources. If your shots are perfectly exposed, you won't need raw but if you have limited access to perfect lighting on a set, you can always rely on raw. You should mix both and be able to determine what is needed before shooting a scene.

May 13, 2015 at 4:20AM, Edited May 13, 4:22AM

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Guillaume Leroux
One man crew
102

Hi, just out of curiosity, please is there a link to your film ? Many thanks.

May 13, 2015 at 10:31AM

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Saied M.
906

Hi Saied, no, still has a long way to go in terms of post production.

May 13, 2015 at 12:23PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

Just a question- why would you feel the need to attempt to shoot a feature when you clearly need to spend a lot more time on the basics? Wouldn't it have been a lot easier and a better use of your time/money to shoot a smaller project first to fully understand the workflow? Also, HIRE AN EDITOR. Simple as that.

May 13, 2015 at 1:31PM

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Anthony Reese Schneider
Lead Editor
74

I didn't mean that to sound as assholish as it did. It's just a little frustrating to me when I see people wasting their time and money taking on these huge projects that they aren't ready for. Filmmaking is a process just like anything else. You wouldn't attempt to sit down at a piano and perform a Mozart Concerto at your first lesson... Hopefully you were able to get some great footage and have figured out your post workflow. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about that.

May 13, 2015 at 1:34PM

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Anthony Reese Schneider
Lead Editor
74

Hi Anthony.
I'm guessing you mean that I should have spent my money on making lots of short films or taking courses?
I've made quite a few shorts but never used RAW.

I've also worked on many other film projects in various roles, everything from on-set PA to assistant publicist. A lot of short films I have helped out on had bigger budgets than my feature did!

Sure, I could have spent this money on making 10 more short films. But short films as stories often don't interest me. Like I said, the films I love focus on personal relationships and character. I can appreciate films with amazing visuals, but thats not what I really enjoy. Most of my favorite films consist of simply shot scenes with people talking to each other.

I also feel that wayyyy too often, technically advanced people make films that look amazing but have terrible scripts. I aim to make work for regular people to enjoy. Not for other film school grads to enjoy. Sure in this case I didn't spend enough time researching the RAW workflow, I just took my DP's word for it - But I'm guessing I put a lot more time and effort into redrafting my script and casting my actors and rehearsing their performances than many tech obsessed filmmakers would have done.

Every artist has their own way of working and learning. Some people spend $50k per year to go to a great film school. Some people make hundreds of shorts and perfect their technique before taking on a bigger project like a feature. I chose to throw myself in the deep end. Yeah it was a little crazy, and incredibly stressful but I am SO GLAD that I did it. I think I learned more during that shoot than I ever would have learned by doing a filmmaking course or making more short films. Now I know how to make a feature film. And next time I do it, I will know how to do it more effectively and probably even cheaper! I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. I'm sure I will make lots more mistakes as I continue to experiment with my work, but I honestly feel there is no better way to learn how to make feature films than actually diving in head first and making one. That's just my opinion :-)

PS - I'm interested as to why you are so upset with the money I spent? I'm no trust fund kid. I saved the money from my job that I work as a nanny..... so what's it to you what I choose to spend it on?

May 13, 2015 at 3:21PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

Apologies for the huge rant. Obviously I feel very strongly about this and want to encourage others to dive in and make their first feature.

May 13, 2015 at 3:26PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

Congratulations on diving right in and going for it. We wouldn't be anywhere if we didn't make mistakes and learn from them. Best of luck to you.

May 14, 2015 at 2:57AM

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Keane
Director + DP + Editor
216

The truth is, in today's world you cannot be successful without being both artistic and technical. Look at the last best picture winners, gravity and Birdman. Both highly creative but matching in their technical ability.

Robert Rodriguez has a great little video that could give you an idea of what I mean:

http://youtu.be/W-YpfievjSk

Editing is the single most under appreciated part of the filmmaking process, and I hope this experience teaches you that. You claim to not be technical, but are taking on the most technical part of filmmaking. Good luck with your color grading, sound mixing and export settings.

May 13, 2015 at 6:37PM

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Oh my god Ninja Monkey, would you relax. You sound sooooo bitter! I'm not doing the color grading, sound mix etc. myself. Never said I was, dude.

May 13, 2015 at 9:18PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

Ninja Monkey missed out people like Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, who dont care much for the technical side. Do whatever you enjoy the most. I always advise learning about as much as possible. But then again... I love all of it. Ninja monkey also forgot to say that having something important to say on screen is a monumental part of film making, otherwise it's just a huge technical masturbation. cough Gravity cough. ;)

May 14, 2015 at 10:12PM

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Will Poole
Director/Producer/Writer
172

NinjaMonkey reminds me of the computer geek instructor at college who would bully people because they couldn't speak binary. They are particularly condescending to women who don't share their love of technical minutia. Unfortunately, it's this kind of sexism that prevents more involvement of women in the industry.

May 22, 2015 at 5:04AM

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NinjaMonkey reminds me of the computer geek instructor at college who would bully people because they couldn't speak binary. They are particularly condescending to women who don't share their love of technical minutia. Unfortunately, it's this kind of sexism that prevents more involvement of women in the industry.

May 22, 2015 at 5:04AM, Edited May 22, 5:04AM

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You're full of hot air, Ninja Monkey.

Has your technical superiority won you any Oscars? Come on now.
If you want examples of non-technical people who are successful in Hollywood, the first that comes to mind is Michael Arndt. He "technically" didn't know anything about writing. He had not even so much as written a professional article before, but he wrote "Little Miss Sunshine" anyway. This screenplay won him an Oscar.

Roger Deakins (one of our best cinematographers alive) is another example of a non-techie who delivers brilliant work.

And for the record, Gravity did not win best picture, but the more technically flawed film "12 Years A Slave."

May 20, 2015 at 11:36AM, Edited May 20, 11:36AM

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convincing you to shoot RAW, without your DP discussing the workflow, editing etc.... partly his the DP's fault there..... keen to see what you guys come up with either way. its filming making, its fun, and I guarantee you just learned more than any youtube video.

thanks for the post.

May 13, 2015 at 7:54PM

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In Hollywood, this is entirely the DP's fault. The Director and DP needs to work hand in hand.

May 14, 2015 at 11:20AM

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Tony
272

Stick to your guns! Technology is a great tool but it is no substitute for good material, and I have seen many technically impressive projects that were stultifyingly dull to watch. It is valuable to know the workflow inside out so that people can't BS you, but it's perfectly OK to delegate that job and expect people to deliver on their commitments. A good DP can be the backbone of a great film production, not all DPs are equal or good team players. Sometimes they need a reminder that they're not just there to add to their demo reel.

May 16, 2015 at 4:54AM

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Eddy Robinson
Writer/Director
222

Bravo Sophie. It takes a ton of courage to grab on to the back of the tiger that is a feature and to run with it. I'm sure you've learned tons and will be a better director and a better person for having done it. Don't let people get you down.

I also understand the perspective of the more technical people. It takes a lot of time and energy to learn all the ins and outs of the technology, and when you have its easy to forget how opaque it can all be to the uninitiated, not to mention that its just not a priority for other people.

Filmmaking at its best is a fusion of both the creative and the technical. Most of us are expert at only one or the other. That's where we need to find competent people and trust them to help us.

Keep in mind that there have been many successful films shot on old, outdated equipment by people who didn't really know what they were doing at the time. Some of those filmmakers are now Hollywood heavyweights. You're right that story is king, followed by audio, editing, and finally the picture. The filmmaking industry makes money by selling cameras to those of us who like the tech, but the film industry makes money by telling stories that touch the heart.

May 20, 2015 at 2:07PM

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Nathan Taylor
Jack of all trades, master of none
441

Why do you think the director needs more time with the basics? I'd say the basics for directing consist of leading a team with a clear vision and getting strong performances from talent. As far as I've read, Sophie never mentioned any lack of qualifications on that front.

Just because a director understands the pros and cons of shooting raw or not doesn't dictate how well they can tell a story. It dictates how technically proficient they are.

And short films aren't for everyone. You can make a feature and learn a lot more from that than you can from making short films which have an entirely different pace and quality to larger films.

May 20, 2015 at 11:03PM

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Ben Howling
Writer / Director
635

Even though you don't think shooting RAW is for you you should still research and learn about it. As a director you should at least know enough about every production job in order to communicate about it with someone. And with the way technology is moving, RAW could very well be an accessible, cheap, and excellent format to shoot in within the next few years.

Every director, even the greats who you think may only be concerned with story and performance, are just as concerned about the technical aspects of their film. Filmmaking is equal parts art and craft.

May 13, 2015 at 6:13PM

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Sophie, it feels some of the people writing here take a very narrow look at filmmaking. I.e. they'll argue ad nausea about importance of one department such as DP or the editing instead of looking at the entire film-making process.

Some people just thought your entire post was a RAW vs ProRes discussion: well, I just hope for their sake they work on developing their written comprehension skills. Other people writing here (including myself) never shot a feature on their own. And some of those people writing here probably never will. I speculate that certain hostility comes from them seeing you doing something they'll never do.

Curious -- what did you do for the audio? I personally feel audio is 60% of any film so would like to hear your experience with that while shooting your feature ;)

May 13, 2015 at 11:53PM, Edited May 14, 12:24AM

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Alex Zakrividoroga
Director
3766

Thanks so much, Alex!

I absolutely agree with you about audio. Because my project was dialogue driven I definitely couldn't scrimp on that. I hired a professional that I'd worked with before and has always taken great sound. He used lav mic's, boom, etc. and for a few scenes that we did outside, (without permits so had to be more discreet) we shot from far away using lav mic's, then took some wild lines with the boom after the fact in a quieter area, where there was less risk of being caught with a camera crew and no permit.

And the final sound mix will definitely be something I will fork out decent cash for. I completely agree that a bad sound mix can be fatal for a movie!

May 14, 2015 at 12:59PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

Excellent that you share your story and may help some of us to dodge the RAW bullet. It takes a lot but also gives a lot. I shot my first short RAW and do not hecitate to do it again but with experience it'll be much more convenient next time (syncing, labeling, trancoding, archiving). It's not the easy road you've chosen and of course you will make mistakes. I think your DP is at least as guilty as you are :) There are a lots of directors that aren't that visual. You might end up being one later as you make more movies or not. There's room for all of us so just do your thing!

May 14, 2015 at 3:25AM

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Samuli Tiilikainen
Cinematographer
74

Sorry to hear you've had issues Sophie - I shoot with Blackmagic cameras but always take time to explain the pros and cons. It's really not too much of a hassle to transcode to another format using Resolve (assuming you can run it) - if you'd like some tips/advice feel free to contact me at andrewmorgan 'at' me.com - best of luck with your film!

May 14, 2015 at 3:39AM

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Survivor Films
Writer/Director
147

Sophie you said: "I can appreciate films with amazing visuals, but that's not what I really enjoy.......I also feel that wayyyy too often, technically advanced people make films that look amazing but have terrible scripts. I aim to make work for regular people to enjoy. Not for other film school grads to enjoy. " I totally relate to that. I'll watch anything with substance and if the story interests me, even if I can't see any details in the shadows and the sky is over exposed and I can't really see the white clouds in it. You can spend 100 million to film another installment of Stars War or Mad Max and film it in 8K and raw, I won't go see it. I'm going to guess that your film is closer to one of the earlier Woody Allen movies than to what Spielberg is doing today. In that case your DP was wrong to push for raw. I bet he used your project to experiment for himself. In 2007 I did a 77' film and I found the guy I had hired as a DP a total disaster. I didn't need a DP but I wanted a crew to be looking good and make sure the actors would feel good about the project. Even though he had a reel that looked nice, he was just a dead body that didn't bring any kind of aesthetic to my piece. This is often the case in film with your kind of budget. $ 25K seems a lot of money to working people like us to spend, but in the realm of film it's not enough to hire a decent DP who is going to care. Besides, to know if he's going to bullshit you or not you basically need to know as much as he does, and if you do, what's the point of hiring him! A character dialogue based film should have been filmed with the GH4. Frankly, when I look at the success of Tangerine you could do a film today, as long as you have people who know how to light properly and take beautiful sound, with a Panasonic LX100. As you mentioned in your last post, it's only people with nothing to say and bad scripts who obsessed about cameras, depth of field and dynamic range. Damn, you got that right, content rules. Give me content in black an white, with crushed black and washed out skies, if I'm mesmerized by the concept of the story and my mind is challenged who cares if you used an iphone to film it. The lesson for you? Watch Death and the Maiden, filmed by Polanski in 1993 I think, if it had been filmed in VHS it would still have been totally amazing. Next time don't worry about the cam, be careful of who you hire as DP and stick to something like a GH4 or a Samsung NX1. Surround yourself with people who care.

May 14, 2015 at 7:58AM

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Thank you so much, Phillipe. Sounds like we are definitely on the same page here ;-)
I'm a HUGE fan of Woody Allen's early stuff!! And I am putting "Death and the Maiden" at the top of my must watch list!
I will also take a look at the GH4 and Samsung NX1 next time I go to shoot.
Cheers!

May 14, 2015 at 1:12PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

Death and the Maiden will show you exactly that what matters is content, content, content and lighting. As of today if you have something like a Samsung NX500, a Panasonic LX100, a GH4 or a NX1 you are above the quality threshold that matters for any viewers who is not a camera nerd. That's it, you have a little machine capable of filming in 4K, downgrading to a beautiful image in 1080p. Everything else is your ability to use lighting beautifully and get super sound. Forget the head aches of raw. Use raw if one day you plan to film another installment of The Lord of the Ring, but I doubt that's what you like.

May 15, 2015 at 7:54AM

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I would NEVER encourage anyone without a budget big enough to handle the additional workload to shoot in raw, heck, I tell Anyone to shoot in prores 4:4:4 or 4:4:4 XQ if possible, or at least 4:2:2 at the lower end. Lots and lots of large Hollywood productions, big episodic productions and commercials shoot on the Arri Alexa in prores, so why isn't it good enough for small indie shooters? I tell you, it isn't. Only pretentious idiots suggest shooting every f**king thing in raw.

May 14, 2015 at 9:08AM

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"Only pretentious idiots suggest shooting every f**king thing in raw."
Yep!

May 14, 2015 at 11:10AM

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Because the technology is not ready. We are not yet able to handle that sort of image data in a sensible way. We need a file format that is able to handle the RAW images as a proper video track that we can sling into our standard video editors. Until then, it will remain a dark art. Once we get that, we will all be throwing RAW video around like there's no tomorrow.

May 18, 2015 at 4:02PM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
961

Have to disagree Arri now supports RAW because there was a big enough demand for it from there customers. Also she wasn't using an Alexa not the same. By the way to say people are pretentious idiots for preferring raw is complete pretentious in its own right. There are plenty of merits and reasons to shoot raw.

May 16, 2015 at 7:40PM

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Charles C.
Editor/ Director/ Director of Photography/ Wannabe Thinker
835

Kudos for completing your first film - it's a tough battle, but one with so many intangible benefits to finishing. I myself shot my film on the Rebel T3i because that's what was available. Now I have RAW recording, and you're right, it is a chore to sequence in the long run. I'd have to agree with you - shoot on what's available and what works for your project and its audience. All that RAW detail isn't always necessary. We do a lot of work for our church on the BMCC and we rarely use the RAW imaging because on a screen 30 feet + from everyone in the auditorium, that extra detail is lost anyways.

May 14, 2015 at 10:35AM

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Jeez, some of you are real assholes on this forum. Sophie is only explaining that she would rather not shoot in RAW because she herself wants to just focus on the story and not have to deal with having to convert RAW into an editable format(and yes, there are few extra steps to make it editable which some of you don't seem to mention at all). Just jump right in and start creating the story without having extra steps.
Every director likes to do different things. There are directors i.e. Christopher Nolan, who only shoot on film because they believe that is the highest form. Some shoot digital i.e. David Fincher, because they like the instant control and ability to see a cut instantly, even if the quality isn't quite up to par as with film.
I think the point here to make is that every person has their different ways of crafting a story. Films are shot on iPhones, DSLRs, 8mm film, IMAX, etc. etc. Some people like Mac, some PC. Some like to edit on Premiere and others Final Cut Pro. I think a lot of you are very pretentious idiots thinking there is only one format to shoot on like Mariano just said above. I think it's also very pretentious most of you guys think that the camera tells a story which I see a lot in these forums. You pick different lenses and cameras depending on your story. You don't need to be technically proficient to tell a story, you need to be a good STORYTELLER!
I applaud Sophie for jumping in and making a feature, which Ninja Monkey, you posted about good 'ol Robert Rodriguez, and his very philosophy is "Just make your damn film!" I think that's why some of you guys are just hobbyists pretending to be filmmakers! Not only do we need more female storytellers in the industry, we don't need assholes like most of you on set. And because Sophie decided to make a feature, the value of experience she gained just puts her ahead of the curve compared to most.
Sophie! I applaud you for crafting your feature, and I would most definitely see you on set some time in the near future!

May 14, 2015 at 11:05AM

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Tony
272

well said, I like that expression hobbyists who pretend to be filmmakers,
I am a hobbyist, but I don't pretend, but I think the negativity is from someone who pretends to make films and like Jesus said, who will cast the first stone? Who makes mistakes, who learns from mistakes? I would submit that even the great filmmakers make mistakes, Instead of mistakes call it creative expression or experimentation and then you are considered a genius for trying new things.
I would be proud to have Sophie on my team for what she knows.

May 14, 2015 at 12:49PM, Edited May 14, 12:51PM

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Hahaha, maybe hobbyist is the wrong word. I am mentioning the people who go ape shit over new camera technolgy. They never mention anything about storytelling, they get upset that a new camera can't shoot RAW, make coffee, and drive them to work. And it should be under $50. These type of people will never ever make anything worthwhile because they focus so much on hurdles instead of, "How can we tell this story in a unique way?"
But yeah, agree with everything you say Lofar!

May 14, 2015 at 1:35PM

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Tony
272

Cheers, Tony! I was tentative about checking my post again today, for fear that people were not understanding where I was coming from and that it would just be more guys shutting me down. I really appreciate the encouragement and have gotten some genuinely helpful feedback from this thread after all.

May 14, 2015 at 1:16PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

It IS absolutely the director's job to know every last thing about how his/her project is being shot! No two ways about it. The DP did what he believed was best for the project. The Director's lack of knowledge is the problem here. The "dialogue driven, character based project" excuse is a lame one. If you're going to direct a film, learn your craft. The look of the film is YOUR responsibility. Period. Stop passing the buck.

May 22, 2015 at 7:33PM

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Steve chase
Director
180

It IS absolutely the director's job to know every last thing about how his/her project is being shot! No two ways about it. The DP did what he believed was best for the project. The Director's lack of knowledge is the problem here. The "dialogue driven, character based project" excuse is a lame one. If you're going to direct a film, learn your craft. The look of the film is YOUR responsibility. Period. Stop passing the buck.

May 22, 2015 at 7:33PM, Edited May 22, 7:33PM

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Steve chase
Director
180

Sophie
I pretty much agree with all the supportive comments and think that your risks and learned from the experience and it was valuable. Now you own the process more and would do things differently. It is unfortunate that there were a few naysayers, who instead of being helpful are really implying they are great filmmakers and if they were, they would not have to be so negative to get attention.
We all learn from mistakes, but I take the position of Thomas Edison, when asked by a reporter if he was discouraged from the 1000 failed experiments prior to inventing the electric light bulb. Edison replied they were not 1000 failures, they are 1000 things I know don't work.
In your case you MADE A MOVIE! and creative artists have no time to put others down, they are busy making their next one better.

May 14, 2015 at 12:06PM, Edited May 14, 12:06PM

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I love that Edison quote! Thank you for sharing.

May 14, 2015 at 1:18PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

How did the conversation with your DP go? Did he not inform you of the much much larger files RAW would give you and explain that you'll need larger storage? Also I don't understand how you couldn't view dailies until you had wrapped? How were you doing data management? Did you have a DIT, Data Wrangler, Digital loader, or some variation of the role? I've AC'ed 2 features shot with the Black Magic Cinema Camera (both shot RAW) and we never had problems viewing dailies. Premiere and Resolve should allow you to see dailies and at the very least you should have been able to see clips back through the camera to an onset monitor....

I applaud you for going out there and "doing it" so to speak. I always support those who take action and actually produce instead of just talking about it but I think the frustration and sarcasm you are getting in this thread is because you frankly failed at doing research and appear to be blaming shooting RAW in your original post. There is a lot of things you didn't do before going into principle photography. You should have worked out a Post pipeline/workflow in Prep. You should have figured out how to see dailies during camera prep. You should have researched your DP better to make sure they wouldn't lead you astray. You should have had a DIT on set (or some version of one. That is not an optional role with digital filmmaking). If you had a prores pipeline worked out you shouldn't have switched at the last minute. ETC ETC ETC

There are a hundred mistakes you made that lead up to the mistake of shooting RAW but shooting RAW isn't the problem. Like I said I'm still confused why you couldn't watch dailies...But the reason people are jumping on you here is because you aren't focusing on the mistakes that you made that then in turn caused shooting RAW to be a mistake. The biggest take away from this for you and the point of your original post shouldn't be about shooting RAW or not. it should be about how trying to make a feature film without doing the proper prep can really screw you in post.

That being said its not like you can't view the files. I'm looking at raw footage in premiere as I type this. So it isn't like your movie is ruined. It might have cost you a little extra money but every feature I've ever worked on has unexpected costs. In the end you'll be fine and you'll be able to finish your movie and I hope it turns out great...who knows it might get picked up for theatrical distribution and you might need to recolor and upscale and finish out to a 4k DCP. If that happens then shooting RAW might be the best mistake you've ever made....

May 14, 2015 at 5:31PM

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Jerome Stolly
1st. Assistant Camera
388

Hi Jerome - Thanks for you comment. You're right. I definitely didn't do enough of my own research on the ins and outs of RAW. In my defence, I did do a lot of research on it, but it wasn't the right kind of research. After chatting with my DP (and at your request I'll go over that conversation in a minute) I was under the impression that it was an AESTHETIC choice I had to make. So I watched a lot of comparison videos comparing the aesthetics of the two formats. I agreed with my DP that RAW looked great and that what you could do with it in color correction was awesome.

I will now admit something that will make Ninja Monkey and some others cringe. Despite working on many shorts, videos, creative projects in the past, the word "workflow" is new to me! Yep - have at me, Ninja Monkey ;-) But in all seriousness, I've always put that in the hands of my DP's and never had a problem. Maybe I've just been really lucky in the past. Who knows. I guess I was naive to assume this would never be something I needed to worry about.

Now to the conversation between me and DP about shooting RAW. Went something like this, in a nutshell....
DP: I really think we should shoot RAW.
ME: What is RAW and why should we use it?
DP: Much more flexibility in post production to make the image look better. (He goes into more detail about the benefits of RAW)

I then went away and watched all those aesthetic comparisons. We had our next meeting:

ME: I agree the RAW looks great. Are their any downsides to using it? Why isn't everyone using it if it looks better than ProRes?
DP: Well, it's a personal choice. And the files are a bit bigger.
ME: Will that be a problem?
DP: No, we just need to buy one more hard drive and one more card (He already had a few).

After this I hunted on Amazon, got a good price for another hard drive and card, ordered it and assumed we were good to go. It wasn't until our first day of shooting that I realised I couldn't watch the files. And not until after maybe the first few days that he told me we were gonna need even more cards and drives.

In answer to your other question: I had someone on set dumping the cards to the drives but not converting them. Because of the nature of our small project, this person also had other jobs on set (we were all taking on multiple responsibilities). Next time I will DEFINITELY have someone who's sole purpose is to handle and convert footage. But like I said - never had a problem in the past :-(

If I'd had more energy during the shoot, I would have spent more time finding a solution so I could watch dailies, but we were shooting long days, and to be honest, once I got home each night after shooting, I was completely exhausted. I chose to sleep rather than stay up all night looking for an answer so that I wasn't a mess on set the next day.

A few people on this thread have asked "what did you spend all your budget on?" as though I spent it on the wrong stuff. Maybe I did, but I feel obliged to answer the question. So here goes.
- I had a pretty large cast and a union cast so once you're dealing with SAG they chew up a sizeable portion of your budget.
- I paid all my crew each day. I had an AD, DP, AC, Sound mixer, 2 PA's and Scripty.
- I had to hire a couple of my locations
- I had to feed everyone decent food

I'll finish by saying that my DP's footage does look really great. He did an excellent job and worked hard, and I think he felt really bad about all the debacles we had with the files. I also think he learned a lot from his mistakes, as I did from mine.

OMG... Longest post ever. I'm spending too much time on here. Haha.

May 15, 2015 at 1:58PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

Hi Sophie,

First let me say that my original post may have sounded a little more offensive than I intended but I'm glad that you learned something from your mistakes. I just really want to stress that shooting RAW wasn't the problem but the mistakes you made before and during principle photography. Prores is a great codec and you probably would have been fine shooting with it. The majority of the work I do is captured with prores (usually on an alexa though so its a bit higher quality than on the BMCC). If its good enough for Game of Thrones and that last Will Smith movie then its good enough for all of us! It appears you just weren't aware of the proper questions to ask your DP and your DP wasn't aware that you weren't taking the major tasks to a RAW workflow into consideration (because you weren't aware of them).

I hope the thing you take away from this thread and your experience on your feature isn't to "regret shooting RAW" but to regret not asking the right questions/doing the right prep and that from now on you'll be much much more prepared for your next feature.

I hope your film turns out amazing and I'm glad people like you are out there making their films instead of just talking about it. Don't let my harsh tone (or anyone else's) here dissuade you from reaching out to the filmmaking community for help or answers. I promise we are all probably really nice in person.

May 15, 2015 at 5:27PM

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Jerome Stolly
1st. Assistant Camera
388

Never fear MS Webb. Beginning Mistakes can be painful in many ways. There are always Plenty of Ninja Monkeys ready to Destroy you anytime you show Weakness (In their Eyes). They are out there waiting to Stomp you if you show you are a Beginner or trying to learn in any way.
Having been in Music many Decades, I remember one of the very 1st Recordings I made more than 20 years ago. I was very Proud of the Music,despite being a Newbie. Somehow I got it reviewed in what was then a National Magazine Column. The Writer/Critic took Great Delight in Savaging me under a Huge Nationwide Spotlight. He was one of those "Critics" who liked hurting someone instead of "Critiquing" their Mistakes. Having met my own "Ninja Monkey" Early on was very Painful, but I learned much.
Even to this day I read Forums in Music /Film/ Post Production where many take great Pleasure in Destroying anyone new asking a sincere Question. Sounds Like you haven't let this bother you too much other than to learn from your Mistake. You can see in this Forum, most Folks are willing to help you.

May 14, 2015 at 8:28PM

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On the money!

May 14, 2015 at 8:52PM

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Alex Zakrividoroga
Director
3766

i dont think suggesting to work in RAW is a mistake. The mistake the DP i believe made was not understanding your workflow, budget, and resources. He was not thorough enough in his evaluation

May 14, 2015 at 9:42PM

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Kazu Okuda
Filmmaker
1327

Working in raw is not a mistake. It's most of the time totally unnecessary.

May 15, 2015 at 7:56AM

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"most of the time totally unnecessary"

That depends highly on the work that you do.

May 15, 2015 at 7:44PM, Edited May 15, 7:44PM

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John Morse
Producer + Director
2265

Hi Sophie,

First off, well done for making your film!!!!!! I'm in post for one of mine now and can relate to the undertaking. Completely understand the issues. Agree with everyone else, I suggest a laptop/external hard drive and a card reader on set.

Good luck with the rest of the process!!! :D xx

May 14, 2015 at 10:00PM, Edited May 14, 10:00PM

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Will Poole
Director/Producer/Writer
172

Sophie, I think it is great that you share your experiences. Most of the time everything in about the advantage of everything, but there are almost always consequences as well, as you discovered.
Everyone who works with RAW forgets that their point of view is that they already have the experience you didn't have before. I think there are still a lot of people who never shot RAW and have no clue that it entails more than using a different type of camera.

Please, keep sharing thoughts, questions and experiences. There will always be someone sounding harsh with or without intention.

I hope your feature will turn out great :-)
Keep us posted!
(I think sharing experiences about overcoming creative or technical obstacles can be very educational. More than any promo talk can ever be...)

May 15, 2015 at 8:25AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
8740

There are a lot of harsh and borderline hateful comments on this, when there shouldn't be. Sophie, I'm glad you dived in to making a feature. That's the only way to really learn: by experience; the best way to learn. And I'm glad you're not letting it affect you, you are strong hearted, ha. Thank you for sharing you experience, and I wish you the best of luck on your next film! The great news is this: now that you've done it the hard way (or the "wrong" way for that kind of work you like to do), the easy way (or the right workflow for you) will be that much easier! Then you will have battle stories to share when you make it by your perseverance (which by your comment responses, you seem to have in stride!).

May 15, 2015 at 12:32PM

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Devin Rice
Filmmaker / Performer
6

Sophie - I was determined to shoot in RAW for my first feature - not least because 90% of the film is set outside, and we only had the sun, reflectors and a shit ton of smoke for lighting...

I'm fairly experienced, and did the maths - figured out I had adequate storage, etc. etc...

...And even then, it was a world of pain. We were a tiny crew, and didn't have a DIT - so after a day of directing (and camera operating... and driving...) I'd come home and start backing up the footage - up to 300gb per night, every night, for 24 days. Being a bit methodical, I'd check the footage as I went along - doing tests etc... The end result was a month of absolute exhaustion. While that's not uncommon on microbudget features, I definitely could have better used the 4/5 hours a night spent data-wrangling...!

On the plus side, the RAW footage looks incredible compared to Pro-Res - and apart from a few grey hairs, no permanent damage was done.

Good luck with your next project.

Alex.

(and here's the second teaser for our feature: http://bit.ly/dsrteaser2)

May 15, 2015 at 1:48PM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3153

What did you shoot on Alex? Nice footage.

May 15, 2015 at 5:41PM, Edited May 15, 5:43PM

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Mich Fawgel
Master of Wisdom
404

Woah Mich - just realised you've commented on my post elsewhere, and asked a polite question (http://nofilmschool.com/boards/questions/dont-stop-running-second-teaser...) and now here I read (next comment, below) that you're ripping into someone who's being open about their filmmaking, and saying 'you shouldn't have shot the movie in the first place', you're a 'wannabe director with no knowledge whatsoever'... Not cool at all - and you'll get absolutely nowhere in the industry with that attitude. 'I am one of the few who dares to say what all of the people on this board are thinking about you'.... No, you're just rude - plain and simple. This sort of bullshit lasts forever online, and a quick google will bring up your name associated with it. Hopefully it's not actually a realistic representation of you as a person, but it doesn't reflect well at all.

May 17, 2015 at 3:08PM, Edited May 17, 3:08PM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3153

Hey NoFilmSchool, looks like we have a glitch. Comments have started posting multiple times! Technology screws me AGAIN! Haha.

May 15, 2015 at 6:51PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

I didn't read all the responses so apologies if this is redundant.

I think a lot of people would be surprised at just how many (even healthily budgeted) dramatic TV shows and low budget features are shot log to ProRes. As long as the output and recorder are both at 10-bit or higher and your exposures are correct or pretty close, you have sufficient leeway in color grade to make it look great, assuming you're not in the >1% who are pushing the look super hard beyond your acquisition image.

The reason it's used so much is because experienced pros who know they are working with limited post budgets and/or short post schedules know that shooting raw isn't worth it in those cases. The time & money saved from transcoding and reconforming is much better spent on creative labor time. Also there is the higher media traffic issue (ie. bigger files) on-set, though this can often be addressed without a big cost difference.

For a low or no budget long form project (for a short it may be easily manageable), ProRes 10-bit (or 12-bit) log should generally be the default choice with shooting raw being used for the following kinds of scenes/setups: sunny exteriors with limited light modification options, complicated VFX shots, underexposed shots, overly high contrast available light situations, scenes that will undergo extensive stylization in color grade. Usually those will account for a small percentage of your total shoot so dealing with raw for those will have minimal impact on budget and schedule.

Also, I saw someone complain that Sophie should have hired a DIT for her $25k feature budget… that person clearly has little understanding of budgeting because that kind of feature budget usually doesn't even include a 2nd AC, at least in an industrialized country.

May 15, 2015 at 8:23PM

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Jaan Shenberger
designer/animator & live-action director/DP
1241

Jaan, you are totally right about what you say on raw and ProRes. I've just finished watching a movie on Indieflix called One of Those Nights, shot in 1997. Quality of the picture was not that great, I'd say it was actually bad. Anybody testing equipment has better quality today on Youtube. Still I was totally taken by the story, mesmerized. It could have been shot on vhs it wouldn't have bothered me. To the risk of repeating myself from a post above on this thread I'll say again that nobody who cares about the story in Tangerine is going to be bothered that it was filmed using 3 iphones 5. If you work hard while you shoot, good lighting and composition why would you need to push a lot in post? I mean, why? What is that culture of "pushing in post" ? Get it right in the box while you shoot so you don't have to fix it in post.

May 15, 2015 at 10:51PM

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I didn't read all the responses so apologies if this is redundant.

I think a lot of people would be surprised at just how many (even healthily budgeted) dramatic TV shows and low budget features are shot log to ProRes. As long as the output and recorder are both at 10-bit or higher and your exposures are correct or pretty close, you have sufficient leeway in color grade to make it look great, assuming you're not in the >1% who are pushing the look super hard beyond your acquisition image.

The reason it's used so much is because experienced pros who know they are working with limited post budgets and/or short post schedules know that shooting raw isn't worth it in those cases. The time & money saved from transcoding and reconforming is much better spent on creative labor time. Also there is the higher media traffic issue (ie. bigger files) on-set, though this can often be addressed without a big cost difference.

For a low or no budget long form project (for a short it may be easily manageable), ProRes 10-bit (or 12-bit) log should generally be the default choice with shooting raw being used for the following kinds of scenes/setups: sunny exteriors with limited light modification options, complicated VFX shots, underexposed shots, overly high contrast available light situations, scenes that will undergo extensive stylization in color grade. Usually those will account for a small percentage of your total shoot so dealing with raw for those will have minimal impact on budget and schedule.

Also, I saw someone complain that Sophie should have hired a DIT for her $25k feature budget… that person clearly has little understanding of budgeting because that kind of feature budget usually doesn't even include a 2nd AC, at least in an industrialized country.

May 15, 2015 at 8:23PM, Edited May 15, 8:23PM

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Jaan Shenberger
designer/animator & live-action director/DP
1241

Truth is, for her to get that film finished, marketed and released the budget will be much hirer than $25K. Those are just production costs.

I was always taught production was less than half of your budget, and this is the formula of most films we see in theaters or festivals.

No one is bitter, I have three features in production, many completed.

I also know how important it is to have a good editor, they can make ordinary footage come to life. An experienced editor will usually take around 8-10 weeks to deliver a feature, while an unexperienced editor could take years.

Dialogue editing should be your biggest concern and will take far more time than transcoding raw, especially since you let the camera run so much.

All these facts point to an incomplete production budget, which should have accounted for all costs related to production with a bit of leeway (called contingencyin our business) for unforeseen expenses.

This is all a producers job, as a producer you should have asked more questions.

I had a friend who shot a feature recently down here in South Florida. His director/producer spent less than 20K and has won a ton of awards:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2475352/awards?ref_=tt_ql_op_1

This film was shot on red cameras with cinema prime lenses and they had a decent sized crew the way it's supposed to be done for features. How did they do it for cheap? A good producer. They will get you deals no one else can and make sure to come in under budget, because this is how they make a reputation. A good producer would never get screwed because they shot raw, they would have asked other people besides your DP.

The last thing that really bothers me about this post is the blatant lack of respect for the medium. If we were in notheaterschool.com I would understand, cameras are not part of their process. As a film director you must have a intimate knowledge or camera formats, release formats and lenses. If you were a film director ten years ago and your DP said the best quality was to film normal 16mm 4/3, would you just go with it? Without additional research? Real directors understand all these things, without being overly technical or geeky. You are making motion pictures, the actors should be ready on set unless you were rehearsing on set. Most directors only have to give small adjustments on set, the actors performances are always rehearsed ahead of time. Usually the adjustments will come from how it looks on the monitor, thus the need to deeply understand lenses.

A good example of a would be in the hospital scenario. A doctor is not a technician, nurse, or receptionist, but they must understand how each of them does their jobs to be a good doctor.

May 16, 2015 at 9:13AM, Edited May 16, 9:19AM

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Awesome. Can you share a link to your own IMDB page? I would love to check out your work and pick up some tips from you. I would look you up on IMDB but I'm guessing Ninja Monkey isn't your real name?
Cheers :)

May 16, 2015 at 10:22PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

"The last thing that really bothers me about this post is the blatant lack of respect for the medium."

You want anyone to take a sentence like that seriously and you'll have to prove your "deep respect for the medium". Although I've never met a professional filmmaker who has talked like that. Can we see some links to your work please, Mr. NinjaMonkey?

May 18, 2015 at 2:50AM

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Will Gilbey
Screenwriter / Editor
166

Nothing but respect for your DP. He/she gave you solid advice regarding format choices and $2000 for managing the whole media for a feature length film is peanuts, even for a no budget film. Now you have gold in your hands, whether you like it or not.

Stop bad mouthing your DP for doing their job right. From experience, it is very frustrating dealing with people in producer/director roles who have little appreciation for picture quality, let alone lighting techniques, movement etc that make up what cinematography is all about. Yes character development/dialogue is part of it, but you chose film as a medium for telling your story and cinematography and its technicalities are the platform. If you aren't that interested on this platform, as you sound, perhaps you should've just wrote a book. It would certainly save you money on hard drives. Or maybe not. Better check with nobookschool.com on that.

May 16, 2015 at 9:23AM

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Marko Hila
Cameraman/DOP
241

Sophie,

I commend you for taking on this project head-on, and trusting the advice of your DP to know his tech.

Everybody has different ways of doing things, and I would estimate roughly 90% of the people who are being a "snob" toward you on this forum are probably self-conscious or frustrated about their own work.

What I find in this line of work (I'm a professional freelancer who makes a living on cinematography) is that the more talented people are almost always the less arrogant and condescending ones.

Even Roger Deakins (arguably the best modern-day cinematographer alive) concedes, saying he doesn't know all the technical information (RAW, 4K etc) of the cameras he uses, but he believes what his eye tells him about an image.

And his work (No Country For Old Men, The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, A Beautiful Mind) speaks for itself.

Anybody on this forum who has more "theory knowledge" of RAW, 4K and every other camera format or codec can't hold a candle to Roger Deakin's work.

And by focusing on writing, story and character, I'm sure you're already better than most of the snobs on this forum.

Keep doing what you're doing. And while it wouldn't hurt to know the tech side, there also isn't a problem with focusing all of your time and energy on being a kickass writer/director who focuses on story above anything else.

May 16, 2015 at 1:45PM

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"dialogue driven, character based projects"

That's what I didn't see on first reading and I can see where Sophie is coming from.

May 16, 2015 at 7:04PM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
961

Thanks so much to those of you who have added constructive feedback and intelligent conversation to this thread.
For those of you who haven't.... My goodness. I must admit, I was not expecting to get so much anger directed at me for posting on a discussion board in a community of artists. I am now being trolled on my personal blog and Facebook by guys who seem to have tracked me down via my NFS profile. So I won't be commenting again.
I hate to say it, but I wonder if I would have copped the same kind of anger if my profile said I was a man. Out of 87 comments on this thread am I the only girl? Posting angry, condescending comments on here is lame enough, but trolling me on other platforms.... come on guys? Don't you have anything better to do with your time? I know I do.
Bye bye!

May 16, 2015 at 9:24PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

Woah... That's awful - sorry to hear you've received abuse (and been stalked).

What's going on, people?! There's no need for that at all - we're all filmmakers, helping each other out - there's no need to get angry or personal, ever.

May 17, 2015 at 3:00PM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3153

This is an intolerable situation. If we are not free to discuss and share here without fear of an unreasonable response, then this forum is finished. We are not all the same sort of person, making the same sort of film in the same way. If we were, we would all be remaking the same heap of dung continuously. We all need to appreciate our diversity and revel in it. Sophie (and myself) cannot really get to grips with RAW, others can and will make beautiful images.

May 17, 2015 at 6:59PM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
961

I'm very sorry to hear that...
I suggest you send a list of those 'trolls' (which seems to be a way to sweet name for them) to NFS, since I think such behaviour shouldn't be tolerated.

To those primitive minds with their imaginary superiority I would like to say this: you may think you 'know how it works', but in reality such behaviour is completely unprofessional. No matter how much you now about handling 1s and 0s, you just qualified yourself as a 0.

I'm all about discussing things, pointing to what could have been done better and challenging popular opinions (such as 'RAW is the best': saying something different triggers quite some reactions I see). Sometimes that can sound harsh. I know.
But, please, people, let's stay cilivilized. Stalking/trolling other platforms?
Time to look into the mirror and ask yourself why you are so bitter, angry and frustrated that you need to spill your hatred over such trivial things as a workflow? Do you feel victorious and superior now?

I think such rotten apples must be kicked out of the basket, since they destroy the constructive nature of the community by silencing people with questions and scaring away people with experiences to share.

May 18, 2015 at 11:41AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
8740

--- I feel like a winner: clicked 'post' once, posted 4 replies. If only that would work in store ;-)

May 18, 2015 at 11:41AM, Edited May 18, 11:43AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
8740

But in the end , you'll still use the first take anyhow.

May 18, 2015 at 1:36PM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
961

hahaha,indeed. It was the most natural take ;-)

May 19, 2015 at 12:11PM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
8740

Unfortunately this thread is a perfect example of the NFS "community". Next time try r/filmmakers on reddit as it has strict rules, is actually moderated and has verified professionals answering questions.

That being said I do understand some of the "angry" comments. My initial reaction was similar to a lot of them, but, unlike a lot of these fools, I try to examine my thought process, emotions and your point of view before commenting (it's kinda funny that a lot of these "directors/filmmakers" don't do that same, since thinking & communicating in such a way is a big asset when directing, not to mention just in life in general).

So, imagine someone wants to become a chef. What is their process or path? Cooking at home, going to culinary school, working their way up the kitchen ladder. What do they need to know? Not just ingredients. They need knife skills, they need to understand proper temperatures, know the difference between a sauté and a fry pan, a chef's knife and a pairing knife, etc.

Someone comes into a cooking forum saying that they're a chef, that they're halfway through creating a 7 course meal, yet they admit they don't know anything about knives and really just care about the ingredients, well they're probably going to get ripped apart. Do they deserve criticism and scorn? I would say a little, yeah. Is being overly critical, negative and launching personal attacks appropriate or necessary? I would say no and I believe every real professional would agree.

Filmmaking and cooking are both highly competitive fields filled with passionate people. Unfortunately, that can sometimes be a recipe (ha) for disaster, as you’ve seen here. I think a lot of these people just get frustrated when they see someone jumping into a film without the proper knowledge or prep work. However, what’s considered proper and necessary really comes down to you and your production. We’re not all pros, we’re not all doing it the “correct” way and that is infuriating to some because they’re maybe trying to do it the “right” way.

So you can chalk all this up as a learning experience. You made some mistakes that I’m sure you won’t be making again, and that’s just part of the process. As filmmaker you need to have thick skin and you need to be able to put yourself out there again and again, so don’t let this thread stop you from doing that in the future.

Re: the personal attacks on your blog, you should report these users to NFS and they should do their best to ban them from this site.

NFS STAFF: you guys really should think about enforcing your own policies, specifically real user names and proper board etiquette.

May 18, 2015 at 5:43PM, Edited May 18, 5:43PM

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John Morse
Producer + Director
2265

I said I wasn't going go on this thread again but curiosity got the best of me. Haha.
John, I just wanted to say that your comment is so well written!! You clearly put a lot of thought in to it. Thank you for not lashing out, even though my original post initially sparked anger for you. You have honestly given me an insight into why some people are hating on me so badly for my initial post (which I really would have put a lot more thought into originally if I'd known it would cause so much drama). By explaining the thought process of where that anger was coming from, you enlightened me. So thank you for sharing! I completely agree with you about communication being such and important part of filmmaking. It's such a collaborative medium that without it we are screwed!

I like the cooking comparison you made, too! I don't know if I totally agree with you on all of it.... For example; Aren't those chefs going to learn about knives and other cooking tools through experimentation and actually picking the tools up and using them, learning which knife works best for this dish? Or are you suggesting they should go to cooking school first, before attempting to cook?

Some may say yes. Just as some may say that one should go to film school before experimenting with their filmmaking. I did not go to film school and have learned everything I know through creating previous projects - and making mistakes. The reason that I started this discussion on this particular site was because because it is called "no film school dot com" not "i graduated from film school dot com".

Also, one of my favorite directors, Jill Soloway (who won best director at Sundance a couple years ago for her feature and many other awards for "Transparent", her series) openly admits she knows nothing about lenses, camera, techy stuff.... This is not to say that I am trying to model my career after her or that I think it's fine to shy away from the technical side of things. I am constantly trying to get more tech savvy, and find that the fastest way for me to learn is by trying and failing. Not by reading books or watching how to videos, etc.

Thank you for suggesting the reddit filmmaking community. I'll definitely check them out. And thanks again for your great post. It really got me thinking and I hope it got others thinking too! :-)

May 20, 2015 at 2:09PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

indietalk is quite a gentle community with sometimes strong opions, but always in a cilized manner...

May 22, 2015 at 4:50AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
8740

edit: forget about it; none of my business

May 17, 2015 at 12:07PM, Edited May 17, 12:12PM

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Hi Sophie,

I hope you're still reading this post, as I'd like you to know I admire you. I've worked with quite a few up-and-comers, and find all of them want the same thing: to get their film out there with minimal hassle. They're not making Star Wars, or Mad Max. They want to film their script, with good visuals and good sound. It's all about crew and trust and script. It's not about cameras or specs or RAW of whatever. It's about a smooth shoot; not camera fuss.
The blame falls completely to your DP and his/her skills at communication with the director. Giving you Youtube links to compare visual quality isn't an answer to shooting RAW or not. Most producers don't care about RAW or even 4K. They see a film like "Blue Ruin", shot on a C300 (not RAW) at 1080p and winning at Cannes, and wonder "Wow, that was amazing! I can make that film!"
Just because you raised $25K doesn't mean it should go to the camera department or grading. It should go to the actors, the locations, and the crew. I support you and understand your frustration. Good luck on your next one!

May 17, 2015 at 10:28PM, Edited May 17, 11:11PM

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Sathya Vijayendran
Writer/Director/Editor
349

Is this unmonitored? Can anyone say anything they want?

May 18, 2015 at 10:49AM

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Whoa! That's a lot of comments. I haven't read them all but I think it's really valuable for others to read your post here. Good work. To come back to your initial question for others thoughts on shooting raw. I have never gone near shooting uncompressed raw, difficult/cumbersome workflow, massive file sizes... That said compressed raw can be much more manageable. I have a canon 5D, Sony A7s and a Red Scarlet. All great cameras. Even though the Scarlet is 4k and raw, it's compressed and redcode has been around long enough that it plays back seemlessly on my PC at 1/2 resolution (2k or 1080p). It's no more effort (for me) to work with that format then with the Sony A7s, except rendering takes a bit longer... Uncompressed scares me (but for some reason I want a digital bolex!?)

May 19, 2015 at 8:08AM, Edited May 19, 8:09AM

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Dean Butler
Writer Director Shooter Editor
773

Perhaps that was the wrong DP for the job. Its their job to assist the story, not to push their own technological curiosities or unrelated agenda. Blackmagics are risky cameras for an entire feature and when they were first released, had a lot of issues. The NLE's generally handle cinemaDNG tolerably well at this point, but it was a long road. Your DP should have recognized that the need to capture many long takes was poorly suited to raw and provided you a better solution. Assuming you generally had good control over the scenes, lightwise, an even more compressed codec may have been most appropriate, 10-bit XAVC etc. Even a RED camera would have been better, as you can choose a compression ratio for the material which stays raw. The right tool for the job.

May 19, 2015 at 11:34AM

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Christian Seel
Director of Photography
13

Given your (the OP's) working method, I would not have shot raw. (I've shot with the Black Magic Pocket Cinema camera in raw and ProRes.)

May 19, 2015 at 12:44PM

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Tom Abray
Indy Videomaker
360

Meh, you live you learn. Everyone makes mistakes. I'm testing a workflow now for a feature we're filming in September by putting together a short film involving most of the same crew. We're not shooting RAW but we're shooting flat so the files are smaller but we have SOME flexibility for color grading.

I have nothing but respect for a go-getter. I wish you all the best!

May 19, 2015 at 3:37PM

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Gordon Ian Green
Producer, Director, Writer, Editor
27

What the fuck is wrong with some of you!?!?! Stalking or harassing other people is ILLEGAL. Having an opinion is fine but going outside the forum. Totally wrong.
Some of you are insanely naive to think people from the industry don't peruse through these sites. Those with bad attitudes, I can understand why you live in these forums instead of actually working. There are a lot of people who come to these forums and sites to see what's happening and get advice. Not be harassed by whoever is being an idiot.

May 19, 2015 at 3:59PM

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Tony
272

words like blame and mistake are thrown around on this thread. In making movies how many times do you make choices? Well if you actually make films you make choices on the fly constantly. I do not for a moment think that capturing your video raw is a mistake. I see nothing wrong with it, just another choice to make. When we make choices we have to live with the results and that is where her problem lay.
No one not even hollywood makes a movie without some constraint on finances and what she learned is that this workflow and expense was too costly and so made compromises to use it. Then she found out that the DP was not efficient with that workflow. Just seems like normal stuff to me. She rendered (no pun intended) the opinion she would not use raw video capture again for the reasons she stated.
Responding and recovering from challenges is an important of the filmmaking process and for Directors and DPs etc, if you pardon the arcane expression "Separates the Men from the boys" to make their movie which will include all my favorite movies and favorite Directors. She took a risk and pushed herself on this movie and is a better filmmaker for it.

May 20, 2015 at 9:52PM

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"No one not even hollywood makes a movie without some constraint on finances..."
Yeah, except that in Hollywood it's other's people money, not your own savings.

May 21, 2015 at 7:37AM

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Given my post above about this subject, I am watching "The Empire Strikes Back" commentary and if you are interested in this subject of this discussion, most of the commentary is on this very subject of having to make decisions on the day reacting to challenges that come up and hoping it will work out in editing. The point being the criticism against the op and the charges of being lax are completely and totally unfounded. Making a creative choice and having difficulty instead of making the safe choice within your comfort zone. I feel instead she should be commended for her creative choice and we all benefit from her experience or my name isn't Lofar Foopah.

May 21, 2015 at 1:50PM, Edited May 21, 1:51PM

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making mistakes is not just the best way to learn, but really for most of us is the only way we learn.
If it works, then we really didn't learn anything.
Moving from reading into action is something new.
My screwed up video teaches me everything I need to know to make great video. It is all there if I can read it. I think that Raw getting back to the discussion is a "not ready for prime time" situation for most of us. That will change as storage gets cheap and NLE get more capable. I remember the headaches going from SD to HDR, then everything got better.
I do suspect that recording codecs will get so much better rendering (no pun intended) raw video unneccerary.
So, from my pov much of the problems she is experiencing is that raw video is new and not mainstream in the tools we use.
Then each camera's raw is different. I strongly suspect in the near future that codecs will work with most major NLE like Sony Vegas Pro and others. That what we struggle with today will be a thing of the past in the near future!

May 29, 2015 at 1:57PM

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tons of answers...
i try to be shorter :-P
i'm director, but i'm also a tech expert.
- raw vs prores on blackmagic cinema 2.5k give you very different quality due the quality of scaling and debayering in camera. raw is a lots better.
- shooting raw is like shooting in film, you must think before to shoot, but... 240 gb card is since 24 minutes, a tons of shooting on set... and actually a 480gb cost since 200$, that mean double of it.
i think that raw shoot is an help to avoid to waste shooting ratio ;-D
- shooting raw is simple, and daily and backup can be done from a simple but professional software called "raw4pro", it build also proxy for editing.
- raw vs prores is a lots of space in post to push highlights lower and shadow upper, especially if you shoot in a very complex situation, in external situation where is more difficult to control light.

in 2013 i worked like dit and help director for a full workflow with a 2.5k bmcc full feature lengh movie, 14 tb of data.
Actually i own bmpc4k i most of time i shoot in raw, with exception of theater or similar events.
For me lower is the budget more is important to shoot raw and move decision, working and more in post where you can have more time to massage picture. If you not need post, you can apply some lut, and if light and shadowing are good on set, you must do few work in post, but if you need to massage that picture that you cannot have enought time to manage on set... you have room to do it.
To be honest, a DOP that insist to shooting in raw is understandable, but.. he must know a workflow to manage files, or have a good dit to follow him in that workflow.
i reed to later the date of original post, and probably, i hope for you, you just did the movie.
If you are interest to some tips to manage raw for next movie, i can share all tips that i learn in these last three years, ask me, i'm happy to share what i learned.

April 13, 2016 at 6:00PM, Edited April 13, 6:19PM

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Carlo Macchiavello
Director
670

With much respect to you, Mich, you're being harsh. I follow gear, software and tutorials, wishing to better myself in many areas, but the same advice keeps coming back again and again - "just f*****g get out there and make something, and learn from your mistakes". So she did, and was honest enough to tell us.

For those reasons, I'm enjoying this thread quite a lot, it's NFS at the best to my mind. Sophie, don't forget to come back and link to your film at completion.

May 15, 2015 at 5:50PM

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Saied M.
906

Yes, maybe you are right. I went over the top there.

May 15, 2015 at 6:11PM

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Mich Fawgel
Master of Wisdom
404

Thank you Saied. I definitely will share my film once it's done.

Mich Fawgel, I'm sorry you feel that way. Looks like you have already made up your mind about me though, so rather than spending time crafting a post to justify myself to you and giving you a copy of my resume, I'm gonna choose to agree to disagree. Have a great weekend, Mich!

May 15, 2015 at 6:48PM

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Sophie W.
Filmmaker/Performer
379

Mich, what everyone on this board is thinking is that you are a really sad person. To come on a "no film school" blog and tell someone who's had the courage to make a low budget film that she's done it all wrong when you haven't even seen it. To attack her for making a mistake when the topic of her post was what she learned from a mistake she's made. A mistake about what format she shot her footage in. Mich, it's safe to say you're really unhappy with your own life and your own career. Because people who are secure in their own abilities don't lash out at people who post on discussion boards about their process. It's something you're doing because you're insecure about your own talents. And my guess is that your insecurity is warranted.

Sophie, keep making movies and making mistakes. They should kick people like Mich off this forum.

May 18, 2015 at 2:53PM, Edited May 18, 3:17PM

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Jason Ferry
Director of Photography
26

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