Footage vs. Bittage

Mr. York, regarding your Viewfinder column in the July 2008 issue over the use of the word footage. I have been reading Videomaker for 10 years or so and have been in the video business for 9 years. Sometimes meanings may not fit the word according to the dictionary (foot vs. bit), and sometimes there is a tradition to a meaning. For instance: as the late George Carlin would say: “Why do you drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?” So, it is with the word footage. Even to someone outside the business, it is understood. While bittage may be more accurate, would it be universally understood? .. FOOTAGE IT IS!

Darrel L. Morley

DMVideo

6 versus 25 Minutes of Film

Regarding the July 08 tutorial Getting that Film Look, there were a few misinformative facts in the article that I must point out:

  1. 400′ mag of 35mm film is approximately 6.5min at 24fps – not 25min. 25min would be a dream.
  2. You cannot buy Panavision cameras. It’s rental only and the camera bodies all start at a value of $500,000 or more if you could buy them.

The main error, though is the 25min 400mag.

Norm Li

… and Pani’s 0001 Still in Use

I was shocked to learn a 400-foot roll of 35mm film now lasts 25 minutes. Where can I buy this amazing film? The last time I shot 35mm film at standard 24fps I used 90 feet-per-minute and a 400-foot roll yielded four minutes and 26 seconds max. A thousand-foot magazine runs barely eleven minutes. A 100-minute feature film production shot at a ratio of ten feet shot-to-one foot used requires 90,000 feet of film before editing starts. A 400-foot roll of pro8mm film lasts 25 minutes; perhaps that is the comparison Mr Peterson had in mind.

And the last time I checked, you still could not own a Panavision camera, only rent one. Last I heard Panavision camera #0001 was still in use as a rental with inside components regularly updated.

I couldn’t resist writing but I enjoyed Mr Peterson’s article. Thanks!
Ed Winters

You’re right Norm and Ed, Panavision cameras are used on big Hollywood productions, but neither the production company hired to produce the movie nor the camera operator using the camera are ever allowed to own them. These cameras are available for rent only. As for the film footage error, we stand corrected. There is quite a big difference between 6 minutes and 25 when it comes to running out of film. Thanks for pointing that out. One of the many benefits to videotape: tape is cheap!

-The Editors

In Michael Moore’s Defense

I, for one, appreciated your article on Michael Moore. Too bad it struck a sour note with some of your other readers, none of whom could be bothered to actually specify what it is about Moore’s films they disliked, (Videomaker In Box, July 2008).

To hold up Ken Burns as a “real film maker” in alleged contrast to Moore (as reader David Zappardino did on your letters page) is specious reasoning at its worst. First of all, Burns isn’t an advocate filmmaker and his work is hardly beyond reproach – his Jazz doc, for example, was TRASHED by music critic Harvey Pekar for emphasizing popular artists while neglecting more experimental and influential figures.

But Zappardino’s temper tantrum pales in comparison to reader Lawrence Deleski whose only criticism of Moore is a string of slurs and a demand to cancel his subscription. How pathetic. And what of reader Leonard Thygesen, who made his own film about the closing of the Buick Motor Division in Flint, Michigan? Moore obviously thought enough of his work to approach him about using it. I’d love to see this film. Unfortunately, I can’t find it anywhere.

I appreciate your reply to these letters which stated the obvious – what constitutes a documentary is not so easily defined. Frankly, I’m grateful for filmmakers like Moore, Spurlock, et al., who are willing to challenge powerful individuals and institutions and give us something to think about. I have faith in the viewing audience to make up their own minds about what rings true and what doesn’t. Best wishes (and don’t ever cancel my subscription).
Eric Rife
San Diego, CA


More on Moore

This is the only response I’ve ever made to Videomaker. I was a bit disappointed with some of the negative feedback on Michael Moore. It would appear that a lot of people do not understand such terms as documentary (irrespective of definition proffered), propaganda, or history. I admire Mr. Moore’s work, though I often disagree with some points. As for propaganda, those suggesting Mr. Moore is providing such apparently believe our governmental leaders are honest and care for “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” I wish such folks could contact me, as I have a number of original deeds to a bridge in Brooklyn I would be willing to part with for a tidy sum to these folks!

A reference was made to the film, Sicko, claiming it was filled with errors, etc. Some, most probably – but not a lot. But the biggest lie foisted off on this country (the only top tier country without health care for its people), is that health care would be a disaster and too expensive. Apparently, it is not too expensive to destroy our country’s finances along with a foreign country invaded in violation of international law, which could have saved lives and the money spent would easily have provided for health care here (which those opposed have provided to themselves, our leaders, courtesy of the same taxpayers who are deemed unworthy).

So, would those opposing Mr. Moore desire that no one raise such issues, instead, ignoring the many people in this country without health care, and those literally dying and suffering, which many wish to pretend do not exist, deserve such a fate, or just ignore? By the way, too, it is easy for many writers to use the pejorative term liberal or such, labeling anything they disagree with as a true propaganda term. I suggest reading [the book] What Liberal Media? by Eric Alterman.

By the way, most people who actually know my voting record and me would hardly label me the too easily applied term liberal, as if this is published, some “clever” responders no doubt would pull out the “original” use of such term. The strength of any democracy, and what is left of one here, is dissenting views. Many issues that Mr. Moore raises are not heard, and need to be. Whether one agrees or not, what the so-called liberal media (which is actually the opposite) and our leaders provide obfuscates and ignores many issues and concerns that we need to know. If one actually wishes to know about propaganda, there are works that those not too lazy could pursue.

What such tell me is that people are easily led and manipulated by media, and perhaps lack the ability to think and consider views that do not match what we are told. Writing, film, video – including history – are never totally objective. There is point of view. Just setting up a camera itself does not guarantee objectivity. Without commentary, that alone can manipulate. In fact, the old adage, “the camera doesn’t lie,” itself is a lie. Great photos exist because of the fact that they do “lie” and can be used to create an effect not actually visible. Film/video is the same. Mood, lighting and all exist for reasons. There are many films in the library. I suggest one watch some of these, including “objective” documentaries. By the way: There is no such thing as an “objective doc”!
J. Phillips
Portland, OR

Throw in Some Spice and Sarcasm

Yes, Lawrence Deleski, there is a reason to keep your subscription to Videomaker. Lawrence, the Videomaker editors are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. Yes, there is a home here at Videomaker that exists as certainly as its subscribers have the intellectual capability to understand that the difference between what is right and wrong, fact and fiction, is not elusive. Please accept my appreciation for your criticism of the editorial staff’s attempt to give credibility to America’s own Minister of Propaganda and National Enlightenment, Michael Moore.

No Videomaker! Thank God, we subscribe among the ranks of Leonard Thygesen, David Zappardino, and Lawrence Deleski!
Joseph S. Sardo
Ghent, New York

Visual Contagion

Recently, it seems that expensive movies in the theaters are suffering from some kind of contagion!

Here’s a list of reasons why I won’t patronize them anymore after having seen The Transformers:

  • The camera is too close in on many occasions, thus effectively blocking out the background making it difficult to see the scene in proper perspective.
  • Hollywood seems to believe that it adds a sense of immediacy if the camera jiggles and shakes a little, causing the scene being photographed to jump around annoyingly on the screen.
  • Way too many “sun flares” or “white outs” are positioned at strategic points in the photography, so that the on-screen action is effectively wiped out.
  • In some scenes, the camera is pulled way back to encompass a setting, only to have actors, vehicles, walls, whatever, move back and forth in front of the camera, interrupting what was being shown.
  • Many scenes are too short, so that they cannot be placed properly in the action. Here a flash, there a flash, everything’s gone in a FLASH!
  • Some scenes are too blurry, because the camera is moving too fast too close up to be able to figure out what it is. It’s like driving by a garden and a pond and all you see is soup!
  • Too much extraneous movement in front of the camera adds to the interruptive nature of the scene. Leave interruptions for real life, but not on the screen where I’m paying big bucks!
  • Too many irrelevant passers-by intrude upon the scene or get in the way of the action. I’m yelling quietly to myself, “GET OUT OF THE WAY!”

From a cinematic point of view, the film gets a D- from me. The graphics are excellent – when you can see them! I don’t appreciate being robbed of the visual enhancements in a modern film just because some director wants to be cutesy-cutesy. Just what is going on, anyway, heh, Follywood?
Doug Parrish
Howell MI

Brief and to the Point

Excellent article (Lighting with Gels, Lighting column, July 2008). This is probably one of the most helpful articles I have seen in Videomaker Magazine! I have been a reader for about 10 years.
Steve St. Phillip
via Email

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