HDCAM Ushers In New Age of Movie Making Bernard Rose Shoots new movie "ivansxtc" in HD With HD Post Production at APS
Hollywood, California÷For Director Bernard Rose, HDCAM is not just a camera, it's a catalyst for change in the motion picture industry. The economics of shooting with a Sony HDCAM camcorder makes it possible for Rose and Producer Lisa Enos to self-finance a full-length movie called "ivansxtc" (pronounced Ivan's Ecstasy). The budget was low enough to qualify for the Screen Actor's Guild's "Limited Exhibition" status, but production values were not compromised.
Director Bernard Rose with his Sony HDCAM Camcorder
Written and directed by Rose, "ivansxtc" is a fictitious drama about a Hollywood agent named Ivan Beckman who finds himself confronted by personal challenges as he faces the end and meaning of his life. The movie, which features Peter Weller ("Robocop") and Danny Huston (who directed "Mr. North"), takes the story told by Leo Tolstoy in his novello "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" and places it in modern day Hollywood. With production now completed, "ivansxtc" has now proceeded to the HD edit suite at APS-LA, American Production Service's new state of the art post production facility specializing in High Definition (HD) projects.
Rose, whose film credits include "Immortal Beloved," "Anna Karenina," and "Candyman," set out to film "ivansxtc" in 35mm when a HD technology demonstration convinced him that HD originated footage was indistinguishable from 35mm film. He and Enos realized that HD offered attractive economic and creative advantages without sacrificing picture quality, so they decided to follow a HD production path.
The Sony HDCAM camcorder's ease of use and ability to shoot in natural low light conditions gave the HD medium a clear edge over film. One particularly long, complex scene in "ivansxtc" was actually videotaped in an outdoor caf at night, and Rose says the picture quality was remarkable considering that only available light was used. Since the camera did not require the huge lighting kits common to filming in low light conditions, production was unobtrusive enough that the restaurant could continue to serve its patrons.
"All my life I've been looking at things with the naked eye and thinking "Oh that's beautiful. I wonder how I can capture that on film?" But capturing beautiful scenes on film often requires bringing in a circus of 250 crew people who inevitably ruin the desired effect by faking the lighting," says Rose. "But, with HDCAM's low light capability, if you can see the scene, you can shoot it. It's that simple."
In "ivansxtc," shooting night scenes on a highway allowed Rose to capture the way headlights really move across people's faces. When shooting in daylight, HD's crystal clarity gives an honest impression of people's skin tones, and heavy makeup is not only unnecessary, it's inadvisable because it draws attention to itself.
Rose and Enos may choose to perform some color correction on the images when they begin online editorial at APS December 12, 1999. They chose APS because the post facility is unique in that it has all the technology necessary to edit and finish in HD under one roof, as well as a friendly staff that expressed genuine enthusiasm for working on "ivansxtc."
The post production will include online editorial in full-bandwidth HD (1.5 gigabits per second) using Sony's HDS-7000 3 M/E production switcher with two frame stores and primary and secondary color correction; the Sony HDME-7000 two-channel digital video effects system; the BVE-9100 editor, HDW-500 video tape machines; and a complement of HD monitors.
For "ivansxtc," audio post production at APS will include mixing a six to eight channel soundtrack, using location audio recorded on DAT machines, in anticipation of distribution with 5.l channel Surround Sound. The movie's distribution plans are not yet finalized, however, Enos indicated that "ivansxtc" will be transferred from a 1080i/30 HDCAM master back to 35mm film for theatrical release.
With the camcorder mounted on his shoulder, Rose shot all the scenes in "ivansxtc" himself, and there was no lighting crew. According to Lisa Enos, "Instead of 12-hour shoot days where actors are forced to wait endlessly in uncomfortable trailers until the lighting has been set-up, our shoot days were never longer than seven hours. Since we moved so quickly, actors were able to keep their performances spontaneous and fresh." Enos is an accomplished producer/director of documentaries for major networks, such as Arts and Entertainment (known as A&E). Even when capturing the most demanding scenes, the "ivansxtc" crew never exceeded nine people, including a production assistant, coordinator, and assistant director.
Rose not only shoots from the shoulder, he shoots from the hip. He does not equivocate on the impact of HD technology. "Film Is Dead"· "Long Live Cinema," is the slogan and theme of the "ivansxtc" website www.filmisdead.com.
"Let's absolutely call this what it is. HD is a major revolution that will change the motion picture industry. Independent filmmakers with creative, innovative ideas will no longer have to face an army of checkbook-wielding studio executives to get their movies made," said Rose. "HD has the potential to free filmmakers from the stranglehold of Hollywood's elite deal-makers who spend their days homogenizing story concepts to fit their narrow view of the movie-going public."
Since more can be accomplished with less, leaner production crews translate into smaller budgets which means that, increasingly, filmmakers can bypass the "gatekeepers" at the movie studios and enjoy unprecedented creative freedom.
Rose is frank in saying that change will not be painless for the Hollywood status quo. He draws a parallel with "The Ludites," thousands of disgruntled Weavers who went about destroying the steam powered looms that were putting them out of work during the Industrial Revolution in England.
But, Rose says, "The powered looms produced cloth so quickly that no matter how fast The Ludites smashed them up, it still paid to replace them. And the same will be true for the motion picture industry. Once the economic and aesthetic attributes of HD propel this industry forward, and restore creative control to the filmmaker, there will be no turning back."
APS has a website at www.apsnw.com. APS Seattle is located at 2247 15th Avenue West, in Seattle, Washington, 98119 (Phone: 206-282-1776; Fax: 206-282-3535.)
APS LA is located at 11755 Victory Blvd., in North Hollywood, California, five minutes from the Burbank Airport and Universal Studios.
APS supports the community website www.highdef.org.
- Past issues of Behind the Lines and Bulletins from the Front including:
- Funding the Revolution - Santa Monica Sun Article
- Coming Out Of The Video Closet - FEATURING SCOTT SAUNDERS
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