Channel 31 Gears Up

So, it's official. We shoot Ken Armstrong's catchy script, Channel 31, this July.

The casting call has gone out, head shots and crew CVs are arriving daily. Things are firming up nicely.

However, film is in a transition. I don't believe we've reached that "peak oil" moment when people move completely away from 16mm and embrace HDV, HDCam or the variations.

Yes, yes, I know, some people have made that transition years ago. Others will never switch, just like there are people today still cutting on Steenbecks.

But, like peak oil, there will come a time when the great proportion of people shoot hidef and only the few will choose film. It is definitely important to know what your distribution channel is before you make the call one way or the other, but for short films, some festivals require a 35mm print and let's face it, not many of us will originate on 35mm. So you can blow up from S16 and fret the grain, or film-out from HDV and fret the quality.

At the moment, we're at the middle of that bell curve. Some people to our left are shooting film and will continue to do so. People on our right are shooting digital. The problem is, the decision still isn't clear cut.

In other words, here we are in preproduction on Channel 31 and I still don't know what we're shooting on.

At least though, I have a plan. A cook-off, if you will.

I intend to shoot some second unit footage on both HDV and on Super16. Kodak's 7201 very nice stock, if you must know. It's the VISION2 50D variety.

Some will say that I'm biasing the test. Surely I should pick a 100D or 200D stock, or use HDCam or something more "pro" than HDV. Fair enough. However, the HDV camera will spit out a tape which I can load into the edit suite the same day that I shoot. I'll have to send the film stock to the US and wait for the TK before I see the results from that. Even if it's really, really good, I like the fact I can load a tape at the end of a production day, and see the results.

Also, this is a fair comparison because if I go the digital route, it'll be HDV due to the availability of cameras. If I go the film route, I'm not shooting any grainy stocks again. Ever!

We also have a whole pile of locations to identify, some sets and props to put together, and a whole heck of work to do before July. I also have the small matter of a film which has come off the Steenbeck and is now lining up on Final Cut Pro ready to be re-edited. That little puppy has a deadline of April 30th, and if I know deadlines, they resemble oncoming trains. High speed trains.