View Full Version : DVXuser.com DP Interview Series: Phil Parmet

Jarred Land
05-26-2005, 01:00 AM
Click Here to read the full article (http://dvxuser.com/articles/parmetinterview/)

05-26-2005, 02:44 AM
I love the look of this film!
Barry, did you get a video tape interview as well? I would love to see this trailer. Nice interview Barry. :thumbup:

05-26-2005, 04:13 AM
Thanks Bluespider. Sorry, no videotaped interview, we didn't exactly have a budget for me to fly out to LA. :cheesy: Hopefully, they'll lock in a domestic distribution deal soon and get a trailer out there. I think it's a really good film and it deserves a distribution deal.

05-26-2005, 04:15 AM
You know... He might be an uber professional and all, but I hated how he would put DVX and DV medium down every now and then.

05-26-2005, 04:36 AM
You have to realize, this is a guy that's shot a lot of film. So yes, I think there's some frustration at not having had the budget to shoot 35mm. Being a long time DP, he's got a different perspective on things.

Erik Olson
05-26-2005, 07:29 AM
Phil has entirely valid points on the MiniDV medium. The format suffers tremendously in raw imaging quality and he has no reason to make it sound better than it is. The fact that the DVX was used on this show instead of a Sony or whatever is all that needs to be said about how "good" the camera is or isn't when held up against the rest of the field.

The underlying technology isn't a passion for him - creating images is. That gets lost on this site so often, I really wonder sometimes if I haven't stumbled into an IEEE forum on video acquisition standards.

The most interesting aspects of that interview for me focused on lighting and how DV's strong points - small form-factor and diminished need for large fixtures - afforded increased flexibility during the production.

Thanks for a great article Barry.


J.R. Hudson
05-26-2005, 09:06 AM
What a great Aricle; bravo to you Barry S.

I understand Phil's take on DV especially coming from shooting film for many many years. He summed it up best I think with "It is what it is."

It is getting better. There will be HD-24p in our hands. Film is a dinosaur that is wonderfully gorgeous and unfortunately out of our hands. 10 years or less and we will have cameras at our price point that will truly cater to the indiependent filmmaker and I Form will follow function. We will have our sexy little beast one day.

This film looks good; can't wait to see it and how our little DVX shines. Liv is hot.

05-26-2005, 09:42 AM
I admired Phil's honesty about the DV format. He didn't feed us with a line of bullshit saying the DVX is the best thing since sliced bread.

I'm looking forward to seeing the film. I can really relate to a lot of Phil's philopsophies.

05-26-2005, 09:58 AM
Phil mentioned he shot with detail set at 4. Is that a +4? Everything I've read would lead me to believe -4 as you want less "video detail" especially for film blow-up. Wasn't November shot at -7 detail? Just a question...anyone know for sure? Thanks....

Jaime Valles
05-26-2005, 01:08 PM
Good question about the "detail 4" issue... It struck me as odd, too.

Great article, btw. You know, those stills look really good. I'm sure film would have looked much better, but damn! I could have sworn those were shot on film! Can't wait to see the film projected.

I love that he acknowledges the weakness of MiniDV, as well as the strengths. The bottom line of cinematography is capturing images that tell the story, whatever the medium. If it hadn't been for MiniDV, this story wouldn't have been told.

05-26-2005, 01:34 PM
He said a train ran over one of their DVX's?!?

I know many 1st AC's who would have burst into tears about that.

05-26-2005, 03:06 PM
I like a couple of the grabs, but I must say I see either an enormous amount of noise in many of them or else some heavy compression artifacts (can't tell which). I would assume (and hope) that it's the latter, since I've seen hundreds of grabs here which show off the potential of the DVX much better than these. If these grabs are representative of what the DP was getting out of the camera, then no wonder he spoke in relatively unflattering tones about the DV medium.

Jarred Land
05-26-2005, 04:22 PM
i think there is something else going on with those grabs.. they may of been processed somehow because thats not pixelation but more of a 8mm film grain look.

05-26-2005, 07:16 PM
The grabs are noisy for some reason, I'm not sure why. I screened a color corrected version on DVD and it looked good, definitely not that grainy. Overall, I really enjoyed the film and the cinematography is done in a very natural non-stylized way--which fits the content very well. The writing is solid and the performances are very good--they had an excellent cast.

I don't think Phil was down on the DVX, so much as prosumer DV cams compared to film. He just finished up DPing a documentary style travel/food show in Vietnam and he was shooting with DVX100's. He's a pretty direct guy, so he gives his honest opinion.

05-26-2005, 09:09 PM
What is Phil's user name? Where does he live?
Thanks in advance,
Scott C. Chambers

05-26-2005, 09:20 PM
Great article. It's good to hear the perspective of someone biased more to the old school ways.

I'm thoroughly confused though in regards to the shooting aspect ratio. From everything I read including explicit directions on DVFilm.com it says you need to shoot with the anamorphic adapter on to be able to turn it into a 35mm print. Now 2 films November and Lonesome Jim both shot without the anamorphic adapter, yet both are going to film print. How does this work? I get the frame for 16:9 matting your frame to alter in post, but then what... how does it get converted to format for 35mm?

Kirk Gillock
05-26-2005, 10:05 PM
Great interview Barry S. Thanks for doing that for all of us. Steve Buscemi would be cool to work with. "Living in Oblivion" is a great indie film about making an indie film.

Can't wait to see Lonesome Jim or at least a trailer.

05-27-2005, 09:13 AM
question, Does HD 1080 p have more rez than good 35mm film stock? Cause i feel like, people compare the two often.

05-28-2005, 08:08 AM
Without speaking for Phil Parmet there are many directors and cinematographer who coming for a film background see any minidv as a letdown. I have only shot film for many years(about 7 years) and video is new to me(less than a year) but a few observations
1. Some cameramen see any video as low class ,low budget(this is these are the so called film snobs,I have worked with many and was even one myself).Its worst than that,I saw an arguement with a director and D.P. because the DP would not shoot fuji only kodak. Some experience filmmakers coming for film feel shooting video means your career is going backwards.
2.Many people who down video have never shot it but repeat other people comments on a bad experience.I total disagree with his comments that 16mm is much better than dvx100(minidv). I have worked on many 16mm films and it all depends on the shooter,there are people in this forum who could get a better image than Phil with the dvx because you have more experience with the camera.
I know dp's with tons of experience with 35mm who have told me they don't want to learn a new format. I saw Murderball (dvx100) on big screen in april(not in regular theaters yet)and it looked better than alot of 16mm! With all due respect to Phil,he is not a dvx expert (even with Jan at his side)
Last week I saw 3 D.P.'s(30 years experience combined) with the Canon xl2 and after a week of working with it without the image they wanted , a 20year kid came in a made the image look spectacular! , Phil is comparing minidv to 16mm film and film is what he is experienced in.
3. Phils comment "it is what it is". Well,so is film . One is not better than the other.
4. I really wish video would be embraced for what it is ,an excellent way to make a film. I remember when shooting 16mm meant you were not doing a "real" movie,now its cool to shoot 16mm. Minidv can aspire to the heights of cine-alta but it should never want to be film . IMHO I dont think any video format would have satisfied Phil

Jarred Land
05-28-2005, 08:32 AM
question, Does HD 1080 p have more rez than good 35mm film stock? Cause i feel like, people compare the two often.

no... 35mm has almost 4x the resolution as 1080p.

Jim Arthurs
05-28-2005, 09:27 AM
no... 35mm has almost 4x the resolution as 1080p.

Jarred... an interesting bit of a conversation with Brian Bonnick, VP of Technology for IMAX ...

"The smallest resolve power of neg film is about 6 microns. As a result, the limiting resolution on a 35mm negative frame is around 3700x2700 pixels. This means a maximum of 2000 lines of vertical resolution for an image with a 1.85 aspect ratio and even less for a 2.35:1 aspect ratio (1570 lines).

The resolution on a 35mm release print is much lower due to MTF generation loss in the film process. A recent paper from SMPTE journal reported that the real resolution that audience can discern in a high-quality 35mm cinema is about 1600 horizontal pixels, which translates to about 850 lines for 1:85 and less than 700 lines for 2.35. Most 35mm cinemas fair even worse than those numbers."

Here's a link to the original source, with more info...



Jim Arthurs

05-28-2005, 04:58 PM
Thanks Jim. It's good to know that. the next target is the dynamic range.

To Barry : Do you know which company Phil choosed to do the upres ?

05-28-2005, 07:16 PM
They were in the process of running tests with a number of companies to determine who's going to do the final film out. As of the interview, a decision hadn't been made.

To Barry : Do you know which company Phil choosed to do the upres ?

05-28-2005, 07:24 PM
Yes, I'd think he meant -4 since +4 would be quite a lot of in-camera sharpening--very undesirable for a film transfer.

Phil mentioned he shot with detail set at 4. Is that a +4? Everything I've read would lead me to believe -4 as you want less "video detail" especially for film blow-up. Wasn't November shot at -7 detail? Just a question...anyone know for sure? Thanks....

Jim Arthurs
05-29-2005, 05:22 AM
[QUOTE=hvpz]Thanks Jim. It's good to know that. the next target is the dynamic range.

There's no question a timed print from original negative would be far sharper than HD, but since that's not what we see in the theatre, it's only fair to compare to the release print, which is usually a dupe of a dupe of a dupe (original negative to interpositive to dupe negative (multiple copies made) to release prints. All of these intermediate stocks are FAR sharper than camera negative, in order to hold detail, but still, you're taking a picture of a picture, etc.

Years and years ago I was fortunate to be able to make commercials for local clients to run in the theatres before the trailers... and shoot 35mm to do it. These commercials only had a handful of prints pulled from the negatives, so we usually did this from the A/B roll cut camera original, so the viewer in the theatre saw a sharpness quality better than the actual movie! Not that these clients deserved it, as it was a bunch of car dealers and local radio stations...


Jim Arthurs

05-29-2005, 08:44 AM
Another good article here at Dvxuser.com. Very informative.

I like it that the DP was honest about what he didn't like about the DV format. But did you notice that he pretty much presumes that DV is going to take over film?

'It is what it is.' Yeah, I think that about sums it up. The shooters on this forum obsess so much about how to get the best possible image from the DVX, but really, all the audience cares about is the story, on a good day. My mom is in town this week, so yesterday I trotted out an old mockumentary short that I shot on a Panasonic DV1, which is a single CCD $600 camera. Grainy as hell, especially a scene where I shot an interview in a moving truck at night. While I was kind of wincing at the grain, she was engaged with the content. Lesson learned: your audience doesn't give a shit about F stops.

Stabb: anamorphic vs full-frame. Remember what Phil said was that they didn't shoot with an anamorphic converter because the viewfinder didn't allow one to see the images unsqueezed. That implies that he may have wanted to use one.

You can shoot full-frame or anamorphic, but each choice of course has its tradeoffs. I believe we did a poll a year ago and it was evenly split as to anamorphic vs not preferences. I personally like the anamorphic process, but I have a 16:9-capable monitor which shows me what I am really getting.

It depends which film-out house you use as to which way they prefer you go with your original material. If you are seriously going to film out a project, this issue is just one of many more tough decisions you will need to make.

Jarred Land
05-29-2005, 11:08 PM
Jarred... an interesting bit of a conversation with Brian Bonnick, VP of Technology for IMAX ...


Jim Arthurs

Yes... you can do a pretty solid 4k scan of film, which is what I was refering too.. It is some interesting numbers there though.

06-06-2005, 09:47 AM
Boom operatorrrr, booom...operatorrrr

*(to the tune of smooth operator)

Saw the film at sundance, loved it. It opened my eyes to the genuine professional possibilities you can drag out of the DVX, even though ive been supporting it forever!

Erik Olson
06-06-2005, 12:17 PM
In my eyes, most DVXUser contributors seem to be constantly seeking ways to better their images. I rarely experience anyone as being wholly satisfied with their results.

The prevailing "make-it-work" attitude around here will benefit anyone as they begin working in HD formats and certainly within conventional film production. Need more depth of field - kitbash and manufacture your own adapter. Want more cinematic motion - build a skateboard dolly.

I sent links to Micro35 and Mini35 to the DP on a primetime CineAlta show and was surprised (and also not surprised) to find that he'd never heard of or thought about these emerging analog! technologies. It wasn't until my wife's dad (Art Director) complained about DOF challenges, even on long lenses, that I thought to send him the information. For the AD and deco guys, HD presents some real challenges because the camera really gets in there and sees everything. If it's all in focus, you've got a lot less room to fake it - which most all 35mm single-camera shows do to a fault.

So, here is an example of how a DIY/Indie/Prosumer board is feeding information and innovation up the ladder into the system. I don't know if they're going to give it a try next season, but I would hope that they'll shoot some tests if they come back out of hiatus!


06-08-2005, 10:30 AM
Definitely have to agree with the general consensus of agreeing with his words "it is what is." DV is for those who have no time to wait for dailies developing, can't afford 3 or more rolls of film, have absolutely no budget for 16 mill, etc. Yes you can get it as close to film as possible in post, and if you don't mind, it's definitely a great way to go.

If he is able to show his ability [as well as with November] to make us forget we're watching something "filmed" on DV, then he's done his job. As is the job of any DP even if they are using film. We don't want to be watching frames, we want to be watching a story we can experience. It seems he's done this.

Great great article Barry, you asked very useful, specific questions [lighting, train shot with DVX, et cetera] as oppose to talking about the generalities. Great flow, great questions, great answers, great article.

06-12-2005, 04:51 PM
I saw "Lonesome Jim" projected onto a big screen this weekend at the SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) and I liked the movie. However, the image on the big screen looked NOTHING like the screen captions that you can find online or in this forum. On the big screen it almost looked like it was shot with a consumer VHS camcorder. I'm not kidding. The milky, milky greys sometimes blobbed out entire areas of the screen creating a very neutral image. Very disappointed in the visuals, but the movie still was pretty strong, narratively.
I don't know if it was the theater, but I have seen documentaries(DV) that looked good at this particular theater so I don't think it was the projecter. I, too, like the images that are displayed online of this movie...but we have to realize that we are looking at a completely different medium of display. Today made it very apparent that displaying a DVX100a movie on the big screen is gonna rip away alot of its small-screen beauty.

06-12-2005, 06:11 PM
I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from your screening at the SIFF. As of my interview, they still hadn't done the film transfer, so it's most likely you saw a preliminary digital transfer at the fest. It was most likely a DVD or digital tape and who knows what the quality of the digital projection system was at your particular theater. Once it's transferred to 35mm film, it'll be reasonable to make a judgment on the quality.

I will say that I've seen DVX footage screened off of mini-DV tapes at the AFI Silver Theater and it looked great. The AFI Silver has a fairly new top notch digital projection system, so I'm thinking that either your theater has a mediocre projector, the "print" of LJ wasn't optimized, or both. It's not going to look like 35mm, but it sure won't look like VHS.

06-12-2005, 08:56 PM
Sounds fair enough. I hope you're right!

06-12-2005, 09:38 PM
I'd have to concur- the main determining factor is how good a projector a venue has and how well it's calibrated. I've seen Formosa projected off Beta SP at two venues. One looked as good as a 35mm print, the other looked like second generation SVHS. I've also seen it projected directly from DVD and it looked better than either Beta. So many different projectors out there:


07-06-2005, 08:25 AM
nice read thx

08-18-2005, 06:57 AM
I don't know whether to change the topic or not... but since it has shifted to projectors and image quality, I have to chime in. Year before last I did a true (1920X1080) HD show... and it is currently installed in a museum playing off an Alcorn Mc Bride server. I noticed a difference from the Editing room version and asked the HD tech. It turns out that the projector can only go up to 1280X720... That's why I was getting some moire in camera moves shot from archival lithographs. Last month, I completed another "HD" project for the same museum. This time I edited it through the "on-line" on my new Liquid Edition NLE at 1280X720... alhough the LE program can do 1080i, why go to the higher res if it isn't going to be projected that way? Unlike the first HDcam master, this show never went to tape... I output the file (123 Gb for 14 minutes) and delivered it on an outboard hard drive to the HD tech. It looks great projected, the audience (client) can't percieve the difference and neither can I. For those European members, Liquid Edition can also seamlessly integrate PAL, SMPTE, HD, HDV, or whatever else you can come up with and output to any of those formats from the same timeline. It also can burn DVDs directly from the timeline which is great for doing client "corrections" without having to do the extra step of outputting to an MPeg and authoring and then burning the DVD.
I'm starting to ramble... and no, I don't work for Pinnacle (recently acquired by Avid) but I had to make a transition along with all the other speedrazor users who were cruelly dumped by In-Sync when they suddenly evaporated without notice.
Cheers to all

Bruce Morgan
10-22-2005, 12:30 AM
:thumbup: :beer:
A nice interview with honest opinions .
I was impressed by the inventive touch of using flat panel slide viewers .Can I trouble anyone for a idea on what type and where to get these /
Great production shots .
I think he( the d.p.) did the subject a good turn
Bruce :beer: