Biaff at Harrogate

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
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Willy
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Re: BIAFF at Harrogate

Post by Willy » Wed Apr 23, 2008 3:02 pm

Ken Wilson wrote:
Willy wrote:
[quote="Ken Wilson
The films were a mixed bag and I must say, many were not to my taste. Insects are not as fascinating to me as they obviously are to many film makers. Lots of bugs, Praying Mantis` eating their partners and large hairy spiders would not be my preferred choice of Sunday entertainment. Sorry, but I can`t change that!
Ken Wilson.[/quote
.
Sorry, Ken, I've gone through so many things in filmmaking and also through other things that it is very difficult for me to control myself. Some friends know what I mean. I could tell things that happened to me in Belgium and in England. You would be very surprised, but such messages are not for a forum like this one. Some friends will already think : "Please do not tell these things on the forum !" I realize that moaning is not pleasant. It's better to be positive all the time even if you have experienced many negative things.

Maybe your personal choice is also my personal choice, Ken. I prefer films with a structure, with power and above all with a good story. "The films were a mixed bag", you said. I still wonder if you can compare nature films with feature films for instance. I am sure that the audience prefer two blue tits making love to two young people making love or two youngsters who are fighting even if these scenes give more power to the film. A colourful butterfly is more attractive than an emaciated Jew in a concentration camp.
Willy Van der Linden

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Willy
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Re: BIAFF at Harrogate

Post by Willy » Wed Apr 23, 2008 4:08 pm

I forgot to tell you that Paul Bagshaw was winner of the Mersey Ten Competion some months ago. As you know I had to judge the films. I am pleased that he has two **** awards. It proves in some way that he is a talented filmmaker. I feel more at ease.

In the Preston competion he showed three films. They were all a bit sinister. He created the right atmosphere. Each film was a good story. Paul is also very creative. In fact "creativity" must be a key word at every festival. It's a pity that I couldn't attend BIAFF this year. So I wonder if the best films showed enough creativeness and imagination.
Willy Van der Linden

Michael Slowe
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BIAFF at Harrogate

Post by Michael Slowe » Wed Apr 23, 2008 4:33 pm

I waited to put 'my oar' in because I wanted to see what points were raised. If we are not by now all bored with the subject I would like to comment.

I did not think that the standard differed all that much from previous years, and I particularly noticed that technically, the picture quality was better than ever. That of course does not necessarily make a good film but it helps! I disagree with Ken and 'Stingman' on the nature films. Both the insect one (Belgian?), the Dutch film "Survival"and the one on a Scottish river "Guardian of the River', could have graced any TV channel in the world. They were brilliantly shot and edited, the sound tracks were skillfully and imaginatively constructed and I found them both hugely entertaining. I am disappointed to read Willy's comments concerning the maker of the insect one, how odd some people are!

Although the winner, about the legless chap, was very competant I can't help thinking that the subject himself played a major part in the choice rather than the film itself. For me my dinner companion Phil Martin's film "In the National Interest" was the best one in the festival and it only (!) got five stars. Another winner for me was the American "Life's Little Gaps" and as good as any. A story film that really worked, now there's a change, and quite brilliantly acted and directed. There is no merit in carping about the strict level of award because film is so subjective there cannot be a unanimous opinion.

As to the points made on the presentation I agree broadly but we all know the difficulties. Dave is right about the mic, that's so easy to rig to the amp but the video 'link' is a little more complicated given that they are trying to show the films. As to aspect ratios, that's a 'hobby horse' of mine. They managed perfectly in the side cinemas (except where one tape was marked letterboxed but was in fact true 16:9, no fault of the projectionist) but made a complete balls of the main room. I was told that they couldn't fill the screen because it was set back from the pillars and the audience at the side would be obstructed. Then, blow me, in the last show we had full screen 16:9 pictures, and how fabulous were they? I believe that the letterboxed films couldn't be shown right accross the screen but why not? With letterboxing you will see black top and bottom but the picture should fill the screen horizintally surely?

Also there should be no reason for the hesitations between films. I always have each film on separate tapes, already cued up so it is a matter of seconds to replace one tape with the next. If they want the lights up between films so much the better but it's not needed (or shouldn't be) for the projection process.

None of these matters however affected my enjoyment (hardly anyway!) of the festival and I congratulate both NERIAC and Council for providing us with such a wonderful weekend. Not a lot of young faces to be seen but then that's another matter altogether!

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billyfromConsett
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Re: BIAFF at Harrogate

Post by billyfromConsett » Wed Apr 23, 2008 6:28 pm

Hello Michael - good to meet you over the weekend.
Michael Slowe wrote: I believe that the letterboxed films couldn't be shown right accross the screen but why not? With letterboxing you will see black top and bottom but the picture should fill the screen horizintally surely?
Yes - it can, but...

A letterbox movie is a 4:3 presentation that has a blacked out area running along the top and bottom of the screen. All the pixels inside the horizontal black bars (ie the resolution) I think, are thrown out of the picture, and it's left with less than a heap load of lines of resolution. Maybe a techy could confirm this. But even if that weren't the case, there is another spoiler:-

To project a letterboxed movie using the full width of the screen, you'd need to manually add zoom with the projector, making the edges of the 4:3 picture hit the sides of the screen. The projector would then need zooming back afterwards.

This technically could be done, but the resulting movie would look like a big VHS movie, with poor resolution.

I think it only affects DVD's. Mini DV's will always be projected non-letterbox.

My fix would be in future to ask entrants on the forms not to use letterbox, which to me, only serves to help projectionists who can't easily adjust the projection ratio.

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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:43 pm

I think it only affects DVD's. Mini DV's will always be projected non-letterbox.
I don't think so! Either source - DVD or MiniDV can hold a letterboxed, anamorphic or Academy ratio print.

As I suggested in another thread different pieces of equipment treat them differently. Some adjust to make the best image they can from the signal they get. The software in them tries to work out the format correctly. MAybe your kit does that for MiniDVs.

Most projectors have a preset which does make letterboxed prints fill the screen width ... but if it requires a manual zoom, so be it. For a gala show we can surely find someone to twist the zoom ring now and then.

As to image quality ... a PAL SD video only has 720 pixels horizontally and if those are made to stretch across the full width of the screen the result should be the same regardless of how high the picture is.

So whatever format of picture it is there are still only 720 pixels to spread across the screen width.

[If you tried to expand the image so that the 405 vertical pixels of a letterboxed print filled the screen then that would be lower quality since usually 576 pixels do that.]

Dave

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Stephen
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Post by Stephen » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:48 pm

sounds like a much needed masterclass on the web pages/FVM? regarding this is required !
Stephen

Film making is not a matter of Life and Death
It's much more important than that.

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billyfromConsett
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Post by billyfromConsett » Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:32 pm

Dave Watterson wrote:DVD or MiniDV can hold a letterboxed, anamorphic or Academy ratio print.
I know DVD's can offer a few aspect ratios, but I've never seen minidv intentionally letterboxed, where it needs projecting 4:3. I make 4:3 and 16:9 movies, and I would never waste about 20% of the frame with black bars. Maybe some people would, but I can't remember that happening either at Biaff, or at my club where I've helped project for a few years.
Dave Watterson wrote: Most projectors have a preset which does make letterboxed prints fill the screen width ... but if it requires a manual zoom, so be it. For a gala show we can surely find someone to twist the zoom ring now and then.
The projector would need refocusing too, which would need a menu to be shown on-screen. I know for sure some IAC officials would seriously discourage that.

But whatever needs to happen to present to the highest standard, it should be there for consideration.

Michael Slowe
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BIAF at Harrogate.

Post by Michael Slowe » Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:11 am

Billy, you're wrong and Dave's right. I always letterbox my mini DV tapes for my 16:9 films if I'm sending them somewhere that might not be able to show 16:9, either projected or on a 4:3 TV. That way I know the picture will look right and the black bars top and bottom don't worry me and the screen IS filled horizontally. I never notice any fall off in picture quality although you are technically correct in saying that in theory there should be. When projecting letterboxed 16:9 material there is no need to adjust the focal length of the projection lens, the film can be shown right after a normal 4:3 film with no adjustment whatever, that's the point of letterboxing. It's with true 16:9 that an adjustment has to be made via the projector's menu to alter the aspect setting.

No need for a masterclass, it's very simple. Letterboxed and 4:3 one setting, 16:9 another. Same screen, same focal length, same distance from screen. The only time there is confusion is either when a cassette is mis labelled or the projectionist doesn't understand what I have just explained.

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Post by Michael Gough » Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:15 am

As a regular judge I am aware that judging in not a science. You cannot create statistical proof that one film is better than another. The success of a film depends on the personal mental response to what appears on the screen. And, as they say, “The Judge’s decision is final”.

But that doesn’t prevent everyone enjoying the debate about whether any film deserved more or less acclaim.

Like Michael Slowe I was astounded that Phil Martin’s “In The National Interest” did not get an IAC Diamond Award. I would have considered as a very strong contender for The Daily Mail Trophy. I would also certainly have given it the best acting award for the chilling portrayal of political manoeuvring by the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.

The reality of the event forced it to be staged as a fairly static round table confrontation, but the final result is a true political thriller. It is all the more disturbing because it is based on truth. Our post screening debate was about the difficulty of the final decision made by the politicians as well as about the quality of the film that portrayed that dilemma so well.

The official report of that wartime meeting is in the public domain, along with memories of one of the participants, although the actual minutes remain undisclosed. Nevertheless Phil’s brilliant script, including some actual quotes, makes for uncomfortable viewing. Any film that can recreate such crackling tension through brilliant words, acting and subtle body language deserves to be seen widely. When it appears in the IAC Library make sure you hire it. You may disagree with my views but you won’t have wasted your time.

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billyfromConsett
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Re: BIAF at Harrogate.

Post by billyfromConsett » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:13 am

Michael Slowe wrote:When projecting letterboxed 16:9 material there is no need to adjust the focal length of the projection lens, the film can be shown right after a normal 4:3 film with no adjustment whatever, that's the point of letterboxing. It's with true 16:9 that an adjustment has to be made via the projector's menu to alter the aspect setting.
These days there isn't even a need to go into a menu for swapping ratios. But for a letterboxed 16:9 the resulting letterboxed movie will be look much smaller on the screen because the whole widescreen sits inside the 4:3 width. You don't like that, and nor do others. The fix is to stay with 4:3, but to zoom and refocus the projector.
Michael Slowe wrote: The only time there is confusion is either when a cassette is mis labelled or the projectionist doesn't understand what I have just explained.
I wasn't around on Sunday, but these negatives hurt because like the film-maker, I wanted the movie shown exactly how the maker made them. In my mini-cinema I did just that. And now my projection days for the IAC are over.

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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Thu Apr 24, 2008 4:39 pm

And now my projection days for the IAC are over.
Billy, I hope not. Your mini-cinema shows went very smoothly as I mentioned earlier. You did all the film-makers proud by presenting their films to the best advantage in the two sessions of yours I saw. Indeed I heard nothing but praise for all the NERIAC teams in the mini-cinemas on Saturday.

Most of this discussion has been about the Sunday shows.

I believe every film there was shown in its correct ratio, but the letterboxed prints were not zoomed to make them as wide as 16x9 ones, which would have reduced image quality a bit but given them more impact.

My gripe is about the stumbling between films which showed all the symptoms of inadequate preparation and rehearsal. That gala show is a bit of a bu**er with so much to do and so much importance attached to it. I am sure those concerned do a very good job of normal projection.

But BIAFF gala day is not normal. It is - or should be - very special.

I expect that in the post-mortems on the festival it will become clear what went wrong. Poor communication between individuals is often the basis of such problems.

But good projectionists giving up will not help! Please reconsider.

Dave

PS As an award-winning film maker yourself - one of whose films was shown at BIAFF - I know you will want to encourage all good projectionsists to keep doing their bit for the IAC so that everyone's film gets the best screening possible.

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billyfromConsett
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Post by billyfromConsett » Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:28 pm

Sorry Dave
I can get exasperated at times. I've even got a fever since the day I came back from Harrogate!! I'll be fine next week though.

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Willy
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Post by Willy » Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:09 pm

billyfromConsett wrote:Sorry Dave
I can get exasperated at times. I've even got a fever since the day I came back from Harrogate!! I'll be fine next week though.
Yes, indeed, the bulldog in the pig's skin on the left looks a bit like that, Billy. It looks very sad. Next week it will laugh again. Take courage. I don't mean "Courage', because that's British beer I remember.
Willy Van der Linden

Michael Slowe
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BIAFF at Harrogate

Post by Michael Slowe » Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:25 am

Billy, I meant no criticism of you personally, my comments were meant to be general. Indeed we spoke after one of your screenings and I complimented you on the quality of your presentation. Of course you can't 'retire' from projecting, unless of course you are making films which is even more useful!

What is Willy on about with "the skin of the pig"? Is there something in the Belgian water that's affecting you Willy?

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Willy
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Re: BIAFF at Harrogate

Post by Willy » Fri Apr 25, 2008 1:09 pm

Michael Slowe wrote:
What is Willy on about with "the skin of the pig"? Is there something in the Belgian water that's affecting you Willy?
I didn't have any negative intentions by saying this, Michael. On the contrary even. Just look at the picture of Billy on the left of his messages. The dog is wearing the skin of a piggy. Billy must be a joker. I must always laugh when I see this picture and also that one of the monkey. Our Nearec friends seem to be humorists.

Is there something in the Belgian water that's affecting me ? I feel better now after having written some messages under "Imagine". I could go on with it, but it's better to keep the atmosphere serene on this forum. I only fear spiders. I hate them. They can be cruel.

For the rest everything is OK. I'm even very pleased that more and more I'm asked to show my films in Belgian filmclubs. CvB, the Belgian umbrella organization, has even asked me to show my film "Breendonk" in the month of May. It's a national cultural event. I was surprised when I got that telephone call. Eventually spiders can't stop real hobbyists... Hopefully you understand what I mean. I am asked to tell the audience how I have made that film as a hobbyist. After that a professional filmmaker will have to show his film. He has spent quite a budget on his film. The organizers hope to evoke some discussion afterwards.
Willy Van der Linden

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