Cinematography : CookeS4 vs Master Primes by Cizko Quevedo

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Cizko Quevedo

CookeS4 vs Master Primes

Hi, I'm a Los budget Director. At least that has been my focus. I'm about to invest in the Alexa , to shoot my own projects. I want to rent the package to recuperate the money. What lens would get me more business with the Alexa , CookeS4 or Master Primes? I actually even considered Master Prime Anamorphics. Feed back is high appreciated. Thanks!

Royce Allen Dudley

I would talk to the rental house you plan to consign your gear through. They know the rental market. Managing a rental kit as owner -operator has some serious downsides... especially today.

JD Hartman

Before you buy anything, find a rent house that's interested in housing and maintaining your equipment as a sub-rental. Otherwise you may find that the gear you've chosen isn't of interest to anyone but you.

John P. Jack Beckett

This idea of renting your equipment is wrong-headed, believe me, I know all about this rental thing

Cizko Quevedo

thanks John! Ive been hearing that more and more. Renting is just a form for me to earn some money. But primarily i wanna be getting work as a freelancer. and beyond that my biggest goal is to Direct and Produce. Don't you think its wiser to have my own equipment to have access and the ability to put my own things together as posed to rent things out? I really love the Art of the DP, i can't see myself ever not wanting to be involved with that aspect. and if having my own gear can help me in that regard then i feel that is a benefit. but certainly, i don't wanna be one of those people that own a camera and are shitty DP's.

Royce Allen Dudley

Owning gear you use sometimes, not always, makes sense. Gear as expensive as you suggest must have commercial insurance and most individual owner operators lease, with a dollar buyout. To put that much cash into (or finance a purchase of ) gear that depreciates quickly and is subject to the fashion trends of market whims seldom makes sense for most. Also, an individual cannot usually own multiple camera and lens sets, so how does one then back a rental with replacement gear ? Equipment fails, and production needs replacement immediately. The business of rental is not the business of filmmaking. Now if a DP or prod company has a contract to produce a specific show for a season, for instance, then sometimes gear purchase makes sense. And theyou don't rent gear out at all. Reality producers are an example of this, some have entire in house camera departments. A dispassionate look at dollars usually means a DP owns ancillary gear ( tripods, monitor, AKS, maybe glass ) and lets production rent bodys, specialty glass and more. For me, cine camera ownership hasn't yet made sense since film went away. As for producer/ directors, the successful ones I know own smartphones... the only real tool needed today. Not as a camera, but as a pocket office. Are there people who buy gear to get work? Yes. And they find the producers they are priced to subsidize. Some advance and some stay down there.

Cizko Quevedo

Thanks Royce! great great great comment. I've always been an extremely hard working guy. every chance i get on set, i shine, and work very hard. I'm also very passionate about my dream. and I would rather be dead, if i wasn't chasing it. now with that all said, i seem to have the worst of luck, for a long time, i always wanted to work from the bottom up, as a PA. and even though i am a rock star every opportunity i get, i have seen many who i believe i am much more of a set rock star, advancing beyond me. I'm at the point where nothing is happening in terms of working form the bottom up. but my goal has always been directing. so to have my own gear, i feel it becomes the opportunity cost of what i want to do. because any opportunity i get from having my own gear, i can capitalize on it, whether as a Cam Op, as a DP, or as a production pro in general. where as with out it, my movement is zero. Thats really where I'm at. Now given the chance, i have no doubt I'm gonna shine, as a Director. and any other job in production world i get.

Royce Allen Dudley

If you want to direct, own scripts before cameras. If you have a great script, you can leverage all the cast crew and gear... or get a producer to do it for you. Cameras are everywhere. They give almost no advantage to hire, and are also one of the lower costs on anything serious. I shake my head daily at the lack of math out there in Indiewood. But... if a depreciable object makes you happy, knock yourself out. Digital cinema cameras are depreciable tools that obsolete much faster than film cameras did. Remember RED ONE and how it was marketed as obsolete proof ? LOL Cell phone. Script. Cast. Those are producing / directing requirements. Equipment is an albatross. IMHO

Cizko Quevedo

Thanks Royce! you wanna meet up sometime for a coffee sometime and maybe I can pick your brain a bit? Id love to hear more of what you have to say

Andrew Parke

As a Director the first and foremost concern is story and performances. I suggest you find a cinematographer collaborator to support you with camera, lighting, and crew details. A great script and amazing cast will breath life into your vision. That and a thousand other details. And money. Unless you are shooting stock footage and have a deal with a stock library. Or a long form documentary. Someone once asked me to put together a list of equipment accessories they'd need for their inexpensive Black Magic indie camera package (not including G&E). The list was a full page single spaced. They wrote back thinking I was being flippant and said that this was many times the cost of the camera body. I said the crew will be happier with these tools. That if they rented the camera for four weeks it would come with all these accessories and cost a fraction of the purchase price. The saved money could be put towards art direction, locations, props, wardrobe, and... crew salaries.

Cizko Quevedo

Thanks Andrew! 8 years ago, when i knew i wanted to Direct, i was already practicing my writing a lot. And after writing my story that i wanted to draft as my first feature film, i then began to understand the visual components of cinematography and other production aspects, It was when i learned a deep appreciation for cinematography, and now, then i have developed a visual style of my own, people say the most important parts of directing are the things i first started off with, which is funny, because i set myself out to develop the thing i thought i needed, cinematography etc.

Andrew Parke

Stanley Kubrick was a photographer first. And he owned much of his own equipment and specialized lenses. He also worked with some great cinematographers. If that's of any inspiration.

Cizko Quevedo

this is the work i wrote, produce, directed, DP's, and Edited myself. on a shitty camera cizkotography.com

John P. Jack Beckett

No one would think of hiring a DP because he owns a camera. Acquiring an Alexia package is going to cost low six figures and be rentable for maybe three years before it isn't the latest thing anymore. You will be splitting the rental revenue with a rental house so as an investment, it stinks. Buy a used Red for cheap and use it yourself.

John P. Jack Beckett

If you want to make money in rental buy a lighting and grip package.

Cizko Quevedo

Thanks John! did you see my work. that is my priority, my work, shoot and direct my feature film then shoot another one. add the highest production value with the equipment, rent it out in between to make money off it, use the equipment that i now have access to to have a high production Director reel, DP reel, If my feature gets into sundance, i have producer, director, dp, on my resume for a feature that got into sundance, sell it. thats my aim. and the ARRI package facilitates this aim. I don't need to hire anyone because i can do everything myself. i can light, i can dp, I'm a writer, I direct, i produce. I understand the camera will lose the value every day that passes. but the opportunity cost of what i can create network wise, and work wise, is the real investment, as is the reel that comes out of it. as posed to having a reel shot on my shitty camera. Im not only buying the camera. I'm buying lenses that retain their rental value. and I'm buying all the support and necessary lighting equipment to make the feature film happen. and as a Director we get hired on our reel. and as a DP. so even if i make 100k total in 4 years from rentals, and that falls short of the actual price, i will have made enough money from professional opportunities as a worker or selling my films in the process.its a risk I'm willing to take.

John P. Jack Beckett

Consider this>>> the square of the full well capacity of the photosite is the number of shades of gray the system can produce. The Alexia has five-micron photosites with barely 25K photoelectrons do the math and the system is no better than a Canon. The real difference is too small to toss your money away on a camera that has Arriflex on it. Are you aware that they went to 3K just so they could make the photosites bigger? Don't spend your money on hype.

Cizko Quevedo

I get you John, if i showed you this link... its Steven Spielberg shitty quality film. escape to nowhere, and i can tell you this is multimillion dollar talent. hands down. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pI3431fetiM so i understand the difference between production value, and talent. I'm just trying to produce here lol

Andrew Sobkovich

Cizko, as a DP you know the lenses you like to use. Get those, your closest adviser likes them :-) There are many reasons that the Alexa is the defacto camera of choice for scripted television. The Alexa image is very different than the images from a Canon C500 or C300Mk2, the original Canon C300 is not comparable The images from the Canons are different than the images from the Alexa. Camera choice is based upon what the DP wants to see and likes to use. Explore the economics of sub-renting before you think this is a viable revenue stream. There are lots of Alexas available in the Los Angeles market.

Andrew Sobkovich

John, perhaps you could explain just how the square of the full well capacity equals the number of discernible levels of grey in the camera output. The well capacity stated in what units, what number is being squared and why is it being squared? Current high end imaging sensor photosites typically have a full well capacity of between 25,000 purportedly up to 500,000 electrons, how would squaring that number equate to the grey scale? Discernible grey levels or bit depth is an image specification that will then need a robust enough codec to process the amount of data at the speed delivered to have a stable recording of images with said bit depth. Both the Alexa and the Canon C500 and C300 Mk2 can output 12 bit colour depth. However there is a significant difference in the look in the esthetics of those cameras.

Cizko Quevedo

Thanks Andrew!!!! that was very insightful and helpful. I have figured everything out :) Im going to make my priority the ability to produce and direct my own feature films and using my budget to supplement that aim. And forget about rentals :) although i will use that to make up some revenue also, IM going with the Cookes and the Alexa Mini. I'm pretty happy about the final decision!

John P. Jack Beckett

Quantum tunneling is the principle at work here. A photon comes along hits the valence electron on the silicon atom and sends it into the ion well. A five-micron photosite can contain up to 25K photoelectrons. Depending on the camera electronics there could be 90 electrons of noise. Dynamic range is a function of the amount of charge you build in the photosite. The square rule speaks to this. You can see right away that any system using a small photo site has little or no dynamic range so camera manufactures use correlated double sampling a method of filling the photosites a few times and averaging the charge. Other systems use virtual electrons as in MCMOS. So when measuring the full well it is the number of photoelectrons that build in the pixel. Sometimes these electrons just fly off on their own and enter the photo site and we call that dark current.

John P. Jack Beckett

Camera manufacturers are very candid about the sensor. They will not tell you the full well specifics because they would rather quote the A to D counts. The camera might have a twelve bit A to D converter but the Modulation transfer curve has a long tail where the voltage is not changing with the light level. A system with only seven bits of dynamic range maps the charge over a 14 bit A to D and they call it 12 bits Big lie.

Andrew Sobkovich

For cinematography it is more relevant to consider the created image than the individual methodologies used in the camera electronics to form that image. Too many of those angels dancing on the heads of pins just don’t make it to the screen. The qualities of the images are readily apparent on a screen to everyone who wishes to see the results of when all of the internal science comes together. There is a difference in the images that different cameras make. If you do not think the difference is visible then certainly going with the less expensive product makes perfect sense. Some of us see a difference that we feel is worth the additional cost. The Alexa is currently the scripted television defacto camera of choice. Putting another Alexa into the pool of available cameras makes sense as it is a known desired quantity. I always find that the manufacturers that make their own sensors are quite forthcoming with accurate info, assuming you are not just talking to salesmen. Some manufacturers do lie about some things, but most don’t. Easy solution. Work with those who tell you the truth. If someone blatantly lies to you and you consider it egregious enough , never work with them again. There is only one camera manufacturer on my “never again” list.

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