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Repo Man Director Alex Cox Plans To Edit Next Film With OpenShot 105

New submitter JonOomph writes "Director Alex Cox, the creator of Repo Man and Sid and Nancy, is making plans via Kickstarter for his next film, Bill, the Galactic Hero, a feature-length science fiction comedy set in the far reaches of our galaxy. He is challenging the norm by shooting the film on 35mm monochrome (black and white) film, possibly the last film to ever attempt this, and possibly the first feature film to be edited with popular open source video editor OpenShot." If you don't like spoilers, I suggest reading this short but fascinating piece on Repo Man (one of my all-time favorite movies) only after watching it.
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Repo Man Director Alex Cox Plans To Edit Next Film With OpenShot

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  • It's like a US version of the "Max Headroom" telemovie only with a bigger budget. It was like peering into the near future - generic brand beer and all.
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @09:01AM (#43439905)
    It's probably not the last B&W since the tone range on modern monochrome film is huge, so some stuff looks very good, so long as you have a real 35mm projector. Converted to digital you lose a lot of range so something that looks good on film may just look like mud on a TV or digital projector.
    • If you missed it, he's going to be using an open source digital editing suite to edit the film. When you add that digital step, there is zero value in recording in analog.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Well the intermediary could be 16-bit or even higher, but I doubt OpenShot supports such color depth.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It will use anything supported by ffmpeg. You obvious wanted to post something negative before seeing what it it could actually do.

          • by rduke15 ( 721841 )

            It will use anything supported by ffmpeg

            If that's the case, that may an incentive for ffmpeg to support 10 bit encoding into DNxHD, which would be nice to have. Currently, it decodes 10 bit, but only encodes into 8 bit (for DNxHD). Unless they use ProRes. Are there any other formats that are NLE-friendly (intra-frame compresion only)? Maybe MJPEG? But MJPEG would be 8-bit only, I think. Then again, 8-bit may be sufficient for what a b&w negative is able to capture... :-)

            • by illtud ( 115152 )

              IMX is intra-frame only, and supported by ffmpeg. ffbmc is better (and easier) at it. It's a flavour of MPEG2.

            • by slim ( 1652 )

              I am not a video expert, but if I was digitising film footage that I had filmed in B&W for artistic reasons, I would scan it in full colour at the highest bit-depth my hardware could handle.

              The colour of the greys, any colour artefacts of the grain, of any tiny scratches, all of these are things a cinematographer might want to retain.

      • by dwywit ( 1109409 ) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @07:49PM (#43443427)

        No - you produce a digital intermediate from your analog negative, edit the digital intermediate - cuts, transitions, etc, then hand that edited intermediate over to a film-cutter to assemble the analog master from the original negative, using the digital intermediate as a template.
        It's much more complex than that, of course - but it's possible. Now as to why? Tonal range of 35mm film as mentioned above, probably. He'll need a good budget.

    • by I_am_Jack ( 1116205 ) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @11:15AM (#43440497)
      You'll still have more range and depth than you would with shooting on color film stock and desaturating during the editing process, or shooting digital B&W.
      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        Since the "35mm" bit was mentioned that means it isn't a digital source.
        • We figured that out.

          The point being made was Cox is shooting on B&W film stock, then transferring to digital for editing/post, and since there's loss of the range of grey/tones when you transfer from analog to digital images, why bother? My point was even with that loss, the range of tones would still be greater than color film stock transferred to digital then desaturated, or shooting digital then desaturating.

          Better now?
          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            There's some pretty good negative scanners out there with orders of magnitude better sensitivity than what you get in a camera that is expected to take many shots per second. Understand now?
            • I'm not sure you understand how film exposure works, otherwise you wouldn't make the statement that there are "pretty good negative scanners out there." A Panaflex or Arriflex with a top quality lens and loaded with a top quality B&W film stock is going to provide a LP/mm depth that will exceed most (not all) scanners capability, unless you push it to an almost unmanageable file size. So there's that. Plus the depth of tone you get from the film's inherit structure can't be replicated (yet) with CCD's.
              • by dbIII ( 701233 )
                I got mixed up there with other posts (and lack of sleep) and we are really arguing the same thing since for some reason I thought you were arguing the opposite. The bit about scanning was an answer for the person in another post that went on about it being pointless to feed stuff sourced originally from film into a digital editing suite. Sorry about the confusion there and thanks for the patient reply.
              • by slim ( 1652 )

                The dynamic range of consumer digital cameras exceeds that of the human eye -- that is an area we see as uniform black, or uniform white, will contain detail we can't see.

                The dynamic range of film - especially black & white film - is much wider still. That's why digital still photographers feel the need to achieve "HDR" (high dynamic range) by superimposing multiple shots at different exposures.

                But what's the point of capturing a dynamic range that the human eye can't perceive? Well, you can bring it ba

    • by rduke15 ( 721841 )

      Can you still actually buy 35 mm. motion picture camera negative? As far as I know, one should be able to buy Orwo negative from Russia. But is Kodak still manufacturing B&W? Even Color negatives from Kodak are not so easy to get any more.

      Maybe there is good b&w photo film available. I don't know. But for motion pictures, the stock has not really evolved for decades. So cinematographers started using Kodak Vision color negative even for b&w movies. Or digital. In the end, if the shoot is indeed

      • 6 of the ten top grossing movies of 2012 were shot on film...sure it's getting less popular but it's not like it's dead.

      • You can still buy 8mm film. I think it's Japanese stock, but it's still there. Some people just want to do this weird stuff for some reason.

    • But... how long will monochrome movie film still be produced? This could well be the last movie ever made on the stuff because the film will no longer be available; even monochrome still camera film is getting scarce. Color movie film is more widely used and should endure for a bit longer.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I loved Repo Man in the 80's and it was the soundtrack that made that film IMO. The punk persona it overlayed onto the themes of the movie seemed so hard core and bad ass to my then teenage self and seem so quaint and almost tame to me by the standards of today... a true "time bubble" of a movie.

    and Pablo Picasso really is an A$$hole!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 13, 2013 @09:12AM (#43439927)

    By Harry Harrison, I've read this book. It was funny, had a bit of a hitchhikers guide feel to it.
    Although it was written earlier.

    • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @10:52AM (#43440369) Homepage Journal

      They cross interstellar space through use of "Bloater Drive" - becoming bigger than the galactic gulfs, then shrinking back, when their nose-cone approached the destination!

      Brilliant! I suppose it was the direct antecedent to improbability propulsion.

    • by jgrahn ( 181062 )

      By Harry Harrison, I've read this book. It was funny, had a bit of a hitchhikers guide feel to it. Although it was written earlier.

      A lot of earlier stuff had that HHGTTG feel; Robert Sheckley for example. Phil Dick's heroes often spent time arguing with grumpy household appliances, and so on ...

  • A black and white Sci-Fi comedy set in the outer reaches of the galaxy? For a real retro look, why not go 1-D and have a silent movie?

    Most cinemas are converting to digital like crazy - which means the number of places you could see this will be limited and the audience even more limited.

    I'm not investing

  • Interested (Score:3, Interesting)

    by puddingebola ( 2036796 ) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @10:21AM (#43440207) Journal
    Always interested in what Alex Cox makes. Repo Man, Sid and Nancy, Walker, Highway Patrolman, Straight to Hell. Doesn't he get some credit for using open source software to make a feature length movie?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wagnerrp ( 1305589 )
      No, because he made sure to point out the fact that he was shooting the whole thing in 35mm monochrome, before converting it to digital. Ignoring the fact that the claimed advantages of analog film are dubious at this point anyway, any perceived advantage would be lost in the transfer. This is nothing but PR fluff, and all the retro hipsters are going to eat it up. It's like those idiots who think vinyl is better than CD.
      • Just as long as they fund it.

      • Re:Interested (Score:4, Interesting)

        by davesag ( 140186 ) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @06:18PM (#43442851) Homepage

        I'm backing this film, not because I give a damn about him filming on 35mm b/w stock, or because I care what video editing software he uses (he could use iMovie for all iCare), but because I loved the original book, the screenplay was what Harry Harrison and Alex Cox were working on when HH died, and I get a copy of both for US$25, while supporting the whole crowd-sourced film-making concept.

  • He better get use to loosing all his work then, OpenShot is one crash happy application, I couldn't even edit a ten minute clip without a crash. I assume the Dev knows about it, hard to miss with all the forum posts. I'll just stick to Avidemux for smaller clips, maybe Kdenlive for larger projects.

  • How do you edit FILM with software?

    • by gagol ( 583737 )
      With a robot?
    • by Y-Crate ( 540566 )

      How do you edit FILM with software?

      The same way we've been doing it for over 20 years?

      You digitize it and create a digital intermediate, edit it, do all your other post mojo, spit out either a finished digital copy and/or spit out an EDL and have a lab matchback to film by cutting a negative to conform to your edits.

      Needless to say, that's a huge simplification (the post workflow can be loooooooong, with lots of hand-offs to different specialists) but that's the basic idea.

      Did you think editors were physically cutting film? That went away by

  • Why shoot on film if you're going to do digital editing?
  • Wasting chloraphylies is a capital offense, punishable by death.
  • Harry Harrison (Score:5, Informative)

    by Princeofcups ( 150855 ) <john@princeofcups.com> on Saturday April 13, 2013 @12:19PM (#43440755) Homepage

    That should be "Harry Harrison's classic Bill the Galactic Hero." He also wrote Soylent Green aka Make Room Make Room, the Stainless Steel Rat books, and many other great works that should be in any true geek's collection.

    • by Richy_T ( 111409 )

      Watch out for the later BtGH books which were not written by HH at all and are a pile of poo.

  • i want to be excited about this, but Alex Cox seems to have lost it recently. i know Repo Chick had an incredibly tight budget, but still... he seems to have become lost in his own world. he even claimed that Repo: The Genetic Opera was a ripoff of Repo Man. sorry, Alex, you can't assert a claim to every dystopic story involving repossession.

    i guess we'll see if this project gets funded.

  • Alex Cox's work as a director lives on, but for UK cinophiles of a certain age, he's also remembered for his 'Moviedrome' series where he introduced TV sceenings of films (BBC2 sunday night, IIRC) with a pre-screening commentary. I certainly watched many classics for the first time on Moviedrome, and many films which weren't available on VHS or highly unlikely to be screened anywhere else on TV.

  • ... read it as "Repo Man" Alan Cox, before doing a double-take?

    I need to get out more.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...which according to John Lydon [johnlydon.com] is complete horseshit

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