Open Gate

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Dave Perry

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Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 3:09 am

Hey everyone. I've heard the term Open Gate used and was wondering what exactly it means. I heard it in reference to Arri cameras using the entire sensor and in reference to RED cameras sensor readout. Is the term used specific to individual cameras or is there also a generic definition? What about in regards to BMD cameras?

Thanks!
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Jason R. Johnston

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Re: Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 5:06 am

Exactly what it sounds like. The gate, in the film days, was the area where the film was exposed to light. Because of it's position near the lens mount and the shutter, dust and debris would get in there and that's why sometimes you see a hair in the image of old cheap movies. There's hair in the gate. So, clean the gate. Anyway, it's like saying open matte, but that has a different use. To say open matte assumes that the image is intended to be cropped for a different aspect ratio later, but shot without matte or open matte for sandard def tv, for example. Trouble with open matte is you sometimes see boom mics or the edges of the set. Open gate is pretty much saying they're exposing the entire area of the film. So in this way, open gate is to say that yes they are using the entire active surface area of the sensor to record an image. There are quite a lot of cameras which do not do this so its a big deal kinda that red cameras can. To record open gate like you would with a red camera one would need to use a camera that will record using the entire sensor area and not just some built in crop. Thats been my understanding of it anyway.
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timbutt2

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Re: Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 5:32 am

I miss saying "Check the gate." Oh, the days of film...
"Movies are not watched. They are an encounter with a life's experience not your own." - Tim Buttner (timbutt2)

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Denny Smith

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Re: Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 5:36 am

Don't forget, "the gate is clear" replay after the gate has been checked. Yes, those were the days... Tim.
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Re: Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 5:38 am

The BM Ursa and Ursa Mini 4.6 also shoot their full gate (entire sensor area) when set to Raw, in addition to shooting in various cropped window modes. So full gage is used to indicate the sensor is not in a cropped window mode, like 2K or a different aspect ratio window area.
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Dave Perry

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Re: Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 12:36 pm

Thanks guys. That's what I thought for the most part. I have no experience with shooting film for motion pictures, although I do know what the gate is. I got into motion pictures through video in 2003 professionally so never had to check the gate. So is open gate a term for digital only? Trying to envision how a film camera would shoot open gate mechanically.

I'm actually shooting some Super 8 these days and am doing a short on Super 8 soon.
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Jason R. Johnston

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Re: Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 1:09 pm

By shooting open matte. The gate itself doesn't change. An open gate in the film world literally means that the shutter is open and light is coming into the gate either exposing film or being examned for particulate.
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Re: Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 1:48 pm

My favorite story from college is still, "Check the gate." And, "Um there's no film in this magazine." What?

That's right some students shot close to a full magazine without any film in it. I don't know how you do that. It's pretty obvious running the camera because of the frame counter. Someone wasn't doing camera reports. Either way.

"The gate is clear."

Even with digital I check the gate just in case to make sure there is nothing between the glass and sensor. You never know if something might get in there during a lens change. It's a good practice to have... so are camera reports. Even in the digital age I think camera reports help keep discipline in the camera crew. It also means you have a paper record of every shot and all the camera settings.
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Re: Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 3:49 pm

Yep Tim, Checking then"gate" and reports are a very good practice. This gives you the exposure infomtoo, if a shot/lighting needs adjusting, you know what you did before.

Dave, on some film cameras, the opening in the gate could be charged with slide in matts that would change the aspect ratio of the gate opening. So "Open Gate" on a film camera would also indicate no cropping matt was used in the gate.
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Re: Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 3:54 pm

Denny Smith wrote:Yep Tim, Checking then"gate" and reports are a very good practice. This gives you the exposure infomtoo, if a shot/lighting needs adjusting, you know what you did before.

Dave, on some film cameras, the opening in the gate could be charged with slide in matts that would change the aspect ratio of the gate opening. So "Open Gate" on a film camera would also indicate no cropping matt was used in the gate.
Cheers


Ah, very good to know. I know this is not BMD topic related but this forum is a very good resource. If any of you have film related resources you could share, I'd appreciate it. I mean as in celluloid. Are there any workshops or training programs for film any more? I can't go to full time film school but want to learn how to roll film. Send me an e-mail so as to not tie up this forum.

Thanks.
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Denny Smith

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Re: Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 4:07 pm

Dave, A community college film course? That is where I started out. Do a search on the web for workshops too.
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Dave Perry

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Re: Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 4:17 pm

Denny Smith wrote:Dave, A community college film course? That is where I started out. Do a search on the web for workshops too.
Cheers.


Denny, nothing in my area but I'm finding 8 week to 1 year programs for folks like myself who are working professionals that want to further their edu. The stuff is $$$!!! A summer program would be ideal.
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Denny Smith

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Re: Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 4:19 pm

Look around, you might have to go further afield (like NY or ?) to find a summer program.
Good luck. :mrgreen:
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Re: Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 9:47 pm

Sadly my alma mater (Drexel University) retired their film cameras last I heard. I heard this last year from one of my teachers who came to the NYC BMD Day. He did say he was trying to get something set up as a "Special" Elective Course that would need enough interested students to happen in a term. So if there were 10 students who wanted to work with film, then the course could happen. At least that's how it sounded like it would work.

I thought working with film was one of the best things to learn how to shoot properly. It teaches you to take care and time with how you shoot because the film is a limited resource. Time really means money with film.

One suggestion would be to get a 35mm Film Still Camera. That's how I trained myself before I took any of the film classes my school had to offer. It was a great manner to learn. Then when I did the film courses it was easier to get into working with film in motion because all the principles were already understood.

I do love digital however. The fact that I see what I captured immediately after shooting it is fantastic. No more second guessing. No more waiting for the dailies. However, film will always have a special place in my heart.
"Movies are not watched. They are an encounter with a life's experience not your own." - Tim Buttner (timbutt2)

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Re: Open Gate

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 10:24 pm

timbutt2 wrote:One suggestion would be to get a 35mm Film Still Camera. That's how I trained myself before I took any of the film classes my school had to offer. It was a great manner to learn. Then when I did the film courses it was easier to get into working with film in motion because all the principles were already understood.


Thanks Tim. I did get my start in photography as a teenager in 35mm film SLR. I had a Nikon FG20 and kept it until about 2003 (quite a long time considering I'n 55 years old).

I'm from Richmond Va. and VCU, Virginia Commonwealth University, is a well regarded art school. I checked their cinema program today and they are committed to film. They are one of the only film schools in the world shooting 35mm film at the undergraduate level. Unfortunately I can't move back to Richmond and enroll in a 4 year program.

I'm sure I'll find what I need, I just wanted to get some feedback from others who may be able to help avoid wasting time looking in areas that aren't worth it or who have found a Summer workshop in the past that they liked. One place I'm looking at is Maine Media.
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John Brawley

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Re: Open Gate

PostSat Apr 22, 2017 2:26 am

Open gate refers to the full aperture or the whole frame.

Much like the 4.6k sensor if you're framing for 1.78 or 2.40 from that full size sensor hen it's likely you won't use "all" of the pixels that are exposed.

Film is the same. A 4 perf 35mm frame is roughly a 1.37 or maybe 1.33 aspect ratio, but you're usually framing for 1.85 or maybe 2.40 spherical so you're cropping into that. For VFX etc though, they'd often shoot open gate so more of the image area was used.

Gate checks could be done in two ways. The most relatable was to take the lens off and look at the film from the lens port side. The theory was any hairs or emulsion build up could be seen still pressed against the gate, where as the second method of taking the mag off or opening the gate from the movement side would maybe mean the hair would drift away and you'd pass a gate check when there was in fact a problem.

Some cameras have a film counter that could run down without actually having film in there so it is possible.

Many forget that you had to keep your eye on the viewfinder because you'd let light in and fog your film if you took it away mid shot.

Everyone now seems to operate with a screen and one hand on their hip now, it's so much harder to have to always have your eye stuck to the EVF.

JB
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Re: Open Gate

PostSat Apr 22, 2017 2:35 am

John Brawley wrote:Everyone now seems to operate with a screen and one hand on their hip now, it's so much harder to have to always have your eye stuck to the EVF.
JB


I actually prefer the viewfinder myself ;)
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Re: Open Gate

PostSat Apr 22, 2017 3:01 am

Me too. The only time I don't have my eye in a viewfinder is Steadicam, Slider, Jib, or any other instance where an external monitor is better suited.

John Brawley wrote wrote:Some cameras have a film counter that could run down without actually having film in there so it is possible.

It was the ARRI SRII Super 16mm Film Camera, so it's likely that the film counter still ran even without film. Either way, I felt bad for that production.

I too had bad luck on a film shoot when all the equipment got locked in a room that I was the only one with access to it for the weekend, but my Drexel ID Card, which gave me access, got demagnetized by the credit cards in my wallet. I had to cancel the shoot for that weekend until someone with the ability to reassign access to the room came in on Monday. Many lessons learned in college.
"Movies are not watched. They are an encounter with a life's experience not your own." - Tim Buttner (timbutt2)

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Re: Open Gate

PostSat Apr 22, 2017 4:07 am

There used to be a saying that you shouldn't hire a loader that hasn't fogged film at least once.

Once you've done it once you tend to never want to do it again.

I miss the discipline film imposed on the process. That's one of the unspoken differences for me in on set workings.

JB
- has fogged a roll of film while shooting an in-reshoot-able event and still has nightmares about it
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Re: Open Gate

PostSat Apr 22, 2017 4:37 am

You and me both mate!
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Jason R. Johnston

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Re: Open Gate

PostSat Apr 22, 2017 4:38 pm

I come from stills film, not motion picture film. I've been a photographer longer than anything else and it is still my first love. Always preferred continuous lights, too so transitioning to motion pictures was kinda easy.

Then everything went digital.

I used to roll my own film in dark bags...push-processed Kodak T-Max 400 to ISO 3200 in my dark room. My brain eventually gave up and now I basically lost my sense of smell. I've definitely fogged a roll or two of film. And yeah, still have nightmares about it, though the trepidation extends now to the digital world: I am obsessed with dual-slot recording and backing up the back-ups.

I've actually reverse-rolled on a recent shoot. Luckily, I am constantly checking status indicators everywhere and caught it before anything important happened. Got some nice BTS footage out of it, actually. lol But, I completely agree: there is an absolute discipline and etiquette lost to the immediacy of digital. I think we were all better people then, too. More patient. More adherant to log books and rules. I miss it. But, none of my clients want to pay for film and the associated crew, so, there it is.

I never shot on Super 35.
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Re: Open Gate

PostSat Apr 22, 2017 9:06 pm

Shot various film on the Nikon F stills camera since 1964 and older cameras before that. Shot 16mm film on the WWII era Bolex since about 1974. Processed my own stills film and prints and bulk loaded the B&W film. No camera problems I can recall, but always checked the camera gate and print enlarger gate.

Then the digital age. Now I make mistakes such as recording when I thought the record button was Off and worse, not recording when I thought the record was On! Perhaps as John mentioned, now everything is relatively so easy that the rigour isn't there. Or I'm hurrying that record button press and not holding it a few milliseconds. Check the sensor area only when changing a lens.

Nightmares? Sure, but never about this. We all need to remind ourselves that our errors in performance are an inevitable part of being human and not to be haunted by them. Now about that demon under the bed...


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Re: Open Gate

PostSat Apr 22, 2017 9:23 pm

But Rick, I don't want to be human. I want to be a lean, mean, killing machine.

I don't think I fogged any film while I shot it in college, but I did set the wrong ISO speed on the light meter and had to push a roll of film. I seem to remember that we had a way to cut off the viewfinder so that it wouldn't fog film on the SRII. I'm pretty sure we had something in it because we were able to use the SRII on the Steadicam, and the Jib, that we had at Drexel. So since there wasn't any fogging when people shot those support rigs I'd say there was a lever or something to black the viewfinder when no eye was pressed to it. Can't remember off the top of my head because it's been so many years.

Yes, the discipline film imposed was fantastic. I try to make sure we impose that same discipline with any of the digital cameras we shoot. With the UM4.6K at least I can say to the actors that each card only captures so much RAW footage that each take counts. That's the nice thing about RAW and high resolution cameras. The file sizes really do mean money per minute of footage.
"Movies are not watched. They are an encounter with a life's experience not your own." - Tim Buttner (timbutt2)

Cameras: URSA Mini 4.6K EF & Cinema Camera 2.5K EF
Computers: iMac 5K (Late 2015) & MacBook Pro Retina 15.4in (Early 2013)

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