Here’s a little trick for the economy-minded indie filmmaker/television producer… whether you are shooting your tv show or independent film on 16×9 high definition (1.78 : 1 aspect ratio), 35mm Film (1.85 : 1 aspect ratio).
Your project needs to edited. So have your dailies transferred to letter-boxed digibeta. Have all your source timecode and feet and frames count placed as a window burn over the black part of the letter box.
Then edit the heck out of the show. Lock it down for time, polish it with an “online” pass in the Avid or Final Cut Pro. Then layback your mix into the timeline. Then create a new digibeta master of your entire show, taking careful attention to make the most professional master possible. Of course, don’t forget to mask out the timecode in the letter box area (but don’t worry, those valuable numbers are still in your timeline sequence.)
Now you have a pristine 100% digital master for making DVD screeners, uploading to the web, or any other presales formats.
You still haven’t blown a zillion dollars on an onlined HD master or a film conform, two processes that can literally make you bankrupt in the final stages of a production.
Take your digital betacam “master” and market the living hell out of it. Send it around, make your calls, have screenings, and basically exploit your film.
Then, if you make a sale to standard definition TV, just clone the digibeta master and collect a check for the rights to your film.
If you make an HD or theatrical sale, set up a reasonable delivery date, get an early check from the buyer, then race down to your nearest online joint (or film lab) and create a new high-resolution master for distribution. Then go home, pour yourself a nice beverage and think of how great it is to have someone else paying for the finish of your film.
And by the way, if you don’t make any sales at all, at least you still have your house because it wasn’t repo-ed by the bank.
Filmmaking my be tough, but finishing your film doesn’t have to be when someone else is footing the bill!