Archive for the ‘Running Time’ Category

Your feature film won’t fit on a BetaSP. Sorry. Really, it won’t.

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

We get a lot of calls from filmmakers wanting to submit their film to a tv station or film festival on BetaSP. This work-horse professional tape format is also known as Betacam SP. It’s the analogue little brother to DigiBeta.

Unfortunately, BetaSP has a maximum running time of 90 minutes. Maybe 92 if the tape has been over-spooled at the factory. But basically, most feature films won’t fit on a single BetaSP videocassette.

The solutions to the problem can be…

1) See if you can deliver on another, longer-running, more expensive tape format such as digibeta or DVCAM.

2) Split your show into two reels (old school though it may sound) and have the tv engineer or the festival projectionist tie them together. Sometimes this is done live, and so you will need to provide the exact timecode of the change-over. The projectionist will probably have two decks and slave the timecodes together for a seamless transistion. The tv station engineer will probably dump the movie to a hard drive and tie the two reels together electronically.

3) See if they’ll allow you to send a hard drive with a GIANT quicktime movie on it.

4) Make a shorter film. Trust me, I’m a professional editor and I can take a three hour movie and make it rock at 90 mins. So you can certainly cut down your 102 minute film to 90 mins. Just take the best, most killer stuff and leave the rest on the cutting room floor. You’d be amazed how little you miss that extra footage!

And by the way, not to just rant here, but I can’t stand when directors make a movie longer than 2 hours. C’mon people! It ain’t that precious. Audiences lose patience and have a limited attention span. Plus, the babysitter costs a hell of a lot more. Oh, and the parking, too. Why is it that cinematic films have always been shorter than 2 1/2 hours? “Wizard of Oz” is 101 minutes. “Citizen Kane” is 119 minutes. “Star Wars” is 121 minutes. “Jaws”, 124. So what changed everything in the 1990’s? For crying out loud, some people gotta pee.