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Lighting for B&W 16mm reversal


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#1 Elliot Rudmann

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 12:35 AM

Hello! In a few weeks I am going to be shooting a 4 minute horror film (16mm) for my film production class at school, and we have to shoot it on black and white reversal. I am relatively experienced at lighting for color negative stocks, but I am concerned about lighting/exposing for reversal, considering that it has such a narrow latitude (barely 1-1.5 stops of range - I've heard).

I will be shooting on Kodak 7265 (80 ISO for tungsten lighting), and the film is all indoors during night time. Since reversal can be very "contrasty," how should I go about using (or not using) fill light on the subject and/or background? How should I go about lighting so that the subject will be seperated from the background, without letting the background fall into complete blackness? Is using hard light usually the best way to light with reversal, or is using soft light feasible? I would really appreciate any suggestions/tips on how I can best light for this film. Thanks!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 02:06 AM

It helps to art direct & costume the show in midtones to reduce contrast problems. Otherwise, it's just about lighting somewhat flatter. You can use soft or hard lighting.

I find with b&w in general, and reversal in particular, that you need to put little spotlights on areas you want to pop, so be prepared to use more accent lights on furniture, wall paintings, eyelights, etc. Anything you want to draw attention to has to either be lit, or it has to form a strong graphic shape like a black silhouette.

In terms of separation, either use back or edge lights, OR frame dark edges against bright spots, vice-versa.
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#3 Sam Wells

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 09:43 PM

I've done one feature and some shorts in B&W reversal.

I think you can either go with it's tendancies toward high contrast, or do what David says and cheat in your midtones (it can look very nice if you do this, but you'll work at it) or both.

He's right about the "pops" too....



"OR frame dark edges against bright spots, vice-versa."

This has been my approach.

-Sam
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