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Flashing questions for 35mm Anamorphic Western


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#1 Jason Eitelbach

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 10:38 PM

Hello,

I'm a film student shooting an anamorphic short in febuary and I had a conversation with a film professor of mine about westerns to look at while I was prepping and he told me to check out McCabe and Mrs. Miller, mentioning that the film was pre-flashed and I had a few questions.

What are some other good examples of flashing that I should checkout (in a surrealistic western sorta genre)? Pre v. Post, which is better? I know that Arri and Panavision have special devices, which will control the flashing/fogging while shooting (with special filters as well?) how hard is it to get a hold of these and can they be used on most cameras or only special ones?

I hope that eventually we might be able to raise enough money through grants etc. to print this film so the more organic the origins of our final "look" the better. My director is also a cinematographer as well so the more film mojo I can do the better but is 2 1/2 months enough time to realistically test flashing or should I just shelve the idea for another day?


thanks,
je

"To make films is horrible, hopeless, thankless, atrocious, and frustrating,
like a mortal sin. But it's also marvelous and gives me great pleasure. Many
times, after finishing a film, I would like to never make another. But something
mysterious, some demon, compels me, obligates me to continue making films."
-Arturo Ripstein

Edited by Jason Eitelbach, 15 November 2005 - 10:38 PM.

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#2 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 11:13 PM

I think Seven was flashed - not that you could tell from that gritty BB print. :P

I'm sure that David will be able to fill you in on what big films were flashed in the past. All I know is that it was quite the rage in the 70's and early 80's, but then fell out of fashion.

The Varicon was a clever in-camera device to "flash" the film (technically, it's not really flashing, but the effects are similar). I've used the Varicon a couple of times and I really like it - in fact I'm having it on my next
commercial (if they can get it there).

I'd really like to try some proper neg flashing like with the Panaflasher, but this being Europe, you just never get your hands on any Panavision stuff. Then there's the option to get the lab to either pre- or post flash your neg, but this is more involved and probably costs more than any of the in-camera devices.

Maybe Kodak should start selling pre-flashed stock - Mr. Pytlak? :D
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 November 2005 - 01:49 AM

According to Todd Rainsberger's biography, James Wong Howe flashed part or all of "Picnic" (1955), which would make it one of the first color films to do this.

Most people cite Freddie Young's "The Deadly Affair" (1966) as being the first color movie to use flashing; other people say Richard Kline's "Camelot" (1967).

Vilmos Zsigmond though really made it popular with his work in "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" and "The Long Goodbye". "Heaven's Gate" had both the negative and the prints flashed.

Since labs loathe to offer flashing services, your main options are the Panaflasher (which can only fit on a 35mm Panaflex) or the Arri VariCon, which can fit into a 6x6 mattebox on any camera. The VariCon is the successor to the Lightflex (originally Colorflex). The advantage to the VariCon, and previously the Lightflex, is that you can see the effect through the viewfinder.

Doesn't really matter much whether you pre or post flash the negative.

I flashed the negative for three of my features, including "Twin Falls Idaho" and "Northfork", using the Panaflasher.

The Panaflasher was used for part of "Saving Private Ryan". Vilmos Zsigmond used it on "Maverick". Many of John McTiernan's movies have been flashed with the Panaflasher (mainly, also lab flashing).

The Lightflex was used on "Young Winston", "The Wiz", "French Lieutenant's Woman", "Dune", "Glory". I believe Freddie Francis used the VariCon on "The Straight Story."

Emmanuel Lubezski flashed the neg about 7% to 10% for "A Little Princess".

Yes, "Seven" used the Panaflasher on some shots; otherwise, Darius Khondji has used the Varicon on some shots in his movies (like "Evita", "The Beach", "The Ninth Gate", "City of Lost Children") when he felt the need to lower contrast. This was all in conjunction usually with a silver retention process to the prints or intermediate to increase contrast.

You can test flash levels on a subject in one day -- why do you need 2 1/2 months?

Edited by David Mullen, 16 November 2005 - 01:55 AM.

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#4 Stephen Williams

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Posted 16 November 2005 - 10:24 AM

Maybe Kodak should start selling pre-flashed stock - Mr. Pytlak? :D


Hi,

I guess that would be a use for old out of date stock! LOL

Stephen
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#5 BritLoader

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Posted 16 November 2005 - 11:20 AM

Please excuse my ignorance but I'd not come across flashing before, can anyone point me to any articles or previous forums that might clue me up on it a bit better.

From reading around (very briefly) I get the impression that flashing reduces contrast in the image, does this not make the blacks a bit milky? Is there any benefit of flashing the image over selecting a stock with a lower contrast.

I've aslo seen that you can flash with colour, does this just put a slight wash of that colour into the blacks, what is the affect of this on the rest of the image?

If anyone can answer these questions or point me in the right direction that would be great.

Thanks

B.L.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 November 2005 - 04:08 PM

Flashing is controlled fogging of the entire frame evenly. The light can be white or colored. Yes, the blacks are milked up, although a low-level enough flash (under 7%) may lower contrast while the blacks will still look black enough due to the d-max of the print stock. But that's why I combined heavier flashing with a silver retention print process for "Northfork", to restore the blacks -- I didn't want a flashed look, I just wanted less color saturation.

Yes, a low-con stock is more effective at recording more shadow detail than flashing, although like I said, a tiny amount of flash can lift up detail that would normally be buried in black. Overexposing and pull-processing can also lower contrast. Imagine doing all three: low-con stock, overexposed and pull-processed, and slightly flashed?

Apparently the VariCon method is slightly more effective at this (improving shadow detail before milkiness starts to occur) than the Panaflasher method, for obscure reasons having to do with "boosting" the number of photons received by the silver halide grains to the point where they become developable, a process sometimes called "latensification" -- for some reason, it's SLIGHTLY more effective when it happens simultaneously as with the VariCon (because the image is flashed in front of the lens) rather than before or after as with flashing. Although latensification really is a different process of exposing film to an extremely low level of light slowly (which is why it doesn't really get used for motion picture work.)

"International Photographer", Nov. '97, has a technical article by Mark Woods about the Panaflasher vs. the VariCon.

Edited by David Mullen, 16 November 2005 - 06:28 PM.

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#7 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 07:00 AM

Maybe Kodak should start selling pre-flashed stock - Mr. Pytlak? :D


Kodak DOES sell Kodak VISION2 Expression 500T Color Negative Film 5229, which is formulated to have slightly lower contrast:

http://www.kodak.com....4.4.4.14&lc=en
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