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Positive V Negative


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#1 LondonFilmMan

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 02:54 AM

Anyone ever shot an entire feature on positive film? To get the best range and full colours for a feature, is this medium best?
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#2 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 07:25 AM

Are you talking about positive or reversal film ?
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 10:43 AM

Trouble with reversal (positive) is that it was invented for direct projection of the original film. Movies are generally projected using prints made off of negatives.

The contrast of reversal is very high because it really has a gamma similar to a print made off of a negative, whereas a negative has a very low contrast since it was designed to be duplicated onto print stock. So when you try and copy a reversal image to a dupe negative for making prints, you end up with too much contrast.

So shooting color negative is by far the most common way to make feature films -- about 99.99% of all features shot on film use color negative.

Besides, in 35mm at least, the choices are very limited in reversal stocks, available processing places, and the costs are higher, plus you have to throw in how you are going to get it all onto a dupe negative (digital intermediate or optical printing.) Unless this project is for telecine transfer only, but even then, negative is better suited for that too.

The only 35mm feature that I can think of in recent memory entirely shot on reversal film and processed normally is "Buffalo 66". They had to optically print the final film onto an internegative, which was flashed to reduce contrast, for making release prints. And they only found one lab in the US to process that volume of reversal stock, which was the obsolete (now) VNF process.

Movies like "Domino" and "Man on Fire" has used a lot of reversal stock cross-processed into a negative (the reversal is processed in normal negative processing to create a negative image) but the results are somewhat wild and high-contrast.

If you're looking for an image with the widest exposure latitude and natural colors, then color negative is the most sensible and common choice.

Super-8 is the only format where shooting reversal still make some sense since the high contrast tends to improve sharpness and reduce graininess, which helps when you are starting out with such a tiny frame.

16mm color movies used to be mostly shot on reversal until the late 1970's, when improvements in negative stocks and processing made reversal less necessary.

Edited by David Mullen, 24 November 2005 - 10:45 AM.

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#4 LondonFilmMan

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Posted 25 November 2005 - 03:33 PM

Thanks David, negative it is then.
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#5 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 25 November 2005 - 07:58 PM

Unless you want the reversal film "look" (higher contrast, somewhat "dupey", snappy colors), color negative is much preferred for duplication.
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