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Pushing 500 Stocks by 2-stops


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#1 Craig Knowles

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 12:19 PM

I was reading an old article from AC the other day on "Eyes Wide Shut", and was surprised to learn that Kubrick/Smith pushed EXR5298 (500) two stops for the entire film. The article states explicitly that they tried the Vision 500T but it couldn't take the pushing as well.

I really love the look of "Eyes Wide Shut" and I was wondering what current stock could take a 2-stop push and still end up looking this good?

Here's the portion of the AC article where I read this:

In order to facilitate Kubrick's shooting strategy, which required the picture's film stock to be force-developed by two stops at Deluxe Laboratories in London, Smith conducted extensive photographic tests at the prep stage. "Kodak's Vision 500T stock had just come out, but I was planning to use their old EXR5298, another 500-ASA stock. During my tests, I discovered that while you can't really force-develop the Vision 500T, the old 5298 could handle it quite well, even if you were forcing it two stops. Kodak designs their stocks to be shot in the middle of the sensitometric curve, rather than at the extreme ends, and when I tried to force the Vision 500T, I found that it had a blue bias. Obviously, that's a characteristic of that particular film stock, so we opted to use the 5298 instead. That gave us a bit of a problem, of course, because 98 had been phased out, but Kodak assured us that they could provide as many rolls of it as we needed.

"During our tests, we decided that we liked what we were seeing, although we were always debating various issues, such as 'What will force-developing do to the skin tones?' or 'How will it affect the practicals?' There's no question that with force-developing you get exaggerated highlights-they really blow out. We decided that if we pushed everything two stops, it would really have the effect of an extra stop and a quarter or a stop and a half. That's basically the way we worked it out, and we eventually decided to force-develop everything, even the day exteriors, to keep the look consistent."

Smith credits Deluxe with making this strategy viable. "I'd forced footage before for the odd shot, but never for an entire movie," he says. "I quickly came to realize that it's not an exact science; you do get some variations, because it's very difficult to keep things within certain parameters when you're force-developing every frame on a project of this magnitude.


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#2 Joseph White

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 02:23 PM

i would imagine that the stocks one would want to push 2 stops today would probably be either the kodak 5218 or 5229 or the fuji eterna. these stocks have lower contrast and saturation than 5279 (especially 5229 and eterna) and have finer grain than the original vision 500t counterpart. 5298 was a wonderful stock (as was 5293) but sadly has gone the way of the buffalo. i'd say 5229 would probably be a fair bet as i've pushed it one stop and still found that it still wasn't too grainy and that the saturation started to resemble 5279 as pushing it gave it a little more color. this was also for a video finish, so chances are if one was doing a photochemical finish, you'd certainly have to factor in print stock as well when considering this process. i for one would love to see 5229 pushed 2 stops, rated at 1600 asa, then printed on premiere...
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#3 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 02:28 PM

Don't forget that the current DVD of "Eyes Wide Shut" looks much cleaner than the movie did in the big screen.

In my opinion the film had an amazing look that fitted very well the story, but remember that the 35mm theatrical prints were much more grainy than the DVD and had thin blacks. That's why it got a lot of criticism at the time of its release for going to far with the pushing.
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#4 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 02:29 PM

I think any of todays improved stocks would handle a 2 stop push quite easily and still look good.

I remember seeing EWS on a huge screen and I can tell you it was insanely grainy. It did fit the film and it looked good, but it wasn't snappy in any way.
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#5 Craig Knowles

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 03:05 PM

Interesting. I was surprised when I read the article and learned about the 2-stop push because I clearly remember catching "Eyes Wide Shut" on opening day and don't remember the grain being an issue at all.

My subsequent viewings of the DVD must have erased it from my memory.
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#6 Mike Williamson

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 04:25 PM

Like Adam and Ignacio, I remember the prints of "EWS" being very grainy but liking the look, sadly the DVD doesn't retain that quality of the image.

I think a two stop push would be interesting with the newer stocks. "Man On Fire" shot a lot of footage with the now deleted 5284 (Expression 500T) pushing it two stops and rating at 1600 ASA and I thought it had a fantastic look, one of my favorite films from last year.

Now that I think of it, I remember reading that "Entourage" shoots 5229 pushed two and rated at 800 ASA, haven't seen the show though.
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#7 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 05:24 PM

Now that I think of it, I remember reading that "Entourage" shoots 5229 pushed two and rated at 800 ASA, haven't seen the show though.

Wow, if they get that look pushing two stops then the new stocks are really up to the challenge of pushing! The show looks very clean and grainless to me, not at all like it's been pushed. Of course, I'm seeing it on TV, so it's been through a lot since processing anyway. Great show by the way.
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 05:35 PM

Hi,

500 push 2, what on earth are you trying to create, a starlight scope?

Phil
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#9 Dominic Case

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 08:24 PM

500 push 2, what on earth are you trying to create, a starlight scope?

Kubrick was always capturing big scenes with less light. He used a f/0.7 lens to shoot candle-lit dinners in Barry Lyndon - not sure what stock that was (5254 or 5247), but it would have been 100 ASA. No additional lighting. Stunningly beautiful results, but paper-thin depth of field.

Not sure what lenses he used for EWS. Personally I hated hated hated the look of the pushed 5298, particularly in the billiard room scene. Any other director would have rejected the shots. Conversely, of course, Kubrick would never have allowed them to clean up the grain on the DVD.
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#10 Mike Williamson

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 09:09 PM

They shot mostly with T1.3 Zeiss Superspeeds, presumably to enable them to use lower light levels. They also used Arri's T2.1 variable prime lenses or a zoom for some shots. For more info, see the October '99 issue of American Cinematographer.

I agree with Dominic that Kubrick would've made them keep the grain in the video transfer, it creates a very different feeling to have the DVD cleaned up so heavily.
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#11 Stephen Williams

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 03:23 AM

They shot mostly with T1.3 Zeiss Superspeeds, presumably to enable them to use lower light levels. They also used Arri's T2.1 variable prime lenses or a zoom for some shots. For more info, see the October '99 issue of American Cinematographer.

I agree with Dominic that Kubrick would've made them keep the grain in the video transfer, it creates a very different feeling to have the DVD cleaned up so heavily.


Hi,

Superspeeds, VP's and Cooke 20-100.

Stephen
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#12 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 09:19 AM

Kubrick was always capturing big scenes with less light. He used a f/0.7 lens to shoot candle-lit dinners in Barry Lyndon - not sure what stock that was (5254 or 5247), but it would have been 100 ASA.


Kubrick used 5254 for "Barry Lyndon" pushing it one stop for the entire film. The 35mm print I saw back in 2001 was excellent and very fine-grained for a pushed stock.

He also pushed "Full Metal Jacket" one stop and though it had an overall graininess, the threatrical prints were much less grainy than "Eyes Wide Shut".

Edited by Ignacio Aguilar, 01 December 2005 - 09:20 AM.

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#13 Chris Keth

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 11:12 AM

Kubrick used 5254 for "Barry Lyndon" pushing it one stop for the entire film. The 35mm print I saw back in 2001 was excellent and very fine-grained for a pushed stock.

He also pushed "Full Metal Jacket" one stop and though it had an overall graininess, the threatrical prints were much less grainy than "Eyes Wide Shut".



In a few weeks I'll post some frame grabs from an experiment I did recently. I had the same question and shot something on 7218, rating it at 1600 and pushing it two stops. We'll see how it came out soon.
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#14 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 08:10 PM

Barry Lyndon - not sure what stock that was (5254 or 5247), but it would have been 100 ASA. No additional lighting.


No additional lighting... somehow... I remember I read somewhere there were only candles on the set, sure, but the most number of them where outside of the frame... I mean he only lit with candles but added many ones to the ones you can see on the screen.
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#15 Dominic Case

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 10:43 PM

I mean he only lit with candles but added many ones to the ones you can see on the screen.

All the same, there were a lot of candles in the frame, closer to the actors than any off-frame candles could be. And so inverse square would say you'd need a lot more off-set than on. And it's the old exponential thing: one stop of exposure needs double the light - quite literally, twice the candle-power.

The f/0.7 lens would be 2 stops faster than a 1.4 lens - that's going to do more for exposure than a whole heap of candles. Still, it sounds like a pretty hot set to me. And it looks great.
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 11:26 PM

The candles also were triple-wicked, which helped.
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#17 K Borowski

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 12:18 AM

Was Barry Lindon done in 65- or 35mm? Also, I have never understood why Kubrick could get ahold of an F0.7 lens in the 1970s but couldn't get one two decades later? He could then have shot either without a push or maybe pushed one stop. Also, I am at a loss for why Kubrick went from 65mm, basically grainless shooting to 35mm pushed to ASA 1600. Eyes Wide Shut would be a PRIME candidate for a 65mm shoot.

Regards.
~Karl Borowski
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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 01:02 AM

Was Barry Lindon done in 65- or 35mm? Also, I have never understood why Kubrick could get ahold of an F0.7 lens in the 1970s but couldn't get one two decades later? He could then have shot either without a push or maybe pushed one stop. Also, I am at a loss for why Kubrick went from 65mm, basically grainless shooting to 35mm pushed to ASA 1600. Eyes Wide Shut would be a PRIME candidate for a 65mm shoot.

Regards.
~Karl Borowski


"Barry Lyndon" was a 35mm shoot.

He always had his f/0.7 lens, even at the time he did "Eyes Wide Shut". The trouble is that the lens has SUCH a deep flange depth that it cannot go onto a reflex camera, only his rack-over Mitchell, and even then, the gate had to be filed out because the back end of the lens practically hits the film. So the combination of having to use a Mitchell plus having no depth of field, plus being limited to 50mm and 35mm in focal length, meant that Kubrick found little use for the lens after "Barry Lyndon." A set of T/1.4 Super-Speed were a LOT more practical for him.

Obviously Kubrick did not have the same objections as you do about graininess, which is why you are at a loss to understand why he did it. Like it or not, "Eyes Wide Shut" was deliberately shot for that grainy look, not the pristine widescreen look of 65mm. Maybe he felt that the grainy colorful look would give the film a dreamlike aura, or conversely, it would ground it in a certain visual reality.

Interestingly, "Barry Lyndon", "Full Metal Jacket", and "Eyes Wide Shut" were all push-processed in various degrees, but "The Shining" was shot normally processed for a more pristine look.

He also shot the first week of "Full Metal Jacket" in 65mm b&w, but changed his mind and junked that footage. Doug Milsome told me that he next considered shooting the film in Super-16 before settling on pushed 35mm.
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#19 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 07:05 AM

He also shot the first week of "Full Metal Jacket" in 65mm b&w, but changed his mind and junked that footage. Doug Milsome told me that he next considered shooting the film in Super-16 before settling on pushed 35mm.

Sure would be neat to see some of that footage. Any idea if it still exists David?
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#20 Travis Cline

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 06:27 PM

I shot some tests this summer for a film I was shooting. I shot 5279 pushed one stop and two stops respectively, at Deluxe in Hollywood. We then printed onto 2383. Pushed a couple of stops gave a very interesting look. I liked it alot. Unfortunately it was not right for that particular project(it was too grainy and contrasty), but I would definitely try it in the future. Unfortunately we did not get to test the 5218, but the way the 5279 "didn't handle" the pushing very well was great.

Travis
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