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Pro Mist. What Kind?


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#1 Michael King

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 07:11 PM

Someone just advised me to leave a Pro Mist filter my, soon to be, DVX all the time (while I shoot a feature).

I don't know anything about these filters and haven't seen a good comparison website. I guess I'll rent these filters when I get my camera and see what works. Probably Black Pro Mist or Pro mist in 1/4 and 1/8.

And advice or thoughts on this issue?

Michael king
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#2 Trevor Greenfield

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 08:47 PM

Someone just advised me to leave a Pro Mist filter my, soon to be, DVX all the time (while I shoot a feature).

I don't know anything about these filters and haven't seen a good comparison website. I guess I'll rent these filters when I get my camera and see what works. Probably Black Pro Mist or Pro mist in 1/4 and 1/8.

And advice or thoughts on this issue?

Michael king
Los Angeles


I don't know about leaving a pro mist on all the time. It really is an effect.

Here's a good summary of pro mists' : http://www.tiffen.com/promist.htm

Personally, I dont like black pro mist, but it is all subjective. Before studying cinema, I used to love those pro mist shots in 40's and 50's cinema - the CU emotional or beatufiul actress intro shot. Real Hollywood pro stuff. A perfect example, Ingrid Bergman's CU's in Casablanca - textbook application. Since then however anytime it comes up in a film its almost cliche to me. To the audience though Im sure it still carries the same weight.

To shoot a whole feature with it on could give a unique look, especially for fantasy or dream films or something but to me its still a cut to effect. Some of the pro DP's here could prolly add more (thats what they're paid to do!).
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 09:52 PM

The ProMist is a Tiffen product introduced in the mid 1980's, somewhat of a glass version of the plastic Wilson SupraFrost filters that hit the market a few years before that.

The Black ProMist is just a ProMist with black specks scattered on it to partially restore the blacks somewhat milked up by the mist particles. So the Black version of a ProMist of the same numbered strength tends to look slightly more subtle.

Some people feel that Tiffen ProMists or Black ProMists (or the Schneider equivalents, White Frost and Black Frost) add a "film look" to video because it softens the sharpness (caused by excessive edge enhancement), lowers contrast, and the misty look somewhat adds a grain / noise texture.

Truth is that you're better off using the Detail / Sharpness controls and just lowering them down to a less obnoxious level, plus the gamma controls are better at improving contrast, although they do tend to add more noise to the image (which some people feel is more film-like.)

So I would use ProMists when I want a softer ProMist look, but not just use it automatically regardless of the look I'm trying to create.

There are all sorts of strengths to these filters; certainly a #1/8 ProMist or Black ProMist is pretty subtle. I use them all the time when shooting in HD -- I like a little halation (glow around bright spots). You may like the look of shooting everything with a #1/4 ProMist afterall, so try it out. It certainly can make things look prettier, but it IS a diffusion filter, so you are softening the image. If you are planning on projecting the image on a large screen, you may want to back off on any softening.

Just watch out when you are shooting wide-angle and stopped down (like in bright light) when shooting consumer DV -- due to the high depth of field, the black specks on the Black ProMist can come into focus (barely), just enough to make it look like your lens is dusty. Other types of diffusion filters also can have their patterns come into focus when you are stopped down too much.

There are some comparison between filters here:

http://www.camerafil..._Frameset.sosfr

Edited by David Mullen, 02 December 2005 - 09:55 PM.

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#4 Trevor Greenfield

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 09:56 PM

I assumed what we now associate with promist look would have been done in the 40's or 50's with a silk, right?
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#5 Mitch Gross

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 10:05 PM

I assumed what we now associate with promist look would have been done in the 40's or 50's with a silk, right?


There are many types of diffusion filters. A silk is diffusion that goes in front of a light. More likely it is netting like silk stockings or an older type of glass diffusion such as a Mitchell diffusion filter. These are available in various grades and qualities.

There are so many types of diffusion filters available these days. Tiffen must make a dosen variations and there's Schneider, Harrison, Formatt and others. In netting Christian Dior and Fogal are very popular, but I've experimented with bridal veil tulle to interesting effect. And sometimes nothing can beat hairspray onto a clear glass filter. So there's no one way to filter that will just work. Go to a rental house and try different filters. Watch the results on a good monitor. Then buy the one you like from them. They'll be happy to sit you in a corner to run your tests. Happens all the time.

I have one friend who cannot stand the look of Black ProMists and another who swears by them. Horses for courses.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 10:17 PM

Back in the 1930's & 40's, it would have been mostly nets (bridal veil-like or silk pantyhose-like material or even cotton gauze) stretched on frames in front of the lens, sometimes behind the lens, plus glass filters of various designs, like the Mitchell diffusers, or glass with rings etched in them (almost like a fresnel pattern), glass with bubbles in them, wavy glass, Fog filters (mist particles in glass.)

They all create different artifacts around points of lights; nets tend to produce almost a smeary star filter effect.

ProMists, Fogs, GlimmerGlass, etc. create more of an even glow around a point of light, some designs also creating more of a milky veil as well. Classic Softs create sort of a ring / bubble effect around a point of light. Soft-FX creates a glow, but is it more uneven, more like what a net can create but without a star filter effect.
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#7 Trevor Greenfield

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 10:27 PM

You guys are great, thanks for the great info, I figured it was pantyhose or similar material stretched over a box on the front of the lens or at least thats what I had heard. Didnt know they also had filters at the time for the look. I long for the days of that kind of simplicity :D

Back to the original Q, I don't think you'd be in trouble either way really with a 1/4 promist , but it all comes with defining looks. The effect also changes depending on your light in the image, so some testing would probably be good.

I really dont like black pro mists and this carries over from my still photography days.

Edited by Trevor Greenfield, 02 December 2005 - 10:29 PM.

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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 10:37 PM

You guys are great, thanks for the great info, I figured it was pantyhose or similar material stretched over a box on the front of the lens or at least thats what I had heard. Didnt know they also had filters at the time for the look. I long for the days of that kind of simplicity :D


I don't know if you are serious (probably not judging by the emoticon), but not only do these filters exist still today, or similar ones, but there was nothing simple about 1930's & 40's cinematography! I'm amazed at all the tricks that could be done in-camera with a Mitchell; there was less of a reliance on post back then to get a photographic effect, plus the lighting style was quite baroque. We've got it a lot easier today with fast film and we tend to light simpler, with big soft sources rather than lots of spotlights from rails.

Anyway, the Classic Soft is a good filter for that retro diffused look (hence the name...)

Edited by David Mullen, 02 December 2005 - 10:38 PM.

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#9 Trevor Greenfield

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 10:59 PM

I don't know if you are serious (probably not judging by the emoticon), but not only do these filters exist still today, or similar ones, but there was nothing simple about 1930's & 40's cinematography! I'm amazed at all the tricks that could be done in-camera with a Mitchell; there was less of a reliance on post back then to get a photographic effect, plus the lighting style was quite baroque. We've got it a lot easier today with fast film and we tend to light simpler, with big soft sources rather than lots of spotlights from rails.

Anyway, the Classic Soft is a good filter for that retro diffused look (hence the name...)


Yes I was being sarcastic, tough to communicate over the internet. Arc lights that fried actors eyes and super low ASA film starts you off on the wrong foot, from there it only got tougher. Ive spent a lot of time studying the B&H 2709B and its tricks of the silent era, in particular Joseph Walker's style and abilities with double (and sometimes multiple) exposing select areas of the film. I talked with my producer and told him if I'd shot my most recent short back then our film would be dead and we'd have to reshoot half of it... because what you had was what you had basically. But then again to behold the beauty and shadows they acheived back then including the silk shots, day-for-night, etc. is something to admire even today.

Back to the original point, I start to wonder whether the obvious promist shot is now totally cliche to the point of being unnacceptable. I would think you'd have to be a lot more subtle now.
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#10 Michael King

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 12:22 AM

I think my source was advocating doing less in-camera adjustments. I think he worked with a camera man who fouled things up with to many adustments, albeit wrong adjustments. Thus, the Pro Mist to soften a little, give that nice halo, instead of dailing down the Sharpness. He also suggested crushing the blacks less in camera and leaving that for post.

I guess nothing beats experimentation!

Thanks!
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#11 Chris Keth

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 12:26 AM

I think my source was advocating doing less in-camera adjustments. I think he worked with a camera man who fouled things up with to many adustments, albeit wrong adjustments. Thus, the Pro Mist to soften a little, give that nice halo, instead of dailing down the Sharpness. He also suggested crushing the blacks less in camera and leaving that for post.

I guess nothing beats experimentation!

Thanks!



They're not bad filters to have. I'm shooting a short with 1/8 or 1/4 BPM on all the time. That choice, however, was reached by shooting tests and deciding I like the look. Not taking someone else's word for it. I'd rent some filters and try some tests before you buy anything. Good filters aren't cheap.
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#12 Mario C. Jackson

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 10:41 AM

I shot a music video this summer using a 1/2 Black Promist. Being that it was shot on 24p I wanted to soften the image up a bit. I ran test first before I chose the filter. So just as Chris said, don't take anyones word. Shoot test and see if the filter works for the images you are trying photograph.
Hope this helps
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