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Going For More Grain


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#1 Adam McDaid

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 09:31 PM

I?m about to shoot my thesis film for AFI and I?m going for a grittier, grainy look that reflects the main character?s environment ? a small, depressed and oppressed town. The majority of the film is night interiors with some day interiors and two night exteriors. The plan is to shoot Super 16 and ultimately finish on 35mm. I plan to shoot 7218 and 7205. To achieve more grain and contrast, I was going to underexpose each stock by 2/3 of a stop and then push it one stop in the processing. I tested for this and I liked the quality of the image. But once I spoke to my cinematography chair, Stephen Lighthill, ASC, he thought it would be better to rate the stocks normally and the grain would then be achieved in the blow up. Now I?m confused about the choice I made. It?s not that I don?t trust or value his opinion, I would just love to get some second opinions based on other cinematographers? experiences that have shot a project in a similar fashion.
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#2 Dickson Sorensen

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 10:07 PM

But once I spoke to my cinematography chair, Stephen Lighthill, ASC, he thought it would be better to rate the stocks normally and the grain would then be achieved in the blow up.


generally increased development does increase grain size though it will also increase contrast making the latitude of the stock less forgiving. Perhaps your chair person who is someone who knows what he is talking about is concerned that you are setting up a risky process. If you want larger grain how about shooting regular 16 rather than super?
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#3 Adam McDaid

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 10:26 PM

generally increased development does increase grain size though it will also increase contrast making the latitude of the stock less forgiving. Perhaps your chair person who is someone who knows what he is talking about is concerned that you are setting up a risky process. If you want larger grain how about shooting regular 16 rather than super?



I'm ok with the increased contrast because I want a bit more contrast that is sometimes lacking in the 7218, which seems less contrasty to me. I guess I'm trying to determine how much I should push it when considering the film well end up being blown up, which will add more grain to the image. I'm also comfortable with underexposing it by 2/3 of a stop and then pushing one stop because it will still result in a dense negative, which, hopefully, will give me the latitude I need in timing. I'm just new to this and nervous and need to hear about other cinematographers' experiences who have faced similar situations.
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#4 Dominic Case

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 10:30 PM

I tested for this and I liked the quality of the image.

Hold on! You like what you see. If you've fully tested, what more is there to say?

BUT, if you haven't seen a blow-up from your footage, then you haven't really tested it. I guess this is where your advisor is filling in the gaps.

Generally (vague rule of thumb) a blow-up will result in a perception of grain that belongs to stock about a stop faster (i.e. if you shot on a 250 EI stock in 16mm, it would look like a 500 EI stock in 35mm.

Also, different methods of blow-up can produce markedly different results. Blow up from 16mm neg, blow-up from 16mm IP, and digital blow-up will all show different results, with the first one probably giving the most graininess.

My advice would be to ask the lab to blow up a short shot for you to look at. If the graininess is important to you (and it seems to be so) then you should allow at least a small part of your budget to seeing that you get it right.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 10:31 PM

It's just a matter of degree of graininess desired -- would the blow-up of S-16 500T be enough, or is more graininess desired? Testing is the only way to know for sure. There's no right or wrong answer here.
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#6 Adam McDaid

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 10:52 PM

It's just a matter of degree of graininess desired -- would the blow-up of S-16 500T be enough, or is more graininess desired? Testing is the only way to know for sure. There's no right or wrong answer here.


David,

Thank you for the advice. If I could compare the desired graininess to another film it would have to be 21 Grams by Rodrigo Prieto. I love the grain of that film. It is also a great example of my lighting approach, which will be more naturalistic. I want to implement and augment practical and available lighting as much as possible. That's part of the reason I wanted to underexpose the film and then push it. Any increased stoppage I can buy will make my life a little bit easier on this shoot.

I would love to be able to shoot another test, but we load the trucks in less than a week and I have a list a mile high of logistics that need to be taken care of if we hope to shoot this film.

What are your thoughts? I would greatly appreciate any more of your insight.

Thanks,
Adam
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#7 Chris Burke

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 10:56 PM

Also, you may want to test with a grainier stock; Fuji F-500 or Kodak Vision 500T, the first one, not 7218. It may save you money by not having to push. But you really should test first. Good luck.
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 11:46 PM

If you've already shot a test in Super-16, then you don't need to reshoot it, you only need to get it (or part of it) blown-up to 35mm and see how it holds up.
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