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Civil War Film, Any Ideas


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#1 J Lund

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 03:06 PM

I'm going to be shooting a Civil War film involving some reinactments, but mainly following two main characters. It is about a young man who abandons his troops, follows an army photographer around, and basically becomes his camera assistant, following in his footsteps.

I am wanting to recreate the look of Civil War photography> High Contrast, grainy, etc. We are shooting color, however I want it saturated, using some color & grain filters (no sepia), but the color not to be distracting- keeping the feel of photography of that era. We are going to bleach bypass the negative during transfer to heighten the contrast and grain as well. There are going to be tests with film stocks - 7274 200T, 7212 100T, and 7246 250D.

I just wanted to see if anyone had some creative advice- Mainly what Film Stock, and perhaps what filters as well.

Edited by J Lund, 13 January 2006 - 03:07 PM.

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#2 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 03:46 PM

I'm going to be shooting a Civil War film involving some reinactments, but mainly following two main characters. It is about a young man who abandons his troops, follows an army photographer around, and basically becomes his camera assistant, following in his footsteps.

I am wanting to recreate the look of Civil War photography> High Contrast, grainy, etc. We are shooting color, however I want it saturated, using some color & grain filters (no sepia), but the color not to be distracting- keeping the feel of photography of that era. We are going to bleach bypass the negative during transfer to heighten the contrast and grain as well. There are going to be tests with film stocks - 7274 200T, 7212 100T, and 7246 250D.

I just wanted to see if anyone had some creative advice- Mainly what Film Stock, and perhaps what filters as well.



Since photos taken in that era were relatively large format, graininess was not usually very apparent, even with the old wet plate emulsion technology. Check with archives like the George Eastman House, and look at Ken Burns' "Civil War" documentary series.

http://www.geh.org

http://www.eastmanhouse.org
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#3 Dickson Sorensen

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 06:34 PM

I'm going to be shooting a Civil War film involving some reinactments, but mainly following two main characters. It is about a young man who abandons his troops, follows an army photographer around, and basically becomes his camera assistant, following in his footsteps.

I am wanting to recreate the look of Civil War photography> High Contrast, grainy, etc. We are shooting color, however

I just wanted to see if anyone had some creative advice- Mainly what Film Stock, and perhaps what filters as well.


The only color photographs at the time were hand tinted black and whites- a look that would have to be achived in post. If you want a moving version of Math. Brady that would be black and white. It is my feeling that too much is made of giving an aged look to films depicting pre-movie technology. If you were shooting a story about the ancient Greeks would you animate the side of a ceramic pot? If you haven't seen it already: Gettysburgh (1993) Directed by Ron Maxwell Dir of Photography Kees Van Ostrum. I believe this film one of the best ever done on the Civil War era and is certain to inspire.

Edited by Dickson Sorensen, 13 January 2006 - 06:36 PM.

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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 06:44 PM

Either approach is valid, treating the past to look like it's not the present, and treating the past as if it were the present. Just compare the photography of "Saving Private Ryan" to "The Thin Red Line" -- both evocative of WW2 in different ways.

By the way, you can't add skip bleach in a transfer, you can only simulate it. It's done in the film processing. And I have no idea what a grain filter is, unless you're talking about a digital effect.

Saturated color is certainly the opposite of a Brady photograph effect. You would be emulating mid 19th century painting more than photography then.

What might be interesting is to simulate the shallow-focus, vignetted look (fall-off on the edges) of large format photography at the time.
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 07:34 PM

Either approach is valid, treating the past to look like it's not the present, and treating the past as if it were the present. Just compare the photography of "Saving Private Ryan" to "The Thin Red Line" -- both evocative of WW2 in different ways.

By the way, you can't add skip bleach in a transfer, you can only simulate it. It's done in the film processing. And I have no idea what a grain filter is, unless you're talking about a digital effect.

Saturated color is certainly the opposite of a Brady photograph effect. You would be emulating mid 19th century painting more than photography then.

What might be interesting is to simulate the shallow-focus, vignetted look (fall-off on the edges) of large format photography at the time.



I remember a pretty interesting article in AC about a short film shot in Cuba. The look of the film was achieved by building a rig to hold a camera and a 5x7 camera so that the video camera was really shooting the image projected on the groundglass. It yielded a fairly low contrast image with beautiful pastel colors. The illumination would also fall off toward the edges and create a natural vignette. The only drawbacks of this is that shooting off the groundglass caused a loss of something like 7 stops of light, so lots of light would be needed. You might think about trying something like this, or at least find the article and see if it sparks any ideas. Perhaps someone here can recall what issue it was in. If anything evokes 19th century photography to me, this was it.
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#6 J Lund

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Posted 15 January 2006 - 10:39 AM

I appreciate the advice. I forgot that most of the photography, both studio and field, were silver- large format (very little grain if any). And yes- I meant bleach bypass during film processing- not transfer. Anyway, I am still going to shoot color- I just want to give it a more time-worn look. We have some camera tests- so I will try various combinations of filters.
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