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How to vignette


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 07 May 2006 - 06:55 PM

All,
One of my favorite films is The Passion of Joan of Arc, and I am fascinated the soft black vignette that is present in nearly every shot of the film. It looks so unique, and pulsates as though alive. I am wondering, how would one achieve this? It is even possible to recreate this in camera, or is the effect merely an unavoidalbe a byproduct of the cine-technology of the time? Or is it something done in the lab during processing? Or, is it just something that happens to nitrate prints with age (the best print of the aforementioned film, and the one from which I have included a screengrab, had been stored in a closet). Would appreciate any info!
Best,
Brian Rose

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#2 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 07 May 2006 - 07:51 PM

is the effect merely an unavoidalbe a byproduct of the cine-technology of the time?


My guess is that it is either the lens or the lighting. You might be able to fake it with a mat box and a large appature so that the edges of the matte box are VERY out of focus.

Or is it something done in the lab during processing? Or, is it just something that happens to nitrate prints with age


A lab COULD fake this as a special effect, by using a mask to burn in the edge of each frame. durent an extra pass through the printer. Of course this is the sort of stuff the Digital imtermediate folks can do using half the keyboard.


Nirtate breaking down can bleach the image, but that normaly is seen near the edges fiirst becuase the air can get between the layers near the perfs. I have never hears of it making part of the image darker.
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#3 Josh Hill

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Posted 07 May 2006 - 08:01 PM

Use a lense that does not cover the format, or one that vignettes in focusing (such as my Angenieux 10-150 at 10mm focused in to less than 5 feet).

They used to use an "Iris In" technique in older films (Nosferatu).
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#4 SEC

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Posted 08 May 2006 - 12:03 AM

Howdy,
I know of a technique that involves putting Vaseline lip-balm on a lense filter, and wiping it away from the center out, leaving some around the edges. This creates a nice vignette effect. It would not be dark, but perhaps you could experiment with pigment.
Are you familiar with the work of the Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin? He employs a variety of vignetting that I think is fantastic, making his modern films look old. I recommend "The Saddest Music in the World" if you like this effect. He's very clever.
I think also that the "pulsating" was due to the pressure-plate shifting around a bit, and may have indeed been due to the cine-tech of the time. Just a guess.
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#5 James West

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Posted 08 May 2006 - 01:44 AM

For one shoot I used a normal to long lens (50mm-85mm in the 35 format), cut a center-hole in a N6 gel and taped it to a filter, I think it was a coral or a chocolate. It worked really well, very cheap effect, but you have to cut the hole the right size for each lens and wider lenses do NOT work with this method, because you start seeing the definition of the gel cut. You have to think about adding exposure, as well, even to the non-vignetted image, because this effect will knock your total exposure down a little. Also, 16mm will be a bit trickier. But you can see the effect very well through the viewfinder.
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#6 Mike Rizos

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 10:20 PM

I've also noticed this in pre 1930's films like Metropolis and was intrigued by it. It is even more pronounced in that movie. My opinion is that it happened with the wide angle lenses because vignetting was a real problem still, at that time. I think it would be relatively easy to create this in the camera. Besides using a zoom that would not cover the format completely, which might be the best way to do this, as you are certain to get soft edges at wide angle, the "wrong" hood will also produce this. Failling that, you may only need some stratigically placed tape over the lens.
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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 10:53 PM

Howdy,
I know of a technique that involves putting Vaseline lip-balm on a lense filter, and wiping it away from the center out, leaving some around the edges. This creates a nice vignette effect. It would not be dark, but perhaps you could experiment with pigment.
Are you familiar with the work of the Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin? He employs a variety of vignetting that I think is fantastic, making his modern films look old. I recommend "The Saddest Music in the World" if you like this effect. He's very clever.
I think also that the "pulsating" was due to the pressure-plate shifting around a bit, and may have indeed been due to the cine-tech of the time. Just a guess.
>[ ]



Vaseline on a flat is a very different look from vignetting. Vaseline just throws the image wildly out of focus, but not necessarily any darker.


Vignetting is just what happens when the image circle of the lens isn't enough to cover your negative size. I run into it all the time in large format photography when I'm taking stills on a 5x7 inch negative. One way to get this would be to fashion a mask for the back element of the lens that just effectively reduces the size of the back element. The advantage of doing it this way would be the possibility of very slight, very soft-edged vignettes. You could also use masks in front of the lens and shoot at a very wide aperture to the mask is as out-of-focus as possible.

Edit: I forgot one thing that may be of help. I know someone who had fall-off problems with a wide-angle large format lens. What he did was exposed a blank white area evenly so he got a grey in the center, falling off to clear on the legative. By packing this negative with his unexposed film, it corrects for the difference in illumination levels from the center to the edge, using the exact lens in question. Where this comes in is that 4x5 negatives are an awfully convenient size to fit into a mattebox filter stage. All one would have to do is pick up a drawing pencil and draw some soft-edged circles of various sizes and edge-softnesses and photograph them with a view camera. Process the negatives and you have a custom set of vignette masks that will fit directly into a 4x5 filter stage or, trimmed, into a 4x4 filter frame.

Edited by Christopher D. Keth, 09 May 2006 - 10:59 PM.

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