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High contrast and grain


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#1 Polly Morgan

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 10:22 AM

Hello! This is my first post in the forum...i have been working in camera as an assistant for 5 years and am about to shoot my first commercial on 35mm as a professional DP.

The director is calling for a rich, high contrast and grainy look. He wants it to be cinematic.

Is my best bet to shoot on 5279 for the high contrast...under expose it by one stop and then push process? He s talking about doing a work print to achieve the high contrast but is common practice for a commercial?

Should a newbie try for the desired effects chemically or should i expose a relatively flat neg and rely on post...?

Also...he wants to do some time lapse shots...if my shutter is 1/15 what compensation do i need to make?

Thanks in advance for any advice!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 12:14 PM

Pushing 5279 by one-stop isn't a bad idea; hopefully that will be grainy enough for him. I suppose you could go for a two-stop push... or use a skip-bleach process, for even more grain.

As for transferring from a print, I'd use the low-con "teleprint" stock -- it already is more contrasty than the original negative. But I'd take both the print and the neg to the telecine session just in case you aren't happy with the print.

I don't know why high-contrast and grainy is more "cinematic" than low-contrast and fine-grained though.
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#3 Collin Brink

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 07:03 PM

Grain is one of the harder things to mock up in telecine, so you may be better off achieving it photochemically. Pushing a slightly older stock like '79 will give you some grain. I like to overexpose a little for the push, especially with older stocks.

Contrast is quite easy to manipulate in telecine, so if you got your grain from the push, you could up the contrast (and lower your slightly milky, pushed blacks) in transfer.

But no posting like this is complete without urging you to test: it's not just a great learning experience for you, it's a great tool to communicate with your director and ensure that his and your notions of "grainy," "high contrast," and "cinematic" are the same.

Good luck,
Collin
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#4 Polly Morgan

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 08:22 AM

Thank you both for excellent suggestions. I am slightly wary of pushing more than one stop or attempting the beach by pass purely because as a relative new comer it gives me more room to make an error!

Colin, do you mean that instead of underexposing my neg and pushing a stop i should slightly over expose it and push one? do i then bring it back in the transfer?

one more question...! not only is the director asking for the high contrast and grainy 'cinematic' look!! but he also wants it to look rich and evenly lit like the european commercials? can anyone tell me what he means and how to achieve this? he is talking about commercials like the stella atrois or guiness ads....

there is not much colour in these spots so i am thinking a bit of desaturation...as i m not bleach by passing is there any way to do this other than art direction and grading?

Thanks again....
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 11:08 AM

If you're not clear as to what the director wants, you two should sit down and look at some commercials, movie clips, magazine photos, whatever, to clarify things.

It's always best to control color through art direction and costume, but you can easily adjust the color levels later in the color-correction session during the telecine transfer, or if there is a later color-correction session.

Overexposing a negative gives it more density, push-processing gives a negative more density. So the question is what is the best combination if you want a denser-than-normal negative.

If you underexposed the film stock by 1/3 of a stop but push-processed it by one-stop, you would have a net effect of a negative that was 2/3's of a stop denser-than-normal after processing. Or you could have processed normal and just overexposed by 2/3's of a stop. The difference is more in grain and contrast.

Most people underexpose slightly less than the amount they are pushing, just to ensure that the negative is dense enough. For example, rating a 200 ASA stock at 320 ASA and then pushing one-stop, instead of rating it at 400 ASA for the one-stop push. This gives you a slightly denser-than-normal negative, or if you slightly misexposed, maybe even just a normal density negative. Push-processing is not an exact science so giving yourself a little leeway is a good idea.
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