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Filming for telecine


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#1 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 05:39 AM

I am planning to expose some 16mm colour negative film with telecine specifically in mind. I am going to overexpose the majority of the footage by half a stop. I recall someone on this forum recommending that if one deliberately overexposes neg film, it's best to film a grey scale at the head of the film which will help the telecine people get the 'exposure' right at their end. I have heard elsewhere on this forum that it's also recommended to film a colour chart at the head of the film which will make colour correction easier at the telecine stage. Should I film both a grey scale and a colour chart at the beginning of each film reel or would only one of these items be sufficient? If both are required, would it be best to film the grey scale first and then the colour chart or would the order not matter? Additionally, how many seconds (duration) per grey scale and colour chart would be required?
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#2 Andy Sparaco SOC

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 06:26 AM

You can purchase a set of Kodak color seperation guides which give you a grey step scale and color patches. Filmtools/LA and SMS/Chicago have them. $20 to $30USD
They come in two sizes. I rubber cement the small size over the director and camera spaces on the production slate in this way there is a color/grey scale at the head of every shot.

The colorist needs only one clean frame to set up on so I roll 5 feet of head leader on the slate/chips at each mag change so as not to burn film needlessly. Also roll out 5 feet of tails on the the slate/chips.

You should shoot chips once again just a quick second or two at each change in lighting although on some jobs we are luck to get the them on once a day.

A grey card is also nice as you have a larger target for the colorist to sample with their mouse- We keep one glued to the back of the slate.

The colorist does not get the "exposure right" -that is your job
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#3 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 07:00 AM

Thanks for the information. These Kodak colour seperation guides sound ideal - combining a grey scale and colour chart on the one sheet.

"You should shoot chips once again just a quick second or two at each change in lighting..."

The plan is to shoot this entire project under natural sunlight - the majority of it will be filmed in late afternoon light. However, there may be some filming done in overcast light. Would a change from late afternoon (direct) sunlight to overcast light necessitate the filming of these colour guides again?
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#4 Andy Sparaco SOC

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 08:01 AM

Thanks for the information. These Kodak colour seperation guides sound ideal - combining a grey scale and colour chart on the one sheet.

"You should shoot chips once again just a quick second or two at each change in lighting..."

The plan is to shoot this entire project under natural sunlight - the majority of it will be filmed in late afternoon light. However, there may be some filming done in overcast light. Would a change from late afternoon (direct) sunlight to overcast light necessitate the filming of these colour guides again?


Yes it would. The "chips" are a known reference for the colorists. Most colorists can work quite happyily without them.

The "Chips" are there to help you-so use them often. They help you speak to the colorist in the context of a known reference.

Once again the Grey card is also helpful as it is easier to see

The Kodak Seperation guides are actually two printed strips/

There are other "chips" Macbeth makes one and there are other extremely expensive ones which are part of a on-site color grading system. I like the the Kodak because when they get beat up they are inexpenive to replace like an eyepiece chamois.
On a feature I include a set and greycard as part of the expendables

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#5 Wendell_Greene

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 09:48 AM

Don't forget to shoot a framing chart as well.
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#6 Michael Most

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 10:54 AM

The "chips" are a known reference for the colorists. Most colorists can work quite happyily without them.

The "Chips" are there to help you-so use them often. They help you speak to the colorist in the context of a known reference.

Once again the Grey card is also helpful as it is easier to see


Color chips are normally ignored by telecine colorists. Gray cards, on the other hand, are quite helpful, as they allow very rapid setting of both level and color balance, provided they are exposed correctly in the same light as the scene they represent.
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#7 ryan_bennett

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 11:16 AM

To be quite honest, I just shot a few frames of the color chart and that was pretty much it. The important thing is taking good notes when you send it in to the colorist and also talking to them. I pretty much got what I want but in the end I still tweaked it in my NLE. I think most "bad transfers" are ones that the DP or someone from the crew doesn't converse with the colorist.
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#8 David Cavallo

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 11:34 AM

Color chips are normally ignored by telecine colorists. Gray cards, on the other hand, are quite helpful, as they allow very rapid setting of both level and color balance, provided they are exposed correctly in the same light as the scene they represent.


I'd read/heard in various places that if a scene is being shot with gels on the lights to create a specific effect, the gray card should be shot in white light (properly exposed, of course and preferably in front of the scene being filmed) as the colorist/timer will try and bring the reference gray card back to gray. For example: if I was adding, say 1/2 CTO to my instruments for a "warmer" look, and I shot the gray card under this light, the timer would attempt to "time it out" and make the gray card "gray," thus eradicating my on-set effect. Is this incorrect?

In addition, the last time I was in the telecine suite (DaVinci) I watched the colorist make his quick adjustments for each roll based on a Kodak color separation chip chart. (There was no gray card, so perhaps it was the only way?) I'm curious if a timer would prefer to NOT have the chip chart--I always shoot one--and if so, what purpose does a color chart serve?

Thank you,
David
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#9 Andy Sparaco SOC

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 02:16 PM

Don't forget to shoot a framing chart as well.

I use framing charts I download from the Panavision New Zeland website. That way I don't lose them. I usually have someone in the production office print them on foto paper we steal from the location managers-oops I'm in for it now
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#10 Michael Most

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 03:54 PM

I'd read/heard in various places that if a scene is being shot with gels on the lights to create a specific effect, the gray card should be shot in white light (properly exposed, of course and preferably in front of the scene being filmed) as the colorist/timer will try and bring the reference gray card back to gray. For example: if I was adding, say 1/2 CTO to my instruments for a "warmer" look, and I shot the gray card under this light, the timer would attempt to "time it out" and make the gray card "gray," thus eradicating my on-set effect. Is this incorrect?


No. When I said "exposed correctly" I meant just that. If the scene is being shot "normal," you light the gray card "normal." If you want it warmed up, you light it a bit blue. If you want it cooler, you light it warm. How heavy the gels you use for this are depends on experience and intent. The reason a gray card is so useful is because it is absolute and unambiguous. If the timing is properly balanced, it's neutral. This can be seen visually and also confirmed using scopes, particularly a parade display.

In addition, the last time I was in the telecine suite (DaVinci) I watched the colorist make his quick adjustments for each roll based on a Kodak color separation chip chart. (There was no gray card, so perhaps it was the only way?) I'm curious if a timer would prefer to NOT have the chip chart--I always shoot one--and if so, what purpose does a color chart serve?


In electronic color correction, it basically serves no purpose. In photochemical timing, it serves to provide visual confirmation that the chemistry was proper, and in some cases allows for specific densitometer readings when necessary. It's most useful during tests, in which the color effects of various filters, and the bias of various stocks - both negative and print - is being tested and measured. In some cases, like the Gamma and Density system, various chips are specifically identified as having specific electronic values. But unless you're using that system, it really serves no useful purpose that I know of.
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#11 Andy Sparaco SOC

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 05:43 PM

In electronic color correction, it basically serves no purpose.

If you don't know how to use them. Like anything else they are a tool. A tool which prevents the colorist from wagging the cinematographer.
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#12 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 07:57 PM

Hmmm...what actually is a framing chart? That's the first time Ive heard of those.

Another related question - if you were using a colour chart, grey scale or grey card, does it actually matter if such reference cards are out of focus? I was planning to position the card relatively close to the lens so that it appears large in the frame while the lens is focussed on the subject behind it.
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#13 Michael Most

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 08:46 PM

If you don't know how to use them. Like anything else they are a tool. A tool which prevents the colorist from wagging the cinematographer.


Well, I've been a colorist on and off for almost 30 years, and I really don't know of any use for color chips from a colorist's point of view. So if you know of one other than a political one, please educate me.
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#14 Andy Sparaco SOC

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 02:04 PM

Well, I've been a colorist on and off for almost 30 years, and I really don't know of any use for color chips from a colorist's point of view. So if you know of one other than a political one, please educate me.


I own a Grey card and color chips. I know what they look like including the dents and scratches. It is a point of reference I am familiar with regardless of the voltage in the building the day of the transfer, regardless of the argument the colorist had with her boy/girlfriend, regardless of the general disarray in the engineering core of the post house.

A grey card and chips are just like Burger King.
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#15 Michael Most

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 04:51 PM

I own a Grey card and color chips. I know what they look like including the dents and scratches. It is a point of reference I am familiar with regardless of the voltage in the building the day of the transfer, regardless of the argument the colorist had with her boy/girlfriend, regardless of the general disarray in the engineering core of the post house.


In that case, you have a point (not the one about the colorist's personal life or alleged engineering incompetance, though). I still stand by my reply to the original question, which had to do with whether color charts were used by colorists for setup, and my answer, now, as then, is still no. In the context of your reply, however, that's not to say that it might not have a benefit to the cameraman who shot it.
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 02:39 AM

Grey scales / grey cards with a black and white reference are more useful for telling the colorist what a "neutral" value should look like. Color charts like a MacBeth chart are more for the user to see & test color reproduction, not set-up a telecine for dailies. Color is a somewhat subjective quality, whereas most of us can tell if a grey field is neutral or has a color bias.
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#17 Stephen Williams

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 04:12 AM

Well, I've been a colorist on and off for almost 30 years, and I really don't know of any use for color chips from a colorist's point of view. So if you know of one other than a political one, please educate me.


Hi Mike,

As a DP using a color chart once saved my ass in a transfer! I was doing a best light correction on a Shadow, the colorist was having a problem so ignored the chart and tried to grade the image. The picture looked like poop. I asked him to to go back to the color chart, he said I had sone something wrong! I then asked him to put up the Kodak test film. It turned out the green chanel of the telecine was dissabled!

Stephen
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#18 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 12:57 AM

What exactly is a framing chart and how does this benefit a telecine session?
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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 03:45 AM

You shoot a framing chart that lines-up in your viewfinder with the groundglass frameline markings so that the colorist knows the framelines of your image, especially necessary when shooting any format that involves cropping part of the negative.
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#20 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 04:44 PM

Except for terrible technical malfunctions like in Stephen Williams case, I've never seen the use for grey scales in telecine and have managed to do fine without them. A grey scale assumes that there's a 'normal' level one has to start off with, or begin with, to be able to grade. Which simply isn't the case. That's not part of the requirement for a grade.

The grey scale is also an interpretation of normality - not a true value that can be compared between setups. Ask any colorist the dreaded 'can I see what the neg looks like clean' and you'll find how he starts to squirm in his seat - there is no '0' setting and they have to actually grade their way towards an ungraded look (or recall a stored setting that comes close).
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