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Wong Kar-Wai/Christoper Doyle


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#1 Chris Perceval

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 04:51 AM

In the Mood for Love - that wonderful film by Wong Kar-Wai, exquisitely shot by Christopher Doyle and Li Ping-Bing has captivated me of late. I am fascinated by the luscious colours and somewhat retro look of the images. Good skin tones yet saturated reds, clean whites yet very warm tones with deep shadows. I must confess to almost total ignorance of the technical side of movie making - I am a stills man so please forgive anything that appears cretinous from me! I would love to know how this look was achieved (film stock, format, lighting etc) and how one might go about creating something similar in stills - I am on film BTW. Any light you can shed on my darkness would be much appreciated.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 11:38 AM

In the Mood for Love - that wonderful film by Wong Kar-Wai, exquisitely shot by Christopher Doyle and Li Ping-Bing has captivated me of late. I am fascinated by the luscious colours and somewhat retro look of the images. Good skin tones yet saturated reds, clean whites yet very warm tones with deep shadows. I must confess to almost total ignorance of the technical side of movie making - I am a stills man so please forgive anything that appears cretinous from me! I would love to know how this look was achieved (film stock, format, lighting etc) and how one might go about creating something similar in stills - I am on film BTW. Any light you can shed on my darkness would be much appreciated.


Chris Doyle has played around a lot with processing (push or pull) -- he sort of alternates between a high-contrast and low-contrast look these days. I believe "In the Mood for Love" was mostly shot on Kodak's lower-contrast stocks, either the old 320T or the old Expression. But the DVD transfer doesn't really reflect that, looking richer and finer-grained, more saturated than the prints in the theaters.

Honestly, having tried to copy it myself... the look of that movie is primarily in the art direction, camera angles & movement, and lighting more than the stock & filtering. Mainly the production design though.
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#3 Chris Perceval

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 05:15 AM

Chris Doyle has played around a lot with processing (push or pull) -- he sort of alternates between a high-contrast and low-contrast look these days. I believe "In the Mood for Love" was mostly shot on Kodak's lower-contrast stocks, either the old 320T or the old Expression. But the DVD transfer doesn't really reflect that, looking richer and finer-grained, more saturated than the prints in the theaters.

Honestly, having tried to copy it myself... the look of that movie is primarily in the art direction, camera angles & movement, and lighting more than the stock & filtering. Mainly the production design though.


David, that is most interesting and many thanks for your post. I have only seen the DVD transfer which does look very rich. The art direction, camera angles and so forth I very much appreciate (and enjoy). The film stock and lighting is interesting for me as to gain some appreciation of what was done could form the basis of an attempt to achieve a similar look with the materials and equipment available to a stills photographer. Now I am guessing here so please feel free to put me right but from what you say, a way Chris Doyle might have achieved such a look is by shooting on the 320T. As mentioned before, I was fascinated by the clean skin tones and but rich colours (the degree of richness depending on which version one saw). Could it be that Doyle had his key light(s) slightly cooler than the fills/other light sources? Good old mixed lighting really. I noticed also that the office scenes had the slightly green caste associated with fourescent tubes, left in deliberately I presume.

Another aspect, and one which I know nothing about, is what happens once the film has been exposed (barring the obvious need to develop it!) I have heard tell of dark arts such as colour grading and other things that go on in post production. Although interesting, there is not much I can do to replicate these given the differences between the processes involved for stills and movies.

Now, as a stills shooter I can do mixed lighting, I can set up shots, camera angles and all that - it is that the movie had a very retro feel to it - it looked like it had been shot in the 60s on 60s materials as well as set then. Do you know what I mean? One of the difficulties I find when trying to recreate a retro look is that materials have moved on, tonalities are different etc. It was this aspect that fascinated me as well. How does one achieve such a look with modern materials? Does one have to abuse them somewhat to knock them out of their clean modern-ness. Had wondered about taking a relatively saturated neg stock and pushing it, looking to increase contrast a bit and temper the colours somewhat. Any thoughts?

Chris
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#4 Milo Sekulovich

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 05:20 AM

David, that is most interesting and many thanks for your post. I have only seen the DVD transfer which does look very rich. The art direction, camera angles and so forth I very much appreciate (and enjoy). The film stock and lighting is interesting for me as to gain some appreciation of what was done could form the basis of an attempt to achieve a similar look with the materials and equipment available to a stills photographer. Now I am guessing here so please feel free to put me right but from what you say, a way Chris Doyle might have achieved such a look is by shooting on the 320T. As mentioned before, I was fascinated by the clean skin tones and but rich colours (the degree of richness depending on which version one saw). Could it be that Doyle had his key light(s) slightly cooler than the fills/other light sources? Good old mixed lighting really. I noticed also that the office scenes had the slightly green caste associated with fourescent tubes, left in deliberately I presume.

Another aspect, and one which I know nothing about, is what happens once the film has been exposed (barring the obvious need to develop it!) I have heard tell of dark arts such as colour grading and other things that go on in post production. Although interesting, there is not much I can do to replicate these given the differences between the processes involved for stills and movies.

Now, as a stills shooter I can do mixed lighting, I can set up shots, camera angles and all that - it is that the movie had a very retro feel to it - it looked like it had been shot in the 60s on 60s materials as well as set then. Do you know what I mean? One of the difficulties I find when trying to recreate a retro look is that materials have moved on, tonalities are different etc. It was this aspect that fascinated me as well. How does one achieve such a look with modern materials? Does one have to abuse them somewhat to knock them out of their clean modern-ness. Had wondered about taking a relatively saturated neg stock and pushing it, looking to increase contrast a bit and temper the colours somewhat. Any thoughts?

Chris



Hi,

As David stated,Doyle used an older 320T Kodak stock for that film,which are naturally grainier stocks. It's a possibility that he maybe pushed it-I'm not sure.

I know that Doyle always disliked the fact that the lenses he used with Wong Kar-Wai were old-he didn't like them.

All of these factors could contribute to an older 60's or 70's look.

Milo Sekulovich
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#5 Sam Wells

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 10:51 AM

How does one achieve such a look with modern materials?


You hire William Chang as your production designer and shoot in Bangkok for the look of 60's Hong Hong Kong B)

-Sam

p.s. as David says, the print (US print I saw anyway) was noticably softer in color etc. Criterion did a nice job with the DVD but I was surprised by it
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#6 Steve Wallace

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 02:23 PM

I believe "In the Mood for Love" was mostly shot on Kodak's lower-contrast stocks, either the old 320T or the old Expression. But the DVD transfer doesn't really reflect that, looking richer and finer-grained, more saturated than the prints in the theaters.

I thought the same thing. The DVD for ITMFL, while beautiful in it's own right, was not a good represenation of the theatrical print. 320t was the most muted new Kodak stock at the time of shooting (IIRC). The DVD had way to much punch, especially in the reds.

However the French special eddition release of 2046 was a good likeness.
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Visual Products

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The Slider

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Willys Widgets

Abel Cine

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FJS International, LLC

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