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That ultra-saturated 60's look


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#1 Viktor Kaganovich

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 01:56 AM

I was just in the screening of Jean-Luc Godard's "One or Two Things About Her" and was reminded of how much I like that ultra-saturated look.

This is not just JLG's look - many Hollywood films of that era had the same "Piet Mondrian" look: maximum reds, blues and yellows, while the rest of the tones were gathered around the same mauve-beige-brown-taupe axis. "Charlie Varick" comes to mind immediately, "Our Man Flint", some Doris Day films and similar stuff.

What is fascinating about this look (other than its "modernist" punch) is how it gathered all blues and made it one fantastic baby blue or dark navy, all reds were blood red and all yellows were luminous safety yellow, and all the tones in between beautifully softened to nearly off-white. At the same time, the blond-to-brown hair, skin, wood paneling all became different strengths of the same color.

Obviously, art direction had a lot to do with it, but they couldnt've repainted every car and billboard in town. How can one get this look today?

P.S. Please don't suggest DI, I am a professional photoshop retoucher and I still could not get it right.
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#2 Bernhard Zitz

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 10:01 AM

imdb says

Film negative format (mm/video inches)
35 mm
Cinematographic process
Techniscope
Printed film format
35 mm
Aspect ratio
2.35 : 1

nothing about the stock on imbd

another site says

Color (Eastmancolor)

the same as for "pierrot le fou", although these films have a similar look to "le mepris" that was technicolor and real scope...
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 11:19 AM

The 35mm color negative stocks back then were not more saturated than they are now, just more contrasty, as well as the print process. The Technicolor dye transfer print process was more saturated, although the Kodak Vision Premier print stock today also has a saturated look.

In some ways, the old color stocks weren't as good at defining as many shades of color, which is a way might make the colors that were resolved seem more obvious.

But honestly, the primary reason for the more saturated look back then was art direction combined with harder, more frontal lighting, followed by higher contrast in the overall chain to printing, and in some cases, Technicolor dye transfer printing.

Now recently, the latest generation of color negative stocks (Kodak Vision-2 and Fuji Eterna) have opted to be more pastel than before, so you would have been better off using the older EXR stocks, for example, to achieve that look. Now you'd have to find some Vision 5279 or Fuji Super F-Series stock, maybe push it a stop, to get it to look a little more contrasty.

One aspect of these older movies that is hard to replicate is that their negatives have faded in some of the dye layers, causing some odd color shifts. Shadows go bluer and highlights yellower when you correct for the aging. This is one reason why so many people with grey hair in old color movies now have blue hair it seems.
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#4 Brian Woods

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 12:53 PM

is there any place that still does technicolor dye transfer printing?
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#5 John Holland

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 12:58 PM

Sorry to be boring ,said this so many times on here , 5251 50 asa and then the best 5254 100asa and [The Most ]important thing is when high speed neg and higher temp process was bought in , for Kodaks wonder stock 5274 , which then took about 3 years to get right. So many pics shot in the States at that time and to here to a lesser extent , looked really bad. There was a bit of revolution here {UK] lead by Mr Unsworth and Watkin . Kodak then got there arse into gear ,but it took a vey long time .So main reason David Watkin shot loads of his films using Agfa neg . Sorry for the rant . John Holland ,London.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 01:38 PM

Sorry to be boring ,said this so many times on here , 5251 50 asa and then the best 5254 100asa and [The Most ]important thing is when high speed neg and higher temp process was bought in , for Kodaks wonder stock 5274 , which then took about 3 years to get right. So many pics shot in the States at that time and to here to a lesser extent , looked really bad. There was a bit of revolution here {UK] lead by Mr Unsworth and Watkin . Kodak then got there arse into gear ,but it took a vey long time .So main reason David Watkin shot loads of his films using Agfa neg . Sorry for the rant . John Holland ,London.


Yes, but Watkin didn't start using Agfa until the mid 1980's, and it wasn't because he didn't like 5247, or 5293, but 5293's replacement, 5294 (400T) where he felt Kodak had sacrificed latitude to gain more speed.

And actually Unsworth (in American Cinematographer) generally said he preferred 5247 over 5254 because it was sharper, which worked better with his diffusion, underexposure, and smoked-sets approach.

But the problems with the 1974-1976 version of 5247 (along with the intro of ECN-2 I guess) are well-known and is the reason why Kodak kept selling 5254 until August 1976, when the Series 600 version of 5247 came out.
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#7 John Holland

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 02:02 PM

David , did tests with Watkin in Spain as an A/C for " Robin and Marion 5274 , at that time it was the pits , i think we called it red ,green fashover .Red faces and really bad green shadows , and terrible latitude . Watkin i know really did push any the stock to its limits ,but had serious trouble with this one . Just compare it to The Three.Musketeers , 5254. same lab ,Technicolor London. John Holland. London.
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#8 Thomas Worth

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 02:07 PM

P.S. Please don't suggest DI, I am a professional photoshop retoucher and I still could not get it right.

Can you post a still of the look you're talking about? I'd like to try to simulate it.
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#9 James Erd

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 02:16 PM

One aspect of these older movies that is hard to replicate is that their negatives have faded in some of the dye layers, causing some odd color shifts. Shadows go bluer and highlights yellower when you correct for the aging. This is one reason why so many people with grey hair in old color movies now have blue hair it seems.


Aha... so that is the explanation for Mrs Slocombe's hair.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...7770355_3.shtml
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#10 Viktor Kaganovich

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 04:42 PM

Can you post a still of the look you're talking about? I'd like to try to simulate it.



no, I tossed it a while ago - it was frustrating enough.

it was obvious that no general curves/saturation adjustments could bring that look. and masking each element in the picture and adjusting it separately (though standard procedure for stills) is not what is done in normal DI practice, AFAIK. Some elements, the rest - general application of curves and timing. Certainly not enough to emulate the dye-transfer strength of color.

Same goes for stills, actually - those David Eggleston photos would just not be the same on the c-prints.
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#11 Matthew Buick

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 04:57 PM

Yes, but Watkin didn't start using Agfa until the mid 1980's, and it wasn't because he didn't like 5247, or 5293, but 5293's replacement, 5294 (400T) where he felt Kodak had sacrificed latitude to gain more speed.

And actually Unsworth (in American Cinematographer) generally said he preferred 5247 over 5254 because it was sharper, which worked better with his diffusion, underexposure, and smoked-sets approach.

But the problems with the 1974-1976 version of 5247 (along with the intro of ECN-2 I guess) are well-known and is the reason why Kodak kept selling 5254 until August 1976, when the Series 600 version of 5247 came out.


Just out of interest, when did 5247 finally go, and which MODERN stock best simulates that brilliant look ?
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#12 Viktor Kaganovich

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 05:03 PM

Can you post a still of the look you're talking about? I'd like to try to simulate it.


couldn't find anything better that this:

Posted Image


Posted Image


and a great link here:

http://movieimage1.tripod.com/pierrot/

Edited by Viktor Kaganovich, 08 December 2006 - 05:05 PM.

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#13 Thomas Worth

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 06:43 PM

Here's a quick go. Not sure I'm nailing it, but I thought the look was interesting nonetheless (and keeping with the period). Shot it with my Canon D30.

Posted Image
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#14 James Erd

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 07:52 PM

It seems as always, that the recipe for frustration is wanting a result for esthetic reasons, that company engineers have decided is flawed for technical or economic reasons. Still I am sure there must be a way to get close to that look.

Edited by James Erd, 08 December 2006 - 07:53 PM.

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#15 David Venhaus

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 11:47 PM

There have been several super-saturated film stocks availible for still photography, over the years. Fuji Velvia come to mind as the only one that I know of that has been released for motion picture use, but it is a reversal film. Here is an example of Velvia that I took, it is a scan with no digital color changes.
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#16 Viktor Kaganovich

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Posted 09 December 2006 - 12:17 AM

There have been several super-saturated film stocks availible for still photography, over the years. Fuji Velvia come to mind as the only one that I know of that has been released for motion picture use, but it is a reversal film. Here is an example of Velvia that I took, it is a scan with no digital color changes.



I shot a lot of reversal film (stills) and don't think any contemporary film has that look. I'd venture that pushing very high speed negative film, like 800 to 3200 will get a little closer to that look (with a ton of grain, though).

I am more inclined to think that it all comes down to die-transfer Technicolor process, which is inherently very color-discriminating.
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#17 David Venhaus

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Posted 09 December 2006 - 06:08 AM

I didn't mean all reversal films just Fuji Velvia, in terms of its color saturation (and neg. films like Kodak Ultra Color, Agfa Ultra Color,etc). The Technicolor dye-transfer process, being that it is a photomechanical process rather then photochemical, there are more varibles that can be independently manipulated to achieve specific results in the prints. Color saturation would be only one of those variables, not all Technicolor prints have that type of saturation, some films made with it are much more subtle.
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#18 Bernhard Zitz

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Posted 09 December 2006 - 07:00 AM

In some ways, the old color stocks weren't as good at defining as many shades of color, which is a way might make the colors that were resolved seem more obvious.


that seems to be the point, if you compare colors over a whole movie or even between different movies the colors look all the same, objects have the same flat monochrome look.

here 6 different yellows from "2 ou 3 choses" and "made in usa"
[attachment=1601:attachment]


Sorry I mixed up some stuff before, "le Mepris" hasn't the same look at all, more contrast, less shadow detail, very 50ies technicolor-like, but the blues and reds are similar to "2 ou 3 choses".

Just compared some JLG movies; "2 ou 3 choses", "made in USA" and "Pierrot le fou" have very similar look. "2 ou 3 choses" looks rawer (less lightning) and is a little grainier.

This films have a lot blue and red in the design, often yellow and other large monochromes. It's also Coutards lightning-style that does some of the look, especially for indoor. "Made in USA" is my favorite in terms of look, it's even extreme than "2 ou 3 choses".

I'd also love to achieve this look. I guess there's no colorneg around that does the job? Wasn't there in former discussions a company mentioned that does dye-transfer again?
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#19 David Venhaus

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Posted 09 December 2006 - 09:38 AM

Technicolor started doing dye-transfer prints again in 1997 but then stopped again in 2002. There was also a Chinese company doing them up until around 1993.

I am unsure of what neg stocks were used on the films you mentioned but they were probably just the regular stock of that time. IB Technicolor prints can made from regular color neg. The last 3-strip was around 1955 so any IB Technicolor prints made after that would have been from regular color neg. material.
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#20 Sam Wells

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Posted 09 December 2006 - 12:24 PM

couldn't find anything better that this:


FWIW that still from Pierrot le fou doesn't resemble any print I've ever seen & I've seen some pretty good ones in 35......

-Sam
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