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Good Night, and Good Luck


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#1 Telmo Moreira

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 05:00 PM

I read this interview to George Clooney about Good Night, and Good Luck and he says:

"It's funny. We shot it on color film because you can use so much less light. I mean, if you're shooting in black and white, it would take us twice as long to light it."

I dont understand this relation beetween B&W/Colour and "more Light"/"Less Light".
Can anyone help me?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 05:33 PM

The fastest Kodak b&w neg stock is Double-X, which is 200 ASA in tungsten light, and is grainier than 500 ASA tunsgten-balanced color negative stock. So by shooting on 500T color stock, you get less graininess while shooting at lower light levels.

"T.M.", please change your User Name to a real first and last name, as is required in the forum rules.
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#3 Nathan Milford

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 05:40 PM

I don't know if someone dumbed it down when explaining it to him, or he is dumbing it down for the general public but he (or whoever dumbed it down for him) is probably referring to that fact that 5218 (on which I think it was shot) is a 500 ASA stock and 5222 (Kodak's fastest B&W negative) is a 200 ASA stock, a stop and change difference. It would take more than twice the footcandles\lux to get the same exposure on 5222 than it would with 7128.

Why they think it would take twice a long I can only speculate, but if they were already shooting wide open on 5218 and weren't willing to take a graininess hit and push it, they'd need larger lighting units for the 5222. I suppose one might argue larger units require more time to deal with, but I'd say that would only be the case if you were dealing with units that couldn't run on a normal household circuit (15-20A).

*shrugs*
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#4 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 08:18 PM

Both of those answers are better than mine, mine is just theoretical at best.

Perhaps black and white film stock can handle more gray tones, especially when transferred to video (you gain 50 extra lines resolution as compared to standard def color video) so just a couple of teeny tiny tweaks in lighting ratios and intensity can give additional tonal nuances.
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#5 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 04:21 AM

Perhaps black and white film stock can handle more gray tones, especially when transferred to video (you gain 50 extra lines resolution as compared to standard def color video) so just a couple of teeny tiny tweaks in lighting ratios and intensity can give additional tonal nuances.

If you're referring to lattitude, then color neg has significantly more than B&W neg. So you'd not only need more footcandles from your lights, but also more fill to match the contrast ratios you'd be getting by shooting color neg. That's probably where shooting B&W neg would slow things down the most - you'd be forced to add fill light where you'd ordinarily just let it go.
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#6 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 04:26 AM

If you're referring to lattitude, then color neg has significantly more than B&W neg. So you'd not only need more footcandles from your lights, but also more fill to match the contrast ratios you'd be getting by shooting color neg. That's probably where shooting B&W neg would slow things down the most - you'd be forced to add fill light where you'd ordinarily just let it go.


But when it comes to transferring the film to video via a rank cintel set-up, perhaps the black and white negative actually has more transferrable range, otherwise why not just shoot color neg even for black and white projects?
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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 05:05 AM

Well, not really - modern filmstock is simply less grainy and more sensitive (ie. has more dynamic range) than older stocks. The '18 was released in 2002, while the '22 is essentially the same stock that was released in 1959. If you look at Kodak's film chronology on their website, you can see that their whole history is devoted to consistently making their films less grainy and more sensitive.

http://www.kodak.com...s....26.4&lc=en

I can send you some still frames of a film test that I shot along these lines if you'd like. I tested 7212 (100T color neg) against 7231 (64T/80D, Plus-X B&W neg), desaturating the color in telecine, then compared the footage side-by-side. The color neg has more dynamic range, more lattitude, less grain, and a lower gamma, no question about it.

So then why would anyone ever shoot B&W stock, if the color neg is so good? For the look! And what exactly is that? Personally, I think it boils down to several things: the grainy texture of silver nitrate, which usually gets bleached out of color neg in the development process; a higher gamma which tends to give the impression of more texture in skin tones (fine lines, pores, moles stand out more); and the older, less effective anti-halation backing, which allows specular highlights to bloom. Of course, you can do all these things to color neg in the camera (lens diffusion), at the lab (bleach bypass), or in telecine (increase gamma), but I've noticed that people who shoot color neg for B&W usually don't want these things - they just want it to look like desaturated color neg. I think David Mullen's work on "Northfork" (only seen it on DVD) and most of Darius Kondji's ENR'd work captures more of the feeling of classic B&W than "Good Might and Good Luck" or "The Man Who Wasn't There" because of their use of silver retention techniques and (in David's case), halated highlights.

*EDIT: It's weird to say that LESS dynamic range can lead to MORE tonal nuances (in skin texture, for example), but that seems to be my experience. So let's just say, more APPARENT tonal nuances. :)

Edited by Satsuki Murashige, 03 January 2007 - 05:08 AM.

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#8 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 05:35 AM

*EDIT: It's weird to say that LESS dynamic range can lead to MORE tonal nuances (in skin texture, for example), but that seems to be my experience. So let's just say, more APPARENT tonal nuances. :)


Are you relating the above statement to black and white or color neg?
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#9 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 05:46 AM

Are you relating the above statement to black and white or color neg?


B&W neg. It has less dynamic range than color neg, but appears to have more tonal nuances (at least in skin texture), hence my statement.
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#10 Telmo Moreira

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 09:54 AM

The fastest Kodak b&w neg stock is Double-X, which is 200 ASA in tungsten light, and is grainier than 500 ASA tunsgten-balanced color negative stock. So by shooting on 500T color stock, you get less graininess while shooting at lower light levels.

"T.M.", please change your User Name to a real first and last name, as is required in the forum rules.


Sorry for using only my name initials, I cleared that problem, and thanks for the answer.
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#11 Sam Wells

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 10:29 AM

If you're referring to lattitude, then color neg has significantly more than B&W neg. So you'd not only need more footcandles from your lights, but also more fill to match the contrast ratios you'd be getting by shooting color neg. That's probably where shooting B&W neg would slow things down the most - you'd be forced to add fill light where you'd ordinarily just let it go.


It goes against my B&W religious beliefs but I wonder, if you shot Double-X neg and processed only to 6.0 gamma (which wd look flat as a pancake on a print :( ) & built up some contrast in digital post --
you might be quite competitive with the range of say 52/7217... I mean the on-the-job _useful_ range

-Sam Wells
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#12 Angeliki Makraki

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 11:15 AM

The fastest Kodak b&w neg stock is Double-X, which is 200 ASA in tungsten light, and is grainier than 500 ASA tunsgten-balanced color negative stock. So by shooting on 500T color stock, you get less graininess while shooting at lower light levels.

"T.M.", please change your User Name to a real first and last name, as is required in the forum rules.



What if you are shooting Digital ?
Is it better to shoot color and then change it to BW ?
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#13 Jim Feldspar

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 11:23 AM

What if you are shooting Digital ?
Is it better to shoot color and then change it to BW ?


First of all, I think that most digital cameras (that I know) only shoot in color. I shot a project
and the director wanted it to be b/w so I desaturated it in Final Cut Pro and it was b/w but it
looked like b/w video. B/W film, especially years ago, has certain characteristics mentioned
by others here, due to its chemical nature, that aren't going to happen with video.

Still, if you want a b/w look, decide what you can do. For example, lighting film noir style and
exploring what you can do with camera settings, adjustments in post, and filters (to perhaps
give a bit more halation on lights) might help you get the look you want and people will like
it and tend to forget about the video part of the look. Good luck.
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#14 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 04:58 AM

It goes against my B&W religious beliefs but I wonder, if you shot Double-X neg and processed only to 6.0 gamma (which wd look flat as a pancake on a print :( ) & built up some contrast in digital post --
you might be quite competitive with the range of say 52/7217... I mean the on-the-job _useful_ range

-Sam Wells

Interesting idea! It'd probably be grainy as all hell though. Also, wouldn't you have to overexpose the neg to get enough shadow detail if you were doing this, negating the benefit of the lower contrast? (Processing to a lower gamma is essentially pulling the film, right?)
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#15 Sam Wells

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 10:28 AM

No as it's processed to a lower gamma it would have less grain.

I would not overexpose.

Again the grain issues w/ B&W are in large midtone areas.... (I think you'd have a very nice midtone _scale_ with my suggestion)

....Where this would go with a kind of black crush etc in DI - I'm not sure, you'd want to test for sure

-Sam Wells
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#16 Chris Keth

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 06:09 PM

Interesting idea! It'd probably be grainy as all hell though. Also, wouldn't you have to overexpose the neg to get enough shadow detail if you were doing this, negating the benefit of the lower contrast? (Processing to a lower gamma is essentially pulling the film, right?)


It IS pulling the film. You could overexpose some, it would help expose some of the smaller silver crystals and smooth out the image some. What this is really doing is the motion picture version of the zone system. If you have a 15 stop range you want on film, you under develop to get it all on film. If you have a very limited contrast range in your scene, you can overdevelop and avoid a very flat piece of film. The problem the pushing part raises is grain. The zone system was developed (no pun intended) for large format cameras where grain is no problem whatsoever. The pulling half is a perfectly valid way to go, though I think it's only applicable for outdoor shooting where total control isn't possible. At night or in a studio, I would just light it right.

I think what the in terview may have meant is that for a particular level of smoothness, the color film could achieve it with less light. The available color film is not only faster, but less grainy because color film does not have grain, it has dye clouds that scatter projector light less. This scattering of light causes a lot of black and white film to look less sharp than color film. The scatter is called the callier effect, by the way.
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#17 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 03:56 AM

Sam, are you saying you wouldn't overexpose because the pull process is slight enough not to lose significant shadow detail, given that we're going through a DI? If you don't overexpose the neg by 1/2 a stop, given that you're underdeveloping 1/2 stop, wouldn't your Zone III become Zone II 1/2? Or is there another reason?

Christopher, I think Sam's idea was to use the 1/2 stop pull in lieu of using fill light (when finishing with DI), making the process of lighting B&W neg potentially faster on set. But I agree with you that if time allows, lighting to the proper light levels is ideal.

Edited by Satsuki Murashige, 07 January 2007 - 03:58 AM.

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#18 K Borowski

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 10:03 AM

Sam, are you saying you wouldn't overexpose because the pull process is slight enough not to lose significant shadow detail, given that we're going through a DI? If you don't overexpose the neg by 1/2 a stop, given that you're underdeveloping 1/2 stop, wouldn't your Zone III become Zone II 1/2? Or is there another reason?

Christopher, I think Sam's idea was to use the 1/2 stop pull in lieu of using fill light (when finishing with DI), making the process of lighting B&W neg potentially faster on set. But I agree with you that if time allows, lighting to the proper light levels is ideal.


Lighting for a DI should be no different than regular lighting, with regards to information you want in the final print. I've never done a DI, but from my still photography experience, let me say that it is much harder, and no where near as effective "fixing" something in post.

The ONLY difference I'd recommend for any material that is scanned and filmed back out is shying away more from extreme highlights and shadows, maybe working with the assumption that you have 1/2 to 2/3 of a stop less latitude.

Personally, I'd play it safe and go with the extra lighting to bring out detail and a slight pull, if you can even find a 1/2 stop pull anywhere. Most labs that I know of only work with full stops.

Remember Ansel Adams didn't want to be stuck in the darkroom for hours dodging and burning. Trust me, this is NOT fun, from someone that does it almost every day. Likewise, staring at a computer screen or a monitor in a telecine suite with a colorist charging you $100+/hr. is NOT fun, and no cheaper, or easier than getting it right in camera. It's too bad that they never came up with an optical way of dodging and burning for filmmakers. There was a thread on this forum a while back where some people were talking about a prototype printer with an LCD printer light that you could adjust to print different areas of the negative with different light intensities, but this never came to pass; too bad.

Recap: GET IT RIGHT IN THE CAMERA.

~Karl
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#19 Sam Wells

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 07:48 PM

Well if it's a 0.6 gamma then the Double-X based on 'box rating' would be ~ 1/2 stop slower, I suppose you might start with 200D/160T.

I have pull processed Dbl-X just for kicks, too flat for printing to my eye.

I think this notion would absolutely warrant some testing !!

I'll never personally be accused of using excess fill so I dunno my answer to that (with B&W I do a kind of cross light so I hardly even use the term fill light) ...

Karl what I describe is a DI process, so there's some post intervention. PS labs at least claim that they can do 1/2 stop push or pull in B&W (as opposed to ECN, where you'd hardly see it with V2 anyway) -- what I would also test for is consistency...

-Sam Wells
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