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Did Stanley Kubrick mostly used natural light?


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#1 Hasan khan

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 04:08 AM

First of all I want to say the movie is amazing but while watching it I noticed how he mostly used long zooming in of zoom out shots and it almost looked like it was shot on video with no artificial light whatsoever. Does anyone with alot more knowlegde of cinematography know more?

The Shining adn Taxi Driver too/
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 12:21 PM

Well, you have to remember that these movies were made in the days where 100 ASA was the fastest color negative stock available. So when possible, Kubrick increased the light levels while maintaining realism by putting brighter bulbs in practical lamps and designing sets with enough light. He also used fast lenses and sometimes push-processed the film in order to use lower light levels.

But the sets in "The Shining" were all on a soundstage, so he had them lit to enough of a level that he didn't have to push-process the 100 ASA stock. He did shoot some scenes on Zeiss Super-Speed lenses though.

On other movies, he pushed film all the time though. "Barry Lyndon" was all pushed one-stop, from 100 ASA to 200 ASA. And he used a special T/0.7 lens to shoot some of the candlelight scenes.

I don't know if he did much push-processing on "Clockwork Orange" since he could light most of his scenes.

I believe "Taxi Driver" used the ChemTone process, an obsolete process by (now defunct) TVC Labs, which was a mix of push-processing and chemical fogging to increase the density of the stock to compensate for underexposure. Again, they would have used fast lenses too.

Motion picture color negative stocks faster than 100 ASA didn't appear until 1981.
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 03:17 PM

Well, you have to remember that these movies were made in the days where 100 ASA was the fastest color negative stock available. So when possible, Kubrick increased the light levels while maintaining realism by putting brighter bulbs in practical lamps and designing sets with enough light. He also used fast lenses and sometimes push-processed the film in order to use lower light levels.

But the sets in "The Shining" were all on a soundstage, so he had them lit to enough of a level that he didn't have to push-process the 100 ASA stock. He did shoot some scenes on Zeiss Super-Speed lenses though.

On other movies, he pushed film all the time though. "Barry Lyndon" was all pushed one-stop, from 100 ASA to 200 ASA. And he used a special T/0.7 lens to shoot some of the candlelight scenes.

I don't know if he did much push-processing on "Clockwork Orange" since he could light most of his scenes.

I believe "Taxi Driver" used the ChemTone process, an obsolete process by (now defunct) TVC Labs, which was a mix of push-processing and chemical fogging to increase the density of the stock to compensate for underexposure. Again, they would have used fast lenses too.

Motion picture color negative stocks faster than 100 ASA didn't appear until 1981.


I remember reading on one of my film textbooks froma few years ago that most of A Clockwork Orange was lit with a pretty minimal kit of lowel openface fixtures. I don't know how true it is, but it seems perfectly plausible when you watch the movie. I can't think of anything which couldn't have been done with a minimal kit like that.
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#4 Matthew Buick

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 04:29 PM

Well, you have to remember that these movies were made in the days where 100 ASA was the fastest color negative stock available. So when possible, Kubrick increased the light levels while maintaining realism by putting brighter bulbs in practical lamps and designing sets with enough light. He also used fast lenses and sometimes push-processed the film in order to use lower light levels.

But the sets in "The Shining" were all on a soundstage, so he had them lit to enough of a level that he didn't have to push-process the 100 ASA stock. He did shoot some scenes on Zeiss Super-Speed lenses though.

On other movies, he pushed film all the time though. "Barry Lyndon" was all pushed one-stop, from 100 ASA to 200 ASA. And he used a special T/0.7 lens to shoot some of the candlelight scenes.

I don't know if he did much push-processing on "Clockwork Orange" since he could light most of his scenes.

I believe "Taxi Driver" used the ChemTone process, an obsolete process by (now defunct) TVC Labs, which was a mix of push-processing and chemical fogging to increase the density of the stock to compensate for underexposure. Again, they would have used fast lenses too.

Motion picture color negative stocks faster than 100 ASA didn't appear until 1981.


Wow! That late! I'm sure I read about an 800 ASA stock in the 70s. Hmm...must have been a reversal.

Does anyone know:

What the fastest lens ever made is?

What the fastest reversal stock ever is?

What the fastest negative stock ever is?
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 04:40 PM

Spend some time here (this is the first of four sections of chronology of Kodak MP stocks):
http://www.kodak.com...s....6.26&lc=en

Currently 500 ASA is the fastest color negative motion picture stock sold. There was an 800 ASA stock a few years ago but it was discontinued.

Kodak has discontinued all their old VNF Ektachrome stocks last year, so right now they only sell 100D and 64T Ektachrome in motion picture rolls (E6 processing instead of VNF). There were two 400 ASA VNF Ektachrome stocks made; that was about the fastest color reversal film made for motion picture work.

VNF stood for "Video News Film" and was designed back in the days when the news was still shooting 16mm color reversal, hence the fast stocks. By modern standards, the stocks were pretty soft & grainy.

In the still market world, there are faster negative and reversal stocks than 500 ASA.

The fastest set of cine lenses generally are T/1.3 or T/1.4. There are a few old T/1.0 or T/1.1 lenses (usually a 50mm) adapted from the still market world, and the rare T/0.7 50mm Zeiss lenses built for NASA primarily that Kubrick bought and adapted (but they would only fit on non-reflex cameras.)
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#6 Max Jacoby

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 04:53 PM

'Taxi Driver' was shot on the Zeiss MK1 Superspeeds, as evidenced by the triangular bokeh.

Joe Dunton Company rents out Stanley Kubrick's 0.7 lenses (together with the adapted Mitchell camera) by the way. Apparently they tried it out at night with the new 500T stocks and on the print they could even see clouds in the night sky.

It's important to note that most of these fast lenses are not very sharp wide-open and exhibit lots of abberations when shot at their maximum appeture. It's only recently, with the Zeiss Master Primes that a highest quality wide-open option has become available.
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#7 Matthew Buick

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 05:33 PM

Spend some time here (this is the first of four sections of chronology of Kodak MP stocks):
http://www.kodak.com...s....6.26&lc=en

Currently 500 ASA is the fastest color negative motion picture stock sold. There was an 800 ASA stock a few years ago but it was discontinued.

Kodak has discontinued all their old VNF Ektachrome stocks last year, so right now they only sell 100D and 64T Ektachrome in motion picture rolls (E6 processing instead of VNF). There were two 400 ASA VNF Ektachrome stocks made; that was about the fastest color reversal film made for motion picture work.

VNF stood for "Video News Film" and was designed back in the days when the news was still shooting 16mm color reversal, hence the fast stocks. By modern standards, the stocks were pretty soft & grainy.

In the still market world, there are faster negative and reversal stocks than 500 ASA.

The fastest set of cine lenses generally are T/1.3 or T/1.4. There are a few old T/1.0 or T/1.1 lenses (usually a 50mm) adapted from the still market world, and the rare T/0.7 50mm Zeiss lenses built for NASA primarily that Kubrick bought and adapted (but they would only fit on non-reflex cameras.)


Thanks very much, David. That hyperlink you supplied is just what I've been looking for.

Best regards. :D
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#8 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 07:59 PM

Mr Kubrick seemed to like having all or most of his lighting in frame in some scenes of his pictures. Look at the Korova or the cat-womans house and there are tons of exposed practical bulbs in frame or the moonbase board meeting in 2001 with the large lit walls or the ball scenes in Eyes wide shut with the Christmas tree lights.

Rob "my aunt worked for SK on "killers Kiss" Houllahan
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