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How did/do they do it and can you tell the difference?


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#1 Jim Feldspar

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 06:49 PM

This started out as a post for "On DVD and television" but I think that it belongs more on here now.

I was watching "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" (1964) on HBO and there is a scene at Coney Island. It starts
with an establishing shot, looking like it was bought from a stock footage company, of people at the
beach and then cuts to what is obviously a set with a water tank.

For the "daylight" what would they use? Maybe some soundstages allow sunlight in but that did not look
like the case here. I think this era was pre HMI. Carbon Arcs had exhaust stacks for the smoke from the
rods burning down. Would they have had a way of using those? Would they use tungsten and color it in
printing?
Did they gel lights for color correction in those days?

For that matter, these days something like the courtroom scenes in "Law and Order" clearly look to be
meant as having daylight coming in through courthouse windows. Now I'm wondering, do they let those
scenes go a little blue somehow?

For example, if somebody shot the same scene indoors in a room with no outside light coming in and:

a. shot tungsten stock with tungsten lights

b. daylight stock with H.M.I.s

c. tungsten stock with an 85 and H.M.I.s

d. tungsten stock with an 85 and full CTB on tungsten lights

e. daylight stock with an 80 and tungsten lights

could you tell the difference?

Obviously, it's often easy to tell work done on a soundstage simply because the atmosphere doesn't
have that outdoors look ("Greystoke, Lord of the Apes" is great but I just knew that jungle was a set)
and real daylight streaming into a room often looks like, well, real daylight but can you always tell if all
you can see is that which is lighted?

Thanks.
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#2 Matt Workman

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 12:20 PM

Wow that is a pretty thorough list, you've been reading the ASC manual haven't you? Hah, jk.

If you are using a color temperature meter and matching the color light with the appropriate stock you should theoretically have indistinguishable sources.

However I think that humans are incredibly sensitive to light, and more so to differences, even if its subconsious people can tell subtle differences.

Some DP's only shoot tungsten stock w/o filters and correct in post/lab. Some older DP's I've known dispise HMI's and only shoot filtered tungsten. Probably not all the time but when they feel its right for the look.

Also shooting tungsten and correcting with an 85 introduces more glass and you obviously lose light. Adding filters changes the look more than just the color IMO, it diffuses and can really screw up lens hits. Perhaps on a bigger Panavision shoots things are different.

In my experience HMI's can look a little cold, and their tendency to slip into green/blue spectrum is not flattering to caucasion complexions. But if you are being a diligent gaffer and labelling and correcting each HMI then you should be fine.

I worked on a sound stage film where they used HMI for window light, even though they were inside and could have used larger tungsten lights. I think the fact the HMI's are much more effecient was the main reason, you can't have too many 10ks on in a small stage, that would be really freakn hot.

In conclusion I would say that any of your methods would work. What screws things up is if your start mixing your methods. Picture the TV show Will and Grace, Seinfeld, Fresh Prince. Those are all 35mm studio shows where they use tungsten for daylight. As soon as they shoot a real exterior in real daylilght you can tell something is different. However episodes that are all studio you would never know that it wasn't real daylight. Well, normal people wouldn't know.

Cheers,

Matt B)

EDIT: Actually I don't know if those shows are 35mm or not, but you get the point.

Edited by Matt Workman, 05 February 2007 - 12:22 PM.

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#3 John Holland

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 12:41 PM

Answer [a]
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#4 Jim Feldspar

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 10:52 PM

Wow that is a pretty thorough list, you've been reading the ASC manual haven't you? Hah, jk.

If you are using a color temperature meter and matching the color light with the appropriate stock you should theoretically have indistinguishable sources.

However I think that humans are incredibly sensitive to light, and more so to differences, even if its subconsious people can tell subtle differences.

Some DP's only shoot tungsten stock w/o filters and correct in post/lab. Some older DP's I've known dispise HMI's and only shoot filtered tungsten. Probably not all the time but when they feel its right for the look.

Also shooting tungsten and correcting with an 85 introduces more glass and you obviously lose light. Adding filters changes the look more than just the color IMO, it diffuses and can really screw up lens hits. Perhaps on a bigger Panavision shoots things are different.

In my experience HMI's can look a little cold, and their tendency to slip into green/blue spectrum is not flattering to caucasion complexions. But if you are being a diligent gaffer and labelling and correcting each HMI then you should be fine.

I worked on a sound stage film where they used HMI for window light, even though they were inside and could have used larger tungsten lights. I think the fact the HMI's are much more effecient was the main reason, you can't have too many 10ks on in a small stage, that would be really freakn hot.

In conclusion I would say that any of your methods would work. What screws things up is if your start mixing your methods. Picture the TV show Will and Grace, Seinfeld, Fresh Prince. Those are all 35mm studio shows where they use tungsten for daylight. As soon as they shoot a real exterior in real daylilght you can tell something is different. However episodes that are all studio you would never know that it wasn't real daylight. Well, normal people wouldn't know.

Cheers,

Matt B)

EDIT: Actually I don't know if those shows are 35mm or not, but you get the point.



That's great info. especially about the old school D.P.s!

"However episodes that are all studio you would never know that it wasn't real daylight."

That's exactly what I was wondering. Thanks!

Answer [a]


Thanks for answering John and Calvin Coolidge would be impressed with your brevity but to be
clear, are you saying that a. tungsten and tungsten is the most obviously not sunlight light
that's supposed to be sunlight?

(A man told U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, who was known for being taciturn, that the man
had made a large bet that he could get the President to say at least three words during a dinner.

Prseident Coolidge said to the man, "You lose." and said nothing else for the evening.)

Edited by Jim Feldspar, 05 February 2007 - 10:47 PM.

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#5 Sam Wells

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 09:38 AM

Thanks for answering John and Calvin Coolidge would be impressed with your brevity but to be
clear, are you saying that a. tungsten and tungsten is the most obviously not sunlight light
that's supposed to be sunlight?


I shot a scene for an Indie film using a 2K junior gelled with some CTO and I forget what else if anything as the morning sun and _no one_ who saw it thought it was artificial light; I even changed verticle angle a slight bit throughout the scene. (shot in continuity, thankfully !) Shot on Fuji F125 tungsten.

As I recall it was a dusty room (we didn't smoke it though) and that helped maybe. I let some "hotspots" happen and let corners of the room stay a bit murky.

If it's not available light realism, then what's most important to think about is the _feeling_ of the light IMO.

-Sam Wells
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#6 John Holland

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 11:31 AM

You said "Mr Limpet " was shot on sound stage with a tank? . So not blue natural daylight around ! so you just shot it with tungsten light and stock , big lamps and try and make it look like the sun ,or overcast or what ever , colour temp is correct . nothing to compare it with ,i.e no daylight blue , sorry a bit rambling answer hope some of it makes sense.
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Metropolis Post

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Willys Widgets

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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

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Paralinx LLC

Wooden Camera

Aerial Filmworks

rebotnix Technologies

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

Visual Products