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16mm B&W Negative


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#1 Jeremy Moss

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 12:10 AM

Hello Everyone,

I'm preparing to shoot a short narrative that will be in black and white.

I just got some tests back from the lab - we shot 100ft 7222 and 100ft 7231 - and I'm really surprised with the graininess in both stocks. I expected some with the 7222, but the 7231 was equally surprising. Is this normal - for the 7231 to be so grainy? I just assumed that because it was low speed, it would have a fine grain, but instead it's noisy and distracting.

I've heard that that's how negative B&W goes and that I should either shoot reversal b&w, or go with color negative and then have the lab render it B&W. Is this the soundest advise?
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#2 Bryan Darling

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 04:25 PM

I've had both stocks shot extensively on two separate film. The 7222 can be grainy, depends on the situation you are in. However, I personally like the grain of 7222 and the project I did benefited from it. The 7231 is definitely finer-grained than the 7222, however you will see more grain depending on your situation. It all depends on how much underexposure or overexposure you've done to the neg.

Another thing to consider is the telecine. It is possible that the telecine was not done well and/or the state of the equipment is not up to spec. I had both films transfered on a BTS Quadra at Monaco Labs in San Francisco. I worked with the same colorist both times and supervised the transfers.

As for b&w reversal, you won't necessarily get less grain than the negative. In general reversal has more grain than negative. That said the Plus-X is very smooth, but I find it too flat for my taste. I love Tri-X and have pushed it a stop on occasion. The grain in all film is very dependent on your lighting situation and exposure of the negative.

One recommendation I have is to get a workprint made of your test rolls and project them as a comparison. You can also directly project any reversal tests you might make. That would give you a good idea as to how your negative/original was shot and the quality of the telecine you received. A best light of 100' from each stock should be enough to give you an idea and should be fairly inexpensive.

I have a compilation DVD that contains both of the films I referenced if you are interested. They were shot on an Arri 16BL using a combination of primes and a zoom.

Edited by Bryan Darling, 09 February 2007 - 04:26 PM.

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#3 GeorgeSelinsky

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 06:03 PM

Consider that both Double X and Plus X were designed in the 1950's, that will explain why they are so grainy. This is not T-grain technology...

Personally I really like Double X in 35mm, wish I could shoot a whole feature on it someday. It's a nice low contrast look. Although I've never tried it, they say it's very pusheable. In 16mm it has its own aesthetic which is very interesting, the grain is much more visible of course which is part of the look.

Plus X negative for me never fit into any category neatly, as Russians like to say "It's neither fish nor meat". To me it's main purpose is if you're shooting B&W outdoors and have a lot of light to deal with. The 80 asa makes life a little easier, you're not always so closed down.

Ilford's 125 asa version is nicer imho, is a bit faster, has more snap and I'd say the same grain. Ilford's high speed 400 asa film drops a whole stop in tungsten light, on spec its grainier than Double X but has considerably more snap (contrast).

As for reversal, you know what the story is. Either straight to tape, direct projection (visible splices and scratches/dust all over), or a high contrast B&W reversal print. Not a good thing to shoot if you're just getting started with the exposure meter. Tri X is all contrast and grain (sorta like the Ilford 400 negative, but even contrastier), but Plus X reversal is really beautiful. I've only shot the old version which was 50 asa in daylight and 40 indoors, but it was VERY low grain and very deep blacks. Sweet stock but unless you're filming out in a sunlit field or beach, not very practical. They say the new version is a stop faster with "a slight grain penalty". Just how slight I haven't yet seen for myself.

Anyway, good luck...
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#4 Bryan Darling

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 07:21 PM

One thing I forgot to mention is that the overall grain is much less on 35mm than the 16mm. But that is essentially a given.
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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 09:25 PM

Plus X negative for me never fit into any category neatly, as Russians like to say "It's neither fish nor meat". To me it's main purpose is if you're shooting B&W outdoors and have a lot of light to deal with. The 80 asa makes life a little easier, you're not always so closed down.

Ilford's 125 asa version is nicer imho, is a bit faster, has more snap and I'd say the same grain. Ilford's high speed 400 asa film drops a whole stop in tungsten light, on spec its grainier than Double X but has considerably more snap (contrast).


We have that same saying here in England, only the words are "neither fish nor fowl" which gives a nice sort of illiteration effect.

Are Ilford motion picture films still available? I thought they were gone?

love

Freya
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#6 Richardson Leao

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Posted 10 February 2007 - 01:09 AM

We have that same saying here in England, only the words are "neither fish nor fowl" which gives a nice sort of illiteration effect.

Are Ilford motion picture films still available? I thought they were gone?

love

Freya


Orwo 100 Un54 is quite fine...
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#7 Jeremy Moss

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 03:08 PM

thanks everyone for your input!

i'm starting to believe that it was the telecine that brought out the extreme graininess. i'm usually fine with a certain amount of grain, but this was beyond grain - all the highlights were way too noisy and distracting.

Edited by Jeremy Moss, 11 February 2007 - 03:08 PM.

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#8 Bryan Darling

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 04:01 PM

thanks everyone for your input!

i'm starting to believe that it was the telecine that brought out the extreme graininess. i'm usually fine with a certain amount of grain, but this was beyond grain - all the highlights were way too noisy and distracting.


Yeah your shadows generally should be the noisy part if it's film grain, at least that's where it is the most noticeably.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 10:20 PM

Actually grain is most visible in midtones. If you underexpose and brighten in post and make your blacks milky, then in a sense, they look closer to midtones and a veil of grain is visible when you should be seeing black. But you'd see grain the best by shooting a grey card full-frame.
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#10 Dominic Case

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 11:43 PM

Telecine can exacerbate the grain of b/w negative in the same way that optical printing can, depending on the type of illumination the telecine uses. What type of machine was used?

If you do make a workprint (on b/w stock, if you print onto colour it will be excessively contrasty) you will probably find less graininess. Contact printing from a more diffuse light source gives lower contrast and also subdues the grain structure compared with optical printing or telecines that use a specular light source. In the same way that you would use a hard light to emphasise the texture of a surface when shooting, or a softer light to smooth it out.
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#11 Jeremy Moss

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 01:01 AM

What type of machine was used?


I think it was a Rank Cintel Mk III at Colorlab in Maryland.

Is there a better lab where I could send out for the telecine?
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