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Color coding mags


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#1 Louis

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 01:48 AM

I just got done working on a short film, and my fellow AC and I were wondering: is there a set list of colors that you need to use when taping up different film stocks (while working as a loader)? I could have sworn that I've seen such a list, but my copy of the Professional Cameraman's Handbook doesn't have it. I know that 500T film is generally labelled with red, and 250D with blue, but what about shoots with multiple stocks? This is a minor detail, but I'm sure we discussed this for a good half hour. Can anyone clear this up?
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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 05:31 AM

David Elkin's Camera Assistant's Manual suggests:
- Slow daylight stock (7245 Kodak 50D, 8622 Fuji 64D): white tape, black pen
- Slow tungsten stock (7248 Kodak 100T, 8632 Fuji 125T): white tape, red pen
- Medium daylight stock (7246 Kodak 250D, 8662 Fuji 250D): blue tape, black pen
- Medium tungsten stock (7274 Kodak 200T, 8652 Fuji 250T): yellow tape, black pen
- Fast tungsten (7279 Kodak 500T, 8672 Fuji 500T): red tape, black pen

Basically, these are just conventions so you can use whatever colors you want as long as you establish a standard for the shoot and stick to it. These are older stocks, but you can obviously substitute the newer stocks with the same ASA.

I worked on one film where we shot Double-X B&W negative (cyan tape) and Tri-X B&W reversal (purple). So whatever works. The crazy colored tape is more expensive though -- that's probably why Elkins suggests basic blue, yellow, and red.
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 11:00 PM

I haven't run into a situation yet where I needed more than a couple colors. I always use red for the standard tungsten stock. If there are two I'll use red for the faster and orange for the slower. I try to use blue for the daylight stock. I haven't come up with others yet since I haven't needed them.

I don't like Elkins' system because he uses one color of tape for more than one stock. I like to be able to identify what's in a mag from across the room without going over to read it and perhaps waste the time for doing it.
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#4 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 03:04 AM

I don't like Elkins' system because he uses one color of tape for more than one stock. I like to be able to identify what's in a mag from across the room without going over to read it and perhaps waste the time for doing it.

Sure, that's ideal (one color per stock). I think that Elkins was trying to balance practicality and economy -- if you're working on low budget films where production won't pay for expendables like camera tape, then are you really going to buy every color tape available to cover yourself? Not me, sorry. I'll walk across the room to check the camera label instead. Of course, if they want to pay for it, then that's a different story.

Basically though, I think it's a moot point because if the budget is high enough that the production can afford to shoot more than three different stocks of similar speeds and rated differently for distinct looks (ie. 7218, 7229, 7279) then I'm assuming that they can fork up the $8.50 for an extra roll of tape. And if the stocks aren't rated differently, then the need to differentiate between them isn't as important from an AC's point of view, is it? I guess one exception is if you were shooting low-budget with a bunch of different short ends. But on the other hand, in those cases it oftens seems to me that the DP rarely bothers to treat them differently exposure-wise because they're in such a hurry to get the shot -- "it's 500T? Great, shoot it!"
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#5 Mike Panczenko

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 09:48 AM

I would definitely stay away from the same color tape/different pen system. In a rush I would not want to rely on looking at ink color in a dim room. I would stay away from that at at all costs and pocket the price of different colors if production wouldn't pay for them. Much rather use one color per stock.

With that said, I usually use white if there is only one stock, or red if it is a high speed tungsten only stock. With one stock, the color doesn't really matter, I just use what I would normally. But the standard is usually red for high speed tungsten, or if no slow speed tungsten, still normally red. Blue or green for daylight, with white sometimes used. But basically the hard and fast rules are red for hs tungsten/only tungsten, and blue/green for daylight. The important factor is to be able to tell your stocks apart and to not give counterintuitive combinations, like red or orange for daylight or blue for a slow tungsten. Other than that, there is a bit of flexing room if you go up to 3 or 4 stocks.
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#6 Daniel Christie

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 10:23 AM

The standard I have always used and been taught is yellow for tungsten blue for daylight, red for fast stock. I wouldn't normally expect to be working with too many more than three different stocks on one job.

Daniel
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#7 Shawn Booth

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 06:00 AM

Sure, that's ideal (one color per stock). I think that Elkins was trying to balance practicality and economy -- if you're working on low budget films where production won't pay for expendables like camera tape, then are you really going to buy every color tape available to cover yourself? Not me, sorry. I'll walk across the room to check the camera label instead. Of course, if they want to pay for it, then that's a different story.

Basically though, I think it's a moot point because if the budget is high enough that the production can afford to shoot more than three different stocks of similar speeds and rated differently for distinct looks (ie. 7218, 7229, 7279) then I'm assuming that they can fork up the $8.50 for an extra roll of tape. And if the stocks aren't rated differently, then the need to differentiate between them isn't as important from an AC's point of view, is it? I guess one exception is if you were shooting low-budget with a bunch of different short ends. But on the other hand, in those cases it oftens seems to me that the DP rarely bothers to treat them differently exposure-wise because they're in such a hurry to get the shot -- "it's 500T? Great, shoot it!"



My kit contains numerous rolls of tape of varying colors that I have purchased myself. Even if production won't pay for them, I'm still gonna the best job I can. (I never work at "the speed of flat rate".) Production doesn't hire me, the first does. Chances are the first knows how to label stocks and expects the same from me.

Also, if I need to know what's up on the camera (and I don't already know for some reason) half a second to glance is the ONLY option. Wasting ANY time to travel over to the camera IS wasted time.
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#8 David Negrin

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 10:55 PM

Louis-
I was a 2nd for 6 years and the rule of thumb was:
White- your slowest stock (100 asa)
Blue- mid speed stock (250 asa)
Red- your fastest stock ( 500 asa )
Yellow- specialty stock ( D.P.'s request you still need a color)
Daylight or tungsten and all the tech info about each stock
you should know and can put the stock # on the mag tag.

More recently I have also seen pink and green ( flourescent ) as
the new generation takes over. As a 1st, I just shut up and put what
the D.P. and the 2nd have discussed, ( a 2nd's arena to build a
relationship with the D.P.. ) Of course, I still pay attention , but,
there seems to be a color shift in my vision as I get more experience.

Good Luck Louis

Dave
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#9 Ben Rowsell

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 03:59 PM

The main point is that there are no rules. However you might want to consider the systems people above you (1st AC, DOP) are used to and stick with that to start with, that way they will be more comfortable with what you are doing.

Personally for short term jobs I use white with coloured marker pens as I like only having to carry 1 roll of tape. Someone said that you cant see the colour of the pen in the dark? Have you also noticed that white and yellow tape look exactly the dame colour in under tungsten torch light :-) Also, some tapes that you get can be very dark tones of colour and black marker pen doesn't stand out...

On longer term jobs I make custom colour coded mag labels.

Also, Kodak comes with its own colour coding system so it makes sense to match that, and even wrap some tape from the can around the mag. 50D is green, 250D is blue, etc. Unfortuntately fuji uses all white.
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