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Shooting for vision2 quality but finishing on B + W


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#1 James Bruce

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 06:55 PM

I was wondering if anyone had any experience finishing in b + w from the vision2 super 16 color negatives. I'm directing a 20 minute narrative short that has a very strong emphasis on classical black and white compositions (contrasty, crushed blacks, creamy whites, etc.) Think 50's / 60's Fellini, Antonioni, etc.

I am very torn, however, because my DP has showed me Plus-X footage he shot on the same SR3 that I absolutely love, yet I'm not as interested in the grain- basically I strving for 35mm quality b + w out of super 16, yet Kodak hasn't updated their black and white stocks in years. If I shoot color, will I be able to even get close in post to the look of a project that originated in b + w? We'll probably use a 2K/HD and I have unlimited access to a post house with Final Touch, VFX suites, etc. I'm hoping the effect can be achieved digitally versus chemically, but...

Edited by James Bruce, 14 April 2007 - 06:56 PM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 07:44 PM

If you don't want the particular grain and softness of 16mm b&w negative, yes, shooting on modern color negative makes sense to me. You will have to light it for b&w, of course, and tweak the contrast in the color-correction. Some purists, of course, will never settle for anything less than b&w film, but I think movies shot on color stock like "The Man Who Wasn't There" and "Good Night and Good Luck" look pretty good, just not exactly like classic b&w, more of a hybrid look. It's just a question of what aspects of the b&w image are more important to you. Also, you're trying to get 35mm quality on a Super-16 negative, so reducing grain and increasing sharpness are key.

Not everything has to look like an old 35mm b&w movie -- for example, I think it would be cool to shoot a 65mm b&w landscape movie in the style of an Ansel Adams photo, which would require a pretty fine-grained and sharp image.
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#3 Dan Goulder

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 09:59 PM

Having just done a shoot on comparable, medium-speed stock (5222 B&W, 5205 color), and desaturating the color in post, it all boils down to whether you're willing to put up with the additional grain of the black and white stock, which still gives the richest blacks. Now, if Kodak would only come out with a Vision 2 black and white stock...
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 10:43 PM

If you want contrast, you could try the new Fuji Vivid 160T.

Black level in a video transfer is really a function of the telecine and color-corrector more than the stock.
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#5 Dan Goulder

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 11:29 PM

If you want contrast, you could try the new Fuji Vivid 160T.

Black level in a video transfer is really a function of the telecine and color-corrector more than the stock.

I understand your point, and it's true there's substantial latitude with modern telecine (we used Spirit HD and DaVinci). However, since the raw image coming off the negative is always the starting point from which everything else flows, it's still difficult to take one stock and get it to precisely emulate another. That said, I can certainly understand why someone would want to utilize the sharpness and speed characteristics of modern stocks, even if the intended result is black and white.

Thanks for the tip on Fuji Vivid 160T. I may give it a try next time.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 12:09 AM

I think you're referring more to contrast, that you had less shadow detail with the b&w stock than with the color stock, but in terms of black level, you should have been able to make your blacks as black with either stock in the digital realm. Afterall, I could take a flashed low-con stock image and set the darkest area of the frame to be 0 IRE, and you can't get any blacker than that in video.
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#7 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 01:10 AM

"...yet Kodak hasn't updated their black and white stocks in years."

I thought Kodak updated their B & W stocks a few years ago. If I recall, Tri-X was made finer grained. Plus-X changed from a 40asa film to a 100asa film (though I don't know if there was any improvement in the grain structure of Plus-X.)
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 09:38 AM

I thought Kodak updated their B & W stocks a few years ago. If I recall, Tri-X was made finer grained. Plus-X changed from a 40asa film to a 100asa film (though I don't know if there was any improvement in the grain structure of Plus-X.)


They only updated their Super-8/16mm b&w reversal stocks, not their 16mm/35mm b&w negative stocks. Plus-X negative first appeared in 1938, updated in 1956, and Double-X appeared in 1959.
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