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B&W Negative Stocks Available in 1948


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#1 John Sprung

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 12:19 PM

I bet John Pytlak will know the answer to those questions.

The reason I ask is that I just took a look at a favorite film of mine, The Third Man. In it Joseph Cotten plays a writer of pulp westerns. One of his titles is "Death at Double-X Ranch". Finally after all these years it dawned on me that this might be an inside joke, a sly reference to the raw stock they were shooting. Was Double-X the fastest film they had back then, or was there Tri-X at that time? Or might they have used Agfa?


Thanks --



-- J.S.
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#2 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 01:31 PM

The reason I ask is that I just took a look at a favorite film of mine, The Third Man. In it Joseph Cotten plays a writer of pulp westerns. One of his titles is "Death at Double-X Ranch". Finally after all these years it dawned on me that this might be an inside joke, a sly reference to the raw stock they were shooting. Was Double-X the fastest film they had back then, or was there Tri-X at that time? Or might they have used Agfa?


Double X came out in 1959. Prior to that there was a Super-XX, which is what 'Citizen Kane' was shot on with Technicolor® lighting. Maybe 100 or 125 ASA.
Tri-X came out in 1954.

What about Ilford? Dupont? Gaevert?

Not sure if the British used Dupont much, but the Italians might have.
Old Italian films would often list the printstock or at least the lab in the main titles.
Either 'Black Sunday' or 'The Devil's Commandment was shot on Dupont.

Really fast B/W stocks didn't come out until the 50s.

I don't see Graham Greene having the slightest idea about or interest in knowing what film stock his script would be shot on.
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 02:19 PM

I don't see Graham Greene having the slightest idea about or interest in knowing what film stock his script would be shot on.


Probably not but I could almost (almost...) see Kodak of several years ago producing a sci-fi thriller called Vision and a sequal as a marketing stunt. ;)
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 06:25 PM

I think Super-XX was 160/200 ASA although it might have been 125/160 ASA.
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 06:43 PM

I think Super-XX was 160/200 ASA although it might have been 125/160 ASA.


That's very comfortable, especially compared to the stories we hear about shooting 3-strip technicolor.
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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 06:55 PM

I don't see Graham Greene having the slightest idea about or interest in knowing what film stock his script would be shot on.

Yes, I'd guess that the idea would have come from Carol Reed. Changing the name of the ranch wouldn't have been all that big a deal, I doubt that Greene would have objected. Things change when you're shooting. After all, Welles contributed that whole Borgias/cuckoo clock speech.

But unless people in those days actually referred to Super-XX as "Double-X", much as we tend to call stocks by the last two digits of their numbers, my theory is pretty much shot down. Oh, well..... ;-)



-- J.S.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 07:13 PM

That's very comfortable, especially compared to the stories we hear about shooting 3-strip technicolor.


Well, I would guess that the 2-way prism block and then the narrow-cut filters would probably lose 3 to 4 stops, so a 160 ASA stock would end up an effective 20 or 10 ASA. This sort of jibes with the book from Kodak on the invention of Eastmancolor, which was originally 16 ASA "to compete with othter current color technologies for motion picture use" according to the people working on the stock in the late 1940's. But remember that b&w emulsions were effectively doubled in speed in 1938, so any pre-1938 3-strip Technicolor photography was closer to the 5 ASA range.

But since only the red record used panchromatic stock, I have no idea what speeds the other two stocks were to begin with (the ortho stock used for the green record and the blue-sensitive stock used for the blue record.)
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#8 John Sprung

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 12:13 PM

What I remember from Trimble's color technology course back in the early 1970's is that separation Technicolor was ASA 12. I still have the xeroxed book and notes in storage someplace.



-- J.S.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 12:48 PM

What I remember from Trimble's color technology course back in the early 1970's is that separation Technicolor was ASA 12. I still have the xeroxed book and notes in storage someplace.
-- J.S.


3-strip Technicolor kept updating the speed over the years, plus a major shift from being daylight to tungsten balance by the late 1940's.
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#10 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 03:29 PM

3-strip Technicolor kept updating the speed over the years, plus a major shift from being daylight to tungsten balance by the late 1940's.


Spotiswoode's 'The technique of film', which was published in 1951 or 1950, lists 3-strip as having a speed of 10, but gives 5247 as being 12. It might be Weston instead of ASA. Though his Kodachrome speeds seem right. This is still the daylight balanced.

Tungsten T'color came out in 1952. It was twice the speed of the daylight. So 20, maybe 25.
5248 which was 25T came out the same year.

I think the bi-pack films were basicly standard bi-pack stock. Speed was 12 or 16 depending on whether it was kodak or dupont. I'll have to look it upat home.

Makes me think that the prism was not an even 50/50 split was weighted toward the slower bipack.
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#11 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 01:01 PM

I think Super-XX was 160/200 ASA although it might have been 125/160 ASA.


I checked the 1953 AC Handbook. It lists Super-XX as 125/ 100. Dupont Superior 3 is the same speed, with Superior 2 being 80/64,same as Plus-X. & Superior 1 25/20 as compared to Background-X's 40/32.

In the 1956 Handbook, Super-XX has been replaced with Tri-X 320/250. Superior 4 has yet to come out.
So high speed stocks didn't come out until mid-late 50s.

Incidentally 'On the Waterfront' was shot on Superior 2. Source: Dupont ad in april 55 AC.
Sometime I'll have to mention the light levels used for color given in that issue.

From the 1939 AC Handbook, Dupont bi-pack has a speed of 16 daylight, 10 tungsten.
Kodak bi-pack is 16 tungsten, 12 daylight.

I think in the forties, Dupont had seperate tungsten and daylight orthos for bi-pack. The same red neg was used with each. An article on shooting bi-pack in the 40s Handbook suggests using yellow filters outdoors to
get deeper skies.
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#12 John Sprung

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 02:07 PM

Makes me think that the prism was not an even 50/50 split was weighted toward the slower bipack.

I saw a three strip camera in person at UCLA about 35 years ago. The prism block was removable for cleaning and transportation, and came it its own special case. You could look thru it and see magenta and green, but I don't recall the relative brightnesses. There's another one on display at the ASC, but I don't know whether it's complete with its prism assembly. If we could find one, we could measure and know for sure.


-- J.S.
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#13 Christian Appelt

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 03:40 PM

John,
please look up Barry Salt's book FILM STYLE & TECHNOLOGY,

Amazon: Film Style & Technology

it covers the film stocks available from 1900 up to the 1960s and a lot more of interesting data (processing differences between studios, "in-house f-stops" and so on).
Excellent book - though I haven't read the 2nd edition.
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#14 John Sprung

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 03:48 PM

I've found a pre-production version of the script, published in 1968. "Death at Double-X Ranch" is what Greene originally wrote, not a change made during production. So, it's just a coincidence, not a sly joke. Greene did use "Smolka", the name of the guy who introduced him to the criminal use of the sewers, as the name of the bar Calloway takes Martins to. And Calloway was named for the British general in charge in Vienna, Galloway. It turns out that they did shoot Eastman Super-XX, and some of their raw stock was stolen and sold on the black market.

-- J.S.
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#15 Nate Downes

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 04:59 PM

I saw a three strip camera in person at UCLA about 35 years ago. The prism block was removable for cleaning and transportation, and came it its own special case. You could look thru it and see magenta and green, but I don't recall the relative brightnesses. There's another one on display at the ASC, but I don't know whether it's complete with its prism assembly. If we could find one, we could measure and know for sure.
-- J.S.

Or I wonder if someone could replicate them....

**eyes the Ortho and red-to-near-infared film he has in his fridge...**
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#16 Matthew Buick

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 06:44 PM

This has all been really interesting. I love monochrome cinematography. :)

Would it be feasable from a design standpoint to construct an 8mm Technicolor camera? Only it's something I've wanted to do gfor a while.
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#17 John Sprung

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 07:20 PM

This has all been really interesting. I love monochrome cinematography. :)

Would it be feasable from a design standpoint to construct an 8mm Technicolor camera? Only it's something I've wanted to do gfor a while.

Sure you could design it. But to build it, first you need to win a really big super sized lottery. Wild guess, it would cost something in the tens of millions of dollars to do the camera. Then you'd have to get EK to make a batch each of the three stocks.



-- J.S.
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#18 Nate Downes

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 07:43 PM

Sure you could design it. But to build it, first you need to win a really big super sized lottery. Wild guess, it would cost something in the tens of millions of dollars to do the camera. Then you'd have to get EK to make a batch each of the three stocks.
-- J.S.

Technically no you wouldn't. With the Technicolor prism system, all you'd need are standard ortho (non-red reactive) and red-reactive film to make it work, from what it looks like. Both are manufactured by Ilford already, just not in the right form.
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#19 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 01:42 PM

Technically no you wouldn't. With the Technicolor prism system, all you'd need are standard ortho (non-red reactive) and red-reactive film to make it work, from what it looks like. Both are manufactured by Ilford already, just not in the right form.


The blue and red negs are bi-packs, like Cinecolor.

They run through the camera with their emulsions in contact.
The red is in the back in standard B-wind, While the ortho is in the front base out, A-wind.
The red filter is coated on the top of the ortho emulsion & the base is clear.

No such stock is currently manufactured.

All photo emulsions are blue and ultraviolet sensitive. Thus and infrared or red extended emulsion needs a red or infrared filter to cut out the other end of the spectrum.

In the 30s panchromatic stocks didn't have as much red sensitivity as current panchromatic stocks.
The tungsten rating was usually 2/3 of a stop lower than daylight, compared to today's 1/3 stop difference.
So the Ilford extended red would produce a differnt red than the Technicolor red negative would.
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#20 Matthew Buick

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 04:26 PM

Oh well. I suppose I wouldnt have had much use for one anyways. :)
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