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Push Processing Possibly Fogged Film


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#1 John Hall

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Posted 10 July 2007 - 05:38 PM

I am in the process of shooting a personal experimental project on 7248 EXR 100T.
I was given this film, a few years ago. The previous owner claimed to have kept it in the fridge since purchasing it.
He also provided a clip test result:

Normal: .15 .51 .91
Result: .24 .62 .97

I know the film is fogged a bit, but during my shoot I didn't have much room to overexpose it (perhaps 1/3 - 1/2 stop at times).

As this is an experimental film, one which I will be finishing photochemically and optically priting to 35mm, I had hoped to 'burn' in some contrast by pushing the stock 1 stop, printing down (I want some extra density for the optical printing stage) and doing a bleach bypass.

I haven't processed the film yet, as I wonder if my special processing will do more harm than good.

What affect will the push / print down / bleach bypass have on the appearence of fog?
I exposed the film normally or close to normally, which I know isn't ideal for old footage. Will push processing raise the image out of the fog area?

If pushing the film and printing down will help me clear the fog level, I may just do that, and leave the bleaching for the interneg, or perhaps the print.

Thanks in advance for any insights.
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#2 Dominic Case

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Posted 10 July 2007 - 06:44 PM

I'd say you are in a doubled and redoubled contract, vulnerable.

Or for non-bridge players, that is to say you could well be about to get yourself in trouble.

You have stock that is age fogged (not disastrously, but it isn't what it was!).
You have only overexposed by 1/3 stop.
You are going to push process.
And then you are going to blow up (optically) to 35mm.

OK, the push process won't lift the image out of the fog level, but it will allow you to print down and retain a glimmer of the highlights. However it will also result in more granularity overall.

The good part of bleach bypassing is that it does increase contrast, allowing you to print down even more and crush the blacks.

The part that may be good or bad is that bleach bypass also desaturates the image - sometimes that is a more noticeable effect than the raised contrast. Not sure if that is what you want.

The bad part is that if you have a raised fog level (as you do) then the shadow areas will also contain some silver, which tends to emphasise the graininess.

But the really bad part is that bleach bypass tends to increase the printer lights you need by at least a stop and a half. If you push a stop as well, and you have overexposed by 1/3-1/2 stop, then your negative will be so thick that the lab will need a searchlight to print it.

All of the techniques you have mentioned should come with a user warning: test, test, test. But since you have already shot the negative, it's a bit late for that.

So my own thoughts would be that you should process the negative normally: the age fog isn't all that severe, and you will have your image in the best condition that you can get.

Then if it's too fog-bound, consider a bleach bypass on the print, or even (if the lab can handle it properly) on the IP.

But without knowing the nature of the images you have shot, your personal tolerance to grain, etc, that is no guarantee of results.
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#3 John Hall

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 10:06 AM

Thanks for the response Dominic.

I should have mentioned that desaturation and contrast are of my goals. I want a very stylized image, and as the whole project is in the photochemical realm, I have to achieve that in processing.

All the shots (save for one) are exterior. No people, mostly shots of a wind turbine, trees. Basically landscapes with the subjects in the foreground. I shot mostly with a polarizer so the sky shouldn't be too washed out.
To give an insight into my post path: I shot on 16mm and will be making a print. From this I am going to blow up to 35mm on an optical printer (doing some step/skip printing as well as combining some images together), then making a 35mm positive print for projection.

I wanted to make sure I had enough contrast on my original footage, as on a previous optical printing project I noticed the image getting washed out the further it went though the photochemical process, but perhaps this isn't typical.

I think I will process the 16mm footage normally as you suggested, and maybe do some processing tricks on the 35mm, either the neg or the print.
If I do the bleach bypass on the 35mm neg, am I correct in assuming the granularity won't be as severe as on the 16mm neg? Do you have any idea what a bleach bypassed internegative might look like?

As I said, this is an experimental film. To me, the whole thing is a bit of a test. The whole project is under 1000ft of film, so if I have to reshoot a few shots it's no big deal (so long as I don't run out of 7248!).
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#4 Dominic Case

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 12:43 AM

One other point I didn't think of - is that if you blow up optically from a bleach bypassed camera negative, the combination of silver in the image and the optical process will exaggerate the contrast and the grain.

But if you process the original as normal, you avoid that problem.

You don't say if you are planning to blow up to 35mm IP from the original negative, then make a contact DN, or if you will make a 16mm contact IP then blow up to 35mm at the DN stage. Or should I understand that you intend to blow up from the 16mm pos print? That's not the normal pathway, and it will give you a very contrasty and strange look. It might be just what you want, but it would be a much more dramatic change than bleacvh bypass or push processing etc would give.

As far as images getting washed out along the duplication pathway is concerned, that shouldn't happen if you are exposing the IP and the DN correctly. A DN should be noticeably denser than an camera neg for example. Are you doing this yourself or having it done at a lab?

BB tends to have progressively less effect at each stage in the process - coupled with a slightly different effect depending if you do it in a pos phase or a neg phase. SO a BB DN is definitely a more subtle effect than a BB camera neg.
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#5 John Hall

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 02:43 PM

I had planed on making a 16mm positive print, then blowing that up to 35 IN, then making a print from that.
I had done something similiar in the past, blowing up from a 16mm positive to 35mm neg (5272 I believe), with a contact print made form the 35mm negative.
As I mentioned eariler, this print appeared to have lost some contrast and saturation.

I will be doing the optical printing myself on an older Oxberry at LIFT, a Toronto filmmaker's Cooperative.
I'm not very experienced with any of this, but when I took a workshop years ago on using the printer, our source material was positives, either reversal or prints.
However, I'd be happy to blow up from the 16mm neg, as getting out of the 16mm realm as early as possible must make for a better image.

My only concern about going from the neg is that I will be doing steps, skips, bipacking, perhaps multiple passes during the printing session.
Invariably this means running back and forth over certain sections of the footage to cue things up and i'm worried about overhandling my original neg and possibly damaging it.
I guess I will just have to be very meticulous about keeping the projector element clean and minimizing transports over the footage.

So based on your suggestions, I think I may go this route:

-Process 16mm neg normally (I will be getting an unsupervised transfer to do my rough edits)
-Blow up to 35mm IP
-Contact print a DN (I may BB this if the footage still looks too 'clean')
-Telecine the DN, give video to sound designer
-Make 35mm print from DN with soud lock. Do any colour correcting at this stage.

Just a note; I am hoping to be able to assemble the edit at the printing stage (having alredy more or less locked the edit on video).

Any thoughts?

Thank you very much for your advice Dominic. I know this thread has strayed a bit from the original topic, but I apreciate all your insights into the photochemical post process. I have very little experience in this end of filmmaking (an electric by trade), and your advice has been invaluable.

I will be certain to post all my results.
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#6 Dominic Case

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 08:53 PM

One option would be to blow up the selected sections of the 16mm original neg to IP. Then use the Oxberry again, put your step and skip printing in at the IP > DN stage. You could even (depending on how complex the whole thing is) use that stage to compile/conform the entire film.

Avoid using fine-cut material on the Oxberry. Frames with splices have a tendency to jump very slightly as the splice may push the film slightly out of register in the gate.

Going via print then 5272 is a second-rate option, though it has its merits (for one thing, the print stage is a lot cheaper in stock costs than making an IP on 5/7272). Basically, 5272 is designed to make a negative from a print if you already have the print and only the print - or a camera rversal original. If you have a negative, you get a better result vis the 5/7272 route, as the stock is designed for that purpose.

Contrast loss may be to do with the lens. You say it's an older Oxberry - how good is the lens? A tiny bit of flare can easily scatter enough light to take the depth out of the blacks if you are shooting a negative.
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