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Choosing the best film stock for your project


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#1 Steven Grant James

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 07:54 AM

Hi folks,

I tried a seach for this question but came across nothing that matched what I was looking for. I am making the progression from Super-8mm to 16mm (with luck Super16). As you can imagine I now have a lot more choice when it comes to film stock. One question, other than ASA, speed, daylight, tungsten, etc ... how does everyone pick out a stock?

I have shot Vision 200T on 16mm before but was not too impressed. I think I chose it because it seemed like a good all round choice for someone learning to shoot on a new format. pehaps I should look at the Fuji stocks? Any advise would be very appreciated!

Thanks

Steven.
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#2 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 08:28 PM

I have shot Vision 200T on 16mm before but was not too impressed. I think I chose it because it seemed like a good all round choice for someone learning to shoot on a new format. pehaps I should look at the Fuji stocks? Any advise would be very appreciated!


All of teh curent Negative stocks are far better than anyone has a right to expect.

Since they are negatives however their is the need to either have a print made, or more commonly now a days have the negative scaned to some sort of Video or TV format.

When the negative is transfered, the density and colour balance can be changed, which can result in better or worse colour and brightness than you were expecting. if you are using a digital or Vedeo tranfer the contract and colour saturation is under the operators control.

If you are using any of the Tungsten (t) stocks you will get far better results under tungsten lighting or with an 85filter than if you shoot in daylight without a filter.

The fuji stocks has a slightly "different" look than the Kodak, but not enough to write home about. the siecial stocks like Eterna Vivid have a slightly stronger differnce.

Propor exposure is key. Try to talk to someone at the lab and let them look at your negatives. It might be wirth the cost to arrange to re-transfer your shots in a supervised situation and ask the tech to be brutaly honest about what he or she sees wrong with your nagatives. (and get them to compare your Super 8 negative assuming you have tried negative film on the super 8 side.
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 10:22 PM

I have shot Vision 200T on 16mm before but was not too impressed. I think I chose it because it seemed like a good all round choice for someone learning to shoot on a new format. pehaps I should look at the Fuji stocks? Any advise would be very appreciated!


What was it that left you unimpressed -- the color? The contrast? The grain? The sharpness? And what were you looking at? Print, telecine, format, monitor etc... Lots of little factors contribute to the image you finally see.

And of course how you shoot it will make a big difference. Old soft 16mm zoom lenses, flat lighting, and improper exposure can make even the best stock look weak.

When you start to pick apart the subtle differences between filmstocks, you have to make sure that all the other variables are the same, and that they're all up to reasonably high standards. The differences in film stocks these days are pretty subtle, and are easily overpowered by bad shooting, transfers, and displays.
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#4 Steven Grant James

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 04:55 AM

What was it that left you unimpressed -- the color? The contrast? The grain? The sharpness? And what were you looking at? Print, telecine, format, monitor etc... Lots of little factors contribute to the image you finally see.


I think overall the sharpness and contrast were a bit weak... but then like you say the cinematography, lenses, transfer all make a considerable difference. I could have just had a bad experience with the transfer house - which is why I would be happy to use this stock again. It might be an idea to to some tests with some shortends... then figure out which stock works best. I am looking for something highly saturated, that jumps out at you. Of course when it comes to it though, the look will have a lot to do with lighting, sets, etc.

I may give Eterna Vivid a shot too and see what the fuss is about.

Thanks guys
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#5 Paul Bruening

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 09:52 AM

Hey Steven,

You mentioned Vision stocks. Kodak has discontinued those stocks and replaced them with Vision II. As far as I can tell, everyone loves the new stock. It's sharper, truer color, and better with harsh contrasts. Of course, there is an inherent limit with the image resolution power of 16mm. Given that the film is as good as it currently can be, you may have to consider improvements in your machinery if you must have a better looking image. Me? I'd rather move up to so-so 35mm gear over expensive-best-possible 16mm gear. People often defend their 16mm commitment with film and lab savings. However, Techniscope (http://en.wikipedia....iki/Techniscope) might provide a viable compromise between image quality and production savings. The Wikipedia article will create the impression that 2-perf is dead. Yet, some here have participated in a revival movement of this utterly useful format. Search under: Penelope, 2-perf, Techniscope and related terms.
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 06:30 PM

The trend in filmstocks over the last several years is to look less contrasty, less saturated, and more "neutral" and natural-looking. I think this is largely in response to the popularity of digital manipulation, where you generally want as much clean information as possible. As a result color-correction now plays a more important role in creating a distinct look, since there is less variety in film stocks (although a marked improvement in overall quality). Try sitting in on a transfer, or import some footage into a decent desktop color correction system and see what you can do with "ordinary" footage.

But as for filmstocks, if you want something that "jumps out at you" you'll probably want the Fuji Vivid, or reversal film (either normally- or cross-processed). And of course overexposing or push-processing negative for more density can help.

In general, the slower-speed stocks have a little more snap and color than faster films. And Kodak negatives have a slightly richer look than Fuji, aside from the Vivid stock. But these differences are very mild compared to the high-saturation look you're after.
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#7 Steven Grant James

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Posted 04 August 2007 - 06:03 AM

In general, the slower-speed stocks have a little more snap and color than faster films. And Kodak negatives have a slightly richer look than Fuji, aside from the Vivid stock. But these differences are very mild compared to the high-saturation look you're after.


I can see how stocks these days would need to be more true to life. At the end of the day I will most lickely be using filters/colour correction anyway. My short film is set in the late sixties and I am going for a slightly dated, classical look... lots of natural light and backlighting.. lots of warmth on the faces. Even though I can't pay for a cinematographer.. i will probably try and find someone willing to help out who can concentrate soley on getting the look i need.

So far I am gonna try Kodak 250T/320T and probably the Eterna vivid as well and see what feels right for me. I am sure I will not see any major differences though.

Thanks for your reply Michael.
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 04 August 2007 - 03:38 PM

So far I am gonna try Kodak 250T/320T and probably the Eterna vivid as well and see what feels right for me. I am sure I will not see any major differences though.


Kodak doesn't make a 250T, and the 320T has been discontinued. If you can get a hold of some that's been stored properly, you can expect the same mild contrast and color as the newer 7218 500T.

Check out the current Kodak stocks: http://www.kodak.com...s...4.6.4&lc=en
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#9 Steven Grant James

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Posted 04 August 2007 - 04:51 PM

Kodak doesn't make a 250T, and the 320T has been discontinued. If you can get a hold of some that's been stored properly, you can expect the same mild contrast and color as the newer 7218 500T.

Check out the current Kodak stocks: http://www.kodak.com...s...4.6.4&lc=en


Hey thanks for the update Michael... I must have been looking at the wrong page or something. It looks like the 500T would be the other option now!

Steven
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#10 Reinis Traidas

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 09:29 AM

Hey thanks for the update Michael... I must have been looking at the wrong page or something. It looks like the 500T would be the other option now!

Steven


The new Vision2 500T is a beautiful stock. Very sensitive and can be very contrasty, if you light it in such a manner. I remember hearing that Lance Acord used the 500T in "Lost in Translation" and I'm sure you'd agree that the Tokyo night scenery shots (shot from a taxi) looked really good. From what I remember, he said that he even had to close down the aperture down to T5,6 at some occasions or he'd overexpose it - that's how sensitive it is.

And 500T simply LOVES the color red.
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#11 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 11:24 AM

The new Vision2 500T is a beautiful stock. Very sensitive and can be very contrasty, if you light it in such a manner. I remember hearing that Lance Acord used the 500T in "Lost in Translation"


Acord used the low-con 5263 (500T) in "Lost in Translation", but it was discontinued by Kodak a few years ago. He switched to VISION2 5229 (also 500T) for "Marie Antoinette".
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#12 Steven Grant James

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 04:39 AM

The new Vision2 500T is a beautiful stock. Very sensitive and can be very contrasty, if you light it in such a manner. I remember hearing that Lance Acord used the 500T in "Lost in Translation" and I'm sure you'd agree that the Tokyo night scenery shots (shot from a taxi) looked really good. From what I remember, he said that he even had to close down the aperture down to T5,6 at some occasions or he'd overexpose it - that's how sensitive it is.

And 500T simply LOVES the color red.


Hi Reinis, after much consideration - I am pretty certain I will use the new 500T expression. As you say it loves the colour red, and as I am looking for a late afternoon, amber glow through my daytime scenes (interiors at least) this seems like perfect sense. I watched Ron Howards film Cinderella Man just the other day, which also uses the expression 500T. There were some scenes were russel crow is shot standing near burning fires at night, in a depression era slum in NY.. the orange glow on his face was just what im looking for. I think with some testing, gels and careful lighting I can really do a lot with this stock!

Oh and I agree, the night work on Lost in translation is very impressive. I love that movie.

Steven.
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