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Question about Pulling Film


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#1 Tim Nuttall

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 02:40 PM

Hi All,

Quick question for you. Reading American Cinematographer (Dec. 07) and the article on American Gangster, I noted that Harris Savides shot Vision2 5229, rated the film at 1000, and also Pulled the film by one stop. Am I wrong or is he now underexposing the film by one stop rating it at 1000? Isn't pulling usually combined with overexposure? Why might he do this?

Thanks.
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 02:51 PM

He was just really trying to desaturate the colors and increase the contrast IN CAMERA. Which worked for much of the film where it applied. You can read on in the article why it makes sense, considering the OZ process they applied to it.

I love articles like this that show the DP's who REALLY test the negative's limits.

Edited by Jonathan Bowerbank, 26 December 2007 - 02:51 PM.

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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 08:54 PM

Yes, it's confusing because rating a 500 ASA film at 1000 ASA and pulling by one stop is basically ending up with a negative that is two stops "thin" or underexposed.

Normally I'd say it's a typo and they meant "pushing"... but knowing how much Savides likes a thin negative, plus the fact that this was in combination with a silver retention print process, which restores the blacks and contrast, I tend to believe the info is correct.
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#4 Matthew Buick

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Posted 27 December 2007 - 05:39 PM

Could EXR 100T be pulled in the same way, and would it achieve the same effect. I think particularly about Stephen Murphy's 'Formorian'. 500T rated at 1000, pulled two stops, ending up one stop underexposed, am I correct?
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 December 2007 - 06:08 PM

Could EXR 100T be pulled in the same way, and would it achieve the same effect. I think particularly about Stephen Murphy's 'Formorian'. 500T rated at 1000, pulled two stops, ending up one stop underexposed, am I correct?


No, because rating 500T at 1000 ASA is already underexposing by one stop, and pulling reduces density further, so pulling by two stops is an effective three-stop total underexposure in terms of final density of the negative.

500T rated at 250 ASA (overexposing one stop, i.e. increasing density by one stop) and then pulled two stops (reducing density by two stops) would end up being one stop underexposed.

Rather than confuse yourself, just tell us what effect you are trying to achieve.

What Savides was doing by underexposing AND pull-processing was ending up with a "thin" low-contrast negative (somewhat weaker blacks once printed back "up", low in color saturation) and then restoring blacks and contrast in the print by using a silver retention process. He could have just underexposed by two stops and processed normal, rather than underexpose by one stop and pull-process another stop, except that you get more grain when underexposing two stops. Underexposing one stop increases grain but pull-processing helps reduce grain (or not let it get worse) so he gets a thinner negative without as much graininess as from just rating 500T at 2000 ASA instead of 1000 ASA. Plus you keep more shadow information at 1000 ASA instead of 2000 ASA (understanding that any underexposure is reducing shadow information in general.)
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#6 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 07:21 AM

Could EXR 100T be pulled in the same way, and would it achieve the same effect. I think particularly about Stephen Murphy's 'Formorian'. 500T rated at 1000, pulled two stops, ending up one stop underexposed, am I correct?



actually "The Formorian" was shot on 250D and pushed 2 stops.

At Camerimage Harris Savides said he never changes the asa of a stock, so if he's pushing or pulling he still works off of the stocks base asa. He doesnt believe in any change in speed derived from pushing/pulling, just a change in contrast and saturation.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 12:14 PM

At Camerimage Harris Savides said he never changes the asa of a stock, so if he's pushing or pulling he still works off of the stocks base asa. He doesnt believe in any change in speed derived from pushing/pulling, just a change in contrast and saturation.


But he has often said that he underexposes scenes, so even if he isn't changing the ASA rating, a scene may be two stops under, or whatever the effect he wants to achieve.
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#8 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 02:41 PM

But he has often said that he underexposes scenes, so even if he isn't changing the ASA rating, a scene may be two stops under, or whatever the effect he wants to achieve.


I'm not disagreeing with that, i just think its an interesting work practice. If i was shooting a movie at 500 asa and pulling 2 stops id be lighting to 125 asa rather than 500asa. It works well for him though - I must give it a try sometime:)
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 05:32 PM

I always get disappointed with my own work on the big screen when I start playing around with thinner negatives. I guess I like a certain snap and dimensionality to the image; underexposure can fall into muddiness so quickly, you really have to now how to modulate it, control it. Every time I shoot a feature on 500T rated at 500 or 400 ASA, I end up rating my next movie at 320 ASA...

You also need to be consistent so that you don't have dense-looking shots intercut with thin-looking ones.
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#10 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 03:32 AM

I always get disappointed with my own work on the big screen when I start playing around with thinner negatives. I guess I like a certain snap and dimensionality to the image; underexposure can fall into muddiness so quickly, you really have to now how to modulate it, control it. Every time I shoot a feature on 500T rated at 500 or 400 ASA, I end up rating my next movie at 320 ASA...

You also need to be consistent so that you don't have dense-looking shots intercut with thin-looking ones.

I guess that could become a serious problem if you have a lot of multi-unit shooting - if the 2nd unit DP doesn't get the brief or doesn't trust you that you really DO want him to underexpose and covers his ass by exposing normally, then your neg density could end up all over the place. I wonder if Savides tries to shoot every shot on his films, even stuff that would normally go to 2nd unit, for this reason.
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#11 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 10:35 PM

I guess that could become a serious problem if you have a lot of multi-unit shooting - if the 2nd unit DP doesn't get the brief or doesn't trust you that you really DO want him to underexpose and covers his ass by exposing normally, then your neg density could end up all over the place. I wonder if Savides tries to shoot every shot on his films, even stuff that would normally go to 2nd unit, for this reason.


David, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you mentioned this happening to you on Astronaut Farmer with a 2nd unit shot in the hospital that was somehow underexposed, and noticeably grainy in the final print.
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