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#1 Dan McCormick

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 12:59 PM

Hi

I recently shot some camera tests on s16mm colour negative film, and the results I got from using colour temperature filters in exteriors on tungsten stock was not what I expected at all.

The following images are all at exposure (there was no contrast on the road). It was a pretty normal looking overcast day, shot between 10am and midday (sunrise here is 8am). All the reading I have done and stuff my friends and I have shot before led me to believe that an 85 would correct a clear day to tungsten, and overcast days had a higher colour temperature still (I couldn't get a colour temperature metre for the day), but that wasn't how the tests turned out at all.

I wrote on the neg reports to only grade the initial greyscale (which was shot in tungsten light and looked fine), so I don't think that is why they look like they do. Can the colour temp. of overcast days be lower than 5600, or is it more likely that something went wrong either on my part or during processing/telecine?

I don't have time to do anymore testing as I am shooting this next week, but I will be outside on tungsten stock and don't want to use anything stronger then an 81 because the 85's looked awful, but can I trust these tests or will an 81 on an overcast day leave the image very blue (the 81's I tested looked ok on the same day).

(These are actually a little different to how they were on the Digibeta on a calibrated monitor, the 85 and 85B looked more orange)

7218 Clean
Posted Image

7218 85
Posted Image

7218 85B
Posted Image

7217 85
Posted Image

Thanks

Dan McCormick
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#2 Mike Panczenko

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 02:00 PM

Since the 85 corrects daylight balance to tungsten, if you shot a gray card in tungsten light with an 85 on, that would effectively be double correcting. Or did you shoot the card clean? Also, while some people shoot gray cards at full tungsten, they then make extra sure to light with that in mind. Since you really had no control over lighting at this location, you might have been better to shoot the card at this location.

Edited by Mike Panczenko, 24 January 2008 - 02:03 PM.

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#3 Mike Williamson

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 02:08 PM

My guess is that they ignored your gray card, did a nearly full correction for the color temperature of your first unfiltered shot and then let everything run at the same setting the whole way through.

If you're thinking about retesting, I would retransfer this film rather than shooting something new. Talk to the colorist and tell him/her to TIME TO THE GRAY CARD AT THE HEAD OF THE ROLL. I'm assuming the gray card is properly exposed and shot indoors under tungsten light (not mixed lighting). If it's not, scrap this test.

And no, these are not accurate reflections of what you will get using an 85 filter and shooting tungsten stock outdoors. The 85 will help your negative produce a neutral image if that's what you want. What you're seeing is an example of the range of the telecine to shift the color balance of the image.

In terms of what a neutral print or transfer would look like, I would expect the shots with the 85 to still be a little cool (sort of like the first image), while the unfiltered shots would be ridiculously blue.

The lesson here is that you have to find ways to communicate with your colorist, even when they ignore your simple, clear and concise instructions. My personal feeling is that most colorists don't like timing to gray cards and you have to push them very hard to actually use them.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 02:08 PM

Yes, it just looks like they corrected for the unfiltered shot (especially if that was first on the roll) so the shots with the 85B filter now look orange.

Technically the first shot on the roll should be the one you want to be corrected to neutral. Then if you don't want the following shots to be corrected, you'd ask that only the first shot (the grey scale at the head) be corrected and to leave the rest at the same setting. Or you could ask that every shot be corrected to match to see how close they would come.

You shouldn't be afraid to use the correct 85B filter outdoors on tungsten stock -- this will give you the most neutral image on the negative for timing in either direction.
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#5 jon lawrence

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 04:39 PM

This is off topic but can I ask where you shot the footage?

-Jon
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#6 Dan McCormick

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 12:14 PM

Hi

Thanks guys, I called Technicolor and I'm sending the tapes back so they can see what went wrong, hopefully I'll see the right footage before I start shooting! If I don't, there is one interior scene (lit with natural light through a window) which is meant to be early morning, I wanted it fairly blue to give this impression, and was going to shoot uncorrected on tungsten after seeing the tests, but would that end up REALLY blue? .(I know it's a subjective question, I just want to avoid unnaturally blue light) Or if anyone knows of a scene shot uncorrected on tungsten that I could use as reference that'd be helpful too.

Jon - They were shot just off the A31 in the New Forest in Dorset, near Ringwood. I think the place is called Stoney Cross.

Thanks
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#7 jon lawrence

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 01:36 PM

Ahhh, thought so. The reason I ask is I helped a friend out with a shoot about a year ago and we used that same location. Are you studying at Bournemouth by any chance?
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#8 Mike Williamson

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 01:49 PM

My suggestion would be to shoot the scene half uncorrected, which means maybe you would use HMI's or natural daylight and an 85C filter on the camera (if you're using tungsten stock). From there, you have room to go either cooler or warmer without getting artifacts.

To my taste, a cool morning light probably falls somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 "uncorrected" blue. Full uncorrected daylight tends to get very saturated and aggressive to my eye.
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#9 Dan McCormick

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 09:08 PM

Ahhh, thought so. The reason I ask is I helped a friend out with a shoot about a year ago and we used that same location. Are you studying at Bournemouth by any chance?


Yeah, at the Arts Institute, do you know it? The tests are for my graduation film which starts next week, I think I left this a bit late :(
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#10 jon lawrence

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 07:48 AM

I did a foundation year there. I've heard it's a really good uni for film production.
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#11 Dan McCormick

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 02:04 PM

Ok, I heard back from Technicolor and they said that because the telecine was corrected to the initial grey-scale and not altered afterwards, but it went through a bestlight and that automatically corrected the blue scene to white which is why the results all look orange.

I didn't want to argue with someone who does this for a living because I don't really know a lot about it and I'd sound like an idiot, but I don't understand why the blue shot halfway through the roll would automatically be corrected to white but then all of the other shots would run through being really orange - why weren't they corrected as well? Are they lying to me because I don't know what I'm talking about and they don't want to redo the telecine for free (which they should if they messed up right, even though I got student discount).

Anyway, should I call them back and question their reasoning?

Jon - I really like the course here, its especially good for camera and lighting, we get a lot of chances to shoot 16mm film, we get entered into the kodak commercial competition in our last year and for a uni they give us good equipment, and I love the student discounts that we get from everyone!
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 02:20 PM

It all depends on what the instructions were on the paperwork (camera report, lab instruction sheet) you submitted. If you said to correct for the grey scale at the head of the roll and then transfer everything at that setting, then that's what they should have done.

If you told them to correct for every grey scale in the roll, then that's what they should have done. If your request was vague, then you don't have much basis to ask for a re-transfer. No, they shouldn't have taken a blue shot and corrected it and left the other shots orange, but on the other hand, they don't really know what you intended.

This is why after a grey scale, I usually shoot a sign that says things like "NOTE TO COLORIST: BLUE TWILIGHT", etc.
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#13 Dan McCormick

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 04:25 PM

It all depends on what the instructions were on the paperwork (camera report, lab instruction sheet) you submitted. If you said to correct for the grey scale at the head of the roll and then transfer everything at that setting, then that's what they should have done.


I wrote something similar to 'correct only to first greyscale' (although there was only 1 on each roll anyway), but they said that they saw that and followed it, and it wasn't a conscious decision of theirs to turn the blue shots white but something that happens automatically with a best light. To be honest I don't really know the process of telecine in terms of how its done by the technicians, I sat in on one once just to observe and the director, DP and grader went through each shot adjusting colours/exposure etc. but no changes were automatic.

Any advice for what kind of notes I should send with the film stock, I don't want this kind of problem again. Can I ask for whatever I want, I've always sort of assumed that as its a student production that its a low priority so they just do it in some standard way.

Thanks
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#14 Mike Williamson

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 07:25 PM

I've sent a variety of notes to colorists, probably the best thing you could send would be a digital still for each scene timed to look the way you want it. You would need a decent DSLR and a color correction program, I use Adobe Lightroom. You could then send in the file as a JPEG, or print it out which might be the most accurate way to do it. Although my friend Sean did this on his thesis film and the colorist refused to match the look ("leaving him room to tweak it in post"), so it can be difficult.

I've been reasonably lucky getting something close to what I want out of unsupervised dailies over the years, but it really is a crap shoot even with gray cards. What you wrote is a very simple set of instructions that were clear and didn't get followed, which is often the case. The reason it's the case is that colorists don't usually time to gray cards, at least the last five I've worked with. To a person, they've told me that they usually go past the gray card and start working to get a decent skin tone. My guess is that they're used to seeing badly shot gray cards and have come to distrust them. I don't buy the idea that anything that happens in the telecine bay is "not a conscious choice", they screwed up and don't want to admit to it. If they have some sort of "auto" setting on their machines, which I've never heard of, ask them exactly how it works and how you can have it turned off.

So do anything you can: send stills, shoot a gray card, write a long explanation as to the look of the film and your references and an upbeat message that yes I know it's dark but that's the idea and include it with every single shipment you send to the lab (as I once did). The essential thing is to get the colorist to trust you and understand what you're doing, so any kind of face to face contact or telephone calls are really the best thing.

I would love to have a system like printer lights for telecine, where you could just call your lights and be done with it. But right now it doesn't exist in practice, hopefully the digital printer light system will start to go into use. Does anyone know what the current state of affair is with that?
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#15 Dan McCormick

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 03:31 PM

Thanks for all of your help guys.

I called the labs back today and questioned them a bit more and they are redoing the telecine for free, adjusting for the greyscale only! Shame I start filming in 12 hours though.
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