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using negative over reversal?


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#1 jason duncan

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 08:25 PM

Hello all,

I was wondering your opinion on using negative vs reversal. Since I never actually view the film, I have it transferred to a miniDV tape or to an AVI file dvd, would it make more sense to use negative? especially if the quality is better than 64T. Reversal is easy for me because I can have it both processed and transferred in Michigan. I know the lattitude is better with negative but is that the only advantage? I keep thinking about the old 35mm still pictures and how they can make a duplicate from the positive print but it's always bettter to have the negative when it comes time to making dups. Just wondering if the same principle applies?

Thanks
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#2 Christopher Santucci

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 12:48 AM

Unless you need a specific "reversal look," I would avoid it. Especially if you're doing a digital finish where you can make it look like reversal anyway (if you want to.)

Reversal film has about a 4 stop range, while color negative has at least a 10 stop range.

If you underexpose reversal or overexpose it by one stop, you will end up with unusable footage. You can overexpose color negative by many stops and still have usable footage, while you could underexpose by a stop or 2 and possibly get away with it.

Color negative will work better and look better, also if you're going to transfer the footage to a digital medium.

Edited by Christopher Santucci, 17 March 2008 - 12:49 AM.

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#3 Bengt Freden

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 07:20 AM

Hi all,

I have been using reversal films all along, both in still photography and Super 8, since the mid 70s. You kind of learn to 'see' through the different fim types and experiment with filters to get your special color 'look'. I always liked the contrasty, sharp look of Kodachrome II or 40A, although the highlights were easily washed-out and the shadows were mostly black with no detail in them. Ektachromes are much too 'blue' to me, especially in the middle of the day under a blue sky (needs series 81 filtration), and the resolution is not nearly good enough - I really liked the colors of the Ektachrome 160 G, though, which had a warmer tone, without the 85A filter. I will try to stay away from Ektachrome 64T.
I have not used the new Fuji 50D daylight stock yet but it seems to me it´s much too saturated, at least for my color taste - it looks like a TV screen turned up too much in color saturation.

Kodak Vision2 and Vision3 color negative stocks:
I have recently bought some Vision2 200T stock and I am going to make some tests in both daylight, with the 85A filter, and in Tungsten-balanced light without it and I will probably overexpose, by at least 1/2 a stop, to obtain a richer, denser negative.

Much of the transfered footage I have seen from the Super 8 Vision2 negative stocks (YouTube, some transfer houses, etc) look very 'dirty', or 'yellow-brown' to me, or has a much too low contrast for my taste - the colors aren´t what I would call 'clean' and brilliant.
I would think that it would be absolutely necessary to shoot a few frames of a generally-accepted color checker chart, like the X-Rite/Gretag-Macbeth or similar, in the beginning of each scene with a new lighting set-up or a new hour of daylight.
If you don´t, the colorist who will transfer your negative footage and correct the overall color and contrast, will have nothing to go on, except some sort of 'standard setting' for his color transfer machine. But if I give him a color chart for each scene and tell him what I want in terms of contrast and color tone, I suppose you, given some time, could achieve some sort of 'resonance' or 'understanding' of what your personal color taste is like. This is probably a long and arduous 'trial-and-error'-based thing, though - it always is, I find. Perhaps you´d like a 'warmer' or 'colder' tone than the 'standard' selection?
Of course there is always the possibility laterin the non-linear editing stage to color-grade, correct the contrast or sharpen up the footage somewhat but you would probably want to get a high resolution, low contrast transfer to begin with. Any views on this? Justin?

/ Bengt in Stockholm

Gretag-Macbeth standard color chart:
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#4 jason duncan

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 12:38 PM

Unless you need a specific "reversal look," I would avoid it. Especially if you're doing a digital finish where you can make it look like reversal anyway (if you want to.)

Reversal film has about a 4 stop range, while color negative has at least a 10 stop range.

If you underexpose reversal or overexpose it by one stop, you will end up with unusable footage. You can overexpose color negative by many stops and still have usable footage, while you could underexpose by a stop or 2 and possibly get away with it.

Color negative will work better and look better, also if you're going to transfer the footage to a digital medium.


I guess I'd be more worried about underexposing. I would like to film a bar band so I would need 500T but you are saying even that speed of film is pushing it? And yes, the footage will be on some sort of digital medium.
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#5 Christopher Santucci

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 12:57 PM

I guess I'd be more worried about underexposing. I would like to film a bar band so I would need 500T but you are saying even that speed of film is pushing it? And yes, the footage will be on some sort of digital medium.



You probably won't find a reversal that's fast enough for what you describe, so you'd have to push whatever IS available as reversal at least a full stop, possibly more. It's risky using reversal and when you're using someone elses lighting, it's even more risky.

You could just shoot a roll as a test with reversal and then you'd have a better idea. Also, you could just take a roll of same ISO 35mm slide film in there and shoot some frames just to gauge how reversal at that speed will need to be exposed/processed.
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#6 Justin Lovell

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 12:20 AM

Reversal is a beautiful thing.

However as of late I've been finding color neg to be a much more versatile stock to be using. Better dynamic range and faster speed ASA for low light, shutter angle tricks and high speed shooting. If I'm going to be projecting the film, Reversal is the only way to go.

Color neg can be pushed 1-2 stops without a huge loss. I'm going to be pushing some super 16 500t later this week and will post it up in my blog.

Also shot some 500t S8 with a key light overexposing by 2-3 stops and I'll post that too.

best!
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#7 Zamir Merali

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 08:10 AM

I recently shot a large amount of negative film. However, for my next project I was considering using reversal. What is the difference in look exactly? Does the grain look different? Will it still be able to deliver "the movie look" even though the latitude is similar to mini-dv? The only reason i was considering reversal is because the movie has a very ordered colour scheme and I wanted to have a slightly surrealistic quality.

I also noticed that grain looks alot better in reversal films than negative. The grain in Pi looks alot different than normal black and white grain. Thanks.
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#8 Mitch Perkins

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 09:17 AM

I guess I'd be more worried about underexposing. I would like to film a bar band so I would need 500T but you are saying even that speed of film is pushing it?


Even the cheesiest bar usually has lights pointed at performers - the drummer may be in the dark but the singer could be quite hot (puns intended). 500T could nicely cover the range but multiple fstops will likely be needed.

Mitch
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#9 Rafael Rivera

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 12:14 AM

I've shot a lot of negative Vision2 on both s16 and s8 and really enjoy it. Tremendous latitude when you ask for 10-bit files from the TK, and a very large exposure tolerance. Lots of room for color timing in your NLE, so creating different looks is a real possibility.
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#10 Hampus Bystrom

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 05:27 AM

Boy this forum is really a goldmine for young, inexperienced but enthused Super8-filmer.
I'm quite surprised tough about hearing that you would want to use negative over reversal.
everywhere I look I find people raving about how good reversal (Ektachrome 64T) looks.
Well, anyway I've just shot two test-films (Ektachrome and Vision2 200T) with my Beaulieu 6008.
They should probably arrive today from Germany, processed and all ready for scanning.
Then I'll make my own mind up about shooting with Vision2 or Ektachrome.
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#11 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 08:29 AM

Until Kodak decides to release a 50ASA negative stock, I primarily shoot Velvia and Ektachrome 100D from Spectra Film and Video for outdoors on sunny days. I just saw Velvia rushes that were transferred at Spectra film and video that we shot in Palm Springs for a film project. Even though we had no shiny boards and no lighting, and it was bright as can be, I was able to expose and get a proper reading on the actor's face in a backlit noontime situation and still get the sand behind him properly exposed.

I like the Vision2 200T for contrasty situations as well.

The guideline I would use is.... If you are outdoors in open spaces, use the Velvia or Ektachrome 100D, if you have buildings or trees making a lot of shadows and high contrast, use the Vision2 200T.
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#12 Rafael Rivera

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 10:48 PM

Hi Jason,

I thought I'd post some sample png files from a test roll I recently shot in San Francisco. I'm sure you'll find these interesting.

The roll was Vision2 7217 shot on an overcast day on very late afternoon (around 5:30 pm), it was almost dark. This film is rated 125 for daylight use, and I shot it with a Beaulieu 4008:

URL to pics: http://www.donfito.c...odakV2200T.html

Legend:
01 - Original
02 - A Simple Contrast adjustment, FCP 3 way CC filter
03 - An extreme contrast adjustment
04 - An extreme saturation adjustment done on the original 01
05 - 03 and 04 together
06 - A Dreamy look

There are many more other looks that can be achieved. It's also noteworthy to see that even a "flat-looking" transfer of a negative can be nicely manipulated. The only effort I made while shooting was simply to set the proper ISO and to set the proper filter.

I hope you find these interesting.
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#13 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 11:27 PM

Hello all,

I was wondering your opinion on using negative vs reversal. Since I never actually view the film, I have it transferred to a miniDV tape or to an AVI file dvd, would it make more sense to use negative?


I think you are going about it the wrong way. First off, your post work flow should not determine what you do in production, its the other way around. Second you need to consider your aesthetic goals and the pragmatics of your shooting situation. The reversal films available in super 8 are pretty slow compared to the neg. stocks but they have finer grain, more contrast and greater color saturation. In some situations these are advantages, in others they are not. You should know that 500t super 8 has a very specific look that you may or may not like. All the 500T I've seen is like watching a film through a snow storm of grain. That's a good choice for some projects and a terrible choice for others.

Go to your club weeks before you shoot and take some light readings, see what the lighting in the club can do. Also its YOUR film, you should not go into an indoor shooting situation in which you can not control the lighting. The club probably has a bunch of burnt up worthless gels over their stage lights. Party gels add color and cut a lot of light. Do you like what they have? What's missing? How will it look on super 8? As the director of the shoot what color palette do you want to use for this film? Talk to the club and get the stage lit the way you want it for your shoot. Which really means get them to allow you to do the stage lighting that night. Its not worth the time, money and effort to make a film if you are not really putting your best foot forward and taking aesthetic control of your production. Also talk to the band, what are they going to be wearing? Find wardrobe that provides the color and tonal values that fit your aesthetic vision and will help the viewer see them on stage (unless you don't want them to be seen, which is also a choice....)

Super 8 is not a very good format for shooting in a club unless you are well prepared, have an strong aesthetic idea of what you want to achieve and you can light the stage to meet your needs.
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#14 Will Montgomery

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 10:04 AM

everywhere I look I find people raving about how good reversal (Ektachrome 64T) looks.
Well, anyway I've just shot two test-films (Ektachrome and Vision2 200T) with my Beaulieu 6008.
They should probably arrive today from Germany, processed and all ready for scanning.
Then I'll make my own mind up about shooting with Vision2 or Ektachrome.

Once you explore reversals and negative films you'll find they really are different and each have their own strengths.

Reversals will give that real "home movie" look that most people coming from video really like because it's so different from a video camera.

Negative in Super 8 is still "home movieish" but has much more latitude or "forgiveness" for improper exposure. That's a big plus in Super 8 as the auto exposures tend to change rapidly and are rarely accurate. Also, a colorist has much more leeway in adjusting color with negative during telecine. If you're going a professional telecine route (Rank or Spirit, ect...), negative is a must (unless you really want the reversal look.)

When you start getting into 16mm, negative stocks can sometimes look almost too good and lose some of that homey feel. While reversals in 16mm (Ektachrome 100D) have an old Hollywood Star home movie look from the 50's.
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#15 Will Montgomery

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 10:24 AM

All the 500T I've seen is like watching a film through a snow storm of grain. That's a good choice for some projects and a terrible choice for others.

Very true. Although often it's because people use the 500T as a substitute for good lighting which will emphasize the grain even more. Just because it's a faster stock doesn't mean decent lighting isn't needed.

Work with the band and the venue to make sure the whole band is well lit (yes, even the bass player and drummer!) before the performance. Once you get a feel for how light sticks to film you'll start to see lighting in a whole new way. It may seem brighter than usual live, but it will probably look great on film.

As Douglas said, get to know the venue well before the actual performance and plan out your shoot well. Go see other bands there and bring your light meter. You'll look like a geek but it will help you figure out what stocks will work.

If you're doing this for the first time here are some low-budget pointers that might help:

1) Put a cheap video camera on a tri-pod in the back or duct tape it to the ceiling and film the stage throughout the performance. This can be your "key" and allow you to place your film clips properly and will get you some good crowd noise as well as a general performance audio "go-by" (not the performance track for actual use)

2) Make sure someone is doing a proper audio recording (hopefully multi-track) for later sync.

3) If you want the whole thing on film, shoot one roll on one song you don't need from behind the band looking out to the audience so you can't see and lips or strumming. Use parts of that as cut-aways when you're changing film in your camera.
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#16 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 10:27 AM

........Go to your club weeks before you shoot and take some light readings, see what the lighting in the club can do. Also its YOUR film, you should not go into an indoor shooting situation in which you can not control the lighting. The club probably has a bunch of burnt up worthless gels over their stage lights. Party gels add color and cut a lot of light.......


In Los Angeles this is harder to do. Clubs that have been around are not that friendly towards having their lights altered unless it's their own personnel doing it, or someone is paying big bucks for their shoot. Low budget productions tend to have to work with what is generously made available to them.

I did a shoot once where I was booked by the actual family that ran the place and I still had to basically take what was given, I was given no latitude of any kind because at the end of the day, it's about the live, paying audience. The places that survive learn early on that their comfort and happiness matters most and anything that might compromise that is forbidden. Adjusting lights to favor the camera man may not favor the club's ambience in the opinion of the club owner.

I tend to think that if one lights a stage so it looks great on Vision 500T, that that probably would be an improvement for the audience as well, but what do I know, it's not my club.
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#17 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 02:56 PM

In Los Angeles this is harder to do. Clubs that have been around are not that friendly towards having their lights altered unless it's their own personnel doing it, or someone is paying big bucks for their shoot.


The OP should not be discouraged by the above comment. More often than not how easy a location is to deal with has to do with communication skills and personality. Granted Alessandro is right, there are some people who will not let you do what you need or want to do and that's all there is to it. But being a good communicator, honest, and considerate works wonders.

In the OP's case he's probably just talking about doing something very simple (maybe changing out some gells and redirecting a few units) that's pretty minor and easy for the club in question to deal with as long as the OP can quickly restore the club's original lighting scheme afterwards.

I've shot in clubs on a number of occasions and they were always very good to me and my crew, and, yes we did change the lighting.

good luck.
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#18 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 03:33 PM

Another point. I can't help but notice that many of the comments against using reversal stock in this discussion seem to be from folks who may have been burned in the past using reversal and maybe relying on an in camera meter. Two thoughts. First, its always best to use a hand held light meter anyway. If for no other reason than the OP seems new and learning about exposures is all about evaluating light. Second, my observation is that I always get the exposure I want from reversal when I decided exactly where I want black to fall. Its my experience that the Velvia and the 100D have barely any toe but do have a better curve on the shoulder. So by spending more time evaluating shadows and where black should be I get the look I am striving for. To play devil's advocate against myself though, I'm sure other folks would say that my method will sometimes lead to blown out highlights. Which it does but personally I find that my eye responds more to where black is than just about any other element.

Of course in the context set up by the OP shooting neg. most likely the best bet. I just wanted to give props to reversal in that if you know what you are doing it's great stuff with a great look!
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#19 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 10:44 PM

The OP should not be discouraged by the above comment......


Maybe you should be a bit more forthcoming about the type of shoots that allow one to move the lights around. Is there a unifying reason that allows the production to have access to ladders both before and after the shoot in a timely matter? Such as budget?

Usually I have found that there are multiple bands playing the same night and the reason the facility does not want the lights moved is because it affects other bands that come before or after the performance I am trying to capture on tape or film.
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#20 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 11:49 AM

Maybe you should be a bit more forthcoming about the type of shoots that allow one to move the lights around. Is there a unifying reason that allows the production to have access to ladders both before and after the shoot in a timely matter? Such as budget?

Usually I have found that there are multiple bands playing the same night and the reason the facility does not want the lights moved is because it affects other bands that come before or after the performance I am trying to capture on tape or film.


Alessandro you are a riot! Even when i agree with you, you can't help but accuse me of something. While I'm sure the budgets I was dealing with were greater than that of the OP they were still TINY and the clubs in question were not paid. like it or not our ability to alter the club's lighting was arrived at through dialogue with the club managers.
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