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HD and Black and White


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#1 GeorgeSelinsky

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 01:11 PM

Greetings to all...

I'm trying to come up with a feature project that is going to be shot for a European audience primarily. That means the budget is going to have to be pretty tight.

My problem is that ideally, I wanted to shoot on B&W 35 or should the money not be raised, Super 16.

I ran numbers and it seems that HD beats B&W Super 16 pricewise. An added benefit is that by shooting in HD I can shoot in color, in case the financers insist on a color film for sale.

Ideally speaking I would like for the project to have the look of a B&W 35 film shot in the 60's, 1.66 ratio.

Before proceeding to doing a test, I wanted to get some opinions here on recommended starting points. I'd be working to get the color-gray response to approximate 5231/5222. I don't have any experience shooting HD, only film or standard def (unless you count my Aiptek Go HD, insert Ernie from Sesame Street laugh....)

I would imagine if we go to a film out, I can have the film recorded onto Plus X 5231, that might help matters. I imagine if we raise enough for a film out I can shoot as flat as possible on the camera and then let the filmout/color correction software do the trick.

Any suggestions appreciated in advance!
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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 02:06 PM

It's going to be hard to get the right look in both B&W and in color, in camera. What looks right for one won't necessarily look right for the other.

To create the B&W look in camera, pretty much any professional 2/3" chip HD camera should let you fine-tune the gamma curve to get you close to what you're looking for, although you'll have to do the desaturation in post with Panasonic cameras. In addition to the preset gammas, you can further adjust the master gamma, black stretch, and knee response to create the kind of gamma curve that's more like an old B&W stock. If you really want to go nuts you can even fine tune the gamma of each of the color channels for different skin tone rendering. Your budget will likely dictate what cameras you can get, but look at the usual suspects; Viper, F900, Panasonic HPX3000, 2000, Varicam, HDX900...

But if you're trying to create both color and B&W versions from the same color master, then you're better off shooting a more "normal" color version and doing the B&W in post. It's always a bit of a balancing act, deciding how far to go in-camera and how much to rely on post. Generally speaking, color correction in-camera is cleaner because it starts at a higher bit depth and takes place before compression, but trying to un-do that look in post can create the same kinds of artifacts you would get if you hadn't pushed the look to far in first place. In the end, you just have to test whatever it is you're trying to do.

If this is your first time doing a large project on HD, don't forget the price and logistics of the post format. Things like tape stock, deck rental, computer hardware and so forth are just as important as what camera you choose. A cheaper recording format that's more compressed than a high-end one can cause you to re-think your entire color correction workflow.

More discussion:
http://www.cinematog...04/in...ite=B
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#3 Bruce Greene

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 12:11 PM

I haven't done this, but I would seriously consider shooting for b&w only.

The reason is that in most HD cameras with compression, color is recorded at 1/2 or less resolution than than luminance.

I would test by shooting with the camera connected to a monitor using analogue output and viewing the luminance channel only with the monitor set with the saturation down all the way. Experiment by using red, green, yellow filters on the camera as one would use when shooting b&w film. The hope is that you'll get your look all in the luminance channel at the full resolution of the camera. If you convert to b&w using the color channels you may find a decrease in resolution with compressed images on Varicam, Sony f-900 and other lower end HD cameras.

Let us know how your test comes out and compare to shooting with full color and converting in software afterwards.
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#4 Sam Wells

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 03:40 PM

Contrary opinion: I'd get the fullest response of color I could and work with that in post.

If you do that - especially for daylight - you can go into the RGB color channels, work with them individually - for gamma, gain, lift, -- if you *really* want to get tricky you can swap channels --

I'm using Shake 4.1 and Apple Color for my own work which have some formidable tools..

As per Michael Nash you wan the best camera you can get - and have your post strategy lined up, you don't want to just walk in anywhere off the street --

The problem with just a desat is that hue contrast values are largely irrelevant, it's luminosity contrast values that you want ----

-Sam
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#5 Nate Downes

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 07:30 AM

I dunno, I haven't seen any HD cameras save the CineAlta able to pull off convincing B&W as of yet, but I've only worked with a few HD setups (HVX200, Varicam, FX7, XL-H1). At a 1.66:1 ratio you could shoot it on standard 16, which would save you cost on telecine and editing as well as having less expensive camera setups available. The key in all of this, weither film or HD, is to use vintage lenses or ones giving you the vintage contrast. Nothing ruins the illusions faster than things being too sharp, not contrasty enough, the lens flares...
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 02:27 PM

I dunno, I haven't seen any HD cameras save the CineAlta able to pull off convincing B&W as of yet,


I've seen very good looking B&W from HD and even SD cameras, including the Varicam and SDX900 (some of it my own, some of it others' footage). The better the gear you start with, the more you can get from it. In other words, don't expect maximum flexibility from a prosumer camera.
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#7 Timo Klages

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 04:03 AM

I dunno, I haven't seen any HD cameras save the CineAlta able to pull off convincing B&W as of yet, but I've only worked with a few HD setups (HVX200, Varicam, FX7, XL-H1). At a 1.66:1 ratio you could shoot it on standard 16, which would save you cost on telecine and editing as well as having less expensive camera setups available. The key in all of this, weither film or HD, is to use vintage lenses or ones giving you the vintage contrast. Nothing ruins the illusions faster than things being too sharp, not contrasty enough, the lens flares...



i´ve seen a very convincing black&white music video project shot with the Arri D20. It was shot in 4:4:4 uncompressed.
but that´s not cheaper than shooting on film i guess...


greets,
timo
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#8 John Sprung

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 05:23 PM

First decide what DOF you want. That'll put you either in the 2/3" group or the 35-ish group.

I wonder if it would be possible for any of the makers in the 35-ish group to pull a chip out of the process before it gets the color filter mask. That would make a B&W camera with higher resolution and sensitivity than the equivalent with the mask.



-- J.S.
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