Jump to content


Photo

Black&white


  • Please log in to reply
27 replies to this topic

#1 Matteo Cocco

Matteo Cocco
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 45 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Germany

Posted 15 April 2008 - 01:35 PM

I´ll be shooting a feature on 35mm. the final product should be black&white. i would like to go through a DI, but still am unsure of using Black&white negative stock from Kodak, instead of shooting on color film and pull the color away later.

would be nice if you could give me some suggestions, personal experiences and film references!

Thank you very much,
Gigi
  • 0

#2 GeorgeSelinsky

GeorgeSelinsky
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 718 posts

Posted 15 April 2008 - 04:03 PM

I never tried shooting color and pulling away the chroma, but I've seen it done and to be honest - I don't like the look. It's not bad per sey, but it's just different from the real B&W that I'm used to seeing in older films.

I personally prefer shooting the real thing (Plus X, Double X), if you're bothering to shoot on film that is.
  • 0

#3 Jim Keller

Jim Keller
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 290 posts
  • Producer
  • Fresno, CA

Posted 15 April 2008 - 04:33 PM

Before making a decision, I'd suggest talking to your lab. They may make the choice very easy (by saying they don't do black and white anyway, or offering you a screaming deal if you shoot in black and white).
  • 0

#4 Chris Burke

Chris Burke
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1675 posts
  • Boston, MA

Posted 15 April 2008 - 09:03 PM

I´ll be shooting a feature on 35mm. the final product should be black&white. i would like to go through a DI, but still am unsure of using Black&white negative stock from Kodak, instead of shooting on color film and pull the color away later.

would be nice if you could give me some suggestions, personal experiences and film references!

Thank you very much,
Gigi



shoot real black and white, a DI will be more expensive and not look as good. The last Bond film, Casino Royale shot 5222 for the beginning scene.
  • 0

#5 Dominic Case

Dominic Case
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1357 posts
  • Other
  • Sydney Australia

Posted 15 April 2008 - 10:08 PM

If you plan to finish on film, then you might choose to print on black and white film (check the price and availability at your lab). You will find the analogue (Dolby ST) track very disappointing.

Alternatively you might be persuaded to print on colour stock, with all sorts of problems keeping the black and white looking neutral and well balanced. Black and white film stocks and colour film stocks were not designed to work well with each other.

Alternatively you can go through a DI process, which will give you a MUCH better black and white result when you print on colour print stock.

In which case you might as well shoot on colour negative, which uses this century's technology, and then set up the black and white look in the DI.

However, "pulling colour away" in a DI can be done well or it can be done badly. You need to use a lab or DI house where they know what they are doing.

shoot real black and white, a DI will be more expensive and not look as good. The last Bond film, Casino Royale shot 5222 for the beginning scene.

The entire Casino Royale film went through the DI process - at 2K. The opening sequence wouldn't have looked half as good if it was simply duplicated optically.
  • 0

#6 Chris Burke

Chris Burke
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1675 posts
  • Boston, MA

Posted 17 April 2008 - 06:36 AM

You will find the analogue (Dolby ST) track very disappointing.



The entire Casino Royale film went through the DI process - at 2K. The opening sequence wouldn't have looked half as good if it was simply duplicated optically.




What do you mean by the analogue track being disapointing?

In regards to the bond film, of course it would look better than opitcal, because you are mixing color and black and white in the same film. DIs excel at this. But I think the original poster is doing an ENTIRE film in bw and wanted to do a DI. I suggested an photochemical route, because it will look better and will be cheaper, especially for 35.
  • 0

#7 Dominic Case

Dominic Case
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1357 posts
  • Other
  • Sydney Australia

Posted 18 April 2008 - 12:34 AM

What do you mean by the analogue track being disapointing?

To clarify my earlier email:

Yes, the entire photochemical route in black and white is a possibility, and would work well for the image.

When the black & white print stock was designed, it was pretty good for soundtracks - but the grain structure and resolution of print stock has always been one of the limiting factors in optical analogue soundtracks.

Today, sound reproduction technology has improved and lifted our expectations.

I think you would find that an analogue track printed on black and white print stock today would fall short of what you are used to - in terms of noise level, in terms of high frequency roll-off, and in terms of cross-mod distortion.

And that is assuming you found a lab that could do it and was still set up to do it well. Sound cameras and soundtrack printers need regular testing and calibration to maintian optimum printing densities and conditions: the lab might be more keen to take the job on if there was to be a reasonable sized print run behind the answer print - and most labs have quite limited black and white print and process capacities these days.

Which is why some filmmakers settle for printing on colour stock - and that is when the black and white images become very second-rate.
  • 0

#8 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 18 April 2008 - 07:04 AM

I am by no means an audiophile, but from what I've heard of analogue tracks (mostly when they kick in when a digital track reader malfunctions) they have more hiss, akin to what you'd hear from a cassette as opposed to a CD (unfortunately not as good as an LP :( ) Anyway, unless you switch from analogue to digital mid-movie, I don't think anyone is going to thunder out of a theatre and demand their money back because of it. But no, it won't sound as good.

Dominic, wouldn't a B&W soundtrack sound BETTER than a cyan track? Isn't that why it took so long to phase out B&W tracks on prints? Also, since analogue tracks are still standardized as backups and for theatres without digital sound decks, aren't analogue soundtrack labs still widespread as every movie still needs one?

I wouldn't know if there is any difference between making a soundtrack on B&W print as opposed to Vision Print (except that maybe on B&W it'd be easier!)

Another question: Why couldn't you sync up a CD with a B&W print with one of the digital systems that uses dual system sound just as easily as you could with color? Yes, I know these systems usually use some sort of cyan dye for the digital sync codes, but still couldn't it be done with maybe a cyan filter somewhere in the path between the reader and the print film?
  • 0

#9 Sam Wells

Sam Wells
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1751 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 18 April 2008 - 09:29 AM

Another question: Why couldn't you sync up a CD with a B&W print with one of the digital systems that uses dual system sound just as easily as you could with color? Yes, I know these systems usually use some sort of cyan dye for the digital sync codes, but still couldn't it be done with maybe a cyan filter somewhere in the path between the reader and the print film?


Well that's what DTS is.

I did a 16mm B&W feature with DTS timecode printed on the optical track (of course it had no analog track)

I don't know how DTS does it with a dedicated track on 35mm B&W prints, I assume they can do it.

-Sam
  • 0

#10 Paul Bruening

Paul Bruening

    (deceased)

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2858 posts
  • Producer
  • Oxford, Mississippi

Posted 18 April 2008 - 03:16 PM

Hello all,

I'm glad you mentioned DTS, Sam. I'm having trouble finding a link that adequately, technically describes the DTS timecode system. Could Dominic, Robert H or any lab guru take a swipe at these questions:

1) For us broke-a**-broke producers, could we just forget about the analogue and opti-digital tracks and just print the DTS timecode on our prints? Do we really need the redundancy?

2) Is DTS timecode simple enough that we could buy 2000' rolls of preprinted DTS and use it from project to project or is it necessarily tied to the run system of the whole print and each project?

3) Is DTS timecode specific in each sequential stamp? In other words, is it a repeating stamp or is each stamp unique and in sequence?
  • 0

#11 Sam Wells

Sam Wells
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1751 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 18 April 2008 - 06:58 PM

I was a bit limited in where I could show it. A kind of road show thing. Cool but I'm not sure I'd repeat it.

This was how DTS was doing it for a few 16m prods - normally it's a dedicated track (not unusual to ship 35mm prints with DD, DTS and SDDS (I'm not sure how much SDDS is being used now, I haven't kept up) as well as analog.

I suspect DTS would be hesitant about printing (letting you print) generic TC on a 35mm optical track; I don't know if they would have a master - because - in regular 35mm usage the TC - which is fairly simple itself SMPTE but 15bits IIRC - contains Reel ID & show ID (the latter preventing things like showing "Juno" with the "Superbad" soundtrack......

-Sam
  • 0

#12 Sam Wells

Sam Wells
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1751 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 18 April 2008 - 07:06 PM

Here's a person to talk to about optical sound if you want to go for prints on B&W stock

Fran is a guru

http://www.fullhouse...se_aboutus.html
  • 0

#13 Michael Nash

Michael Nash
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3330 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Pasadena, CA

Posted 18 April 2008 - 09:32 PM

Robert Elswit talks about his B&W experience on Good Night, and Good Luck here. There's also an article in American Cinematographer November '05.
  • 0

#14 Robert Houllahan

Robert Houllahan
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1584 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • Providence R.I.

Posted 18 April 2008 - 10:02 PM

Robert Elswit talks about his B&W experience on Good Night, and Good Luck here. There's also an article in American Cinematographer November '05.



The optical stereo is not ultra-spec new sound but it has a nice analog midrange, dialog is clear but block bumping bass you don't get. Are you blowing anything up in the film?


I love 22 and 31, 22 is always surprising to me when and 31 is so smooth. 31 and hard light cuts, get all the B+W while you can before you have to start buying it on the street...


-Rob-
  • 0

#15 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19762 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 18 April 2008 - 10:43 PM

I think it's partly a matter of speed -- if you can work with stocks in the 64 to 200 ASA range, then shooting real b&w is probably worth trying (though I would shoot some tests before committing to it.)

But if you really need 500 ASA and even higher (by pushing 500T), I'd probably go with color neg -- 5219 pushed to 1000 ASA is still less grainy than Double-X. Or you could try mixing color & b&w stocks, if you are doing a D.I. anyway. Shoot pushed 500T for night exterior work, for example, and real b&w for the rest.
  • 0

#16 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 19 April 2008 - 10:07 AM

Everyone seems to be dodging the question: can B&W Print Stock, which cannot obviously render any color dyes, be made to work with digital systems that tend to be built around a cyan track these days instead of a silver one?
  • 0

#17 Robert Houllahan

Robert Houllahan
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1584 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • Providence R.I.

Posted 19 April 2008 - 11:04 AM

Everyone seems to be dodging the question: can B&W Print Stock, which cannot obviously render any color dyes, be made to work with digital systems that tend to be built around a cyan track these days instead of a silver one?



That is the question, does the dolby digital bitstream which is a block of pixels in between the perfs use color as an encoding component or will the block work as density on a B-W print?

I don't know, probably have to contact dolby..

-Rob-
  • 0

#18 Leo Anthony Vale

Leo Anthony Vale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2010 posts
  • Other
  • Pittsburgh PA

Posted 19 April 2008 - 12:57 PM

That is the question, does the dolby digital bitstream which is a block of pixels in between the perfs use color as an encoding component or will the block work as density on a B-W print?


I ran into some at WRS & there is no color component, but there is a teeny Dolby logo in the center of each block. The Sony digital, which is printed outside the perfs, might be color.

Since B/W print stock isn't as sharp as color print stock, would the lower resolution be a problem?
  • 0

#19 Dominic Case

Dominic Case
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1357 posts
  • Other
  • Sydney Australia

Posted 20 April 2008 - 08:25 PM

Everyone seems to be dodging the question: can B&W Print Stock, which cannot obviously render any color dyes, be made to work with digital systems that tend to be built around a cyan track these days instead of a silver one?

Not dodging the question, just getting a life outside cinematography.com from time to time :P

Anyway, slow down a bit. The cyan track is nothing to do with digital systems.

Let's look at analogue tracks first. Projectors all used to be fitted with infra-red sensitive sound heads, which worked perfectly in the days of all black and white prints. When Eastmancolor print film came along, it was apparent that colour dye tracks, which are transparent to infra-red, would be useless. So rather than change every projector in the world, labs had to redevelop the soundtrack to ensure there was silver in it that the infra-red sound heads would see.
Half a century later, it was felt it was time to move on, and eliminate the wasteful extra processing steps. But before cyan dye tracks could be introduced, it was necessary for all projectors to be fitted with LED sound heads (newer projectors already had them). That took around 6 years. So now all colour prints are released with cyan (silverless) analogue soundtracks.

But while the new cyan tracks won't work on old projection systems, the reverse isn't true. Old silver tracks work OK on the new red readers: you don't need a cyan dye track. And therefore a new silver track on a black & white print will also be OK. Provided (as always) the sound neg and the print are made to the appropriate density for LED readers to minimise cross-mod distortion (sibilance) caused by image spread.

Digital tracks (SRD, SDDS and even DTS timecode) have never required silver redevelopment on colour prints as the readers are LEDs anyway: so they are equally happy with colour prints or black and white.

The Dolby SRD and Sony SDDS bitblocks don't use colour in their encoding: it's only a single density - 0 or 1. The Dolby code is set up to work best as a neutral grey/black, while the SDDS, being a finer resolution, uses a single dye layer: cyan, being under the top magenta layer, is a bit harder to scratch and damage, so that's the one they went for. It's nothing to do with the choice of cyan for analogue tracks. But all the digital codes will work OK on a black and white print.

could we just forget about the analogue and opti-digital tracks and just print the DTS timecode on our prints? Do we really need the redundancy?


Redundancy is all about being failsafe. Would you fly across the Atlantic in a single-engined aircraft? Of course you could, but would you? It's not the old analogue circuit people doubting the reliability of digital systems: it is the digital soundtrack people - Dolby, Sony and DTS - who bult in the circuits to switch over to analogue at any time the digital track fails to resolve. Which it often does particularly on worn prints. Though I guess DTS is the most hardy as the data is on a disk, and the timecode is reasonably robust.

THe analogue track is also the most common factor. Every projector has an analogue soundhead, whereas if you rely on any one digital systme, you are limiting your choices for projection.


Since B/W print stock isn't as sharp as color print stock, would the lower resolution be a problem?

EXACTLY SO, Leo. That is why you get more high frequency loss with a black and white track. And the grain tends to give you more noise as well.
  • 0

#20 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 21 April 2008 - 04:00 PM

Why wouldn't the PRINT stock be as sharp as color? It might be a tad grainier, but sharpness and graininess are not the same thing. I would think the difference would be quite miniscule, as opposed to, say the difference between Vision2 250D and Double-X.
  • 0


Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Abel Cine

Ritter Battery

Metropolis Post

Rig Wheels Passport

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

FJS International, LLC

Opal

CineLab

Glidecam

rebotnix Technologies

Tai Audio

Visual Products

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

Ritter Battery

Opal

Glidecam

Willys Widgets

CineTape

CineLab

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Tai Audio

Aerial Filmworks

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Wooden Camera

FJS International, LLC

Technodolly

Paralinx LLC

Metropolis Post

Abel Cine

The Slider

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

rebotnix Technologies