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Shooting Color for Black and White


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#1 Ryan Patrick OHara

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 11:14 PM

Hello everyone, I am currently writing an article about shooting for black and white, either using black and white or color stock.

As many of you know, the use of tone control filters are very effective with black and white stock. Using these colored filters one can change tonal values of certain colors.

What I have never done, and would like to know, is if one was shooting color film stock, with the final product of black and white, could these same filters be used? I have never heard of tone control filters being used on color stock, even when black and white is the final product. Do they react different to color stock? Do the colors bleed or have any other negative impact?

If anybody has any input I would be very grateful.


One last question is also the use of these filters on HD cameras. Does using tonal control filters on an HD color camera (with the intention of a black and white end result) work? Or would they make chroma abbreviations and other funky side effects?

Thanks again,
-ryan
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 10:29 AM

Well for myself, I'd probably (if shooting color for b/w) just leave it as is and adjust in post later on. I mean, you're already going to have to pull the saturation out overall, and then after you can tweak the channels. That's just me, though. Honestly, I don't find it to be the same result as shooting b/w which is always the best way to go IMHO. But, ya know, sometimes you're stuck with some color stock.
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#3 Ryan Patrick OHara

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 02:24 PM

Well for myself, I'd probably (if shooting color for b/w) just leave it as is and adjust in post later on. I mean, you're already going to have to pull the saturation out overall, and then after you can tweak the channels. That's just me, though. Honestly, I don't find it to be the same result as shooting b/w which is always the best way to go IMHO. But, ya know, sometimes you're stuck with some color stock.


Yes. Exactly. Since most color to black and white will require DI work, tweaking the color tones in post would be a good idea. But I'd still like to know if tonal filters react differently or negatively if used with color stock.

Thanks for the reply though, because you are most right.
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#4 Brian Rose

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 10:07 PM

If I were shooting color for B/W, I'd make sure to light with a fairly high key to fill ratio, and I'd spot meter it all with the zone system in mind, to try and get a range from no detail to blown out, and everything in between, to help ensure a nice grayscale with as strong blacks and whites as possible.

I would also want to work closely with the colors of the sets, costumes and makeup, since B/W and colour each have different principles, and colors render differently. For example, I read about in one Three Stooge's short, a stove used in one scene was actually painted yellow, because it reproduced nicely in grayscale.

It would be interesting to compare color neg and color reversal when both are converted to grayscale. It would seem to me that the latter, being more contrasty and finer grained, would lend itself better to the DI conversion, but neg would have a better range to work with...

I've worked quite a bit the past few years with color processes, as in deriving color from black and white film...it's basically like Technicolor adapted for still 35, and 16mm film (the latter only in two strip). Basically I capture each primary color on its own strip of black and white. It's really fascinating to see how each registers in grayscale, and how the final color is affected depending on how you expose and balance each individually. Here are some samples of my RGB composites, based on three strips of Ilford 400 speed BW neg.

http://www.flickr.co...os/8341324@N07/

Hope this helps!

Best,
BR

Edited by Brian Rose, 02 August 2008 - 10:11 PM.

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#5 Nathan Martin

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 03:46 AM

I had an unlucky experience on a short film i shot where i went in for the initial film to tape transfer and light grade and was loving the look of the film and then never got a call from the director when she went to the final grade.
At the premiere i was more than surprised to see the 2:1 aspect color film i had shot cropped to 4:3 and in black and white.

I think the main killer was contrast. If i knew it were going to black and white i would have shot much deeper into the low key realm and maybe favoured 1 stop under faces with more blown out liners. The other thing i think made a dramatic difference is the way i light my background. A lot of my separation from the background is usually done with color and contrast evenly however the texture of the light and where it was exposing, in hindsight, seemed to be the main factor to concider for next time.

I was obviously fairly angry about the changes made, but i think the 4:3 aspect was hitting below the belt.
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