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Rumble Fish, Stocks & Lenses


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#1 Tim Carroll

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 03:27 PM

In my continuing research on Black & White cinematography in the 1970's and 1980's I am trying to find out what film stock (5222, 5231, ???) and lenses (Cooke Speed Panchros, Zeiss, Angenieux, ???) Steve Burum used when he filmed Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish.

I am sure it is in an old issue of American Cinematographer, it's just that I don't have that particular issue (my AC back issues are pretty scarce).

Thanks in advance for any and all info.

Best,
-Tim
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 06:10 PM

It was covered in the May 1984 issue of "American Cinematographer".

Burum says he used Plus-X outdoors and Double-X indoors, processed normal but to a higher gamma (which I always thought meant extended development though.)

The article doesn't say what camera and lens types were used -- there's a front-on picture of Burum at a camera that looks like an Arri-35BL by the round shape of the back-end.

In the article, he mentions using the 9.8mm, 25mm, and 35mm -- which suggests that he was using the 9.8mm Kinoptic, and the 25mm and 35mm Zeiss Super-Speeds, since Zeiss standard speeds would mean 24mm / 28mm / 32mm, etc.

But all that is a guess.
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#3 Tim Carroll

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 07:16 PM

Thank you David.

You must have the most complete collection of American Cinematographer on the planet. I will have to see if I can get a copy of the May 1984 issue. Was lucky with the November 1982 issue (the one that included the info on Manhattan) as it was still available in the AC store.

I think you're right about the ARRI cameras used. There is a "making of" on the DVD and they show some shots off the video monitor on the set, and the 1.85 markings on the ground glass (visible on the monitor) are identical to the markings on my ARRI IIC ground glass, so I figured it must be an ARRI.

I was even thinking that some of it may have been shot with an ARRI IIC or an ARRI III as the dialog does not look and sound like it was done sync in a number of scenes. It really has a dubbed (ADR) quality to it.

Thanks again David,
-Tim
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 07:30 PM

I was even thinking that some of it may have been shot with an ARRI IIC or an ARRI III as the dialog does not look and sound like it was done sync in a number of scenes. It really has a dubbed (ADR) quality to it.


That's not unusual for a movie to use an MOS Arri-2C or III for some shots. But yes, some scenes sound very "loopy"... that may be intentional. Also, if they shot very close to actors with wide-angle lenses, they may have had to loop even shots made with the Arri BL35.
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#5 Tim Carroll

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 07:45 PM

David,

Just found the back issue in the ASC store, unfortunately it's $75. The info about the issue says that Burum discusses "Classic Black and White Lighting Techniques". Just wanted to ask you if there is much detail in the discussion. I am trying to learn more about Black and White Lighting Techniques by studying modern films that tried to recreate the look of films from the forties, fifties and early sixties. But before I shell out the $75, I'd like to know if there really is some good information about lighting for black and white covered.

Thanks David.

Best,
-Tim
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#6 Paul Bruening

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 01:43 PM

Love that Mumble Fish. I just recently converted a 1/4" audio of the soundtrack to digital. I used to actually own the vinyl but lost it to the peculiar passage of time. Stewart Copeland's work on it is amazing. Burum's work seemed flawless B&W execution. My wife gets all mushy in the pants when she sees the young Micky.
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#7 Tim Carroll

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 02:30 PM

My wife gets all mushy in the pants when she sees the young Micky.


When you see The Wrestler it is hard to imagine how young and vulnerable he used to appear. I hadn't seen the movie in years when I watched it the other day, and when he first came on scene on the motorcycle, I did one of those "Oh my God, that's Mickey Rourke." The other one who looks so young is Diane Lane. She still has baby fat.

Best,
-Tim
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#8 Serge Teulon

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 08:35 AM

.....My wife gets all mushy in the pants when she sees the young Micky.....



Sorry Paul, I was going to move on but that line has left an unpleasant image in my mind.
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#9 Karel Bata

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 08:56 AM

Burum says he used Plus-X outdoors and Double-X indoors, processed normal but to a higher gamma (which I always thought meant extended development though.)

Hmm.. It always looked to me like they'd gone through some inter-negative stage - and maybe even with an optical printer? The way the shadows seem to 'flare' doesn't look to me like something you can get with just processing.

Anyhows, if he did do it in the processing he'd have ate up all the stock's latitude and have to be inhumanly spot on with his exposures! Anyone who's done anything where you have to get a high contrast look in camera will know how tricky that is. And Rumblebish is super-high. :unsure:
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#10 Tim Carroll

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 09:44 AM

The way the shadows seem to 'flare' doesn't look to me like something you can get with just processing.


Not sure what you mean by shadow "flare", but in many of the higher contrast scenes, like in front of Patty's house at night, they literally painted the shadows onto the set. Same with the pool hall and a number of other scenes.

Burum talked about the technique and how it was used in the movies in the 1940's and 1950's and how he found some of the guys who used to do it back then and had them paint the shadows on the set of Rumble Fish. He also mentions that it was a dying art and since Rumble Fish was shot twenty six years ago, I wonder if all those artist's are dead now.

Best,
-Tim
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#11 Sam Wells

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 09:54 AM

$75 :o ....OUCH!!!


I hear you, I know I had that issue at one time........ I wonder who I gave it to ? I think they owe me dinner and drinks at the very least :D

-Sam
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#12 Karel Bata

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 10:32 AM

I mean the shadows appear to bleed into adjacent areas in a similar way to highlights that are overexposed - if I remember the film correctly!

I got that effect once in a telecine from negative. At first it was an accident, and the technician apologised, but I said to go for it! B)

Edited by Karel Bata, 14 February 2009 - 10:37 AM.

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#13 Paul Bruening

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 11:33 AM

Sorry Paul, I was going to move on but that line has left an unpleasant image in my mind.


She's got 9 1/2 weeks on download. She'll be watching it soon. She gets all sparkly in the eyes over the young Micky... the current Micky- not so much.
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#14 Charlie Peich

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 01:45 PM

Hi Tim!
Let me add some a little info on Rumble Fish.

2 Chicago cameramen worked on the film, Steven Hiller and Ted Bokhof.

Steve was 2nd A.C., I believe it was the 2nd major film he worked on. A long time friend, he worked with me as 1st A.C. in Chicago. He moved up the ranks and worked as a 1st on features for a long time. He's now operating.

Steve is still based in Chicagoland and travels back and forth to LA. I haven't talked to him for a year, but I'm sure he attends many Fletcher seminars. Look him up and pick his brain on Rumble Fish.

Ted Bokhof was operator. Ted is a excellent D.P. that was shooting commercials in Chicago at the time. Ted goes way back and was partnered with Steven Poster in a production company call Fire Escape Films. The company folded and I believe that was when Steven Poster moved west.

DP's on commercials usually operated, and Ted is one of the best. For reasons only known to Ted, he wasn't comfortable using "wheels", so he usually used the fluid heads. Ted operated all of Rumble Fish on the newly introduced Sachtler 7+7 head, somewhat uncommon at the time. There is a picture in the AC article with Burum standing next to the BL siting atop the Sachtler. The 7+7 was the hot, must have, I can't work without one, head at that time, NOTHING could be shot any more without it, period! So, I bought one because of Ted.

I believe Ted is retired now.

Sorry I can't add any more info about the "negative". I do have the AC issue.

Regards,
Charlie
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#15 David Rakoczy

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 03:48 PM

I always thought the ADR quality of the audio was intentional... without it the mood of the film would take a huge hit! I thought the whole thing was ADR'd for effect.... well, GREAT effect.
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#16 Tim Carroll

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 04:09 PM

Hi Tim!
Let me add some a little info on Rumble Fish.

2 Chicago cameramen worked on the film, Steven Hiller and Ted Bokhof.

Steve was 2nd A.C., I believe it was the 2nd major film he worked on. A long time friend, he worked with me as 1st A.C. in Chicago. He moved up the ranks and worked as a 1st on features for a long time. He's now operating.

Steve is still based in Chicagoland and travels back and forth to LA. I haven't talked to him for a year, but I'm sure he attends many Fletcher seminars. Look him up and pick his brain on Rumble Fish.

Ted Bokhof was operator. Ted is a excellent D.P. that was shooting commercials in Chicago at the time. Ted goes way back and was partnered with Steven Poster in a production company call Fire Escape Films. The company folded and I believe that was when Steven Poster moved west.

DP's on commercials usually operated, and Ted is one of the best. For reasons only known to Ted, he wasn't comfortable using "wheels", so he usually used the fluid heads. Ted operated all of Rumble Fish on the newly introduced Sachtler 7+7 head, somewhat uncommon at the time. There is a picture in the AC article with Burum standing next to the BL siting atop the Sachtler. The 7+7 was the hot, must have, I can't work without one, head at that time, NOTHING could be shot any more without it, period! So, I bought one because of Ted.

I believe Ted is retired now.

Sorry I can't add any more info about the "negative". I do have the AC issue.

Regards,
Charlie


Hey Charlie,

Gave you a call last week, got the machine, should have left a message.

Interesting background on Rumble Fish. Do you know if they used an Arriflex IIC or Arriflex III on some of it as David and I were discussing. The audio sure looks and sounds dubbed in spots (big spots).

Best,
-Tim
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#17 Paul Bruening

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 07:40 PM

The audio sure looks and sounds dubbed in spots (big spots).


This production was pretty notorious for Micky's poor audio levels. It got the name "Mumble Fish" well before production was over. Stories of the sound guys pulling their hair out had trickled out pretty quickly. This was even before the internet was around.
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#18 Karel Bata

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 04:16 AM

It was shot back to back with The Outsiders, another S.E. Hinton adaptation - in that she makes a guest appearance as a nurse, and in Rumblefish as a prostitute (some kind of joke going on there methinks). Again lit by Barum.

This thread gives me the chance to maybe finally get to the bottom of how they did it! It's always bugged me. I thought it had to be to do with some internegative, and wondered if they'd in fact shot it on color stock. Turns out they didn't. But there's still something very unusual going on with the shadows. Here's the final shot:
Posted Image

Contrast it to The Third Man:
Posted Image

Hard to see on this still, but as well as the highlights creeping into the blacks there's also a dark halation around the shadows...
Posted Image
and the amount varies during the film. It's being controlled.

I couldn't experiment then, but since I can now, let's see if I can get that effect using a still from The Outsiders...
Posted Image Posted Image

and now with a little tweaking, but mainly by blurring only the shadows:

Posted Image

OK, I did that quickly and it's rather severe, but I swear I see something similar happening in Rumblefish. So how would you do that? An internegative using an optical printer with diffusion on the lens...? :lol:

Doing that to The Third Man still yields
Posted Image :D
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#19 Karel Bata

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 09:44 AM

And here's an old clip showing the same effect derived from a telecine from the negative:
Posted Image
Looking a bit severe! :huh:

Edited by Karel Bata, 15 February 2009 - 09:45 AM.

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#20 Thomas Smith

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 11:18 AM

And here's an old clip showing the same effect derived from a telecine from the negative:
Posted Image
Looking a bit severe! :huh:


How do you achieve this effect or how you do it... I think it look pretty good.

Cheers.
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