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To push or to print up


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#1 Michael Collier

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 02:57 PM

So I shot finished shooting a night ext scene in a parkinglot where we were allowed no extra lights. The light wasn't quite enough but it was close. My question is, where does the line fall for printing up and pushing? This is r16mm, so grain is a huge concern. I have heard an equal number of people who shoot 500t pushed a stop and rated as 640 (for a 2/3 overexposure before the push) and I have heard of people shooting 500t as 640 and printing up.

Which has less grain associated with it? We are finishing digital, and this particular scene will be somewhat desaturated. If I push I also get more saturation, which I can time out in post, or if I print up I would have less saturation and possible closer to what I want. But if I push would the grains be bigger than if I just print up?

Details about the shot:

Meter reading in key light with meter set to 640, 24fps: f2 1/3
Film stock: 7218 500t
post timing needed: half correct the blue out of the (very high CRI) metal hallide lights.

I'm not terribly afraid of grain, I do like it and of course this is r16 that will be cropped to 1.85, so grain will be there, but most of the film is shot on 200t and I don't want this scene and the other night shot to be too different grain wise.

which is better: to push stock that has been overexposed by 2/3s (after the push) or to print up a stock that has been underexposed by 1/3 stop.
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#2 K Borowski

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 04:04 PM

So I shot finished shooting a night ext scene in a parkinglot where we were allowed no extra lights. The light wasn't quite enough but it was close. My question is, where does the line fall for printing up and pushing? This is r16mm, so grain is a huge concern. I have heard an equal number of people who shoot 500t pushed a stop and rated as 640 (for a 2/3 overexposure before the push) and I have heard of people shooting 500t as 640 and printing up.

Which has less grain associated with it? We are finishing digital, and this particular scene will be somewhat desaturated. If I push I also get more saturation, which I can time out in post, or if I print up I would have less saturation and possible closer to what I want. But if I push would the grains be bigger than if I just print up?

Details about the shot:

Meter reading in key light with meter set to 640, 24fps: f2 1/3
Film stock: 7218 500t
post timing needed: half correct the blue out of the (very high CRI) metal hallide lights.

I'm not terribly afraid of grain, I do like it and of course this is r16 that will be cropped to 1.85, so grain will be there, but most of the film is shot on 200t and I don't want this scene and the other night shot to be too different grain wise.

which is better: to push stock that has been overexposed by 2/3s (after the push) or to print up a stock that has been underexposed by 1/3 stop.


Sorry, there isn't really a definitive answer here, but, in my opinion, it's better to over-expose 2/3 and push than to underexpose 1/3 and print up.

You are going to get grain either way. Grain may be more apparant in the push, but you'll get better highlight speed and more contrast.

This is difficult to describe, and is kind of subjective, but I would tend to say with printing up, your blacks get weak, contrast gets lower, and while the grain isn't as pronounced as with a push, it is "uglier".

Pushing grows the grain, but gives you (if not true then at least perceived) speed increase.

To be honest, though, with such a small amount of underexposure, the increased cost of a push may not be worth the minimal speed increase you get. Plus, if you are finishing digitally, there's a lot more you can do to tweak contrast anyway, so far be it for me to say this, but you might just want to go that route and deal with this at that stage.

This is before my time in filmmaking, but I read (pres.) that cameramen used to push a stop and make up the other stop in printing back in the early '70s when they were using 100T film and had to shoot low light at night.
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#3 David Regan

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 04:18 PM

While it's not quite the same as your situation hopefully this can help. A while ago I mistakenly underexposed 250D (s16mm) and wasn't sure if I should push or print up 1 stop. I had tested the stock prior, and looking at the test footage of normal processing vs. push, determined push would be the way to go, for reasons like Karl described above. I know these are just compressed stills but can give you some idea. The Last image is the footage I got back. Yes, as Karl said the grain is more apparent, but I think it's forgivable, the contrast and color that are retained are worth it in my opinion.
This is printed up 1 stop
1_Under_Printed_Up.jpg
This was underexposed 1 stop and pushed
Push_1_Stop.jpg
And the resultant push on my actual footage
Push_1_Stop_Result.jpg

Good luck, hope it turns out.
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#4 K Borowski

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 04:30 PM

David, I like your explanation much better. . . ;)

Nice stuff!


Don't quote me on this, but I want to say that "Battle for the Planet of the Apes", the one set in "Century City" employed the E.I. 400, Push-1, print up the rest approach I refer to.

Edited by Karl Borowski, 02 March 2009 - 04:31 PM.

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#5 Michael Collier

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 09:37 PM

David in your posted test shots how did you rate your film? what is the combined under/over of the key light on those examples? Is it one full stop under from labeled speed, or is it one stop under your rated speed?

My film is 1/3 stop under labeled speed. Overall I have been overexposing by 2/3 stop, so when I would have rated my 500t at 320 normally, but in that case I had to rate it 640 with either push or print up in mind.

I think I am leaning the print up option because its only 1/3 stop and I can tweek the blacks in the digital finish, and the whole scene was rather low contrast (no big highlights, the parking lot was filled with newish snow that will register well. It is a night shot, so if things register a bit dark its not all that bad. Portions of the actress was highlighted with headlights off screen that did bring the exposure nearly up to key. The darker cars in the background should give good separation from the caucasian actress. I am just worried about grain.
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#6 K Borowski

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 10:05 PM

I don't know what David did, as it's not indicated on the slates, but if you are shooting the whole movie on 500T with an EI of 320 [T], and this shot your EI is 640, you are going to have to do a lot of massaging. It will definitely be grainier/noisier. With a push, the results might be easier to integrate, although it won't be perfect no matter what.

Even with 16mm 500T stocks, you don't have to be so picky about the EIs. You aren't going to notice a third, but as David Mullen always says, its partially a safetly factor too, because meter misreads can and do happen. So don't think of it as only a third under what your stock' true speed is (after all, 500T stock is probably 400T true speed tops), but rather in comparison to what the rest of your footage is rated at, i.e. as part of the whole.
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#7 David Regan

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 10:34 PM

In the process normal test, I rated the film normally, EI 250.

In the push test, I rated it at EI 500, so everything was 1 stop under.

Incidentally, here is a shot I had fighting exposure, my meter told me I was 1+ stops under, (I was shooting wide open). This is on 7219, sorry I know your shooting on '18 so it's not a direct correlation, but just to give you some idea. The grain isn't horrible timing it up, the blacks are a bit crushed for my taste, and the gradation from midtones to shadow on the skin looks iffy in my opinion, but if it's grain your worried about, I don't think 1/3 should be horrendous. I believe a huge amount of the appearance of grain depends on contrast, the grain is there its just in how you see it, so a lot of this I think depends on 'what' you shot not just 'how' you shot it. (Of course not implying the how isn't huge as well)

_19_1_under.jpg
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