Jump to content


Photo

High School, Frederick Wiseman


  • Please log in to reply
4 replies to this topic

#1 Tom Hepburn

Tom Hepburn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 341 posts
  • Other
  • Chicago-land

Posted 22 March 2009 - 07:11 PM

Hello,

I just got through watching High School, by Frederick Wiseman. I'm not sure where, but I seem to remember hearing it was shot on an Eclair NPR.

I saw it years ago before I owned a 16mm camera. Looking at it from a post 16mm camera purchase, I have to say that I was very impressed with the cinematography in a lot of ways. Not that every shot was perfect or that the lighting was beautiful, but that during "live" circumstances without actors hitting their marks, they were able to "get the shot" with minimal rehearsal and not a lot of control over the "set." For those that aren't familiar, it's a documentary done in 1968 in a high school in Philadelphia (in B & W). Here is a link if you're interested:
http://www.pbs.org/p...ol/thefilm.html

I have the more modern version of the Éclair, the ACL II. I'm going on the assumption that a 16mm NPR was used for this. I was very impressed how they got such tight grained footage in low light situations and all in pretty good focus. It appears that there was no additional lighting.

So my questions are:

What kind of stock do you think was used as there were shots in a gym, inside a classroom, in a hallway, in an office, with no additional lighting as far as I can tell.

I assume there was a super fast lens, any thoughts on the go to lens of the time under these circumstances.

How could the camera operator be sure he was hitting the focus when the depth of field was so shallow? Now I'm much less experienced, but there were cases when for example, there were rows of desks that were 3 feet apart from each other on a horizontal plane, and he knew just where to stop in crisp focus for each row, every 3 feet as he went from row #1 in the foreground to #4 in the background and stopping perfectly at each row in between. He MUST have been able to see if it was in focus through the viewfinder, and this was while the camera was running. On my ACL II, I can see through the viewfinder for framing, but I can't come close to making a focus judgment, while the camera is running. It's very frustrating if you're not in a controlled environment. I suppose they could have marked the lens, quickly, before hand and had a focus puller do it, but I'm not completely sure that was how they did it.

I enjoyed the movie, but obviously, I'm left with more questions than answers.

Thanks,
Tom
  • 0

#2 Bruce Greene

Bruce Greene
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 489 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 22 March 2009 - 09:20 PM

Tom,

If I recall, (I haven't seen the film in 30 years...), High School was a B&W film. My guess is that they would have used Kodak XX negative film. But it's just a guess. If it was a color film, probably 7247 color negative stock (ISO 125 Tungsten), maybe pushed when needed.

When I was in college, we invited Mr. Wiseman to spend the weekend with us and he came and showed Titicut Follies, High School, and maybe Hospital. We had a very nice dinner with him in my dorm and he was very kind in answering all our questions. Though, all I can remember now is that he worked mostly with a 2 man crew, a cinematographer and himself recording the audio so that he could keep eyes on the lookout for where to aim the movie.

I've shot documentary work with the NPR, and while not easy, yes I focused by eye. It's an acquired skill to see focus through the viewfinder of reflex camera with the mirror spinning:) Just watch what the NFL film cinematographers have been able to do over the years!
  • 0

#3 John Sprung

John Sprung
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4635 posts
  • Other

Posted 23 March 2009 - 11:04 AM

How did Wiseman get so much good stuff? By shooting 500,000 ft. of 16mm. It was B&W, probably double-X inside and plus-x outside. HD tape makes this kind of shoot far more economically feasible.



-- J.S.
  • 0

#4 Leo Anthony Vale

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

Posted 23 March 2009 - 03:39 PM

If I recall, (I haven't seen the film in 30 years...), High School was a B&W film. My guess is that they would have used Kodak XX negative film. But it's just a guess. If it was a color film, probably 7247 color negative stock (ISO 125 Tungsten), maybe pushed when needed.


Since it was released in 1968, it also could have been Kodak 4XN or even Dupont.

If it were color it couldn't be 7247, since that cme out in1972. Nor could it have been 7254, Since US labs wouldn't touch 16mm camera neg. Thus it would have been Ektachrome EF, probably forced.
  • 0

#5 John Sprung

John Sprung
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4635 posts
  • Other

Posted 23 March 2009 - 03:52 PM

Since it was released in 1968, it also could have been Kodak 4XN or even Dupont.

If it were color it couldn't be 7247, since that cme out in1972. Nor could it have been 7254, Since US labs wouldn't touch 16mm camera neg. Thus it would have been Ektachrome EF, probably forced.


I remember seeing it at UCLA within 5 years of its release. It was definitely shot and released B&W.




-- J.S.
  • 0


FJS International, LLC

Tai Audio

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Wooden Camera

Opal

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Willys Widgets

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC

Abel Cine

The Slider

CineTape

Technodolly

Visual Products

rebotnix Technologies

CineLab

Rig Wheels Passport

Ritter Battery

Aerial Filmworks

Metropolis Post

Opal

Glidecam

Tai Audio

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

Paralinx LLC

CineTape

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

CineLab

Ritter Battery

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Visual Products

FJS International, LLC

Abel Cine

rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks

Metropolis Post

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Wooden Camera