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What is the telecine man doing to my negative?


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#1 Emilio Schlappi

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 10:47 AM

Hello,


Having had my first few rolls of S16 negative telecined to Digibeta (at Soho, then iLab in London), I've begun to wonder how much of the image i got back was what I actually shot. How much do the colourists change, and how rigidly will they stick to the greyscale?
A while back, I watched the colourist go through each shot of another person's film individually. Is this the norm, or does the machine usually just get set to one light at the beginning, and then gets left alone?

Sorry if the question seems amateur, but everytime I send a film off I worry about how much of the colourist's mark will be left on the picture.


Thanks for your time
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#2 Elliot Rudmann

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 11:13 AM

Well, you obviously need a colorist to manipulate the image in some form and apply a proper look up table for normal viewing otherwise it will be extremely flat. How much a colorist changes the image depends on what you pay for. Did you get a best light,one-light, or scene to scene transfer? It's always a good idea to properly expose and shoot a grey-card +color chart at the start of your shoot, so even a lower-skilled colorist can get you in the ballpark of proper color balance and exposure.

Overall a colorist does exert a lot of control over what you shot. If you are doing lighting tests or exposure tests, it's generally a good idea to get a one-light transfer so you can see the differences from shot to shot or scene to scene. A one light transfer is where the colorist sets a base correction (proper density, color balance) at the head of the roll, where typically a color chart should be. He/she will then let the color correction system apply this to the rest of the roll. A scene-to-scene or supervised telecine (probably the one you saw), is where a colorist will correct each shot (or generally balance each scene) to the client's liking.

I wouldn't worry about how much control the colorist exerts, unless they're inexperienced, or just bad. There's no true way of knowing, but typically, you get what you pay for. This is why I stayed away from cheap unsupervised telecine transfers for serious projects I shot in film school.
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#3 Elliot Rudmann

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 12:55 PM

Oh and word to the wise:

Never disrespect Telecine Man.

Never question Telecine Man.

Telecine Man make film into gold. ;)
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#4 John Sprung

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 05:52 PM

Film has substantially more color gamut and dynamic range than video, so in telecine decisions need to be made as to how it should look. That's why you need to supervise. Your relationship with the telecine colorist should be one of mutual respect and collaboration. Since you're just starting out, do ask questions in telecine. Learn from your colorist. Communicate, and you make each other look good.




-- J.S.
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 06:19 PM

And always agree to look when your collorist says, "let me show you something," and if you don't like it, don't be afraid to say, 'nah.'
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#6 Peter Moretti

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 01:39 AM

... It's always a good idea to properly expose and shoot a grey-card +color chart at the start of your shoot, so even a lower-skilled colorist can get you in the ballpark of proper color balance and exposure.
...


Elliot, when you say "at the start of your shoot" how often should that ideally be done--w/o going overboard? Do you mean just at the beginning of the shoot and if you change film stocks? Or do you mean for each setup? And then what about reversals, master etc. for each scene?

Thanks much :).
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 08:30 AM

I generally do a card for each new location (eg bedroom, then one for bathroom etc etc..).
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#8 Elliot Rudmann

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 10:38 AM

Elliot, when you say "at the start of your shoot" how often should that ideally be done--w/o going overboard? Do you mean just at the beginning of the shoot and if you change film stocks? Or do you mean for each setup? And then what about reversals, master etc. for each scene?

Thanks much :).


Like Adrian said, during location switches is fine. Personally, I just shoot it once at the beginning of the shoot, and never after that. The colorist can save his/her base correction for this if they need it down the line; as long as you shoot the chart with balanced light (soft light across the whole chart, and with correct color temperature - ie. tungsten light 3200 K for tungsten stock, daylight 5600k for daylight stock. It also couldn't hurt to shoot one if you're changing stocks, especially if you're switching to from kodak to fuji (or vice versa).
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#9 Tony Brown

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 01:14 PM

If you've booked a one light you'll get a one light (therefore a waste of money)..... best lights you'll get best lights..... dont worry until the fine grade.....

Never shot a grey scale in 10 years, better to get your best lights done by somebody who knows your work and call them.

If a colourist cant get white white then you're using the wrong person.

If white is supposed to be something else then you should call them.
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#10 David Rakoczy

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 02:12 PM

There is more to using Color Charts & Gray Scales than achieving just "white". There is also your exposure to discern... how dark?... how bright?... Color Charts/ Gray Scales are (always) a good idea unless your Colorist is also a mentalist and can read your mind. If for nothing else, it is an insurance package in your pocket as to what you were 'actually' doing.

That being said, I know what you mean, Tony, in that I have used the same Colorist for 15 years and I am fortunate that he has patience with me as he does a very prominent edgy drama show on CBS. We have established a groove... for the most part he knows what I want... for the most part I love his work... so somewhere in-between lies a beautiful image. But, I have never sent footage without a Chart... to Start.

What happens if something happens to him or her and someone else has to do the transfer?... Sure, they could spend some time on your site and (try) to match your previous 'looks' and all the while, you are trying to achieve a 'new' look as opposed to what you have done in the past... but, there again it takes a mentalist to get it spot on ... (usually).


btw. Emilio.. by your thread title you say 'Telecine Man'... it takes 2 to 4 people to run a Telicine Bay and they are (all) telecine 'Men'..... what you want is a 'Colorist'... a Master Colorist at that.
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