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Tungsten and Daylight film


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#1 Simon Olney

Simon Olney
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Posted 28 July 2009 - 06:15 AM

I've been working with 16mm film in primarily assistant roles (excluding a very basic project I shot with black and white reversal stock) for around a year now on student and low budget productions, but there is one questions that has evaded me for some time and I have found it hard to find a black and white answer to in any of my textbooks, what is the effect of mixed lighting sources?

I'm aware of the colour temperature each stock is balanced for, correcting for different stock with CTO and CTB, have worked on productions where the DP has covered all the windows with CTO when shooting with tungsten balanced film and have seen DPs shoot with 85A (if memory serves) filters to allow daylight stock to be used under tungsten conditions, but I'm not clear on what the consequences of either shooting in tungsten conditions with daylight stock or having a tungsten source in a primarily daylight lit shot would have, the only explanation I have found telling me I would end up with 'amateurish looking colours'. I have heard that the cinematography lecturers at my university are very old fashioned and shun the use of mixed lighting, so I am unlikely to get an unbiased opinion from them.

Starting this year I get the opportunity to DP on small budget productions and was wondering how specific I have to be about converting each lighting source. I assumed it was standard practice to treat the colour temperatures as law, but I have recently read articles about ASC members shooting outside with 500T (without any colour correction filters I assume) with daylight balanced lights, and was wondering what kind of an image it would give, I can only assume it would be slightly warmer.

If anybody could share any experiences of using mixed lighting and how frequently it is used it might save me from being unnecessarily uptight about converting lighting sources or avoid any inconsistent lighting.

Cheers
Simon
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 07:26 AM

Simon, it's all about colors.
If you have a T source on daylight film it'll look orange. If you have a D source on tungsten film it'll look blue.
Personally I'm more OK with the orange look of tungsten as opposed to the blue of daylight which sometimes looks a little neon to me.
As for mixing them, sometimes it's ok, other times not. It depends, you know?
Having it can be a tool and can help keep things interesting. Often I'll let my windows be a little bit blue, using 1/2 CTO on them as opposed to full CTO, just to take some of the edge off of the blue but still keep it a differant color like my eye sees in my own world.
Other times I'll "cool off" a tungsten source for whatever reason.
Recently, when I was shooting I had a window covered in 216 diffusion with tungsten sources outside blasting through, overpowering the daylight. But there was a door next to it. Now, on the door itself I had 1/2 CTO and 216, but for many scenes we left it cracked open (but off screen) so there was a hint of blue skylight coming through hitting and giving me a little bit of a color contrast, and I was fine with that.
The logic of "balancing everything" is also that of "don't let your windows blow out." Sometimes you shouldn't have mixed colors, other times it's totally permissible. It's all up to you. It's only amateur if you treat it as such.
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