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Slates: Black and White vs. Color


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#1 Nolan M Berbano

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 11:36 PM

This is something I've been wondering for a while. Is there any advantage/disadvantage to having black and white sticks on your slate as opposed to color sticks? Just curious.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 11:43 PM

I like color for the benefit of the colorist as a reference in the frame.
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#3 Patrick Lavalley

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 01:08 AM

I use black and white sticks on my dumb slate. Synch slates tend to have color sticks I've found. I think that shooting a grey card or color chart with a skin tone of each setup is probably more useful to a colorist, but I could be mistaken. Get the black and white sticks, or get what you can afford. The don earl slates from filmtools are pretty awesome.

Edited by Patrick Lavalley, 13 January 2010 - 01:11 AM.

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#4 Nolan M Berbano

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 01:20 AM

Thanks for the fast responses guys. I just purchased the Don Earl slate from FilmTools with the black and white sticks. I'm slowly but surely building up my AC kit. :P

Also, I wanted to say how great these forums are. Just reading the posts have helped me tremendously as a student looking to get into the camera department.
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#5 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 01:40 AM

This is something I've been wondering for a while. Is there any advantage/disadvantage to having black and white sticks on your slate as opposed to color sticks? Just curious.

Not really. DPs will either use their favorite charts for color reference or they will trust their colorist. I've never come across one that relies on the slate colors for reference (besides Adrian ;))! FWIW, the Don Earl reverse laminate slate is much easier to keep clean than the standard engraved slate - I use rubbing alcohol to clean off adhesive residue, which makes the ink in the engraved lines run.
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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 03:09 AM

I only have a colored slate because that's what production bought me when they broke my old slate!

I'm afraid the colors do nothing (sorry Adrian!) because they aren't controlled in any way. If the colors on sticks were standardized and carefully controlled like the chips on a macbeth chart, they would be a useful color tool. Unfortunately, since the colors are completely random and the printing is not controlled, they're pretty but completely useless.

It's probably better that way because slates are subjected to much worse conditions than expensive printing should be exposed to. If the slate was a color reference, we would constantly have to buy new ones because they got dirty, or faded, or scratched up, or got dry erase/sharpie stained, etc.
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 08:20 AM

Meh, I don't mind being mistaken. I just figure though it's not controlled, it's nice to have some colors, standard 'cross all your shots (same slate for "a" camera at least). Same reason why I stick the same person in the shot with a gray card when I shoot that (never myself, though).
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#8 K Borowski

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 11:19 AM

Meh, I don't mind being mistaken. I just figure though it's not controlled, it's nice to have some colors, standard 'cross all your shots (same slate for "a" camera at least). Same reason why I stick the same person in the shot with a gray card when I shoot that (never myself, though).


Lol. Somoene was watching the Simpsons 20th anniversary special!


What about the shoot in the desert that takes three years to complete? Will the colors be the same at the end of the shoot as the beginning? :P
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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:44 PM

Well then I could afford a MacBeth ;)
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#10 John Sprung

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 02:23 PM

Black and white sticks are a little better if you're shooting a lot of extremely dark stuff, where only part of the sticks may be well enough lit to see sync. Other than that, either kind is fine.





-- J.S.
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#11 Jim Hyslop

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 10:34 PM

I like color for the benefit of the colorist as a reference in the frame.

My concern about that would be if you've lit the scene with heavy colour saturation. If the colourist used the slate, they'd remove all the saturation you put in.

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Jim
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#12 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 11:21 PM

That'd be the time for specific instructions and grey scales. I tend to work with one colorist over a few years, so we worked out a method, I suppose.
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#13 Tom Jensen

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 11:37 PM

My concern about that would be if you've lit the scene with heavy colour saturation. If the colourist used the slate, they'd remove all the saturation you put in.

--
Jim


He'll take his instructions from the camera report. If there is no report, he'll roll into the scene and time the scene and not the slate. Those guys have been doing this for years. They've seen it all.
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#14 John Sprung

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 01:59 AM

My concern about that would be if you've lit the scene with heavy colour saturation. If the colourist used the slate, they'd remove all the saturation you put in.


The best way to handle that is to shoot tests in pre-production, then meet with the colorist in the bay when the tests are transferred, and discuss the special look you want. Ditto for "normal" looking stuff. You're the DP, the colorist works for you just like the operator, AC's, gaffer, etc. It's just that you have to communicate with them before the shoot in person, and then via notes and phone messages.

Another thing that might help, depending on the nature of the show, is to let the colorist have a copy of the script. They're more likely to make the right storytelling decision if they know what the actual story is.




-- J.S.
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#15 Simon Wyss

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 10:07 AM

A synch slate serves sound work first. Why worry about colours as long as that point has not become crystal clear? The slate should be nicely visible in the frame of the intended aspect ratio, steady, sharp, legible, open before the announcement, closed not like lightning yet with a nice slap for the sound record, held in place for a second, and then swiftly and entirely removed from the scene. Haven't we discussed the slate? Colours on the slate only make sense when the grader knows with certainty that its illumination can cope with the illumination of the scene. My opinion
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#16 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 04:23 PM

I like color for the benefit of the colorist as a reference in the frame.


Unless the slate is lit by the keylight, and the color bars are manufactured to the same tolerances as a Macbeth chart, what's the point? The colorist isn't going to know how the colors on the slate should look any more than the colors in the scene.
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#17 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 04:31 PM

It's not something to be used as the primary tool for critical things. In fact, normally I have had the ability to be present for final corrections; and if not then the MacBeth is the right tool for that particular job. Still, though, I like to have something in the frame with some color to it that goes across the main-part of the film. Now, of course when I'm shooting a night ext and hitting the slate with a flashlight, it's of no use, but when I'm in a location I find it helpful for me to judge what has or has not happened in the TC, based on my own memories. Also, the colorists I have worked with and I can and have use the color of many things (slates, walls, skin, cars etc) when communicating to each other. Again, this is personal preference and how I personally find a color slate useful.
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#18 Tom Jensen

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 09:14 PM

A synch slate serves sound work first.


Yeah, we there's that too. :-)
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#19 Simon Wyss

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 04:35 AM

Course mit out sound, mean Klieg light (which actually is Kliegl light), and so on. Why not smile at my swenglisch? I can laugh about words and so, too.
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#20 Tom Jensen

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 12:21 PM

Course mit out sound, mean Klieg light (which actually is Kliegl light), and so on. Why not smile at my swenglisch? I can laugh about words and so, too.


Actually my spelling or typing is nicht so gut. I meant to say, "Yeah, well there's that, too!" You brought up a good point. The slate is for sound and editorial. Swenglisch! Das ist gut!
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