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How was the film saturation fade-in effect achieved on film?


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#1 JNathanHall

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 03:43 PM

I've seen the black and white to color saturation fade-in effect occasionally in movies, mostly from the 60s and 70s. How was this achieved? I'm a photographer, not a cinematographer, and have been puzzled for a while about how this was done solely with film. Is it actually an animation?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 04:12 PM

I've seen the black and white to color saturation fade-in effect occasionally in movies, mostly from the 60s and 70s. How was this achieved? I'm a photographer, not a cinematographer, and have been puzzled for a while about how this was done solely with film. Is it actually an animation?


You take the original color negative and make both a positive color copy (interpositive) and a positive b&w copy. You then copy / print the color interpositive on a new color negative (internegative / dupe negative) and then rewind and then re-expose / double-expose the b&w positive onto the same new negative. You control the degree of the desaturation by the percentage of the final exposure that came from the color versus the b&w positive when making the new negative.

So a set percentage, let's say 50% color and 50% b&w, would result in a final color image that was moderately desaturated. But if you did a cross dissolve instead in an optical printer, basically fading out the b&w exposure and fading in the color exposure, the final composite would have the b&w image dissolving into the color image.

But keep in mind that the final effect is on a dupe negative and thus a couple of generations removed from the original negative.

One additional twist is what "The Natural" did for the early scenes with the younger Roy Hobbs (ending with the gunshot in the hotel room), is that they overlaid the color interpositive and the b&w positive but threw the color pass out of focus in the optical printer, so it was a sharp b&w image with an out of focus color version laid over it. It created a nice diffusion effect.
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#3 Ben Syverson

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 04:12 PM

Optical printing... Strike a black and white print of a color negative, then optically fade it with the color original onto color stock.

You think that's amazing? Look up how they did bluescreen photochemically!

Edited by Ben Syverson, 27 February 2010 - 04:13 PM.

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#4 JNathanHall

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 06:12 PM

You take the original color negative and make both a positive color copy (interpositive) and a positive b&w copy. You then copy / print the color interpositive on a new color negative (internegative / dupe negative) and then rewind and then re-expose / double-expose the b&w positive onto the same new negative. You control the degree of the desaturation by the percentage of the final exposure came from the color or the b&w positive when making the new negative....

That's clever. Thank you very much!
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