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Lab processing details for a beginner


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#1 Richard Lacey

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 06:35 AM

I recently shot my first 16mm film. Thinking I knew what I was doing I told the lab not to adjust exposure or colour correct.
The film came back looking pretty rough, the exposure varied a bit too much and 2 shots had an awful pink colour cast.

I just shot another film on 16mm last weekend.
Is it worth getting the lab to adjust exposure?
As a student cinematographer I find hard to be entirely confident with exposure settings.
Is it as simple as writing "Best light print" in the instructions section of the neg report?

I also pushed the stock a stop, so should I just tell them on the neg reports to process as ISO 1000?
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#2 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 12:18 PM

I recently shot my first 16mm film. Thinking I knew what I was doing I told the lab not to adjust exposure or colour correct.
The film came back looking pretty rough, the exposure varied a bit too much and 2 shots had an awful pink colour cast.

I just shot another film on 16mm last weekend.
Is it worth getting the lab to adjust exposure?
As a student cinematographer I find hard to be entirely confident with exposure settings.
Is it as simple as writing "Best light print" in the instructions section of the neg report?

I also pushed the stock a stop, so should I just tell them on the neg reports to process as ISO 1000?


Whenever I have shot a roll of film, I ALWAYS get a one-light workprint (not color-corrected) to see what I have, first. Whether you are using digital or laboratory color colorection, that is always one of the last steps. If this is a piece you are doing editing on, you shouldn't have any trouble correcting both the color cast and the exposure issues in Fina Cut Pro. If it's an assignment you are handing in as raw footage, take it as a learning experience. Besides if that is the case, how extraordinary does your teacher expect the footage in class to be?

All cinematographers do color correction. Take a look at the special features on the Snow Falling On Cedars DVD. It shows some of Robert Richardson's raw footage compared to the color-corrected footage. Amazing stuff.

What stock were you shooting on and under what kind of lighting conditions?
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#3 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 08:48 PM

As a student cinematographer I find hard to be entirely confident with exposure settings.
Is it as simple as writing "Best light print" in the instructions section of the neg report?
I also pushed the stock a stop, so should I just tell them on the neg reports to process as ISO 1000?


1) Getting good exposure does take practice and learning some technique with a good hand held exposure meter.

2) Asking for "Best light" means the lab will print to the average of you film, although it may mean they just correct the first scene on the roll, and print everything to the same printer settings. They can of course be asked to correct EVERY scene but for that they are entitled to charge closer to their "Answer Print" rate.

3) if you shot at 1000, was your test at 1000 plain or 1000 Pushed. Pushing will get you some more detail - and more contrast. As well as a fee that covers the cost of a special processing run. The modern stocks do have a lot of latitude, so both pushing or not will get you an image, but the look will be somewhat different.
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