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16mm Grain BW vs. Color in telecine


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#1 Bo Price

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 02:02 AM

Hey everybody,

i've been transferring some regular 16mm film to HD, and importing directly to Avid and everything looks great. Except... I feel like my B&W has a LOT of grain on it. And I don't mind grain (I'm what you might call a grain man), but on HD the grain can look so overpowering it doesn't look like we shot on Plus-X, but rather Tri-X or maybe even Super-8. There is simply that much grain. Now on the same days we shot color (50D) and it's great. Crysral clear and no problems at all.

Is this a common problem? I've had some of the b&w transferred at SD before, and it wasn't grainy, so I'm just curious if going to HD has a much larger effect on B&W than color. I've attached a link below to give some examples of the difference between color and B&W. These were shot same time of day, same camera, one with Plus X B&W (ASA 80), and one with 50D Negative, and we tried to over-expose both about .5 stops.

The difference isn't quite as pronounced after the compression, but it's still there. Anyway, would love feedback. I have another session soon, and I'd love to know what's normal, typical, and what I should try to push for, etc. Or if I should just suck up and let the grain do its thing.

Thanks!

Bo


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#2 Paul Korver

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 02:44 AM

Hey Bo,
A few thoughts. First of all some telecine's are "noisier" than others... especially in highlight areas... Plus X shouldn't be too grainy and so I would ask if the pattern looks like film grain or digital noise. We did a test at Fotokem for a S16mm documentary we did last year. We wanted a very "filmic" look so I thought that their Millennium HD telecine might be the way to go as it's tube-based as opposed to their Spirits. In the tests I saw the Millenium had quite a bit of buzzy digital noise in the highlights.

Also... With a good noise/grain reducer hanging off the telecine your operator should be able to match grain structure of different stock provided the film is fairly well exposed which yours appears to be. Of course you'd want to tell him/her that your goal was even grain structure before hand or during the session.

Good luck!

-Paul
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#3 Bo Price

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 01:20 PM

Thanks, Paul!

I'm not sure what machine was used, but I *think* it was the Spirit. I get that when something is underexposed it can get really grainy when you press it to get to proper exposure, but I'm pretty sure we overexposed it by .5 stops, like we did the color stuff, which wasn't grainy at all. Also, I've transferred the B&W in standard def before, and if anything it looked a little overexposed there too (or was transferred a little hot), so I'm curious why the telecine reads the grain so differently in B&W versus color, at least in HD.

(Below is a pic for those who haven't seen the footage.)

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  • exampleone.jpg

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#4 Bo Price

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 01:34 PM

(Sorry for the double post -- I maxed out my pic space, and tried to add another one here, but I guess you can't do more than 100K ever?)...

Anyway, the SD transfer was not grainy at all. And if anything it looked a little over-exposed, or was transferred a wee bit hot. But basically I just want it to look like an old Charlie Chaplin/Little Rascals movie. So perhaps I should just take a picture of *that* to the transfer!

Thanks again for the feedback/advice everybody.
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#5 Chris Burke

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 01:47 PM

the two stocks are very different in terms of grain. The 7201 you could have exposed a whole stop over while the 7231? you don't have anywhere near as much room. Second, as already pointed out, the scanner used for the transfer and who did the transfer factor in largely. Half a stop over is probably ok, but black and white stock tends to get a bit more grainy unless you nail the exposure dead on. You can clearly see the sky sizzle in the first shot. Not saying its your fault, just pointing out how it could end up like this. SD tends to hide a lot, there is much more info in 16mm than people think. Grain and all is revealed with the high end scanning of today. if you are really unhappy, go back for a retransfer. no reason they can't clean up the grain, especially with a spirit in telecine mode.
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#6 K Borowski

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 02:28 PM

If anything I would be angry with the '01 transfer. The '31 is grainy, but it is sharp. The '01 looks soft, smeary, pixelated in parts.


Not that grain shouldn't be minimized, but that, to me, seems to be the least of your problems in these two clips. I'd take back the '01 for a redo!
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