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1970s lighting: fill light color temperature


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#1 Marc Roessler

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Posted 31 July 2011 - 09:00 AM

Hey everybody...

I've been watching some old german movies from the 70s (one of them: "Das Millonenspiel", 1970, Germany, Tom Toelle.. Trailer here:



Does anyone know what typically was used for fill light for daylight/ext scenes during that time? The fill light of these films always seems to be somewhat warm, but not really warm enough for 3200K fill vs. 5600K available light. Afaik HMI wasn't really available at the beginning of the 70s yet (first notable use being the Olympic Games 1972 in Munich with Arri's Arrisonne?).. so what did they use? Tungsten with a very light CTB so you don't loose as much light? Tungsten without any color correction?

Similar for day/int scenes where you can see the windows: gelling the windows (lots of work and gel), gelling the tungsten lights (lots of light loss)? Also in this case the light always seemed to be a tad too warm, but not enough for the difference between 3200K and 5600K. Or was this purely an effect of the emulsions used back then?

Thanks,
Marc

Edited by Marc Roessler, 31 July 2011 - 09:02 AM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 31 July 2011 - 10:47 AM

Big shows used carbon arcs, which were daylight-balanced -- for smaller jobs, location interiors, etc. they had to use tungsten lights with correction. Often FAY globes were used in Maxi and MiniBrutes, for example, which have a dichroic coating. But yes, often the dichroics and gels faded and they got something below 5000K or they used lighter blue gels just to maintain some light output. To see a FAY unit:
http://www.mole.com/pdf/data/5541.pdf

When possible, they also gelled windows back then with CTO or 85 gel.
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#3 Marc Roessler

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Posted 31 July 2011 - 01:06 PM

How could I forget the arcs!

Not so sure about the dichroic lights/FAY lights... as far as I know they weren't as wide spread in Germany back then, but maybe someone who worked there back then can chime in?

Maybe the arcs are part of the answer: I just remembered that there are "white flame" carbons (containing rare earths, 6200K..) and "yellow flame" carbons (4100K according to Harry C. Box's book). From their use in movie projectors (HI carbon/"Beckkohle" vs. pure coal) I know that the pure coal carbons are cheaper and burn much longer than the white flame arcs. Are the white flame and yellow flame carbons used in arc lights equivalent to those? Maybe they were used for economic reasons? This would explain the yellow cast.
Just guessing here... (the films I was referring to weren't really big budget Hollywood blockbusters after all)

Unfortunately it is getting harder and harder to get this kind of information on films made outside hollywood as many of the old DoPs already have passed away and there's not much written on this.

Greetings,
Marc
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#4 Marc Roessler

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Posted 31 July 2011 - 02:35 PM

small correction.. according to this source
http://www.fostoria....pr_21_96_1.html
yellow arc carbons are HI carbons as well, developed after the white arc carbons. So there seems to be a difference between "pure coal" carbons and yellow arc carbons...
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 31 July 2011 - 03:35 PM

Generally for interior fill lighting, you didn't use carbon arcs, yellow or daylight, indoors on location because of their size and need for ventilation (and noise, need for a lamp operator, running DC power inside, etc.) Arcs were mainly used outside through windows for big daylight sources, the rest was done with tungsten lamps, either gelled blue or with FAY dichroic globes.

The simpler answer is usually the correct one -- if an interior light looks a bit warmer than the exterior light, it probably was a tungsten unit. Certainly looks like the type of 70's chase movie where they ran around with a small quartz tungsten package on location.
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#6 Shelly Johnson ASC

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 12:04 AM

Hey everybody...

I've been watching some old german movies from the 70s (one of them: "Das Millonenspiel", 1970, Germany, Tom Toelle.. Trailer here:



Does anyone know what typically was used for fill light for daylight/ext scenes during that time? The fill light of these films always seems to be somewhat warm, but not really warm enough for 3200K fill vs. 5600K available light. Afaik HMI wasn't really available at the beginning of the 70s yet (first notable use being the Olympic Games 1972 in Munich with Arri's Arrisonne?).. so what did they use? Tungsten with a very light CTB so you don't loose as much light? Tungsten without any color correction?

Similar for day/int scenes where you can see the windows: gelling the windows (lots of work and gel), gelling the tungsten lights (lots of light loss)? Also in this case the light always seemed to be a tad too warm, but not enough for the difference between 3200K and 5600K. Or was this purely an effect of the emulsions used back then?

Thanks,
Marc


Hi Marc,

Looking at that material, and knowing what they were using in the 70's, I would guess FAY lights. Individual PAR 36 globes (usually in 9-lites, but came in various arrays) with a Dichroic Filter baked into the front of the globe. Dichroics never really did provide a full daylight color balance, and usually appeared warm when used on film corrected to daylight with an 85 filter. FAY lights were pretty much the only option before HMI's... if you could not afford Brutes.

That's what was happening in the US anyway. Mole Richardson made most of the fixtures, and I'm sure exported the units to Europe as well.

Thanks!

Shelly Johnson, ASC
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#7 Marc Roessler

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 02:06 PM

Ok so it probably was either the dichroic lights (FAY) or gelled lights not fully corrected.

Thanks David and Shelly!
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