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New vs Old film stock


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#1 Chris Lee

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 08:07 PM

http://www.colorlab..../16mmtoHD.html:

There are many ways to save money on your budget, but raw stock is NOT the place to do it. It is the most important part of your finished product – the look of your film. If you insist on using older films, however, you can have them clip tested at the lab to check for age fog. Depending on the number of rolls, we will usually perform clip tests for free


How much is the quality disparity between several years old refrigerated vs brand new purchased stock from Kodak or Fuji?

I'm shooting a short that we plan on entering to festivals; However, it's similar along the lines to Five Easy Pieces or Chinatown, where the image has a distinct faded 70s look - so maybe spankin new stock isn't all that necessary?

Edited by Chris Lee, 09 August 2011 - 08:09 PM.

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#2 K Borowski

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 09:18 PM

You're getting he same effect as selective flashing of film.

You will lose dynamic range, and detail in the shadows (although, you see this more with age fog that occurs POST exposure). SHadows become hazy, milky, and grain can often be exagerrated. Contrast is reduced.


If you're going for a certain look this can be pleasing, but realize this can obscure fine detail and is going to be particularly problematic to work with using either high speed film or 16mm format, or BOTH.

I'd definitely shoot clip tests and try to shoot with one emulsion batch if possible, that is all aged to a similar condition. You will get distracting imagery if the grain jumps around from one shot to another having obtained film from a multitude of sources, storage conditions.


Of course, you can compensate for a decent amount of age fog with overexposure, but this can give scanners, telecine systems that have become such an integral part of the post workflow a great deal of difficulty, punching through higher densities that could be handled in optical/contact printing without any difficulty at all.
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#3 Will Montgomery

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 10:33 AM

The real issue is consistency. For your project it may be fine for colors to be muted or faded, but you would need that same look throughout the film stock used which may be hard to do.

The reason you want consistency is that it will save you time (and money) in the transfer or printing. If each reel has a different look even on the same scene then you'll make yourself crazy getting it to work together. If the stock is all from the same batch and handled the same you have a better chance at consistency, whether it is new or old. New is just safer. It's up to you how much risk you can take.
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#4 K Borowski

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 10:55 AM

I got yelled at, last movie I worked on, for bugging the DP too much about some emulsion batch discrepancies in the film he ordered.

"You don't even have to worry about emulsion batch differences anymore," one of the ACs told me.


Nevertheless, I tried very very hard to keep the few oddball cans we had of '07 confined to inserts, and locations with a short amount of screen time; this is with new film.

I'd recommend you get all old stock clip tested, and, if working with different batches, try as hard as you can not to mix an emulsion on a location, especially without shooting a grey card and Gretag/Macbeth color chart. If you shoot these charts for each location, properly illuminated by your key light of course and not washed out, you can as-closely-as-possible with film time out any discrepancies short of severe age fogging.

On neg. film, those RGB numbers you get, status M densitometer numbers translate so that roughly 0.17 or 17 points is equal to a camera F-stop, due to neg film's low contrast. The number of points over ideal that you are getting in base fog is roughly what I would try to overexpose to overcome age fog, but again, with matching it, you'll get contrast, shadow, highlight detail differences that could become objectionable.

Even with a skilled camera crew that actually knows this sh__, you may want to avoid the hassle of having them juggle different emulsion batches. Unless they have an "it'll be fine" attitude (ignorance is bliss, after all) it adds a lot of stress to production having to worry about running out of individual batches of film in addition to different stocks.
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