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Mixing Optical and DI shots


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#1 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 10:32 PM

We are doing post on a B&W feature I did and we are encountering a difficult situation. We have some fx shots which a gamma curve was applied to, in order for the fx guys to get a sense were they were going with the look, it is much more contrasty than the original footage and much worse, it's been conformed with the original negative ;-/ now we have shots within the same scene that are not going to match when we do the print. I'm recommending to scan all the shots within those scenes in order for it to work. I can't think of any other solutions, in my opinion, it is the only way it should have been done form the beginning. We just had a miscommunication.
Any thoughts and advice is really appreciated.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 11:37 PM

I'd redo the efx shot in the correct log gamma, not make the whole sequence more contrasty through a D.I.
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#3 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 12:14 AM

Thanks David, I'll know more in the next few days, that could be the right approach
I'm encountering a situation where I'm been told I have very limited manipulation of the contrast, printing optically. I havent done a lot of printing, I do know that our print stock will be quite contrasty, 2302 I believe. I want these film to have rich blacks and contrast but at times I'm been told they can only manipulate brightness, Am I missing something here? I would appreciate any insight
Thx David
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 12:21 AM

You can't really adjust contrast through print timing, just density.
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#5 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 01:07 AM

Thx again David,
What would you do if you had a scene where you would like to have more contrast during printing?
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 01:18 AM

Thx again David,
What would you do if you had a scene where you would like to have more contrast during printing?


You can't -- that's the nature of shooting for printing, you have to get it right in the original negative. At best, you can add contrast overall to an entire reel by using a higher contrast print stock or a contrast-adding process like skip-bleach (for color prints -- b&w prints are already made up of silver.)

You can dupe a single shot to add more contrast -- and if it's a b&w shot, then processing can alter gamma -- and then cut that dupe into the original negative. But duping adds grain and does other things that make it stand out from the surrounding unduped shots so it's not a great way of making a shot match better, but it can save b&w shots to some degree. Conrad Hall talks about some day-for-night shots in b&w for one of his first movies, "Morituri" -- his assistant put in the wrong red filter and Hall used the wrong filter factor and the shot came back so underexposed that it was considered unusable. Hall was worried about getting fired, but the efx person (might have been Linwood Dunn) duped the shot through hi-con stock, which made it usable if extremely hi-con... and Hall got his first Academy Award nomination, for one of his first features!
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#7 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 02:04 AM

Thx again, that's very useful
I think for the most part I got the contrast where I want it but there are a couple of places where is bugging me a bit, and now we have to deal with the fx shots, the disparity on those shots is huge. I think we ll make it work, it is just annoying knowing what's possible thru the DI now days. Fo r this film, a DI, would be more than ideal, we have footage from 6 years ago that it's being mixed with stuff we shot last year.
So we could do separate reels for those tricky scenes and then they can splice them together? right? That might be the best approach. I'll talk to the lab tomorrow
I appreciate your help.
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#8 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 02:05 AM

Good story about Conrad Hall, I admire him and his work
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 02:23 AM

No, you generally don't want to make splices in reels. You have to edit an entire reel with that printing stock in mind. It can be a bit shorter than usual compared to the surrounding reels, but you can't really edit together two prints into one without creating problems, like pops in the soundtrack. It also would only work for a one-off reel, not multiple prints of the movie. Unless you want to spend a lot of money. There are spliced color shots into the b&w prints of "Rumblefish", "Schindler's List" and "Zelig" for example, but there were problems in projection with the jumps, so later prints of "Schindler's List" opted to print the whole reel onto color stock rather than splice in the color shots.
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#10 K Borowski

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 05:22 PM

If someone DROPPED THE BALL in the DI, I'd demand they re-do it. I think I saw something similar to what you describe as your problems here in "Dumb and Dumber" so I've seen DI shots not match the rest of the film in some pretty big-budget stuff (albeit early '90s stuff).


The only way you could conceivably change contrast with print or intermediate stock is pushing or pulling it NOT something that is really done at all these days. With ECP (2383 or 3514 DI Fuji or Agfa) you can really only LOWER contrast, and it is not something you could get right on the first try. I don't think it's feasible as it would alter soundtrack densities on a print.

I can't go into it in detail, but 2383 is already maxed out with a standard process, not sure about 3514. Intermediate stocks can be pushed though.


Can you describe what was done with the DI filmout, what stock used, what colorspace? Maybe I can be of more help if you are more specific. Was it CRT or a laser recorder?
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#11 K Borowski

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 05:29 PM

I havent done a lot of printing, I do know that our print stock will be quite contrasty, 2302 I believe. I want these film to have rich blacks and contrast but at times I'm been told they can only manipulate brightness


Am I missing something here? 2302?

2383, 3514, 2393 and I forget Fuji's other stock designation. I work with print and intermediate stocks almost every day now, but I'm not familiar at all with 2302. Sounds like a color separation B&W panchro neg number, but I am guessing.



Forgot to add, you can FLASH print stock too to lower contrast. Dominic Case mentioned doing this in the film-for-TV days before they came out with low contrast print stocks. This will bring up the higjlights instead of lightening the blacks, like a pull would.

I think digital soundtracks would be fine with a slight deviation from AIM density, but not analog tracks, especially now that they're cyan and there's no silver retention and soundtrack redevelopment to either silver or high magenta.

Keep in mind my only soundtrack work is 16mm silver tracks, so take this with a grain of salt.
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#12 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 07:49 PM

Thanks Karl
I think it might be a new print stock
http://motion.kodak....ition/so302.htm

I'm still trying to get more details

I was out of the loop for a bit, busy with other projects. I believe the lab should have guided the post production team in a better way.
I don't understand how they could think that these shots could have intercut together, the differences are very drastic.
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#13 K Borowski

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 08:18 PM

No, my apologies, I completely missed the B&W reference when first reading your post. Think the only thing new about it is they switched to polyester base.


Unfortunately, B&W print stock doesn't have the quite handy ability to be printed through either yellow or magenta filtration to alter contrast, like B&W paper does.


Are you doing a large run of prints? What sort of soundtracks are you doing? You *are* going to have silver sound (wonder if this is an issue now for LED-equipped theatre sound-heads), but I think the B&W process is a single developer as well, although I assume you can get far more range up or down pushing and pulling with B&W than with color ECP stocks. You also won't get color shifts, not that I've observed them anyway with ECP.


David: Schindler's list was before Polyester. IDK about the other two. Unless Francisco got access to an expensive ultrasonic splicer (or an expensive charge for someone else doing the work) it would have to be tape splices for the prints, which aren't ideal. Do you know if Schindler used cement splicing? Problem with tape is that it is visible (tacky, amateurish way to deal witha $1500 piece of film IMHO).




If the changes really are "drastic" as you put it, there must be a huge amount of added contrast; your only way to fix this in a professional manner will be to redo the shots and re-film out. All this other discussion is academic. I think you have a strong argument to have the work redone for free, at the very least at cost. B&W is a far easier animal to work with than color and they still mucked it up? It almost sounds like they somehow incorporated the LUT into the actual output file, like a "double film gamma" treatment. I forget what the print-through and actual gammae of B&W are. I want to say they are higher than the ECN-ECP system.
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#14 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 08:47 PM

very few prints for now, just trying to screen at some festivals,
obviously we want it to be the best possible

b&w is such a rare animal that it makes me realize that we should look into those other details you are mentioning, like sound for instance, make sure that all those technical issues get taking care of, for festival and private screenings

another solutions is to do an hd transfer right now and forget about the print for the time being, we will have no problems then.
although, would love to see an anamorphic print

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#15 K Borowski

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 09:01 PM

Well, that would certainly be cheaper, but compared to a 2nd gen contact print, you realize you'd be throwing out a huge amount of resolution, especially if you shot 4-perf.

I mean, how many seconds, or minutes of footage are you talking about?


I will get flamed for this, but there is nothing wrong with just having an analog stereo track. I forget if there are compatibility issues with B&W film and any digital soundtrack systems; I don't think so though. Keeping those densities at spec. makes any pushing, pulling extremely hazardous to sound quality. There certainly is a practical matter with all of this in keeping the sound pristine.

The digital sound systems are all proprietary ($) anyway. I'm no expert on sound, but if you wanted any digital sound at all I'd find the cheapest supported and stick with it. Personally I like DTS as it is just a sync pulse and you can burn as many copies of the CDs as you want.


I look at it as you have to fix the problem anyway, you can film-out in almost real time, why not do it, unless it's more than 20% of the movie? I am SURE you can cut the two pieces of footage together and make a strong argument for a redo.


Just FYI, I was wrong, they do still make acetate release printing stock, at least according to Eastman Kodak's website.
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#16 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 01:57 AM

Been talking to the head of the digital division of the lab and there is a strong chance we will be able to re do most of those shots
good news
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#17 K Borowski

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 12:50 PM

Good man.


I didn't say this before, but I would recommend printing film as many opportunities as you get while there is still time. It has really gotten that bad. . . :_(
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#18 K Borowski

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 01:22 PM

Last night, I posted "digital soundtrack systems" and I meant LED analog readers. PM me and I can give you some contact info for soundtracks that could do a far better job of explaining it to you than I can.
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