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Transitioning to Black and White


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#1 Nic MacDonald

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 02:58 AM

A train of thought involving the film Ransom lead me to think about the cinematography. I haven't watched this film in nearly ten years, but I recall that it begins and ends in black and white, with the colour fading in at the beginning and out at the end.

The film was released in 1996, pre-DI. How would they have achieved the transitions between black and white and colour? I'm sure there's a simple answer, but I'm not aware of a photochemical way to do this. The only way I can think of that might work would be to strike both colour and black and white IPs and do a dissolve between them, which would have been a special effect at the time.

Any ideas?
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#2 Mark Dunn

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 06:25 AM

I think you've answered your own question- B/W intermediates made for the B/W scenes cut in on the A/B roll as normal and some careful grading to avoid a tint.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 10:31 AM

I doubt it was an A-B roll effect, most likely it was done in an optical printer to create a single-strand negative. You take the color negative and make a color positive (I.P.) and a b&w positive from it, then you rephotograph the positives in two passes onto a new color dupe negative. You can then do whatever you want, dissolve from the b&w image to the color image or back, or overlay them to get a desaturated image, etc.

It's hard to do it as a A-B roll contact printing effect because of the lack of a color mask for the b&w film, so there is an extreme printer light change to deal with the b&w element. This is why sometimes b&w footage was put onto a C-roll for an A-B rolled negative.
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#4 Mark Dunn

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 10:41 AM

This is why sometimes b&w footage was put onto a C-roll for an A-B rolled negative.

That's probably what I meant. It's been a while.
I don't know if the DVD would be good enough to detect the quality difference which might give away an optical.
We may need to explain A&B (&sometimes C) -rolling a bit better.

Edited by Mark Dunn, 25 June 2012 - 10:45 AM.

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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 10:46 AM

A-B rolls allow effects to be contact printed, so are the same generation as the original footage (dupes get grainier, dirtier, lose some color, etc.) Trouble with A-B roll effects is that they have to be done for every contact print you make, if you plan on making a number of show prints, the effects are limited to certain established frame lengths, and there can be subtle exposure or color bumps in the effect at the start or stop.

Generally studios require productions complete a single-strand negative so most effects were optically printed. However there are notable exceptions -- the series of slow lap dissolves that begin "E.T." as the camera moves through the ship and outside through the trees around the ship were all done with A-B roll printing to keep them first generation.
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#6 Nic MacDonald

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 04:32 PM

Many thanks to both of you.
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