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Does reversal film have a more "retro" feel than negative?


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#1 Dylan Gonzalez

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:43 PM

I realise there are many differences between different types of stock, but I'm wondering if generally, as a rule of thumb, reversal film has a more retro, highly-saturated look than negative, as outlined here: http://hellosuper8.com/blog/12639806/.

 

 


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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 11:29 PM

I'd go with "association" -v- feel. point in fact is that reversal was used a lot for home movies back then, so you could project it at home for friends. At least that's the link I make in my head. But you can also go the opposite way, with a washed out look, faded almost, to get a sense of "retro."

And, anymore, it makes a lot more sense, and is much easier, to just roll negative as there is no more reversal color production that I'm aware of.


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#3 Dylan Gonzalez

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 02:21 AM

Thanks, Adrian. Would you say that reversal generally has a more saturated and highly contrasted look, though?


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#4 David Cunningham

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 07:35 AM

Thanks, Adrian. Would you say that reversal generally has a more saturated and highly contrasted look, though?

 

That's certainly true.  But, with negative you can do all that in post anyhow.  The biggest difference between reversal and negative in the digital age is the grain.  If it's reversal, it's going to be or appear finer than negative because it will be black/dark.  The grain will show up as white/light colored in negative so it's more prominent and distracting.

 

Reversal is also harder to get a really good scan.  Most telecine equipment is going to make reversal appear even more contrasty than it would projected.  It's very hard to pull out the highlight details in reversal for some reason, probably because most datacine/telecine equipment is designed/tuned for negative.

 

This is the example I always like to show when this question comes up.  The following is the same negative film, Vision3 50D, scanned one two different machines and adjusted by 2 different colorists.  The first is a more accurate depiction of the information on the film... a true "negative" scan:

 

 

The second is done by Pro8mm who always tries to make even negative look like reversal/Kodachrome.  In post, the bump up the saturation and contrast.  So, unlike the link above which has more detail and natural color, this version looks almost like reversal with saturated colors and extreme contrast:

 

 

So, if you really want the contrasty and/or saturated look of reversal but the latitude and flexibility of negative, you can have both with a good scan and colorist.


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#5 Dylan Gonzalez

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 01:24 PM

Wow, that's really night and day. Thanks for the information, David. Its a big help!

 

I think I'm going to try to experiment a bit with both film stocks. Its good to know I could get the reversal feel using negative and a good facility. However, there are some scanning and processing facilities in my city, and since it will work out a lot cheaper for me to use them, I want to start with them and see their results before I ship out to a company like Pro8mm. I already have one reel of Ektachrome 100D shot and processed, so once I get it scanned, I can hopefully get a general idea of the quality of the scan (not that I know much, but as long as it looks good to my eye - I'll probably post it here for feedback too).

 

My next couple projects I would actually want the negative feel, with more natural and muted colors. The white grain for me is a bit of a stickler though - I really dislike the look of it.

 

That's certainly true.  But, with negative you can do all that in post anyhow.  The biggest difference between reversal and negative in the digital age is the grain.  If it's reversal, it's going to be or appear finer than negative because it will be black/dark.  The grain will show up as white/light colored in negative so it's more prominent and distracting.

 

Reversal is also harder to get a really good scan.  Most telecine equipment is going to make reversal appear even more contrasty than it would projected.  It's very hard to pull out the highlight details in reversal for some reason, probably because most datacine/telecine equipment is designed/tuned for negative.

 

This is the example I always like to show when this question comes up.  The following is the same negative film, Vision3 50D, scanned one two different machines and adjusted by 2 different colorists.  The first is a more accurate depiction of the information on the film... a true "negative" scan:

 

 

The second is done by Pro8mm who always tries to make even negative look like reversal/Kodachrome.  In post, the bump up the saturation and contrast.  So, unlike the link above which has more detail and natural color, this version looks almost like reversal with saturated colors and extreme contrast:

 

 

So, if you really want the contrasty and/or saturated look of reversal but the latitude and flexibility of negative, you can have both with a good scan and colorist.


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#6 David Cunningham

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 02:30 PM

Wow, that's really night and day. Thanks for the information, David. Its a big help!

 

I think I'm going to try to experiment a bit with both film stocks. Its good to know I could get the reversal feel using negative and a good facility. However, there are some scanning and processing facilities in my city, and since it will work out a lot cheaper for me to use them, I want to start with them and see their results before I ship out to a company like Pro8mm. I already have one reel of Ektachrome 100D shot and processed, so once I get it scanned, I can hopefully get a general idea of the quality of the scan (not that I know much, but as long as it looks good to my eye - I'll probably post it here for feedback too).

 

My next couple projects I would actually want the negative feel, with more natural and muted colors. The white grain for me is a bit of a stickler though - I really dislike the look of it.

 

 

If you're going to be shooting reversal, you should get yourself a projector so you can see what it's "supposed" to look like.  Then you can get a supervised scan and tell the colorist one-on-one what it should look like.


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#7 Bill Rodgers

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 05:18 PM

I love reversal stock, as projecting your own footage is such a fun and incredibly nostalgic thing to do.

 

It can even make footage shot last week seem twenty years old. It's the stuff of movie magic.

 

I really miss shooting K40, E160 and Plus-X. I'm sure going to feel the same way about 100D.

 

I shot some 64T last month and I have quite a lot of Tri-X still sitting in the fridge.

 

 

What's even better is that reversal stock can look quite incredible when carefully HD scanned. In fact that "retro" look can really come across in an enhanced manner when it's been sharply focussed in brightly lit shooting conditions. You can almost feel the warmth of the summer sunshine with 100D.


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#8 David Cunningham

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 06:42 PM

Couldn't put it better myself bill. So why are you selling your 1014 XL-S?
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#9 Dylan Gonzalez

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 10:55 PM

 

 

If you're going to be shooting reversal, you should get yourself a projector so you can see what it's "supposed" to look like.  Then you can get a supervised scan and tell the colorist one-on-one what it should look like.

 

Thanks, David. I'll consider it picking one up before I shoot more reversal.

 

I think the facility that does telecine in my city has a projector and will allow me to view some footage on that too. I already went by once, as I was going to get one reel scanned - it was too cost prohibitive to get just one reel telecined (I could get 3-4 done for the same price), but the lady there mentioned they did have a projector that she could use to make sure it turned out.


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#10 Bill Rodgers

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 07:54 AM

Couldn't put it better myself bill. So why are you selling your 1014 XL-S?

 

 

I just keep buying Canon 1014 XL-S, 814 XL-S, 514 XL-S, Bolex 5122, 5120, Elmo 1012 S-XL, Eumig Nauticas and Braun Nizo 6080 Kits.

Then I work with my cousin (a trained film technician) to carefully repair (if needs be - though we don't dare too much with the Nizos), recondition, clean and film test them all. Finally we sell them on for a fair profit to fund my own purchases and films.

Just watching the buyers on eBay obviously working for Pro8mm cheaply purchasing all the Canon 310 XL, 514 XL and 1014 XL-Ss and then selling them on for huge profits inspired us to "save and pass on" the cameras we like and want to see still being in use by others.

In fact we often lose money when we sell some cameras but it's worth it to know they will be used by other filmmakers.

 

I'm keeping my own 1014 XL-S, 814 XL-S, 514 XL-S, 5122, 1012 S-XL, Nautica and 6080 Kit. I always tend to shoot reversal too! :)


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#11 steve salem

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 09:04 AM

I also agree with Bill Rodgers

 

Negative film is fantastic but it's not the true super 8 experience.

Reversal film is a defining factor in the look of super 8.

When Tri-X is gone so too will super 8 in my opinion.

 

Keep in mind that I'm talking exclusively about the super 8 experience. Not large format projects where the benefits of negative stock are more valid.

 

I'd prefer to shoot digital and spend my money on plugs to get the look that I'm after. At a fraction of the cost.

 

I hate white dirt, white grain - and you can't get that out. But I can very easily manipulate digital to look at least as good as Negative stock - almost as good as reversal. And the increased latitude of negative film is just flat and boring. I'd prefer to hit reversal film with the right light and get some magic.

 

You can never really capture the magic of light passing through celluloid.

It's what our brains recognize as film - mainly due to positive prints that we've all seen at movie theaters.

 

But I'm sure there are many novices who will continue to over pay for half baked transfers of negative stock. Because they'll never know any better.

And there are enough people vested in promoting Super 8 for their livelihood like Pro8mm and the wedding industry that it will still be a viable market for some time.

Too bad Kodak isn't one of them.

 

Botom Line:

If you're looking for the true super 8 experience you've arrived a little late in the game.


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#12 Jose luis villar

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 01:38 PM

In the super 8's two different worlds, the nostalgic who like to project their films and people like me, who use it for their work as a means other than digital, even if you will be at the end in that format. For the first reversal film is a necessity, in the case of the second negative is essential. The main question is how long Kodak will continue with film making.


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#13 Bill Rodgers

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 01:46 PM

In the super 8's two different worlds, the nostalgic who like to project their films and people like me, who use it for their work as a means other than digital, even if you will be at the end in that format. For the first reversal film is a necessity, in the case of the second negative is essential. The main question is how long Kodak will continue with film making.

 

I shot loads of promos in the 90's as a professional on Super 8 reversal stock.

 

So why do you feel negative stock is vital for your professional work Jose?


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#14 Anthony Schilling

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 12:30 PM

My last four rolls of Ektachrome S8 are at the lab right now. I just projected 7 unseen rolls last night, of my little daughter from last year. i'm so greatful i was able to capture that forever on reversal S8. After 10 years of lots of shooting, i'm still blown away with the colors and quality of the images projected on the screen. I have 4 rolls of 16mm left and a bit sad that it will be no more. On the other hand, i'm happy about the negatives. Over the years they have been around in S8, I've been able to get  the rich color and contrast close to what i like about reversal. It helps to over expose them 2/3rds to 1 full stop to get that look. When you see Hollywood films that were shot on negative, a lot of them are dialed in a lot more contrasy and saturated than most of the flat S8 samples you see. Since the emulsion is the same, you can achieve that same palate but with the retro feel of a smaller frame and motion blur.


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