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OT? Lighting/Color Balance 1965s Lost in Space Series


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#1 Jay Kirkland

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 09:04 PM

I'll apologize for intruding into this site if this is way inappropriate. I'm not a cinematographer (tho' I very much appreciate especially Conrad Hall and Haskell Wexler and James Wong Howe, among many others), but rather an amateur model maker, currently making some models of the ships and sets from Irwin Allen's 60s television shows. I am completely stumped by the inconsistencies of colors between episode to episode and between publicity and on-set (ie Viewmaster) photographs. I know it has to be color balance and lighting, but I just don't know what's right and what's illusion. Take this photo, for instance: http://tinyurl.com/plpegbk The Fox blueprints call for the hatch/door to be shades of steel, which it is in the lit part. What the heck are those greens in the shadowed area and where do they come from?? This is my Rosetta Stone photograph. If someone can explain those greens to me, then maybe the other 10 pictures in this album: http://tinyurl.com/n9d9wzs
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 11:40 PM

That first shot makes it hard to tell the true color of the set because you've got two different colored key lights hitting the set and actors, a brighter light that is blue-ish and a slightly warm light coming from the other angle.  It's almost like the effect of having a brighter key from a daylight-balanced carbon arc lamp back then but filling in with a tungsten lamp.

 

Some of the interior shots look like a warm-white paint job was used on some parts of the set, not neutral white or gray, and lit with tungsten lamps.  Plus I'm sure there is a bit of aging of the film elements that is making it harder to get neutral grays.

 

The show itself would have been shot on 35mm motion picture color negative, but stills could have been struck as copies made off of a print, or were shot on set with a separate still camera probably loaded with color reversal film, so there would be some differences in how certain colors were reproduced.

 

A lot of the pale green cast just seems to me to be tungsten light on a set that has some beige added to the whites in some wall and window sections and the warmth went a bit greenish in the color correction of the still, probably because they didn't want to add too much magenta into the fleshtones just to correct the walls.  I doubt there was any green in the paint job.  It's a common problem in color-correction - I have a beagle and when I take a picture of her in warm tungsten light, it's hard to keep the tan areas (especially in the shadows) from picking of some green without causing whites in her fur from picking up a magenta cast.  Even in daylight it can be hard to not let some green creep into warm whites.

 

mabel1.jpg

 

mabel2.jpg


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#3 Mark Dunn

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 05:30 AM

Most of your interior examples are frame grabs from what looks like a single show and they're pretty consistent, which they should be, the shots having been graded in one session. The others are publicity stills which probably didn't even use on-set tungsten lighting but electronic flash, so there's no reason for the colour to be consistent between them and the show.

If you want a colour reference, set a white point on a non-specular highlight (maybe the helmet) and forget the shadows. They're always the hardest to balance.


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#4 Jay Kirkland

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 09:45 AM

Thanks! This is most interesting and a huge help.
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#5 Jay Kirkland

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 09:56 AM

If I've done this correctly, these two screen grabs
http://tinyurl.com/kqvdeuu http://tinyurl.com/ke6abfo
do come from the same episode (and show that huge color difference) while the other captures are from various episodes in the same season. The publicity stills I have no idea. Again, many thanks!

Edited by Jay Kirkland, 23 October 2013 - 09:58 AM.

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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 10:50 AM

The flash photo of the three female leads is probably the closest to being accurate though the flash has a blue bias -- I think the wall next to the windows was painted in a mildly warm light gray. The shot of Dr. Smith by the window has a very warm light coming through and the shot of the kid has a cool light coming through.

But it certainly is possible that the color of the walls kept changing as they were repainted over time. TV shows constantly make adjustments to color schemes over time usually between seasons though.
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#7 Mark Dunn

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 12:00 PM

One can get those two frames closer by taking a white point off the bulkhead edge or a white instrument panel bulb. We see the grading as off but it would pass in a shot of a few seconds' duration. A little jarring across a cut, though.


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