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Black & White Film That Isn't So Dark?

black and white 16mm film stock

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#1 T Sanders

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 10:59 PM

Hello,

 

I'm working on a project for 2015 that I want to shoot on black and white 16mm film. I've watched several films online shot with Tri-X film and a few on Double X but the blacks are so dark (I know, they're supposed to be). :)

 

These are great film stocks but for my film I kinda don't want the blacks to be so black. For example, one of my favorite films is the 1956 version of "The Bad Seed" and as you can see from the photos the black and white image is not so dark. The blacks aren't so black like they are in the modern stocks. I might not be explaining this well. You can see from the fireplace below that there is black and that the liquor is obviously a dark color but the overall scene isn't dark on the edges and has an even grey scale tone.

 

Even the images with more dark areas aren't as black as what I've seen in modern B&W stocks.

 

Is it possible for me to achieve this lighter toned black and white imagery with modern black and white film stocks?

 

Or would I have to shoot on color film and do a grey scale/desaturate/black and white treatment on it in post?

 

badseed2.jpg

 

 

badseed3.jpg

 

badseed1.jpg

 

This discussion lost me a bit: 

http://www.cinematog...d white&page=2

 

I think someone in that post had a great idea of shooting with a still film camera using the film stock I'd like to use with the setup I plan to shoot and see how that looks. I'm going to try that. 


Edited by T Sanders, 18 March 2014 - 11:01 PM.

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#2 T Sanders

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 11:05 PM

Or am I missing the point entirely and they had like a trillion watt lights going on in those days? :)

 

 

This is a Tri-X Still and it's well... Dark:  http://forum.mflense...__MG_8644_1.jpg


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#3 Chris Burke

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 12:31 AM

The blacks are not "supposed to be" dark, that is a matter of taste. You can light it and control contrast as to your liking. Black and white reversal is inherently higher in contrast, although you can light it very flat. Black and white negative has less contrast than reversal, but it can be exposed with very high contrast. It is all up to you. I would recommend black and white negative for a classic black and white look. You can shoot color neg and de-saturate in post, but it doesn't look the same. However, it is a "look" which is quite popular and color negative film will give you the lowest contrast image.


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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 02:04 AM

Exactly, it's not darkness you're seeing, it's contrast. And yes, they would've had quite a bit of light back then ;).

Even now we often still use quite a bit of light when shooting on what are very "fast" cameras. Hell I used a ton of light on a F5 shoot-- more than I've used in a long while, despite it's 2000asa.


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#5 David Cunningham

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 07:49 AM

Exactly (both comments above).  It's all about how you light and the look you are going for.

 

Exactly the same problem you are facing is what was facing the DP in "The Artist".  They did test shoots with a few different B&W stocks but decided they needed/wanted the exposure latitude and low contrast look of color negative.  So, the movie was shot in Vision3 500T 5219 and then de-saturated in post.  This gave them the old-school natural grain look that they wanted, but the ability to control the contrast in post.  That's one unarguable advantage of digital post.  If you can shoot/capture a scene with lots of dynamic range, you can then add contrast in post.  It's impossible to do it the other way around.


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#6 David Cunningham

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 07:51 AM

Also note all the shadows in your 3 example photos.  Those scenes (especially the first 2) where shot with LOTS of light.


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#7 T Sanders

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 11:17 AM

I completely understand now. Thank you all for your input. I will set up some of my test scenes like how I want to shoot the film and do stills shots with Tri-x and various other films and see how that goes. I'd like something like the last photo for most of the film but something like the first photo for the romance scenes. 

 

I'll check out "The Artist" too.


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#8 Chris Burke

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 06:19 PM

check out The White Ribbon also. It shot color negative for black and white finish. If Kodak isn't going to work for you check out Orwo stocks.


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#9 T Sanders

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 06:30 PM

Oooo Just Googled Orwo film stock. Very nice! Thanks Chris. :)


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#10 Dan Dorland

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 11:01 PM

Besides lighting with a lower ratio (more fill to key), you can also expose at +1 and pull process. Your shadows can be as light or dark as you want.


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#11 Simon Wyss

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 08:47 AM

You’re up to Hollywood lighting?

 

I Love Lucy Set.jpg

 

It’s not the film in the camera. Look!


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#12 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 09:54 AM

Also, Kodak's only camera B&W stocks are emulsions from the late 50s, so you would not be far off in using, say, Double-X to mimic that look.


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