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Grain in 16mm film

16mm film kodak vision 3 krasnogorsk k3 Ruben Arce

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#1 Ruben Arce

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Posted 09 December 2014 - 10:58 PM

Hello,

 

I would like to hear some advice, tips.. About 16mm film Vision 3 and it's grain. I recently shot a roll of 100 feet of Vision 3 250D and it turned out great  for a Krasnogorsk K3 that I bought for $70 on ebay.

 

I noticed grain specially in the shadows even when I was exposing for middle gray or 18% gray and I had enough light. Nothing wrong with grain. I understand is part of the texture of film and I like it. What I don't like is that after color grading the video (2k, ProRes 444) The grain was moving a lot and it was more like RGB grain than the organic look of film grain.

 

Here is the story:

 

I got to the place where I shot this when the sun was setting. I prepared for shooting and by that time the sun was behind a mountain and I didn't have any specular light. But being Vision 3 250D I was still getting good numbers in the meter. (Sekonic 558).

 

ASA: 250

Frame Speed: 24

Shutter Angle: 150

 

Apertures: f11 at the beginning, f8 15minutes later, f5.6, etc.

 

I mean there was enough light to expose the film properly. The meter was not suggesting apertures like f1.4 or f1, but I still can notice this grainy areas.

 

Is this normal? Was it because of the time of the day or light conditions? What would you do in that situation? Over expose and then pull in processing? Is it a post production problem? Also do you sharp the image when downscaling from 2k to 1080? I know it's supposed to be almost the same but the image was much larger than the 1080 frame.

 

I can live with that, but I would like to learn more and hopefully get even better results when shooting film. It was my first time with 16mm by the way.

 

Thanks you guys for sharing info and advice.

 

You Tube: http://youtu.be/SKxsLj_p1Jk

Dropbox: https://www.dropbox....3 Wide.mp4?dl=0

 

You Tube softens the image to a point where grain is almost imperceptible so I'm including a file that you can download if you wanna take a look closer.


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#2 Jeff L'Heureux

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 12:22 AM

Hi Ruben,

 

The amount of grain in 16mm comes down to a few factors:

 

-is it regular 16mm or super16?

-what lenses are you using?

-what stock are you using?

-what's your lighting/exposure?

 

You've got a handle on stock and exposure, but you have to take mind of the importance of what kind of lens is on the camera.  The hobbyist 16mm cameras have a great look, and personally I think the grain of your footage looks beautiful as is, but if you want to tighten up the grain on 16mm you need to make sure you're shooting super16, and have some good glass in front of the lens.  The optics of the lens can greatly influence sharpness, contrast, flare, and a number of other factors.  Shoot that same footage, on the same stock with a super16 camera on some Ultra Primes, and it would look entirely different.

 

For now, if you want to keep with the same glass, I'd recommend trying to shoot 50D, and overexpose a stop or more.  Film has a great ability to hold detail in the highlights, so overexposing to keep those shadows will still keep your highlights intact as well in most cases.

 

By comparison, here's an HD frame grab from a film I'm working on:

 

Arri 416

Kodak 7203 50D

Zeiss Superspeed MKII 50mm (a good affordable choice, certainly not the newest lenses out there, and notice the triangular bokeh)

shooting stop: f2.8

ND 0.9

 

key light on the actresses face metered at f16, this shot is two stops overexposed, no special processing, only basic color correction in DaVinci Resolve and no grading.  Unlike some of these digital cameras coming out that can shoot in the darkness, I've learned that film really does love light.  The more you feed it, the more crisp the images are.  Instead of silking off the actors, I decided to embrace the direct sunlight and position the actors accordingly, supplemented with some reflectors.  The footage we shot in the sun is some of the tightest grained 16mm I've ever seen.  That said, don't fear the grain either.  Your footage is beautiful as is, but it's a great example that within the same format there are so many looks you can achieve depending on the stock, camera, and lenses.

 

bzmZPq.jpg


Edited by Jeff L'Heureux, 10 December 2014 - 12:22 AM.

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#3 Ruben Arce

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 01:43 AM

Thanks Jeff,

 

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and your kind words. I like the way it looks specially for a cheap camera and some old M42 still photo lenses. I just want to learn as much as possible from this experience, and you helped me a lot already. I never thought about the lenses, it makes sense yes. 

 

I forgot to mention it was regular 16mm. I'm using this camera and lenses to learn and practice; So I'll stick with this setup for now. But definitely I'll get some Kodad 50D to see how it looks.

 

Overexposing makes a lot of sense. Actually exposing for middle gray gave me properly exposed images, but not happy colorful images. I knew about film liking overexpose but I thought that pulling in processing would be a requirement. Now with the experience that I have this time I totally agree that film will hold it information in the high lights.

 

Hey that frame that you took out of your film looks great. I love the feeling of film. That image looks sharp but not as sharp as digital, dynamic range looks great too, grain and exposition. I'll definitely will integrate your recommendations next time.

 

Good luck with your project and thanks for sharing. 


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#4 Jeff L'Heureux

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 02:14 AM

I would focus on that great look you're already getting on the K3, grain and all, and embrace that it doesn't look digital.  I'd even keep in some of the flash frames when the camera started and stopped for a montage like that.  The footage has a retro look to it that the best digital camera couldn't emulate without adding heavy filter modifications in post, and even then you can tell when something just looks digital.  Whereas you can make footage look like the 1970's just by hitting the run button on your camera.  Great work!


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#5 Pavan Deep

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 04:29 AM

This is a great example of 16mm. I agree with Jeff that your footage looks beautiful, the framing and composition is very good, the colours and texture give the film a very atmospheric look, the grain is very acceptable and works well. I agree that grain is affected by a number of things, Super 16 is less grainy and can be sharper than regular 16 cropped to 1.78, I personally noticed a great reduction in grain when I over expose shots and used pro lenses. 16mm is very flexible and can give so many looks, from the vintage to very modern and contemporary. Is this your first experience with 16mm? This is great stuff.

 

Pav


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#6 David Cunningham

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 09:31 AM

I too agree that these are some beautiful shots.  But, there is also a major difference between the youtube version and the dropbox version.

 

The dropbox version shows what you are talking about, apparent noise of some sort that to me also does not look natural to film, even regular 16mm cropped to 1.78:1.

 

On what machine was the transfer done?  You say it was Prores 444... it was a flat scan?  I wonder if the curves were just off a bit.  It almost looks like a bit of a gamma lift exaggerating either sensor noise or film grain.

 

Otherwise, the footage is beautiful and with normal Internet compression like YouTube, etc, the noise is canceled out considerably.


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#7 Ruben Arce

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 01:56 PM

Thanks Jeff, 

 

I'm happy with the way it looks and I'm sure I'll be able to make it look even better by overexposing and being careful in the postproduction stage. I keep shooting with this camera and lenses a few rolls till I feel that I'm ready for something more profesional or a project that requires a much better image. Thanks.


Edited by Ruben Arce, 10 December 2014 - 01:59 PM.

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#8 Ruben Arce

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 02:05 PM

This is a great example of 16mm. I agree with Jeff that your footage looks beautiful, the framing and composition is very good, the colours and texture give the film a very atmospheric look, the grain is very acceptable and works well. I agree that grain is affected by a number of things, Super 16 is less grainy and can be sharper than regular 16 cropped to 1.78, I personally noticed a great reduction in grain when I over expose shots and used pro lenses. 16mm is very flexible and can give so many looks, from the vintage to very modern and contemporary. Is this your first experience with 16mm? This is great stuff.

 

Pav

 


Thanks Pav,

 

I'll definitely will over expose at least one stop next time and I'l try to get a roll of Kodak  50D to see the difference. And yes it was my first time shooting 16mm. I got the camera last year and I didn't wanted to ruin the film and waste my money in the scanner, so I waited, got the lenses that I wanted or at least the ones that I could find and read as much as I could. I shoot video all the time and I enjoy taking stills with my film camera too. So, first time but with the proper training.


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#9 Ruben Arce

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 02:15 PM

I too agree that these are some beautiful shots.  But, there is also a major difference between the youtube version and the dropbox version.

 

The dropbox version shows what you are talking about, apparent noise of some sort that to me also does not look natural to film, even regular 16mm cropped to 1.78:1.

 

On what machine was the transfer done?  You say it was Prores 444... it was a flat scan?  I wonder if the curves were just off a bit.  It almost looks like a bit of a gamma lift exaggerating either sensor noise or film grain.

 

Otherwise, the footage is beautiful and with normal Internet compression like YouTube, etc, the noise is canceled out considerably.

 

 

Thanks David,

 

Yes there is a big difference in the You Tube file and the original edited footage. And it looks weird. It looks like digital grain and RGB dot dancing around. It was processed and scanned by Video & FIlm Solutions at 2k. They use the spirit scanner.

 

It may be my fault. I did edited and color graded in Premiere Pro. Basically I applied rob curves to bring the color intensity and contrast of the image back of the flat image that the scanner delivered. Now I'm thinking that probably it was a little under exposed and in order to bring it to a good level probably I pushed it to much to a point where it started creating this artificial grain.

 

Over exposing the film sounds like a good idea. I think it may help at the postproduction stage too to avoid video grain. The scanned original file looks good and it was actually bigger than the 1080 frame. I downsized the frame to make it fill into the 1080 frame even when the original file was coming out of a regular 16mm camera. Meaning 4:3 aspect ratio.

 

I'm happy with the way it looks, but I'm doing this because I want to learn as much as possible. Not that I'm super picky or want a K3 to look like an expensive camera. So any thoughts are welcome and help with my learning experience.

 

Thanks


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#10 Matthew B Clark

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 02:56 PM

Hi Ruben,

 

Your K3 looks like it produces nice images to me.  Which M42 lenses did you use for this in particular, if you don't mind me asking? 

 

Also, I have a very similar fear of doing my own post/color, even on tests.  Even though I have an MA in graphic design, and should know the basic ins and outs of managing color on video, I have totally becomes struck with the paranoia that it is over my head, and that it is it's own delicate art to be respected.  Coupled with the knowledge (or habit) instilled in me right away...to acknowledge any digital editing as essentially destructive to the original resolution, or some "re-sampling" etc., I have totally resigned from the idea that I know what the ____ I am doing in that department.  Now, this doesn't stop me from picking up a camera like an idiot either though...so, another day in paradox, I suppose!

 

FYI, Video and Film Solutions offer a nice rate for color done in house.  If Tommy does it, they don't have to mess with setting up the basic curves or stuff from the scan to their liking, so they are already pretty ready to roll on their gear and essentially pass that off as savings onto you instead of trying to pretend like it's a huge hassle.  Last I checked it was a tasty rate doing 2K and going straight into grading there, so may be worth investigating if you want to take that load off your chest.  Way cheaper than other places anyway. 


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#11 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 07:34 PM

There is an option.
Borrow a projector and look at a one light work print. This will be the best way to see what you actually photographed.
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#12 David Cunningham

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 07:56 PM

All color corrected material I have ever seen from video film solutions has always been fantastic, so I'm certain they and their equipment are capable of superb results.
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#13 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 12:18 AM

I think the footage looks really nice and organic, love the colors.

As has been mentioned, one thing you can do minimize grain on negative film is to overexpose it 1/2 to 2 stops. The simplest way to do so by a consistent amount is to set you light meter to a lower ASA, also called re-rating the ASA of the film stock. So if you set your meter to 125 ASA, then you will be overexposing consistently by 1 full stop.

If you plan on getting a photochemical contact print made from the negative, don't overexpose more than 1 stop. If you're just scanning, then you can go higher since the scanner can compensate. The important thing is to try and be as consistent as possible in your exposures so that the grain level doesn't change shot to shot.

It would also help if you shot an 18% grey card at the head of your roll at your desired ASA rating, so that the colorist will know how bright you intended your shots to be "printed" or displayed. Without that reference, the colorist would have to rely solely on his or her judgment when determining how bright or dark to grade your shots. If you wanted a dark scene and they graded it brighter, you would end up seeing more grain than you had intended.

The other thing you can do is ask your lab performing the scanning service for grain reduction. This is basically the same thing as a noise reduction filter in post and can help smooth the sharp appearance of grain so that it is less noticeable, with the trade off of a slightly softer looking image overall. Usually just a small amount will make a significant difference.
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#14 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 01:15 AM

Not to mention, grain reduction to even the slightest amount can significantly reduce the effects of harsh and smeary compression algorithms employed by YouTube etc

A lot of why web compression can screw up film footage is because grain is random, so it disrupts a program accustomed to uniform lines of resolution.
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#15 Ruben Arce

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 01:32 AM

Thanks guys,

 

A lot of good information and ideas. I appreciate your comments and suggestions. Looks like over exposing 1 or 2 f Stops is the ways to go to avoid grain. I'll try a different color grading software or I could try Video & FIlm solutions color grading services. That way I could see what the difference may be.


Edited by Ruben Arce, 11 December 2014 - 01:33 AM.

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#16 Ruben Arce

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 01:49 AM

@ Mathew. Thanks for your suggestions, I know it may be intimidating to do color grading and color correction. I just do the best that I can with my little knowledge about coloring to complete my little projects. But it would be nice how different it may be if done by a professional.

 

Lenses that I used:

 

- Meteop 5-1 f1.9 17mm-69mm K3 Camera Lens

- Super Takumar 55mm f1.8

- Vivitar 28mm f2.8

- Vivitar 135mm f2.8 (Fisherman working on the thread 24")

- Polarizer filter

- ND Filters 4x4 from ebay. The really cheap plastic filters. When I tested them in a digital camera they had this annoying magenta cast. But it didn't bothered me with film. I tried solid ND 3, 6 and 9. And graded 0.9 on the shot where the trunk is inside the water and mountains in the back. (Second 20)

 

I mounted the camera on my rig. So I had a follow focus and a matte box. It was just a test, but I wanted to see the potential of the camera, lenses and filters if used appropriately.


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#17 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 06:23 AM

There is an option.
Borrow a projector and look at a one light work print. This will be the best way to see what you actually photographed.

 


Correct.  I still get prints made just for that reason.


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#18 Pavan Deep

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 06:50 AM

I just have to say that for your first time with16mm this is great. Did you use a lot of rolls?

 

Pav


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#19 Ruben Arce

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 01:12 PM

Thanks Pav,

 

1 Roll. That's it. Scanned came out in a file of 3 minutes of video. 3 seconds of transitional flare, I forgot to compensate for filters 3 times, so those 3 shots were underexposed and I didn't used them in the video. It was my first time and I was nervous because of that, the light was fading super fast and I covered the footage meter, so I didn't know when to stop.

 

By the end of the shots including by the creek I wasn't sure that I still had stock to keep going. Specially because I was changing lenses and filters fast and trying to keep up with the process. So when I moved to the second location I was shooting with no expectations. I just didn't wanted to waste stock but It felt like I already had shot a lot. Happily I kept going till I heard the loose end hitting the inside of the camera. 


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#20 Will Montgomery

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Posted 12 December 2014 - 11:38 AM

Unlike some of these digital cameras coming out that can shoot in the darkness, I've learned that film really does love light.  The more you feed it, the more crisp the images are.

This has been the hardest part of my transition to digital. Just got back from Masters in Motion in Austin and watched these digital guys light with almost nothing and still get a decent image out of the camera. I kept asking, "Why don't you keep the ratio the same and just raise the light equally on everything so your colorists have more to work with and less noise?" They looked at me like I had two heads. They would say, "But look at the image, that's what I want..."

 

Not sure that they are all that wrong, but every colorist I've ever worked with in film or digital has told me to light, light, light. When you got it where you like it, turn everything up 20%. Then when you color it, you can get the same look but with more details in the blacks and less noise. This seems especially true with digital since details in blacks can be completely gone (and the highlights of course).


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