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Tweaking emulsions and its current state

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#1 Alexander Boyd

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 02:16 PM

Hello everyone,

 

as I'm slowly getting into film and its ins/outs, I'm wondering about the following:

 

In the age of DI and the numerous options in grading/post, do professional cinematographers still tweak emulsions (I'm talking about pre-flashing, shooting Tungsten film in daylight without filters and other "more experimental" methods) or are these techniques slowly getting lost?! 

 

I'm not trying to add another debate concerning "we'll do it in post" - just curious to hear whether digital technology is replacing these techniques. 

 

Thanks,

Alex


Edited by Alexander Boyd, 11 January 2015 - 02:17 PM.

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#2 Josh Gladstone

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 02:45 PM

I think fewer people opt for more 'experimental' photochemical techniques like preflashing, skip bleach etc because it's risky. You could end up accidentally ruining good footage, or you might just get inconsistent results. So a lot of people just try to emulate those looks during color correction because it's safer (if they're even shooting on film to begin with). That said, I'm sure there are still some people out there doing stuff like that. I would also venture to guess that some techniques like cross processing are still fairly common (relatively speaking). And a lot of people choose to shoot tungsten film using daylight sources. Some correct the blue out in color correction, while others do it on purpose because they like the way it looks.


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#3 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 03:18 PM

...while others do it on purpose because they like the way it looks.

 

That would be me. :)


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#4 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 04:05 PM

Hello everyone,

 

as I'm slowly getting into film and its ins/outs, I'm wondering about the following:

 

In the age of DI and the numerous options in grading/post, do professional cinematographers still tweak emulsions (I'm talking about pre-flashing, shooting Tungsten film in daylight without filters and other "more experimental" methods) or are these techniques slowly getting lost?! 

 

I'm not trying to add another debate concerning "we'll do it in post" - just curious to hear whether digital technology is replacing these techniques. 

 

Thanks,

Alex

 

As for pre-flashing, I wanted to do that but I didn't know of any way to get it done with 16mm.  At the time, only the Panaflasher was being used and no labs were doing post-flashing anymore.

 

I wouldn't hesitate to do a skip-bleach on the negative if it was the look I was wanted.  Then again, I've never been one to "fix it in post."  I try to get as much done during the production stage as possible.


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 04:14 PM

Sure, shooting tungsten film in daylight without the filter is done just as much now as before, it's partially just the convenience of dropping the 85 filter and saving that 2/3's of a stop, if you prefer shooting on tungsten stocks instead of daylight stocks.

 

Most skip-bleach work was done to positives (I.P. or print) not the negative, so mainly it's been a case of having to digitally create the look in the D.I. because of no prints being made, or not wanting to pay for special prints.  Doing a skip-bleach to the negative is much more dramatic and adds contrast to the whites, making them burn out faster, not the the shadows, making them blacker when done to the print.  Plus there is a lot more grain added when done to the negative because camera stocks have larger silver grains than duplication stocks.  But Roger Deakins did a partial skip-bleach to his negative for "Jarhead" and "Assassination of Jesse James" even those went through a D.I. because he wanted the enhanced grain.

 

Flashing has never been used much even before D.I.'s -- it always had a negligible affect on adding shadow detail and the effect on the black levels and color saturation is easy to simulate digitally, so there is less reason than ever to use flashing for anything finished with a D.I.


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#6 James Compton

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 04:15 PM

 The old ways are still alive. The best way to approach expirmental film chemistry kungfu is to locate a film lab that is willing to do the things you dream up. Things like shoointg on Color print film, shooting on Black & White titles film and using UV lamps for key and fill. Shoting REDSCALE( where you unroll the film in a darkroom off it's core and then roll it back onto the core, shoot through the remjet base).

 

 Two labs come to mind - NIAGARA Custom Lab in Toronto, Canada and CINEMALAB in Englewood, Colorado.


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#7 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 09:21 PM

Video and Film Solutions posted footage of a test using Eastman black and white intermediate film in outdoor light, rated at EI 8, with fantastic results. Extremely fine-grain, and rich tones. I’m looking into shooting some tests myself, in 16mm with similar stocks available from Orwo. 


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#8 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 09:23 PM

Video and Film Solutions posted footage of a test using Eastman black and white intermediate film in outdoor light, rated at EI 8, with fantastic results. Extremely fine-grain, and rich tones. I’m looking into shooting some tests myself, in 16mm with similar stocks available from Orwo. 

 

Can you post the link, Kenny?


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#9 David Cunningham

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 10:03 PM

One of our own here on the forums, Will, did tests with the 35mm version that are amazing!


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#10 Josh Gladstone

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Posted 12 January 2015 - 01:48 AM

Wow, that really does look great


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#11 David Cunningham

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Posted 12 January 2015 - 06:30 AM

I'm still waiting for a good opportunity to do that in 16mm before all the stock is gone.
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#12 Doug Palmer

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Posted 12 January 2015 - 01:30 PM

For 16mm colour reversal film I usually add some flashing after filming, to reduce the contrast if necessary and add some detail in the shadows. ( It would be safer to pre-flash,  but often only parts of the roll need flashing, and at different doses.)

 

I use a very simple set-up http://filmisfine.co...ing-your-image/

and it always seems to work for me ! 


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#13 Josh Gladstone

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Posted 12 January 2015 - 03:57 PM

Well there you go, someone out there still flashes their film! Got any footage of that online? I'd love to see it.


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#14 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 13 January 2015 - 11:15 AM

 

Can you post the link, Kenny?

 

Here it is. 


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#15 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 13 January 2015 - 06:01 PM

 

Thanks, Kenny.  Interesting test, but the only problem with their finished product is that there is absolutely no grain.  Looks almost like it was shot on digital video.  I guess that's why Plus-X was loved.  It was the best of both worlds.

 

Between the two, I'd still choose 5222.


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#16 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 13 January 2015 - 06:13 PM

You’re absolutely right, also granted this is 35mm, I would like to see it done with 16mm. It’s still cool for the sake of getting an especially clean image for some scenarios, and projects that don’t call for grain. It does look a little digital, but the roll-off is much more gentle to my eye between highlights and mid tone.


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#17 John E Clark

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Posted 13 January 2015 - 07:28 PM

 

Thanks, Kenny.  Interesting test, but the only problem with their finished product is that there is absolutely no grain.  Looks almost like it was shot on digital video.  I guess that's why Plus-X was loved.  It was the best of both worlds.

 

Between the two, I'd still choose 5222.

 

From looking at the film type for 5234... it is a 'duplicating' film and intended to 'add minimal to nothing' to the image... that would include its own 'grain'...


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#18 Alexander Boyd

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 05:01 PM

Thanks everyone for the insights. Now, returning to my initial post, I'm wondering if any "bigger productions" (indie or studio features) are using any of these techniques or if they're nowadays mainly used by smaller productions and celluloid-afficionados?


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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 05:10 PM

Push-processing and pulling the 85 filter are still common techniques for people shooting on film, even on bigger movies.  Both can help you when working in lower light levels, which is why they are still done.

 

Pull-processing has always been less common, and flashing even less common than that, and generally with the wide dynamic range of film, most people don't find much need to get even less contrast out of film negative.  But there are a few people still doing pull-processing.

 

Silver retention for prints is less common now because prints are less common now, most people do a D.I. for a digital cinema release.


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#20 Carl Looper

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 04:04 PM

 

From looking at the film type for 5234... it is a 'duplicating' film and intended to 'add minimal to nothing' to the image... that would include its own 'grain'...

 

Yes, I just happen to have a roll of this in 16mm (7234). I'm using it for doing an intermediate from digital, and some in-camera experiments.

 

In terms of film technology one can get extremely high resolution film. Holograms, for example, employ such films to render very fine interference patterns. The trade off with higher resolution film is the less sensitive the film becomes, because the requisite light sensitive particles need to be smaller, which, in low light, reduces the probability of any of them being found by the limited number of photons available. A correspondingly longer exposure time is required to render an image - typically longer than that which 24 fps allows (or requires).

 

While the usefulness of 5234/7234 is apparent in intermediate work, where exposure time can be made longer (or the light made brighter) it's not necessary one use it for such. Shooting outdoors on a sunny day, or using nuclear powered lighting on a scene, or doing time lapse photography, or stop motion photography, or indeed rudimentary holography, become other use cases.

 

I'm still experimenting with other possible use cases. I love the idea of high resolution film.

 

C


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