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Which Black & White Film for Dirty City Look?


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#1 danny bartle

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Posted 22 May 2005 - 06:55 AM

hi all,

in my short doco i need a shot of a city in black & white. i'd like to make the city shot look dirty as its for an environmental documentary & i'd like to show the negative effects of pollution.

which black & white film would be best? which filter (if any)? would over or underexposing help? would a cloudy day, sunny day or sunrise/sunset be best? the film will be transferred to mini dv for editing.

preferably 16mm stock as i'm cropping a standard 16mm frame to 16:9 for tv but super 8 is also an option.

thank you...

Edited by perthskydiver, 22 May 2005 - 06:57 AM.

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#2 Sam Wells

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Posted 22 May 2005 - 10:19 AM

Setting aside the issue of editorialising with the emulsion (I'm certainly not *defending* air polution but......) I'd say Double X in 16mm, in S8 Tri-X.

If you underexpose without much or any highlights, it can certainly look murky.....

-Sam
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 May 2005 - 10:27 AM

Setting aside the issue of editorialising with the emulsion (I'm certainly not *defending* air polution but......)  I'd say Double X in 16mm, in S8 Tri-X.

If you underexpose without much or any highlights, it can certainly look murky.....

-Sam

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Double-X has that "sooty" look. You can also try some Tri-X b&w reversal for more contrast for select shots, if this is for telecine only anyway.
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#4 danny bartle

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Posted 22 May 2005 - 10:55 AM

Setting aside the issue of editorialising with the emulsion (I'm certainly not *defending* air polution but......)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

what did you mean by that?

so double-x seems to be the choice. what about a 25A red filter, will this help?
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 May 2005 - 11:04 AM

what did you mean by that?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


He means that stylized b&w photography to enhance the sense of pollution may be artistic, but it can be "ethically" questionable for some documentarians who believe in less manipulation. But it all depends on the type of documentary you are making. Simply by being in b&w, it will be obvious you are going for a poetic approach anyway, not "faking" the level of pollution.

By the way, maybe I should not say this, but ND grads may help "fake" the level of air pollution...

Red filters add more contrast, especially to blue skies with clouds. Basically anything blue-ish will get darker, including shadows which have a lot of blue skylight in them.
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#6 Sol Train Saihati

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Posted 22 May 2005 - 04:29 PM

I love that double-x pushed one stop. Gritty, Dirty and with such beautiful contrast ratios and fast shadow fall off. Even when transferred to miniDV it just looks so...
Reportage. Like the front pages of a 40's newspaper. Get the content & composition right and you'll be proclaimed a genius by all! :lol:
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#7 Anthony Schilling

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Posted 23 May 2005 - 04:09 AM

Here's some Plus X S-8 1/3rd under. I transferred it with miniDV and work printer, so there's added contrast, I brought the levels up a tad.. the still is more pixelated than the avi.
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#8 L K Keerthi Basu

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Posted 23 May 2005 - 08:58 AM

Add grains to the image by push process and also go for some odd angles to compose. DoubleX is a good choice for push process.

L.K.Keerthibasu
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#9 danny bartle

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Posted 23 May 2005 - 09:00 AM

thanks for the explanation David... the scene i'm shooting is not showing a particular place which is polluted, its more being shown as a generalisation of how a place can look once its polluted.

thanks for the still frame too. i've been considering using some tri-x super 8 as i have 2 rolls in the fridge but since i'm cropping the super 8 image to a 16:9 ratio i'm not sure if theres enough room on the 8mm frame to play with... plus i think 16mm would be more stable.... i'd like it to look dirty & gritty but don't want an unstable image or pixelation....
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#10 Robert Hughes

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Posted 24 May 2005 - 12:12 AM

You could try some Ilford Surveillance Film. Big Brother uses it, so can you -

http://www.ilford.co.../pdf/sp816t.PDF

They don't show it on the web site, but they make a 16mm motion picture version also.

I've bought outdated Ilford Surveillance 200/P3 16mm on eBay (1800' spools, 2 per box), and developed as negative ASA 64 in D76 or D19 for effect. It's wonderful fun, toothy grain, unusual tonal characteristics (extended red sensitivity, almost infrared). Its main problem lies in the thin grey polyester base - you can't cement splice it, you'd need to use a tape splicer or an ultrasonic splicer. Also, your camera may not work well with the thin base. But it will give you that Industrial Decay look in spades - looks like World War One footage.

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