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Kodachrome, Breakthrough


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#1 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 01:09 PM

In this day and age of mini-dv, HD, and Vision Film Stocks, why don't DP's ever consider Kodachrome 40 for certain applications?

If my goal was to be a DP and I was trying to make a name for myself, or try to set myself with a certain look, couldn't Kodachrome film provide that opportunity? Occasionally I see a commercial on television that I think was shot on kodachrome, (not very often), and the stuff seems to pop off the screen.

If I were living in Europe, near the Switzerland Kodachrome lab, I would seriously look into shooting a television show with 16mm Kodachrome 40. The Scanning advances that have been made in the film to tape transfer arena will allow the full range of the Kodachrome spectrum to be captured on video.

Are there any weekly European television shows being shot inside of a studio that shoot film? Or is it all shot on tape? With the proper lighting design a weekly show could be shot on Kodachrome 16mm and I'm pretty confident the result would be stunning, and, more importantly, stunningly different from what the viewing audience is used to seeing.

I must assume that Kodak has made no effort of any kind to ever encourage shooting Kodachrome 40 for any weekly show even if the show might be able to shoot near the Kodachrome 40 lab in Switzerland.

Why would Kodak want to encourage anyone to shoot with Kodachrome 40 when the film future for them is their Vision stocks? Well, whatever is shot on film, if it looks spectacular and makes people watch, is good for the film division of Kodak.

Instead of keeping Kodachrome in the closet, Kodak could let it be a "special brand" of film that can be used whenever a production company is filming near a Kodachrome processing center.

I would encourage any D.P. with a bit of curiosity and access to a fixed lighting grid to do a test on Kodachrome 16mm and see if the look is something that would work wonders in certain scenarios.
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#2 Tony Brown

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 03:36 PM

Too easy to replicate the look in post. Why go through the grief and added effort (=time=money) as opposed to working with the lattitude of neg and getting on with it.

There's not many producers would thank you for it.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 03:49 PM

Gamma, gamma, gamma...

The high gamma of a color reversal stock like Kodachrome makes it a poor choice for typical film-to-video transfers compared to color negative.

It does not have a "wide latitude" -- quite the opposite, it has a contrast level closer to a print made off of a negative (which makes sense since both have the correct gamma for direct projection). Which is why it looks so sharp.

No one dealing with the daily problems of shooting a TV series would risk working with the limited latitude of color reversal. If you wanted a snappy, high-contrast, saturated look you'd just color-correct the color negative image for that (as well as light for it.)

A few car commercials have been shot in Ektachrome 100D or Fuji Velvia for a super-snappy high-contrast look but most don't want to deal with how dead-on the exposures have to be, nor the lack of latitude for making corrections in post.
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#4 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 07:46 PM

Also most European weekly television shows don't have the kind of budget necessary to shoot film. Most are dialogue heavy and involve so many takes that the costs would have to be astronomical.
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#5 robtags

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 10:23 PM

I believe the fake documentary footage for "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" was shot on colour reversal, that is the bit they show at the festival at the beginning. According to Wes Anderson on the commentary, the reversal segments inspired the overall look of the film: high saturation, contrast and poppy, vibrant colours.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 01:23 AM

Besides the limited exposure latitude of color reversal, the higher per foot costs of processing generally, you've got the limitations of 64 ASA with Kodachrome, which almost no TV series would put up with. Even IF Kodachrome were cheaper to buy and process than color negative (and it isn't in 16mm or 35mm), even IF, your lighting package would be bigger dealing with a 64 ASA stock.

There's a reason why 16mm color reversal dropped in popularity by the 1970's in Europe and the 1980's in the U.S. -- once the labs managed to improve their cleanliness enough to deal with white dust problems on the smaller 16mm color negative, the wider exposure latitude and greater speeds made color negative a more popular choice -- and the reasons not only haven't changed over the past twenty years, the argument for color negative has only gotten stronger with the newer generations of stocks. Just read some American Cinematographers from the 1970's and you'd get a sense of why people were pushing for a change from 16mm color reversal to color negative, once 7247 came out basically.
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#7 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 03:52 AM

The scenario I proposed shooting Kodachrome in involved interiors with a lighting grid.

The idea being that once the lights are set for the show and the different studio settings, the issue of lattitude becomes pretty much irrelevant.

More overall light would be needed, so temperature could be an issue, but then that's what air conditioning between takes is for, don't think that would be a deal breaker. As for multiple takes, in the U.S. many soaps don't do that many takes because it will put them behind schedule.

As for exact exposure limitations, not sure that is an issue because surely 16mm Kodachrome would have more latitude than Super-8 Kodachrome, and I'm pretty confident I could "hit" the exposure mark with Super-8. Plus I could always use a polaroid still that is matched to Kodachrome 40 ASA to make sure.

If I wanted to shoot a show and make it feel different, I think Kodachrome could be a very logical choice if shot indoors with pre-lit stages and if when shot outdoors there were blue skys available on a regular basis.
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#8 Matt Wells

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 06:52 AM

More overall light would be needed, so temperature could be an issue, but then that's what air conditioning between takes is for, don't think that would be a deal breaker.  As for multiple takes, in the U.S. many soaps don't do that many takes because it will put them behind schedule.

As for exact exposure limitations, not sure that is an issue because surely 16mm Kodachrome would have more latitude than Super-8 Kodachrome, and I'm pretty confident I could "hit" the exposure mark with Super-8.  Plus I could always use a polaroid still that is matched to Kodachrome 40 ASA to make sure.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


You are joking, right?

and how does the exposure characteristics change for Kodachrome between super8 and 16mm?

Matt
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#9 Sam Wells

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 09:53 AM

But who wants to be forced into this kind of lighting scenario ?

What virtue in the "different" look of Kodachrome if this pushes you in a theatrical direction ?

What to do mixing studio interiors with say dusk exteriors ? And so on.

Alessandro. I'm 'pro-Kodachrome' don't get me wrong. I've shot it, and am even thinking (albeit somewhat masochistically to be honest) shooting something short on it this summer, maybe as (I hope not) a swan song to the dye set !!) But I'd be very reluctant to shoot a commercial job, or Indie project for someone on it. My own film, I get the where and when choices. As a DP one needs to be fast on one's feet so to speak.

With the flexibility of today's negative stocks, the opportunities to 'light for the eye' as opposed to 'light for exposure' are great. Actually a lighting grid type of approach AND a very high contrast emulsion is a bit nightmarish.

-Sam
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#10 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 11:56 PM

You are joking, right?

and how does the exposure characteristics change for Kodachrome between super8 and 16mm?

Matt

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


16mm film area is bigger, the video scanner has more real estate to scan from, the 16mm film has more area from which to capture contrast.

An example would be a scanner that can scan a 35mm frame quite effectively but can't do diddily with a Super-8 frame. The image can be identical on both frames but to the scanner, the 35mm has more surface area from which to get an image.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 01:06 AM

Contrast, gamma, exposure latitude, doesn't change with the size of the film if the emulsion is the same, only resolution, detail, grain, etc.
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#12 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 02:17 AM

Contrast, gamma, exposure latitude, doesn't change with the size of the film if the emulsion is the same, only resolution, detail, grain, etc.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Very Well, but existing technologies should always transfer a larger film format with more ease than a smaller film format of the identical film stock.
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#13 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 02:28 AM

But who wants to be forced into this kind of lighting scenario ?

What virtue in the "different" look of Kodachrome if this pushes you in a theatrical direction ?

What to do mixing studio interiors with say dusk exteriors ? And so on.

Alessandro. I'm 'pro-Kodachrome' don't get me wrong. I've shot it, and am even thinking (albeit somewhat masochistically to be honest) shooting something short on it this summer, maybe as (I hope not) a swan song to the dye set !!) But I'd be very reluctant to shoot a commercial job, or Indie project for someone on it. My own film, I get the where and when choices. As a DP one needs to be fast on one's feet so to speak.

With the flexibility of today's negative stocks, the opportunities to 'light for the eye' as opposed to 'light for exposure' are great. Actually a lighting grid type of approach AND a very high contrast emulsion is a bit nightmarish.

-Sam

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



You pretty much hit it on the head

"My own film, I get the where and when choices"


That's what I'm talking about. If a DP is trying to have a different look or style or just to be noticed, Kodachrome makes perfect sense.

I see films that once in post are set to contrast values far more radical than Kodachrome (The Missing-Tommy Lee Jones). I understand that when you start with a negative you have full range as to how much contrast to add later, but still, The Missing is so contrasty that they easily could have shot Kodachrome 40 for all the outdoor scenes.
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#14 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 05:54 AM

Very Well, but existing technologies should always transfer a larger film format with more ease than a smaller film format of the identical film stock.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


And that's exactly why Super-16 or 35mm film would be preferred to Super-8 for television production. You finally "got it"! ;)
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#15 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 12:21 PM

And that's exactly why Super-16 or 35mm film would be preferred to Super-8 for television production.  You finally "got it"!  ;)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



If we review previous posts we would find that I mentioned 16mm Kodachrome, not just Super-8.


I am confident that I can nail a Super-8 exposure, somebody shooting with 16mm kodachrome should have an additional advantage in the transfer to video stage over what I would have shooting 8mm. The point being that 16mm Kodachrome appears to be a very underutilized way of creating a demo reel that stands out from what everyone else is doing.
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#16 Filip Plesha

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 03:47 PM

In this day and age of mini-dv, HD, and Vision Film Stocks, why don't DP's ever consider Kodachrome 40 for certain applications?

If my goal was to be a DP and I was trying to make a name for myself, or try to set myself with a certain look, couldn't Kodachrome film provide that opportunity?  Occasionally I see a commercial on television that I think was shot on kodachrome, (not very often), and the stuff seems to pop off the screen.

If I were living in Europe, near the Switzerland Kodachrome lab, I would seriously look into shooting a television show with 16mm Kodachrome 40.  The Scanning advances that have been made in the film to tape transfer arena will allow the full range of the Kodachrome spectrum to be captured on video.

Are there any weekly European television shows being shot inside of a studio that shoot film?  Or is it all shot on tape?    With the proper lighting design a weekly show could be shot on Kodachrome 16mm and I'm pretty confident the result would be stunning, and, more importantly, stunningly different from what the viewing audience is used to seeing.

I must assume that Kodak has made no effort of any kind to ever encourage shooting Kodachrome 40 for any weekly show even if the show might be able to shoot near the Kodachrome 40 lab in Switzerland.

Why would Kodak want to encourage anyone to shoot with Kodachrome 40 when the film future for them is their Vision stocks?    Well, whatever is shot on film, if it looks spectacular and makes people watch, is good for the film division of Kodak.

Instead of keeping Kodachrome in the closet, Kodak could let it be a "special brand" of film that can be used whenever a production company is filming near a Kodachrome processing center.

I would encourage any D.P. with a bit of curiosity and access to a fixed lighting grid to do a test on Kodachrome 16mm and see if the look is something that would work wonders in certain scenarios.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Don't know about the motion picture version of Kodachrome, but still photography Kodachrome has a rather subtle desaturated look, with fine gradations in colors, and very accurate colors. The thing that makes it so loved in photography is the fact that it can reproduce colors of nature (earthtones, grass, trees, skies) very true to life, and does not saturate them like some E-6 films.

I don't think this advantage would be visible on TV because every TV set is differently calibrated, some homes have a contrasty and washed out image, others have poor blacks etc. Some have oversaturated colors, some not enough saturation etc. I think unique characteristics of different film stocks are lost in endless poorly calibrated TV sets.

The only thing that would make Kodachrome look like itself on TV is the "retro" look it has as oposed to a modern fresh look of new dye technologyes.
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#17 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 04:56 PM

I agree that some television sets are poorly maintained, but I think for the most part most people have at least one good, "main" television set they use. Factor in that most people who either pay for satellite or cable service probably wouldn't pay 40-100 bucks a month and then watch all of that programming on an awful TV set, some might, but not many.
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#18 Filip Plesha

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 06:03 PM

I didn't mean that Tv sets as machines are bad, I ment that they are poorly calibrated.

When I go to any supermarket, I see a whole bunch of TV's with unnaturally pumped up contrast, and all differently set regarding brightnes color etc. Non of them have the subtlety and balance of a calibrated computer monitor. Too bad TV's don't accept profiles. It would be great if a color profile would be aired together with video material (with autodetection of the brand) Sort of like a photoshop profile that comes with jpg files
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#19 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 01:57 PM

I follow two simple rules when shooting Kodachrome 40.

Rule #1, Shoot when the sky is blue.

Rule #2, When the sky is overcast hazy white, don't show the white sky in the background. Shoot slightly downward angles OR create a background frame that utilizes natural backgrounds such as city skylines, mountains, buildings or forests.

Rule #2A, skylight filter or a polarizer can add even more "impact" when shooting Kodachrome.

Follow those two and a half rules and most of the "negative" issues related to shooting Kodachrome will have been resolved.
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#20 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 02:49 PM

I follow two simple rules when shooting Kodachrome 40.

Rule #1, Shoot when the sky is blue.

Rule #2, When the sky is overcast hazy white, don't show the white sky in the background.  Shoot slightly downward angles OR create a background frame that utilizes natural backgrounds such as city skylines, mountains, buildings or forests.

Rule #2A, skylight filter or a polarizer can add even more "impact" when shooting Kodachrome.

Follow those two and a half rules and most of the "negative" issues related to shooting Kodachrome will have been resolved.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Unfortunately, those simple "rules" are quite restrictive for most professional productions.

Interestingly, the most significant segment of the market that used KODACHROME movie film professionally were those making and showing travelogs. These traveling showmen often took their spliced camera original 16mm films "on the road", narrating them "live" and presenting them to (the mostly senior citizen) audiences who loved the KODACHROME blue skies and vibrant reds these films often found on their travels.

One person I knew from the days of traveling travelogs was Ken Richter:

http://www.pressrepu...ts/ob101400.htm
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