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Slower stock or faster stock overexposed for a high contrast situation?


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#1 Karim D. Ghantous

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 01:21 AM

This is purely for the sake of curiosity. You have a choice between a 50 ASA stock or overexposing a 200 ASA stock by one or two stops. The situation: a high contrast scene.

 

So, if anyone has faced this situation - who has chosen the overexposed stock instead of the slower stock? How did you find the highlights? Was it one or two stops over?


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#2 Michael Rodin

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 04:41 AM

If you want saturation, you overexpose 200ASA and process as usual (so you get more of those colour dyes in the emulsion to react).

If you need to preserve as much highlights as possible, you load that '03 stock (50ASA) and expose normally. And if there's also important detail in shadows, you have flashing and low-contrast filtration.

 

When I was shooting a documentary last month I had Kodak '03 overexposed 2/3 stops, mainly because the Arriscan "prefers" some .1D of extra density.


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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 10:40 AM

The current Vision-3 stocks are designed to be intercuttable so have a very similar gamma and saturation between them, the main difference just being graininess due to speed. However, there is some belief that a fast stock has a lightly wider exposure latitude because it has fast and slow layers for each color record compared to the 50 ASA stock.  Not sure that translates into lower contrast but it may allow you to pull a little more detail in the far ends of the scan.  Or it may just be a wive's tale... though I sometimes feel that 500 ASA stock outdoors has a somewhat "flattened" feel to it.

 

Overexposure + normal processing won't lower contrast but obviously it records more shadow detail at the expense of highlight detail just as with a digital sensor.  However due to the characteristic curve and how overexposing burns detail out slowly to white, often there is a greater need to expose for shadow information than to worry about the highlights. Film negative basically likes exposure.  But if your sunny high-contrast scene is mostly made of bright highlights (snowy landscape, backlit ocean, wedding dress in the sun), then overexposing may not be the best solution.

 

Overexposure + pull-processing does lower contrast, flattens the characteristic curve a little.


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#4 Michael Rodin

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 02:17 PM

Well, I didn't mean you switch stocks for different contrast or color (other than shooting expired film, you can't: one brand/lineup of color neg these days) - you choose exposure & processing. You can overexpose any Vision 3 stock from '03 to '19 by some 1-2 stops and the result will be basically the same: more saturation, tighter grain and "seeing" more into the shadows. 

 

Do you use flashing, David? It was a very much loved technique in Soviet and Russian cinematography. Our DPs used to control contrast and shadow detail with flashing. But now it's a sort of lost art. The only remaining lab in the former USSR won't flash, neither camera neg nor prints, and they say I'm the only crazy DP who requests post-flashing in 2016.


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 02:22 PM

I flashed four features using the Panaflasher on a 35mm Panaflex, but that was done in conjunction with a contrast-increasing silver retention printing process, pre-D.I.


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#6 Michael Rodin

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 02:40 PM

Did you use the same amount of flashing for the whole movie?


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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 02:44 PM

No I varied it according to the weather, the amount of smoke on the sets, the focal length of the lens looking through that smoke, and the amount of diffusion on the lens.  It was a bit of a guessing game even though I had shot some tests, but at some point it just became a judgement call based on looking through the lens and deciding what level of flashing would be best.


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#8 Michael Rodin

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 02:54 PM

Thanks, interesting - that's similar to how our DPs used to flash, though, they changed flash amounts on a roll-to-roll, not shot-to-shot basis, being limited to post-flashing.


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#9 Karim D. Ghantous

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 05:27 AM

It seems that there isn't much of a strong preference. I suppose the only way to know if the wine is good is to taste it yourself. Too bad Kodak doesn't have a lot of sample scans to look at. That would be very handy.

 

Kaminski overexposed and pulled a medium speed stock for 'War Horse', but that's not quite what I have in mind.


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