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Has Anyone Shot 16mm Kodachrome 40?


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#1 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 15 June 2005 - 01:55 PM

I would love a perspective from those who have shot Kodachrome 16mm in the last five years.

What kind of project was it? What did you like, and not like about Kodachrome 16mm?
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#2 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 15 June 2005 - 01:57 PM

I would love a perspective from those who have shot Kodachrome 16mm in the last five years.

What kind of project was it?  What did you like, and not like about Kodachrome 16mm?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


It just dawned on me that there probably is a better forum category for this topic.

Sorry. Here is the link to this topic on the Film Stock Forum...

http://www.cinematog...?showtopic=7302
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#3 A.Oliver

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Posted 15 June 2005 - 02:34 PM

I would love a perspective from those who have shot Kodachrome 16mm in the last five years.

What kind of project was it?  What did you like, and not like about Kodachrome 16mm?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hi, being an amateur the cheapest way to shoot 16mm for me is with kodachrome. As a rule i always project film. I like kodachromes proven archival properties i can keep the reels in a cupboard at home and not worry too much about fading. Normally shoot local history, events, transport, current project is filming the red london bus known as the 'routemaster bus' which i believe are to be phased out later this year. 16MM k40 yeilds stunning reds, ideal for my bus project. I try to always shoot on a sunny day. What i don't like about k40 is it aint k25. Always used to shoot 16mm k25 a really stunning film, no grain, what you see through the lens is what you on the film, colours are amazing, yes k25 is/was imo a much better stock than k40. Put k25 and k40 side by side on a screen both shot with the same camera/lens you'll see what i mean, there's quite a bit of difference. I now shoot k40, thought it was a bit blue with my zeiss T2, now use an 85b and very slightly underexpose and at last happy with the results. My only gripe with k40 is long distant shots are not as sharp as k25. If you get a bright or sunny day kodachrome is a beautiful film, i will continue to shoot around 150 rolls a year until the axe falls on this wonderful filmstock ( which i reckon won't be long). In the meantime ''''Bring back k25''''
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#4 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 15 June 2005 - 04:37 PM

Have you ever done any film to tape transfers?

You could probably make real good money via stock footage.
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#5 A.Oliver

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 03:41 AM

Hi, yes i have transferred both k40 and k25 to digi beta. I am not sure of the excact name of the t/k machines, one was a rank mk3, the other an urser??. One day i will go for a spirit transfer just to see how good kodachrome is. The urser t/k was superb, footage was a lot cleaner,sharper with no grain and better contrast than the mk3. I've also had some super 8 transferred with an urser, wow, super 8 can look very good, again perfect contrast and amazingly sharp for super 8. If you can get the kodachrome image with good even light, t/k results can be superb. I do like contrasty images, i think the urser handles the contrast better than the mk3. I certainly have no knowledge of t/k machines, perhaps someone can advise on the best t/k machine for transferring reversal film.
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#6 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 05:35 AM

I think you mean the Cintel "Ursa":

http://millimeter.co...s_ursa_diamond/

http://www.broadcast...il.cfm?id=17021

http://www.thameside...ct.asp?linkid=3

http://www.planetxtr...AGoldSuite.html

http://www.molinare....ecine/rank1.htm

Again, a projection contrast color reversal film is not the optimum origination material for telecine transfer, because of its high contrast, which is primarily intended for direct projection and not duplication.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 10:52 AM

What is the price per foot of 16mm Kodachrome for stock and for K14 development, versus the price per foot of 16mm color negative stock and ECN2 processing? I have a hard time believing that Kodakchrome is cheaper to shoot and get processed.

Richard Boddington can answer this more accurately than me, but since color reversal has a unique high-con look, it would be of limited use for stock footage these days since that usually has to look "normal" and intercut with normal material shot on color negative, usually 35mm. You could not easily intercut a wide establishing shot made on 16mm K40 with a scene shot in 35mm color negative. Of course, there are other uses for stock footage (like for a video documentary) but shooting in color reversal would be a limiting factor in the number of uses for the stock shot.

But mainly the problem AGAIN is the high contrast of color reversal for material to be transferred to video. This is not an opinion, this is basic cinematography knowledge: color reversal is not as optimal for transfers to video as is color negative unless a unique high-contrast look is desired, and then you have the exposure latitude problem to deal with anyway.

People want the simplest, cheapest, easiest, more efficient pathway towards multiple distribution forms, and color negative makes a lot more sense for this than color reversal, which was designed for one thing: direct projection. Its uses outside of that are therefore limited and always will be, and Kodachrome technology is even more limiting than Ektachrome technology, which is why it is a niche within a niche product for filmmaking.
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#8 Sam Wells

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 12:13 PM

I would love a perspective from those who have shot Kodachrome 16mm in the last five years.

What kind of project was it?  What did you like, and not like about Kodachrome 16mm?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Not in the last five years but I've shot about 6 films on 16mm Kodachrome. Most printed on 7387 reversal stock (itself a Kodachrome process) and one on Gevachrome 9.02. Of course both these stocks no longer exist.

The prints on 87 - which look identical to how they did in 1978 or 1979 - have color you couldn't buy today for love or money. Only a Tech IB could do it.

These were lyrical, somewhat experimental and abstract films.

What did I not like ? I think skin tones can be very problematic printing from Kodachrome, which is why I printed the one film of the bunch that was more a narrative with an actress on Gevachrome (a low contrast stock with a softer look).

They were all shot on K40 BTW (85 when needed) and lack nothing as far as I can see in
terms of color etc - IOW I think tha whatever differences there were then between the tungsten and daylight stocks became negligable when printing from them. (And has been pointed out, the real trick in printing from this not-designed-to-be-printed film is the contrast of the original).

This was a long time ago in a Galaxy.....

I shot a test for a project on 16mm K40 a few years ago but opted for 7245/7274 (both pushed)as I felt needed more speed, more latitude..

I have not as yet tried a transfer of Kodachrome. I will but don't see the point of doing it to SD. (Or anything to SD if it's not "video workprint").

-Sam
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 12:28 PM

I actually might be doing a feature project where we want a slide film look (but not a 16mm look.)

It would probably be a 35mm anamorphic shoot, but I don't think it is financially feasible to shoot Ektachrome 5285, process it all E6, and do a D.I. to convert it to negative -- just too much footage plus I'd be taking a big risk shooting a multi-million dollar film on a stock with such limited exposure latitude.

I may shoot some 5285 and then see what I can do in post to get color negative(like 5245) to simulate that look. This would sort of be a landscape movie and 16mm K40 would not cut it anyway, and I don't think one can shoot 35mm K64 and get it processed at the volume of a movie shoot (like 100,000') and afford the price per foot. Besides, I've shot E6 5285 and it looks very similar to K40; but the problem is still the costs per foot, the exposure latitude, and the need to get it to a negative format without cross-processing it. I'm not really interested in doing what "Blow" did (also 35mm anamorphic Ektachrome for the flashbacks) which was develop E6 and then use an optical printer to dupe it to negative, because you lose too much color and gain too much contrast.
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#10 A.Oliver

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 01:39 PM

[quote name='David Mullen' date='Jun 16 2005, 03:52 PM']
What is the price per foot of 16mm Kodachrome for stock and for K14 development, versus the price per foot of 16mm color negative stock and ECN2 processing? I have a hard time believing that Kodakchrome is cheaper to shoot and get processed.


I am an amateur, my final medium is a projected image, i get 16mm k40 process paid for around £30.00, to go neg, 100ft roll of 7245 around £25.00, approx £14.00 to process, then a print, least another £15.00, thats two rolls of k40. With k40 i get outstanding archival qualities thrown in too.
Side tracking a bit here, 7285, nice and clean images with no grain, but to my eyes not as sharp as k40 and the colours are too over the top, a 400ft roll of 7285 cost me £240.00 with processing. K40 is the cheapest route for me.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 04:34 PM

Looking at some catalogs, I see that 16mm K40 is comparable in costs to 16mm color neg. 16mm K40 is about .48/foot and 7245 is only .31/foot, but there are other color neg stocks as expensive as K40, so it's about a wash.

Processing is more expensive, about .25/foot for K40 at Dwayne's versus about .14/foot for color neg at Yale Labs, for example.

Of couse, for direct projection, there are no additional printing costs for color reversal.
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#12 Sam Wells

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 04:41 PM

Well 45 pushed - especially with a contrasty subject - and perhaps without compensating too much for the push (which I generally don't do anyway) can have an E6 look when printed.

Maybe push it 2 ?

I rather imagine with all the post tools you could easily get something slide film like but not so lurid as 85 !

(love that Velvia turquoise, oh well...)

-Sam
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#13 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 05:40 PM

Everything old is new again.

Even if Kodachrome 40 is a projection print, newer and better video transfer technologies should be able to take everything that exists on a 16m K-40 piece of film, and reconstitute it onto video.

My experience with adjusting video camera footage in post has shown me that unless every square inch of a scene has been professionally lit, any raw video camera footage can be "improved" via post-production color correction. The tango of chroma versus luminence provides enormous opportunity to optimize video or film footage.

I recently did color correction on red-carpet interviews that were going to be part of a DVD. I was given an edited betacam sp tape of the red carpet interviews. At first I was going to simply dub the edited footage onto the final Betacam SP tape in component, EE pre-set mode for the least possible generation loss. However I noticed that the camera flash bulbs were set to 100 IRE, and this concerned me because the luminence was much lower when no flash bulbs were going.

I decided to video clip the flash bulbs at around 100-105 IRE, but I was also able to pump up the brightness to the rest of the picture. I also did some color correction. The result surprised me. If one looks at the footage I worked with and the footage that I started with, the corrected footage looks two or three generations better than what I started with!

The capability to enhance existing footage, whether it's video or film, has been around for a long while, and it continues to improve. My belief is whatever Kodachrome 16mm can capture above pure black should be survive the transfer to video stage, if optimized video transfer equipment is being use.

As for matching 16mm Kodachrome with 35mm negative, I would imagine matching the skin tones, hair and wardrobe would be very difficult.
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#14 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 05:59 PM

Hi, yes i have transferred both k40 and k25 to digi beta. I am not sure of the excact name of the t/k machines, one was a rank mk3, the other an urser??. One day i will go for a spirit transfer just to see how good kodachrome is. The urser t/k was superb, footage was a lot cleaner,sharper with no grain and better contrast than the mk3. I've also had some super 8 transferred with an urser, wow, super 8 can look very good, again perfect contrast and amazingly sharp for super 8. If you can get the kodachrome image with good even light, t/k results can be superb. I do like contrasty images, i think the urser handles the contrast better than the mk3. I certainly have no knowledge of t/k machines, perhaps someone can advise on the best t/k machine for transferring reversal film.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



An MKIII machine digital capstan and with all the right boards installed and properly tuned can look amazing as well. The procedure to optimize a Super-8 transfer set-up on a Rank is different than 16mm and 35mm, and usually it is not cost effective to keep format switching and format optimizing between Super-8 and 16 and 35mm, and Super-8 which needs even more refined tuning, may fall short of this tricky optimization.
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#15 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 06:02 PM

Hi, being an amateur the cheapest way to shoot 16mm for me is with kodachrome. As a rule i always project film. I like kodachromes proven archival properties i can keep the reels in a cupboard at home and not worry too much about fading. Normally shoot local history, events, transport, current project is filming the red london bus known as  the 'routemaster bus' which i believe are to be phased out later this year. 16MM k40 yeilds stunning reds, ideal for my bus project. I try to always shoot on a sunny day. What i don't like about k40 is it aint k25. Always used to shoot 16mm k25 a really stunning film, no grain, what you see through the lens is what you on the film, colours are amazing, yes k25 is/was imo a much better stock than k40. Put k25 and k40 side by side on a screen both shot with the same camera/lens you'll see what i mean, there's quite a bit of difference. I now shoot k40, thought it was a bit blue with my zeiss T2, now use an 85b and very slightly underexpose and at last happy with the results. My only gripe with k40 is long distant shots are not as sharp as k25. If you get a bright or sunny day kodachrome is a beautiful film, i will continue to shoot around 150 rolls a year until the axe falls on this wonderful filmstock ( which i reckon won't be long). In the meantime ''''Bring back k25''''

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I don't know if this will make a noticeable difference, but I have used a skylight filter when shooting Super-8 kodachrome 40. It seems to ever so slightly add a warm reddish tone without dropping the sensitivity any. Do you use the highest quality 85B filter available? I think there is a difference between filters.
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#16 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 06:03 PM

The density range on a projection contrast reversal film can be well over 3.0 (1000:1), whereas the scene density range of a negative (gamma about 0.6) is about 1.3 (200:1). The lower density range of a negative or master positive is much easier to capture with any scanner technology that exists today. Likewise, color negative is much more suited for film duplication systems.

Color reversal motion picture films are primarily intended for direct projection.
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#17 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 07:06 PM

A negative simply contains more information than reversal -- no matter how good a telecine or scanner ever gets, it can't create information that isn't there.

Motion picture reversal will never make a comeback from its heydey over thirty years ago. Color negative has almost all of the advantages and none of the disadvantages of color reversal. Color negative is cheaper to shoot, has a wider range of information it can capture, comes in a wider range of speeds, and is better suited to the common uses of motion picture film, i.e. duplication & printing, or scanning / telecine. And if scanning gets better, the modern negative only increases in flexibility.

I can't understand the logic of someone who is anti-video and yet wants to promote color reversal, a format which is just as bad as video, if not worse, for capturing extreme ranges of luminence. Is this a credible argument to get people to switch from video to reversal? "Hey, it's just as bad as your video camera at dealing with exposure, so why not try film?" Some endorsement. You've found the one film process most likely to get people to go right back to video after they try it.

Reversal is not a substitute for negative; they are designed to do different things.

I can't believe the volumes of text everyone has wasted their time writing trying to educate some people on basic principles of motion picture photography, only to have to repeat the same information over and over again because it's not sinking in.

Maybe it's just because I hate to see wasted effort, but someone is in denial if they think they can reintroduce color reversal into mainstream motion picture production. It never worked well for 35mm production (remember Technicolor Monopack???) and it only dominated 16mm production until color negative stocks and processing surpassed it in the 1970's/80's. I don't want to see reversal or Kodachrome in particular to go away, but the truth is that it has limited practicality, a special use process, and any workable business plan has to deal with that fact rather than deny it.
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#18 Robert Edge

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 10:22 PM

David,

As you probably know, there is a widespread view among still photographers that a transparency scans better than a negative and is therefore a better medium if the output is a digital print.

Do you know why this view has not caught on with cinematographers if the output is digital rather than analog?

I'm also interested in the fact that a lot of still photographers have a distinct bias in favour of the look of transparencies, despite the more restricted exposure latitude, whereas cinematographers seem to come out in favour of negative film. Any comments on why that is? I have a feeling that the difference in view might have a lot to do with how still images are processed for publication (e.g. for the National Geographic, which has traditionally used transparencies) in comparison to how motion picture images are processed for projection, but that's just a hunch.

Edited by R. Edge, 16 June 2005 - 10:26 PM.

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#19 Robert Hughes

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 11:02 PM

Studio still photographers have controlled lighting setups and spend hours preparing for a single shot. A perfectly exposed first generation positive slide is going to look as good as a photo can look. But outside of the home movie scene, no cinema audience ever sees first generation footage of anything, positive or negative based. The film production chain goes through at least two, and often four or more image transfers before it hits the big screen, and camera negative is designed to yield the best picture several steps down the line. Reversal footage has limitations that can't be wished away.

Kodachrome has the upper hand if your camera original is your archival master and you intend to store it for 60 years. I've seen 1930's era Kodachrome telecine transfers that looked like they were shot last winter.

But it's beome a religious issue, and the Passion of K14, the True Stock is becoming tiresome. Please stop posting on this topic and go shoot some film.

Edited by Robert Hughes, 16 June 2005 - 11:03 PM.

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#20 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 11:04 PM

It's a good question. In some ways, the dominence of slide film in advertizing and for magazine publication is just a pre-digital tradition continued on because of the comfort factor. A slide "tells you" exactly how the image is supposed to look; a negative has to be "interpreted." Also, decades ago, slide film had better sharpness and finer-grain than negative stocks.

It's also the stylistic tendency for add art to be very bold and graphic. Plus they do shoot these photos very carefully so exposure mistakes are rare. And to some degree, they are lighting and shooting them with publication & magazine printing in mind.

Motion picture production simply shoots too many images in too many situations to nail exposures perfectly and always add fill light when needed. We rely on the exposure range of negative stocks to allow us to use more practical and natural light, more extremes of contrast, etc.

But it also has to do with the nature of looking at still images and looking at movies. We expect movie images to be more natural and realistic in terms of contrast generally (although for stylistic reasons, we may depart from that.) We expect a realistic amount of shadow and highlight detail. A still photo can be a lot more graphic in terms of contrast, partially because it is smaller than an image on a big screen.

But the real problem with reversal is just that methods of showing movies, whether digital projection but especially in projected film prints, are either based on the gamma of the neg-to-pos process -- or they need a somewhat "compressed" version of the scene brightness to fit within a more limited range (scanning / video transfers.)

I mean, you could scan a piece of reversal digitally and then output back to color negative for printing, with no increase in contrast in the scanning / recording process (essentially create a negative version of the original), but since the gamma of the reversal is very high, making a print (with its own high gamma) of that negative will only increase the contrast beyond what it looked like originally. And you can't really go backwards and scan a reversal and then LOWER the contrast to the level of a negative so that when you record it out to film, it can be printed and end up at a normal gamma -- because you can't add exposure information that was never captured by the reversal original.

And we've all seen the contrast problems when using prints for telecine transfer instead of low-contrast elements like neg, IP, or IN. Reversal, having the same gamma as prints, has the same contrast problems in a video transfer. But beyond that, we seem to prefer to see something on video with a slightly flatter look than it had in the prints. This may be due to the projection process which has a much higher contrast ratio than a TV set, so even though a shadow is very dark on the big screen, we seem to see into it and catch details.

Also, anyone who has done a telecine of a print or reversal original becomes aware of the limitation of making contrast corrections compared to a transfer using a negative. You are very limited by the lack of dynamic range in the print or reversal image. There isn't enough information to do much more than a straight transfer.

So to repeat, the problem is simply that the system of distributing movies, whether on home video or in theatrical prints, favors a neg-to-pos system. Print stock is designed to print negative correctly and video favors the compression of a wider scenic exposure range that happens on a negative.

Scanning & telecine technology already can capture all the exposure information on a reversal original or projection-contrast print -- the problem is that there isn't enough information there to work with.
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