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Shooting on 16mm for the first time


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#1 Jacob Mitchell

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 12:32 PM

Hi all!

I'm DPing a short at Emerson coming in March, and I'm just interested in suggestions for my first time shooting 16mm.

By default we are shooting on V3 500T, and the entire film takes place in day exteriors. From what I'm reading across the forums, this does not seem ideal and looks like I'll need a lot of ND. What else might I experience when rating so high in exteriors?

Also, my biggest concern is trying to get a clean image with little grain. What are things I can do on set/with the lab in order to get a clean image?

Anything for a first time in film will help. Thanks!
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#2 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 12:42 PM

Shooting exteriors with 500T can be a challenge, but not impossible. I recently shot a project this way and was pleased with the result.

If you rate the film 320, you'll overexpose enough to get density on the negative that will bring down the grain a bit. Unlike many digital systems, film does better with too much exposure than too little. Use an 85 filter, along with ND, to get a nice stop to work with. Rating 320 with an 85 and ND 9 will put you at around F8 in bright, direct sunlight. Meter everything, and take notes of exposures to get a consistent look. You should decide early on where you want your key stop to be, and where you want your subjects face (midtones) to sit. It might be helpful to use a DSLR for preview exposure.
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#3 Jacob Mitchell

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 01:06 PM

Kenny, thanks so much for the advice! In terms of final image, I am going for lots of blooming and blowing out the whites in the sky. Sounds like this will help reinforce.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 01:17 PM

why are you on 500T? Get 50D and save yourself the trouble and even then you'll need ND but it'll be grainless.
 


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#5 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 01:22 PM

I'm on a shoot right now and we're shooting 250D exterior and we had to use two .6 ND's to get us in the F4 range I was looking for to help preserve some more shallow depth of field. We actually couldn't use the stock naturally with no filtration.

With 16 you wanna try to stay towards the open side of the lens because unlike S35, the depth of field is more flat naturally. To get a more cinematic look, you've gotta ND more and get that stop open.

If you care about seeing detail in the sky, I would rate the stock normally. Even though the difference between 320 and 500 isn't much, you will loose detail in cloud highlights because they will already be over exposed anyway. If you don't see the sky, or anything that's hotter in your shot then your subject, then don't worry and follow Kenny's advice.

Also it's super important to key your talent with something. Shooting exterior with 16mm, it's hard to bring back faces using power windows in DaVinci. So it's far better to have some sort of light on the subject you want to shoot. This is why I always carry around white boards, reflectors and an HMI on exterior shoots, to make sure I've got something to give the faces a little pop.
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#6 Michael Rodin

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 04:06 PM

I'm on a shoot right now and we're shooting 250D exterior and we had to use two .6 ND's to get us in the F4 range I was looking for to help preserve some more shallow depth of field.

It's off topic, but why did you have two 0.6s and no 1.2s? If it's a personal filter kit, I get it, you have what you have. But when you rent, it's better to get a set of doubling densities like 0.3, 0.6 and 1.2. Or even better a full set.

 

If you care about seeing detail in the sky, I would rate the stock normally. Even though the difference between 320 and 500 isn't much, you will loose detail in cloud highlights because they will already be over exposed anyway. 

Have your tests/pratice actually confirmed this is noticeable? 2/3 stops is not much overexposure for a Vision 3 negative, gives about 0.1D extra density. You might push some highlights more into the shoulder but clouds will hold detail. It's not an F900 where you open up half a stop and the sky is suddenly all-white.

 

When shooting color neg, you need to take care of the shadows first. It's almost exactly opposite to shooting video.

This means, don't be stingy on fill and check your meter readings in the darker parts of the picture to make sure they don't sink into grain.

Do tests or at least take a look at H&D curves in your stocks' datasheets to know how much underexposure latitude you have. Parts where you don't have to see texture can be exposed on the toe of your stock's H&D curve. The rest you should expose in the linear region. Where you can't control the contrast with lighting, you may overexpose if you need to preserve important shadow textures/detail. It's OK if faces are, say, 1.2 density instead of 0.9D (which means around 2 stops more exposure) - you'll still be able to get natural color from that negative. Just keep it consistent across the scene. A bit extra density will help with scanning too.

 

Also it's super important to key your talent with something. Shooting exterior with 16mm, it's hard to bring back faces using power windows in DaVinci.

It's not specific to 16mm


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#7 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 04:23 PM

It's off topic, but why did you have two 0.6s and no 1.2s? If it's a personal filter kit, I get it, you have what you have. But when you rent, it's better to get a set of doubling densities like 0.3, 0.6 and 1.2. Or even better a full set.


Ohh I don't rent film cameras, I own them. So yea, it's my own kit. I do have a .9 ND in the kit somewhere, but we just doubled up on .6's which was what we needed anyway.

Have your tests/pratice actually confirmed this is noticeable? 2/3 stops is not much overexposure for a Vision 3 negative, gives about 0.1D extra density. You might push some highlights more into the shoulder but clouds will hold detail.


It's not that it's noticeable, it's that it's unnecessary.

When shooting color neg, you need to take care of the shadows first.


Umm right, so if your exposing for the shadows and subject, you're not 2/3's over on the sky, you're 4 - 6 stops over, that's the point I'm trying to make

This means, don't be stingy on fill and check your meter readings in the darker parts of the picture to make sure they don't sink into grain.


Film students making a student production outdoors, don't have the tools necessary to light darker sections of exterior, that's already bathed in sunlight.

It's not specific to 16mm


On 35mm, the grain is not as noticeable. So yes, with 500T on 16mm (Emerson doesn't have S16 cameras) the grain is going ot be a lot more noticeable then on 4 perf or 3 perf 35mm with the same stock in the same situation.
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#8 Michael Rodin

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 04:45 PM

Ohh I don't rent film cameras, I own them. So yea, it's my own kit. I do have a .9 ND in the kit somewhere, but we just doubled up on .6's which was what we needed anyway.

Extra glass...

 

It's not that it's noticeable, it's that it's unnecessary.

Generally it's a safety measure against underexposure, which is very noticeable. And often it IS necessary.

 

Umm right, so if your exposing for the shadows and subject, you're not 2/3's over on the sky, you're 4 - 6 stops over, that's the point I'm trying to make

You're 2/3 over on average density, i.e. add 0.1D or so to every density in the frame. So your clouds are 4 2/3 stops over instead of 4 stops over. Will it blow them out? No way.

 

Don't forget about ND-grads, polas and Soft/Ultra/Digi-contrast.

Film students making a student production outdoors, don't have the tools necessary to light darker sections of exterior, that's already bathed in sunlight.

You don't always need 18Ks, rags help with that too.

 

On 35mm, the grain is not as noticeable. So yes, with 500T on 16mm (Emerson doesn't have S16 cameras) the grain is going ot be a lot more noticeable then on 4 perf or 3 perf 35mm with the same stock in the same situation.

If you want tighter grain, overexpose. Lowering lighting contrast will only make it worse.


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#9 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 05:13 PM

Extra glass...


Expensive... Not getting paid to go out and buy more tools.

Generally it's a safety measure against underexposure, which is very noticeable. And often it IS necessary.


One stop under exposed isn't going to kill a scene. I've shot whole scenes 2 stops under and they've came out great, even on 500T

You're 2/3 over on average density, i.e. add 0.1D or so to every density in the frame. So your clouds are 4 2/3 stops over instead of 4 stops over. Will it blow them out? No way.


Again, I was merely saying what's the point, that's all.

Don't forget about ND-grads, polas and Soft/Ultra/Digi-contrast.


I got ND grad's but the students most likely don't. I'm thinking of it from their limited perspective, not a professionals perspective with all the tools in the woodshop at their disposal.

You don't always need 18Ks, rags help with that too.


Pardon my idiocy, rags?

If you want tighter grain, overexpose. Lowering lighting contrast will only make it worse.


Well yes, but you said 16mm vs 35mm doesn't make a difference and I disagree. You can underexpose on 35mm quite a bit more and get detail back in post production if you need to.

The problem is, most people don't have the production tools available to make it perfect on set, so they will have to do small tweaks in post to fix these things, maybe pushing a stop in processing, maybe simply scanning the negative and pushing there instead.
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#10 Michael Rodin

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 05:32 PM

Tyler, have you read what OP posted?
 

I am going for lots of blooming and blowing out the whites in the sky. Sounds like this will help reinforce.

plus he needs tighter grain. How on earth underexposure will help with that?

 

Tyler Purcell, on 06 Mar 2017 - 02:13 AM, said:snapback.png

Again, I was merely saying what's the point, that's all.

What's the point? 1) getting texture and details in shadow areas instead of murky mess

2) underexposure can screw your footage, overexposure (unless extreme) never will

3) getting more information for post work

OK, what's the point of underexposure?

 

Tyler Purcell, on 06 Mar 2017 - 02:13 AM, said:snapback.png

I got ND grad's but the students most likely don't. I'm thinking of it from their limited perspective, not a professionals perspective with all the tools in the woodshop at their disposal.

ND grads are basic items, not some rarity like C-stands in UK...

 

Tyler Purcell, on 06 Mar 2017 - 02:13 AM, said:snapback.png

Pardon my idiocy, rags?

Diffusion and reflective fabrics.

 

Tyler Purcell, on 06 Mar 2017 - 02:13 AM, said:snapback.png

The problem is, most people don't have the production tools available to make it perfect on set, so they will have to do small tweaks in post to fix these things, maybe pushing a stop in processing, maybe simply scanning the negative and pushing there instead.

Changing an ND or T-stop costs nothing. Push-processing comes at a price.

 

Underexposing to preserve highlights and then overdeveloping to somehow return shadows? That's plain bullshit, sorry


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#11 Jacob Mitchell

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 05:52 PM

Thanks everyone for the info! Through it all, I'm mostly picking up this:

- Shoot lower in terms of T-stop as the 16mm medium is a bit smaller and has less DOF compared to 35. We're actually going WFO for stylistic reasons, so that's covered
- I like the idea of what the 320 rating will do for the shoulder of the image, and it makes sense that I'd need to keep everything right above the toe to reduce grain. Aka: bring in bounce for subjects' faces.
- Isn't a stop on the density curve about .3D? Correct me if I'm wrong!
- As far as grads, we could likely rent them. With the amount of landscape we're doing, they'd be nice to have.

On 35mm, the grain is not as noticeable. So yes, with 500T on 16mm (Emerson doesn't have S16 cameras) the grain is going ot be a lot more noticeable then on 4 perf or 3 perf 35mm with the same stock in the same situation.


Emerson actually just got our SRs modified for S16! I think visual products hooked us up with an entire fleet.

why are you on 500T? Get 50D and save yourself the trouble and even then you'll need ND but it'll be grainless.


Emerson supplies us with about 1600' of 500t, so as a student with debt it's really hard to pass up.
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#12 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 05:54 PM

totally understandable then. was in a similar situation years ago when we had leftover '18 stock from a short and the director and i did a spec commercial on it. Though in that case we were embracing the grain.


Still I would reach out to Kodak anyway-- who knows maybe they can work something out for you-- worth the phonecall/email and 1600' isn't all that much for them to offer up. In the end it's the scan which gets you cost wise---- or at least used to be.


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#13 Michael Rodin

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 06:23 PM

- Isn't a stop on the density curve about .3D? Correct me if I'm wrong!

In a word, no.

 

0.3 is 1 stop log-exposure - that's the input value. How much density increase it'll give you depends on the gradient which is different in various parts of the H&D curve and the 3 RGB curves, differs for various stocks, etc.

 

For the linear part of the curve, you can just multiply 0.3 by the gamma of the stock, which's around 0.6 for color neg. So 0.3*0.6 = 0.18D per stop


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#14 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 10:17 PM

If you really want white burnt-out skies (like 'Jarhead' or parts of 'No Country For Old Men'), and you also want to shoot wide open, and you are stuck with 500T film stock - then I would suggest radically overexposing the film by like 3 stops. That will help you burn out detail in the bright areas of the sky, while also allowing you to open the aperture. You'll still need ND filters, but at an effective 64ASA before adding an 85 filter you can probably get away with an ND 0.9 or less. Don't use ND Grad filters - they are used for getting detail and color back into the sky, or basically the opposite of what you said you wanted.

 

If I remember correctly, Conrad Hall used this trick for 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' because he didn't like blue skies. So he just overexposed the sky until it burnt out on the negative. This would also have the benefit of tightening up the grain. The one drawback is that you might have some noise in the highlights when you scan the negative. You should contact your scanning lab about that and see what they suggest. I have a feeling that it will be fine on modern scanners but if they are using something like an old Spirit 2K or some other telecine machine, then this could be an issue. Let them know you are specifically trying to burn out the sky so they don't try to 'fix it' for you.


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#15 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 10:22 PM

Oh, and make sure you bring a Flexfill and a bounce board. Then you can shoot into backlight and get fill into the actors' faces. If you bring it as close to the edge of frame as possible, it'll help a lot.


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#16 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 10:40 PM

Out of interest what does this mean.. 

 

"With 16 you wanna try to stay towards the open side of the lens because unlike S35, the depth of field is more flat naturally. To get a more cinematic look, you've gotta ND more and get that stop open."

 

 

​Specifically ..16mm " depth of field is more flat naturally.. ".. what is a flat depth of field naturally or un naturally.. ?

 

Badlands..also.. alot of the ext day light was also over exposed 2 stops and printed down.. 


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 05 March 2017 - 10:42 PM.

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#17 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 11:44 PM

I think Tyler means that shooting at wider apertures on 16mm is more aesthetically pleasing (for him) than stopping down. I tend to agree actually. Because 16mm is a softer format in general, opening the aperture will make the in-focus areas appear sharper by comparison. Also, due to diffraction the you don't want to stop down too much on the smaller formats or you lose addtional sharpness.

Most good 16mm lenses don't need to be stopped down as much as 35mm lenses to hit their sweet spot. The Zeiss Ultra 16 T1.3 lenses apparently hit max performance wide open, which is crazy. I hear many people at Zeiss think these are the best lenses they have ever made.
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#18 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 01:42 AM

Sure I understand he means shoot with a wider aperture to get a Shallow..DoF... but what is a flat depth of field .. naturally or not.. Ive never heard this term before..   if anything i would think of a flat DoF was to mean Shallow Dof..?? 


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#19 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 01:51 AM

Generally i think there is the perception that the more bokeh you have (unless on a wide lens/long lens) the more "dimensional" the image feels -- in the normal fields. I've never heard it either but it's how i imagine it.


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#20 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 01:59 AM

Yes but Tyler says to add ND,s to open the stop.. to counter the effect of "flat depth of field".. inherent in 16mm footage.. ?


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