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Double-X and Orwo UN54 in Super 16mm

black and white film Super 16mm

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#1 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 06:47 PM

Hello group,

 

After dismissing the Tri-X (it's just my personal taste, not to be taken as any reference), I decided to go for the Eastman Double-X for my upcoming short film in Super 16mm. I intend to recreate a 1940s-50s "old Hollywood" feel and I don't mind some grain, especially when the structure is even and pleasant (Tri-X seems to have a threshold somewhere around dark-middle gray where it suddenly becomes very grainy in a distracting way, especially on surfaces with little to no texture - it also has a rather narrow latitude, being reversal). 

 

Since the Double-X (250/200 ASA/ISO) neg is rather fast I was wondering how the Orwo UN54 neg (around 100ASA/ISO) intercuts with the Double-X. I heard that the amount of grain is about the same. What about the look and resolutiuon power? All I look for is a matching stock where I don't have to stop down that much during daylight shoots. 

 

What I have seen so far on YouTube and Vimeo is all at lower resolutions. The Orwo (both as neg and reversal) always seems to look a little soft, but this can be due to older or inferior transfers/scans. The Double-X (seen a 1440p version with the grain largely intact) looks very pleasing to my eyes and more than sharp enough. I am aware that these are old emulsions with a vintage look - that's the idea! 

 

Any input regarding intercutting the two stocks (cost is the same for me) after scanning (so a little tweaking for a better match is possible but I'd like to avoid that) - highly appreciated. 

 

EDIT: BTW: does slightly overexposing help reduce grain (both on Double-X and Orwo UN54)? It does work with the Tri-X, but it just lowers (slightly improves) the threshold of coarse grain (as soon as you have dark-middle gray, you'll get that grain crawl again)  and I'l blow my highlights - I did test shots for that. 

 

Christian


Edited by Christian Schonberger, 15 March 2017 - 06:55 PM.

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#2 Dirk DeJonghe

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 12:23 AM

Overexposing 7222 will increase the grain. Printing lights around 20 will give best results. Orwo is not bad but first check if it will run smoothly in your camera. Do a serious test before committing.
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#3 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 08:50 AM

Dirk,

 

Thanks: what I thought. Seen the same amount of grain in highlights as in shadows on the Double-X. Guess I'll ditch the Orwo for now. I'm on a tight budget and camera tests are expensive and slow. I just have a humble modded K-3. It seems to love all Kodak color neg stocks from EXR (obviously expired) through V3. The usually thinner reversal stocks seem to work not quite as well, burying themselves deeper into the gate extension, causing focus issues and sometimes even scratches. Vertical jitter is near negligible at 24 fps (not to be taken as highly accurate here, I know). 

 

Thanks again,

Christian


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#4 Simon Wyss

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 09:10 AM

“A 1940s-50s "old Hollywood" feel” does not exist. You probably mean a lighting style, where you have the two main components low key and high key lighting, if you want to refer to the 1940s and 1950s. “Old” Hollywood would be the silent era.

 

Super-16 as the third point doesn’t go with any time period before 1969. Fourthly, narrow-gauge film making was not “Hollywood” as you presumably envision. What a confusion in your head!


Edited by Simon Wyss, 16 March 2017 - 09:12 AM.

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#5 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 09:31 AM

Simon,

 

No worries. I have my stuff together, not a single shred of confusion ;-) 

 

Well I presume that people here know what I am talking about when I say "feel". I didn't say exact replica. Of course I carefully consider lighting, sets and props. Super 16mm looks fine these days and a scanned camera original can somewhat resemble a 35mm print. To me that is. I deliberately chose a wider than academy aspect ratio to "translate" the image to a more modern eye. 

 

Please do not get me wrong, but I really presume that people know what I am talking about. If you go just into semantics without context, "Old Hollywood" can very well also mean "pre-1970". 

 

P.S. "The Artist" was mainly shot on desaturated Kodak Vision 3 color neg stock. Need to work with what you have access to. It doesn't necessarily mean there is any confusion. :-)

 

Cheers,

Christian


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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 03:25 PM

Christian, I think you were very clear about the look you were going for. At least, I knew what you meant ;)
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#7 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 04:23 PM

Satsuki,

 

Thanks. It is obvious that I don't attempt a faithful recreation, complete with, say, a 35mm Mitchell and vintage, uncoated prime lenses. I did test shots with Tri-X and it's incredible (if you choose the right objects) what even this high contrast reversal black and white emulsion does in the Super 16mm format with at least a good 2K scan to make anything look as if it was filmed 60+ years ago.

 

Lighting is key to any good looking movie (digital or film). It can range from "light everywhere" (The Maltese Falcon was still far away from what we perceive as the classic noir lighting, except perhaps for the clever use of shadows depicting letters and the obligatory Venetian blinds) to harsh simple lighting with hard shadows and high contrast - or anything in between with complex and careful lighting, mixing key, fill, back, rim light, pockets, bouncing and kicker lights with various degrees of diffusion. With a no budget and some good knowledge, this can be at least emulated with cheap working lights, bouncing surfaces and white bed sheets (making sure they don't burst into flames). Black and white eliminates the concern with matching color temperatures (except for the sensibility drop towards red). 

 

I guess I'll be fine with the Double-X. 

 

Thanks and cheers,

Christian


Edited by Christian Schonberger, 16 March 2017 - 04:26 PM.

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#8 Nicholas Kovats

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 04:53 PM

Christian,

I shot the following on R16mm UN54 at 100 asa. 48fps, dayligjy, no filters, 1960's Bolex with 1960's Trevidon APO 10mm C-Mount, ie

https://player.vimeo...video/170564399
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#9 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 06:41 PM

Nicholas,

 

Looking great! Thanks for sharing. 

 

Here are my Tri-X test shots of 1940-ish buildings (Lisbon, Portugal). Need to re-polish and re-lube the K-3 (fabricated in 1986, bought in mint condition). Lens is Zenitar 16mm fisheye - all hand held (no tripod allowed in public city spaces unless you are a pro with a written permit). The deep emulsion scratch never occured on any other stock. Guess the thinner reversal buries itself deep into the gate extension which has no support rail (I don't want to mess with the gate, making things eventually worse). The camera has heavy vertical jitter at 48fps and considerable jitter at 32 fps. Almost rock stable at 24 fps.

 

Super 16mmm gate, re-centered lens (scanned with a re-aligned regular 16mm 2K Muller, so a little image is missing right hand side), cropped to 16:9:

 

 

(doesn't look better on Vimeo since I can't use the pro res version, which I used here).

 

Same footage de-jittered (needed some more zoom and cropping obviously):

 


Edited by Christian Schonberger, 16 March 2017 - 06:50 PM.

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#10 Nicholas Kovats

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 10:53 AM

Christian,

 

Your welcome and thanks.

 

I also have a new K3 that I purchased sometime ago but I have never used it and I am reluctant to test it. When I did examine it....it jammed easily and I was not impressed with the flimsy transport/gate machining. I am biased but I would recommend a Bolex transport. Can you rent one locally from a film co-op as I can in Toronto? They rent dirt cheap as low as $10 CAN per day.

 

I like the look of the stabilized TRI-X . The Portuguese architecture lends itself well to the 1940/50's look your targeting. 


Edited by Nicholas Kovats, 17 March 2017 - 10:53 AM.

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#11 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 11:28 AM

Nicholas,

 

Thanks, yes these are the 1940s buildings in Lisbon. Lots of location scouting until I found these - and of course avoiding any modern items. A lot of awesome Art Deco buildings were torn down years ago and replaced by the usual modern architecture. 

 

My K-3 is O.K. but obviously far from a great camera. No film camera rental here in Portugal. Looks like no one even knows what film is anymore here. A decent Super 16mm Bolex plus glass costs a fortune, even the wind up models with small, dim viewfinder and no external mag. Already checked: with some luck I can get for the exact same amount a fully serviced Super 16mm converted Éclair ACL1.5 including good glass (for example), but I'll always have to order from another country (no way of checking hands on). Ebay these days looks like a film camera junk yard (some signs of wear, seems to run fine, sold as is (usually four figures or more) = no!). 

 

Thanks for your input,

Christian


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