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How to shoot day-for-night on black and white film stock

kissofthespiderwoman rodolfosanchez blackandwhite film dayfornight

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#1 Sarah Matthews

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 01:56 PM

Hi there!

 

Last night I watched "Kiss of the Spiderwoman", in which there are beautiful, dream-like sequences where it appears the crew was filming in daytime (there are clearly shots of the sun), but the overall effect resembles super bright moonlight due to their filming in black and white. At least I believe they are filming in black and white - in one scene it changes to colour halfway through, so perhaps they were using colour film with a filter of some kind? I am a student, so I'm not sure of all the techniques available to get the effect. I have attached some pictures so you can see what I mean. Sorry they're so LQ!

 

Anyways, I found this effect beautiful, so I'm wondering if any of you know how I would emulate it? What film stock to use, what lighting set up, settings on the camera... anything helps! Thanks!

 

P.S. The cinematographer for this film was Rodolfo Sanchez, in case any of you are familiar with his work!

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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 03:14 PM

I haven't seen the film, but Day for Night photography was common in the black and white era. It was the cheapest and quickest way to shoot night scenes in large exterior locations.

The basic idea was to shoot into backlight as much as possible so you had some contrast, underexpose maybe two stops for the darkness, and avoid the sky as much as possible since technically it should be nearly black with stars. But you could get away with it if you used a filter like a Red #25 to darken the sky, or if there were clouds.

Day for Night is still done occasionally these days, but now you would most often at least do a sky replacement digitally. And of course, digital cameras are much faster now, allowing you to shoot under actual moonlight if you choose to do so.

One thing you should try to do is use ND filters to open up the lens to at least f/2.8, if not wider. That would help sell the realism of actually shooting under low-light conditions. Some of those old movies just stopped the lens down to f/16, and it wasn't very convincing.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 08:11 PM

I remembering reading the cover story to an American Cinematographer issue on "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" where the cinematographer Jack Couffer had to shoot day-for-night for a sequence (would have been impossible to light seagulls flying around at night across the sky) and because avoiding the sky was impossible as well, he shot it on b&w film (Plus-X I believe) with a red filter to darken the sky, and then printed it on color stock with a blue tint.  Of course, with a seagull, it's not like you have to worry about flesh tone reproduction...


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#4 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 02:56 AM

Interesting. Didn't the seagull turn blue too though?
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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 04:15 AM

From memory ir worked well on "Jonathan Livingston Seagull". Seascapes at night look pretty blue in moonlight.


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#6 John Holland

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 07:42 AM

Conrad Hall did the same thing on "Tell Them Willie boy is here."


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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 01:24 PM

Ah I see, that makes sense. Rods, cones, say no more!
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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: kissofthespiderwoman, rodolfosanchez, blackandwhite, film, dayfornight


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