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Question about Eastmancolor


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#1 Sandra Merkatz

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 02:27 PM

Hello!

 

There was a discussion about two different Blu-rays of Sergio Leones "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", because one version (US-Blu-ray) looks "more realistic", with blu skies and more natural colors, the other version (UK Remastered Blu-ray) has a yellowness in the picture, with a green sky etc.

Some people say, that Eastmancolor was chosen to have that yellow color, and that the BD with the "normal" colors shows the movie in a wrong way.

 

Here two comparisons.

 

ugly mit.jpg   ugly ohne.jpg

 

ugly 2 mit.jpg   ugly 2 ohne.jpg

 

Is it true that Eastmancolor has that yellow color, and movies that used that stock have to look like that?

 

 

 

Greetings,

Sandra


Edited by Sandra Merkatz, 12 June 2017 - 02:30 PM.

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#2 Mark Dunn

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 02:44 PM

No.

It's a difference in grading.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 12 June 2017 - 02:45 PM.

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#3 Edgar Nyari

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 09:12 AM

A correctly exposed  daylight color negative film should in daylight always produce natural and neutral results. I don't think there was ever a color negative product created for motion pictures that was intentionally designed to make everything look yellow, or anything other than "normal". The only intentional looks were a slightly desaturated softer look of  Kodak "expression" stock in the 2000s and Eterna Vivid which was made to look a bit more saturated. But all eastmancolor products from the 50s till today were designed to look "normal".

 

And most films from that time (in both Europe and US), were shot on Eastmancolor anyway. There did exist alternatives (Ferrania color up to about mid 60s, AGFA Gevaert, some Russian stocks, Fujicolor) but Hollywood and most of European productions almost exclusively used Kodak stock (Eastmancolor).

 

What I suspect is that some people remember prints to look a bit warmer, and commented on how the Bluray looks more neutral than original prints. But like Mark said, it's a matter of color grading.


Edited by Edgar Nyari, 13 June 2017 - 09:13 AM.

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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 09:38 AM

It's not unusual for a Western to be color timed on the warm side -- even "Raiders of the Lost Ark" timed its desert day exteriors on the golden side -- it is just part of the visual approach used by many Westerns to create a golden/brown sepia-toned period feeling, especially for desert scenes.  The original prints of "Heaven's Gate" were timed for a brownish look that the last digital master removed at the request of the director.

 

However, usually they don't time period movies so extremely yellow that blue skies go green except for movies going for a heavily stylized look.  The film stock itself was designed for accurate color reproduction (and in this case, the stocks were tungsten-balanced and probably shot with the orange 85 correction filter.)

 

Personally I would have probably split the difference in timing rather than completely removing any golden quality to the light and landscape but I don't know if there is a reference Technicolor I.B. print from the era that can tell you how it looked originally.  I do think though that the U.K. transfer is too yellow.

 

I've noticed a tendency for new blu-ray transfers to play it so conservatively in terms of color and contrast, going for neutral skin tones all the time and keeping as much shadow detail that the film source has, that some of the dramatic quality gets muted.  This is particularly true for b&w movies where some colorists seem loathe to go for deep blacks because they are working from a source with a lot of shadow detail and don't feel they have the authority to crush any of it down, even though in a print, some of that detail would have been lost.


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#5 Edgar Nyari

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 10:27 AM

I forgot that the earlier stocks were all tungsten,yes. It's only with 5245 where daylight stock became the norm for daylight exteriors.


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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 10:48 AM

The very first Eastmancolor stock in 1950, 5247, was 16 ASA daylight, replaced two years later by 5248 25T... but after that, you didn't see a daylight color negative stock until 250D 5297 in 1986. 50D 5245 came along in 1989.

 

3-strip Technicolor was also a daylight-balanced system until it changed to one balanced for tungsten around 1948 I believe (Jack Cardiff mentions switching to tungsten lights for "Under Capricorn", which came out in 1949.  He tells a story about assuring Ingrid Bergman that she wouldn't have to loop her dialogue due to the noise of carbon arcs on set, only to discover that when he lit the set with all-tungsten, the mics could pick up the sound of the camera despite it being in a blimp.)

 

I mention this only because when Kodak worked on creating Eastmancolor in the mid 1940's, they said their goal was to match the speed and color balance of "popular color film systems", i.e. Technicolor.


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#7 Sandra Merkatz

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 10:52 AM

Some say that Leone wanted a stock that has this yellowness, so the movie was supposed to look like that. But I don´t know anything about any film stocks, so I can´t tell whether they are right or wrong. When I read that, I thought, Eastmancolor aways has yellowness.

 

I bought the Ben Hur Blu-ray last year and I´m amazed about the picture quality! All the details! But now I´m not sure about the colors. Imdb.com says it was also shot in Eastmancolor. Here is a comparison between the old DVD and the Blu-ray:

 

ben hur dvd.jpg   ben hur bd.jpg

 

It doesn´t look as extreme as the "Good, Bad, Ugly"-movie does. The red color looks more like red, not orange. But maybe the sky isn´t correct, and the stones on the bottom of the picture are a bit too brown, instead of grey. I don´t know.

 

 

 

Greetings,

Sandra


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#8 Edgar Nyari

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 10:56 AM

If it was down to "Eastmancolor" then all films from that era would look yellow. No matter what it says: "color by technicolor", "color by deluxe", metrocolor etc. or explicitly color by eastmancolor, it's always eastmancolor stock, unless specifically identified as something else (like gevaert).


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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 11:03 AM

Keep in mind that any restoration working from original negative from that era has to deal with the fading of yellow dye over time.  In a print, the yellow dye fade, followed by the fading of cyan, leaves you with a magenta image.  On the negative, yellow dye fade seems to affect the image the opposite way, when you try to correct for skin tones, you pick up a blue cast in the shadows (you'll note in a lot of old movies that silver-haired male actors often seem to have blue hair.)

 

Beyond that, there is simply taste over time in terms of coloring.  Reds, which are a bit orange in Rec.709 compared to P3 color space, seem to be a color that current tastes don't like to see get oversaturated, which often causes them to lose detail.  Anyway, the blu-ray timing of "Ben-Hur" seems like an improvement, the old one seems oversaturated like it is attempting a faux day transfer look.


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#10 Sandra Merkatz

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 11:19 AM

Anyway, the blu-ray timing of "Ben-Hur" seems like an improvement, the old one seems oversaturated like it is attempting a faux day transfer look.

Where do you see the oversaturated colors? I´m not experienced in seeing that stuff, that´s why I´m asking. For me it looks more like the DVD has less color (orange instead of reds), the stones on the bottom are grey etc.

Where do you see the differences?

 

 

Greetings,

Sandra


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#11 John Holland

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 11:42 AM

Interesting I  found Deluxe prints for Fox had nasty blueish tint but the same lab doing work for United Artist say The Great Escape for instance had yellowish tint. Metrocolor was warmish brown Technicolor IB prints no tints natural. Movielab Pathe just bad prints in all areas . Rank Labs here in UK  where the credit would normally say Eastmancolour were also very good no strange colour shifts . The Neg all cases would have been a Eastman whatever number at that time it was called . I would also add Humphires Labs here in the UK who produced excellent prints.


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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 12:19 PM

Where do you see the oversaturated colors? 

 

The red cloak is practically glowing.  The skin is a bit too saturated as well, makes it look like heavy pancake make-up (which is also probably true.)


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#13 Sandra Merkatz

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 12:29 PM

 

The red cloak is practically glowing.  The skin is a bit too saturated as well, makes it look like heavy pancake make-up (which is also probably true.)

 

Ah, I see what you meant, thank you :)

 

There is another example with big differences, and I´m not sure about that either. Did the company change the original colors with modern filters on the Blu-ray?

 

ben hur 2 dvd.jpg   ben hur 2 bd.jpg

 

For me, the BD-version looks too dark for me, the colors too "modern", while the DVD version has that "old movie" look.

 

 

 

Greetings,

Sandra


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#14 Mark Dunn

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 12:46 PM

You've been told that the difference is down to the grading.

Here i'd go with David and want something in between. Although the imperial purple is right in no. 2, overall it is rather cold. It could be down to the state of the elements. See David's answer about TGTBATU.


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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 02:56 PM

A similar movie made today would probably go for the warm look simply because a room like that at night in real life would be lit by torchlight and candles. I recall seeing prints of "Ben-Hur" at revival houses in the 1980's and 1990's and it generally had a warm look in terms of the art direction, lots of browns with the scenes in Jerusalem, less warm in Roman settings.

 

But I don't know if this scene above was meant to look like a mix of firelight and moonlight, hence the blue cast. The blue on the walls might have been in the original set and older transfers from a more faded film element lost that color, but it feels like the new transfer is a bit too cold in this scene but maybe they had an archival reference to match to (an I.B. print.)

 

Older transfers might have made this scene too light and a reference print showed that the intent was for this to be a dark and moody scene.


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#16 Sandra Merkatz

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 03:42 PM

It would be great if the people who have done the Blu-ray, the remastering (or whatever) would write something about their decisions in a booklet.

In records of classical music that is played historically informed, it´s quite usual that the conductor writes in a booklet about his decicions, why he choose a certain tempo, certain instruments, a certain size of the orchestra, etc.

 

On the back of the BD they say: (Translation from German into English by me)
 

Frame per frame carefully restored and digitally remastered with the help of the original 65mm camera negative.

 

That´s all. I don´t know what they mean with "with the help of the original negative". Did they use it as a reference for colors?

 

 

 

Greetings,

Sandra
 


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#17 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 03:55 PM

I've noticed a tendency for new blu-ray transfers to play it so conservatively in terms of color and contrast, going for neutral skin tones all the time and keeping as much shadow detail that the film source has, that some of the dramatic quality gets muted.

 

I recently wrote a piece whining about the trend for low contrast and desaturation, even in things like superhero movies. I like pictures to have a bit of bite.

 

P


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#18 Mark Dunn

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 05:42 AM

It would be great if the people who have done the Blu-ray, the remastering (or whatever) would write something about their decisions in a booklet.

In records of classical music that is played historically informed, it´s quite usual that the conductor writes in a booklet about his decicions, why he choose a certain tempo, certain instruments, a certain size of the orchestra, etc.

 

On the back of the BD they say: (Translation from German into English by me)
 

Frame per frame carefully restored and digitally remastered with the help of the original 65mm camera negative.

 

That´s all. I don´t know what they mean with "with the help of the original negative". Did they use it as a reference for colors?

 

 

 

Greetings,

Sandra
 

Robert Harris has written plenty about photochemical restorations. Ben-Hur is unprintable now.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 14 June 2017 - 05:43 AM.

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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 09:27 PM

I think I've read that some restorers combine a scan of the original negative, which has color fading problems but is the sharpest and finest-grained source, with scans of the b&w YCM separations made for archiving, which have the original color information if done correctly but often have grain and contrast problems.  Not sure how they combine those elements digitally.


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#20 Sandra Merkatz

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 05:17 AM

I think I've read that some restorers combine a scan of the original negative, which has color fading problems but is the sharpest and finest-grained source, with scans of the b&w YCM separations made for archiving, which have the original color information if done correctly but often have grain and contrast problems.  Not sure how they combine those elements digitally.

That sounds interesting! And again, it would be great if they would explain that in a booklet, how they had done the restauration :(

 

The way they write it, to an unexperienced viewer like me it sounds like they have the original negative and used it for the Blu-ray. A regular viewer like me doesn´t know about original negatives, YCM separations etc.

No, they rather write how many stupid Oscars that movie won ... how interesting.

 

Thanks anyway for the information, David :)

 

 

 

Greetings,

Sandra


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