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Film stock and grading used for "Atonement" (2007)

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#1 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 07:59 AM

Hello Group,

 

Just watched "Atonement" (2007) and it immediately looked like Fuji to me. It had those typical saturated and "airy" colors - as opposed to the more "earthy" colors usually found on (Eastman) Kodak stocks from EXR through Vision3. I know that's a broad generalization, but words can say only so much.

 

IMDB states that it was shot on Kodak Vision 2, but somehow it doesn't look like it at all. Perhaps the digital color grading changed it dramatically without looking "tweaked". With recent digital color grading it is hard to tell anyway which film stock was used, especially when the grading is heavy. 

 

Still, my bet would have been Fuji (I know there were different neg stocks, not only regarding speed (ASA/ISO), but to my eyes this almost screams Fuji, both in the daylight and in the night time footage.

 

Any information about how this (great) look was achieved and which stock was used is highly appreciated. 

 

Thanks in advance,

Christian


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#2 Mark Dunn

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 08:53 AM


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#3 Philip Reinhold

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 09:00 AM

For me it looks like Kodak Tungsten Stock with Daylight balancing Filters combined with some Soft Filters like BPM. I don´t know the DI process but a pull developement would be a good base for this look as well.


Edited by Philip Reinhold, 19 January 2018 - 09:02 AM.

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#4 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 09:32 AM

Mark and Philip:

 

Thank you for the information! Well I was aware of the soft filters (stockings) and (at least with Vision 3) the 200T with an 85 filter is quite popular. I know that the Vision 2 looks somehow slightly colder than the later Vision 3. Pull processing would also be one of my guesses, but the article in American Cinematographer actually explains it in accurate detail. 

Anyway: love the look and feel of the movie. Very unique and perfect to create the intended mood an feel. 

 

Thanks again,

Christian


Edited by Christian Schonberger, 19 January 2018 - 09:33 AM.

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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 12:30 PM

Digital color-correction took away a lot of the reasons to pick a stock for its particular color bias and saturation -- grain and sharpness became much more important factors to consider at that point.  Contrast to some degree but even that can be modified in a D.I.


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#6 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 12:52 PM

David,

 

Thanks for the information. I am positive that some remaining (please keep in mind that I am not an expert) characteristics of film can be emulated to near perfection in the D.I. IF one wishes. I am talking about things like highlight roll off in certain situations (it obviously all becomes more evident on smaller film formats) or different grain patterns on different hues. It's just a matter of creating the correct algorithms. 

 

I remember a few years ago when digital simulations of tube distortion and speaker saturation (all very desirable effects in certain genres of music) were completely unconvincing. Now these can be re-created by software extremely convincingly. So my conclusion is that any organic behavior of film which can't be recreated convincingly yet (if desired, that is) it will be just a matter of time. 

 

Well I still personally prefer the look and feel of film for certain moods and feels, but I don't believe in "magic". It's definitely just a matter of truly understanding how it works and it can be modeled (simulated) with software. Again: if desired. 

 

Thanks for your input,

Christian


Edited by Christian Schonberger, 19 January 2018 - 12:54 PM.

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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 01:37 PM

Most digital color-correction for features tend to be straight-forward and done quickly so it's possible to retain some of the unique characteristics of a stock -- even modern transfers of movies shot on Agfa XT320 have that distinct Agfa look.  

 

But certainly D.I.'s blunted a lot of the differences between stocks, enough that after they became the norm, I'd be hard-pressed to tell a Fuji-shot movie from a Kodak one with any degree of certainty -- as you have discovered, thinking that "Atonement" was shot on Fuji film.  And not only the D.I., but heavy filtration like in this case can alter the inherent look of the stocks.  A ProMist filter, for example, can make a stock look more "airy".

 

80's & 90's era movies are great to study in this regard since there were so many stock options and they all had to be finished optically.


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#8 Samuel Berger

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 02:44 PM

80's & 90's era movies are great to study in this regard since there were so many stock options and they all had to be finished optically.

 

I do think the color timing in the 80s is hard to emulate with modern stocks and digital. I'm not sure why that is. I see Hollywood blockbusters that don't feel near as real as cheap stuff such as CHOPPING MALL (1986), NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984), ANGEL (1984)...it might be the timing for skin tones. BACK TO THE FUTURE had the ultimate color timing. I imagine that part of the allure of going for a "70s look" is that it's easier to replicate that era's color palette than that of the 80s.


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#9 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 03:10 PM

 

I do think the color timing in the 80s is hard to emulate with modern stocks and digital. I'm not sure why that is. I see Hollywood blockbusters that don't feel near as real as cheap stuff such as CHOPPING MALL (1986), NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984), ANGEL (1984)...it might be the timing for skin tones. BACK TO THE FUTURE had the ultimate color timing. I imagine that part of the allure of going for a "70s look" is that it's easier to replicate that era's color palette than that of the 80s.

Excellent point! I see a lot of emulation of the '60s and '70s look with its often muddy browns, some even on smaller film formats (35mm 2-perf Techniscope for "American Hustle" comes to mind) but somehow the '80s look (I am simplifying here obviously) seems to be hard to nail. "It Follows" tried that on digital and it was more the set design and subject matter that evoked the 1980s than he actual image. And of course it has to do with the genre "Hell Or High Water" (loved it!) is what you could call a neo-western. I was put off by its digital look constantly - despite otherwise great cinematography, story and acting. I think it would have looked miles better if shot on Super 35mm (or even Super 16, as Wes Anderson proved with Moonrise Kindom, all Vision 3 200T, Super 16). BUT it might have been just the color grading and digital post. I usually still can spot very fast (often after just a few shots or less) if it's film or digital. I cannot overemphasize it enough: I'm not a film purist. My preference for film (there is a certain quality that still seems very hard to emulate, especially when a movie tries that), especially on an emotional level, is my own personal opinion and I fully respect others. 


Edited by Christian Schonberger, 19 January 2018 - 03:14 PM.

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#10 Karim D. Ghantous

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 12:51 AM

Ed Lachman said on the recent Kodakery podcast that some productions would release movies on Fuji print stock, as it was a bit cheaper. The result was that hues and tones would sometimes be a bit off (presumably because most of these productions were using Kodak camera negative film). That certainly had something to do with the '70s look.


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#11 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 05:12 PM

Ed Lachman said on the recent Kodakery podcast that some productions would release movies on Fuji print stock, as it was a bit cheaper. The result was that hues and tones would sometimes be a bit off (presumably because most of these productions were using Kodak camera negative film). That certainly had something to do with the '70s look.

Hmm, there are a lot of 1990s and 2000s movies shot and Kodak (source: IMDB - I might add that I provided a lot of information which was approved) and I am not sure that being cheaper has to do with it. Also: how does a particular print film stock affect the final result from a print neg on a contact printer? I think we need to know the entire process (printers and every film stock used at each step). Sorry if I sound nitpicking, but each step is important.


Edited by Christian Schonberger, 20 January 2018 - 05:12 PM.

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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 07:54 PM

There were subtle differences between Kodak, Agfa, and Fuji print stocks but I wouldn't overemphasize their importance in contributing to the look compared to what the original photography and lighting contributed.  Print stocks are very low-speed and fine-grained so don't add much to any graininess compared to what is on the original negative.  

 

There was a period of confusion around 1999 when Kodak changed the print stock to Vision while the Fuji print stock was still designed to match the previous Kodak stock, and the first run of Vision print stock was on the contrasty side, which they later adjusted to a more acceptable level. Took two years for Kodak and Fuji print stock to match each other again. Then Kodak came out with the higher contrast, higher saturation Premier print stock, and Fuji followed later with a stock with deeper blacks.  But all of those choices disappeared again and now we just have regular Vision to choose from.

 

Plus some of your favorite movies in the 80's and 90's were released on a mix of those print stocks, you might see a Kodak print in one city and a Fuji print in another -- and some theaters got show prints made off of the original negative while most got prints made from a dupe negative -- so I wouldn't think too much about it, particularly since you are probably watching home video transfers anyway these days, so if that 80's movie that you are watching at home looks particularly "80's", it's not due to the print stock.

 

There are so many reasons for the look of 80's / 90's movies compared to 70's movies.  One major factor is that for the most part, 70's movies were mostly shot on the single 100 ISO stock that Kodak was offering, with the caveat that there was a 2-year transition between ECN1 and ECN2 processing changeover when 5254 100T was being replaced by 5247 100T.  What you mainly saw in variations was due to the degree of underexposure and push-processing of the stock and the filtering of the stock.  But by the mid-1980's, Hollywood movies were being shot on Kodak, Fuji, and Agfa stocks, both slow and fast versions of each, plus the differences again in exposure, etc.

 

And you had stylistic trends from the 70's like fog filters which some cinematographers were still employing in the 1980's only to discover that it worked less well with high-speed stocks.

 

All of this tumult caused a backlash in the early 1990's where some cinematographers were shooting whole movies on slow film stock. "Peggy Sue Got Married" (1986) was all shot on 5247 100T, and after shooting "The Doors" (1991) on high-speed stock, Richardson used 100T and 50D for most of "JFK" (1991). 1992 saw the release of "Howard's End" and "Batman Returns", mostly all shot on 100T.


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#13 Christian Schonberger

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 08:06 PM

There were subtle differences between Kodak, Agfa, and Fuji print stocks but I wouldn't overemphasize their importance in contributing to the look compared to what the original photography and lighting contributed.  Print stocks are very low-speed and fine-grained so don't add much to any graininess compared to what is on the original negative.  

 

There was a period of confusion around 1999 when Kodak changed the print stock to Vision while the Fuji print stock was still designed to match the previous Kodak stock, and the first run of Vision print stock was on the contrasty side, which they later adjusted to a more acceptable level. Took two years for Kodak and Fuji print stock to match each other again. Then Kodak came out with the higher contrast, higher saturation Premier print stock, and Fuji followed later with a stock with deeper blacks.  But all of those choices disappeared again and now we just have regular Vision to choose from.

 

Plus some of your favorite movies in the 80's and 90's were released on a mix of those print stocks, you might see a Kodak print in one city and a Fuji print in another -- and some theaters got show prints made off of the original negative while most got prints made from a dupe negative -- so I wouldn't think too much about it, particularly since you are probably watching home video transfers anyway these days, so if that 80's movie that you are watching at home looks particularly "80's", it's not due to the print stock.

 

There are so many reasons for the look of 80's / 90's movies compared to 70's movies.  One major factor is that for the most part, 70's movies were mostly shot on the single 100 ISO stock that Kodak was offering, with the caveat that there was a 2-year transition between ECN1 and ECN2 processing changeover when 5254 100T was being replaced by 5247 100T.  What you mainly saw in variations was due to the degree of underexposure and push-processing of the stock and the filtering of the stock.  But by the mid-1980's, Hollywood movies were being shot on Kodak, Fuji, and Agfa stocks, both slow and fast versions of each, plus the differences again in exposure, etc.

 

And you had stylistic trends from the 70's like fog filters which some cinematographers were still employing in the 1980's only to discover that it worked less well with high-speed stocks.

 

All of this tumult caused a backlash in the early 1990's where some cinematographers were shooting whole movies on slow film stock. "Peggy Sue Got Married" (1986) was all shot on 5247 100T, and after shooting "The Doors" (1991) on high-speed stock, Richardson used 100T and 50D for most of "JFK" (1991). 1992 saw the release of "Howard's End" and "Batman Returns", mostly all shot on 100T.

Thanks so much! VERY useful information!


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