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Cameron and Carpenter on Super 35


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#1 Bon Sawyer

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 12:58 AM

Hi all,

I came across this 1997 article on Super 35 not long ago:
http://www.theasc.co...c/pgs35/pg1.htm

Cameron and Carpenter describe negatives that are "beefy" and "meaty." These aren't technical terms, I know, but could anyone elaborate on what the guys are referring to? Is it something to do with over-exposure?

If you don't feel like reading the whole thing, here is the one paragraph that might offer an explanation (but which I don't understand, not being familiar with printing terminology):

Outlining the rest of his approach to the Super 35 process, Cameron notes, "It's very simple. First, make a beefy, beefy camera negative. It used to be that anything below a 45 (printing) light was a disaster. Now that most of the labs have retrimmed their point system, anything below a 35 light is starting to feel thin.

I'm not a pro making a movie in Super 35 or anything like that- just curious to gain a better understanding of this stuff.

Thanks,

-Bon
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#2 Stephen Williams

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 02:29 AM

Cameron and Carpenter describe negatives that are "beefy" and "meaty." These aren't technical terms, I know, but could anyone elaborate on what the guys are referring to? Is it something to do with over-exposure?


-Bon

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi,

They are describing an overexposed negative. The printing points go upto 50 so 45 is very high.

Stephen
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#3 Bon Sawyer

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 04:21 AM

Thanks for the info. Do you know of any good websites that explain printing points and related technology/terminology?

Also, I have never seen any of Cameron's films theatrically- do people here feel that they genuinely looked better than other pre-1997 Super 35 efforts, and if so, in what regards? How do they compare to, say, the LOTR films (which, from memory, looked a bit grainy/fuzzy on the big screen)?

Cheers,

-Bon
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#4 Stephen Williams

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 05:37 AM

Thanks for the info. Do you know of any good websites that explain printing points and related technology/terminology?

Also, I have never seen any of Cameron's films theatrically- do people here feel that they genuinely looked better than other pre-1997 Super 35 efforts, and if so, in what regards? How do they compare to, say, the LOTR films (which, from memory, looked a bit grainy/fuzzy on the big screen)?

Cheers,

-Bon

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi,

Dominic Case is the expert on this forum, he wrote a book. If you look through his fairly recent posts there is a reference to it.

In my distant past (20+ years ago) I worked in film opticals. For all scenes that were going through optical post (Blue screens, titles etc) we advised shooting S35. The extra quality helped with those scenes, at no extra cost to the production.

Stephen
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#5 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 08:20 AM

As a funny sidenote, Cameron, who's a huge anti-anamorphic crusader, admits on the track to Aliens that he probably would shoot it in anamorphic if he'd do it all over again. The at the time recently released 400T (5294?) stock was excessively grainy and he was apparently shocked at a recent screening just how bad it was. Even on the small screen this film is madly grainy.

But that said I do think Camerons super-35 films have stood out from the pack when it comes to crispness with the exception of Aliens - so his ideas seem to work.
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#6 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 10:13 AM

I believe Cameron started to overexpose his high-speed film stocks around the time of Terminator 2, making his Super 35-to-Scope blow-ups less grainy than the average Super 35 photography of the time. I never saw The Abyss theatrically and perhaps that one was overexposed to.

I distinctly remember the day exterior scenes of Titanic as being very sharp and detailed, with strong and accurate colors, but that mostly had to do with the fact that they used the slowest film stock made (Kodak 5245, 50 ASA). Plus, his special effects plates used to be shot in large format (8-perf VistaVision).

Edited by Ignacio Aguilar, 04 September 2005 - 10:14 AM.

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#7 Oli Soravia

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 09:27 AM

I'm not a pro making a movie in Super 35 or anything like that- just curious to gain a better understanding of this stuff.

Nominal (recommended asa) exposed negs are printed on 25 printer lights (in most of the labs). 8 printer lights are equal to one stop in exposure. That means that they exposed their neg at least 1+1/4 stop over in order to get a fat neg. This ends up in getting less grain structure in the optical process (which always increases grain), enough color saturation and good blacks. In the past it was quiet harder to achieve a good scope print from an original super 35 neg, with todays emulsions (neg/internegs-or with a DI process anyway - print stocks) it`s easy.
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 11:22 AM

Not all labs make 25 the lights for negatives of average density...

Cameron & his DP's usually overexposed by 2/3's of a stop. Vision 500T 5279 was rated at 320 ASA for example, on "Titanic".
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#9 Bon Sawyer

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 08:50 PM

Thanks for all the responses! Very interesting stuff.

-Bon
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#10 Christian Appelt

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 10:03 AM

As a funny sidenote, Cameron, who's a huge anti-anamorphic crusader, admits on the track to Aliens that he probably would shoot it in anamorphic if he'd do it all over again. The at the time recently released 400T (5294?) stock was excessively grainy and he was apparently shocked at a recent screening just how bad it was. Even on the small screen this film is madly grainy.


I saw ALIENS in a 70mm trade show back then, and local 20th Century Fox representatives were so ashamed of the image quality that they sent me free tickets for every Fox release over the next two years. :rolleyes: Last year I attended a screening of the 35mm 1.85 version, and it looked very bad indeed. Fortunately, the general darkness hides most of the strong grain.

And BTW, here's a link to Dominic's great books:

Film Technology in Post Production

Motion Picture Film Processing
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#11 fstop

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 10:59 AM

The stuff Dick Bush shot for ALIENS (which can be viewed on the new DVDs) from what I remember looked over exposed and shot to be printed down with higher contrast ratios than Adrian Biddles stuff. Perhaps this was one area where both the notoriously conflicting collaborators agreed?
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#12 Oli Soravia

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 05:09 PM

not all labs make 25 the lights for negatives of average density...

...as I already said, in most of the labs...
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 06:00 PM

The stuff Dick Bush shot for ALIENS (which can be viewed on the new DVDs) from what I remember looked over exposed and shot to be printed down with higher contrast ratios than Adrian Biddles stuff. Perhaps this was one area where both the notoriously conflicting collaborators agreed?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


What shots are in the movie that Bush did?
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#14 fstop

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 06:16 PM

The only shot done when Bush was DP is the hanging miniature shot of inside the colony corridor when they first arrive, panning down. This also had James Remar as Hicks before Bill Paxton took over (you only see the back of Remar's head). The DP for this shot may actually have been Harry Oakes or Paddy Seale, but this was obviously modelled on how Bush was lighting the main unit. If you check out the making of documentary on the recent DVDs they show lots of the Bush footage (clapper boards included) and you can see that the contrast ratios were higher, and there are many burned out hotspots (such as helmet seachlights) but it's also lit to high T-stops to cover action in long shots. The stuff looks ungraded and I am dubious as to whether the 5294 was actually used at this point in the production, as even in rough form it the contrast seemed very defined. Much more like Vanlints approach in lighting, even if it wasn't shallow focus anamorphic. Alot of it was highspeed action steadicam shots too.

Perhaps someone could post some Bush footage screengrabs from the DVD doco?
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