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Saving skin tone in cross-process?


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#1 Robert Baird

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 10:00 AM

Hi, I am shooting a music video in Taiwan. At first the director was excited about cross-processing but has since become nervous about the unpredictable effect, especially on skin tones.

I have cross-processed Fuji Velvia before, in Los Angeles, with beautiful results, and am aware of some of the challenges. For this project we chose Kodak 100D for a slightly faster emulsion as we will be over-cranking 48 - 150 frames in early morning, quite likely in overcast conditions on the beach.

It turns out if we want to use this film we do not have any option but to go ahead with cross-processing as there is no E-6 process available in Taiwan. I shot a roll of Velvia slide film here in Taiwan and had it cross-processed C-41 and the results were some of the worst I've ever had, really yucky green alien looking skin. Now the director is very concerned, and I am trying to figure out if we need to scrap the reversal stock all together, or if there is a way to normalize the look a little bit. I don't think he minds if the background colors are a little wild, just not the talent, a female Asian pop star.

My question(s) is/are:

Does anyone have an opinion as to whether the traditionally "warmer" Kodak stock may have less of the greenish hue in cross-processing?

Is it possible that using the C-41 negative print process adversely effected my 35mm Velvia slide film tests?

What about compensating for the green look with a magenta filter, or maybe warming it up a little with an 81EF?

Or, because of the unpredictable nature of cross-processing, would it be better to fix it in telecine?

As a last resort there are two options: (1) not to cross process and for me to fly back to Hollywood with the film and have it processed E-6, so I can deliver him a nice saturated fine-grain reversal look, or (2) shoot on a locally available negative film stock.

We originally wanted a very dramatic, new, edgy look for this video, but after seeing my tests, he is chickening out. I would love to be able to deliver something really unique here, so I am just wondering if anyone has any thoughts.

A long and wordy posting, I realize. I believe at this point I have read every discussion on this forum about cross-processing, including the links to the Kodak technical data.

Just wondering if anyone has ever had any luck compensating for the ugly green skin tones?

Thanks, any advice would be appreciated greatly.

Rob Baird


PS No time or money left for additional tests!
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#2 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 12:14 PM

Hi, I am shooting a music video in Taiwan. At first the director was excited about cross-processing but has since become nervous about the unpredictable effect, especially on skin tones.

I have cross-processed Fuji Velvia before, in Los Angeles, with beautiful results, and am aware of some of the challenges. For this project we chose Kodak 100D for a slightly faster emulsion as we will be over-cranking 48 - 150 frames in early morning, quite likely in overcast conditions on the beach.

It turns out if we want to use this film we do not have any option but to go ahead with cross-processing as there is no E-6 process available in Taiwan. I shot a roll of Velvia slide film here in Taiwan and had it cross-processed C-41 and the results were some of the worst I've ever had, really yucky green alien looking skin. Now the director is very concerned, and I am trying to figure out if we need to scrap the reversal stock all together, or if there is a way to normalize the look a little bit. I don't think he minds if the background colors are a little wild, just not the talent, a female Asian pop star.

My question(s) is/are:

Does anyone have an opinion as to whether the traditionally "warmer" Kodak stock may have less of the greenish hue in cross-processing?

Is it possible that using the C-41 negative print process adversely effected my 35mm Velvia slide film tests?

What about compensating for the green look with a magenta filter, or maybe warming it up a little with an 81EF?

Or, because of the unpredictable nature of cross-processing, would it be better to fix it in telecine?

As a last resort there are two options: (1) not to cross process and for me to fly back to Hollywood with the film and have it processed E-6, so I can deliver him a nice saturated fine-grain reversal look, or (2) shoot on a locally available negative film stock.

We originally wanted a very dramatic, new, edgy look for this video, but after seeing my tests, he is chickening out. I would love to be able to deliver something really unique here, so I am just wondering if anyone has any thoughts.

A long and wordy posting, I realize. I believe at this point I have read every discussion on this forum about cross-processing, including the links to the Kodak technical data.

Just wondering if anyone has ever had any luck compensating for the ugly green skin tones?

Thanks, any advice would be appreciated greatly.

Rob Baird
PS No time or money left for additional tests!


Rob,
If it is for tv use only I would go the traditional way and did ''almost'' whatever I wanted in the telecine.
Check if there is DaVinci available, or Pandora.
Dimtrios Koukas
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#3 Joseph White

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 01:11 PM

ive shot a bunch of cross-processed 5285 and i wouldn't say that the color is that unpredictable. it certainly will surprise you more than a roll of 5218, but for the most part if you have your exposure in the right place you have some wiggle room. especially if you're finishing to tape. and you'll certainly get less green in the skin tones with 5285 than with velvia.

i wouldn't go with on-camera filtration. i'd say add a little minus green to your units, enough so that you can pump it up if necessary, or remove it. if you are doing day work without lights, i'd say maybe the slight warming filter could work. a lot of it also really depends on your actress' skin tone - i did a cross processed scene with 2 actors, the man a tanned caucasian guy and a fair-skinned caucasian woman, and the man looked perfectly fine while she went a little green. this was for a print finish, though, so i was limited in balancing them - as photochemical color correction on reversal is really really tricky and finicky.

if edgy is what you're going for - might i suggest pushing some fuji negative a couple stops? i've heard people mistake a lot of christopher doyle's work with wong kar wai as being "cross processed" when actually he just pushes the hell out of medium speed fuji stocks for extra saturation, contrast, and grain - i've seen 250D pushed 2 stops on 35mm with really gorgeous results - maybe even try pushing the 64d - might give you a bold look with a lot less risk if the director is uncomfortable. and with 35mm, you can push fairly freely and not worry too much until you get PAST two stops - although i've pushed 7289 3 stops and then optically blown it up to 35mm for a film and it looked awesome - grains the size of your fist - but it was the right look.

hope this helps - reversal is an awesome tool - hope you get to use it
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#4 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 01:32 PM

Don't expect "normal" flesh tones from any reversal film cross-processed in ECN-2 or C-41. These films were NOT designed for color negative processes, and so the results are somewhat unpredictable.

That said, you can expect results like other films that used 5285 processed in the ECN-2 process:

http://www.cameragui...ting_limits.htm

http://www.kodak.com...2004/keet.jhtml

http://studentfilmma...e93d59efb6d47d4
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#5 Robert Baird

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Posted 15 October 2005 - 10:30 PM

Thank you all for your timely and detailed responses.

The director will use DaVinci and power windows. So, for this shoot we may choose not indulge in the cross-processing after all. I would still like to shoot the reversal stock for its rich color saturation, but that means taking it back to the U.S. for processing. FedX swears they will hand-inspect and not use x-rays, but it still feels risky, with precious exposed negs.

Thanks for the links again, Mr. Pytlak, they are a great resource.
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#6 Fran Kuhn

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Posted 23 October 2005 - 10:53 PM

I shot a roll of Velvia slide film here in Taiwan and had it cross-processed C-41 and the results were some of the worst I've ever had, really yucky green alien looking skin. My question(s) is/are:

Does anyone have an opinion as to whether the traditionally "warmer" Kodak stock may have less of the greenish hue in cross-processing?


Sounds like you're going with a straight-ahead process, but this may help in the future.

In the still film world, it's well known that Fuji's excellent E-6 stocks are NOT a good choice for cross-processing for exactly the reasons you found with your test. The films go very green, and not in a good way. The film of choice for this type of cross-processing is Kodak Ektachrome 100 EPP. (I believe it's still around. I just checked my freezer and I have a few 5-packs of 120-size rolls.) Alternately, any of the Kodak E-series reversal stocks seem to work well.

You may want to check with June, the manager at Pro One Lab in Los Angeles (323/468-1811) for his recommendations on exposure compensation as I believe there may be an exposure increase required to bring out the film's optimum performance in cross-processing.

Additionally, perhaps the always helpful Mr. Pytlak can explain any differences between the EPP still film and 5285 100D.
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