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Grain problem


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#1 scorsesebull

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 02:52 PM

Hey all,

I just got some film back with our outdoor footage (shot before the Wisconsin fall hit) and we did some test footage. The film stock i wanted to shoot with was 200T 7274, a great stock for smooth blacks and low grain. I ended up shooting, based on some discussions with my lab and doing some research in the forums and with Kodak, with 500T 7218. I even saw some great shots Mr. David Mullen did for Shadowboxer where he underexposed 2/3 and pushed the stock a stop. Everything i saw or was shown seemed to have decent grain, not too much but not ultimate smooth. My outdoor stuff looks fine, good color, grain is negatable but my test footage looks incredibly grainy and the director and I wanted a smoother feel. We're shooting our interior stuff coming up and we want corners and backgrounds to fall black...but not if the grain is that apparent. I'm torn because the colors are rich which was the attraction of the stock, but it just isn't handling the blacks and darker colors. Is there anything I can do aside from over exposing just a touch to eliminate grain in more neutral areas? Any suggestions for getting blacks blacker, even though the characteristic is within the celluloid itself? Is there a secret to the stock that maybe some of the professionals out there could divulge? All are welcome, thanks!

Luke Kalteux
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 04:35 PM

Well, remember you are shooting in 16mm, not 35mm, so don't expect the same grain level. Is this for telecine transfer or eventual DI blow-up to 35mm? Because if so, you can set the black levels in the digital color-correction to whatever you want. Also, if you were watching a telecine transfer, make sure that what you saw was graininess and not noisiness in the transfer. If this was for 16mm print & projection, then realize that 16mm is not the greatest format for projection... but to some degree, you can control the black levels in the print by how dense your negative is, what printer lights you use, and what print stock you use.

But for starters, I'd rate 7218 at 320 ASA instead of 500 ASA, unless this is for telecine transfer only, in which case 400 ASA would be fine.
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#3 Joseph White

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 04:57 PM

some of this is definitely addressed in my post about the campfire lighting situation, but honestly it could be a stock issue. 7218 isn't the most contrasty stock out there - even though people say its the best 500t 16mm stock out there, if youre looking for really deep, rich blacks this probably isn't the right stock for you - i'd try and get your hands on some 7279 or hell 7274 for night work - people used to do night exteriors with 200asa stocks - heck i usually do today - and even slower so don't think that you necessarily need a high-speed stock to do night work. 79 and 74 have generally higher contrast and richer blacks, which it sounds like you;d want. plus the vision series stocks gave definitely more satruated colors than vision2 - don't get me wrong, i love vision2 and shoot it primarily, but if a director wants a darker, richer black and bolder colors, i'm going ot reach for 5279 as opposed to 5218.

plus if you're shooting 16mm chances are you have faster lenses, and while i wouldn't advise shooting t1.3 16mm lenses, you can definitely get away with a t2.0 - and trust me, i'd always sacrifice a little grain if i can get my ratios just how i want them the and light to where i want it. i think largely people won't remember the grain as much as they'll remember how your lighting made them feel and how you used color to tell a story. 16mm is 16mm, there wil typically be grain (to second mr. mullen's sentiments on printing 16mm - avoid if you can unless you can get your hands on a good DI or at least an optical blowup to 35mm) but you can always explore printing on Kodak Vision Premiere which has really really excellent rich blacks and vibrant color - and as long as you arent doing tons of release prints the difference in price isn't that enormous.

hope this helps!
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#4 scorsesebull

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 07:28 PM

some of this is definitely addressed in my post about the campfire lighting situation, but honestly it could be a stock issue. 7218 isn't the most contrasty stock out there - even though people say its the best 500t 16mm stock out there, if youre looking for really deep, rich blacks this probably isn't the right stock for you - i'd try and get your hands on some 7279 or hell 7274 for night work -


they stopped making 7274, that's why my world came crashing down! I love that stock, I actually got ahold of 100 feet of it, and we used it for a night exterior and that stuff looks great.

Problem is, the 7218 was already ordered, and I wish we had more budget to do more testing because I would have been able to test the stocks themselves, myself. But, the world of a student filmmaker, we gotta keep chuggin' and we'll make it work I was just hoping there would be a way to subtly lessen the grain.

Also, to Mr. Mullen, thank you, that makes sense, I am not going to blow it up, I'm strictly going to telecine. Thanks for both of your input

Edited by scorsesebull, 03 November 2005 - 07:31 PM.

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#5 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 07:29 PM

Say... what lab are you working with? What positive stock was it printed on ?
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#6 scorsesebull

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 07:32 PM

Say... what lab are you working with? What positive stock was it printed on ?


We're working with Fotokem
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#7 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 07:40 PM

Never worked in US, but they have quite a (good ?) reputation, don't they ? ("that's a take ! Fotokem it ! :lol: )

Come on, guys, be honest, the lab procedure can be involved here, what d'you think ?
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#8 scorsesebull

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 10:46 AM

They've been very good on all my other productions and they've got good student rates.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 12:47 PM

The hard part about getting into these "my film looks grainy" discussions is that all film has grain, and whether some grain is too much is often subjective. Plus, as I said, if you're talkng about a video transfer, it may be noise you are seeing. Personally, I think all 500 ASA films are grainy -- they are just less grainy than they've been in the past. But they are not grainless by any means.
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