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Contemporary films shot on Agfa XT


Ben Schwartz
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I've recently watched Out of Africa and The Mission and was, of course, quite taken with the cinematography in both. I know these films were shot on Agfa XT, which seems to be a more low-con, desaturated stock. I have a few questions if anyone knows the answer(s):

 

1. What are some other notable films shot on XT?

 

2. I know Agfa doesn't produce negative stock anymore, but is expired XT still available for purchase anywhere?

 

3. How does XT compare to 5277 and other more desaturated stocks?

 

4. If anyone has actually shot with it, can you describe your experiences/impressions?

 

Thanks!

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Other notable films were Zeferelli's "Hamlet", "Gorillas in the Mist", "Memphis Belle", "Mountains of the Moon", "A Fish Called Wanda", "Crooklyn", "Daughter of the Dust", "Dry White Season", Branagh's "Henry V", "Monstruck", "Passion Fish", "Robin Hood: Prince of Theives", "This Boy's Life", "White Mischief", "Honey I Shrunk the Kids"...

 

"Short Cuts" used XTS400 and XT100.

 

Parts of "The Mission" (day exteriors were shot on Kodak 5247, whereas "Out of Africa" use 5247 for nights and Agfa for days), the climatic warehouse scene in "Roger Rabbit", the South Seas nightclub in "The Rocketeer", parts of "The Last of the Mohicans"...

 

I used Agfa stock on my early features, not so much the XT320 because I got to use its replacement, XTR250, a beautiful stock that was obsoleted within a year of introduction because Agfa stopped making motion picture negative stock.

 

Probably the last person to shoot XT320 was David Watkin, who must have hoarded the stock because he shot a couple of features using it after it was pulled from the market -- parts of "Jane Eyre" for example.

 

No point in using it now because fogging due to aging would have ruined it -- I should know, I had some cans in my fridge that were too aged to use five years later.

 

The closest look to Agfa XT320 is probably Fuji F-400T if you rated it at 250 ASA to reduce the grain. Maybe the new Expression 500T overexposed and pull-processed. You might have to filter it to get that warm Agfa brown tone... The early part of "A Beautiful Mind" was shot on Fuji F-400T flashed with yellow light and it had an Agfa look.

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Wow, that's quite a list. Thanks, David. You aren't kidding about David Watkin -- he obviously had a thing for shooting on Agfa. How has he adapted since they ceased making Agfa stock? Is his later work shot on Fuji 400-T?

 

Arthur Jafa used it twice. Wish he shot more. :(

 

To get that Agfa tone, what filter might you use on top of the 400-T?

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The closest look to Agfa XT320 is probably Fuji F-400T if you rated it at 250 ASA to reduce the grain.  Maybe the new Expression 500T overexposed and pull-processed.  You might have to filter it to get that warm Agfa brown tone...  The early part of "A Beautiful Mind" was shot on Fuji F-400T flashed with yellow light and it had an Agfa look.

 

I agree that Kodak VISION2 Expression 500T 5229 with overexposure (to compress the highlights like Agfa did) and pull processing may also give you the "look". Flashing or filtration can add tint to the shadows or highlights.

 

Likewise, Kodak VISION 320T 5277 might be a good starting point:

 

http://www.kodak.com/US/en/motion/products....4.4.4.16&lc=en

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Watkin switched to Kodak 5287 (the forerunner to current 320T 5277) when Agfa was no longer an option. He used '87 on "Night Falls on Manhatten" and probably "Tea with Mussolini". Don't know if he used 5277 when it replaced 5287.

 

'77 was less grainy but also a little less contrasty than '87. Maybe that was OK with him, maybe not. He'd probably prefer the look of '29 these days.

 

Note that Watkin's success with Agfa was that he rated it almost a full stop slower than 320 ASA, hence why his films had better blacks and better grain than a lot of other Agfa-shot productions. It also explains why his Agfa movies look nearly shot wide-open for interiors at times. It wasn't so much that Watkin wanted a really low contrast film stock -- what he wanted was a stock with a wide overexposure latitude.

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  It wasn't so much that Watkin wanted a really low contrast film stock -- what he wanted was a stock with a wide overexposure latitude.

 

I recall that Agfa XT 320 had a "rolled off" shoulder, that with overexposure would tend to reduce highlight contrast and go in a slightly warm direction.

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