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Tips & Tricks for shooting Vision2 16mm


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I am going to be shooting a student project on Kodak's Vision2 Daylight on an old Bolex, handcrank model, and was wondering if anyone could give me a few pointers for exposure, lighting, what lenses to use...etc, anything that could help me. Also how is the easiest way without going through telecine to create a desaturated look. And I am curious about aspect ratio framing, and how that is achieved in the bolex. Thank you.

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Hey, another question for the FAQ that I forgot... the old desaturation one (with everyone doing digital posts, it's come up less often.)


Your Bolex is probably regular 16mm, which is 1.33 or 1.37 (I get conflicting opinions on this one), which is 4x3 more or less. 16mm projection is the same if this is for print. If this is for blow-up to 35mm, 35mm projection is either (1) spherical, matted to 1.85 or (2) uses the anamorphic process to create a 2.39 image when unstretched. If you want a 1.85 35mm result, you'd have to frame your regular 16mm footage for cropping top & bottom to 1.85 in mind when you shoot it.


Here's my old text on desaturation which will probably end up in the FAQ:


The various methods used to achieve desaturation of color in motion picture photography are:


Art direction. The best way to control color is by using less color in costumes, set dressing, wall painting, etc.


Use a less saturated film stock. Current examples: Kodak 5277 (Vision 320T), 5229 (Expression 500T), Fuji F-400T. NOTE: there is generally a correlation between lower saturation and lower contrast and softer blacks, since the black density can affect how saturated we perceive a color to be (just as in painting - to make a color more pastel, we mix white into it.) The exception is when silver retention processing is used (see below.)


Filters. Filters that allow bright highlights to bleed (?halate?) or wash into the shadows not only lower contrast, but soften colors. Some types of light-scattering filters: ProMist, Fog, Double Fog, Low Contrast, GlimmerGlass, Smoque, Frost, Supra-Frost, UltraCons.


Smoke. Smoke has a similar effect to filters in that contrast and color are lowered because light is allowed to wash over everything. However, smoke is dimensional and affects objects in the background more than objects in the foreground due to the increasing density of the smoke that one is viewing the object through as it recedes from the camera position.


Lighting. The general rule is that frontal lighting emphasizes color; back or cross-lighting emphasizes texture.


Developing. Overexposure and pull-process developing can lower saturation and contrast a little.


Flashing. Again, like filters and smoke, flashing lowers color saturation by adding a wash of white light over the image, also lowering the contrast. The advantage of flashing over filters is that it doesn't soften definition or produce artifacts like halos around light sources. Flashing can be achieved through the lens using an Arri VariCon device (which fits into a 6x6 mattebox) or a Panaflasher (which fits over one of the magazine ports on a Panaflex.) Some labs will post-flash the negative before development but many do not like to get into this because of the chance of damaging the negative through over-handling, or making a mistake. You can also flash an internegative. Prints and interpositives can also be flashed, which lowers contrast by darkening the highlights, not lifting the shadows ? it also slightly softens colors but not as much as negative flashing.


Exposure. Underexposure is not really recommended, but a thin negative printed up will generally produce weaker colors and blacks, plus show a lot more grain. Some slight overexposure usually increases saturation if the denser negative leads to printing down the image ? but EXTREME overexposure will also wash out colors (and highlight detail unfortunately) because most of the picture information is placed along the flatter shoulder portion of the characteristic curve.


Using incorrect color-balance. When shooting in daylight on tungsten-balanced film, removing the 85B color-correction filter will create a very blue-ish image on the negative that tends to reduce the saturation in reds, including skintones. However, blues and greens will get more exposure and possibly more saturation. By leaving the final timed image on the cold side, you can also keep skintones desaturated.


Silver-retention processes. Generally done to the print, but some techniques can be applied to the negative. A certain amount of black silver normally removed in the developing process is left in the image, increasing contrast and blacks, but also softening colors. Skip-bleach / bleach-bypass, CFI's Silver-Tint, and Deluxe's CCE process are the most extreme techniques, leaving all or most of the silver in the print; Technicolor's ENR and Deluxe's ACE processes are more subtle, allowing the degree of silver retention to be modified. The greater the level of silver left in the film, the greater the desaturation. NOTE: Often a contrast-lowering technique like flashing, pull-developing, or filtration is used in conjunction with a silver retention process on the prints to keep the black levels and contrast to normal levels but also desaturate the image even further.


Optical printing. From the original color negative, both a color interpositive and a b&w positive are struck and then both elements are recombined (overlaid) in two exposure passes to create a new, desaturated dupe negative. How desaturated the image is depends on what percentage of the total exposure came from the b&w or the color I.P. "The Sacrifice" and "Sophie's Choice" (the flashbacks) used this technique; so did the opening scenes of "The Natural", which rephotographed the color record out-of-focus over the sharp b&w image, creating a diffusion effect.


Digital color-correction. Color is easily manipulated in the digital realm. This is done all the time for film material transferred to video for television presentation; it can also be done for film that is scanned to a digital data format, color-corrected, and then recorded back to film (i.e. a digital intermediate.) For "Breaking the Waves", the Super-35 negative was telecine transferred to PAL D1 videotape, desaturated, and recorded back to film. Branaugh's "Frankenstein" digitally scanned the North Pole sequence into a computer and desaturated the image and output it back to film at full 35mm resolution. All of "O Brother Where Art Thou?" was transferred from Super-35 negative to 2K data files on a Spirit Datacine at Kodak's Cinesite, digitally color-corrected to desaturate some colors, and recorded back to film using a laser recorder. There have been many more examples of digital desaturation since this film.




All of these techniques can be combined in various ways ? and usually are. Most productions trying to create a softer color palette always begin with the art direction and costuming. One reason is that it is always better to use the simplest means to achieve a goal. Another is that primary colors tend to desaturate less noticeably than pastel colors when using some sort of desaturation technique ? and since skintones are generally pastel, they will lose their color much faster than a primary color in the frame. So controlling those colors in front of the camera is very important and allows you more options to alter the color with special techniques or processing without affecting the skintones too much.


Some examples of these techniques in use:


"Saving Private Ryan" was shot on 5293 pushed one stop to 400 ASA, flashed with a Panaflasher (generally), and used the ENR process on the prints. Some shots used filters or just foggy skies to wash out the image, plus the lens were stripped of their coatings to increase flare, and of course, the subject matter was naturally low in color saturation (overcast weather on a beach, actors wearing army costumes, etc.) Also, exterior scenes were shot with the less-strong 81EF filter instead of the 85B filter, creating a colder image.


Looking at DP Darius Khondji?s work, we see that "Seven" used negative flashing combined with Deluxe's CCE printing process. "Evita" used a VariCon and diffusion filters combined with a 30% ENR printing. "Alien Resurrection" used a 50% ENR printing.


"Ronin" used pull-processing of the neg combined with CCE printing.


"Heaven?s Gate" used negative flashing and print flashing together to soften the colors and contrast ? plus a lot of smoke and dust in the scenes. "McCabe and Mrs. Miller", also shot by DP Vilmos Zsigmond, used underexposure, push-processing, negative flashing, and diffusion filters (mostly Double-Fogs).


"Kansas City" used Kodak?s EXR 5287 stock combined with CCE printing. (5287 has since been updated to 5277.)


"High Art" was shot on Kodak?s VISION 320T (5277) and flashed with a VariCon ? but no silver retention printing techniques were used.


"Payback" used the CCE printing process, combined with shooting without the 85 filter outdoors on tungsten stock, and using a blue filter indoors ? the overly blue image on the negative ensured that skintones would be consistently desaturated. This was combined with careful color control in the art direction ? even yellow taxis and red fire hydrants were painted down. The print was timed to the blue side to keep any reds from becoming more saturated.


"Sleepy Hollow" used smoke on the sets and the CCE process in printing, plus a very monochromatic design.

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