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500T - Day EXTs, Night EXTs, no filter

Aaron Webster

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I'm prepping for a short on super16 soon and doing tests later this month. The director has all 500T vision3 stock that was given to him free. He is very into the look of "The Tree of Life" (Dir. Terrence Malick) going so far as to say that we will shoot the 500T in daylight unfiltered (no 85B). I'll admit that I have not done this yet, so part of my tests will be shooting the stock unfiltered with different lighting units, day and night. However, I have some questions prior to my test and wanted more experienced opinions than my own on how one might approach this 'look'.

Firstly, I'm only aware of "The Tree of Life" as a film that shot 200/500T without color corrective filters. I'm sure there are other examples, but could anyone point me in those directions?

Second, lighting units are my biggest question at the moment. How did Malick and Chivo light the film (when they did)? Tungsten units on subjects as white light, pulling the blue out of the background only, or HMIs on the subject to match the natural light and pull blue from the entire shot?

When thinking this through I have to work within the following constraints:
- We have Day EXTs and INTs.
- We have a few Night EXTs, and myself and the Director both prefer a night look that isn't overly blue.

- The director has a 1200W HMI Par, so he seems adamant about using it.

So far, for this part of my tests I'm shooting the following:
- EXT. Day with 85b filter (to show how it would look corrected)

- EXT. Day no filter

- EXT. Day no filter, HMI par unit

- EXT. Day no filter, HMI + 1/4 CTO (thought process: trying to get closer to 'white light'. Necessary?)
- EXT. Day no filter, HMI + 1/2 CTO (same as above)

- EXT. Day no filter, tungsten
- EXT. Night no filter, HMI par (I fear this will be overly blue for a 'night' scene)

- EXT. Night no filter, tungsten


Is there anything else I should be shooting to determine how best to approach this? Am I missing something along the way here? Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

My last issue is the night EXTs. The night scenes only consist of Mediums and close ups. From others experiences shooting 500T at night, how grainy can the blacks be? Is it still best to rate 2/3 stops over? I've thought about simply using a 2K scoop light for an already soft source to get the exposure up without throwing a bunch of harsh light on the background. I've also considered a 2K fresnel and controlling that, but the harder light at night is not my first choice. I'm not sure either way, any advice here would be appreciated as well. Thank you!

Edited by Aaron Webster
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I have seen the film, but a while ago. I am going to guess that he shot just before sundown with a clear sky. Interiors seem to have used diffusion over windows (out of frame). In short: soft, natural, medium contrast.


If you're shooting 500T unfiltered, maybe overexpose by a third? In digital terms (sorry, I can't quite figure out the term for colour neg), using it unfiltered would be starving the red channel. Overexposing would feed the red channel a bit more, while not overfeeding the blue channel. I'm not sure how to translate that into secondaries. I'd have to check a colour wheel.


This looks interesting (I will make this part of my evening reading today):



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Plenty of movies have shot tungsten stock in daylight without the 85 filter -- "Heat" for example, or some movies shot by John Alcott like "Barry Lyndon" or "Greystoke".


Shooting at night with HMI's is no different than shooting in daylight without the 85, if the whole scene it lit with HMI's, you can color-correct the image to neutral.


Mixed color temperature lighting will still be mixed whether you shoot on tungsten stock or daylight stock, and whether you use a correction filter -- the difference in color temperature between two different light sources will still be visible.

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Thank you all for your advice. It is very much appreciated. I believe with your advice and my tests, I will determine the best units for the job.


My last issue is still one I am hung up on: with 7219 for night exteriors, in order to keep blacks as clean as possible, is rating 2/3 stops over still suggested? Or should I take full advantage of the speed of the film and rate at 500?

Thank you.

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If you can rate the stock a little lower, that's always helpful. Even just 1/3 of a stop would help. It becomes a judgement call when you start opening up so much on your lenses that they go softer, like with Super-Speeds once you go below an f/2.0-2.8 split.


Keep in mind that "Tree of Life" was shot in 35mm and you are shooting in Super-16, so personally I'd use 200T instead of 500T for your day work if you want to use uncorrected tungsten stock.

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Thanks for the quick response David. I will try to aim for 1/3 over if not 2/3 to the best of my ability.

I wish it were possible to use 200T for day scenes but the director was given all 500T for free so I don't have much choice there. I had planned to rate the stock during day scenes at 2/3 over, through both day interiors and exteriors.

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