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Underexposing KV3 7219


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Hello!

I'm preparing a music video which will be shot on KV3 7219, mainly in low light conditions at night on exteriors. I want to rate the film at E.I. 1000 ASA but develop it normally at 500ASA in order to avoid the grain that would come from the push process. Later in the grade, my idea is to correct that stop and balance it to 1000 ASA. That's my idea as it's something that I've seen other DPs have done in similar projects on S16mm or S35mm, but my question would be wether that correction can or should be done in the Arriscan (we're doing HD Dailies on a Spirit and then use the Arriscan with the EDL later ) or if am I correct and can be done in the grading?

Thanks for your help!

 

A.

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I have seen full sized frames of 7219 at ASA 1000 and it looks terrific. I'm pretty sure that negative film does not need to be pushed - I am fairly sure that they used to push film to make it simpler to do contact prints. Someone, please correct me if I'm wrong on that.

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On 2/5/2021 at 11:16 AM, Alberto Bañares said:

I want to rate the film at E.I. 1000 ASA but develop it normally at 500ASA in order to avoid the grain that would come from the push process. Later in the grade, my idea is to correct that stop and balance it to 1000 ASA.

You'll still be getting increased grain because you'll be lifting up underexposed shadow areas in post. Ideally, you'd do a test to see whether a post production push is cleaner than a photochemical one.

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On 3/1/2021 at 4:27 AM, Karim D. Ghantous said:

I have seen full sized frames of 7219 at ASA 1000 and it looks terrific. I'm pretty sure that negative film does not need to be pushed - I am fairly sure that they used to push film to make it simpler to do contact prints. Someone, please correct me if I'm wrong on that.

Hi Karim,

Probably is not a great idea to push 7219, but pushing 5219 is another thing, don't you think? Btw, do you mean that because pushing helps the films' density it would help to do contact prints with less "light"? First time I've heard/read about this, it's quite intriguing...

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On 3/2/2021 at 1:28 PM, Stuart Brereton said:

You'll still be getting increased grain because you'll be lifting up underexposed shadow areas in post. Ideally, you'd do a test to see whether a post production push is cleaner than a photochemical one.

Hi Stuart,

That test would have been great indeed... as I'd have loved to know which kind of push was cleaner. Somehow in my mind it made more sense (after knowing that other DPs have used the same push technique) the idea of a cleaner push in postproduction as the film's latitude is generous.

The music video I shot will be released in 10 days and I'm very happy with the results, I will share it here.

Thanks for your reply!

 

A.

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Shooting thin negative and printing up would give you muddier colors and ashier blacks and decreases the contrast whereas pushing film would increase color saturation and contrast. Both would increase grain but i would guess a thin negative would have more grain in the shadows than pushed film. When you push film, you compensate for underexposure by extra processing and preserving the negative's density. 

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1 hour ago, Giray Izcan said:

Shooting thin negative and printing up would give you muddier colors and ashier blacks and decreases the contrast whereas pushing film would increase color saturation and contrast. Both would increase grain but i would guess a thin negative would have more grain in the shadows than pushed film. When you push film, you compensate for underexposure by extra processing and preserving the negative's density. 

I haven't seen a direct comparison with colour film, but I have with b&w film, and there was no difference. I would not be surprised if colour film behaved very differently.

Alberto, I look forward to seeing the video.

I found this, which may be of interest. I think it looks great:

 

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7 hours ago, Giray Izcan said:

Shooting thin negative and printing up would give you muddier colors and ashier blacks and decreases the contrast whereas pushing film would increase color saturation and contrast. Both would increase grain but i would guess a thin negative would have more grain in the shadows than pushed film. When you push film, you compensate for underexposure by extra processing and preserving the negative's density. 

Hi Giray,

I'm aware of what you say, in fact Harris Savides was doing a combination of things but mainly underexposing 2 to 3 stops as far as I know (in Birth, for example)... but in this case, I'm not printing up, I'm compensating that in the grade after receiving the normal Log 2K scan. I guess it's another way of printing up... Ideally, a test would have been great... but we couldn't afford it!

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Push process effects highlights much more than shadows. It does not salvage crushed shadows. It only lifts the highlights and gives you more contrast. If you underexpose, the shadows will be noisier and have less details whether you push process or not. 

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5 hours ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

I haven't seen a direct comparison with colour film, but I have with b&w film, and there was no difference. I would not be surprised if colour film behaved very differently.

Alberto, I look forward to seeing the video.

I found this, which may be of interest. I think it looks great:

 

 

Hi Karim,

Yeah, I had seen Drew's test before... he has another great test of 5219 pushed 2 stops, very useful!

In this particular test, I'm surprised by the small amount of grain... Drew says in his comments that Vimeo's compression actually reduced the grain. Also, he's actually not compensating a full stop, as he's rating it at 800ISO, so he's getting a cleaner image. Then there is the Film Lab variable, as probably depending on the quality of the chemicals and other factors, you can get a cleaner negative. I heard the other day on a Team Deakins podcast a DP talking about how they used to test different Labs sending them the same footage in order to see all the differences...

Also my project was mainly night exteriors, and although we managed to get streets with already good lighting conditions (and I've been able at some degree to light the foreground), I was afraid that a normal push process would produce more grain than compensating it on the color grade. A big chunk of Drew's test has well lit interiors and sunny exteriors, but I was surprised to see the quality in the low light scenes he has.

Thanks for the interest on my project, Karim!

 

A.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

One stop in general isn't much to write home about. You can achieve it in the scan or in a push during the processing, it won't matter really. I have stopped even caring if my key is 1 stop under on set, I know I can get it back no problem. 

When you get above one stop, into the 2 or greater stops of push, you really should do it photochemically. The problem is that scan techs may not catch the 2 stop underexposed images and scan them too dark, which would mean you now have introduced digital noise from the scanner imager. You wouldn't be able to recover the blacks either. 

I personally wouldn't push 16mm like 35mm. It doesn't hold up nearly as well. I've done it quite a bit due to mistakes and even the one stop push, I've been dissatisfied with. Always having to work the image with noise reduction in post to get a "clean" image. I just don't like doing that if I can avoid it. I also shoot A LOT of underexposed stuff because I'm shooting documentaries on 16mm, because I can't control the lighting with B-Roll shooting at all. 

So for 16mm, I would try to shoot dead on. One stop ain't the end of the world, but you will see it in the blacks. For 35mm, you can go way further, 2 stops in photochemical can garnish a very nice image, it's been done on countless movies from "Phantom Thread" to "Lost City of Z". Just watch those two movies if you want a reference of what modern 2 stop pushing 500T looks like from a theatrical standpoint. 

 

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2 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

One stop in general isn't much to write home about. You can achieve it in the scan or in a push during the processing, it won't matter really. I have stopped even caring if my key is 1 stop under on set, I know I can get it back no problem. 

When you get above one stop, into the 2 or greater stops of push, you really should do it photochemically. The problem is that scan techs may not catch the 2 stop underexposed images and scan them too dark, which would mean you now have introduced digital noise from the scanner imager. You wouldn't be able to recover the blacks either. 

I personally wouldn't push 16mm like 35mm. It doesn't hold up nearly as well. I've done it quite a bit due to mistakes and even the one stop push, I've been dissatisfied with. Always having to work the image with noise reduction in post to get a "clean" image. I just don't like doing that if I can avoid it. I also shoot A LOT of underexposed stuff because I'm shooting documentaries on 16mm, because I can't control the lighting with B-Roll shooting at all. 

So for 16mm, I would try to shoot dead on. One stop ain't the end of the world, but you will see it in the blacks. For 35mm, you can go way further, 2 stops in photochemical can garnish a very nice image, it's been done on countless movies from "Phantom Thread" to "Lost City of Z". Just watch those two movies if you want a reference of what modern 2 stop pushing 500T looks like from a theatrical standpoint. 

 

 

Thanks Tyler for your extensive reply.

I agree with you, I'd never push (Digitally or photochemically) S16mm 2 stops, but certainly I'd like to do so with 35mm film if needed be.

All the best,

a.

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16 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

The problem is that scan techs may not catch the 2 stop underexposed images and scan them too dark

Is it not the DP’s responsibility to tell them that the under exposure needs correcting? You should not be expecting technicians to make qualitative judgements; it’s not their job.

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On 3/6/2021 at 12:10 AM, Stuart Brereton said:

Is it not the DP’s responsibility to tell them that the under exposure needs correcting? You should not be expecting technicians to make qualitative judgements; it’s not their job.

Scanning techs try their best, but 9 times out of 10 fail. Even if told exactly which roll of film, generally those rolls are still spliced into lab rolls of 1800ft. Those little sections of underexposed regions, are very tricky to deal with, unless the scanner being used, can log the changes in color based on foot location. This would then be called a "managed" transfer, which is an entirely different world. I'm unaware one can even do a managed transfer on an Arriscan or any "classic" low-speed, pin registered, triple flash, full RGB, 4k+ scanner. You can on a scan station or spirit/cintel machine. Everyone runs the entire roll off based on the first shot's color. So a good lab would separate those tricky rolls from the rest of the bulk and run them separately. I just don't ever see that being done. 

For our films, when we get the film back from the lab, we  cut out the stuff that requires separate treatment. Put it on special rolls, either separate or combined depending on the treatment required. Then we wash those new rolls then scan them independently of the rest of the work. 

So yes, it is the DP's responsibility, but good luck getting it done properly at any lab in the US, unless you're doing a managed "telecine" in which, there will be no problem. It's just, telecine's aren't anywhere near the quality of a high-end modern pin registered, triple flash scanner. 

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4 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Everyone runs the entire roll off based on the first shot's color. So a good lab would separate those tricky rolls from the rest of the bulk and run them separately. I just don't ever see that being done. 

So what you're saying is that you're getting a one light transfer, which by definition doesn't vary from shot to shot. They set up at the beginning of the roll, according to your grayscale if you've shot one, and transfer from there. If they are not adjusting your underexposed shots, it's not because they are missing them, or not doing their best, it's because you are not paying them to. If you ask for a unsupervised transfer, you can hardly complain when that is exactly what you get.

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2 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

If you ask for a unsupervised transfer, you can hardly complain when that is exactly what you get.

Who said anything about unsupervised transfers? 

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11 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Who said anything about unsupervised transfers? 

So who is supervising, if not you?

I guess what I'm asking here is; are you paying for:

1. An unsupervised (by you) one light/best light transfer where they grade to gray scale at the beginning of each roll, but do not correct individual shots.

or

2. A supervised (by you) transfer with shot to shot correction.

If you're paying for #1 but expecting #2 then it's no wonder you're disappointed.

In my experience, no lab makes corrections without specific instructions regarding the location and problem with each shot. Without instructions they have no way of knowing what is intentional and what isn't. When I was doing camera reports, I would simply request the lab or TK to grade to gray scale for each camera roll. If there was more than one gray scale on a roll, you made a note on the reports so that the timer knew to keep an eye out for it. There was no need to ask for anything more, because that was all the dailies timer did. It was not their job to make any other corrections.  

It sounds like you're expecting the lab to be identifying underexposed shots, splitting the rolls, and then transferring. With the right information from you, any lab should be able to do this, but they are of course going to charge you for it. If you're not paying for that service, maybe that's problem.

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5 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

It sounds like you're expecting the lab to be identifying underexposed shots, splitting the rolls, and then transferring. With the right information from you, any lab should be able to do this, but they are of course going to charge you for it. If you're not paying for that service, maybe that's problem.

Managed transfers can only be done on telecine style machines. Where it's true, a bunch of newer machines like the ScanStation do allow managed transfers, but are still considered "scanners" for some reason, they aren't really the same quality as real scanners. In my eyes, a scanner is a true RGB machine (triple flash if using CMOS/CCD imagers) with hopefully a pin registered gate. Machines like the Arriscan, which is the highest quality, most used machine on the market, can't be managed in the same way a telecine can be. With the pin registered gate installed, they are very slow and unless you have an exact frame count of where the changes happen, nobody is going to sit there and wait for it to happen. 

Furthermore, if you're shooting 16mm like the OP is, your "lab roll" will be, not just one roll of film, but multiple. It maybe 2x400ft rolls + some short ends. Even if you ask the lab to build those lab rolls into a certain order, that doesn't mean they will do it properly. So sometimes you get lab rolls back and they are simply the wrong rolls of film in the box. So imagine giving scanning instructions to an operator, when the rolls they think they are scanning, aren't the correct ones. Now of course, a telecine operator will catch the slate and notice the roll being the wrong one hopefully, but maybe not? 

Then you have the bigger problem of identifying the problems if you aren't near the lab. There are only 7 labs in the US and honestly, I can only think of 4 which allow customer's to sit with the telecine operator for a managed transfer. So what's the likelihood some guy in Chicago is going to be able to sit in on their transfer? Its probably not going to happen and what if they want a real 4k triple flash HDR scan? Can't do that with any current telecine style machines. So you're at a cross roads where you're just hoping the lab reads your instructions and you're hoping they follow them. 

I'm not going to sit here and name names, do the blame game, but I have worked with many labs in the US and not a single one has gotten my notes completely right ever. Heck on my most recent short,  we actually purposely changed the names of the night rolls to "BXXX" instead of "AXXX" to avoid any cross pollination. I even did a separate order just for all the night work, so when we transferred, we would know those were the night rolls. Yea well, 2 of those rolls wound up on the tails of the daylight stuff. Then we did a bunch of "CXXX" rolls that were film that needed to be push processed and transferred entirely differently. Again, stated in the paperwork, all "C" rolls were to be spliced onto lab rolls together. What did I get back? Oh nearly all of them were done that way, except for one of them. Which was actually tagged onto the "A" rolls. Then, when we started transferring we realized my note about "watch for framing" did nothing. The frame lines were off on every roll. So I confronted the lab manager and they said, they never get the 3 perf frame lines perfect. All they have to do is cut out the "non image"  heads and tails from the roll and it would be easy, but they don't. They simply splice every single frame together and hand you the rolls. This may sound like not a problem, but it's a huge problem with 2 perf and 3 perf shows that use "scanners" because you can't adjust frame lines mid way through the roll unless you know where the problem is. Well, who knows where the problem is when you're shooting rolls that aren't complete? Some of our rolls are 50ft because that was the end of our day. Some of our rolls were complete 400ft'ers. So if the lab doesn't put the rolls together the way you ask them to. If the lab doesn't even align the frames properly. How do even make notes about color changes unless you separate those rolls you know you have problems with? 

So yes, I've found modern labs have difficulty with this stuff and for me, since I have a facility to make new rolls, that's basically what I do. I go through every single foot by hand and make sure my lab rolls are the right ones. I guess the only saving grace in all of this is that film is pretty easy to work with, so it's pretty easy to fix these issues, but identifying them is the key/problem. If you aren't at the lab, if you aren't looking at the finished result, then you really can't identify any problems and that to me, is the biggest issue. 
 

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I know perfectly well how lab rolls work. I spent a good few years shooting music videos on super 16. 

My question, which you still haven't answered, is whether the service you are paying for offers shot by shot correction. It sounds to me as if you're using a dailies service to transfer all of your footage as a best light transfer. They grade to each gray scale on the roll (which should be clearly marked on the camera reports) and then let it run. If that's the case, you shouldn't be surprised that they are not correcting individual shots.

Are you saying that they are setting up at the beginning of each roll and then changing nothing else at all, or are they grading to gray scale each time one appears? Are you shooting gray scales at the head of each roll so they have an exposure reference? Are you shooting boards with scene and take numbers that can be used to identify the shots in question? What information are you providing the lab so they can do this work? 

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I don't know about Tyler, but the only scans / telecine I have used with 16mm since 2014 have been flat, log-ish Prores HQ scans. Works really well. I think scene to scene "best light" was really useful back in 2008 when HDCAM was the only option for output. Can't see myself anymore sitting on a sofa, sipping "free" soft drink and watching real time how a colorist grades my raw footage while transferring it to digital. Perhaps my projects are just not high end enough, but I have been very satisfied with these results...

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2 hours ago, Heikki Repo said:

I don't know about Tyler, but the only scans / telecine I have used with 16mm since 2014 have been flat, log-ish Prores HQ scans. Works really well. I think scene to scene "best light" was really useful back in 2008 when HDCAM was the only option for output. Can't see myself anymore sitting on a sofa, sipping "free" soft drink and watching real time how a colorist grades my raw footage while transferring it to digital. Perhaps my projects are just not high end enough, but I have been very satisfied with these results...

My point is not whether the output is a best light or a flat scan. I agree, these days it's much more likely to be a flat scan . My question has to do with whether Tyler is expecting the lab to be making adjustments to his material as they transfer. He's talking about shots that are considerably underexposed and are not being corrected by the lab. My question is is whether he is providing them with enough information about the shots for them to be able to make these corrections in an unsupervised transfer, and also whether shot by shot correction is even a service that they offer without paying extra. The price per foot for a flat scan, best light, one light, or whatever is based on them setting up and then letting the transfer run without alterations or interruptions. If you want the lab to go searching through rolls for individual shots and then adjusting the scan to compensate, the price per foot will increase.

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8 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

I know perfectly well how lab rolls work. I spent a good few years shooting music videos on super 16. 

But do you know how improperly assembled lab rolls work? IE ignoring your notes. 

8 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

My question, which you still haven't answered, is whether the service you are paying for offers shot by shot correction. It sounds to me as if you're using a dailies service to transfer all of your footage as a best light transfer. They grade to each gray scale on the roll (which should be clearly marked on the camera reports) and then let it run. If that's the case, you shouldn't be surprised that they are not correcting individual shots.

Again, if you want a pin registered, full 16 bit 444 scan, which is what I normally request, you aren't getting a managed transfer. 

If you want a telecine transfer, then you can get managed all day long, but telecine's are really not that great looking. 

Scanstations look great and can do a managed transfer, but pretty expensive AND not full RGB. 

So it's a tossup on what you're looking for. The best quality scan possible using a one light "flat" process. 

OR

A managed scan that will not look nearly as good, but be closer to the final look coming off the machine. 

My comments are directed at projects I shoot for other people. Generally I have very little to no say in shows I don't scan myself. I simply hand the film over at the end of the day and make notes for the lab, if there are any issues. If the client chooses not to work with my connections both lab and transfer, I can't force them. We offer competitive deals, but many people are wiry of letting their film go with the DP. IDK why... seems odd, but I've shot for many people and only hear from them months later when they're got a cut. It's unfortunate because if they handed the film off, we'd make it perfect. The problems I've seen/faced with this particular issue, has been on other people's jobs, not my own. My issues are easy to solve, I simply re-build those lab reels and scan myself.

8 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

Are you saying that they are setting up at the beginning of each roll and then changing nothing else at all, or are they grading to gray scale each time one appears? Are you shooting gray scales at the head of each roll so they have an exposure reference? Are you shooting boards with scene and take numbers that can be used to identify the shots in question? What information are you providing the lab so they can do this work? 

First good frame, they auto balance and let it run. 

As a hired DP, generally the AC will run a gray card, but that's become rarer and rarer these days. 

As a filmmaker who scans their own material, I personally don't bother. Nobody else does either. I got a camera test few months ago with a gray card to scan and was shocked, first time I saw it in years. 

Well, I mean on jobs I'm hired to DP on, it's not my job. So I honestly don't know what the AC does with their notes. I suggest they put them on the can's and I hope that someone on the back end will read them and work with them, but who knows. As a hired gun, I rarely know what's going on past the shoot. 

On my own shows, it doesn't matter. I scan my own material. Each roll has a slate at the head of it, so the lab understands what it is. Then each can is labeled the same way. So when it's wrong, it's just the lab. 

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5 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

The best quality scan possible using a one light "flat" process. 

First good frame, they auto balance and let it run. 

So the process is that they let each roll run from beginning to end. No interruption, no alterations. So it's not that they are "missing" your underexposed shots, or not trying hard enough, it's just that individual corrections are not part of the service. That's kind of what I thought would be the issue.

5 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

the AC will run a gray card, but that's become rarer and rarer these days. 

I personally don't bother. Nobody else does either.

Gray scales are used to communicate exposure and color filtration information to other people further down the post production line. How is someone supposed to know how your flat scan should look if there's nothing to reference? Even if it's a personal project, running a gray scale takes only seconds and you never know when someone else might need to see it. It's just basic professional practice.

5 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

So I honestly don't know what the AC does with their notes.

it's not my job.

I suggest they put them on the can's and I hope that someone on the back end will read them and work with them, but who knows.

Of course it's your job. The AC is not writing those notes for fun. It is the DP's responsibility to communicate to the labs via those notes. When I was an AC, I worked for DPs who would make you write the whole report out a second time if you made a mistake on it. They wanted every detail on there so that both the lab and editorial knew exactly what their intentions were, so there were no mistakes. I certainly wouldn't want to work with a DP who didn't care enough about their images to even make sure the camera reports were correct.

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