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BABYLON - Push-processing 35mm stock

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So I was reading the American Cinematographer article on Damien Chazelle's Babylon, lensed by Linus Sandgren, and I came across his strategy for push-processing the film stock:

Sandgren’s strategy involved four Kodak Vision3 negatives: 50D 5203 (pushed 1 stop and rated at 25 ISO) for day exteriors, 250D 5207 (pushed 1 stop and rated at 125 ISO) for day interiors, 200T 5213 (pushed 1 stop and rated at 100 ISO) for most night scenes, and 500T 5219 (pushed 1 stop and rated at 250 ISO) for select night sequences.

When I shoot film stills in my camera, if I have a 200 ASA rated film, and I want to push it by +1 stop, I change the light meter to read at 400 ASA and then tell the lab to push +1 stop.

So why is he rating the film -1 stop lower if he's pushing it? Is he simply overexposing it? It might be really obvious but I'd love to know!

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That is a good formula for a harsh high contrast image with especially hot highlights, which is reflected in the look of the film. 


There are creative reasons for pushing or pulling film, outside of exposure needs.

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My understanding of this: Sandgren did not want to rate 5203 at ASA12, so he compromised and rated it at ASA25 and pushed it the extra stop. So he did the same for 5207, 5213 and 5219 to keep the process consistent. He could have just pushed two stops, but that might not have given him what he wanted. I haven't seen the film yet, BTW.

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I haven't seen it either but heard/read from most viewers that it is a mess of  a movie that is self indulgent without any redeeming qualities. I also heard the cinematography and production design are the only things going for it. I have to check it out myself of course. 

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Allow me to add my two cents worth.  

As entertainment, it is wonderful.  I've read a great many books on early Hollywood, (including Babylon), also lived and worked there, so am familiar with many of the stories as alluded to in the film. It was nice to see their take/spin on them ----- jazz riffs if you will.

At the same time, in the back of my mind, I remember that censorship and/or good taste imposed a limit on how much a story could be illustrated, as contrasted with actual events, which were much wilder, more raw, and reprehensible (for some folks).

Look at all the talent that went into making the original movies,  and look around and see how a great many of them fell from grace, ran out of money (for whatever reason),  were murdered or died otherwise tragic deaths.

Babylon, the movie, stands as a parable, a warning that then as now, Hollywood may chew you up and spit you out (for any reason), or if you are very lucky, diligent, or not, you may succeed financially but don't dwell too much on the personal cost.

And for some it actually is a fairy-tale come true.

And that is why so many people still flock to Hollywood.

Now, darn it, that doesn't answer the OP's question, but I had to say something good for a movie I did enjoy.


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