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Patrick McGowan

Chungking Express

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I just watched Chungking Express and I was really impressed by how beautiful and engaging it was, plus I really love Faye Wong. In a few sequences there was an exaggerated motion blur look. I was wondering how this was achieved and if anybody has some more insights on the cinematography. (imdb simply says that it was shot in 35mm and spherical)

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If you haven't seen any other of Wong Kar Wai's films, might I recommend the following:

-Fallen Angels

-Happy Together

-In The Mood for Love

-2046

 

There are others but these I highly recommend, and not just for excellent photography.

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In a few sequences there was an exaggerated motion blur look. I was wondering how this was achieved and if anybody has some more insights on the cinematography.

These were filmed at a slower frame rate then printed so that the speed is correct when run at 24 fps. I'm not sure the exact frame rate they used (I think the sequences weren't all the same), but for example if they filmed at 12 fps then they would print 2 frames so that the motion was correct when run at 24 fps. They may have opened up the shutter more than 180 as well to get that dreamy motion blur.

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The shutter was 180 degrees, but the frame rate was 6 or 8 fps, then each frame was reprinted 4 or 3 times to get back to 24 in an optical printer. At 6 fps with a 180 degree shutter, the shutter speed is 1/12th of a second, hence all the motion blur.

 

The movie was shot on Agfa stock, XT320 probably. "Fallen Angels" was shot on Fuji 250T stock mostly, with a lot of push-processing.

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DAVID wrote >>>

The shutter was 180 degrees, but the frame rate was 6 or 8 fps, then each frame was reprinted 4 or 3 times to get back to 24 in an optical printer. At 6 fps with a 180 degree shutter, the shutter speed is 1/12th of a second, hence all the motion blur.

<<<

 

In reply -

There "may be" one scene where they did open the shutter past 180* - if you look at the scene where the power goes out and the store is lit with candles - you will see all sorts of vertical streaks running up the frame on all of the highlights and candle flames - my only guess would be that they shot the scene with a MovieCam compact (who can open up past 180* - though not marked that way) or maybe shot with an Eclair CM3 (some models can go as far as 220* i think - correct me if the numbers are off) Doing so would have only added 1/4 of a stop - but at those low light levels - every bit of stop helps

 

But the smears that were mentioned before were of course due to the longer exposures during the scenes shot off speed and step printed - as David pointed out

 

Adios - have a good day

Joe Zovko

AC

LA, CA

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Guest mailsb
I just watched Chungking Express and I was really impressed by how beautiful and engaging it was, plus I really love Faye Wong. In a few sequences there was an exaggerated motion blur look. I was wondering how this was achieved and if anybody has some more insights on the cinematography. (imdb simply says that it was shot in 35mm and spherical)

Hi,

if you can think of cause of blurr,i mean why and how a image gets blurred in still photography,same principle apply in motion picture photography,its all to do with shutter time and frame rates.

if you still wont figure out then i will write you in detail. :ph34r:

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A longer-than-180 degree shutter (like 200 or 220 degrees, which a few cameras can do) would not cause the streaks unless it was open so long that the film started advancing to the next frame before the shutter closed. The streaks are usually caused by a shutter timing error.

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The look of the push-processed low-con stock on this film is wonderful. Anyone knows which lenses were used? They seem to be uncoated since there's a lot of halating, but in a nice and organic way.

 

The look itself of this picture reminded me of "Infernal Affairs" (remade by Scorsese as "The Departed") with all those uncorrected fluorescent tubes. At first I thought that "Chungking Express" was all Christopher Doyle, but Andrew Lau is credited as co-cinematographer, which makes sense as he co-directed and co-photographed "Infernal Affairs" as well.

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Does anybody know which lenses they used?
And which focal lengths? To my eye seems most of the time a normal to wide-ish focal length.

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