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Kurt Cassidy-Gabhart

Two Stop Underexposure, with One-Stop Push Processing?

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Dear Cinematographers,

 

For a silent short film on which I am working, I desire a grainy and dark texture. I am using Tri-X super 8 black and white film. I thought perhaps that, to my unguided reflection, it would be best achieved by underexposing two stops and then using a one-stop push in processing. Would any untoward complications arise in doing so? Would there be any superior alternative? Thank you in advance.

 

Sincerely,

 

K. Cassidy-Gabhart

 

 

 

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Tri-X b&w reversal Super-8 is already pretty contrasty and grainy, are you sure you need more contrast and grain? I found it hard enough to nail exposures for Tri-X with regular processing due to its high contrast. Underexposing it by two-stops and pushing it will pretty much give you a hi-con film effect and, no shadow detail, just hot grainy highlights.

 

You're going to have to shoot some tests, you may find that 1-stop underexposure with a 1-stop push is all you need, if that.

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Dear David Mullen,

 

I would like an atmosphere attempting to recreate silent film cinematography, yet still maintaining, in some degree, a modern aspect - in other words, I want coarse and raw images - and so, from my uneducated mind, a "high-contrast effect with no shadow detail, and a lot of hot grainy highlights," if I am visualizing that description correctly, would be preferable. But perhaps I should just stay with something a little less extreme, and shoot at one-stop underexposure and one-stop push. Thank you for replying so quickly!

 

Sincerest Gratitude,

 

K. Cassidy-Gabhart

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A one stop push to 7266 Tri-X in Super 8 will give you moderately more grain. A two stop push will give a surreal Seurat-like texture, an impressionistic image full of thick, swirling grain. Beautiful, but may be too much for you so shoot a test if possible.

 

I would not underexpose beyond compensating for the push processing - if you push 1, underexpose 1. Push 2, underexpose 2. Reversal film has so little exposure latitude that you risk not having any detail in the shadows if you underexpose.

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High contrast for silent films may come from all the duplication over the years, rather than what the films orginially looked like at the tme.

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High contrast for silent films may come from all the duplication over the years, rather than what the films orginially looked like at the tme.

 

Also, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the Silent Era is tinting - not necessarily excessive grain.

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Tri-X b&w reversal Super-8 is already pretty contrasty and grainy, are you sure you need more contrast and grain? I found it hard enough to nail exposures for Tri-X with regular processing due to its high contrast. Underexposing it by two-stops and pushing it will pretty much give you a hi-con film effect and, no shadow detail, just hot grainy highlights.

 

You're going to have to shoot some tests, you may find that 1-stop underexposure with a 1-stop push is all you need, if that.

 

I got an 8mm Bolex a while ago with the intention of shooting a few rolls of 'film' just for the exercise... but then I found that it seems there is only reversal Tri-X for 8mm (I think there may be/have been a service to take 16mm Tri-X negative stock and punch the requisite holes for 8mm use...).

 

Anyway... I read also that if one skips the reversal pass(whatever it may be called in B&W...), that Tri-X reversal is 'really grainy' negative...

 

Would that be a 'solution'... in terms of stills I've always avoided slide/reversal film for the very reason that it is very sensitive to exposure and processing... unless one is intentionally mucking up the look.

Edited by John E Clark

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