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class="style16"> Dealing with unintentional over-exposure in Telecine

Published : 17th August 2009


I shot a 35mm spot the other day on Vision2 5205 - 250d.


Exteriors of people in a city park on a sunny day, only used various grip gear to soften and light.
2 scenes, both of softly lit talent, no hot speculars/blowouts in frame, just a polarized blue Los Angeles sky.
I realized to late that my meter had been set to iso 50 for a few rolls of 5201 we shot earlier.


Yikes! I'm guessing I'm 1.5 to 2 stops overexposed with my filtration.


Should I worry or will the 5205 stock handle it in a decent telecine suite? It's been awhile, been shooting mostly electronic lately. I was able to attach a note for the dailies colorist.


Thanks so much for any thoughts,


Kurt Rauf
Director/DP
Las Vegas, NV
USA



>>Yikes! I'm guessing I'm 1.5 to 2 stops overexposed with my filtration.
>>Should I worry or will the 5205 stock handle it in a decent telecine suite? It's been awhile, been shooting >>mostly electronic lately.


You might not even notice, in general with 05 1-1.5 over is just a bit of "thickening" and 2 seems to be no problem to bring back.


Robert Houllahan
Filmmaker / Cinematographer
VP Cinelab Inc.


Your assistant never checked with you at the beginning of the day what setting you had put on your meter or questioned any of your early your exposures?


My first comment when I see the DP drag the meter out is 'we have 250D (or whatever) in the camera', to double check they have the desired setting in the meter!


Usually better to be over than under.


Angelo Sartore
1st. AC
Melbourne
AUSTRALIA
ADOPT, ADAPT, INVENT, DESTROY !



I wouldn't worry about that in the slightest. I usually overexpose by 2/3rds of a stop intentionally to get a denser negative. I don't think you'll have any problems in telecine.


Jason Eberts
DOP in Ohio



Hi Kurt,


It should be fine in the transfer. On more than one shoot (usually long-hours and fast paced music videos), my assistants have forgotten to set the stop when they change lenses, and have overexposed 5218 by 3 stops on some takes. We usually catch the error and go again.


In telecine, the colorist has matched the shot with no problems... but it's quite embarrassing.


Best,


Graham Futerfas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles, CA
www.GFuterfas.com



>>(usually long-hours and fast paced music videos), my assistants have forgotten to set the stop when >>they change lenses


I was going to say.... This happens. Music video shoots are always the culprit, it's the "quick, let’s go one tighter - I'm afraid you'll have to wing it with the marks; I don't care if we get buzzy focus on this one" syndrome, and it's ALWAYS a 2-2.5 stop gaff; shooting at f1.3 rather than around the f2.8 mark.


- Followed by an audible gulping noise and a sudden break out of the sweats from my focus puller when they realise what's just happened. I always dismiss the problem but in future I think I'll make an even bigger deal of telling them not to worry because as Graham says it's never a problem in TK; especially if one was originally intending for a simple 'normal' exposure - rather than sailing close to the wind (flying close to the sun?) with a 'daring' exposure.


Woe betide you if the botch is the other way around though. A 2 stop accidental underexposure can start to look grubby when it's corrected - especially in 16mm.


Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London



It will pick up some grain and contrast though.


Bruce Johnson
DP Los Angeles



Hey Kurt -


As has been said here 1-2 stops over is usually no problem to correct in TK. Especially if you have no hot overexposed highlights to start with. The thicker negative may introduce some noise (looks like grain) in the brightest areas, perhaps the sky, but I am sure you will be able to 'save' the footage. We routinely correct massive overexposures, whether intentional or not and no one is usually the wiser. Big underexposure is more of a problem as the negative gets pretty thin and grainy. It never fails to amaze me how we are able to bring back footage from the very brink.


We are often told that "I overexposed by a stop, dude to get a really thick negative", and never really understand why. Of course, properly exposed film will be easier to work with, there is a lot more latitude and there are more things you can do.


Sincerely,


Ed (ASA ratings are there for a reason) Colman, President
SuperDailies, Inc.
Cinematographer Supervised Video Dailies
www.superdailies.com



In the dim and ancient past, photographers used to say:
"Expose for the shadows. Print for the highlights."


Brian Heller
IA 600 DP



This reminds me of the story of my classmates at film school who went off to shoot their graduation project in India with the college SR1 and a zoom lens which turned out to have a sticky iris – in this case stuck wide open. So they shot the whole thing in bright sunny conditions. Wide open. The lab had to recalibrate the printing machine to go well beyond 50, but at the end everyone was very happy. Apparently it had a very interesting look. And was one of the most successful shorts to ever come out of the school.


Naming no names.


Jake Polonsky
DoP London
www.jakepolonsky.com



Well I am ancient and dim then still follow that guide line .


John Holland , Lighting Cameraman . London.



Hmmmm


I have always exposed 1/2 to 1.5 stops under my key/highlight, so therefore overexposed by that amount. it always seems the natural way to do it and I always get congratulated by my colourist/TK person, but then again, they would congratulate any DP methinks .


Tonight I just finished a daytime scene shot at night and it drove me and my gaffer crazy, not because we did not know what to do, we lit it correctly, but because we were used to looking around at darkness, then looked at our scene and it somehow looked all wrong. I was all for increasing contrast and he was all for increasing fill. Just one of those tricks our eyes play I guess, after a 14 hour day of trying to match cloud coverage with intense sunlight every five minutes....


I find by overexposing my key in these situations, no matter what the contrast, helps no end.


Regards


Chris Maris
Director of Photography
www.chrismaris.com
etiam capillus unus habet umbram
Moscow 007 8985 1649894
UK 0044 7956 251061
Sweden 0046 7340 76003



>>Yikes! I'm guessing I'm 1.5 to 2 stops overexposed with my filtration.
>>Should I worry or will the 5205 stock handle it in a decent telecine suite?


I had the exact same situation recently while teaching a cine workshop for Kodak. The shot was two actors under a 12x12 grid cloth with a white house lit by the sun the background. The bright areas of the house were spot metered at about +4 stops. Due to a miscommunication, I thought the mag on the camera had 5201 50D stock when it actually had 5205 250D.


So, to start with, we were over exposing everything by 2 1/3 stops. With the +2 1/3 stops and the +4 stops of reflected light, the house was more than 6 stops over gray. In the Spirit transfer session, the colorist had no problem making the actors at +2 1/3 stops look fine, but the +6 stop areas were compressed and kinda flat looking. With a bit of playing around, he was able to improve the highlights quite a bit without affecting the actors too much. Had we been shooting on 5219, the highlights would have held the detail and contrast in those +6 stops much better.


Grins,


Chris Hart
Cinematographer
Eastman Kodak Co.
Rochester, NY



Am I the only one who doesn't over expose as a matter of routine?


I am constantly sitting in TK with clients who are just interested in brightening the image when inappropriate. Depending on the scene and the look I will sometimes under expose a little. I like to keep it dark and moody.
Otherwise everything looks the same don't you think?


To be honest I’m sure you can pull it back, and use power windows on a spirit to correct, but you will notice. Your highlights will lose detail and be grainy, and you will have to crush your shadows backby raising black levels.


Daniel Bronks
DP
UK



Daniel Bronks writes :


>>Your highlights will lose detail and be grainy, and you will have to crush your shadows back


Besides highlight compression, another effect of over-exposure is bringing the shadows out of the toe and more into the straight-line section of the film response curve. Of course, that runs the danger of looking more video-like. It makes some work to then compress them back into a normal range without crushing, if that's what's required.


Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA



Am I the only one who doesn't over expose as a matter of routine?


No you're not Dan and I’m glad you said that. I constantly find myself exposing for a part of the frame that I find interesting which may result in really dark shadow areas or crushed skies. How can you make a decision to constantly over expose if, for instance, you've got a hot summer sky but your foreground in shade (i.e. shooting in the UK about now). I don’t want to 'lose' my sky in those situations and you can’t always grad.

Going to print is a totally different thing but for telecining for TV and, especially commercials, under and over exposure is one of the most useful tools we have at our disposal!!


Baz Irvine
'Prince of darkness'
DOP
London Town, UK



I guess it comes down to what you are over exposing:-) If you expose for the brightest part/highlights of the picture, you are underexposing most of the rest of it.


Clarity is what is needed here.


Chris Maris
Director of Photography
www.chrismaris.com
etiam capillus unus habet umbram
Moscow 007 8985 1649894
UK 0044 7956 251061
Sweden 0046 7340 76003



Daniel Bronks,


You’re not the only one. I tended to generally overexpose some 1/2-2/3 of a stop for most shoots. Just in case, just to get some more freedom in telecine, just to get richer detail in the blacks etc.


Lately I have stopped doing that and I have found cleaner highs and nicer blacks and colours. Of course you will have to be even more careful not to cross the line where it all gets underexposed, but so far it has not been any problems, modern stock gives you incredible latitude. I would strongly recommend tests since the kind of lighting/style/stock you do and the different sets you shot, most definitely would give you different inputs on exposure. As always... There is no shortcuts.


As much I have stopped doing a general overexposure I’m trying to evaluate each situation by itself. It all boils down to that over can be almost as bad as under, but the worst for me would be not considering it at all...


Par M Ekberg
DOP Sweden FSF