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class="style10">Recreating "WWII in Colour" Look

>Published : 26th June 2006

>After much kicking around on the internet and investigating various "looks" of old WWII colour footage through the magic of modern technology (DVD’s), I am hereby writing to anyone on the list who has any information on the recreation of the insanely vivid reds, grain, etc of said footage.

>My reason for inquiring about such a topic is because this coming summer I will be shooting a 16mm short colour film (first time not using b/w for me) dealing with WWII in the Pacific, and I would very much like the look of my film to have one as identical as possible with the old 16mm documentary footage of the era.

>Is Kodachrome the way to go? If so, what filters/enhancements can I make to aid in the attempted "authenticity"? Does Ektachrome factor in at all as a viable resource? Is it possible to attain a fair level of grain through a higher speed film to go along with this? Are there any techniques I should request from the lab to help with this?

>As you can see from the above paragraph, I'm just in the beginning stages of my research, and any and all help that could be given would be greatly appreciated.

>Thanks,

>Erik Weber, Seton 5 Vandalisms
Jersey Shore

>PS - I was even considering grabbing some super expired el cheapo 1951-era Kodachrome off eBay to see if I can lift anything out of that as an experiment.


>Hi Erik,

>The Kodachrome we have today is not the same as the version from1940, and I have heard the Kodak have stopped the production and will only develop Kodachrome until April 2006.

>Don’t use reversal film. Shot negative and create the look you will have in the post by colour grading. You can do almost everything in the post ether you shall go to video or digital intermediate to 35 mm film print.

>You can read how they create the look for the movie Aviator at this address:

>http://www.aviatorvfx.com/?cmd=frontendOverview&id=color

>Good luck

>Hans Hansson, FSF
Sweden


class="style11">>Is Kodachrome the way to go? If so, what filters/enhancements can I >make to aid in the attempted "authenticity"?

>In a rush, but...

>I've been hoping forever to take some 16mm into a high end telecine suite with a good colourist and see what I can do, but.. time/$ has prevented so far. The "WWII in Colour" Kodak footage looked great I agree. That era Kodachrome has a softer look than the K40 you could get now. So filtering, low cons, I don't know what -- you have to chose what's right for your concept - might be worth testing.

>Telecines are, like it or not, pretty much video devices and Kodachrome has a print stock like contrast, I'm not saying you can't do it just know what you're up against...

If you're going to 16mm print we've got another discussion, are you ?

class="style11" > Does Ektachrome factor in at all as a viable resource? Is it possible to >attain a fair level of grain through a higher speed film to go along with >this?

>7285 (the only available Ektachrome) has a much different look IMO. I'd prefer to fake the reversal look with 7245 or 7201 actually. I can fake E-6, although Kodachrome I'm not so sure....

>Why you want a 'fair grain level' ? Kodachrome was / is a fine grained stock. It surprises me why 16mm shooters worry about getting enough grain (Certain textures of grain, sure, but....... worry about quality not quantity !)

class="style11">> PS - I was even considering grabbing some super expired el cheapo >1951-era Kodachrome off eBay to see if I can lift anything out of that as >an experiment.

>Waste of time, you could not process it as colour.

class="style11">> I've been hoping forever to take some 16mm * into a high end telecine >suite with a good colourist and see what I can do, but...time/$ has >prevented so far.

>* Kodachrome that is.

>(Didn't want a couple good colourists I know to do a "Huh ? What does he think we were doing ?"

>Sam Wells
film/.../nj


>I'm not sure that current Kodachrome is much sharper than what we had in WW2 -- I think the difference are the lenses used back then, especially for combat photography. I'd try and find some older lenses to shoot on, As far as using Kodachrome, it might be an interesting idea since it will soon be obsolete; you may regret missing the opportunity to try it. But first I'd shoot a test on K40, then shoot some colour neg, and take both into a telecine and see how closely you can match the look of the K40 using the colour neg, because if you CAN match the look, obviously it would be a lot easier to use colour neg.

>David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


>You could look into a stylistic representation of the 'feel' of the times, rather than an exact mimicking of the footage type. Band of Brothers always gave me that World War 2 feel through the use of careful desats, lighting choices, film stock choices, and sepia tones.

>I'd suggest checking out an episode and seeing if the style suits you, if not, I would suggest finding older stock.

>Aaron Bair


>This might be a spot for the 5245 pushed 2 stop look. If you are going to shoot a test with Kodachrome vs. negative, include the 2 stop push with the 50 daylight stock. It might be a bit easier to emulate the reversal look than with straight negative normally developed. David's idea of using period lenses is a good one, so much of the look of the older film is dependent on the glass, and that is very difficult to recreate in telecine.

>Sincerely,

>Ed Coleman, President
SuperDailies, Inc.
Cinematographer Supervised Video Dailies
www.superdailies.com


class="style11">> that is very difficult to recreate in telecine.

>Does the telecine at your facility take filters? I've gotten some great looks with that, and I can see how you could get an optical look that's closer to forties cameras that way.

>Our URSA that we just installed came with a whole case of filters but we haven't had a chance to start fooling with them yet.

>Steven Bradford
Collins College
Tempe Arizona


>Steven B writes:

class="style11">>>Does the telecine at your facility take filters?

>Yes, we have an ursa that has a filter slot. We have used them on a variety of productions both glass filters and stockings as well. It's true, you can get a variety of looks, some of them pretty cool. It is vastly different from using filtration on the lens, or emulating the characteristics of a specific lens, however. Remember, if you are transferring negative, a white pro mist (for example) used in telecine, will behave very differently from a white ProMist on the camera. It is mostly a matter of trial and error. We found a filter called a "silver mist" several years ago that was lovely. Don't know from whence it came nor where it has gone off to. Pity.

>Sincerely,

>Ed Coleman, President
SuperDailies, Inc.
Cinematographer Supervised Video Dailies
www.superdailies.com


>Hey again,

>After investigating further and speaking directly with a few who have used them, I am now also considering picking up a vintage Eyemo with a few lenses and shooting it 35 - question - does Kodachrome even exist in 35 anymore? What options would I have if I chose that route?

I also had been looking through the digital 3-strip process found in

The Aviator
http://www.aviatorvfx.com/?cmd=frontendOverview&id=color

>wondering if anyone else had attempted to digitally recreate the look, and of course found out that the jedi nuts had played with the idea:

>http://boards.theforce.net/fan_films/b10015/18680006/p1
http://boards.theforce.net/fan_films/b10015/18718497/p1

>So with all these things coming into play, I was interested in knowing anyone's opinion on what route to take?

>Thanks,

>Erik Weber, Seton 5 Vandalisms
Jersey Shore


>No they don't make Kodachrome in 35mm anymore. I've shot a lot of 16mm Kodachrome, and though it's gorgeous in the right conditions it's not at all forgiving in the wrong ones.

>I would play with the Jedi 3 strip Technicolor process. Originate with the format with that will give you the most to play with, 35mm.

>Have fun

>Byron Shah
DP Los Angeles


>I also had been looking through the digital 3-strip process found in

>The Aviator
>http://www.aviatorvfx.com/?cmd=frontendOverview&id=color

>>wondering if anyone else had attempted to digitally recreate the look

IMHO we did a much better 3-strip look for DeLovely. The "Be A Clown" sequence. May not show up on the DVD, though - whereas Aviator's are awfully hard to miss. Tip: imbibition colour is kind of over areas rather than dye-cloud points. The matrix registration wasn't always perfect.

Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


>Tip: imbibition colour is kind of over areas rather than dye-cloud points. The matrix registration wasn't always perfect.

>Now this is interesting to ponder. Tim - is this one statement or two ? IOW are you suggesting the imperfect registration is the cause of the first?

>To original poster - is this for 35mm print or finish on a video format ?

>Sam Wells
film/.../nj


class="style11">>Tim - is this one statement or two? IOW are you suggesting the >imperfect registration is the cause of the first ?

>No, not at all, different phenomena. I'm just suggesting that it's more about the structure of the image than it is about any specific colour shift.

>Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


class="style11">>No, not at all, different phenomena. I'm just suggesting that it's more >about the structure of the image than it is about any specific colour >shift.

>I agree with that - I think David Mullen made the observation here - or on another list - that Kodachrome and Tech IB different though they are share that "B&W with colour added" look. There is something essentially different going on here. I'm thinking things like that aspect of Kodachrome where sometimes - despite it's reputation for saturation you'll get an underexposed single colour that's almost monochromatic.

>Hard to explain this so I'm not using the best terminology. But I'm interested in seeing if these properties can be quantified somehow.
Seeing that we're gonna have to figure out digital emulations it would seem.....

>Sam Wells
film/../nj


class="style11">>I agree with that - I think David Mullen made the observation here - or >on another list - that Kodachrome and Tech IB different though they are >share that "B&W with colour added" look.

>Yes, I think both 3-strip Technicolor photography and Kodachrome have some B&W emulsion artefacts to them (particularly 3-strip photography since that really WAS B&W emulsion in the camera) with a colour overlay look. I don't think it's as simplistic as Technicolor or Kodachrome looking more saturated and contrasty, although sometimes they had that look -- but sometimes the colours could look muted.

>I wouldn't be surprised if taking modern colour photography and separating it into RGB and then slightly throwing the registration off of the layers does add a slight "dye transfer printing" look, but that would address only one aspect of the Technicolor look.

>I suppose another aspect would be that reds were much grainer & softer, but more saturated, compared to the other colour records. I've always wondered if one could apply digital diffusion to just the red information to help simulate a 3-strip Technicolor look. I've also noticed that the "bubble" effect around points of light when using a Classic Soft filter reminds me of the halation on the B&W blue-sensitive/red-dyed emulsion in 3-strip photography, since that record couldn't have any anti-halation backing, since the panchromatic red record was bipacked behind it. So halation’s picked up a unique lavender colour (an artefact often taken advantage of by putting actresses
in dresses with silver sequins.)

>David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


>In the Technicolor recreation process on the Aviator, where did they derive the red, green, and blue filters from? In other words I see how they split the colour channels, but I'm unsure of how the produced the images they used to filter the original colour channels. They must somehow be derived from the original photograph.

Josh Brown
Freelance Videographer
NY, NY


>David Mullen wrote :

class="style11">>blue-sensitive/red-dyed emulsion in 3-strip photography, since that >record couldn't have any anti-halation backing, since the panchromatic >red record was bipacked behind it.

>---For 'Destination Moon', the tiny bulbs on the star backgrounds had to have green filters wrapped around them to eliminate that halation.

>The blue strip also acted as a diffuser for the red strip, in addition to its effects on fleshtones, there would be red glows around open flames, which came out as a medium to dark orange.

>A bi-pack process such as Cinecolor would have similar artefacts. Since those prints had emulsion on both sides, how could that be reproduced on modern stocks? That gave them something of a shimmer, which I've read described as giving it an almost 3-d look.

>In a TC movie which intercuts 3-strip with monopack, 'King Solomon's Mines', The Kodachrome is not as saturated as the #-strip. It also has a green cast in the whites.

>In Kodachrome stills of the war in the Pacific, there also isn't usually overly strong saturation. There's also a slight blue or cyan cast, which strikes me as being some of the most realistic depictions of a bright sunny day.

>Leo Vale


>Sam - a 35mm print in the future would be an absolute dream, but due to this independent's wallet, a digital output will have to suffice for now.

>Erik Weber
Seton 5


class="style11">>In Kodachrome stills of the war in the Pacific, there also isn't >usuallyoverly strong saturation. There's also a slight blue or cyan cast, >which strikes me as being some of the most realistic depictions of a >bright sunny day.

>I wholeheartedly agree, and in fact realized I should have separated my queries into 3-strip and vintage Kodachrome of the era.

>I am currently deciding how about to go for a look of each, and whether or not to grab an Eyemo to use for the whole shebang as sort of an experiment.

>Any opinions?

>Erik Weber
Seton 5