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class="style5" Shooting Colour For B&W Finish

>Published : 30th Sept. 2005

>I'm shooting a short film next week which will be finished as B&W, although it has been decided to shoot colour neg and desaturate later due to heavy post consideration - keying special effects, bluescreen work. I'm happy to gain the advantages of 5218 over B&W stock too, grain etc. I've shot this route before but wondered if anyone had any tips?

>I'm thinking about shooting uncorrected with daylight to pop the blue layer, I've found that a cooler neg seems sharper than and more balanced one, the lack of warmth seems to tighten the image and shouldn't effect the final result as it will be monochromatic.

>Any thoughts?

>Cheers

>Shane Daly
London DP


>Shane Daly wrote:

class="Paragraph">>I'm shooting a short film next week which will be finished as B&W
>Any thoughts?

>Hi Shane,

>Take a look at the 5205. I tend to favor the blue layer with tungsten stocks as well but recently had the revelation that daylight stocks are already taking advantage of the blue sensitivity of the emulsion. I would happily rate it at 500 as well. I agree that a nice crisp negative is the way to go.

>Another thought is that if you use a TK facility with the Kodak TCS system you will be able to pull more tonal separation out of the desaturated image than otherwise, which will help give you a nice B&W picture.

>Good Luck,

>Anders Uhl
Cinematographer, NY
The DoP Shop
http://www.thedopshop.com


>Pulling the 85 on 5218 will be very similar to adding a red filter to B&W film (like a 23a or an 85). In B&W one uses the complimentary color filter – or close to the complimentary to darken the color of the color chosen. With color neg, one uses the same color filter to darken, or enhance, the color chosen.

>A red filter on 5218 will give a pale/white sky (and pale facial tones for Anglos or pale skinned individuals) when TC’d in B&W, while a blue filter will give a dark sky when TC’d in B&W. Prepare yourself for the producers to wonder what you were thinking to shoot an image with the colors you may chose and not understand that in the B&W transfer it all changes to shades of gray -- not shades of colors although based on the color density of the neg.

>Good luck. Test. And don't blame me.

>Kind Regards,

>Mark Woods Cinematographer
http://www.markwoods.com
Stills That Move, Pasadena, California


class="Paragraph">> Another thought is that if you use a TK facility with the Kodak TCS >system you will be able to pull more tonal separation out of the >desaturated image than otherwise

>Hi Anders ! Why is this the case ?

>Sam Wells / film / NJ


>Hi Sam!!

>Haven't heard from you in a while, hope you're well.

class="Paragraph">> Hi Anders ! Why is this the case ?

>Because the flat scan is getting more information than otherwise possible. John Dowdell turned me on to this, and as you probably know, as well as being a great colorist he is an Ansel Adams expert - he knows his black and white.

>He said that he could not replicate the tonal separation (quantity of grey tones) without the TCS box (were talking about color for B&W) and never saw a better color for B&W representation than with the TCS.

>I'm sure that one of the Kodak sages could give you a better and more in depth explanation.

>Cheers,

>Anders Uhl
Cinematographer
The DoP Shop
http://www.thedopshop.com


>Anders Uhl wrote:

class="Paragraph">>Because the flat scan is getting more information than otherwise >possible. John Dowdell turned me on to this

>Personally, I think it's nonsense. Using the Kodak box doesn't get you any more information that not using it. Besides, a colorist who is truly skilled in B&W derivations from color neg. will do the desaturation at the end of the color correction pipeline and use the colors present in the negative to allow for far more manipulability (is that even a word??) in various areas of the image - lightening faces, darkening skies, whatever, are all easily done when you have separate control over the red, green, and blue channels.

>One can use this to essentially do everything color filtration can do, with far more control.

>Or maybe I'm missing something.....

>Mike Most
VFX Supervisor (and former colorist...)
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles


class="Paragraph">>Because the flat scan is getting more information than otherwise >possible.
> Personally, I think it's nonsense. Using the Kodak box doesn't get you >any more information that not using it.

>Hi Mike,

>Then what is the point of doing a flat scan?

class="Paragraph">> Or maybe I'm missing something.....

>Maybe

>Cheers,

>Anders (was never a colorist) Uhl
Cinematographer
The DoP Shop


Michael Most wrote:

>[...]desaturation at the end of the color correction pipeline and use the >colors present in the negative to allow for far more manipulability [...]

To this end would one not also be better off with an 85 filter in daylight and a correctly balanced neg..?

>Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London.


>Anders Uhl wrote:

class="Paragraph">> Then what is the point of doing a flat scan?

>I don't understand the question. The flat scan was not the point, the comment was about the Kodak box, which essentially takes that flat scan and applies a lookup table to get you a base color correction.

>That was what I was referring to as not getting you any more information that you would doing that color correction manually.

>Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles


class="Paragraph">>The flat scan was not the point, the comment was about the Kodak box, >which essentially takes that flat scan and applies a lookup table to get >you a base color correction.

>So what you need is to apply a LUT to get you a base color exclusion ?

>Sam Wells


>I just watched my reel on a TV that turns out doesn’t support NTSC, but Pal M only. Most newer TV sets play both PAL M and NTSC, but the point is it was quite interesting to see a variety of stocks in B&W(playing NTSC on a PAL M set yields a B&W image) 7285 looked particularly beautiful with crushed blacks).

>In any case, I have shot Fuji 250 and transferred on a Diamond for a B%W look and it looked great. I wonder if there are any special routes to take when desaturating on TK?

>John F. Babl
DP
Miami
BH/Brazil


>Hi Mike,

>You're always so contrary!

>Michael Most wrote :

class="Paragraph">>I don't understand the question. The flat scan was not the point

>Actually it was the point, that's where the "more information" comes from, you quoted me saying "Because the flat scan is getting more information than otherwise possible." And then said it was nonsense.

class="Paragraph">> the comment was about the Kodak box, which essentially takes that flat >scan and applies a lookup table to get you a base color correction.

>Now I may have misunderstood something but my impression was that the TCS calibrated the telecine (Telecine Calibration System) to do the flat scan, and then laid the LUT on top of that. My reference was to the flat scan, which according to John (who I believe to be as high an authority as there is in regard to this) allowed him a greater range of tones than he'd ever previously seen. The TCS is not a color corrector and I wasn't implying that it was.

>Tom Townend Wrote:

class="Paragraph"> >To this end would one not also be better off with an 85 filter in daylight >and a correctly balanced neg..?

>Hi Tom,

>That's one way to look at it and part of the reason I recommended a look at 5205. I think Shane was looking for a crisper negative by goosing the blue sensitive layer, rather than a color effect. On the other hand, camera filtration does more than tint the image, it is selective exposure control and their can be advantages to using filters in the field rather than in post. Filters can give you more to work with in some instances.

>best regards,

>Anders Uhl
cinematographer
the dop shop


>Anders Uhl wrote :

class="Paragraph">>Now I may have misunderstood something but my impression was that >the TCS calibrated the telecine (Telecine Calibration System) to do the >flat scan, and then laid the LUT on top of that.

>As far as I've ever seen, the telecine setup is done by using a test film supplied by Kodak and lining it up to specific IRE units. The box itself does not control the telecine controls, it sits downstream of the telecine and the only information it gets is the image (of course) and the information from the keykode reader, which tells it what stock is being used and thus which lookup table to apply - which is why it doesn't work with Fuji stock.

class="Paragraph">>My reference was to the flat scan, which according to John (who I >believe to be as high an authority as there is in regard to this) allowed >him a greater range of tones than he'd ever previously seen.

>I think I'm beginning to get it now. Having never worked in New York, I don't know what's done there, however, a "flat scan" is something that a lot of facilities and colourists use as a basic telecine setup, particularly because most of them now have a DaVinci or Pogle or similar sitting downstream of the telecine itself. In fact, one facility uses a system I originated in which the flat setup is actually output directly to tape as a master, and a fully timed output is sent out of the DaVinci to a different tape as the source for daily viewing and editorial. When the show is assembled (from the flat transfers) the colorist has quite a bit more flexibility in tape to tape than with "traditional" timed daily sources. We instituted this system almost 10 years ago, 1994 or 1995 as I recall - so all of this, as usual, is really nothing radical or new.

>Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles


>Mark Woods writes :

class="Paragraph">>With color neg, one uses the same color filter to darken, or enhance, >the color chosen.
><snip>a blue filter will give a dark sky when TC'd in B&W.

>I've been puzzling over this. The only way it makes sense to me is if the filter colour (blue) is graded out of the telecine image before going to b/w. Otherwise, because the negative itself must have more density in the yellow dye layer than it would have unfiltered (assuming you've corrected exposure in the camera for the filter factor), by merely going to b/w on an uncorrected image, you would surely have a lighter sky.

>Whereas if the blue filter is balanced out of the image, then we reveal much less saturation in the non-sky areas, making them relatively lighter: leading to a relatively darker sky.

>Or is there some other way of looking at it?

>Dominic Case
Atlab Australia


class="Paragraph">> Or is there some other way of looking at it?

>I'm with Dominic -- it seems that dropping the 85 filter in daylight on a tungsten stock would just overexpose the blue information in the sky, not make the sky darker relative to warmer colors in the ground.

>I'd think using redder filters than an 85 would be better at darkening the blue, just as in B&W pan stock -- except for the problem of an increase in grain and a loss of sharpness as you expose more and more of the information on the red layer only.

>David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


> Mark Woods writes :

class="Paragraph">>With color neg, one uses the same color filter to darken, or enhance, >the color chosen.

>Dominic Case wrote :

class="Paragraph">> I've been puzzling over this.

>You're not the only one. It seems baffling to me. If you're going to shoot colour rather than B&W (with all the contrast altering effects that strongly coloured filters allow in that medium) then surely you're hobbling yourself if the neg already has a dominant colour bias.

>A correctly colour balanced neg (ie, using an 85 filter in daylight if your stock is tungsten balanced) allows the grader/colourist their best bet at manipulating the densities of specific colours. Only by manipulating separate colours can one selectively alter the contrast of sky, skin tones, that distracting yellow (now WHITE) car on the edge of frame, etc, etc.....before desaturating the image to B&W.

>Or, again, am I missing something here?

>Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London.


class="Paragraph">> A correctly colour balanced neg (ie, using an 85 filter in daylight if your >stock is tungsten balanced) allows the grader/colourist their best bet at

>Hi Tom,

>This is generally correct, but in camera filtration can create contrast between things in the original scene which may not be present on the neg otherwise and therefore not be available for manipulation in TK. A simple example might be freckles. I hate to use these terms, but just as we think of advantages of color correcting the least compressed image where we have the most information (the negative) we can think of the live image, before it is "compressed" onto film. There can be advantages to manipulation at the camera in order to have the desired information to work with in TK.

>The reason I make this point is that people keep shouting, "shoot it flat we'll make it pretty in post" and that isn't how you get the most out of the look, IMO. The DI world seems to be taking on this slogan and it seems to come from a lack of understanding or more probably a lack of perspective on the nature of film negative and how it can be used to maximum result. The recent thread on "Birth" shot by Harris Savides is a good example of using the curve to maximum benefit.

>Best Regards,

>Anders Uhl
Cinematographer, NY
The DoP Shop

>P.S Let me know what you do about your Bealieu, I have one too and I love it!


>My comments about shooting color for a B&W was aimed at individuals who wanted to modify the neg in camera.

I've shot a lot of B&W and have used the 23A to darken the sky, or an 85 for that matter. I'm well aware that the colorist can do magic in the TC bay. I guess I'm old style and have thought the issue through on shooting color for B&W to achieve a similar result when, for example, a 23A filter is used to darken the sky with B&W stock.

>This wasn't meant to confuse or to diminish the colourists role, just an "old" school way to achieve a similar result. Dominc is right, but my thought was to leave the blue in that would darken the sky and have a similar affect as the 23A used with B&W stock.

>I hope this sheds some light on my thoughts, and certainly is not the safest way to shoot, but can give unique results. The safest way to shoot would be to expose the neg as close as possible to the LAD, but then the different looks achieved by pushing or pulling or cross processing would never be achieved either.

>Kind Regards,

>Mark Woods Cinematographer
http://www.markwoods.com
Stills That Move, Pasadena, California


class="Paragraph">>using the curve to maximum benefit

>Quite agree. The sky is in fact a perfect example too, where a normally balanced exposure is likely to put the sky well up towards the shoulder of the curve, with little tonal contouring to get hold of: whereas an extra red or orange filter would reduce the exposure more in the predominantly blue area of the scene (the sky) to get it back onto the steepest part of the curve (accentuating any light cloud or shading), while having relatively less effect on non-blue, non-sky areas, thereby avoiding underexposure of any layer.

>This is the reason why unfiltered tungsten stock shot in daylight can only be corrected back up to a point, usually leaving the sky a little lighter than otherwise.

>But this argument only holds for extreme dark or light, or extreme colours where one colour R,G,or B is pushed out to the toe or shoulder of the curve in normal conditions.

>Dominic Case
Atlab Australia


class="Paragraph">> This is generally correct, but in camera filtration can create contrast >between things in the original scene which may not be present on the >neg otherwise and therefore not be available for manipulation in TK.

>Yes, but I still don't understand how an overly blue image from not using the 85 filter somehow is better for creating contrast in cloud formations and/or a darker blue sky when turning a color negative B&W in post, when in fact the blue layer is more overexposed from not using the 85 correction and therefore lighter in the image.

>David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


>David Mullen wrote :

class="Paragraph">> Yes, but I still don't understand how an overly blue image from not >using the 85 filter somehow is better for creating contrast in cloud >formations

>Hi David,

>I didn't mean to imply that it was. I'm not following that one either.

>I'm still advocating the daylight stock.

>Best Regards,

>Anders Uhl
Cinematographer, NY
The DoP Shop


>This thread got me curious and since I have a Kodak Gray Card Plus, a gel swatch book, spot meter, some blue sky and a digital camera I thought I'd see what happens under the various scenarios discussed.

>Granted it's an RGB/CCD system instead of chemically sensitive layers in emulsion on a ribbon of plastic media but I thought the results might be of interest and relevant to the original question anyhow.

>The short story is not too surprising: the bluer sky of an uncorrected tungsten balance (or daylight balance plus full CTB) yields a sky darker once converted to B&W than normal daylight, or tungsten corrected with CTO (which yield the same shade of gray sky). Uncorrected tungsten and daylight + full blue also seem to have the greatest contrast throughout he picture. Interestingly, adding full CTB to a tungsten balance and correcting for exposure yields a slightly brighter shade of gray sky than a straight uncorrected tungsten balance. The brightest gray sky came when I used a Rosco #90 yellow filter with a 3 stop roll off of the blue spectrum. Normal daylight balance or tungsten bal with full CTO gave a gray sky between the two.

>The test system I used was to shoot an eastern blue sky in late morning with a Kodak 18% Gray Card Plus white and black patches in frame. I used a gel swatch book and just held the gel in front of the lens. I used my spotmeter to decide a filter factor and adjust the camera so exposure would be consistent. Then I imported the photos into Photoshop, layer filtered the color and matched the black, white and gray patches for RGB density among all test photos. I didn't color balance the shots but simply tried to make the black, white and gray consistent when the photo was desaturated.

Photos can be seen at :


http://home.pacbell.net/millerra/testphotos.html

>How much these results can be applied to film or video origination is anybody's guess. Obviously Photoshop on a Mac ain't the same as a Davinci and TK but it was an interesting exercise anyway.

>Your mileage may vary of course.

>Randy "OK, too much time on my hands lately" Miller, DP in LA


There's something odd in which the way the images were turned B&W because the tonal densities in the color image are not matched in the B&W image -- for example, the yellow-green sky is a much lighter shade in B&W.


It's like the process converts blue to a darker grey than it does the yellow - green even if both colors are the same tonal level in color.

>David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


>Great post Randy. I'm happy your results were consistent with what I posted.

>Kind regards,

>Mark Woods Cinematographer
Stills That Move, Pasadena, California


>David Mullen writes :

class="Paragraph">>something odd in which the way the images were turned B&W

>When I went through and adjusted the photos to B&W I struggled with the process; whether to remove the color and then adjust the tonal range or reverse the process and eliminate the color last. I initially choose to do the latter. That allowed me to adjust the RGB levels independently (black, gamma, white) and then remove all remaining color (saturation = -100)

>After David's post I reversed the process in another test sheet and you can see the results at :

>http://home.pacbell.net/millerra/testphotos2.html

>The main difference in this process order is that after I remove the color in Photoshop with an adjustment layer I can't separately adjust the RGB channel levels without reintroducing color. I'm not sure how that can be or whether it is analogous to what would happen in a TK session.

>When I changed the processing to yet another approach so that the images are first converted to Photoshop's Greyscale Mode the tonal range started looking quite different between the originally graded B&W photos. The +yellow sky darkened considerably and the Daylight +CTB sky lightened.

>As David suggested, the density of the sky in yellow-green color and greyscale is much closer to being the same.

>I'm not sure if this clouds the issue or not.

>If someone (Mike?) could define an approach that a colorist would use in a telecine session then maybe that would provide my starting point in Photoshop. If all of the entry points for changing color to B&W processes I've used are available in a transfer session then maybe there's not one right way.

>If the Greyscale Mode results are something people would like to see, I'll finish the page and post it too.

>Randy Miller, DP in LA


>Randy Miller wrote:-

class="Paragraph">>This thread got me curious and since I have a Kodak Gray Card Plus, a >gel swatch book, spot meter, some blue sky and a digital camera I >thought I'd see what happens under the various scenarios discussed.

>What an original idea. You can't beat the true scientific method : propose a theory, then design a test to prove it (or disprove it!). And then send the theorists away to figure out why it is so.

>I'm still puzzled by this one - I think a lot happens in the business of desaturating that confounds the simple theory of y, m & c dye layers that we've been modelling on. Simply adding R, G, & B signals would give one result : loading the colours towards a y or luminance signal, or any other approach, might give a very different result.

>Hmmm. . . .maybe I'll go and do my own tests.

>There's more in colour than meets the eye.

class="Paragraph">>I'm not sure if this clouds the issue or not.

>I thought that was the intention of the filtering in the first place.

>Dominic Case
Atlab Australia


>Randy Miller wrote:

class="Paragraph">>If someone (Mike?) could define an approach that a colorist would use >in a telecine session then maybe that would provide my starting point in >Photoshop.

>Move the adjustment layer for desaturation to the top of the layers palette. That allows you to use selective color and/or selections to affect specific color areas in terms of brightness and contrast prior to removing the color, permitting you to add contrast to faces or darken skies, for example.

>You will, of course, have to turn off the adjustment layer to determine the selection, but can view the result of your manipulation by turning it back on then selecting the layer that you're manipulating.

>Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles


>Mike Most writes :

class="Paragraph">>...Move the adjustment layer for desaturation to the top of the layers >palette....

>That was my first instinct and approach. That way everything could happen under that adjustment layer and there was maximum flexibility with the coloured image. Is this approach similar to what a colorist would use in an electronic grading session to create a B&W finish from a color original?

>Randy Miller


>Not to keep making you do tests, but it would be interesting to see the same test but of a MacBeth chart (instead of the sky) under blue light, white light, and orange light and see how decolourising works for the blue square.

>I'm also wondering how a digital camera responds in terms of exposures of the red, green, and blue channels compared to color negative film when shooting uncorrected daylight on tungsten balance.

>I just can't figure out why more density on the blue record of film would lead to DARKER blues that would correspond to a darker gray -- rather than a lighter blue density from using a filter of the opposite color (like orange). Sort of defies logic if on the negative, increased density corresponds to lighter tonal values in the positive image – because shooting a blue sky on uncorrected tungsten film shouldn't make the sky any darker but lighter if anything. Maybe it has more to do with the purity of the blue channel from being so blue-saturated by not being filtered.

>Again, even in the version where you pulled the color first, the yellow-green sky turned a lighter shade of gray rather than keeping the same tonal level when turned monochromatic. It's almost like the green information wants to be more overexposed in the B&W digital version.

>David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


>Randy Miller wrote :

class="Paragraph">>Is this approach similar to what a colorist would use in an electronic >grading session to create a B&W finish from a color original?

>I would. I'm quite sure others I know would as well.

>Mike Most
VFX Supervisor (but remembering my colorist days...)
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles


>Mike Most

class="Paragraph">>...I would. I'm quite sure others I know would as well.

>Thanks Mike.

>I've added 2 pages to the previous ones that show the Desaturate vs Greyscale mode approaches and, at David's insistence [ ; ) ], an RGB channel separation comparison for some of the photos.

>http://home.pacbell.net/millerra/testphotos3.html

>http://home.pacbell.net/millerra/testphotos4.html

>How any of this might apply to real world film photography, video or even digital still photography I won't guess. In the end if I were trying to use this in a project I'd do a lot more testing or, wait for it...........shoot it both ways.

>If any of the approaches or methods are grossly in error, let me know.

>I'll try to make adjustments were time allows.

>Randy "seeing a B&W ghost of Christmas future if I don't do something
else" Miller, DP in LA


>Dominic

>What an excellent idea: color bars as a reference aid. That idea completely escaped me, Duh!

>Have a look at this page now.

>http://home.pacbell.net/millerra/testphotos3.html

>Verrrrrrry interesting. (In my best faux German accent)

>Randy Miller


>Had a look at Randy's tests . . . very interesting. The ways of desaturating are many and varied.

>I think ordinary TV colour bars are a useful way of understanding the difficulty. If you simply mix all three colour channels together, you might expect all the colours to appear the same mid grey (which is what the desaturate tool on my PSP program does). (Not sure why a secondary colour like cyan doesn't come out lighter than a primary like green, but that's another issue).

>But the principle of the colour bars is that the human eye doesn't perceive equal colours with equal brightness: blues are dark, yellows are light. So the colour bars, properly shown in b/w through a luminance-only channel which loads the R,G,B values to match this perception, shows the colours in varying shades of grey - and the bars are arranged in that order : white, yellow, green, cyan, red, magenta, blue, black.

>That's the result I get with PSP's greyscale tool.

>So, while a yellow filter might darken the sky in normal b/w photography, (and the lack of a CTO or WR85 might lighten the sky on tungsten film), you can get a different result if you shoot in colour and then use particular methods of removing the colour. If the method you use takes the colour information at face value, it will treat the yellow sky as being lighter (luminance) than a similarly-exposed blue sky.

>Dominic Case
Atlab Australia


>Thanks Randy -- that was all really informative!

>> http://home.pacbell.net/millerra/testphotos3.html

>So it seems that the blue channel is overexposed in the blue-biased shot, but conversely the red channel is underexposed; perhaps that's why the de-coloured image has darker skies even though the blue is overexposed.

>Sort of opposite to what I think would happen if you optically desaturated the images perhaps (printing color neg onto B&W print stock). Maybe.

>David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles