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B&W Night Shot

Published : 30th October 2008

All of a sudden, I have a feature happening next week - no time to test. We are shooting s-16mm. There is a dream/fantasy night sequence - interior and exterior. In the script, it is described as B&W. I envision it as more of a fake day for night, a la Guy Madden's "Twighlight of the Ice Nymph". Shooting day for night is a plus given our time and budget. This makes B&W appealing - trying to get the "Night of the Hunter" look. We are definitely planning on printing but DI or optical are to be decided. In order to get B&W in an optical print, do I have to shoot B&W negative for this sequence to intercut with the rest of the colour movie? I would rather shoot colour neg and print on B&W print stock for the tighter grain structure of colour neg - is that possible somewhere in the blow-up process? If instead we opt for colour DFN does anyone have any experience with Tiffens day for night filters - the 90c or the monochrome version? Of course going the DI route takes the problem out of my hands.

Nils Kenaston
DoP NYC


class="style18">>>If instead we opt for colour DFN does anyone have any experience with Tiffens day for night filters - >>the 90c or the monochrome version?

Hi Niles - I'm not sure I see an advantage in "pre-monochromizing" your colour neg if you're going to a B&W IP. It seems to me you will have locked in too narrow a tonal range to work with in the printing.

class="style18">>>Of course going the DI route takes the problem out of my hands.

Or still in your hands: I've been experimenting with taking some 7245 - and somewhat contrasty subject - and turning it into B&W using Apple's Colour. The boldness of the colours seems to be an asset when you go into the RGB curves. I think it's nice to have a rich spectrum of colour from which to work with (much as a real blue sky is easy to darken with warm filters when shooting on B&W itself, etc...)

-Sam Wells
film/.../nj


class="style18" >>We are definitely planning on printing but DI or optical are to be decided

You're really considering optical? Yech ptooey, and that's from someone who spent a lot of the 1980's slaving over a hot optical printer. Go DI without any question, and not only will your B&W problems be solved, but it'll also be a decent looking film.

Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


Nils Kenaston wrote :

class="style18">> >If instead we opt for colour DFN does anyone have any experience with Tiffens day for night filters - >>the 90c or the monochrome version?

It has been a while, but If I recall, those filters were meant to get you part way there, and finish the rest in post. I don't know that it will work well for black and white as the final look, as you lose the "Odd Colour look" so beloved in colour DFN. Showing the sky blows the effect entirely.

With Black and White, You might try using a polarizer in addition to a red 23. Personally I've used a green in addition to the red. Really eats the stop, and takes a while to get used to looking through the viewfinder, but I've been successful with hard sun as a back light.

Don't show the ground or sky if possible.
--
Steven Gladstone
New York Based Cinematographer
Gladstone Films
www.gladstonefilms.com
917-886-5858


If you plan on making show prints off your original camera negative, then you are better off shooting B&W reversal, then contact printing to an IN for intercutting with your camera stocks. You just have to watch out for a little flare from the thinness of the black and white highlights.

Given a constraint of 'no time to test', shooting anything in black and white and relying on an optical post 'fix' is a high-risk strategy and I wouldn't recommend it.

Go for the D.I. route and your bets are covered and you will get good control over the result.

Jim Houston
Starwatcher Digital


Nils Kenaston wrote:

class="style18">>>"If instead we opt for colour DFN does anyone have any experience with Tiffens day for night filters - >>the 90c or the monochrome version?"

Steven Gladstone wrote:

class="style18">>>"those filters were meant to get you part way there, and finish the rest in post. I don't know that it will >>work well for black and white as the final look...With Black and White, You might try using a >>polarizer in addition to a red 23. Personally I've used a green in addition to the red."

Good advice, Steven. The Cool DFN and the Monochrome DFN filters really only work for creating certain colour effects that won't translate to B/W. The traditional DFN for B/W images has been the combination of the Wratten 23A(red) + 56(green).

Using a polarizer, to darken the sky, is also a good technique for DFN effects as long as the camera angle to the sun allows the filter to do so, and you are not panning significantly.

Ira Tiffen
Basking Ridge, NJ


class="style18">>>Better print that internegative optically, or its emulsion will be on the wrong side of the film.

Like I said... better not to do it that way at all. (I also forgot to mention that you need to underdevelop to drop the gamma and maybe overexpose a bit. But that's what testing is for.. which there is never time for anymore. -- "what do you mean an optical comp can take two or three weeks!")

Jim Houston


Jim Houston writes:

class="style18">>> If you plan on making show prints off your original camera negative, then you are better off >>shooting B&W reversal, then contact printing to an IN for intercutting with your camera stocks.

Better print that internegative optically, or its emulsion will be on the wrong side of the film.

Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA




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