Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Filming Monochrome

(This is really 2 threads one about printing colour mono & the other one about mono)

I know you can Shoot in Color, and then in the Telecine, make it B+W.

For Projection:

Can the same be accomplished by printing onto B+W stock?

Has anyone any info on Printing onto Optical sound Stock? I've heard of it, just don't know which films it was used in.

Thanks, this is for a project comming up.


Yes, you can burn a print on B&W stock from a color negative, however because the print stock is only blue sensitive, the effect is as if you had a very deep red filter on the lens, and because of the orange mask, you have to crank the printer very slowly to get enough exposure.

You can get around this by using a panchromatic interpositive film to make your print on.

Optical sound stock is a very contrasty blue sensitive film. You can use it as print stock or even in-camera but the results are very.... unusual...

Scott Dorsey

Back in the eighties, when B+W was cheaper than color, I used to strike thousands of miles of workprint footage on B+W from color negatives. That used to be very cost effective, while very bad looking, no contrast, way too grainy. Editor didn' t even know whether the talent's dress was blue or red : That was to be revealed by the answer print on the press premiere.:-)

We had one recent issue at the Cannes '95 Festival with the French entry "La Haine"(Hate) by Matthieu Kassowitz. Pay channel Canal+ contracted a color print, while Matthieu wanted to shoot in B+W. No way ! No color, no money ! Then, cinematographer Pierre Haim recalled a method we had been experimenting together years ago on a short film : release print on sound stock. As Scott Dorsey pointed out, that would have been to contrasty, so the trick was to shorten the processing time by half, benefiting from a necessary contrast increase without going ortho. At the time, 100% of the sound stock in French labs was AFGA, with negative perfs. Producer Christophe Rossignon had deal with Kodak. They provided an extra batch of positive perforated optical stock, and more than 300 prints were struck that way. But beware of the cost ! Price of optical sound stock is four times the price of color positive 5386 stock !

Gus Roos

I shot a film in 1993 in super 16 on Plus negative 7231 (64/80 ASA). I did some test before. It's great. You get the grain of 7296 pushed one stop and the exposure rating of 7245. So that wrote off the 7222 Double -X stuff (200/250 ASA). Fortunately this film called for hard lighting (something I rarely do) and I was glad in some instances. Although it does have a really interesting B &W grain structure from the old days that you don't get with all the new T grain stuff, the speed was a drawback. Imagine night exteriors:-(. Guys who use to do large set-ups in the old days with even slower films must have been pouring on the foot candles. Exposure latitude is another factor. Talk about easy to get rich blacks. All in all, despite all those pitfalls the final film looked all right. Saw it on a large screen, it's that typical BW image from way back, that we would not have just playing around with modern color stock.

Probably would not be enough market to repackage the T-max stuff for motion picture use. I wonder what the sales figure are for BW compared to color stuff.

Probably under 1% or something small like that. Would they really sell much more if it was T-max based??? I think not. Ever seen a producer's or distributor's face change when you speak the words "Black and White"? Of course Spielberg did it (looked magnificent) but in the real world...

Daniel Villeneuve

Yeah, you're right that B&W is a minimal amount of Kodak's business, and according to my local Kodak rep, people like the crappy image quality of the current stocks because most productions currently using B&W are looking for a "retro look."

However, how expensive can it be for them to reperforate existing stocks and pass some information out to labs about handling it? There is not a lot of product development involved here, since they have already got the material for still photography pretty well refined at this point.

In the meantime, I can recommend the Ilford B&W stocks. They aren't as tight looking as the T-Max film, but they have a hell of a better grey scale than Plus-X and Double-X.

Also, I want some high speed B&W stocks. Four-X reversal is gone, and let's not even talk about the image quality THAT stuff had. But there's nothing replacing it.


I mean no disrespect, but as to why EK doesn't market the T-Max emulsion for motion picture stock, I don't think it's a matter of economics, at least not entirely. They're always improving color stocks, so why not B&W? They might not sell more B&W film, but they would at least show a commitment to improving the medium. The only real hindrance for the acceptance of T-Max Mo Pic stock is that it would require special development, but if Kodak really has the motivation they could successfully market it. After all, they tried to market much stranger things in the still photo disc film.

Just some thoughts,

Layne Uyeno

Four X Reversal was a LOT better than Four X Negative, which was truly hideous!

The problems with B&W T grain stocks (and EK did one test batch apparently) for cine use is that they need extremely long fix times to clear the pink tint that the neg has. Plus, they are better in TMax developer than in D96... so labs would have to retool, and few want those hassles. (Not that they're big ones...)

Me, I am looking forward to trying Double X and HP5+ in EK's new XTOL developer....

Jeff "soup me" Kreines

Prewashing will reduce the pink tint problem (which is caused by residual sensitizing dyes). But honestly, who cares that the negatives are a bit pink? The print stock isn't going to change.

Yes, the T-Max does look a lot better in the appropriate chemistry than it does in D-76. However, it still looks a whole lot better in D-76 than Double-X does. Retooling for the new chemistry would be good, but still not essential.

XTOL is pretty nasty... it's got a heavy silver solvent, so it loses fine shadow detail in the process of reducing granularity. It honestly looks a whole lot like Microdol-X to me. I'll stick with D-23 for my still work.



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