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Step Printing - Examples & Information

Published : 16th January 2004


I am looking for any film examples of step-printing to show a director.


While he understands my explanation, he still want's to see movies have the effect.

Any ideas?

Learan Kahanov
NYC DP


Learan Kahanov wrote :

> I am looking for any film examples of step-printing to show a director.

Wong Kar-wai's "Chungking Express" (shot by Chris Doyle). Citing this example first because the film was shot in available light (forgive me, Learan )

Sam Wells


I am looking for any film examples of step-printing to show a director.

Wong Kar-wai's "Chungking Express" (shot by Chris Doyle)

Also, WKW's "Happy Together"

There's also a tiny example in "In the Mood for Love" when the protagonists are standing in the rain - the wide shot. And ... one of my all time favourite openings of all time - "

Deep Cover" with Laurence Fishburne.

The movie's good, not great ... but what an opening!

Cheers,

Duraid Munajim
DP, Toronto



For some reason the example that springs to mind is the fist fight at the end of the first Lethal Weapon movie. Looked to me like a decision made in post, otherwise they might have chosen to shoot it in slow motion.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP



Mitch Gross wrote:

>[....]the fist fight at the end of the first Lethal Weapon movie. Looked to >me like a decision made in post[....]

Mmmm....The connotation (that it's a retrospective decision and thus indicative of a 'flubbed moment' on the shoot) made me very wary of step printing for years. It's a shame really that there's this pejorative reading, since it's a way of creating a different emotional and intellectual effect to overcranking.

Having said that, it's often pretty obvious when it's a deliberate (advance) choice and when it's the result of edit room hell )

Saving Private Ryan has some step printing in the opening beach landing sequence and bizarrely I always remember a shot from Pulp Fiction where Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames are tied up.

My personal favourite use is the end of Two Lane Blacktop where the final shots of the film are stepped all the way down to a freeze frame and a terrific 'optical' of the film melting in the projector!

Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London.



Hello Learan,

One of my favourite examples is at the end of “The Piano” when Holly Hunter falls into the ocean.

Joe Zovko
AC
LA, CA


.... I am looking for any film examples of step-printing to show a director.

Here's another example, that I think is used just as effectively as it is in Saving Private Ryan : Jacob's ladder.

When Jacob is bayoneted, step-printing is employed.

Especially effective, since the scene is recurring, and we learn more and more about its surrounding detail. As we see it play over again, the step-printing combined with Tim Robbin's expression of confusion more than panic or pain, really makes an intense moment(s).

Hope that helps,

David Obuchowski
Brooklyn, NY
Pxl + 16 + person = maker du film



"Hard Boiled" by John Woo.

Mixes real slow motion with step printing in a somewhat complex frame score in the opening restaurant sequence.

Sam mentioned : Wong Kar-wai's "Chungking Express" (shot by Chris Doyle)

It should be pointed out that this is a combination of step printing and shutter effect, therefore making the movement streaks more obvious.

François Miron
Filmmaker/ Montréal



>,,,, I am looking for any film examples of step-printing to show a director.


There's a good example of step printing in the opening of *Reservoir Dogs*.

The long lens shot where they are walking towards camera.

I think it's referred to in the AC article.

David Perrault, csc



If you can find it, an Australian film from the mid 90s called

"What I Have Written". A number of sequences were shot at 6fps, then a small number of selected frames within a shot were step-printed out to maintain the same total length (and rhythm) of the shot. So for example a character walks across the room in a 4-second shot, but shown in just 4 or 5 frozen frames. The 6fps provided extra motion blur to help the transition from freeze to freeze.

We also did a colour-drain on many of these shots, so they are _almost_black and white as well as being _almost_ stills.

Dion Beebe ACS was the DoP on that film - (he's more

recently known for Chicago.)

Dominic Case
Atlab Australia



Hi,

There's part of Amelie - where she's sitting in a photo booth if memory serves - which is not step printed, but digitally slowed down. Same effect - they didn't appear to do any interpolation.

Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London



Dear list members,

I’ve read the post in the "general list" where Learan Kahanov asked for film examples of step-printing.

Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly "step printing" means?.

Thanks in advance!.

Agustin Barrutia,
Electrician,
Buenos Aires, Argentina.



>Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly "step printing" means?.

It usually means printing each frame more than once, usually to slow the motion down when projected back at normal speeds. It's traditionally done in an optical printer by creating a dupe negative (I.N.) with the extended footage -- so printing every original frame off of an I.P. twice onto a new I.N., for example, would slow the motion down by half (of course, it doesn't look smooth like shooting at higher frame rates.) You can also repeat select frames (like every other frame) to create odd cadences. "Avalon" shot its early flashback scene at 16 fps and had every other frame repeated in printing to get the motion closer to normal 24 fps. This created a odd rhythm which reminds the viewer of silent era movies.

Step-printing is sometimes combined with undercranked shooting, like at 6 fps (then printing four frames for every original), to restore the speed back to normal when projected at 24 fps, but to get a lot of strobing and blurring to the motion because of the low frame rate used to capture the scene.

The main problem is that it usually requires duping the footage to get a new negative with the corrected speed, unless you do the work digitally (or if the project is for transfer to video only. With a meta-speed capability on a telecine, for example, you could transfer low frame rate footage at the speed shot and thus get normal speed, with the telecine repeating fields in order to add up to 60 fields per second NTSC or 50 fields per second PAL.)

David Mullen
Cinematographer / L.A.



Excellent and very clear explanation Mr Mullen.

Thanks a lot!

Agustin Barrutia,
Electrician,
Buenos Aires, Argentina.


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