Grading/Timing
GRADING/TIMING AND THE DI PROCESS

QUESTIONS ARE PRE-2004 UNTIL LISTED

Mr Stapleton, I am a cinematography major and a couple of days
ago I saw Roger Deakins' work on the film O'Brother Where Art Thou. The film
used the new practice of scanning the film and then digitally color
correcting instead of the traditional correction with chemicals. Roger
Deakins stated that he can control every aspect of the colors in the movie
and pretty much create any look he wanted on the spot which would not be as
possible with traditional timing. Do you in the future intend to do your
films in this form, as it looks like the wave of the future?

This, along with Digital, is fast becoming the most popular topic amongst
cinematographers.  On the upside is exactly what you have stated above - the
control of inividual colours etc.  However, as Roger himself has said, the
whole process is very lengthy and very painful.  Now of course he was one of
the first to do this, so naturally it will get better and easier.  Cartier
Bresson coined the phrase "the decisive moment", Ansel Adams came up with
the idea of "pre-visualisation". Taken together, these two ideas represent
for me the task of the Cinematographer.  If you get it right on the set
there should be no need for all this adjustment afterwards, unless, like
Deakins, you want a "non-naturalistic" look for certain parts of the movie.
So, no I don't feel the need to do this on the movies I am shooting at the
moment, as I am happy with the look(s) I have achieved through the
traditional method.  Perhaps I won't catch the wave, and be left on my
surfboard wallowing in the trough...

Can you discuss the camera filters you use most frequently when you shoot?
How much of the color effect in your films is accomplished by filters or
lighting gels and how much by timing? Thanks, Rob

Apart from an 85 filter (for converting tungsten film to daylight), I only
use ND grads a lot.  This is for creating tone in the sky, and sometimes for
darkening a side of the frame that I canít adjust for some reason with
lights.  I very occasionally use Tiffen SoftFX or Pro-mists for close-ups
where the actress is in extreme close-up and has a not-so-great skin.  The
most important use of filters (for me) is to control the stop for day
exteriors: consistency of T-stop controls the depth and makes for cross cuts
that match. Iíll use all sorts of devices for flashbacks and dreams, from
spraying plain glass with anti-flare to nets and stockings etc. I used a lot
of colour in lighting gels for Absolute Beginners and Earth Girls are Easy
with Julien temple directing, as he liked the old technicolour 3-strip look,
and this was a way of simulating the saturation of the dye transfer process.
At the moment, I seem to be in a period of photographing more naturalistic
films, so mostly use lighting gels to ďcorrectĒ the colour of the artificial
light to match the natural light. Timing can only colour the scene overall,
(redder, bluer etc) so the internal colours of a scene have to be achieved
on the set.  Computer control of timing (as in Oh Brother Where Art Thou?),
enables individual colours to be altered in tone and density which makes for
a freedom that some would say is not necessarily an advantage!

Hi Oliver,
 Do you prefer to use filters (contrast, ND grads) while you are shooting or finalise the crucial "look" of the film during the grade?
 Cheers,
Darren

Iím not quite sure what this question means, as a Grad filter and/or contrast change  canít be added during the grade, unless you are grading electronically - like for a commercial.  I only shoot films now , so electronic grading is not an option for me so all decisions about contrast, grads etc are made in the shooting phase.  Commercial cameramen may gave you a different answer.

What is telecine? ??

Veen

Congratulations on winning the Shortest Question Award! Telecine is the process whereby the negative or print of a film is transferred to ?tape? or more likely the hard drive of a computer these days. During this process the ?initial? timing (grading) of the picture is done, although this can be altered considerably later on during the editing process. Usually the whole of what was shot is transferred, though it does not have to be if the director has already decided which ?takes? he or she likes.
 

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