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Canon EOS Crop Sensor for HD
APS-C sensor cameras including the 80D, 70D, 7D Mk. II, 7D, EOS M and Rebel models for HD video recording.

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Old November 18th, 2011, 08:00 AM   #1
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Settings for a B&W film?

I am working with a group that will be shooting a 15-20 minute short the week after Thanksgiving. The final film, once edited, will be rendered in Black & White. We're going for a gritty post-industrial western style.

I've had many suggestions from different people concerning the initial settings for the T2i we will be using for shooting. One suggestion is that we shoot as if we are shooting and finishing in color, with proper color temp of all lighting. Another is to not worry about color temp at all. A third suggestion was to shoot in the Technicolor Cinestyle style, etc., etc., etc.,

Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi... You're my only hope!

Suggestions from the peanut gallery? Any would be a help! I hopefully will have a couple of hours to shoot some test footage before hand, but the location and timeframe of the shoot may eliminate that.

Appreciate everything.
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Old November 18th, 2011, 12:06 PM   #2
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Location: Camas, WA, USA
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Re: Settings for a B&W film?

My son recently did some tests with a DSLR (5D2, I think) for black and white shooting of a shadow puppet thing. He found that the noise was lower in the monochrome picture style than in the other styles. That makes sense as it zeroes the chroma bits, putting less stress on the codec. The downside is that you can't balance your colors in post when you have already removed the color information.

One thing to consider is filtering, either with glass or in the camera. One trick is to use a red filter when shooting black and white. It reduces the level of a blue sky and bumps up the level of faces. You can also do it in the camera (at least you can on the 5D2) with the color balance offset controls. But I recommend doing it with glass. That reduces the dynamic range of the light coming into the camera for outdoor shots in B&W.

This locks you into a tone balance, as compared to shooting color and processing in post, but if it was good enough for Orson Welles...

I recommend doing some tests. If you don't want to lay down the cash for a nice red, magenta, or orange glass filter, you could just buy some lighting gels and gaffers tape and shoot some footage to see which gives you the best look with the least noise and good dynamic range. And definitely set the contrast to minimum in the picture style.

Let us know what you end up using!
Jon Fairhurst
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Old November 26th, 2011, 10:30 AM   #3
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Re: Settings for a B&W film?

Again, sorry I can't speak from personal experience, but had a great long conversation with a film maker yesterday using a GH2 on a documentary that was planned from the start to be in monochrome.

He shot using the camera's mono setting - I was surprised, as my experience with the 550 and general thoughts about camera technology lead me to believe that the best results would be from using the camera in colour mode, and - in the spirit of Ansel Adams' zone system - let me plant my tones where I wanted them in the Post Production cycle.

The filmmaker came back with real world experience that echoes the above: the mono mode lacked the banding in clear blue skies, had little or no noise artifacts, presented a richer 'negative' to the Post Production grading. He's got a stunning film with gorgeous looks that will be hitting the Film Festival circuit next year.

I must say it took guts to film everything in mono from the get-go, but he's doing independent documentary. He's his own client. I'm shooting for paying clients - who change their minds, and love it (as in 'pay more money') if we can suddenly decide that the totally awesome interview we did can be re-used in another video that most definitely is NOT a moody cine-noir production.
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Old November 26th, 2011, 01:29 PM   #4
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Re: Settings for a B&W film?

BTW, I confirmed that the Monochrome color style allows one to digitally filter the image as well as you digitally add a color offset. Definitely don't offset the output in the camera. If you want a sepia look, add that in post. But consider a red filter. I don't know that the red digital filter will look as good as a red glass filter, but it looked pretty good to my eye. It's a great way to boost faces and dim the sky for outdoor shots.
Jon Fairhurst
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