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Old September 16th, 2004, 02:31 PM   #1
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Black and White with the Xl1s

Hey, at the end of the month I'll be buying an Xl1s from someone from the forum, and I'm planning to shoot in January or March, and I'm sure I'll want my film in Black and White.
I want a kind of classic film noir style, with hard contrasts, and such things.

I know many of you will say: do it in post, then you'll still have the choice etcetera. But I'm sure it will be black and white, no question about it.
And I want to do the black and white in-camera, because my teacher film says, often if you do it in post, it is more grey then real black and white.

So the quiestion is, do some of you have tips for having that look?
With color settings, filters, or even maybe software too, afterwards?
I'll be using Premiere or Premiere Pro.

All feedback is very appreciated,
Thank you very much
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Old September 16th, 2004, 04:46 PM   #2
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The XL1S has no in-camera black and white features. You must, and really should, "do it in post" to get the look you want. Study some b&w still photography to get a better feeling for how to get good contrast values. Rent or buy an FU-1000 high-res monochrome viewfinder to be able to better see your scene in b&w (as well as to better focus your scenes).
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Old September 16th, 2004, 05:59 PM   #3
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DV signal is recorded on tape as Y, Cr, Cb components, the Y being luminance (black and white.) To copy to B&W via analog output, just cut the "C" lead on your s-video cable.

White balance does effect the relative brightness of colored objects in the Y signal, akin to using color filters with panchromatic B&W film. Shooting in full color allows you to change this relative brightness balance in post, thus doing some additional effects in post and correcting how colors appear in the B&W image if you didn't get it right during the shoot. Of course, the teacher's objective may be to force you to get it right during the shoot, not rely on an editor to fix it later in the edit bay.
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Old September 16th, 2004, 08:14 PM   #4
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Mathieu, the principle that your teacher mentions (about shooting black-and-white vs stripping the color in post) is only applicable to film. Black-and-white film stock has a different contrast than color stock. Black and white video is (in NTSC, at least) just color video with some of the information left out, but the contrast remains the same.

However, black and white does require a different thought process as Ken indicates. I would recommend using an external monitor with the color turned down and analyzing your images that way. Picking wardrobe and production design colors is a specific challenge; you now have to think of colors as tones of grey, and choose based on that. If you have a digital camera that allows you to shoot in black and white mode (many do), that may be helpful for scouting or testing also. And because DV has such deep depth-of-field, you want to avoid placing similar tones on top of each other as they may tend to blend together.

The noir look traditionally involves hard light, which is a specific challenge for those who are used to shooting video under diffused soft light. It's worth shooting some tests to get comfortable to the style. If you have access to grip gear (c-stands, flags, gobos), you'll want to shape the light to maintain that contrasty look. Lekos (aka Source 4's) are a great instrument to use since they have built-in shutters.
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Old September 16th, 2004, 09:47 PM   #5
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I haven't done this in a while: What happens if you use a custom preset on the XL1s, and on that preset, turn the chroma all the way down? Doesn't that make it black and white, or does it just make it very very close to black and white?
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Old September 17th, 2004, 02:58 AM   #6
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It will make it B&W but it is basically the same technique as you
do in post. The reason people say to do it in post are:

1) as indicated earlier there is no "real" B&W on these camera's so you do not GAIN anything by turning the chroma down (unless you don't have a monitor that allows you to turn the chroma down, then I would)

2) in post you have MORE control. You can make it different kinds of B&W. There are more ways to turn a color image into a B&W and not every method will look as good or convincing.

3) it is neat to have the color information there even if you are not going to use it. It might be handy for website still or whatever. In some cases it can be a very powerfull thing to have just one little thing in color for example and everything else in B&W. It leaves you with options.

Anyway, 2 is in this case the most important I think and I would
definitely go with this if you can have a monitor on set with the
chroma turned down (or the FU1000 viewfinder), otherwise you
will basically be stuck with the way the XL1S does B&W.

Also see this excellent thread in our digital still forum regarding
different ways to convert color to B&W:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...threadid=31170

Especially note Jeff's line about how NOT to do it (which is probably
the look your teacher is referring to.)

Good luck!
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Old September 17th, 2004, 04:51 AM   #7
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Thank you for all the feedback.
I don't really have the money to buy or rent a monochrome viewfinder (damn, the thing is expensive :-)) so I'll see what I'll do.
So maybe I'll film it in black and white and work on the contrasts in post.
Now I don't have the time to read the other thread, but I'll read it tonight.
Or I film in color and all do it in post, if you guys have specific software that's good for such Black and white look.
Or I'll read it in the thread.
Thank you for all the replies!
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Old September 17th, 2004, 05:10 AM   #8
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Ow, another thing: I have a cheap (in comparison with the Canon, that is :-p) 1 CCD JVC camera, and I can take that one with me on location an set it on Black and white to see or colors are fine, but then film in color with the Canon.

If someone has good hints or tips for specific software... Like I said, I'll be working with Premiere Pro, I'll think, but it will be the first time, so I don't really know its possibilities.
Maybe there are tips in the link to the thread, but I'm now at school, so I'll read it at home.

Again, many many thanks for the replies.
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Old September 17th, 2004, 08:40 AM   #9
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We just finished shooting a "future noir" 35mm short (30 mins) in Black and White film. I can attest to the quality of the lighting making a HUGE difference. It's really important to have a gaffer who understands his instruments.

www.nu-classicfilms.com

For a look at the trailer to "After Twilight"
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Old September 18th, 2004, 04:18 AM   #10
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That's great.
But I'm just a student, I'll have to do the best I can to be creative with lightning and postproduction to achieve the look.
But I'll keep you up date if something happens :-)
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Old September 18th, 2004, 04:35 AM   #11
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Ow, just to let you know, my nephew is helping me with this whole project, and if you want a look at what kind of look we want, I here have a link to a thread he started (he's new to the forum)

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...threadid=32096

it is really difficult to say what we specifically want.
If I have to describe my upcoming movie it would be: A dark fairytale with the look of a film noir.
I know the pictures he posted aren't exactly film noir style, but that casttle is part of the dark fairytale of the movie:
This is the place where the villain lives, and everything around the casttle is surrounded by that evil.

We don't want to create something realistic, we want to make another world.
So in the link you have some pictures that we (well, he, I can't work with photoshop, but I tell him what kind of things I want) edited.

This is the first time we are trying such a big project, (for us it is) after I only made 2 (amateur) shorts.
So we need all the technical advice we can get.

So if you are interested, take a look at the pictures.
Thank you for your time.
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Old October 2nd, 2004, 03:00 PM   #12
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Does anyone has an example of black and white footage shot with the XL1 of XL1S?
I'm just curious. Maybe with some comment if something was done in post?

Thank you for the effort.
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