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Old May 8th, 2003, 11:48 PM   #1
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Shooting For Black and White End Product

I'm going to shoot a short with a couple of PD150's and want the final product to be black and white. I've talked to a number of people, 'cause I knew, even with just about six months experience of shooting and editing in FCP that it wasn't just going to be a case of just desaturating in post. First of all it looks flat. I've been told by some that they shoot like it's black and white. For instance, Red #25 filter, specific lighting, that's a litle different than when lighting for color film, as well as some tips for post. I would like to ask for any suggestions any one else might have in any way, whether it be a filter or post, or anything. Thanks for you input.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 12:36 AM   #2
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If I want it to be black and white, I shoot in black and white. If you convert from color in post, you're going to lose quality.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 03:43 AM   #3
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The only way you are loosing quality is that you need to compress
the whole movie again. But if you already need to do this due
to letterboxing, color/levels correction, subtitling or effects then
it isn't a concern in my opinion. I'd rather have the flexibility in
post to alter the black & white look and to perhaps not have it
totally black & white but B&W with a little color in it (very little)

Now what you do need to think and test for is that certain colors
will look the SAME in B&W. If your character is wearing clothes
in a color that looks the same in B&W as the backgrounds they
will virtually disappear.

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Old May 9th, 2003, 05:31 AM   #4
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What Rob said, is only half of the story. When the cinematographers of the golden age were shooting for black and white, they would choose certain colors for backdrops, props, and clothing, all to enhance the way they translated into greyscale. Certain blues or greens would be used over other shades, because they stood out better, not because it was realistic.

I'm sure your local library would have some books that would cover the way Hollywood made movies to an extent.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 05:48 AM   #5
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I'm a long time still photographer recently converted to DV...and I shot a great deal of black & white in my day. It's true that certain gaudy color combinations can look good in B&W...but you can generally find good places to shoot and clothing color combinations just through instinct. Just train your eye to see things in shades rather than color. A woman dressed in yellow against a white background might look good in color...but what are you going to get in B&W?

I've shot DV in color and converted to B&W in post and had no problems. You just have to play with the brightness and contrast a bit, like anything else. I recommend you go out with your camera and shoot some test footage, testing your eye for shades. You'll get the hang of it quickly enough.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 05:48 AM   #6
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converting to black and white doesnt automatically make the image look flat to me. I think often converting badly lit or composed color scenes to black and white make it look like badly lit or composed black and white scenes.

In black and white, composition looks so great when you use strong lines, and a judicious use of negative space. It's so powerful. What happens is that without the color to give another level of visual clues about spaces, it may appear to be flat.

Black and white actually enhances , to me, the seperation of planes if you light the scene to take advanatge of this. this means lovely spills and hilights take on a life of their own instead of being drowned out in a cacaphony of conflicting colors.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 07:18 AM   #7
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Using colored filters may help some, but they are used in film for different reasons. Common B&W film is panchromatic, older films and special purpose films may be orthochromatic. They may be sensitive to only certain wave lengths of light. Panchromatic films can be full spectrum or partial spectrum. In most cases they are less sensitive to red or near red wavelengths. Filtering out certain wavelengths by the use of colored filters (red, orange, yellow, green, blue) the response of the film changes. Filters work by lightening their own color and darkening the rest. A polarizer, combined with a #25 will turn a blue sky nearly black. I suggest you use a bowl of fruit (apples, oranges, bananas, peppers etc.) with the different filters to see how they work.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 01:33 PM   #8
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Thanks. Yeah, I'm going to try shooting the basket of fruit and some other test shots. This is goingto be a lot of work and fun.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 09:01 PM   #9
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Well the funny thing is that you're using a PD-150 which has a black and white viewfinder. Why not just ignore that fact that the actual video is in color and adjust you composition and exposure so it looks good in the BW viewfinder? Then when you remove the color in post it should look pretty much the same...
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Old May 9th, 2003, 09:55 PM   #10
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In contrast to normal panchromatic film which is most sensitive the blue end of the spectrum IIRC, a CCD is most sensitive to the red end of the spectrum. So filters other than the neutral that work well with film may not produce the same effect with DV.

I have a few Black Pro-Mist filters that may enhance the B&W for softer sequences but I've not tried them.

Time to crank up the old 9" B&W monitor from the camera control station and use it to set up the scenes. I imagine a waveform monitor would be of great help in optimizing the setup.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 10:08 PM   #11
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As a relevent aside, are the Sony's also more sensitive in the red side? I ask this because Sony's video imaging tends to default to a cooler, bluer look than Canons, which do lean toward the red. It was always my impression that the difference is due primarily to differences in the cameras' digital signal processing firmware (metaphorically) behind the CCD blocks.
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