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RodinalDuchamp
13-Sep-2015, 06:00
Mods please move of not appropriate here.

I know this isn't a LF question but what better place to get some insight on old film stocks.

I was hoping someone would know or know where to find what types of film where used during the Film Noir era (double indemnity, maltese falcon, etc)

I shoot a ton at night and have recently been interested in trying my hand at trying to recreate some stills on LF.

I know lighting plays a huge role in the look but maybe the film stocks had particular characteristics that made them more successful than others. I cant imagine they where "fast" film.

I also dont knos anything about how video cameras record an image which may also play a part.

Jac@stafford.net
13-Sep-2015, 08:37
Fomapan 320 and Adox CHS are candidates. Rollei RETRO sheet film might do the trick, if you can find some.

I will offer one tip. To take the crispness away from a more modern lens without actually softening the image a lot, you might experiment with Tiffen Contrast filters (http://www.tiffen.com/contrast_filters.htm). In effect they throw light into shadows, and sometimes creates highlight halos and a bit of flare. I used them back when digital video was horrible in contrasty light, and several times in MF when I had to cope with noon light. They certainly give a different look, one I consider rather retro.

Good luck. I look forward to your outcomes.

Bruce Watson
13-Sep-2015, 12:15
I was hoping someone would know or know where to find what types of film where used during the Film Noir era (double indemnity, maltese falcon, etc).

The filmstock used was nothing you can get today. Double Indemnity was 1944. Kodak didn't invent tri-acetate safety base until 1948 (won an Oscar for it in 1950). So the base was cellulose nitrate. Tri-X didn't come out until 1954. So I'd give good odds to Double-X (the non-super predecessor to Super-XX), or something that came before.

I would imagine that you will get better results asking on some of the cinema forums.

As for speed, it was the cinema industry constantly demanded more speed. More speed = less lighting. In the age of carbon arcs, they sunburned many an artist, and blinded a few too. So film speed was the number one demand from the cinema market. But they didn't turn down smaller grain, increased sharpness, and increased dynamic range when they could get it. :cool:

Jim Noel
13-Sep-2015, 15:16
Regardless of the film used, lighting is what distinguishes these , and other, films or images.

RodinalDuchamp
13-Sep-2015, 15:36
Jim thanks. However I've been considering material and process more lately and whatever they used to record scenes probably played some role in the final image.

Lighting of course played a role maybe the main role but film is still worth investigating I think.

BetterSense
13-Sep-2015, 19:43
It's all in the lighting.

RodinalDuchamp
13-Sep-2015, 19:59
Ok I hear you, I'm still interested in knowing what film was used.

Toyon
13-Sep-2015, 21:34
You should contact the American Film Institute about historic film stocks.

John Kasaian
13-Sep-2015, 22:21
Maybe this will help--
https://books.google.com/books?id=86JXA-G2ovsC&pg=PA125&lpg=PA125&dq=kodak+motion+picture+film+emulsions+history&source=bl&ots=KpeuQM6NS0&sig=v1mq68taPiZ3N9Y7YtloLV7oqbM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDYQ6AEwBGoVChMIjMKioOP1xwIVzyWICh2bHAcA#v=onepage&q=kodak%20motion%20picture%20film%20emulsions%20history&f=false

brucetaylor
13-Sep-2015, 23:28
Just do some research on the motion pictures you're interested in, the information shouldn't be hard to find. And I believe Kodak Super XX was the stock of the time. I have to agree with the other comments that it's lighting. Here's the thing about most historical cinematography, the cinematographer worked with the best film that was available (and it was all very slow) and then created a lighting scheme that made the shot look a certain way. If films had a low dynamic range, the scene was lit to make the contrasts appear "normal," the same way they worked with orthochromatic films and compensated with make up tones to make faces look normal. Since you don't have access to the old materials you'll have to figure out how to get the look on set with what you have available (lighting!) just like the masters did. There is a book, "Painting With Light" by John Alton one of the greats of noir cinematography that explains exactly how it was done.

MDR
14-Sep-2015, 06:10
In 1938 Kodak introduced their new faster film stocks better known as Plus-X (not to be confused with the film we know as Plus-X) and Super-XX (ISO 100) they replaced Super-X and Super Sensitive Cine Negative Panchromatic Film. Super XX lasted quiet some time and was the fastest available Film stock at that time.
+1 For John Alton, ASC's Painting with light which is still considered the text on film Noir type lighting and it was written by Film Noir director of photography.

Mark Sawyer
14-Sep-2015, 13:09
Film Noir movies tended to be a bit contrasty and grainy as they often pushed the film a little in developing to make up for the low light and sensitivity.

RodinalDuchamp
15-Sep-2015, 07:14
Film Noir movies tended to be a bit contrasty and grainy as they often pushed the film a little in developing to make up for the low light and sensitivity.
I am also interested in their procesing. I'm not a fan of pushing film I haven't had desireable results with it. The way they would have done it preserves some of the nice tones especially in indoor shots unless they processed dark and well lit shots differently.

MDR
16-Sep-2015, 02:33
I am also interested in their procesing. I'm not a fan of pushing film I haven't had desireable results with it. The way they would have done it preserves some of the nice tones especially in indoor shots unless they processed dark and well lit shots differently.

Processing was done in Kodak D96 or something similar the closest still film developer that is still made is Kodak D76. You don't have to push the film you can blow out detail with artificial light. What is often missed in the discussion of MP Film is the printing stage Kodak offered several printing stocks with different contrast (soft, normal and hard) what you see on the screen is more often the result of manipulation at the printing stage than at the neg. developing stage. Good lighting and a good lab are the way to great results. One could also say the labs are the unsung heroes of the MP world.

On the net you can find the formula for D96 and D96a (ascorbic acid)

brucetaylor
16-Sep-2015, 08:11
The "timer"' (printer) at the lab was so important they sometimes got credit on screen. That job is called a "colorist" now, and they are always credited. They worked closely with the cinematographer to the achieve look desired. Rarely would they be filming in "low light" unless it was intentional, just about all of the lighting is artificial to at least some degree (even daytime exteriors).

MDR
16-Sep-2015, 09:47
The "timer"' (printer) at the lab was so important they sometimes got credit on screen. That job is called a "colorist" now, and they are always credited. They worked closely with the cinematographer to the achieve look desired. Rarely would they be filming in "low light" unless it was intentional, just about all of the lighting is artificial to at least some degree (even daytime exteriors).

Let's call it controlled and not artificial. :) Francois Truffaut made a cinematic tribute to artificial nights "La nuit americaine". It's also interesting to note that at the height of the Studio System pretty much every major Studio had its own lab and camera dept. This also made sure that the movies had a certain recognizable look. Warner Bros. hard and gritty, MGM Glamour, Paramount a very sophisticated look with an european twist, etc... The cinema goers knew what would expect them on the screen not like today were the fashion changes every few months and the Studios change to the next it look within seconds. It was a very restrictive but I believe also a very artistic system and despite being commercial companies the Studio Heads were proud of their Studios and the Movie they made.

Bruce Barlow
16-Sep-2015, 11:39
In the age of carbon arcs, they sunburned many an artist, and blinded a few too.

I'm told they set Hawaiian singer Don Ho on fire once.

Peter De Smidt
16-Sep-2015, 12:05
How they lit the scene, imo, is more important than specific films or development.

RodinalDuchamp
16-Sep-2015, 12:55
Right thats a given. But there is lots of good info to be gleaned from the film specifics as some have previously given insight

AtlantaTerry
16-Sep-2015, 13:17
I was hoping someone would know or know where to find what types of film where used during the Film Noir era (Double Indemnity, Maltese Falcon, etc.)

I shoot a ton at night and have recently been interested in trying my hand at trying to recreate some stills on LF.

I know lighting plays a huge role in the look but maybe the film stocks had particular characteristics that made them more successful than others, I cant imagine they were using "fast" film.

I also don't know anything about how video cameras record an image which may also play a part.

Not only do I work with large format cameras but I also work on indie film and television productions as a Director of Photography or Stills Photographer. I am a big fan of the film noir look.
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1669504/board/thread/100119963

IMHO, if you want to try to emulate what the cinematographers in the '40s and '50s were doing but in large format still images, use a slow B&W film such as Shanghai or Arista Edu Ultra. As mentioned by others, much of the mystery of the images in those films was from very contrasty lighting with minimal shadow detail. Backlight with little fill would be a must. Of course other effects such as fog, wet streets, etc. would help, too.

Use older uncoated lenses or try to emulate uncoated lenses by putting a sheet of regular plate glass in a filter holder (matte box). A Lindahl which will accept 3" or 4" square pieces of glass and other special effects filters, several years ago I had my local glass shop cut some for me just for this purpose. (Be sure all of the edges are polished to prevent your getting cuts!) You can also add a bit of flare from lights in the scene by putting some black mesh in front of your lens. Don't use a fine mesh such as panty hose because that would be too much. Go to a fabric store to see what they might have. You can also use a can of black spray paint from a couple feet away to put a bit of mist on a UV filter. Another thing to try is to put some small dots of clear fingernail polish onto a UV filter. Experiment with your digital camera then apply what you like to your LF B&W work.

Let us see the results.

Jac@stafford.net
16-Sep-2015, 13:52
Black dot diffusion filters also help. Harrison & Harrison once made them. I made several variations and am stuck until I get a printer. Can post examples.

SergeiR
17-Sep-2015, 09:54
How they lit the scene, imo, is more important than specific films or development.

Yup. Cinematics + light.

Bugger all is solved by having magic film characteristics, IMHO. Uncoated lens will help with backlight to create haze, but not all were hazy.

Bruce Watson
17-Sep-2015, 11:58
Bugger all is solved by having magic film characteristics, IMHO.

If you ever get a chance, and it's unlikely that you will, try to see a screening using one of the "approved" (fireproof and air conditioned) projectors, of an original cellulose nitrate print. It's reportedly best if you can see this on an actual "silver screen" (with silver strands woven in to reflect light), but it still works on modern screens. And yes, people who've seen it often describe the effect as "magical". Before around 1950 this was how all movies were seen.

Jim Noel
17-Sep-2015, 22:24
Just do some research on the motion pictures you're interested in, the information shouldn't be hard to find. And I believe Kodak Super XX was the stock of the time. I have to agree with the other comments that it's lighting. Here's the thing about most historical cinematography, the cinematographer worked with the best film that was available (and it was all very slow) and then created a lighting scheme that made the shot look a certain way. If films had a low dynamic range, the scene was lit to make the contrasts appear "normal," the same way they worked with orthochromatic films and compensated with make up tones to make faces look normal. Since you don't have access to the old materials you'll have to figure out how to get the look on set with what you have available (lighting!) just like the masters did. There is a book, "Painting With Light" by John Alton one of the greats of noir cinematography that explains exactly how it was done.

More LIkely SUper X, not XX, it also could be an Agfa film which was also popular.

MDR
18-Sep-2015, 04:27
Some of the best film noirs were shot with coated lenses (e.g. A touch of Evil) and even in the era of uncoated lenses the cinematographer would use a compendium or some other form of lens shade to protect it from stray light that might lower the image quality. Instead of shooting with uncoated lenses get something like a Tiffen Black Pro-Mist 1/8 or 1/4 close ups and medium shots of Leading ladies were rarely done without some kind of diffusion (if they were stars they had the power to get the DP fired) some of the Leading man somtimes got diffusion too but very rarely. Film noir is all about lightning controll and the story. Film noir is not only a look but also a theme, modern film noir is rarely shot like film noirs of the 30's to 50's but due to the story that is similar to the movies of old they are refered to as film noir or neo film noir. Theme Story not look.

SergeiR
18-Sep-2015, 06:42
If you ever get a chance, and it's unlikely that you will, try to see a screening using one of the "approved" (fireproof and air conditioned) projectors, of an original cellulose nitrate print. It's reportedly best if you can see this on an actual "silver screen" (with silver strands woven in to reflect light), but it still works on modern screens. And yes, people who've seen it often describe the effect as "magical". Before around 1950 this was how all movies were seen.

Or till late 80s in USSR.
I seen plenty of movies with projectors like that back in old days, including all the Felini's ones, nothing magical about it, apart from story in the movie, and movie itself. Then again, may be I was not pickish :)

MDR
18-Sep-2015, 08:16
Or till late 80s in USSR.
I seen plenty of movies with projectors like that back in old days, including all the Felini's ones, nothing magical about it, apart from story in the movie, and movie itself. Then again, may be I was not pickish :)

A friend of mine is a film restorer and often talks about the difference between old cellulose nitrate and modern triacetate/pet films he feels that old film had/has more "depth" and looked better, another reason for modern B/W film not looking all that magical is that they are usually released on color stock and not B/W stock. Real B/W does look different and does have more depth than B/W in post.