[tig] over exposed 35mm

david gibson davegibson1971
Wed Jun 23 00:38:02 BST 2004

Hello folks

Hopefully the collective nature of the TIG will be able to shed light on a particular problem i've
run into in the past and have again experienced recently. I apoligise if this is something that is
in the archives, but i haven't seen it discussed here in the last two years! Just to say from the
get go, that this is something i've seen on spirit, millennium, ursa and quadra on kodak and fuji
35mm neg, can't comment on 16mm. And that maybe i've seen it a hand full of times in the last 10

So the senario goes something like this, sometimes i get colour 35mm neg that has been over
exposed by a stop or two, but as long as i have enough contrast and detail in the film i am able
to balance and produce a perfectly acceptable picture that i am able to grade and push into most
required areas. No problem there. Ideally it would be great to get perfectly exposed neg all the
time, and in gereral i do, but ocassionally i will get more severly over exposed neg or just very
flat low contrast neg (overcast sky on a snow field a couple of stops over for example). Now i
realise i have very little to play around with here and that in effect the neg is VERY dense and i
have to push alot of light through it for the telecine to pull out all the detail in the film, but
with modern telecines and current stocks detail can be retrieved. So i find myself in a position
with a flat low contrast picture on the front end before the davinci, and figure i'll add a LITTLE
contrast with davinci primaries to stretch it out a little and make it useful, but already i see
noise in the picture in the form of vertical marks that look like wash marks (but i believe are no
such thing), the grain structure is very visable and appears to be flickering. All of which are
further exaggerated by adding contrast in the davinci. So no matter how carefully i set up and mix
the telecine on these type of shots, the action of pulling the whites so far out of clip and
balacing the picture is enough to make this noise apparent. incidently when the same footage is
viewed on a Basemem/TAF setting, the picture will appear blown out and clipped.

Now i know that this isn't perfectly exposed neg and the sheer fact of having to push the telecine
so hard to produce a picture is resulting in this noise in the picture, i have used noise
reduction in the past to eliminate/ reduce it (but thats not something i like to use without a
good reason, maybe this is the only way round it). What i want to know is have other people seen
this effect and if so, what exactly is it, is there a better way of dealing with it that hasn't
occured to me and if so what is it.

Please keep in mind that this isn't a frequent occurance, but when it does arise not all clients
will understand why it won't match the correctly exposed full sunshine and shadow footage and
telling them its unusable is not an option when they can see a picture (albeit, flat and dull),
also not knowing the percise reason for this noise means i can't explain to the DoP the problem in
more complex terms then "its over exposed and the telecine is making it noisy". Is this just a
fact of life with partially over exposed neg shot under the wrong/right conditions, that current
stocks are allowing us to see. I have had countless DoPs and directors that are amazed by the
amount of latitude available in certain stocks when correctly exposed for the conditions.

Any comments are most welcome, in general i have no problems with noise and grain, but recently
i've had this problem a couple of times, i probably won't see it again for another year or so, but
while its fresh in my mind i thought i'd put it out there for you folks to comment on. 


dave gibson
senior colourist
digital post
new zealand

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