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Colorists & DPs, Y Neyman in France.
I do not mean to restart the heated debate "colorists & DPs" where everything
has already been said, but I thought you might be interested to know the
situation in France, since some french DPs work in the US and in the UK.
The AFC, association of french DPs, which is the equivalent of ASC in
the US, first published this article in their monthly letter:
Research of ways to control telecine.
We, DPs, have all had to face the following problem in telecine: what is the
zero setting, the standard setting, how to find it ? Kodak TAF exist, but I
have never seen a colorist using a TAF to set up his telecine, even if I was
coming for a session from print after a client who had used a negative. When I
spoke about this, the answer was often that there was no use for that, that
these TAF were not adapted to this type of telecine, it was a waste of time,
and we did not know where our TAF were anymore. And how many times have I heard
a colorist telling me "here is the picture you get with a zero setting"
presenting me what I considered to look like mush. Obviously, the job that was
done by the colorist looked like a major feat, considering where he had
started. This is why I propose this: we should go visit facilities that have
good telecines, speak to colorists, who are very often talented people, then
try with them, with film stock and telecine manufacturers, to look for a system
of reference that will enable us to find the same zero setting again on any
machine, for any type of film stock, the same way we can do it in labs for film
processing. This is not aimed at making a standardized or average image, but to
be able to work from a base that enables all imagination, all transgressions.
Here is now the answer from Duboi, that was published in the following
Any type of telecine analyses a print in quite a "neutral" way, and it
is easy to find a good starting point you can compare with the same picture
projected. Concerning negative, the expression "zero setting" does not mean
anything, the zero setting will give an image in the way the telecine sees the
neg, poor contrast, colors looking strange: the mush you described. To me the
"zero setting" you should apply to your neg, before any grading, is the setting
that gives from a neg TAF the same image you get from a print TAF, the print
TAF can be considered as a reference. This method works in theory, but in
practice you need to work with many interactive parameters to achieve this.
Colorists never use it because it has limited results, they proceed in a more
empirical way: from their experience they begin the session making an image
that will look the closest possible to what you would have from a print. Now,
the colorist can start grading.
(this is a good starting point and reassures the DP, I am sure that many of
you have graded so many miles of footage in their lives that, by looking at any
piece of neg with "base memory" applied, you already have a good idea of the
Pretending that what your telecine sees is a starting point, is a
mistake. The starting point remains subjective, as much as a good print can be,
but it is anyway better than the interpretation of a neg you would give
forgetting that the DP made it to be a print even if this print will never
exist. All of this to say that if you want a good grading you have to go to
people you know, trust, talk the same language. I wish that in the future,
production companies will ALWAYS let DPs choose their colorist as he his part
of their crew.
Then we had the visit of Y.Neyman in Paris who came to present his TCS.
Here is the report from the AFC:
The presentation was held in a telecine room of a Paris lab. The
following, Kodak, Fuji, film lab and video post managers,and DPs, were present,
about 30 people, which shows the will of everyone to achieve a simple,
practical uniform way of tranfering film to video. If only for this reason we
must recognize the importance of this attempt. But the TCS has some big
defects: not only the chart must be shot many times a day, but it is covered
with a thin anti-UV protection which makes it very shiny and difficult to light
correctly. It is recommended to have permanently a small source of light next
to the camera to shoot the chart in the best conditions. Film and video labs
will have to buy all test and control films and multiply daily, number of
manipulation to avoid any drift of colorimetry or density, so the operation is
correctly led to the end. The number of information on the chart and the way to
use it are probably why the general impression is that TCS is quite a heavy way
to do things. We wish to find a simpler solution to correctly transfert film to
video. After this the Aaton Gray Card Finder was presented by JP Beauviala.
After discussion with some DPs, my feeling is that they do not believe
very much in TCS even though they think it is great in theory. They would
prefer to work the same way as before, but get get more feedback from the
colorist thanks to the Aaton GCF. In other terms, DPs believe more in a
relative solution than an absolute one.
I would like to mention that I have collected from the TIG archives
your mail about colorist & DPs and passed it on to the AFC.
Best regards to all of you.
Duboi is an associated member of AFC.
colorist at Duboi, Paris