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Exposing for Shooting 16mm Daylight Spools?

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Jade Whitmire
Exposing for Shooting 16mm Daylight Spools?
on May 6, 2017 at 10:12:32 pm

This may come off as a rookie question, so apologies for some novice curiosity… but I am about to shoot some 100' rolls of Vision3 50D 16mm film - and I want to be sure that I expose the film correctly. I’ve only worked with Vision3 500T and Tri-X so far, which I exposed partially with light meters and partially with a viewfinder on a DSLR, as well as eyeballing the image in the Bolex EBM. My mental problem is that with the 50D film having an ASA of 50, I’m a bit confused on who to trust, between the light meter or the amount of light my eyes see through my Bolex EBM (which worked fine for the other stocks).
For some of the sunnier spots that I’ve test light-metered, the aperture I’ve been given is closer to 22 at 1/60th... But looking through the camera, it’s quite dark when I pull one of the lenses closer to this. Though I know that the film speed is what makes the difference, and that what I’m seeing through the camera won’t necessarily be the same this time with the daylight stocks and that's why I’m confused on which way to go. I realize how silly this question might sound, but it’s important - as film and its transferring is expensive and I don’t want to have to re-shoot because of sheer stupidity.
Any wizardly advice would be hugely appreciated for this daylight newbie. Thank you! :)


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Todd Terry
Re: Exposing for Shooting 16mm Daylight Spools?
on May 6, 2017 at 10:27:55 pm

Use your light meter.

In 25 years of DP work, with the rare exception of full-sun daylight exteriors (where exposures are fairly uniform), I've never ever heard of anyone willingly "eyeballing it" as their go-to method of determining exposure. Ever.

Well, maybe in the case of some emergency... but it's certainly not good policy. And apparently you have a light meter. Use it.

Guessing at an exposure would be especially ill-advised with a stock that you have never used before, and one that is many stops slower than the stocks you are used to.

And if you do have to do any guessing... definitely always err on the side of underexposure... never overexposure.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Rick Wise
Re: Exposing for Shooting 16mm Daylight Spools?
on May 6, 2017 at 11:49:39 pm

Ahhh, it's a dark day indeed when I have to disagree with my very esteemed colleague, Todd Terry. It's my experience (50+ years....) that if you have to err with negative stock, it's "better" to err toward over-exposure rather than under. (With video, it's the opposite.)

But getting it right is best..... At ISO 50, 24 frames/second, with the sun 3/4 full on the subject, here in Oakland CA at 4:00 in the afternoon, May 6, 2017, the f/stop would be around f/11-16 split; completely back-lit, f/4-5.6 split. If you meter is telling you f/22 I suspect that either you have an extremely bright sun, or your meter needs to be recalibrated. Or possibly the following:

You don't specify if you are using a reflective/spot meter, or an incident meter. At whatever you point your reflective meter, the meter will give you a reading that ends up exposing that object as middle gray/ Zone V. Perhaps you are pointing a spot meter at a Caucasian's skin; Caucasian skin is generally Zone Vl. So opening up a full stop from the reflective meter's reading would get you roughly correctly exposed "white" skin. If the sun is directly behind the camera, f/22 opened to f/16 could be OK. Of course, it's rare you would want to position the camera so the sun is directly behind the shooter; flat, flat, flat.

As for the image looking "dark" in the viewfinder, that's an unfortunate function of most film cameras when they are stopped down to anything over f/11. Because of that fact, I always did my best to keep the f/stop below f/11 by adding polas.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Exposing for Shooting 16mm Daylight Spools?
on May 7, 2017 at 4:45:47 am

Oh I will completely defer and concede to my more experienced and much older colleague Rick (hey, I hit 54 in a week so it's harder and hard to find older colleagues now... so I have to take 'em where I can get 'em).

He might be completely right about that, exposure wise. I've put a few hundred thousand feet through the gate but I bet he's put a few million, so I'd listen to him unquestionably. I'm just going by what the colorists that I have used have told me... and I frankly put more stock in Rick's opinion than theirs.

I'd say this, though... the latitude of stocks these days is so wide, and telecine has gotten so good, that you can really afford to slip a little bit on either side of the argument and be just fine. Now that I really think about it, if I had a scene with a lot of dark areas where I was trying to bring out detail in the shadows, I'd probably cheat toward overexposing a tad. Conversely, if I had a scene with a bunch of super hot areas where I want to preserve details, it would probably be smarter to cheat toward underexposing a little.

But of course, as Rick said, option one should be just getting the exposures right... if you can.

I never had a decent incident meter (always wish I did... that's the way to go). I always used a Pentax 1° spot meter and a gray card (I kept a little one attached to the meter's strap).

Then again, don't listen to me... I sadly haven't shot real film in years now, and no doubt never will again. I think I still have lonely cans of 5203 sitting in the fridge taking up space, though....

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Richard Herd
Re: Exposing for Shooting 16mm Daylight Spools?
on May 9, 2017 at 8:43:13 pm

I think 1/3 bump open on the bolex is warranted because of that damn prism and it's not quite a 180 shutter angle. Obviously, you'll want to run camera tests (bracket exposures) BEFORE you shoot the actual thing.


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Rick Wise
Re: Exposing for Shooting 16mm Daylight Spools?
on May 9, 2017 at 10:55:09 pm

If the lenses you are using are RX lenses, they are adjusted for the prism and for the smaller shutter opening. The prism chews up 1/3 stop of light, and the shutter opening another 1/3 stop.

As always, tests highly recommended. They can reveal all sorts of problems, including the light meter being out of calibration.

You might want to check out my post about using a light meter on video shoots in the lighting forum.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Richard Herd
Re: Exposing for Shooting 16mm Daylight Spools?
on May 18, 2017 at 6:20:49 pm

[Rick Wise] "using a light meter on video shoots"

I always use an incident meter but then I'm AAU alumni 2005 and it was necessary part of the curriculum. ☺ I sure miss Curran Engel.


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