Improvements in Grading

It was fascinating looking at the differences between material shot in 1985 and 2014 and all points in between while I was making the 30 years reel.

The variations, particularly in black level  are huge.

The Pepsi commercial was shot on ’94 & ’95 and cut and printed in a very conventional film way, once we were happy with the film print we had a low contrast print made and telecined from that, it must have been a Cintel Mk3. There are huge variations in both the level and the colour of the blacks and the whites don’t match too well scene to scene either!

The Sega was once again printed before we telecined off the print but in this case it was done to get a kind of contrast and saturation that it just wasn’t possible to get directly off the neg at the time. I remember we tested different print stocks and then used a Fuji print stock to get maximum punch.

For the Cussons job we again printed, on the recce I shot stills on every motion picture stock I could get my hands on, at that time Kodak and Fuji wanted to help, Fuji said who? We contact printed onto every print stock and just looked at the results on a light box. The result was a hell of a surprise, we got the best result with Agfa 400 ISO stock heavily filtered down and then printed on Kodak.

The baby milk commercials was shot on ’94 and scanned directly from the neg, probably a good thing as it was the thinnest neg I had ever produced! I had to light done to the night lights, we couldn’t but brighter bulbs in them, we tried and they melted.

Everything else is directly from the neg, there was a huge change in image quality when the Spirit scanner arrived.

Finally the Ford job was 4 * Alexa and 1 * C500 all digital and a great grade from Seamus.

It was only after Pepsi and Sega that I started to get heavily involved in the post, up until then I’d pretty much left it to the film grader with a bit of guidance. Like the time I wanted a commercial to have a blue tint, I asked for it to have the feel of a faded denim shirt, ‘WTF is that” was the reply from the grader. I clipped off the corner of my shirt and stapled it to the neg report. It came back looking right 🙂


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