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» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » The Afterlife   » Black & White movies (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Black & White movies
Claude S. Ayakawa
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Posts: 2724
From: Waipahu, Hawaii, USA
Registered: Aug 2002


 - posted 01-19-2015 06:42 PM      Profile for Claude S. Ayakawa   Author's Homepage   Email Claude S. Ayakawa   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
During my childhood, I was very happy when a movie was in gorgeous Technicolor and I still enjoy watching movies and regular programming in color on high definition television but I must admit, I find watching Classic B&W films a grest treat. I have a collection of many B&W films on Blu Ray and DVD that have been restored and watching them in HD is like watching a brand new print . A few of them include films by Akira Kurosawa such as RASHOMON, AKAHIGE (Red Beard). IKIRU (To Live), KUMONO NO SUJO (Throne of Blood) and SHICHININ NO SAMURAI (Seven Samurai). I also have films by other Japanese masters such as Yasujiro Ozu's TOKYO STORY and HARAKIRI by Masaki Kobayashi. I also have a few silent classics by Charlie Chaplin including MODERN TIME.
Some of the jewels in my collection are classic American films made in the thirties, forties and fifties by such as MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, THE GOOD EARTH, LAURA, ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT and many others. Even B&W films made in the sixties are superb including TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and PSYCHO.

-Claude

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Mark Ogden
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Little Falls, N.J.
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-19-2015 09:37 PM      Profile for Mark Ogden   Email Mark Ogden   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I just saw your post after spending the last couple of hours re-watching one of the greatest b/w movies ever made, Carol Reed’s The Third Man, photographed by Robert Krasker. Absolutely stunning, one of the best of the “film noir” cycle.

Black and white is an art form all it’s own, and frankly, is still alive and well. I was pleased to see among the Academy Award nominations the two cinematographers who shot the Polish film Ida. From 1936 to 1966, their were two cinematography Oscars each year, one for b/w and one for color. When I see some of the great b/w cinematography going on these days, films like Nebraska, Frances Ha, The Artist, Good Night and Good Luck, and the terrific now-in-theaters vampire flick A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night I sometimes wish they would revert to that again.

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Claude S. Ayakawa
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From: Waipahu, Hawaii, USA
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 - posted 01-20-2015 02:25 AM      Profile for Claude S. Ayakawa   Author's Homepage   Email Claude S. Ayakawa   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I also like the films you had mentioned, Mark. Especially THE ARTIST and NEBRASKA. Another B&W film I forgot to mention from the sixties was Truman Capote's IN COLD BLOOD and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN I enjoyed the B&W cinetography in those movies very much.

The early Universal horror films such as FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA, THE WOLFMAN, THE INVISABLE MAN AND THE MUMMY are also favorites of mine. I recently watched these films recently on Blu Rey from Universal's Monster collection recently and the restoration they did on the films was amazing, especially DRACULA. I do not think that film ever looked that good before.

-Claude

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Marcel Birgelen
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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
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 - posted 01-20-2015 04:11 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
While the Black and White and general cinematographic style in The Artist was essential, given the concept of the movie and I found it fitting for Good Night and Good Luck, I think the B&W cinematogaphy of both Nebraska and Frances Ha misses its purpose entirely. I would actually have preferred to have seen Nebraska filmed in color.

We started to add the first color to our movies more than a century ago, just like we later added sound, because it generally adds to the experience. So, in my very humble opinion, the B&W tool should only be used if it actually makes sense or adds something notable to the experience, not just because the director or cinematographer thought it was great to pull off something "weird".

Another notable recent production that uses Black and White is The Giver, they essentially pulled a Pleasantville in that one.

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Leo Enticknap
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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 01-22-2015 02:04 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Black-and-white was only the dominant industry standard for around 30 of the cinema's 120 or so years of existence. During the silent period tinted and/or toned monochrome was the norm for the release prints of most studio features. From the early 1960s, dye coupler color became the default, partly because it had decreased in cost to the point at which it added very little to the production costs of a typical feature, and partly because color television had come along and was demanding color movies from Hollywood.

The Universal horrors, the Warners gangster and noir pics, the British Documentary Movement and the Cinema Verite/Direct Cinema people all used b/w in distinctive and interesting ways. As others have pointed out, when it's used now it's as a conscious artistic choice rather than a medium imposed by standardization.

Personally, I'm a bit of a sucker for b/w 'scope, Forty Guns being one of my favorites.

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Mike Blakesley
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From: Forsyth, Montana
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 - posted 01-22-2015 02:07 AM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I like B&W. It has kind of a magical quality to it.

To me it's interesting how people always want what they can't have. In the early days when everything was in B&W, people wished for color. But now that they have color, people insist on making photos or videos in B&W or washed-out sepia tones (or applying phony scratches and dust) for no reason.

B&W is still great in the proper hands.

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Leo Enticknap
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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 01-22-2015 03:35 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Mike Blakesley
...people insist on making photos or videos in B&W or washed-out sepia tones (or applying phony scratches and dust) for no reason.
And picture shake. When I see restored versions of silent films on DCP or BD, the rock steady intertitles look to me like Powerpoint slides, and just plain wrong. I keep trying to tell myself that flicker and picture instability were both seen as problems by 1920s projectionists and techs, who strove as hard as we do to eliminate them, and that if a projectionist from a 1920s picture palace were time-transported and shown a modern DCP of, say, The Ten Commandments or The Iron Horse, he would probably be delighted. But subjectively, to me, it still doesn't look right.

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Steve Matz
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From: Billings, Montana, USA
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 - posted 01-26-2015 09:36 PM      Profile for Steve Matz   Email Steve Matz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Claude S. Ayakawa
The early Universal horror films such as FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA, THE WOLFMAN, THE INVISABLE MAN AND THE MUMMY are also favorites of mine. I recently watched these films recently on Blu Rey from Universal's Monster collection recently and the restoration they did on the films was amazing, especially DRACULA. I do not think that film ever looked that good before.
I still have many of the Universal Horror Classics in my 16mm Collection. Most all the Prints are still in mint condition and actually have a sparkle on a matte finish screen. While I do like some of the colorized versions of some of them; I still like them the way they were shot in the 30's & 40's in B&W... [beer]

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Frank Angel
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From: Brooklyn NY USA
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 - posted 01-26-2015 10:06 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Aside from the aesthetic of filming in B&W, I always felt that when I was projection B&W prints, they almost always seemed to be sharper than color prints. I don't know it that was just some psychological thing going on in my brain, or if in fact, they are sharper. I chalked it up to there being only one layer of emulsion or perhaps the silver in the emulsion had something to do with it, but to me, they did just look sharper.

Then there are nitrate prints. The image projected with a nitrate print is an experience quite astonishing and no other projection process is anything like it. The look is just exquisite. The damn picture just shimmers on the screen....I don't know how else to describe it. It is worth the considerable effort to make a booth nitrate safety-compliant just to be able to give that experience to an audience.

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Marcel Birgelen
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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
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 - posted 01-31-2015 07:00 PM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I guess it's a combination of things. Maybe, our vision plays part in it. It's a widely known fact that our eyes are more sensitive to "brightness" than to "color" (the rods v.s. cones thing). Maybe the general "absence" of color information will yield a sharper picture in our mind.

Then there is the obvious element of film grain and particle size. I don't have the numbers here, but silver-halide particles can be much smaller than color dye clouds.

Another factor that might weight is color convergence and stability of the separate layers of emulsion. Even the tiniest "misalignment" or bleed will soften the edges and will create a slight blur in the magnified image on screen.

I've also thought about the fact that, with a color film consisting of multiple layers of emulsion, you don't have all the layers in focus, but just one. But given the average thickness of those layers I doubt this will be of any real significance.

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Louis Bornwasser
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From: prospect ky usa
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 - posted 02-08-2015 03:43 PM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The old-timer name for b/w is "fine grain."

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Ron Funderburg
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From: Chickasha, Oklahoma, USA
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 - posted 02-09-2015 11:58 AM      Profile for Ron Funderburg   Author's Homepage   Email Ron Funderburg   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think that there was a greater need for true creativity with black and white and at the same time it gave the films a dream like quality. This had a tendency to draw you in to the story in a way. Maybe it allowed the acting to be more important not sure. I can watch the well made movies from the 30's and 40's repeatedly.

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Mitchell Dvoskin
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From: West Milford, NJ, USA
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 - posted 02-12-2015 09:53 AM      Profile for Mitchell Dvoskin   Email Mitchell Dvoskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
> The old-timer name for b/w is "fine grain."

Not exactly. A "fine grain" is a special B&W positive that was printed on special "fine grain" film stock producing less film grain. Normally these prints are low contrast, as they are intended for making dupe negatives. While there is no reason you could not project a fine grain, they tend to not look good due to the low contrast.

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Steve Matz
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From: Billings, Montana, USA
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 - posted 02-13-2015 11:05 AM      Profile for Steve Matz   Email Steve Matz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I believe Kodak's 35mm B&W Fine Grain Release Positive was 5503. I know the 16mm stock was 7703 because I use to buy it back in the 70's....

BTW: Claude, don't you remember Mel Brooks telling you that "YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN" was not only in B&W but also PLYWOOD [Big Grin]

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Leo Enticknap
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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 02-13-2015 12:52 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There may have been some higher quality, showprint type b/w release print stock that made claims for less graininess (equivalent to 2393 vs. 2383 for today's color prints), hence the confusion.

But yes, the term "fine grain" usually refers to the second stage of duplication in a traditional photochemical post production workflow, i.e.

Camera negative > cut, then optically printed onto a fine grain interpositive incorporating effects, titles and dissolves > fine grain contact printed onto duplicating negative, along with soundtrack > release prints continuous contact printed from duplicating negative.

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