[Tig] how far can you go?

Marc Wielage mfw
Thu Mar 3 19:54:42 GMT 2005

On 3/3/05 9:24 AM, "Jack James" <jack at surrealroad.com> asked on the TIG

> In other words, what's the average tolerance for under- &
> over-exposed images?

My gut feeling is maybe one-and-a-half stops to two stops over can be usable
(though the picture will have grainy highlights).  But if you go much more
than one stop under, the blacks get very crushed and muddy.  Keep in mind
that a stop change is much more severe than just an overall gain adjustment
in telecine; it affects both mids and blacks, sometimes in unpredictable
ways.  I'd say a stop is at least 20 ire units overall, sometimes more,
depending on the lighting conditions, lenses, and film stock.

I had an occasion awhile back (no names, please) where a crew on a major
production accidentally underexposed several important night shots by three
full stops.  We were barely able to salvage them, but I suspect with some
digital massaging and careful grain reduction, as well as fast editing,
nobody will ever notice the shots in the final production.  Today's
emulsions are a lot more forgiving then they used to be, even six or seven
years ago.

I usually tell novice film DPs if their end product is for TV or DI, they
should generally overexpose a half a stop for day scenes and 2/3 stop for
night scenes.  They can trust us to crank the density back down to normal
during transfer, which will give them the look they want without the loss of
black detail you usually get in underexposure.  And I tell them
(respectfully) never to underexpose, and also to avoid pushing the film in
the lab if they can help it.

All strictly my opinion.  Your miles may vary, batteries not included,
member FDIC.

--Marc Wielage/Senior Colorist
Technicolor Creative Services
Hollywood, USA

NOTE:  The comments above are strictly mine, and may not necessarily
represent those of my employers.

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