Trying to achieve kodachrome look digitally (2 replies)
Hi there and thank you all for sharing your experiences here!
I just started the very early pre-production process for a feature film I am about to shoot next year. The film is set in the 1970s/1980s and the director and I would love to bring a kind of kodachromish look to it, not modern at all. Shooting analog is not an option, I´ve already talked to the production company about it, no chance.. that´s making things difficult for me. 😃
So I want to start testing lenses, filters, cameras and especially color grading techniques quite early to see what I can come up with digitally. As I have never tried to achieve a kind of analog look with a digital camera, I wanted to ask you guys for your experiences and also for advices on things I could consider for the tests.
Attached you can find some pictures by Fred Herzog, that get the feel quite well. I am looking for a soft image, looking like less “resolution”, with quite some grain to it. I´ve also noticed cool shadows with warmer midtones and highlights and of course the popping reds.
I am thankful for any kind of help and ideas of where to go and what to test. Thank you very much in advance!
All the best,
I have shot thousands of photos using Kodakchrome and have always been pleased with results, trying to replicate it digitally would be difficult. The film emulsion does strongly react to certain colours especially to reds, blues, yellows etc but also to harsh reflections such as metallic objects and water reflections, it does have a unique style all to its own.
In the UK between 1959 - 1969, there was a Pathe news type short film shown in cinemas called “Look at Life”. They used a lot of Kodakchrome film stock rated at 25/64 ASA, all shot on Eclair Cameflex 35mm with Kinoptik lenses. They made over over 500 of these shorts, sadly Granada TV who owned the negs, incinerated the negatives stating they did not have the room to store the film cans but many 35mm and 16mm prints survived. I have a large collection of some of them on film spools and DVD. Have a look at them and see what you think. Kodakchrome and Kinoptik glass were a perfect match. It’s very hard to beat the look but I think using Photographic software you can get close to it.
I think it's hard to separate the look of these old stocks and lenses (the lenses are easier to get ahold of) from their old subjects and settings. If the process was more technically distinctive it gets a bit easier to recreate something similar, but Kodachrome, if anything, was well-known for being fairly accurate and neutral - it's a bit of a myth that it was super saturated, for example, it's just that often it was shot in sunlight.
Being reversal film, of course it had limited dynamic range, particularly in terms of shadow detail.
And the look of Kodachrome changed a little over the years, 40s Kodachrome slides look somewhat different than 70s Kodachrome slides. And I've seen Kodachrome slides that were warm or cold.
Ultimately it is usually more fruitful and less frustrating if you just create a look based on your feelings for what Kodachrome was like rather than take a more scientific approach. For example, I don't think Kodachrome was "soft" but if you think it was soft, then take a softer approach. It will help already that your movie is set in the 1970s -- look at David Fincher's "Zodiac" for example, shot on a 2/3" Viper camera in HD, it still has a nice 70s period look.
Kodachrome was used in every format from Super-8 on up, but if you are mainly referencing 35mm slides, then that's a full-frame format and you might want to emulate that range of depth of field (i.e. shallow at times) though the truth is that people were shooting Kodachrome back then in sunlight with the lens often stopped down.
It might be that simply creating a LUT with more contrast, less shadow detail and shooting with older lenses might be enough to create that 70s slide film look. Shifting your shadows and blacks to the blue-cyan might also help create a vintage feeling as well (though that's more because faded color negative has that look when color-corrected and reprinted from the original negative.)