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Best Black&White (B&W) FIlm mode and setting for straight Black&White work
  • Hello, I'm shooting a short film this Saturday which will be B&W end result. Im wondering if anyone can recommend best settings or film modes or patches for this kind of work. I'm a complete newbies to hacking and right now I'm using FlowMotion V2.02 patch for all around work. I like the idea of having just one patch setting for everything, but not sure what would be best for B&W.

    I know that Nostalgic film mode has best dynamic range (from what I've read), but I also read on EOSHD Guide to GH2 that Black and White Smooth Film mode on GH2 is supposed to have the best DR and smoothest gradation out of all film modes. Should I just shoot Black and White Smooth mode straight in the camera or do use another mode and then do B&W in post? How about the best patch?

    Any input is appreciated enormously,

    Thank you so much.

  • 18 Replies sorted by
  • take a look at the video description on vimeo:

  • Thanks! Will do.

  • Thanks a lot for the link. This looks really nice, but I will be shooting an important project and I need to have as much flexbility and latitude in the post production as possible. I'm sure this "look" can be recreated in post with a little bit of fiddling, but if something goes wrong I won't be able to recover anything from my footage :)

    So, basically, Id like to have as much leverage as possible in the post production.

  • If you want to create your B&W look in post, I would suggest shooting in color since you can play around with the color channels before converting to B&W and give yourself more flexibility to make certain things pop (a bit like shooting B&W through a color filter).

    Straight out of the camera, the method above is the best I've seen and it's great fun to shoot that way. But not very flexible ;)

  • if you want to shoot in black and white, but need more dynamic range, you can shoot the same settings as apefos, except change it to Smooth black and white, instead of Dynamic, and change the contrast to 0. That gives you a more wiggle room but can crush down to a very similar look as above with a simple s-curve applied.

    I actually tried to replicate the above footage, but have Driftwood's Cluster v6 Nebular hack installed and didn't get anywhere near the amount of grain at ISO 1000, so if you have a hack installed, you may have to go way beyond that.

  • remember that bw settings i showed uses the ETC mode to increase the grain. ETC iso 1600 the grain is even better. without the ETC mode you cannot get that look. that settings was found by a our member who did that video.

  • Thank you very much. I might go with the Smooth B&W or Smooth profile and then convert to B&W. I'm going to experiment today and see in Premiere how both grade.

    I actually loved the look of the video very much. I'm wondering though if it can be replicated in post... Would love to try that too.

  • @mastroiani , i recomend pricipally 2 things.

    When shooting for B&W purpose: Your wiew when shooting MUST be B&W in your view finder or LCD screen. By doing this not only you are seeing the real behaviour of light without the chroma results, but is gives you the FEELING of working adecuatly for yout proyect, since no chroma is interfering in your perception and creation process during the rolling. In B&W you can make art department have good time, since there is no color, only shapes, lights and shadows. No need for extra work, its easier really easier. BUT, in a cinematography way of speaking, mastering the light in B&W is diferent process though, even if you know how to make colors look grate. Since you are working in a LUMA space, the behaviour of light may not change per-se in its action, but yet will in the final result since all source of light is white, being red, blue or green. Volume and shape and contrast suddelny ARE SO IMPORTANT, since there is only one colour (all colors at the same time since its white), the rest is black, or no data at all.

    When post porcessing: Since there is no crhoma data in the final product, is of no point post prossesing using Red, Blue, and Green channels, even though your sensor is no Leica M8 black and white CCD , you are natively filtering in colors at a sensor level, FILTERING!!!, cos below the bayer arrey patern (the filters) it is LUMA sampling that resives all data, so its ok to shoot directly on B&W if your end result is like that. YES, you can get a WIDER range of posibilities if shooting in color, but even then, if the final product is in Black and white it is no point...so...

    So, the best thing i recomend when shooting in B&W, is shoot the way you want it to look. If you want a washed gray level cinematography, then shoot that way, post processig over. If you want high contrast scene, shoot that way, post processig over. THERE IS NO COLOR, ONLY CONTRAST. Using color filters in B&W shooting is grate!!! grenn, yellow, red, blue, filters on top of your lens will make some frequencies vibrate diferent and your sensor, the result will look way distinct one to the other, diferentiating maily by its contrast.

    Here is some footage from my movie. I shoot in B&W all contrast dynamic mode, mainly in GH13 with standard lenses. Post prosesing at its minimal. Hope you enjoy it. Choose the settings you like most, and shoot with them.

    Good luck!!!

  • Nothing is better than play with settings yourself and see the results in a full hd monitor. it takes some time but you learn so much. and the real magic secrets just can be found with that fine tuning tweaking... sometime ago i did play with each film mode (color), in different light conditions. for color i like the cinema most, also in each film mode it is a good idea to play with the contrast/color/noise reduction/sharpness/idynamic/ shutter / iso / diafragm and so on... to find your best accurate settings... in cinema mode for color i use contrast 0 / color +2 / sharp - 2 or 0 / noise reduction -2 / idynamic high... i need to experiment more with bw...

  • I would strongly discourage shooting B&W in-cam. It severely limits your options in post.

  • sometimes you are shure you do not need color. its a matter of script decisions. and if you can shoot bw with some settings that gives you the perfect look you want, it is the way to go. also use some filters (yellow, red) as endotoxic said can give wonderfull results for bw and you can see it in lcd when shotting. shooting color is the way to go when you are not shure if bw is the final result. it is not so easy to get the look same of the video i showed in post. i did try to apply film grain using some textures from film stock in post but in most times it looks like not natural, it looks like fake grain... i came from the trix and plux tmax 35mm still era, i did some work in a bw darkroom and i like the idea of shooting bw when need it. endotoxic said some very interesting things about it and i agree. i think the GH2 is a magic camera to shoot bw with if you know how to tweak it and it is a pleasant job to do.

  • i was reading the thread title again, and i think there is no best bw mode. it depends what you want. smoth bw can give some orson welles bw look, dynamic with etc and high iso can give some trix look, its a matter of what you want to replicate... or to create your own stile...

  • Shoot on black and white, stays on black and white, dont post prosses too much, learn to stay away from post, helps you understand how to make a good result directly from camera. Also enhance your craft. Yes yes, the tech makes me have the power to post. Well then loose more hours working on it.

  • I'm completely up for NOT doing much post. Simpler is better, of course. I haven't shot much and that's I'm worried that I won't be able to achieve what I want to achieve from the get-go... But, of course, just like in film, it would be fantastic if I were so sure of myself that I could light and compose for the final shot... Good old days, right :)) I am more inclined now to shoot B&W in camera. I'm sure of the final product, so seeing what I'll be getting right away would be very helpful. Thanks a lot.

    P.S. @endotoxic thank you very much for your film and your post. I'm going to watch your film now.

  • @mastorini.

    The shoot i made was the first time a directed and grab a camera for making Movies. I bought my GH1 in october 2010, and by march 2011 i was allready making my movie project. I doesnt matter how much time, is the good vibe and the positive mood. Go for it men, you can do it. Im a graphic designer, but i love to shoot, im 30 years old and decided to transition to advertising directing and movies. A little late many would say, but i feel was the right time with the right knowledge. If not i wouldnt have this vision and experience. Im practicing in advertising, and not getting paid working as a second director asistant, having external jobs to maintain myself and my project. Well i hope you go for it, and decide to make it old school men, lighting, acting, and perception from yourself!!!!

    Good luck!!

  • Why not preview everything on set with BW dynamic mode in GH2 turned on, and when it comes to actual recording switch over to smooth mode with color? In post you need a simple effect combination (curves + saturation zero) that will happily run in realtime. But unlike native BW footage you can can still touch RGB channels before you desaturate and make the right things pop.

  • @endotoxic Hi, thanks a lot man! Appreciate the words of encouragement. I wish you best of luck as well and hope that it works out just great for you!

  • @endotoxic I watched your film and loved the aesthetics. I love when people have different vision and don't try to have clinical image, but instead try to create something pertaining to their vision. Something that has a soul. Beautiful. Keep making them brother