Kodak's Expanding "Vision"
by Christopher Probst
Kodak's Expanding "Vision" | Vision and Vision Premier Color Print Films | Vision 800T 5289 Color Negative Film | Kodak's ScreenCheck Certification
Vision and Vision Premier Color Print Films
Field-tested under the code names "Clipper One" and "Clipper Two," the new Vision print films are the result of an extensive international marketing survey and advancements in the science of emulsion design and manufacturing technology. "We talked to over a hundred people, including cinematographers, laboratories, distributors and other creative individuals in the industry, to determine what they'd like in a print film," says David Niklewicz, project manager for the Vision print films. "From those interviews, one of the major aspects that people stated they were looking for was blacker blacks than are currently available through a normally processed 5386 print. Additionally, we also found that there was sort of a bi-modal distribution in people's preferences for color saturation. A large group of people liked the color reproduction and saturation that is now available in current the Kodak print stock, but there were also a significant number of people who stated that they would really love a little more pizzazz in the colors and more punch. Based on this information, we designed the Vision and Vision Premier."
Vision 2383 is designed to eventually replace the current 5386 standard print film (2386 with a polyester Estar base). The film will accurately reproduce the entire range and subtlety of tones and colors that cinematographers are capable of recording in the new generation of Kodak Vision color negative films, and will also generate slightly denser blacks and brighter, neutral highlights.
Vision Premier 2393 is designed to take these improvements one step further, offering even deeper and richer black tones, brighter highlights, and greater color saturation.
"For both of the new Vision print films, we have put together an entirely new chemistry package in terms of all-new emulsions," Niklewicz explains. "Two of the three couplers have a new chemistry makeup, and we have changed one of the formulations for the magenta to make it even more reactive and efficient. We have also built in a much higher potential dye density, so that you can have much blacker blacks than you could with 5386 print stock. With normal film processing all of the silver is removed, but the enhanced color and density comes from the improvements in the dye chemistry and emulsion. Depending upon how various labs process the film, the curve pretty much matches the current product up to a 2.0 or 2.5 density, but then the Vision stock will continue to go higher in the density range. Vision print film has a D-max around 3.8 to 4.0, while the Vision Premier is designed to achieve a D-max over 5.0.
"If the creative people involved with a film want to have a softer contrast," he adds, "there are several ways that you can drop the densities. But if that [density] capability is not already inherent in the film, you can't raise the density without doing some sort of special lab process."
Characteristic sensitometric curves for Vision 2383 versus
its predecesor 2386, clearly displaying the extended density range.
Vision Premiere 2393 versus 2386 even further
exemplifies the added level of blacks
Rob Hummel, president of technology at DreamWorks SKG, which will utilize Vision 2383 print film for their animated feature The Prince of Egypt, states, "The advantage of the new Kodak Vision print films is that the color values remain the same while we're getting a saturated black the likes of which hasn't been seen for decades it's a dynamic difference. The increased density of the blacks gives the image an extra snap in contrast, which in turn gives you the appearance of a sharper image. Black is such an important part of the palette. In any scene, you're going to have parts of the frame that are overexposed the highlights and parts of the frame that are underexposed the shadows. Cinematographers are going to see more detail in their underexposed areas of the frame. Instead of some very faint highlights in a milky shadow area, there will be more separation and clarity with the improved blacks. The choice of print film is now truly a creative decision. You can decide which comes closest to matching the original creative vision of the story. With the Vision Premier film you can see reds that just suddenly pop. All of the primary colors get that extra bit of saturation. This allows filmmakers to go in a direction that has more saturated colors. To me, what the introduction of these two print prints has done is to expand the palette; you now have a choice. If you're at all visually conscious of the images on the screen, you will notice the difference. It definitely raises the bar in the quality of film presentation." P> Besides the image-structure improvements built into the new films by the incorporation of the "Vision" emulsion and coupler technologies, both film stocks feature a new type of polyester base which is markedly more durable and also eliminates the use of a remjet backing. This new base incorporates an anti-static layer that reduces damage to unprocessed film caused by static a deleterious effect that also attracts dust particles and utilizes a patented anti-halation dye technology that eliminates color fringing during the optical printing of titles.
Director of photography Russell Carpenter, ASC recently utilized the Vision Premier stock for the release of The Negotiator. He notes, "I was in the midst of the timing and release printing for The Negotiator, which was shot in Super 35, and I felt the prints needed more snap and richer blacks. The Vision Premier brought the blacks back and then some! In fact, there were two shots in the film that were slightly underexposed and [I knew that with a normal print] the blacks weren't going to be what they should be. However, the Premier stock brought those shots totally into line with the rest of the picture, which was amazing. I even had detail in the blacks! I was really quite happy with the results. For my money, The Negotiator had the best Super 35 print that I've ever seen.
"If I were shooting a film knowing that I was going to be printing on the Premier stock," Carpenter continues, "I don't think I would alter my shooting style, but I do know that if I were shooting in low-light situations where I had any question about whether the blacks were going to be rich enough, or whether I might have an underexposed shot, I would know that the Premier stock would bring that right back."
Similarly, Stephen Burum, ASC utilized the Vision Premier on his most recent work with Brian De Palma, Snake Eyes (see AC Aug. '98). "We made 11 show prints for Snake Eyes using Vision Premier, and they were fabulous," states Burum. "I specifically wanted to build more contrast into the prints. I've always liked really hard contrast and deep blacks. Any image looks better if you have black-and-white references in the frame. [Having a choice in print films] allows us to customize contrast like they do in black-and-white films. It is also comparable to turning the knob on the telecine to get more contrast during a transfer session. These stocks give cinematographers more control over the look projected on the screen."
"Both Vision and Vision Premier are just extraordinary," states Beverly Wood, vice president of technical services at Deluxe Laboratories, which recently released Great Expectations (photographed by Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC) on Vision Premier. "I've never seen a film like Vision Premier before where you can print three to four points lighter and not lose the blacks. There are a lot Oscar-winning cameramen who shoot commercials in between features and after working in the world of video, where you can tweak a knob and get some different contrast, they come back to working in film and want to have that same ability. Now, we know that you can't just twist a knob with film, but you can offer some different looks. This is an exciting time in our industry, because with the Vision and Vision Premier films, we now have a choice in looks with the print stock and can achieve richer, blacker blacks. Of course, we still have the various silver-retention processes available to make everyone else happy."