Soup du Jour

AC demystifies the special processing techniques offered by motion picture laboratories to enhance and manipulate imagery.

Given the number of images bombarding viewers daily via feature films, television shows, commercials and music videos, the desire to create a distinguishing visual style has become a paramount concern among today's cinematographers. Aiding in this quest for diversity, motion picture laboratories now offer a variety of custom processes to enhance and modify a director of photography's work. Cinematographers have myriad methods at their disposal, from silver-retention processes to more esoteric ideas, such as stripping the anti-halation backing off an original camera negative. Readers should also be aware that Eastman Kodak is now offering two new color print films — Vision 2383 and Vision Premier 2393 (formerly code-named "Clipper I and II") — which may be used as alternatives to some of the contrast-affecting processes explained in the following pages.

What follows is a comprehensive survey of the options currently available to directors of photography. Bear in mind that we've interviewed representatives of the companies that have developed these processes, and that divergent opinions about their relative merits do exist in Hollywood's technical community. The ultimate purpose of this article is to present an overview that will hopefully make the laboratory landscape a bit less mystifying.

[ continued: Silver Retention ]