Research results on Black & White in Digital Cinematography

By Philipe Ros, AFC

par Philippe Ros La Lettre AFC n°276

[ English ] [ français ]

During the recent Micro Salon 2017, right after the screening of the short film Escapade, shot in black & white using the Panasonic Varicam LT without any Infrared cut filter, many people asked me for a further and more specific explanation on the methodology employed. Here is my answer, a brand new presentation, which not only describes every single step followed in our process but also sums up my previous researches on this topic.

As a matter of fact, since the emergence of digital I’ve been given numerous opportunities to perform various tests in Black & White. The common denominator for all these methods is related to the many possibilities previously offered – and, in some cases, again available – by digital cameras, through an open access to specific menus.
A direct access to these menus has always been one of my key issues, for me as for many DP, DIT or even colorists, since it represents both a control over the image, and an openness to new creative options only emerging.
Thanks to those parameters, digital Black & White helps remodeling tangibly the grey values according to the script and the art direction.

Combined with the grading process, this pre-selection step of various parameters opens unexpected doors. The only constraint, a rather tough concept nowadays, is to accept that this bias, decided prior to shooting, does not allow any step backwards.
I will conclude this presentation note by saying this : such research would not even exist without the help of many friends, colleagues and partners, notably François Paturel (Director of Photography) and Laurent Desbruères (Colorist).

May they all be thanked here for their efforts and contributions.

Please find below the full research study, which you can dowload, at your convenience, either as
- A Powerpoint animated presentation
- A PDF file
- A full zipped folder containing both Powerpoint and PDF files.