Robert Fraisse: Photochemical Desaturation

From American Cinematographer, Samurai Tactics by Ron Magid (October 1998)

"Since John didn't want any color, I suggested that we do a special process using Kodak's Vision 500T 5279. After rating the stock at 250 ASA, which overexposed it one stop, we then underdeveloped it, reducing the contrast and desaturating the colors. I also knew that we were going to shoot in France during the winter, when it gets dark at 5 o'clock. I needed to be able to shoot as late as possible, so I made the decision to use the 500 ASA stock for the whole movie. I generally use 5279 only for interiors on stages and on location, or when I shoot exterior night scenes. When I shoot outside, I use a slower stock. For instance, on Seven Years in Tibet, I shot all the exteriors with 5245, which is a very nice, very fine-grain stock. But I chose to shoot Ronin on the 500T stock because I knew that with the process we were using, the stock would be only 250 ASA, which is not a lot when it gets dark early and the weather is very gray during the day. Very often, I was shooting at almost full aperture — T2.3 or 2.5. At those moments, I thought I had been very wise to choose a fast stock that normally isn't used for daylight exterior scenes."

- Robert Fraisse

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