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?The Professionals? photography


FredCDobbs
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Last week I made some comments about three of the battle scenes in ?Major Dundee? being filmed day-for-night. That means they were filmed during the day and then printed dark to make them look like they were filmed during the night. I know this because every highlight (?bright spot?) in the scenes, including the gunfire, was dark. Real night-for-night scenes are actually filmed at night or in a dark studio, and are lit with a few dim lights just to light up people?s faces and their outlines. In a real night-for-night scene, the gunshots will appear as bright flashes. In a day-for-night scene, the gunshots will not show up because the film is filtered down too dark.

 

I mention this because this current film ?The Professionals? is has some day-for-night scenes, since the Americans are supposed to be traveling at night, but it looks to me like some (not all but some) of the scenes that show any of the sky were shot with a ?half filter? over the lens (or over the film as it is being printed). The top 1/3 or sometimes just the top 1/4 of the filter is a ?neutral density? filter, i.e. a dark filter that has no color to it. This is also known as a ?graduated filter? because it gradually goes from dark to clear, so that a band across it at the top is dark, and the rest of the filter below is clear. There is no sharp dividing line between the dark and light areas, and that is why it is called a ?graduated? filter. The clear part lets enough light into the lens to light up the faces and the horses, but the dark top part of the filter turns the sky dark, to make it look like the film was shot at night. This can be done in the camera with a filter over the lens, or it can be done in the printer, with a filter inside the printer.

 

Neutral Density Graduated Filter:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graduated_ND_filter

 

I also notice that in ?The Professionals? the ?night? scenes are actually quite bright. That?s good (as far as I?m concerned) because we can actually see what?s going on. In the night battles of ?Major Dundee? we couldn?t see much of anything.

 

The ?N de M? on the side of the boxcars on the Mexican train mean:

 

?Ferrocarriles Nacionales de M?xico, (better known as N de M) was Mexico's state owned railroad company from 1938 to 1998, and prior to 1938 (dating from the regime of Porfirio D?az) a major railroad controlled by the government that linked Mexico City to the major cities of Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Ju?rez on the U.S. border. The first trains to Nuevo Laredo from Mexico City began operating in 1903.?

 

Message was edited by: FredCDobbs

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To notice the graduated filter scenes, watch for the sky to be dark but get darker up toward the top of the frame.

 

I see that the night scenes with the camp fires were shot at night because the camp fires show up brightly.

 

The night battle scene with the dynamite was actually filmed at night.

 

The photography of this film is excellent. The Director of Photography has received 3 Oscars and has been nominated for 7 others.

 

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005734/awards

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This is also known as a ?graduated filter? because it gradually goes from dark to clear, so that a band across it at the top is dark, and the rest of the filter below is clear. There is no sharp dividing line between the dark and light areas, and that is why it is called a ?graduated? filter. The clear part lets enough light into the lens to light up the faces and the horses, but the dark top part of the filter turns the sky dark, to make it look like the film was shot at night. This can be done in the camera with a filter over the lens, or it can be done in the printer, with a filter inside the printer.

 

Ridley Scott used graduated filters in practically every shot of the otherwise interesting THE DUELISTS in attempt to make it look like BARRY LYNDON, only on the cheap.

 

He failed.

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Yes, the photography in "The Professionals" is excellent. I noticed a lot of soft spots were used during the night village scenes (to add light to various small parts of the wide area being photographed) and some small floods for shadows, and lots of natural camp fires and lantern flames. The lighting was very good.

 

I didn?t care much for the ending of ?The Professionals?. That was a product of the liberal era of 1966. I don't think the Mexican revolutionaries would welcome the Americans back, considering how many Mexicans they killed. It didn't make sense for Burt Lancaster to kill his old Mexican girlfriend and then let the rich Mexican lady go and loose $10,000.

 

Message was edited by: FredCDobbs

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The photography seems to be wonderful in this flick.

CS, as far as Ridley goes, good luck duping "Lyndon". It might not be an exciting film, but the camera work is exquisite. I'd dare to say Kubricks best.

 

While I quibble to this day with the casting of Ryan O'Neal in the title role (though I met him at a Motion Picture Academy screening of the film a couple of summers ago, and quite liked him), and didn't care for the film when I first saw it in New York a couple of weeks before it opened, it's really grown on me over the years. While no one would ever call BARRY LYNDON an exciting film, few, if any, films have managed to capture a sense of time and place the way it does. It really is an extraordinay achievement, which probably no other director could have made, then or now.

 

And, yes, Fred, Bill Dolworth's (Lancaster's) forgoing the $10,000 as a matter of principle certainly is a very liberal thing to do.

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This is not a Barry Lyndon thread. This is a thread in which I wanted to teach some TCM viewers some information about photography techniques used in "The Professionals".

 

If you want to start a Barry Lyndon tread, start your own thread.

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Fred thank you again so much for sharing your knowledge. I have never been interested in the technical side of anything---except in movies. I find every aspect of the process of shooting a movie fascinating and took advantage of every opportunity I had while in L.A. to learn all I could (which wasn't much :P ). I did notice the brightness of the d-4-n shots (in The Professionals), in fact I questioned if it was supposed to be day or night time at one point. I usually don't like d-4-n scenes because they don't seem real enough and I just love the night---everything about it is a different world and it doesn't feel the same when you try to fake it. However, you are of course right about the visibility issue. Unless it's a fairly static sitting-by-the-campfire scene it can be hard to tell what's going on.

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This is not a Barry Lyndon thread. This is a thread in which I wanted to teach some TCM viewers some information about photography techniques used in "The Professionals".

 

If you want to start a Barry Lyndon tread, start your own thread.

 

As though THE PROFESSIONALS' cinematography (or any other aspect of the film) exists in some kind of vacuum. If I want to compare it to BARRY LYNDON here, or anywhere else, I will.

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Stop spamming other people's threads. Start your own threads. Stop being so rude to people.

 

"The Professionals" had nothing to do with Barry Lyndon. I started the thread because "The Professionals" was showing on TCM at that time.

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Thank You Fred for sharing your insights on the photographic processes . The technical aspects of movie making using lighting and angles has become an interest for me recently. I find it amazing how proper use of light and shadow can add "drama" or "mood" to a scene, especally in a black and white movie. And I agree about the ending of "The Professionals", but then who ever said that the movies were suposed to reflect real life ????

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"While the photography in most Kubrick movies is unique and superior, they're not usually my type of movies but I will acknowledge his expertise in his area."

 

Certainly it is. I enjoyed "The Professionals", especially because of FredC's pointers. Like having a commentary you trust. Thanx Fred.

CS,jr, I DID FIND what I was looking for, widescreen!

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Much of *The Professionals* was filmed in and around the Valley of Fire State Park in Southern Nevada.

 

The cast and crew were put up in the Mint Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas. Across from the Mint was the famed Vegas Vic neon cowboy sign on the side of the Pioneer Club. Back then, Vic's arm moved back and forth and he said "Howdy Pardner!" in a booming voice. He was an icon on Fremont Street and we kids loved him as he was colorful, he smoked and he was the only talking neon sign we had ever seen.

 

Well, Lee Marvin and Woody Strode were less enamored of the talking sign, especially late at night when they returned to the hotel from a night on the town and needed to get some sleep before being out on location (about an hour's drive from their hotel in those pre-freeway days).

 

One night, fed up with hearing "Howdy Pardner" over and over, Marvin and Strode decided to raid the prop department the next day.

 

That night, bows and arrows (or guns, deciding on which old-timer is telling the story) in hand, they opened their hotel room windows and began shooting at Vic.

 

The next morning the street was littered with arrows.

 

The City Fathers decided to shut off Vic's sound box for the duration of the movie shoot.

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