Is "Day For Night" Shooting Being Ignored In Modern Restorations?

Dr Acula
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Joined: January 28th, 2007, 2:16 am

September 13th, 2018, 3:42 pm #1

It seems like that when I'm watching old programs upgraded to the modern day, there are instances where the film was obviously intended to be "day for night" shots, but instead of being processed to make it look dark like I remember it in the past, the shots are lit like they were shot so they just look like day shots. I've seen this on the Rat Patrol set, and the Saint set, multiple times.

Are the processors ignoring what was once day for night? Or are they just setting up color light and contrast at the beginning of the remastering and letting the film run, paying no heed to any changes later in the show?

Of course, it's also possible that day for night always looked like that, but my memory is that old day for night had a distinct look that doesn't appear in modern transfers.
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Wich2
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Joined: September 12th, 2007, 10:09 pm

September 13th, 2018, 4:16 pm #2

Assuming most shows are coming from a Finished Print or Negative, rather than Camera Negatives, the adjusting should be "baked in" to new releases - unless they intentionally change things.

My memory of that era, is that TeeVee day-for-night was often not convincing then - probably partly because Nets wanted an image that could be seen well and was colorful!
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Joined: November 27th, 2011, 11:46 pm

September 13th, 2018, 6:02 pm #3

I think it is happening pretty often in features. I just watched Scream Factory's NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS, and it seemed like there were a few shots that should have been timed day-for-night, but got passed over.

I think this happens most often with films with scenes which mix shots actually lit to look like night with day-for-night shots. 
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Jameson281
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Joined: October 15th, 2005, 6:02 am

September 13th, 2018, 6:14 pm #4

Ugh.  Day-for-night.  The bane of my existence.  It isn't uncommon for colorists to receive an IP that has not had these scene timed correctly (original timing cards can, alas, get lost), and start work without reference audio, so there are fewer cues telling them if a scene is supposed to be night.  So they see something that looks like day, and time it accordingly. 

Sometimes when I go in to review the transfer there will be audio cues or dialogue that make it clear the scene is meant to be at night, or I'll check a continuity script if it's a bit ambiguous, and that will (hopefully) have the answer.  I've never been happy with the day-for-night on the transfers I've worked on; colorists seem really reluctant to go dark enough to pull off a true "night" look, and the results tend to just look dim, like it's an overcast day.  The most successful day-for-night on a title I've worked on was for a black & white western Floyd Crosby shot.  He was smart enough to avoid showing much of the sky.  One part of the scene was under the cover of trees; for scenes out in the open, he used a lot of angles that were high up and aiming down, thus showing little to no sky.  Much easier to pull off day-for-night when you're not looking at a bright, clear sky!

So that's a long, boring way of saying: Sometimes colorists are working with something that hasn't been timed right, and don't pick up on the fact that the scene is meant to be at night.

Or are they just setting up color light and contrast at the beginning of the remastering and letting the film run, paying no heed to any changes later in the show?

This sometimes happens; you then have what's called a "best light" transfer.  Usually only done if you are in a rush and/or are trying to save money be spending less money in telecine.  
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bigcatrik
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Joined: April 7th, 2014, 1:20 am

September 13th, 2018, 6:26 pm #5

When the 1991 remake of Dark Shadows went to DVD they did not retime the day for night scenes so Barnabas, one of the most famous *vampires* out there, is cavorting about in broad daylight.
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Joined: November 27th, 2011, 11:46 pm

September 13th, 2018, 6:28 pm #6

I gotta say though, when an error appears to have been made, I'm not basing my own observation off memory of what I've seen elsewhere or any expertise. It's usually a pretty apparent contextually. If I can obviously see it at home, I suspect it's one of those instances where nobody's actually "watching" the film.
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empirelvr
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Joined: November 23rd, 2016, 7:01 pm

September 13th, 2018, 6:29 pm #7

It's not just you,  I've seen it a lot in the past and it's getting worse and worse as years go by. I think it's just ignorance on the part of those transferring and mastering the programs. But..you'd think they pick up on something being off when a scene is taking place outside in the day and yet all car headlights, porch lights, and visible lamps in windows are all turned on and the dialogue is along the lines of "Gee I had a great time tonight."   WTF...??


The most puzzling instance of this for me happened in the mid-1990's. TNT television and a local NYC independent station (WPIX-NY) both showed Dracula A.D. 1972 within weeks of each other once and I taped them.  Both were obvious new transfers (modern WB televsion logo on both) but the WPIX airing had proper day-for-night grading, and TNT showed a transfer where everything took place in broad daylight.  Also odd: the WPIX version had the full, uncut ending while TNT showed the censored-for-a-PG-rating version.  This implies the WPIX version was struck from a camera negative and you'd have thought that would be the version to be improperly graded in the night scenes. And yet both versions had to have come from Warner Brothers and both were new.

Still can't figure that one out.
Last edited by empirelvr on September 14th, 2018, 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Crow T Robot
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Joined: May 16th, 2007, 11:28 pm

September 13th, 2018, 6:34 pm #8

I saw Planet of the Apes on local TV back in the 90s, and the night time escape of Taylor with Zira's help, originally seen as night, was shown with them in blazing sunlight!
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Bob Furmanek
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Joined: February 8th, 2006, 10:40 pm

September 13th, 2018, 7:53 pm #9

We had a heckuva time with the day-for-night footage in SANGAREE and finally got the intended look by matching it to a single-shot in an original 1953 dye-transfer trailer.

JIVARO is the same animal. They're having an evening dinner on the boat and the lanterns are lit but the OCN is fully exposed. Someone could easily mistake it for a daytime scene and transfer accordingly.

One must pay VERY close attention, especially with non-graded scans from camera negatives.
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amanaplan1
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Joined: February 9th, 2013, 2:18 am

September 13th, 2018, 9:58 pm #10

I remember seeing POTA in ‘68 and noticing what must’ve been a very bright moon during that “nighttime” scene!

Don’t you actually see the sunlight reflected off Heston’s scalp beneath his thinning hair, their shadows, etc.?
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Sky Boy
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Joined: July 24th, 2012, 6:21 pm

September 14th, 2018, 5:44 am #11

When I was in film school, a classmate coined a phrase when watching lower-budget (or poorly timed) films/TV: "Sky is bright? Day for night!"

My own little story happened back in the 90's when watching an episode of the Logan's Run TV show on the Sci-Fi channel.  IIRC, the two pursuing Sandmen were in the desert, pitching a tent and talking like it was evening and they wanted to get some sleep to get an early start the next morning.  But not only was the scene so bright that it could have been noon, shooting in the desert, there were no trees or anything to conceal this.  My jaw nearly did a Tex Avery-style drop.
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amanaplan1
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Joined: February 9th, 2013, 2:18 am

September 14th, 2018, 10:24 am #12

Yeah, I love when characters, sometimes on horseback, briefly pause to look around at the blazing noontime sun and announce, “We’d better stop. It’ll be dark soon.” (!)

They must be on some planet where their sun sets in twenty minutes.
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Dr Acula
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Joined: January 28th, 2007, 2:16 am

September 14th, 2018, 12:21 pm #13

Well I'm glad it's not just me! :) On Rat Patrol there were numerous mid-day "night-time" raids that were rendered silly in the mastering.

I wonder if for a number of years between now and some unknown future there will be new scholarship that will go about trying to restore all the proper day-for-night shots in old remasterings, kind of like the more recent silent Phantom of the Opera remastering where they give two different speed options to watch the film be played back with.

For the folks working in the actual field of remastering, are these masters being created now likely the last passes these films will be getting for the next 20 years?
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empirelvr
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Joined: November 23rd, 2016, 7:01 pm

September 14th, 2018, 12:38 pm #14

Dr Acula wrote: ...For the folks working in the actual field of remastering, are these masters being created now likely the last passes these films will be getting for the next 20 years?
Yes I'm sure, if the bean counters have anything to say about it!
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Joined: November 27th, 2011, 11:46 pm

September 14th, 2018, 5:35 pm #15

empirelvr wrote:
Dr Acula wrote: ...For the folks working in the actual field of remastering, are these masters being created now likely the last passes these films will be getting for the next 20 years?
Yes I'm sure, if the bean counters have anything to say about it!
Well, that may be so, but I think day-for-night can now be done post scan, so there can still be adjustments without opening any cans.
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Jameson281
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Joined: October 15th, 2005, 6:02 am

September 14th, 2018, 9:38 pm #16

pulp novelties wrote: Well, that may be so, but I think day-for-night can now be done post scan, so there can still be adjustments without opening any cans.
True; all those day-for-night adjustments that I described as giving me such headaches were corrected in the telecine bay; we never made a new IP or fine grain with corrected timing--too much money for something you can adjust in the bay.

I once asked a highly respected colorist, after we had just fixed a day-for-night sequence, if he would rather work with an element that had the appropriate day-for-night scenes timed correctly and thus had the night look "baked in", or if he'd rather have it not in the I.P. and thus have wider latitude when working with it in the bay.  He said he would definitely prefer for the element to have the day-for-night timed that way, so it would at least serve as a guide for how the scene is meant to look.
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Jobla
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Joined: July 29th, 2008, 4:27 pm

September 15th, 2018, 3:52 am #17

Many TV and some home video prints of JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS incorrectly presented the attack of the harpies in what looked like daylight.  The harpies supposedly only launched their attacks after dark, IIRC.
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Gojira
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Joined: January 9th, 2012, 2:49 am

September 15th, 2018, 3:42 pm #18

On Rocky Horror Picture Show's BD, the blue timing in the Brad bedroom scenes were missing.
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