written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/20/2010
Learn all about fast film stock, what it does, and how to use it effectively.
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Film Stock Tips
Actual film stock can be very difficult to decode for many digital video producers. Selecting an actual motion film stock is much more difficult than picking up some mini digital video tapes. Instead you have to pick between different film stock types that are specifically chemically balanced to your specific use.
There are a whole host of different names for them, but they break down into two basic categories: slow film stocks and fast film stocks. Slow film stocks tend to be less sensitive types of film stock and require a significant amount of more light than fast film stocks. This leaves us with the ultra sensitive fast film stocks, which are great for low light and require more attention than most filmmakers have ever given before.
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What is Fast Film Stock?
Fast film stock are film stock types that are incredibly sensitive to any light available. This means that a fast film stock will be able to pick up the image in a very low light situation where a slow film stock would not be able to. This means that a fast film stock is great for night time, in doors, and other dark times where you do not have the ability to actually produce a great amount of light.
Fast film stocks are especially useful when you only have the ability to use on sight light. If you are outdoors and must produce a viewable image with just the light from street lamps, local businesses, cars, and similar objects then your only option would be a fast film stock. This is perfect for night filming that changes location quite quickly, especially if it is constantly moving as with hand held or steady cam shots.
The fast film stock is going to look significantly different than the slow film stock. Fast film stocks tend to have a grainier appeal because of its over all sensitivity to light. This will guarantee that the fast film stock is not going to have as clear as an image as slow film stock would, but it may have a more cinematic and artistically aesthetic feel for you specific purpose. There will also be a bit of fuzziness around colors, and different image elements will be lost if fast film stock is used in black and white. The choice of fast stock is really both an artistic and technical choice, so make sure that both require it.
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Caring For Fast Film Stock
Loading fast film stock takes even more care than slow film stocks. Both need to be protected from light, but fast film stock is so much more sensitive to all light that you have to guard it with extra consideration. When loading the fast film stock try to do it in a dark room and never near any direct light. You can used a sealed loading bad if you have one available, but make sure you practice this first. Seal up your camera so that no light will enter in through the cracks and render your fast film stock exposed.