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Triple Bandpass filter: The good news and the bad news

Filming is definitely easier with the Triple Bandpass filter TB550/660/850 (link) than with the orange-green filter method discussed in previous posts (link). The blue vegetation, which turns reddish after the channel swap, is already present here, which greatly facilitates processing.

When it’s just about taking pictures, it’s a different story. Here I clearly prefer the orange-green combo, mainly because the contrasts are much stronger and the look is just (for me) more like the Aerochrome style I admire. I suspect that has mostly (but not only) to do with the weaker IR contamination.

It’s so simple to get dark red vegetation: In contrast to the Triple Bandpass filter, it is so easy to get the blue tones (which turn red after the channel switching) really dark and strong. At the same time, the color variance (for trees, grasses, firs, etc.) is just as good as with the Triple Bandpass filter.

And hey – if we go by the price of new – the orange-green method is much cheaper. You just need a Hoya X1 and a dark yellow or orange filter (between 15 and 21). Look on Ebay. The X1 is available by the dozen and relatively inexpensive, the orange filter is a bit more expensive and rarer.

But I’m glad I tested the TB550/660/850. Here are some cinematic impressions:

 

 
In-camera white balance settings:
Kelvin 2500
Tint 0

In Adobe Premiere:
1. Swap color channels
2. Then enter the following values in the channel mixer:

Red
130
-15
-30

Green
0
130
-30

Blue
0
0
100

New standard for digital Aerochrome? The Triple Bandpass TB550/660/850

Well, here it is, the fabled filter from Midwest Optical that seems to be great for Aerochrome-style photos: The Triple Bandpass TB550/660/850 (link). You can’t buy it from any store or online store, unfortunately, but only directly from Midwest Optical. Or, and this is how I did it, from a dealer on Ebay. That also comes out a lot cheaper.

Originally, I inquired with Midwest Optical. They only seem to sell to companies, colleges, and so on. And the prices are very high. Filter size 77mm costs around 1100 Swiss francs (is about the same in US dollars right now). Even filter size 37.5mm – which I have now – still costs around 600 Swiss francs new. Unbelievable. I paid around 50 francs/dollar for a 37.5mm at the Ebay dealer (including delivery costs).

 
TB550/660/850

TB550/660/850

TB550/660/850

 
Actually, I wanted to test today, but the Sahara dust, which is currently blown over all of Europe, leads to heavy cloud formation. The sun glitters only in between from behind the gray ceiling. Nevertheless, I took some pictures. Here is one of them, which shows very well the Aerochrome color change. The car is actually red, as is the hydrant.

 
Midwest Optical

 
Preliminary assessment: The TB550/660/850 filter seems to work very well, possibly with better results than with the green-orange combination. It is greenish-yellow (thus reminiscent of my combi), but reflects strangely. What does it do exactly? It lets only green, red and near infrared (NIR) pass. By simply switching color channels (NIR is imaged in the blue channel, so you make blue -> red, red -> green, and green -> blue), you get a false-color IR image that strongly resembles Aerochrome.

Because the process is so simple, I see great potential in it for video projects. The Orange-Green method is not very suitable for filming, because the processing is rather tedious and artifacts occur. I think and hope that this will be much easier with the TB550/660/850 filter. The blue vegetation (before the channel swap) is already there, the white balance also fits very well (with 2500 Kelvin).

Am curious how the results will look in sunshine. Stay tuned.

Aerochrome-like video

How do you create Aerochrome-like video in the style of Richard Mosse’s footage (link)?

I had only a few minutes of sun today, during the last days it has been raining and snowing almost continuously here. I could use the short time window to test the orange-green filter (link) method with video. I had always failed before because I wanted to set white balance and color tones exactly the same as for photos in Photoshop.

The problem with Aerochrome-like video is, first, that you don’t get the same result with white balance in post as you do with photos. I assume this is partly because you can’t film in a RAW format (at least with my camera), and simply the detection of neutral tones works differently in Premiere with video.

Also, you can’t move the hues around like you can in Photoshop. Accordingly, attempts to swap the channels (you can do that in Premiere) or with the channel mixer were doomed to failure.

I therefore tried it differently and finally succeeded. I did the following:

I set the white balance in the camera to 2500 Kelvin (with no changes in tint). Then I selected the standard variant in the color presets and reduced all sliders there by 1-2 strokes, so that contrast and saturation were reduced.

When filming, I made sure (and this is very important) that the image was underexposed.

Once in the box, I imported the video into Premiere and made a few changes to the channel mixer (under Color Correction). I entered the following values there:

Red:

70
0
200

Green:

150
0
-100

Blue:

70
70
-100

That’s all. Here’s the result. There’s still room for improvement, but I really like this Aerochrome-like video so far.

 

Infrared in cinematography

Infrared is used in cinematography from time to time. I recently noticed it in the Van Gogh biopic “At Eternety’s Gate”. The film has one very short scene where black and white IR is used. Here’s what cinematographer Benoit Delhomme told Hollywood Reporter (link):

“It’s a scene where van Gogh has a conflict with Paul Gauguin [Oscar Isaac] about how to paint. But what is a right way to paint? They talk about color, and boom, the screen becomes black and white,” says Delhomme. The black and white also seems to emphasize the texture of the painting, while in the script, the texture of van Gogh’s paintings are likened to sculpture.

Much longer was the IR sequence in the science fiction movie “Ad Astra”. The filmmakers combined 720nm images with those in the visible spectrum to make the sequence with the rover chase on the moon more other-worldly. I didn’t notice it first, but after watching it, while browsing for background info, I came across an article on IndieWire (link).

 
Wired magazine also reported on it in a longer video:

Shooting Aerochrome

Of course, there is not ONE Aerochrome look. When we try to recreate Aerochrome (Kodak EIR) film with digital cameras, we have to keep this in mind. The colors of the resulting images really depend on the filter on the lens (yellow, orange, red and green filters are mostly used) and probably the camera as well. Just look at this selection on Flickr:

https://www.flickr.com/groups/1776903@N21/pool/

 
This video will give you a good impression and overall infos on Aerochrome and how it’s used: