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Title slides

by Brian Pitkin

Reproduced from in focus 34 (Sept. 1989)

Whether you produce your own audio-visuals or merely show a selection of slides to a group of friends, your presentation can be considerably enhanced by using reverse-text title slides. Bright text on a dark background is easier to see and read than dark text on a light background. Reverse-text slides therefore offer excellent legibility, less eye strain, and give increased visual interest. And they really are very simple to produce.

There are a number of methods for producing reverse-text slides, each starting with artwork consisting of ordinary black lettering (or drawing) on white paper. I shall describe just one which will produce white or very light-coloured images on a coloured background (i.e. white on blue) using Kodak Vericolor film 5072.

It is important that your original artwork is clean and has high contrast. Use black ink, carbon typewriter ribbon, black crayon, charcoal or black transfer letters (e.g. Letraset) on a white background.

Copying

For copying, a single lens reflex camera offers a decided advantage because the artwork can be composed and focused in the camera viewfinder. A standard macro lens will cover most situations. You will need a camera stand or tripod and a matched pair of tungsten or tungsten-halogen photolights for illumination.

Exposures are likely to exceed 1 second so you cannot hand hold your camera.You will need to determine the correct initial exposure and setting for your artwork. Either take a direct reading using an incident-light meter or read a card of known reflectance (i.e. a Kodak Grey Card) with a reflectance-light meter. Built in automatic exposure systems may tend to overexpose white copy material since these meters 'average' the reflected light from a wide area of the screen. Reflected readings from a grey card will be more accurate.

Background colour

Kodak Vericolor film is a colour negative film normally used for making positive transparencies from colour negatives (slides from prints) and internegatives, but will produce a colour negative of the subject when used in a camera. It has a built in orange mask which will produce a dark red background in reverse-text slides unless compensating filters are used. By the use of a particular filter or filters you can produce background colours of your choice. To do so, however you also need to increase exposure. The table below gives filtration and the exposure increase required for a range of colours.

Having decided on your background colour, attach the correct filter or filters, set the at the initial exposure plus the exposure increase listed in the table and photograph the black-on-white lettering or drawing.

Develop the film or have it developed at any colour print lab using process C-41 chemicals. Note that this is a colour negative film process not a slide film process, so you may get some enquiring looks from your film lab!

Filtration and initial exposure increase for different background colours using Kodak Vericolor film 5072.

Desired background colour

Kodak Wratten Gelatin Filter

Exposure increase (in stops)

Diazo blue 12 or 15 (yellow) +
85B or 86 (orange)
+ 2
Cyan 29 (red) + 4
Green 34A (deep magenta) +4
Red 38 (light blue) +4
Orange 44 (cyan) +4
Yellow 45 (deep blue-green) +4
Magenta 61 (deep green) +5
Yellow-brown 47 (deep blue) + 4
Dark red None None

Set your exposure meter for an initial exposure index of 8 and bracket your exposures in 1/2 stop increments to plus and minus 1 stop. Keep all exposures between 1 and 8 seconds. Weaker filters will give softer, more natural colours and may give coloured line or text. Stronger filters will give more saturated colors. Kodak Vericolor film 5072 is available in 35 mm. x 10Oft lengths.

Black background

To obtain white or coloured text or lettering on a black backgound, suitable for superimposition on another slide, you will need to use a high contrast black and white film, available off-the-shelf in 35 mm cassettes. Individual slides may be coloured by dipping in a water soluble dye such as Kodak Matrix Dye or ordinary food colouring.

Alternatively felt tip pens suitable for overhead projection may be used or you can mount the reverse-text slide with a coloured filter. The photographic process is very similar but even simpler than that for coloured backgrounds described above and can be very effective.


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