Thread: The "frosted window" look. . . why???

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  1. #31  
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    If I had shot that scene with a window that blown (and that table light blown to bits as well), I would be crucified on this site.
    Well for gods sake don't watch anything Storaro shot ;-) I love a good blown out window, or hotspot. I guess you are not a fan of Bob Richardson either?

    Nick
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  2. #32  
    Sadly, I don't really know the names of hardly any DPs (save the gracious Mr. Mullen), but from the way you described the other two, probably not.

    :-)

    I guess I just like a much more "polished" or "finished" look. I can make things look like crap and blown out anytime I want. . . it's what I consider "the good stuff" that I have to work hard to achieve.

    Stephen
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  3. #33  
    Storaro won Oscars for "Apocalypse Now", "Reds", and "The Last Emperor"; Richardson won Oscars for "JFK", "The Aviator", and "Hugo".

    Getting to the point where things look polished or finished is just the starting point of an artistic career. You then start learning how to mess things up creatively in order to evoke feelings in the viewer.

    "I'm so worried that I'm going to perfect technique someday. I have to say it's unfortunate how many of my pictures do depend upon some technical error."
    Photographer Sally Mann

    "Technique is what you fall back on when you run out of inspiration."
    Dancer Rudolf Nureyev
    Last edited by David Mullen ASC; 12-03-2018 at 10:41 PM.
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  4. #34  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaime Vallés View Post
    Heck, if blown-out windows are good enough for Spielberg, they're good enough for me.

    Ah, but you see... they're not hard-clipped and there's still detail in the frame. And Mr. Spielberg only shoots on film (with very rare exceptions, like TinTin). Janusz Kamiński is one of the best DPs alive -- I wouldn't criticize his work ever. (And he's a very nice man who does good work, too.)

    Quote Originally Posted by David Mullen ASC View Post
    Few people seem to live up to Stephen's standards.
    And I just did a spit-take all over my display!
    marc wielage, csi • colorist/post consultant • daVinci Resolve Certified Trainer
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  5. #35  
    If those don't look like hard clips, I've never seen one. (There appears to be zero detail in the center of the left window, where even the vertical divider on the window is gone, to say nothing of the horizontal slats). To me, it looks like it was shot on video and they just ran out of bits. But, as Mr. Mullen suggests, it was a clear artistic choice, and one that, to me, I absolutely think didn't work.

    BTW, I loved the shooting in "The Last Emperor," "The Aviator" (very stylized, of course), and "Hugo" (although I thought the film was pretty awful). I haven't seen the others.

    To Mr. Mullen's point on Sally Mann (of whose work I am certainly aware, but do not know well and strongly suspect her comment was just hyperbole), my wife and I have been collecting photographs by the great mid-20th century masters for several decades now (e.g. Ansel Adams, Paul Strand, Edward and Brett Weston, Minor White, Wynn Bullock, Frederick Sommer, Paul Caponigro, and Imogen Cunningham), and I know their work very well, and with the exception of accidental double-exposures here and there (and in Caponigro's case, a too slow shutter for "Running White Deer"), those folks had an exceedingly tight rein on technique, and "obeyed the rules" to the letter. Their signed prints are always perfect. I see no lack of inspiration there at all, but I'm sure the fact that I'm drawn to the work of those "perfect exposure masters" has had some influence on my own work. (I do everything I can to preserve highlights if at all possible, sadly sometimes to the point where I run into noise.)

    Stephen
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  6. #36  
    I understand the fear of clipping because of its association with video, but you can burn out detail on film too, it just happens more gracefully. Overexposure for creative effect shouldn't be avoided, and sometimes is actually the more realistic effect -- if the sun comes through a dirty or dusty window, the window is going to blow-out unless you just expose for the window itself and not the room.

    Contrast creates drama, mood, and depth. A bright light can also have a symbolic effect -- I think in "JFK", the hot pools of light that Jim Garrison moves through imply the light of truth from investigation, a light that characters either live in or skirt around the perimeters of.

    In some period films, besides the practical issue of whether what's out the window is period-correct, hot windows can suggest turn-of-the-century photography using uncoated lenses.

    And there is the issue of light continuity, if you are going to be in the daylight interior space on location from sunrise to sunset and beyond for multiple days even, giving yourself a shot at visual consistency by blurring the view out the window and overexposing it might be better than having a lot of visible variation happening out the window.

    But what this really comes down to is taste.
    David Mullen, ASC
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  7. #37  
    ^ --- Great comments all, Mr. Mullen. Thanks for your interest in my question and, in general, for your ever-patient expertise so willingly offered on this site.

    I have run into that dirty window issue from time to time, and aside from the "burn," is the tremendous loss of contrast that comes with that effect (and a lot of atmosphere). On the upside, I've become really fond of lens flares these days, something that Ansel, Inc. seldom ever allowed in their work. (Was that considered bad form "back in the day"? Or did their lenses just not flare the way ours do today?)

    Stephen
    Scarlet Dragon with Canon, Sigma, and Tokina lenses and the Optitron 2 wireless system
    First feature film, Works in Progress, out on DVD (Vanguard Cinema) and online.
    Second feature film, Terminal, scheduled for a fall 2018 release.
    Third feature film, The Tree, currently available at www.thetreemotionpicture.com.
    Fourth feature film, The Land, currently in post-production.
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  8. #38  
    Lens flares were considered a mistake for a long time, but I suppose the lack of coatings didn’t help, you risked getting a white-out if you weren’t careful. But Kurosawa pointed the camera into the sun while tracking through the forest in “Rashomon” (1950) and got a lot of praise and press for his boldness and soon there were a lot more occurrences of pointing the camera into lights or the sun. “A Star is Born” (1954) pointed an anamorphic lens into sweeping searchlights in the opening premiere scene.
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  9. #39  
    Senior Member Blair S. Paulsen's Avatar
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    To me, it depends on what you clip or crush in the frame and why. I would add that the current crop of RED sensors has enough DR that when I want to blow out something I feel comfortable actually dropping the exposure on set and reshaping the shoulder in post. Another technique I've used to mimic the highlight rolloff endemic to film's response curve is to qualify the brightest parts of the image (garbage matte faces or other items as needed) and manage them with various digital treatments.

    There's also the issue of scene consistency versus story arcs, character framing, etc that can drive specific choices outside of one's usual methodology. YMMV.

    Cheers - #19
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