Stage set. Apologies for the oversight.
Stage set. Apologies for the oversight.
Thanks as always !!
I am going to be doing my first shoot with a RED ( Scarlet ) coming up in July for 2 days. It will be a talking head shot outside durring the day using silks and bounce for lighting, perhaps an HMI if needs be. Since it will be my first time working with a RED ( FINALLY! ), do you have any words of wisdom, warnings, tips, etc.?
I have a question regarding fluid heads. If you have a head that will support a maximum of 50 lbs, what is the minimum weight needed to have the head perform properly? I have been told it is roughly half the maximum load, in this case 20-25lbs.
Can you please elaborate?
Sounds like a question for an operator, sorry -- I don't know why there would be a minimum weight requirement for a fluid head, just a maximum weight requirement. If your camera is lightweight, there's just no reason to lug around the heaviest fluid head, that's all.
I was talking to a DP the other day who told me about a scene he had day-for-dusk. He was shooting on digital (Alexa I think) and underexposed 1.5 stops to create the day-for-dusk look. However as they were shooting the sun actually began to set, so in order to maintain the 1.5 stop underexposure he had to keep cranking his ISO up, all the way to 3200. I would think that when shoot digital you would always want to expose properly to get as much information as possible and then create the day-for-dusk look in post, and once it had become actual dusk it seems odd to maintain the same level of underexposure that was being used to make day look like dusk, particularly at the expense of image quality. What are your thoughts on this?
First of all, one can debate whether exposing a magic hour scene 1.5-stops below key is really "underexposing" in the sense that it is the correct exposure for the look, it's not underexposed with the idea to lift it in post back to normal brightness, the correct look is dimmer than normal.
Think of a scene where you have a dark, dim room and early into the scene, someone turns on the room lights. Would you expose the room so that before the lights came on, it was at full exposure, and then reset the exposure when the lights came on so that they were also at full exposure? Of course not, if you did that, you wouldn't see a dark room become a lit room when the lights came on.
So if you have a magic hour exterior scene that you don't want to look like a normal overcast day scene, you are probably going to decide that the correct look is below key exposure. 1.5-stops below is pretty safe and conservative, and fairly common as a choice. So knowing that that's the look, then as the light changes from day to dusk, by exposing 1.5-stops under, the footage will be consistently exposed and have the dimmer look you want. Sure, you could expose fully but you have a finite dynamic range to work in so if the correct look is 2-stops below key, for example, and you expose normally at key, you're sacrificing two-stops of highlight information that you could use since the correct look will be darker. On the other hand, you don't want to overdo the underexposure either because what if you made a mistake? You have less room for error if you go too far. The other reason to pick something like 1.5-stops under is that once you hit true twilight, getting full exposure is going to be hard anyway, and like I said, it's not the look you want.
The inconsistency comes in how far you are willing to shoot into fading twilight by compromising with the gain and shutter. To be completely consistent, you'd pick one ISO rating for the whole scene and stick to that. Let's say that you were happy with the noise at ISO 1600, so to be consistent, you start out in the daytime with your 1.5-stops underexposure and you use a ton of ND to maintain that exposure, knowing that as magic hour comes, you'll be removing the ND and opening up the lens to maintain the same exposure.
At some point, you hit wide-open on the lens. Now what do you do? Maybe you decide you can live with a 270 degree shutter angle, so you go with that. At least the noise is the same because your ISO hasn't changed and you still are exposing the same amount. But now it gets even darker. What do you do? At some point, the cinematographer has to tell everyone that there is no more light to shoot. But maybe you decide to live with a little consistency, just as a DP shooting film might if he had been using ISO 500 stock and decided to start push-processing to ISO 1000 for the later shots, accepting a bit more grain. So you change your ISO 1600 setting to 2000, 3200, etc. At what point do you stop? That becomes a judgement call because now you have more noise in the images than you did before. At honestly, at some point there is no twilight anymore and it is pure night, there isn't any skylight falling onto the scene at all no matter how much you crank up the gain, and now the light is just different.
But we've all been there, trying to squeeze one more set-up in the failing light. Sometimes we proceed because maybe we'll get something magical, but sometimes we just get some crappy shots. It's a tough call, but at some point you just have to tell the director that the stuff won't match anything anymore, it won't intercut, and it won't look like magic hour, at which point the director has to decide whether to make it a night scene and reshoot the earlier stuff.
I had this twilight scene in "Astronaut Farmer". My plan was to shoot both sides of the coverage, medium and then tight, simultaneously with cameras shooting cross-coverage. So one camera was pointed at one actor and the other was getting the opposite angle, that way the light would match in both directions hopefully. I used Fuji 500 stock (which I normally rated rated at ISO 320, but maybe here it was rated at ISO 400) without the 85 filter, but I started out with some ND filters because early in the evening I had something like f/16 (once I underexposed by 2-stops I think) for the first take, but just after ten minutes, it had dropped to f/4 and then started dropping even faster. My lenses were T/2.1-ish (Primo anamorphics) and I had the consistent 2-stop underexposure so I knew I could shoot until my meter was telling me something around T/1.0 because that would be a T/2.1 on my lens.
But I knew it would get even darker than that so I planned to shoot the widest shot last when I could silhouette the actors against the last glow in the sky long after the ground itself was too dark. So that was the plan. Here are some of the shots:
You can see that the faces and ground are around 2-stops under but it balances well against the sky:
We shot one size tighter on the actors by switching lenses on both cameras.
Then we fell back and downhill to get this wide shot:
By now, the faces and ground are un-meterable, maybe five stops under or more, but the sky was still bright enough to get an image.
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