Nice clip David, the cuts matched the score very well.
All of my favorite films have a brilliant score that matches the tempo and cuts of the film. If there isn't much of a score, such as in Kurosawa's Ran, the visuals are just so gripping and paced with perfection.
David, are you at a point in your career where you pick and choose your projects? How do you choose? Do you still enjoy smaller indie pictures?
I'll definitely take a look at those and see what I can learn. I think I have a pretty solid (though inexperienced) understanding of most of the basic concepts of film/video that I have been taught such as shutter speed, film speed, ISO etc. What I have found difficult though is gaining a better understanding of the big picture such as determining the required amount of light required to correctly expose for a scene and then how to achieve that amount given a particular speed of film or sensor, or more precisely, how to tie all that knowledge together in order to light a scene.
In Cinematopgrahy, I was finding the descriptions of the different light meters and how they are used to be a little confusing and that seemed to be the main thing holding me back. I will however take a look at those books you recommended as I'm sure another description would be highly beneficial to better understand. I will also be sure to read that Upton Photography book among the others mentioned. I do have a few other books including photography ones but they are all digital and tend to focus on a different way of achieving great shots in terms of metering etc.
Thank you very much though for taking the time to answer my question! :-)
Hello David, (or anyone else)
I will be shooting a TV commercial soon. One of the scene goes like this;
NIGHT - MOVING car, driver with a passenger at the back.
The camera is placed on the hood (bonnet?) of the car so that we see the driver in the fg. with the passenger in the backseat in the bg.
Both the driver and the passenger are dark skinned.
What will I need to light this scene properly? Can I use the car's battery itself? Where do I place the lights?
Anyone has experience lighting these types of scenes please do let me know how to go about it.
BTW I am in Ghana (West Africa). We do not have access to any fancy lighting gadgets. We have very, VERY basic lighting equipment.
Often the windscreen is removed. If not, it helps to use a polarizing filter to control reflections off the glass.
I've been color-correcting some TV stuff that I shot, 35mm-to-HD, and it's been somewhat of a creative challenge to find the happy balance between the desire to show sharp images on HDTV broadcast and trying to be kind to the actors. Me, the producer, the colorist, the post-supervisor all have our opinions regarding diffusion levels. I mean, ideally we'd just shoot everything sharp and add digital diffusion and touch-up work in post as needed (and we are doing a little of that here and there, subtlely) but it's a time/money issue so if I can get it right at the time of shooting, it makes the post go faster.
Truth is, though, that I don't think they cast TV shows by how good the skin of the actors are. Facial structure, maybe, or physique, but they always seem to think that skin problems can be fixed with make-up, lighting, and filters. And of course, it's better to get good performers and work around their minor facial flaws than to get pretty faces that can't act. Honestly, even the actors that are a bit of a challenge to light, etc. are still usually better-looking than the average person... we're usually just trying to show them in the best light, so to speak. And it's partly because it allows the viewer to enjoy the performance more.
You try to avoid removing the windscreen because of the wind problems; besides, for a night scene, moving reflections on the glass aren't so bad.
If this is an urban night driving scene, driving through the most well-lit neighborhoods is a good idea -- then you can just add some weak interior light, run off of the cigarette lighter or batteries. Could be anything -- I usually use Kinoflo Kino car kits (Miniflos) but I have even just used tiny battery-powered flourescent lights from drug stores or hardware stores.
If you are driving through darkness, you have to ask yourself if the real background would be black anyway, why not do the driving shot "poor man's process"? You can put two little lights in the far background to fake car headlights visible through the back windshield, and create some moving light effects on the car.
Some people have also been using a poor-man's rear projection set-up using projected video footage.
Regarding the indie scene, obviously shooting digitally has taken off faster there than in mainstream movies that can afford to shoot in 35mm. So given that digital will take up a larger and larger marketshare of indie production at a faster pace than studio production, the better the digital cameras are, the better these indie films will look. So it is in my self-interest to see high-quality imagemaking tools like the RED camera become commonplace in indie production rather than having to keep resorting to using the F900 as I seem to.
And of course, eventually 35mm will disappear even in studio productions so it's also in my self-interest that the digital tools keep getting better and better, although I think that day is a little farther off than many people here do. It doesn't really matter to me anyway -- I'm just focused on what the state of technology is today and the near future, for practical reasons.
Also, I'm a regular filmgoer, of all types of movies, and I just want movies to look better, regardless of their budgets. So the RED camera is exciting from the standpoint of a moviewatcher as well.
Regarding work, I'm in a bit of a twilight zone right now. I did several months on a TV series, so I still have a little money in the bank, then I took off some time to get some minor surgery, recovered from that, but as I look for something to shoot, it's been difficult -- I'm being a bit picky these days, while I can, but eventually I won't be able to be as picky.
Sometimes I seem to either get sent for consideration bigger projects with appalling scripts with no visual possibilities, or smaller projects where the budget is inadequate for the script's needs, or smaller projects that are also visually unappealing. And some of the scripts have just been too risque for my tastes. Part of me feels stupid for not persuing the bigger project just because it's a dumb comedy with no possibility of interesting cinematography -- at least I'd be paid well. And part of me feels stupid for turning down something because I'm not comfortable with the level of sex and violence in the script. I remember turning down one dumb comedy only to see some big-name DP that I respect take it instead, and then I felt guilty, like I was being a snob or something. Eventually what happens though is that either it pays off for being picky and something great gets offered, or you get desparate and take anything at a certain point.
Things are picking up though in the industry and it seems like I have a number of better scripts coming my way, so who knows what I'll take next.
I'm not so opposed to doing something really low-budget, but there has to be a good reason now, either because the script is so darn visually interesting and the budget is adequate for that material and the director has some good ideas on how to pull it off, or if it's because of a long-term relationship I have with a producer or director. Otherwise, the problem with just taking any low-budget work offered is that it can drive your rates down; there are points in your career where you have to make a stand to push your rates up, even if it means losing some work. But it's painful.
I'd love to say that indie scripts were always more interesting than studio scripts, but actually it's not true. Both can be bad or good. Too many indie screenwriters resort to talky scenes between friends, ala "Swingers" or "Clerks", because they think that's all they can afford to shoot, people talking in apartments and diners and bars and cars. Talk, talk, talk. And we're not talking Mamet or Stoppard here. Sometimes I just flip through a script and if I see wall-to-wall dialogue, it's hard to get excited about reading it.
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