Recently I really enjoyed the video by Christina Aguilera, Candyman. I'm reallly into swing/big band era stuff so to see a neo-retro take on it was fun. I'm curious how they did the look of it. To me, it simply looks like a ton of softlight. But how would you go about getting this look? Thanks!
Yes, it looks like a huge softlight set-up. Don't know the specifics -- could be spacelights on a grid with an additional silk underneath.
For flat surfaces - i.e. mirrors, I've seen stick on translucent plastic too. A bit tricky to put on, but easy to get off. Also helps prevent reflection of unwanted objects.
Thanks David for this excellent thread! It is very very helpful.
Yes, if the shiny object kicking back at you is far away enough and out of focus, there are all sorts of crude tricks, like just taping some black paper tape over the hot spot. If a car across the street is kicking the sun into the lens, you can put a square of black cloth (duvetine) over the spot.
Truth is, though, that I like hot kicks in the frame so I am loathe to dull things down unless it is a real problem.
When you're hired, who decides on the gear used for the production? Do you use what is furnished or do you have input on tripods and peripheral gear?
Sometimes the format itself may already have been decided by the time I am hired (35mm, HD, etc.) though I may have input on the finer details (aspect ratio, Super-35 vs. anamorphic, 3-perf vs. 4-perf, type of HD camera, etc.)
I will usually suggest the film stocks, the camera package, etc. write up some lists so that the bidding can begin at rental houses. So sometimes I'll have to write separate breakdowns for Kodak and Fuji stocks, or Arriflex and Panaflex cameras, etc. I warn the producer about any special post processing the director and I would like considered in the budget, like a D.I.
They crunch the numbers and usually I have to make some sacrifices somewhere, or get on the phone myself and plead with the rental house for a deal (like for anamorphic lenses, let's say.)
Sometimes I get asked for a grip & electrical list but I really hate doing that before the Gaffer and Key Grip are hired. I'd rather send my lists to the Gaffer and Key Grip, let them add to it (because I'll never remember half the little stuff they need) and submit it themselves. Again, then the process of cutting down the list comes in once the bids come back from the rental house.
I also submit a list of what I think will be special equipment days, like film-video playback, camera cars, cranes, high-speed cameras, extra cameras & crews, etc.
Generally the process goes well and I have a lot of input, though I try and work within the budget -- I'm not unreasonable. My equipment lists tend to be very tight and accurate, without much fat to be trimmed. Once I did work with a producer who wanted to dictate to me and the director all technical aspects: format, aspect ratio, camera package, etc. because he didn't want to adjust his original budget. He basically said "we're doing this film in standard 1.85 35mm with a photo-chemical post." So he got really upset at me when I even broached the idea of shooting in 2.35 or doing a D.I., even though I had done these things on movies with smaller budgets. That was the only time I've really been dictated to that specifically.
Of course, when I did Season Two of "Big Love", the technical groundwork had already been established.
Hey David, speaking of equipment, I know that some up-and-coming DPs, especially MFA grads from top schools, can get "free" rentals from Panavision and other vendors when they are shooting low-budget indies. The idea is, I guess, to establish brand loyalty with these young guys, so when they become established, they will be loyal to Panavision, Fischer, etc.
Is this also true of someone like yourself, who is already very well established? If a well-established DP takes on a low-budget feature, can they pull strings to get similar camera and equipment packages on loan from Panavision or whomever? How much pull do ASC guys have with camera and rental houses? Or is that question too vague?
David, with all your experience with HD, if you had to shot an extremely dark movie in HD with low key lighting and lots of shadows, many night exteriors and interiors, how would you deal with the problem of noise? That’s one of the weaknesses of HD in low light and looks much worse than film grain. Would you crush blacks in camera to try to get deep dark shadows, would you shoot it bright and get the dark shadowy look in post at the risk of degrading your image on a extensive color grading process, what do you feel would produce the cleanest image?
Specially when dealing with the 1/3” HD cameras I find the noise level unacceptable in low light situations.
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