Jump to content

Highest Reputation Content

#399961 Would you ever hire a DOP based on their showreel?

Posted by Adam Frisch FSF on 14 December 2013 - 10:54 AM

In my experience this is (perhaps crassly) what's most important on a falling scale:


1. Your success and how "big" you are. You have to understand that it's not just show business in front of the camera, it's behind the camera as well. Ad agencies/clients/financiers want to be able to say on Monday over coffee with their partners that they were working with Roger Deakins or an Oscar winning DP. Coolness by association. I know for a fact, because I had it from his agent himself, that commercial clients will wait or work around Emmanuel Lubezki's schedule. When he's off a feature film all he needs to do is call up his agent and say "I have 2 months off, can you book some commercials?" and they book as many or as few as he wants. But understand that this only happens at the very top level. No client or ad agency will wait for us lesser DP's.


2. Recommendations and reputation. Directors will base hiring on sometimes unresearched recommendations from other directors or producers. Sometimes they might ask around about you, or someone else mentions you to them, or your name has a buzz at that moment. This is very common and once you have been vetted by their peers, they'll hire you based on that and not the particulars on your reel. It is very, very common that if you do a successful or good ad at a certain production company (and you and the director get along), you will pick up other work from other directors at that production company. They talk about DP's all the time.


3. Reel/CV. And here we have different tiers. Obviously a bigger reel (notice I didn't say better), with more things they recognise or have seen, with known actors/stars, stand a better chance than the ever so nicely shot thing they don't know about or haven't heard of. They need the stamp of approval of familiarity, or success, to be able feel confident in your skills. It's the sad truth that a beautiful reel on its own will not get necessarily get you more work. However, it will get you those first jobs that then can help build your reel.


Being a DP is great. But it's a long hard way to make it in to a successful career. It's just like life - it's not going to be fair, it's not going to be equal. I've had focus pullers that used to work for me and assistants that used to load my camera truck (at 4am in the morning) who today are shooting big Hollywood features and are much more successful than I am. Some of them got an easy ride and found success very quick by being at the right spot at the right time. That's OK, you just have to stop comparing yourself to others and not feel intimidated by the fact that it's not always fair. It doesn't mean you're a worse DP or have lesser skills. That's very important to remember.

  • 13

#395454 How to keep Focus

Posted by Joshua Turner on 24 September 2013 - 12:26 PM

Hi Alejandro,

    I'm a focus puller in the industry, and can tell you a few basics. During rehearsals (if we get a rehearsal anymore), we take measurements of where the camera is in relation to the marks that the actor hits. It's a choreography if you will. As the actor and camera moves through the set from mark to mark, we have measured each of those distances to know in relation, where the subject is from the focal plane of the camera, using a follow focus or wireless FIZ (Focus Iris Zoom) controller to match those distances on the lens. We have an onboard monitor that allows us to see what the operator is pointing at, at any given time, and must make minor adjustments to the best of our ability to compensate for an actor or camera op, missing a mark.

    Anymore though, with the onslaught of the digital revolution, we are not given rehearsals as much because a lot of young DP's, directors, and producers don't understand how focus works, and we are expected to pull off the monitor because so many 1st AC's now pull off the monitor. There's this myth that we don't need a rehearsal or marks anymore with pulling from the monitor, which is completely false. This usually leads to the first take having a few buzzes here and there, especially if the 1st hasn't had a ton of experience pulling off the monitor. More experienced DP's will make sure we still have our marks before allowing the scene to roll, especially on longer lenses. For those of you in the video game generation, monitor pulling becomes much of the same eye-hand coordination that you use when playing your favorite video game. Knowing where you are on the lens, either with the follow focus or FIZ, becomes muscle memory after awhile, and getting a feel for the movements and distances becomes second nature. On larger shows, there has been times when I'm not even in the room of the camera. I will sit in the next room at a 17" full 1080 OLED monitor (full 1080 is important, because there is no degradation of the image, and allows us to see full sharpness) and wireless Preston FIZ. Before that can happen though, I still go in and take measurements of the room and grid it out. Measuring the size of the room, and objects in the room such as a couch or table or counter, help to give spatial awareness and make sure you don't pull to 15' when it's really only 12' away, etc. Also with HD, critical focus is so much more apparent, and the roll off of the depth of field is substantially more noticeable than on film. It's either in focus or soft. There is no "kind of sharp" anymore that you could get away with occasionally on film.

     One problem that many people experience is not using proper cinematic lenses with good, clear, witness marks. This can screw over even the most talented of 1st AC's. I've turned down jobs because they were using canon still lenses before (the barrels continuously spin with no hard marks). In that situation, there is no way for me to guarantee focus to someone, and it makes me look like a terrible AC if everything is in and out of focus. I would rather turn down the job, than not be able to deliver quality, in focus images. People know you by your work in this industry, and the last thing you want is a show you worked on, playing in a theater, and half the movie is soft, followed by your name in the credits. 

      Hiring a good 1st AC is critical in the digital world of cinema. We are usually one of the least noticed and hardest working people on set, as we rarely get to leave the camera, and are responsible for knowing everything about how the cameras works, how to fix it, as well keeping the image sharp. A good 1st can save you missing that critical take where the performance was incredible, but you missed it because it was soft, or even get the camera back up and running ASAP after it has had an issue (though some glitches and failures are not repairable on set). We may not get the credit and fame of cinematographers and directors, but we are an important part of the filmmaking process. Visually, you'll only know we are there if it's out of focus, which if we are good, should rarely happen.


Keep Focused,

Joshua R. Turner

1st AC - IATSE Local 600

  • 11

#374109 10 Rules for Teachers and Students

Posted by Tim Tyler on 16 July 2012 - 01:40 PM

Good advice.

  • 10

#393435 "New" super-8 camera to market

Posted by Lasse Roedtnes on 17 August 2013 - 08:57 AM

Hi All,


Here's a few photo's of the prototype - bear in mind that it's still work in progress, the red parts are printed plastic parts and will not be there in the final version - the body is 3mm aluminium black anodized.


What you get here is an exclusive sneak peak - there will be video's available and professional photo's taken once the final camera has been made and we are ready for production.


The photo's are taken with my mobile phone so they are not the best quality by far.



Please enjoy!



Side view of camera

As mentioned the red potentiometers will be replaced and the cover behind them will not be there as well - this will be all aluminium the reason for the cover was because there used to be an LCD display here but that was taken off.


The potentiometers control monitor volume for the headphone and recording gain for the microphone.


All functions / menus are controlled by the JOG wheel - this will not change.

There's one record button, an on/off button and a third button "Phase Advance" which is not showed here as the aluminium side used for this photo series doesn't have the hole for it.






The SD Card is popped up here (it's used for storage of audio) - when inserted it aligns with the aluminium edge of the camera.





On the back side here's what you get:


3.5mm Jack stereo line input

3.5mm Jack monitor audio for headphones

3.5mm Jack mono microphone input

Neutrik XLR + 3pin Jack for true 48V Phantom powered microphone (mono)

USB for firmware upgrade, parameter settings, audio retrieval etc. 

7.4V Lithium Ion battery which will last several films worth of shooting on a single charge. (there are many different batteries in different sizes available)





A photo of the Lilliput monitor showing the thru-lens shot with overlaid information - right here the camera is parking it's shutter - what is not shown (because of current parking mode) is:


  • Audio VU level
  • Light level
  • SD Card and audio information

Also you have the option to choose from remaining or elapsed frames.





Camera seen from the other side with the lid on - the white wifi antenna is also visible.








Sorry Matt but you need to go somewhere else for a c*** tease this time ^_^




  • 8

#476233 Delete thread please

Posted by David Mullen ASC on 13 April 2017 - 03:57 PM

I'm all for active engagement, but attack the message, not the messenger.  Or at least try, I know I fail at that sometimes.

  • 6

#401993 Vision3 50d shot.

Posted by Jose luis villar on 21 January 2014 - 01:40 PM

Here is another fashion shot with 50d Vision 3. The telecine was done by Ochoypico, the camera used  my Beaulieu 4008 ZM2.


  • 6

#381312 Advice on lighting a nighttime outdoor scene?

Posted by Guy Holt on 29 December 2012 - 04:50 PM

…. you first have to decide what you want it to look and feel like before deciding how to light it, you can't just light in a general way, there should be a concept behind it first.

David is right, to successfully light a night scene on a tight budget requires that you first have a concept for the shot. From there you can figure out an innovative approach to accomplish that look. What tools who need and how you deploy them will follow. A good example is a very similar scene I lit on a “low budget” feature called "Black Irish." It was a pivotal scene where the youngest son of an Irish American patriarch crashes his derelict older brother's car setting off an unfortunate series of events. For the scene we had to light 1000 ft of Marginal Street in Chelsea for driving shots on a process trailer and the scene of the accident. Our biggest challenge was to create through the lighting the feel of a car hurdling down the road at high speed.

Posted Image

The problem was that even after lighting the equivalent of three football fields, the process trailer couldn't obtain a speed of more than 30 mph before it was out of the light. The traditional approach of under-cranking the camera to increase the speed was not an option because the scene was a pivotal one with extensive dialogue inside the car. So, we had to create the effect of speed through the lighting.

Posted Image

I came up with a concept that was as beautiful in its practical simplicity as in its psychological complexity. To heighten the sense of speed of the process trailer shots we rigged 500w practical fixtures along a four hundred foot wall on one side of the road. We spaced the practical wall lights twice as close together as they would be normally. This way, as the car passed by, areas of light and dark would pass rapidly by in the background and exaggerate the speed at which the car was traveling. When it came time to shoot the static wide establishing shot of the car racing down the road, we dismantled every other wall practical in order to reinforce the effect. On an unconscious level the viewer's mind registers in the establishing shot the wider spacing of the wall lamps. So when in the close up process shots the pools of light in the background are racing past at twice the rate because there are, in fact, twice as many lights, the viewer's mind registers the car is traveling at twice the speed it is, in fact, traveling.

Posted Image

In addition to the wall practicals, I simulated car dash board light on the actor's faces with a 12v 9" Kino Car kit. The play of the passing wall lights on the actor's faces were created by a revolving 650W Fresnel with diffusion on its doors rigged on the process trailer. To light the long stretch of road, I simulated the pools of light that would be created by street lights by rigging 6kw space lights under the baskets of 60' condors that were spaced about 200' apart over the road. In addition to the Space Light, each condor basket also carried a 4k HMI Par that filled the stretches of road between the pools of tungsten light with a cool moonlight. To continue the moonlight down the road there was yet another 4k HMI Par on a Mambo Combo Stand. Because this 4K was further down the road than was practical to run cable, it was powered by a Honda 5500W portable generator. A 12kw HMI Fresnel with 1/2 CTO through a 12x frame of Soft Frost served to pick up the deep background from the front on one end of Marginal Street while a 6kw HMI Par lit the other end.

Posted Image

To supply power on both sides of the road for a 1000' stretch was no small task. I used three generator plants strategically placed so that our cable would never cross the road in a shot. In addition to the Honda 5500W portable generator that powered the 4kw HMI Par light for the deep background, I used a 800A plant to power the 4kw HMI Pars and 6kw Space Lights in the condors, the 12kw Fresnel, and the base camp trailers and work lights. The 6kw Par, 12 - 500W practicals, and an assortment of smaller HMI's used to light the post crash scene were powered by a 450A plant on the far end of the roadway.

Posted Image

This example, demonstrates that once you have a concept you can come up with an innovative approach to accomplish it. The tools and how to deploy follow. This example also demonstrates that the right tools, used in an innovative way, can create startling results on a low budget. Since “low budget” is a relative term, to address Megan’s situation, it would be helpful to know what the budget is for this scene and have more details about the sequence and location.

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston
  • 6

#479517 Do Current Cameras not have Viewfinders?

Posted by David Mullen ASC on 12 June 2017 - 10:59 PM

Not a fan of the notion that the original composition made on set has no value -- considering the thought and care I usually spend to create that frame -- plus I don't think in general that most shots that get punched into look well-composed, they just look tighter. Imagine if someone took "The Godfather" and zoomed into it and created a bunch of new shots; it would not have the visual power it currently has. Nor would a John Ford movie.

Filmmaking is more than chopping a bunch of close-ups together -- and it's today's inability by many directors to learn to love wider framing that drives me nuts.

Plus if you need a medium shot, then shoot a medium shot, and if you need a close-up, then shoot a close-up. Creating all the coverage in post by zooming into a master is just lazy directing, like they couldn't figure out how to cover the scene on set.

The occasional reframing, for a variety of reasons, is not unexpected but no one becomes good at staging and composition by not practicing that skill on the set, but leaving it until post, any more than you become a good still photographer by not thinking of your composition until after you take the picture. Imagine how poor an actor would be if they never made any choices but just gave you a dozen versions on every set-up and then told you to create whatever performance you wanted later in editing.

To me, that's what all art comes down to -- making choices and learning from them. If all your choices can be easily changed in post, then you never learn what works and doesn't work because you never suffer any consequences for your choices.

So for pragmatic reasons, I accept the occasional need to reframe, but hopefully minimally, but I don't think it should be the way you should approach shooting a scene, to leave the art of composing until post. In post, you can't adjust the angle of the camera and the arrangement of objects, all you can do is enlarge what was shot.
  • 5

#452386 Indie Tricks-of-the-Trade, or how to get good production values on a modest b...

Posted by Guy Holt on 31 March 2016 - 04:12 PM

What I'm trying to do here is to stand up for the majority of people who work very hard, for almost nothing, who work themselves to the bone in pursuit of an impossible ideal ... We are judged by the same audiences to the same standard as that one per cent. Occasionally, we can convince someone, by application of hard-won and exquisitely-realised skill and, yes, a bit of luck, that we are a "real" production... 


It takes more skill to make an indie film than a big budget studio picture. Where a Hollywood production can throw money at a problem, an indie production must work smart.  I have started this thread as a place where we can share indie tricks-of-the-trade for realizing big budget production values on a modest budget.  Or, as Phil Rhodes so eloquently put it in a recent thread “by the application of hard-won and exquisitely-realized skill.” Posts to this thread should not herald DIY lights, nor lighting a set with practicals alone. The emphasis should be on FILM CRAFT using a basic tool kit that can be carried in a 18’ rental box (say a 3-5 Ton Grip & Electric Pkg.) and powered off the wall or off of putt-putts (no diesel tow plants.) With the newest camera systems that are capable of a fourteen stop exposure range and ASA sensitivities of 1600 without grain you shouldn’t need anything more to get decent production values if you know what you are doing and willing to work hard. 


I will start it off by re-posting here my post from the thread “Night Lighting - Balloon VS Dino/Wendy's” (http://www.cinematog...showtopic=70842.) This thread is for those productions for which $1500 for a balloon light or a generator to power a Wendy light is simply not in the budget and they have to figure out how to accomplish the same look for a lot less.  For example, I would say the smart indie alternative would be shoot his wide establishing shots dusk-for-night and only his close coverage night-for-night. Dusk-for-night, is an important technique for indie filmmakers to learn because it is a means of obtaining expensive looking production values for very little money. Dusk-for-night uses the fading daylight as an ambient fill to gain a base line exposure in wide establishing shots without using a big source like a balloon light. Typically it is intercut with closer framing shot night-for-night to create a realistic night scene. The advantage to shooting dusk-for-night over day-for-night (the other low budget alternative to expensive night-for-night cinematography on a large scale) is that if you are shooting a house or city street you can incorporate set practicals like window or porch light, car headlights, or even streetlights or raking moonlight in a wide establishing shot. But in order to get the balance right between your lamp light and the fading daylight requires the right location and careful planning.


For example, the key to success in shooting the house pictured below dusk-for-night is choosing the right location. To get the subtle separation of the night sky and trees from a dark horizon, you don’t want to shoot into the after glow of the setting sun. Instead you want to find a location where you will be shooting into the darker eastern sky. With dusk-for-night, you have maybe a thirty-minute window of opportunity after the sun has set to shoot the wide master before the natural ambient light fades completely so you have to have everything planned out, rehearsed, and ready to go.


In order to get the balance right between the practicals and the ambient dusk light in the limited time you have to shoot the establishing shot, you have to start with larger fixtures and be prepared to reduce their intensity quickly. For instance if you want the glow of an interior practical light raking the lace curtains in a window, start with a PH213 in the practical and 2k Fresnel raking the lace curtain. Wait until the ambient dusk level outside has fallen to the point where the balance between the natural light and your lamp light looks realistic and then roll. To get a second take, open the camera aperture a half stop and drop a single in the 2k head, dim down the PH213, and wait again until the ambient dusk level outside has again fallen to the point where it looks realistic and then roll. If you continue in this fashion with nets after you have exhausted your scrims, and a PH212 when the dimmed PH213 starts to look too warm, you will be able to get multiple takes out of the diminishing dusk light.




Likewise with a streetlight or moonlight raking across the front of the house. To create a moon dapple on the front of a house against a night sky, you will need a good sized HMI set on a high oblique angle so that it will rake across the front of the house. Break it up with a branch-a-loris and wait. When the ambient level of the dusk sky has fallen to the point where it looks realistic against the moonlit house and the practical lit interior - roll. You can even add a car pulling up to the house, but you have to be prepared and have enough manpower standing by to dim the practicals, net the lights, and scrim the car’s head lights very quickly. The final touch is to use a graduated ND filter on the lens to darken the sky and balance the camera between daylight and tungsten so that the ambient dusk light filling the shadows is cool and the practicals and tungsten lights motivated by them remain warm but not too warm.


Once dusk is past, you shoot the close coverage night-for-night when a package consisting of what you can run on a portable generator will suffice. If you parallel two of the Honda EU7000is generators for 120A output, you will be able to use a 6k HMI for your moonlight at dusk on top of a sizeable tungsten package to light the interior of a house to a high level to match the daylight.  For example, the scene below takes place in the middle of a near vacant parking lot of an all night convenience store. The establishing shot of the brightly lit convenience store situated in a wide-open expanse of a empty parking lot at night was shot dusk-for-night because the production didn’t have the resources to light up the parking lot and building to separate it from the night sky. Close coverage was then shot night-for-night with nothing more than a single modified 7500W Honda EU6500is and a small tungsten package of 1ks and 650w Fresnels.



Left: Close coverage shot night-for-night. Center: Transformer/Distro provides 60A/120V circuit from Honda EU6500 and compensates for voltage drop over long cable run to set. Right: Operating the Honda EU6500 from behind the grip truck at a distance was all the blimping required to record clean audio tracks.


With no building or other sound barrier within a reasonable distance to block the sound of the generator, Gaffer Aaron MacLaughlin put it behind their grip truck as far from set as possible. This was only possible because he used a transformer to step down the 240V output of the generator, and in the process compensate for the voltage drop they experienced over the 500’ cable run to set. Operating the Honda EU6500 from behind the grip truck at a distance was all the blimping required to record clean audio tracks.


Guy Holt, Gaffer, Screenlight and Grip, Lighting rental and sales in Boston.

  • 5

#411544 Pulling Focus in the Dark

Posted by Gregory Irwin on 19 June 2014 - 11:55 AM

All of this talk of "glow in the dark" this and that sounds over the top and complicated. Keep it stupid/simple. Put a simple low light source such as a battery operated, goose neck flash light and shield the light spill with a piece of black tape. Aim it at your lens or disk and do your job. These are easily obtainable at hardware and electronic stores.

Having mentioned the disk on the follow focus, I have always believed that using that disk for marks is a big mistake. First: there is at times, way too much sloppy play in the gearing mechanism. That could cause one to be off of the actual lens mark. Second: it causes the focus puller to look at too many different places (ie. the subject, the lens marks and the disk) thus moving one's head too much costing lost reaction time. I believe that by placing your head at the film plane and looking straight down the center line of the lens, one can see the subject and the lens engravings with a simple shift of the eyes. In other words, if you need to make focus marks, make them on the focus ring of the lens with a simple tic mark of a grease pencil or even cut out tape arrows. This is much more efficient. But everyone has their style and way of working. You have to figure out what works for you. Still, keep it stupid/simple.

  • 5

#404645 Gifts for Your Cinematographer

Posted by Stuart Brereton on 27 February 2014 - 12:23 AM

"I wonder what a RED camera watch would be like?"


It would be absurdly heavy, and designed to appear vaguely military. It would randomly stop working on a regular basis and take 90 seconds to restart. On delivery, it would have only one hand. The other two would be delivered at an unspecified later date.  It would also claim to have far more hours in a day than any other brand of watch.

  • 5

#403710 Your thoughts on 2 perf 35mm film

Posted by Gregory Irwin on 15 February 2014 - 07:15 PM

Here is a great view of the 2 perf gate vs. the 1:2.40 frame lines. This view is looking through the lens port of an Arricam LT with the reflex mirror half way in so we can see the reflected ground glass on the right compared to the actual gate on the left. There is no space to speak of outside of the frame lines. The full gate is the format. This is why gate hairs are such an issue. I took this image while prepping AMERICAN HUSTLE.

  • 5

#478800 Arriflex cameras

Posted by Dom Jaeger on 27 May 2017 - 08:46 AM

I did a pretty in-depth tutorial on servicing a IIC on my cinetinker site, not sure what more anyone would want to know. The service manual doesn't tell you much more, in some cases it tells you less.

I chose a photo and text format because I think it's much easier to follow than a video where you have to hunt around for the bit you want to watch or listen to.

There's always a limit to how much you can pass on because it requires a certain base knowledge and experience in mechanics, and often specific tools and jigs that a lay person won't have access to. But the Arriflex II cameras are fairly simple, even if they have very fine tolerances. Most assemblies are pinned, rather than adjustable like on all later Arriflex models, so that makes it easier for non-technicians. If the camera hasn't been contaminated, a basic clean and lubrication can be done without much disassembly. You'd just need a soft brush, some good screwdrivers, cotton buds and maybe some isopropyl alcohol along with the specified lubricants (which are listed on my site).

For a more thorough overhaul you really start to need some of the many, many tools and instuments a camera tech would own, starting with a depth gauge with 52.00mm cylinder and backing plate to measure the flange depth, and ideally a collimator to measure optical distances that can't be physically measured like the ground glass depth reflected off the mirror. Because things are pinned the settings are likely to remain in place when reassembled, but it only takes a hair to get caught or a slight misalignment to throw things off. And of course if a camera is not right in the first place, it will need adjustment or repair. Which usually requires not just tools but experience.
  • 5

Metropolis Post

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

Tai Audio

Abel Cine

Wooden Camera

Paralinx LLC

FJS International, LLC


Gamma Ray Digital Inc


Ritter Battery

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment

Visual Products

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Paralinx LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

Visual Products


FJS International, LLC

Tai Audio

Metropolis Post


New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment

Wooden Camera

Ritter Battery

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Abel Cine