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playing with nets


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#21 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 01:46 PM

Rear-mounting nets gives a more consistent effect between focal lengths because you're basically filtering the image after it's been created by the lens. If you're working with a zoom for example, the effect will be consistent from wide to telephoto. But you will begin to see the net pattern in the bokeh on telephoto side.

If you use a front net, the net pattern at the wide end of the lens could start to come into focus due to depth of field and also diffuse less because the gaps in the weave are proportionally larger to the objects in the frame, so more of the in-focus image shows through. At the telephoto end, the diffusion effect will grow increasingly heavy unless you stretch the net tighter for larger gaps in the weave.

So rear-netting gives more consistency with a range of focal lengths, but it's time consuming to remove and reapply them, or to vary the stretch factor. You usually just leave them on and check every so often to see if it's getting loose or starting to run. Front-netting works better if you want to use them only for specific shots or retain the ability to quickly remove the filter.
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#22 Luke Lenoir

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 03:43 PM

We had a set of primes on a show I worked on last year with Julio Macat. I cant remember what they were, but they all had fogal blacks adhered to the rear element. We would occasionally compliment them with 1/8 to 1/2 classic softs on some of the closer shots. The amount of diffusion stayed consistent between sizes, but on the longer lenses the chromatic diffraction was more apparent, and ultimately less appealing.

 

Just my opinion, but I don't think nets look that great on close ups, and it doesnt seem like Kaminski really uses them except on medium and wider shots.

 

vlcsnap-2016-07-16-13h48m01s226.jpg

 

They are very fickle in my opinion, because there so many variables, i.e. the density and color. An ultra-sheer black will render a totally different effect than a white or charcoal tulle material, but it is of course always fun to experiment.

 

 

 

 

 


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#23 Andrew Payne

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 05:55 PM

Rear-mounting nets gives a more consistent effect between focal lengths because you're basically filtering the image after it's been created by the lens. If you're working with a zoom for example, the effect will be consistent from wide to telephoto. But you will begin to see the net pattern in the bokeh on telephoto side.

 

Thanks.  I found on my zoom that until about 35mm I was seeing the net, but after that the effect was very nice out to 100mm.  I didn't see the effect on the bokeh on my 7" monitor, but I'll keep an eye out for that now.  I'm not worried about consistency over the range, since I'm testing this for an interview setting where I'll keep the lens set.  I''ll be comparing the net to various filter options.

 

 

They are very fickle in my opinion, because there so many variables, i.e. the density and color. An ultra-sheer black will render a totally different effect than a white or charcoal tulle material, but it is of course always fun to experiment.

 

Agreed, I haven't played with nets much, but David's post lit the flame.  It's unpredictable for sure, but it really is fun to play with.


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#24 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 06:46 PM

@ Satsuki...."If you use a front net, the net pattern at the wide end of the lens could start to come into focus due to depth of field and also diffuse less because the gaps in the weave are proportionally larger to the objects in the frame, so more of the in-focus image shows through. At the telephoto end, the diffusion effect will grow increasingly heavy unless you stretch the net tighter for larger gaps in the weave..."

 

I'm interested in,  and I listen to,  observations from those with practical experience with nets.  But on the level of theory,  is that right,  or back to front?  If one used the same front net for wide vs telephoto....  at wide angle,  the "holes" in the mesh are small relative to the frame,  the mesh yarns also.  At telephoto the holes in the mesh and yarns are big relative to the frame.

 

The Tiffen (glass ) black soft net has #1 mesh honeycomb shaped "holes" about 3mm size,  the # has about 1mm size.  Has anyone here used these different grades to control the relative effect on wide vs telephoto?  Any theories about it?


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#25 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 07:54 PM

Sorry,  my typo...it should read ...

"The Tiffen (glass ) black soft net has #1 mesh honeycomb shaped "holes" about 3mm size,  the # 4 has about 1mm size.".....


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#26 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 08:04 PM

Luke, thanks for the info! That frame looks great, love the contrast from the wet down. That's pretty ballsy to add Classic Softs on top of the rear-nets. Funny that you don't like the chromatic diffraction, that's one of my favorite artifacts.

Gregg, that's from memory but it's certainly possible that I could be wrong. When I use nets, I almost always put them on the rear or I'm quickly throwing a front-net on for one specific shot. The last time I used front nets consistently on a set of primes was probably over five years ago.

I have always wanted to try the old Tiffen Softnet Blacks, but my local rental houses don't carry them and they are not cheap compared to just buying pantyhose.
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#27 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 08:19 PM

it doesnt seem like Kaminski really uses them except on medium and wider shots.

 

Kaminski has shot plenty of close-ups with nets... "Minority Report" is full of them:

minority1.jpg

 

But sometimes he seems to switch from a net to a Classic Soft when the flare pattern from the net is too distracting for that shot.

 

There are a few scenes in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" shot on nets, not as many as use Classic Soft or no filtration, but in this scene, it begins by using nets and then switches to Classic Softs for most of the later coverage -- look at the flare from the hanging lantern:

 

Net

lastcrusade3.jpg

 

Classic Soft

lastcrusade4.jpg

 

As for nets not being as nice on close-ups, we'll just have to agree to disagree, I tend to think that's when they work the best but mainly because they are usually too heavy for wider shots.

 

It was probably "Fiddler on the Roof" that first got me interested in nets, most of the movie was shot with a brown pantyhose stretched over the front of the lens.  There is a behind-the-scenes photo of Ozzie Morris at the Panavision PSR camera with a pantyhose just held over the nose of the lens with a rubber band and the rest dangling down; I'm not sure if that was a gag shot since you'd normally put a matte box in front to keep ambient light off of the net.


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#28 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 12:50 AM

Looking through "Minority Report" again, it's mostly shot with nets:

minorityreport2.jpg

 

It's hard to talk about filters used on wides, mediums, and close-ups in a Spielberg film, particularly this one, because almost every shot moves from one to another, a close-up has a rack-focus and pan into a wide, a medium moves into a close-up, etc.

 

What you'll notice about Kaminski's work was that it was fairly clean up through "Jurassic Park: The Lost World" (1997) but after that, he started using silver retention printing processes and diffusion.  You see a few scenes shot with nets in "Amistad" (shot the same year as "Lost World"), particularly the final Supreme Court arguments finale, then "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) isn't filtered much, but "A.I." (2001), "Minority Report" and "Catch Me If You Can" (both 2002) uses nets quite extensively, those three were sort of the peak of his usage of nets.  Then on "The Terminal" (2004) and "War of the Worlds" and "Munich" (2005) he started to use Classic Softs instead of nets, sort of alternating between them.  Then with "War Horse" (2011) and "Lincoln" (2012) you hardly see any nets and the level of Classic Soft diffusion seems lowered, particularly in "Lincoln". "Bridge of Spies" was even less filtered for the most part, and so was "BFG".  He still uses other filters now and then, "Munich" had a scene that was a night raid in Beirut shot with ProMists, and there was the foggy battle in "War Horse" shot with Double-Fogs.


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#29 Jay Young

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 04:28 AM

 

I've been meaning to test them on the Leica Summilux lenses because they make a little metal ring for rear filters that snaps over the back end of the lens.

 

That seems WAY easier than snot tape....

 

Also, I believe those stills were from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, not sure if you meant to post those or snaps from the previous film.


Edited by Jay Young, 17 July 2016 - 04:32 AM.

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#30 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 10:53 AM

 

That seems WAY easier than snot tape....

 

Also, I believe those stills were from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, not sure if you meant to post those or snaps from the previous film.

 

Thanks, I corrected the post!


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#31 Luke Lenoir

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 06:58 PM

As for nets not being as nice on close-ups, we'll just have to agree to disagree, I tend to think that's when they work the best but mainly because they are usually too heavy for wider shots.

 

I don't disagree with you. I can think of a couple of examples were I loved the way it looked.

 

The way Robert Richardson used them on Bringing Out The Dead gave that movie a very distinct atmosphere that complimented the story as well as the character's perspectives.  

 

w6WYfwZkvHgbR9OkThr2N7aIh87.jpg

 

They do however have a lot of potential to cheapen the image, and (to me) Minority Report, AI, and Catch Me If You Can are examples of that. I just wasn't a fan. It was too heavy-handed and it seemed unmotivated - especially with Catch Me - that one would have been a perfect opportunity to emulate a variety of different looks, with the story going from the 50's into the 70's...kind of like how Scorsese/Ballhaus did with Goodfellas.

 

vlcsnap-2016-07-17-19h59m46s93.jpg

 

I did like how he used them on War Of The Worlds and Munich though - especially on the back lit wider shots like in the image I posted. But I personally think they look best when used in black and white.

 

Here is a still from a noir themed short I was working on. I was using a cheap black hose from cvs over the front of the lens.

 

TQ1.jpg

 

They are great if you're going for a vintage noir look.


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#32 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 08:21 PM

I think the key is to pair a bloomy diffusion like nets with backlight and contrast. It always looks great with a dark background. 

 

 

I think that's correct too -- they work best with high-contrast lighting and processes like ENR, skip-bleach printing, etc., i.e. things that tend to increase the feeling of sharpness and depth, which counteracts some of the mushiness and contrast loss you get with heavy diffusion on the lens.


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#33 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 12:37 AM

Looking at some other movies shot with nets... most people know about Gil Taylor using nets in the Tatooine scenes in "Star Wars", where it might have worked better had they not run into such overcast weather on location, but after that, Taylor shot "Flash Gordon" and "Dracula" extensively with nets and I think both movies look quite nice.  In "Flash Gordon" it worked particularly well because of all of the reflective costumes, and for "Dracula" it created a romantic tone.  

 

One thing I have noticed in a number of films are scenes where the nets are pulled probably because of some flaring problem, often replaced with some other diffusion -- in the case of "Flash Gordon" and "Dracula", it looks like a fog filter replaced the net now and then.  In two different scenes in "Dracula", once when Lawrence Olivier is climbing into a grave that leads to a tunnel, and another when he is entering the castle, carrying a lantern in both cases, on one side of the entrance, there is a fog filter, but when he enters the next space, it switches to a net.

 

flashgordon1.jpg

 

flashgordon2.jpg

flashgordon3.jpg
 
dracula1.jpg
 
This is one of the scenes where the filter changes once they go through the door:
dracula2.jpg
 
dracula3.jpg

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#34 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 05:32 PM

Looking again at the blu-ray of "Fiddler on the Roof", it's interesting to me how subtle the brown pantyhose net filtration is.  Part of the reason I think is that there are rarely any bright lights or the sun pointed into the lens, and the slowness of the film stock meant that even indoors there weren't too many hot windows to flare the filter.  Ozzie Morris must have had the netting stretched as wide as it could go to keep the effect lower.

 

You can see here that even in backlight, the net doesn't create much halation, maybe because the sun was softer, hazier in Yugoslavia where they shot the movie:

fiddler1.jpg

 

In the barn scenes the hot gaps in the roof flare just a little but some of that could also be the lens optics more than the net:

fiddler2.jpg

 

Since much of the film was shot with an anamorphic zoom, which was f/4-5.6 at the widest, some day scenes at the wide-angle end can sometimes have a faint chainlink fence artifact in the blue skies from having too much depth of field and seeing the net start to come into focus:

fiddler3.jpg

The artifact is easier to see in motion as the camera pans around than in a still frame.


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#35 Luke Lenoir

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 09:41 PM

David Hamilton used them a lot in his films/photography

 

tumblr_l7bue5cx5n1qzsxtao1_500.jpg

 

John Seitz as well

 

sunset-boulevard.jpg

 

And Robert Burks and Bernard Knowles used nets too for their work with Hitchcock, but on the older films its hard to tell what's a net and whats petroleum product

 

39-steps-hitchcock-1935_18.jpg

 

 

 

 


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#36 Luke Lenoir

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 09:59 PM

And the new craze in diy filmmaking is the $600 daguerreotype achromat, which renders an effect similar to a net

 

tumblr_o5k8glwLgm1qzd0p8o1_1280.jpg


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#37 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 10:41 PM

A lot of that blue-ish halo effect in Hamilton's photos come from fog filters though I'm sure he also used nets.

Another popular diffusion in the 30's through 50's was a glass filter with concentric rings etched in it, sometimes called "dutos" in Europe because a version was made and used by a Hungarian photographers Jeno Dulovits and Mikos Toth. In the bokeh, you see a thumbprint type pattern of partial rings -- I've posted frames before from "Spellbound" and "Vertigo" showing the artifact.
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#38 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 10:46 PM

spellbound4.jpg
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#39 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 11:04 PM

vertigo5.jpg

 

Enlarged section showing the ring pattern from the concentric ring diffusion filter:

vertigo6.jpg


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#40 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 19 July 2016 - 10:19 PM

I find it a bit hard to follow this thread because people don't seem to descriminate between nets in front or at the rear of a lens.

 

I keep wondering this.  For those who have used soft net filters in front,  say the Tiffen SN blacks...Suppose you were trying to achieve the same filter effect at wide and telephoto...what filter would you choose?

 

Does the scale of the mesh need to stay the same relative to the captured frame?  So if for example you doubled the field of view you would double the mesh size.  Putting it another way,  if we wanted the same filter reffect,  would we keep the same number of mesh cells within the field of view?  And this could be easily achieved with mesh cells of various sizes.

 

On a simple level this reasoning seems sound, but I wonder....If the refraction,  or whatever else causing the effect...is not physically scalable,  in a simple linear sense, then what can we look for.  Untill the principals are understood,  then perhaps a hotch potch of experimental familiarity,  expertse and artistry is the most usefull thing.  Hard to discuss and usefully talk about though.


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