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Just shot a test


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#1 MattGrover

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 07:41 PM

Hi all,

For any of you who've seen any of my other posts on here (yeah, cos I've posted sooo much and I'm sooo popular! :blink: ), I've been asked to DP a noir film for a director friend who I've previously cam/lighting asstd for on a couple of his shorts.

As this is my first time lighting something where I had to decide rather than be told where to put it, I've been fretting more than a little!! :( So basically after doing some research, asking some questions and reading through various books and notes from film school, we managed to get a short test shoot done.

I've pasted a hyperlink to the page I just put up for the director to look at and would appreciate any views or comments anyone has on the grabs there :)

So you know, we're prepping for a Noir thriller (ignore the lack of costume and set dressing in the shots, it's a very early test), more than likely shooting on a Z1 and for my first "DP" (quotes cos that's what the director's calling me!) job, more than a little challenging.

This test was shot on an XL1s, we had a kit of four 800W redheads (+various diffusion bits), in the shots on there at the mo, only two were used.

Thanks and I look forward to hearing your comments, initial impressions, etc.

Matt

http://www.mattgrover.me.uk/uru.htm
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#2 Greg Gross

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 08:30 PM

I'm curious as to what lens your using here. Is it a canon,if you wish to respond? Its sort of hard
to critique without costume,script. It does give me a noir feeling,stirs my emotions. Can you give
us a pitch,story,some script? Of course you are blown out here some. From my stand point as a
professional photographer thats really no problem and can be corrected for. I've only shot in color
(dv with two pd-170's) for direct to dvd production and of course did not have any difficulty with
exposure/white balance. I have not shot any dv in b&w but I plan to. I like camera at low advantage
point looking up at male actor. Is he mad,angry? How does this frame relate to the female actor? For
my dvd feature I shot 4:3 and went 16:9 in post. I personally do not like the shadow on the wall of
the male actor(its probably the still photographer in me)I reserve shadows(profile shadows for a spe-
cific mood,purpose). Is there a certain mood that you wanted to show in this frame with the large pro-
file shadow? I see the shadow as smaller and not so sharply defined in my mind. I'm assuming now
that this is not the set and that the actors are out of costume. Can you please give us a pitch on the
story. I assume you are shooting 24fps. My impression of the "focusing" in these frames,is that the
camera was handheld,shoulder mounted. Am I correct? I personally have no problem with the framing,
however I'm not saying that I would not do it differently. Thank you for your post and I've enjoyed view-
ing it.

Greg Gross
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#3 Greg Gross

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Posted 15 January 2006 - 04:49 AM

I wanted to get back to you again on your test shooting. My girlfriend was shooting an HD
commercial tonight and I was the chef. She had me cook for the cast and crew. I fed them
pasta,meatballs,sauce,salad,garlic bread,cheese cake. So now its all over,the martini shots
are over and I've got my kitchen back to normal. I'm using wifi here in the kitchen with my
laptop,just set wifi up a few days ago. I just wanted to say that when I shoot b&w I try to use
a one light source if I can. I have even lighting to the edges(all edges) of the source. The limit
with this one source is if it has to be too large(extremely large) and then its not practical. I can
create a range of shadows,fills when using this one source as key and fill light. I like to control
intensity by moving light back from subjects. If you get use to doing this you can determine your
f/t stop without a meter. Of course you really donot need a meter at all but that Is highly debatable
on the forum, I believe because of the varied experience of the members here. I would encourage
you to get a sound hold on photography principles,it will help you immensely and save you a lot of
time. Do not be afraid to bring your key close to the camera, I run into DP's who never do this and
just do not seem to be aware of its signifigance. Photograhers are use to having a key light close
to the camera and also use to moving light around camera axis. The reason I would use a one light
source myself is because it gives me a style,its my signature. I swear just about every film I see is
lit with large soft light sources. I like low light photograhy as was shown in the film "Geisha", a truly
beautiful film. Michelle Yeoh was photographed so beautifully it brought me to tears,even as she aged
in the film she was so beautiful. I would have liked to see what just one light sources used appropriately
could have achieved here. Of course use of reflectors also. If you can get back with your story line for
us please do so. If you can post shots with actors in costume on working set that would be great. Best
of luck with your production. Do not be afraid to create shadows, use of hard light is not against the law.

Greg Gross
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#4 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 15 January 2006 - 06:35 AM

Hello,
Very nice indeed, I would probably use less light on the walls and especially for the female actor, also more direct light on her, or 45H-45V degrees and not sidelighting. A low contrast filter or soft-fx with hard lighting and some overexposure would be nice also, but try to keep the blacks rich.
Dimitrios Koukas
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#5 MattGrover

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Posted 15 January 2006 - 08:33 AM

Hi Greg,

Thanks for the HUGE posts!! ;) before I answer what i can, I forgot to mention that the rushes were desaturated and cropped in FCP. The XL1 shot in colour (can you get the viewfinder b&w???) and we worked to 16:9 framing guides.

Lens = standard 16x Canon (XL 5.4-86.4MM), unfortunatly in my infintie wisdom I forgot to run off any log sheets and thus didn't note the poxy stop! :angry:

The low angle shot relates to the 2-shot where she's holding his arm, he's got up to walk away from the conversation and she's stopping him, the camera is just off to the left of her (on the pic there's a small part of her face, bottom right, just outside the safe area). I do like this shot, although looking at it I think maybe there should be a shallower DoF, throwing the celing out of focus??

The profile shadow on the wall, at the time we thought looked quite good, we did shoot a bit with the Actress conversing with the shadow, not sure if it works for this scene. I used two lights for this because of the 2-shot conversation setup, one key for each actor, we could have done with some bouce for fill I think, but because of the noir feel required, I'm trying to figure out the whole shadows over light thing.

The camera was tripod mounted at all times, so I'm interested to know why it appears handheld to you. The test was shot 25fps and the 'real' shoot probably will be as well (because of using Z1).


Hi Dimitrios,

I'm guessing what you're saying here is the lights (on Amber for example) should've been further round behind her, as it's currently lighting her too much from the side?? Also I thought I was overexposed and that was bad?? Would moving the light further round, direct less light onto the wal??

Thankyou both for you comments :)
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#6 Chris Fernando

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Posted 15 January 2006 - 01:09 PM

Matt,
A bit too much shadow detail for what I equate with "film noir". I can see what you are trying to do with the sharp shadows but there is something that just doesn't work for me with them. Maybe it's the shadow detail/black level thing again. Just my opinion. Best of luck. Keep posting.

Gotta go Colt's just kicked off. Go Bears!

Edited by CMPhern, 15 January 2006 - 01:12 PM.

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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 January 2006 - 01:29 PM

Small table lamps or wall sconces or other small lights would add some depth to the background. I would have made her key light in the close-up a little higher to get the nose and chin shadow lower. Not staging table scenes against a wall is always a good idea to allow you to key more from behind than in front.
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#8 MattGrover

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 04:37 AM

Once again, thanks for your comments guys!!! :)

Matt
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#9 Sean McHenry

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 12:31 AM

I may be wrong but in my head, a lot of the noir I have seen is almost limbo lit. It seems to me, things like Blade Runner have more like small pools of light illuminating the ares you are supposed to be drawn to rather than swathing the area in a 45,45(or more) 2K out wide, or a single large box light up high.

It also occurs to me that noir lighting is more realistic in most situations as it more accuratly, to me, represents what a night scene would look like to the naked eye. If a man is walking down the street at night he is not going to be hit with even light by a follow spot. He is going to be in near total darkness between light posts and a bit overblown from street lighting directly overhead. Dark areas in the scene are truely dark.

In television, the thing I am unfortunatly most familiar with, haveing been in it for 20+ years, there is a huge tendancy to make the scenery so flat it's laughable to consider it realistic lighting. Try to find any modeling in the faces you find on television or heaven forbid, in a local newscasters face.

I think noir lighting can be, and generally is the most realistic light in film. Sometimes it's over used I suppose or overly enhanced, like giving larger than life shadows in an alley or something. How often is a bright light source really on the ground shooting up like that unless it's from car headlights, and then, there would be a double shadow. Still, I suppose that's art direction and maybe not lighting per sey.

I took a class in lighting years ago from Imero Fiorentio. http://livedesignonl...orentino_james/ Been a long time.

Sean McHenry

Edited by Sean McHenry, 10 February 2006 - 12:36 AM.

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#10 Joshua Rheaume

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 05:26 AM

You should shorten up the depth of field on these shots; let us know what to look at.

Also do some color correcting on the test shots you have already composed, then show us them again to give us an idea of the mood your going for.





-Joshua.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 11:19 AM

Film Noir has its roots, visually, in two conflicting styles: Realism and German Expressionism. It covers a group of b&w crime films that emerged in the WW2 period.

Hence why it was both gritty & realistic (partially because many Noirs were lower in budget and had to shoot on location) yet shadowy & graphic, with projected shadows, strong dramatic lighting, etc. "Blade Runner" is not technically a classic Film Noir but it has echoes of that genre -- but "Blade Runner" is lit with more soft lighting than would have been used in an original b&w Film Noir of the late 1940's.
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