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M. Valdemar short film


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#1 Tom Banks

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 01:48 AM

Here are some frame grabs from weekend #1 out of 2 of a film I'm doing. Not only am I the DoP on this film, but out of necessity I am producing it. It is a semi-student project with very low budget and unpaid actors, although we were able to get the majority of our equipment and camera free of charge.

The film is an adaptation from an Edgar Allen Poe short called "The Facts of the Case of M. Valdemar" We decided to set the film in the 1920s because that seemed suitable for the subject matter. This weekend we filmed at a ranch house in Brenham, Texas (about 2 hrs. outside of Houston). Next weekend we will continue shooting, on Saturday in a 1800's plantation home, and on Sunday back at the ranch and a scene in Houston.

This is the largest production I've ever had the opportunity to shoot and light, and I am currently a freshman in film school. Critique is greatly appreciated, and lighting this was probably one of the better learning experiences I've ever had. I could use some tips on trying to mimic candlelight.

Here are some stills:

I'm not too sure about the ND Grad, we shot another take without it.
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A frusturating attempt at mimicking candlelight.
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So thats about it. I'll post up some pictures next week after we have completed filming!

-Tom Banks
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#2 Chris Cooke

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 09:41 PM

I don't know what the mood in that first frame grab was supposed to be like but you captured an amazing moment that conjures up feelings of peace and at the same time some forshadowing of something negative that is about to happen, has happened or is happening. I like the ND grad on the sky, it creates depth and mystery. All of these grabs are very naturalistic with a touch of style.
Assuming that you are shooting in 24fps, how are you recording it. Are you shooting in Cine mode (I think they call it 24f)? Or are you shooting in interlaced (50i) and then de-interlacing your footage in post? How are you color correcting?
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#3 22west

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 12:04 AM

I don't know what the mood in that first frame grab was supposed to be like but you captured an amazing moment that conjures up feelings of peace and at the same time some forshadowing of something negative that is about to happen, has happened or is happening. I like the ND grad on the sky, it creates depth and mystery. All of these grabs are very naturalistic with a touch of style.
Assuming that you are shooting in 24fps, how are you recording it. Are you shooting in Cine mode (I think they call it 24f)? Or are you shooting in interlaced (50i) and then de-interlacing your footage in post? How are you color correcting?


Some really nice shots.

Yes, the candlelit scene is not quite what you wanted I'm sure.

I am also interested candlelit scenes - does anyone have any comments on what went wrong with this one?
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#4 Tom Banks

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 12:12 PM

Chris-
As I'm sure we all know, the Sony HDV cameras do not capture true 24p, they are always recording at 60i. However they have a mode called Cineframe that will mimic either 24p or 30p. I did some tests and found that the 24p mimic mode looks overly stroboscopic and almost like 15 or 10p so I decided to shoot on 30p. This looks much more smooth and fluid. I also tried to shoot with a shutter speed of 1/30th a lot of the time to give the motion a better look. I have not had time to look over a lot of the footage, but I paused on a few frames and I didn't find any interlacing artifacts.

Probably the best thing to do is shoot in 50i and maybe use their 25p mode, but I did not want to fool with converting it back to NTSC.

We also used the Cinetone 1 setting which basically lowers the black levels a little bit. They have a Cinetone 2 setting that lowers the blacks even more, but you wouldn't want to use that in chance of loosing picture information on the lower end of the spectrum. If I'm not satisfied with the black level it can always be lowered more in post.

So far no color correction has been done. All of those stills have come straight off the camera. I was very pleased with the camera's color pickup! Much better than I had expected.

I will post up more soon. We're shooting in a studio set tonight and then at a plantation this weekend.

Edited by TomBanks, 19 January 2006 - 12:14 PM.

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#5 Michael Collier

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 03:56 PM

yeah those ZU1s are beautiful looking, though they do loose a lot in the shadows naturally before you add the cine-look, I found the same thing shooting Beekeepers. It seems like the cineframe is 25p (probably pulled from 25i) and interlaced with a lame pulldown (two interlaced frames for every 4th frame or so) I am thinking its possible to pull it back out to the 25p and then do a better pulldown on the video. Maybe even slow the 25p to 24p and pitch-shift the audio. I dont think that would slow the video too much, and we can get to an even cadence with the pulldown.

I dont know. things to think about. you said your shooting 30i or p though?

Great shot on the crying scene though. And the ND grad isnt bad, It may be a bit to dense for how bright the sky probably was, but I think the same shot without the ND wouldnt be quite as nice.
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#6 Canney

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 02:21 PM

Wonderful quality on those pictures. I can't wait to get around and film something with my HVR-z1u.

Oh yeah I have done a candelight scene before and the key is to use real candels and a lot of them. If you don't want to have like five or six candels next to the person in the shot what you want to do is put them on either side of the camera. It should give you the light you need. Plus when using candel light you have to do it with like no sunlight at all comming into the shot or it will drown the candel light out. Also if you want to get really drastic you might want to turn off all your studio lights and use a couple candles in exchange per light. But the numbers of candels you use should depend on what is the minimum amount of light you need to get a decnet picture quality. Also make sure that when you line up the candels that it is in a line.

Edited by Canney, 28 January 2006 - 02:23 PM.

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#7 Tom Banks

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 03:44 AM

Hey guys,
We just finished logging the rest of the footage and I was able to get some more frame grabs. I put them all up on a website www.banksfilm.com/valdemar None of the footage and framegrabs have been corrected yet. Everything is taken directly from the camera.

Here are a few frames:

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Let me know if you have any questions, opinions, or suggestions!

Thanks,
Tom Banks
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#8 Chris Cooke

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 07:14 PM

I took the liberty of color correcting your images to my taste. However, I do not know the context of where these pics are in the story and the overall look that you're going for. This might help you or you might just look at the pics and say that's not my look. Doesn't bother me either way.

jenkinsjenkinscu047uecolorcorrect.jpg
picnicwide7nmcolorcorrect.jpg
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#9 Jaan Shenberger

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 07:39 PM

though i haven't read that story, there are some stills posted on your site that have a very Poe feel to them, great job...

http://www.banksfilm...emar/Image7.jpg
http://www.banksfilm...D...k CU 02.jpg
http://www.banksfilm...P... - Wide.jpg
http://www.banksfilm.....20Wide 02.jpg
http://www.banksfilm.....0David CU.jpg
http://www.banksfilm.....0Dolly 02.jpg

the grad in the wide at the dock feels a little strong, though that can easily be balanced out in post. i think the biggest flaw in the stills is something not necessarily your fault... the lead actor's wig. it doesn't pass off as very convincing and even kinda comedic.

i think with some good color grading it'll look pretty impressive considering you pulled off a period with little money.

hope this helps,
jaan
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