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#1 Chance Shirley

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 12:15 PM

I'm in pre-pre-production for a movie set on Mars. We'll be shooting on Super 16. I'm trying to figure out if there's a simple way to get a "Planet Mars" look without a lot of digital color correction in post.

If any of you have a minute, check out the attached photo and see if you have any suggestions for capturing a similar look. The main trick, I think, will be getting the sky to go from blue to a brownish yellow color.

While I'm asking, does anyone know how Soderbergh got that red/orange look for the desert sequences in TRAFFIC? That look might work for a Mars exterior.

I'm planning on doing some camera tests. I'm willing to try any filmstock/filter combination, I'm just not sure where to start.

Thanks...

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#2 Keith Mottram

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 12:53 PM

I'm in pre-pre-production for a movie set on Mars. We'll be shooting on Super 16. I'm trying to figure out if there's a simple way to get a "Planet Mars" look without a lot of digital color correction in post.

If any of you have a minute, check out the attached photo and see if you have any suggestions for capturing a similar look. The main trick, I think, will be getting the sky to go from blue to a brownish yellow color.

While I'm asking, does anyone know how Soderbergh got that red/orange look for the desert sequences in TRAFFIC? That look might work for a Mars exterior.

I'm planning on doing some camera tests. I'm willing to try any filmstock/filter combination, I'm just not sure where to start.

Thanks...


Traffic, if I'm not mistaken, were a combination of stocks and heavy filtering. just out of interest you say your shooting S16, I assume there will be no fx shots then?

Keith
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#3 Chance Shirley

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 01:02 PM

Keith wrote: "Just out of interest you say your shooting S16, I assume there will be no fx shots then?"

There will be some simple effects, but I'm hoping to do them all in-camera. Which is why I'm looking for filter/stock suggestions. I'm sure that I could take the footage and do a DI, and the colorist could get any look I wanted. But one of my goals with this project is to avoid any digital tinkering -- I'd like to make it happen on the negative. Or with the color-timing on the printer lights.
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 02:02 PM

Hi,

It strikes me as slightly perverse to take a production which would normally benefit from postproduction digital tweaks then make the arbitrary decision not to do any, but whatever you want to do, I guess. The following thoughts occur:

- Clearly, you'll want to find a location with the reddest possible terrain. This might be something like an open cast iron-ore mine, in which case the soil may well be made out of more or less the same sort of things as you find on Mars.

- The problem is the colour of the sky. You might therefore consider doing some of your exteriors at night, or shoot night-for-day, during magic hour or at sunset, when the blue may be more muted.

- The city of Los Angeles has a large built-in tobacco grad around the horizon, which may help. Isn't cheap gas great!

- Frame the sky out;

- Traffic had very bleached skies for some of the heavily processed stuff. That's quite hard to do in blue skies, but easier when it's overcast, especially if you were to shoot video or a reversal stock;

- A strong enough orange filter to make the sky look correct (a dusty brown) would probably make the rest of the scene far too orange, so while you might want to shoot it quite warm, this probably isn't a complete solution;

- Therefore, consider coloured grad filters, such as a sunset grad, although this will greatly limit framing and blocking;

- Conventional polarisation will tend to make the sky look an even deeper blue, but also darkens it, which isn't particularly correct for Mars but might be useful to impart an otherworldly feel. The much rarer coloured polarisers may be of interest, and were used on Planet of the Apes, but camera movement limitations will apply.

- You could make all of the props, costumes and makeup light blue, then filter them back to correct, leaving the landscape and sky reddish.

- If you have a motivation you could kick up a lot of dust (large wind FX fan) and/or blow smoke into the air, which will tend to desaturate the sky. The advantage here is that this can create a large volume of effect, without costing an enormous amount.

- Behind-the-scenes photos of the production of Dune show very large backdrops placed behind sand dunes. Costly but foolproof.

I would also be very cautious about assuming that a DI could solve all your problems. Doing sky replacements is not trivial, and is beyond what a DaVinci or similar will do well.

Phil
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#5 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 02:26 PM

I'd go with varying grades of tobacco filters, combined with tobacco grads for the sky when your action allows you to use them. Sepia might work as well, depending on your taste.

Some uncorrected overexposure might help with a sun-baked, otherworldly look, too.

Unless you've got lots of time for testing, I'd be tempted to just go part of the way in-camera, and finish the look in post.
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#6 Chance Shirley

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 06:25 PM

"It strikes me as slightly perverse..."

Well, I guess that's fair. Aside from perversion, I'm intersted in doing the movie non-digitally because 1) I'll probably finance it myself, and getting it done in camera is cheaper than digital post and 2) the movie is something of an homage to older monster/horro movies, and I'd like to make this movie the way they made those movies.

"Unless you've got lots of time for testing..."

Since I'm in the process of getting money together for the project, I actually do have a lot of time for testing.

Thanks for all the suggestions -- I'm sure they'll give me a good jumping-off point.
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#7 Jaan Shenberger

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 06:26 PM

there was an article in an issue of AC when the mars movie with val kilmer was released a few years ago. or maybe it was about the other depalma mars film released that year, i can't remember. but i remember it directly addressed getting the "mars red" look. one thing they mentioned was using orange reflectors for fill/bounce to address a certain problem (that i can't remember, of course).

but anyways, maybe that article will help if you get your hands on it.
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 10:39 PM

That was "Mission to Mars" -- Stephen Burum, ASC used copper reflectors to get rid of the blue cast to the shadows. However, they also ultimately timed the image fairly orangey anyway. Skies were digitally replaced.

"Red Planet" seemed to have digitally desaturated some daytime shots and then added a sepia-orange color cast over the monochrome image.

Personally, when the sky is washed out, I'd use Tobacco grads to brown it up, but when the sky is blue, I'd use Polas to keep it a rich blue so I could select that color in the DaVinci, or pull a key from it, and then correct it away from blue in post and make it brown. But I'd also in general try Tobacco filters.
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#9 Paul Bruening

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 06:03 PM

Seems to me that this is a perfect green screen situation.
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#10 Chance Shirley

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 06:34 PM

> Seems to me that this is a perfect green screen situation.

Again, I'm trying to avoid digital post. Though it might be fun to play with rear projection...

After examining a few samples I've found online, I think a tobacco lens filters is going to do the trick. Whenever I get around to doing some tests, I'll try to post some stills.

Thanks again...
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