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NEON Issues


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#1 Christopher Wedding

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 12:18 PM

I'm shooting in a bar that has tons of neon lights everywhere, and don't have the opportunity to shoot any tests.

1. I want to make sure I'm exposing properly for them. I'm shooting on 7277 320T and when I meter them at 320 the hottest part is reading somewhere around a 22. So if I'm shooting around an F4 all day is that going to look fine and be readable without to much glow into other areas of the frame (not glow that it causes on the wall, but glow from being too bright like a halo effect. Isn't alot of over exposure OK when it's so chromatically biased in favor of red?)

2. Will too much red neon saturation look horrible once it gets telecine'd to a digital medium like Digibeta? It's a music video, so we're living in NTSC after the shoot.

3. Should I be worried about flares/ghosting on longer lens with filters and neon lights in the frame? Any tips or examples with neon in the frame.

Thanks for any insight.

Chris
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 12:21 PM

Isn't 7277 obsolete?
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#3 Christopher Wedding

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 12:36 PM

Isn't 7277 obsolete?



Yup, it's totally retired. Thanks for the heads up....Looks like I'll be using 7229 500T Vision2. I wanted the 7277 B/c of the low contrast for telecine, is the 29 comparable?

David, any experience with neon you can share?

Edited by Christopher Wedding, 15 June 2006 - 12:38 PM.

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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 12:39 PM

Yes, Expression 500T is a good replacement to '77 -- I think it's even a little sharper than '77. But personally, in Super-16, I would worry more about grain than contrast; the regular Vision-2 stocks are not particularly HIGH in contrast afterall. If you were prepared to light to a T/4 on '77 (maybe rated at 250 ASA) then it wouldn't be a stretch to light for 7217 (200T). But then, in a low-light bar location, you may end up needing the speed of 500T.
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#5 Dan Goulder

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 01:09 PM

1. I want to make sure I'm exposing properly for them. I'm shooting on 7277 320T and when I meter them at 320 the hottest part is reading somewhere around a 22.

Something is wrong with either your meter, or your method of metering, if you're getting a reading for a T22 stop inside a bar. That's way off, by a number of stops. What are you using for lighting?
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#6 Christopher Wedding

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 01:24 PM

Something is wrong with either your meter, or your method of metering, if you're getting a reading for a T22 stop inside a bar. That's way off, by a number of stops. What are you using for lighting?


Sorry for the confusion, I am getting a 22 from a spot meter on the neon itself.

Thanks David, I was looking at a 200T as well, but I was worried about not being able to over expose a little....is that a valid concern? Also, I think grain is the last thing this director wants to see....any suggestions?

Best,
Chris
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 01:58 PM

It's the classic fear we all have: will I have enough light for 200T? Which is why so many people chicken out in the end and use 500T... ;)

But if you were prepared to shoot at T/4 at 320T, I don't see why you couldn't shoot at T/2.8 on 200T. Unless the bar has so much low-level ambience that you really need to be shooting at T/2 on 500T...
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#8 Stuart McCammon

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Posted 16 June 2006 - 12:31 AM

Have you checked into needing to swap the ballasts on the neons so they won't strobe? FYI
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#9 Michael Nash

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Posted 16 June 2006 - 03:27 AM

Neon won't strobe at 24fps. If in doubt about flicker when over/undercranking, just stick to the HMI safe rates.

I wouldn't be afraid of overexposing the neon. The film will hold enough detail for it to appear believable. But if you're concerned about it glowing too much or simply want to tone it down a bit, just plan on building up your light level.

There are special dimmers made for neon ballasts, although I've never used them. Suffice it to say you can't just throw a squeezer on the power supply. One trick for knocking down the brightness of neon is to throw bobbinet over the signs, although that can be hard to make look good if the signs are anything but small background. I guess you could use ND gel also, but I've never gone to the trouble.

Like any bright light source, you can get filter reflections and occasionally gate flare with certain framings.

I shot a short documentary about the Museum of Neon Art here in LA (MONA), and shot plenty of B-roll of every kind of neon fixture you can imagine, up close and also around town. This was with a Sony D-30 which only has a simple knee function to pull the highlights in (film is even better in this regard). I did vary my exposure depending on what I part of the glow I was trying to showcase, but I had no problems.

Here's a still shot in available light (not mine):
neon.jpg
http://www.neonmona....lash/index.html
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#10 timHealy

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Posted 16 June 2006 - 05:10 AM

There are special dimmers made for neon ballasts, although I've never used them. Suffice it to say you can't just throw a squeezer on the power supply. One trick for knocking down the brightness of neon is to throw bobbinet over the signs, although that can be hard to make look good if the signs are anything but small background. I guess you could use ND gel also, but I've never gone to the trouble.


Yes that is absolutely right. You need special dimmers for neon. They can be very helpful.

Just a word of warning: Use caution with neon. Unplug the units when working with them. They use very high voltages which will give you a really good kick. Don't even touch the wires when plugged in. They can arc to your hand if you're grounded (like touching a metal railing with one hand while touching neon cables with the other). When making the connections between the ballasts and the lamps, use the soft spongy rubber covers that are typically supplied. Regular electrical tape does not insulate those connections.

Best

Tim
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Tai Audio

Aerial Filmworks

Abel Cine

Paralinx LLC

Glidecam

Visual Products

Opal

rebotnix Technologies

Rig Wheels Passport

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Ritter Battery

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Technodolly

CineTape

FJS International, LLC

Broadcast Solutions Inc

The Slider

Wooden Camera

Metropolis Post

CineLab