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mastering techniques


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#1 peter kantor

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 06:46 PM

besides the ability to soften light, control the various intensities with wire and nets, creating desired shadow patterns, and introducing atmosphere to the equation.. are there any other techniques that you look for in a gaffer?
are there terms and expressions such as "thow a slash of light" " just a tad" "a scosh more" "give this a top chop" that are used all the time and part of the gaffers everyday language?

..also does lamp left refer to the left side if one is behind the light?

thanks much for responses, many of you are very generous!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 06:57 PM

Being organized and putting together a good electric crew and running the department smoothly. My lighting tends not to rise or fall in quality depending on the gaffer I use, but my speed when working does tremendously. Of course it's helpful when the gaffer "gets" what you're up to aesthetically and can anticipate what you need.
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#3 timHealy

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 11:08 PM

Don't forget the quality of the key grip and his crew in the equation.

Best

Tim
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#4 Bob Hayes

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 11:14 PM

..also does lamp left refer to the left side if one is behind the light?


Yes.
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#5 Bob Hayes

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 11:42 PM

I think gaffer is one of the more difficult jobs in the industry. You are working for and with one of the biggest egos on the set. The DP. The DP is also under an enormous amount of pressure to make the day and have the lighting look great.

1. The gaffer should know his craft and make sure the equipment is working properly.

2. He should run his crew well. That means hiring the right guys, giving them clear leadership, keeping moral and discipline high.

3. The gaffer must walk a fine line. Depending on the situation he needs to follow orders, collaborate, challenge bad decisions, make recommendations, and cover the DP's back. All the while making the DP feel supported and respected. That aint' easy.

4. I also feel my look is pretty consistent regardless of the gaffer. But, the better the gaffer the better the look is also true. I like a gaffer that lets me run the show the first couple of days. Once he sees the style I like to shoot and the units I like to use then I start to transfer the lighting into more of a collaboration. After I've shown him my tricks I want to see his. I'm open to hearing the gaffers take on what I'm doing and better ways he thinks it can be done. It takes a couple of days for the look to stabilize and sometimes it matures as we see the sets and learn the vibe of the show. It's the most fun when the gaffer and I are thinking together of cool ways to do things. The key grip can also have a huge impact on the collaboration. Particularly with taking light off of things. A good key grip makes the lighting look great. Electricians make the light and grips make the shadows. After I feel I am in sync with the gaffer sometimes I'll ask the him how he wants to light the set. Or I'll just give the gaffer the set and say have fun. This is after I have established the look and have been collaborating with the gaffer.

5. As funny as it may sound I want the gaffer, key grip, and operator to be the voices that say make it better. Take more time. I have a reputation for being a fast DP and I like to crew to keep an eye on me and contribute to keeping the quality high. I find this works better then me demanding the world and blaming the crew for not going fast enough. On one hand I have production, Producers, AD's, and Directors saying go faster. On the other hand I have the Gaffer, Key grip, and Camera crew saying make it great. And I sit in the middle and perform the balancing act.
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#6 peter kantor

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Posted 08 July 2006 - 08:22 AM

thanks, great insights!

another ques--what f-stop to you consider ideal to shoot at?
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#7 Ram Shani

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Posted 08 July 2006 - 08:51 AM

my gaffer is also my best friend me work together for 7 years now i don't have to even speak to him

i agree with everything said here and add that he need to have more practical solution and ides how to handle problems cause that's when you really need him

in the Israel system the gaffer is also cutting the light .

me coming from gaffing many years same times "scared" other gaffer i work with

on my last music video shoot we were so behind schedule and the light crew work so fast the rest of the day and we finished on time not one minute late

i kissed every one of them and i was the producer hero


as for the f stop technically the bast stop for a lens is two stoops close from the wide open number

so if the lens is 1.4 so the best stop is 2.8

a great DP Ricardo aharonovich is working always at 5.6 he said that the film system and the lens's work best at this stop also its make it easier to control contrast ratio
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Aerial Filmworks

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