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music video outtakes


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#1 Olivier Vanaschen

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 08:19 PM

Hello everybody,

we recently directed and shot a music video for a belgian band called "milk inc.". We won't really comment the music (you'll hear by yourself...). It was low budget as always but this time we had a production so we had to leave our homemade mini35 adapter at home this time which was more than fine for us. We could use proper equipment for a change :-)

For budget reasons, it was obvious we had to shoot on video. We don't have enough experience in film anyway (we come from still photography and just started experimenting with a K3). We really wanted to try the canon h1 with the p+s technick mini35 adapter despite the bad feedback we read on many forums and it worked quite well.

We went for cooke s4 lenses (first time we even saw cine lenses, wow what a change from our nikon lens set) We used a triangle jib to give the shot some movement without the hassle of putting a dolly in the middle of the woods. All the other shots were handheld. The camera setup got pretty big and heavy, especially if you ad IDX batteries, scorpio wireless follow-focus (+ batteries, didn't got the cable to plug it to the IDX), 4x4 matte-box,.. The batteries on the back made it a bit easier to balance but still it was really front heavy.

We knew from the very beginning focus was going to be tricky so we took a 9'' hd monitor which was connected to the HD-SDI output of the camera. Our AC (Johan Legraie) did a great job at pulling focus at f2.0, especially on a 135mm at 5am on the second night with about any marks.

We didn't have the time to test the camera setup because we had to go all the way to Köln in Germany to get the adapter just before the shoot so we read everything we could on the web. We left the camera on 3200k preset and tweaked the settings a bit, nothing too special: sharpness somewhere in the middle (we didn't turn it all the way down because the adapter already softens the picture), color-level a bit down. We did use the NR2 function which is a kind of in-camera noise reduction. It works a bit like the "Remove Grain" effect in After Effects but in real-time. It smoothes the image in a nice way, works really well on skin texture, gives a nice glamourous look. It does take away a bit of resolution but it was for SD finish anyway and the camera is pretty sharp, wouldn't probably use it for HD finish. We rated the setup at 120asa, must admit we only used our lightmeter at the beginning of the shoot to get and idea of what was needed and did the rest by looking at the HD monitor.

It was the biggest set we ever had to light. We had a night of pre-light that didn't went as planned. None of the props were there so we couldn't really light a scene that wasn't there so we did everything we could knowing we had to tweak the setups the nights after (2 nights shoot). It was also the first time we could work with a gaffer (Jean-Francois Metz) and he was just amazing. We wanted to play a blue overall atmosphere whith touches of warm light on the different characters (warmer on the singer than on the extras).

We didn't have that much power (35kva for the whole set including catering) so we took a couple fresnel HMIs (6k, two 2.5k, three 1.2k), two 2k arri tungsten fresnel, a couple 1k pars and four homemade 4-banks. We often had to light two scenes at the same time so we knew we had to play it smart, put on overall "blue" level by putting the HMI at different key positions and just turning them in one direction or another. We used the 2k tungsten (full CTS+diffusion) to create the warm key, also used the 4-banks, both 3200k and 5600k. We left the HMIs uncorrected, just used diffusion. We knew we could adapt the level of blue in post and wanted that strong color separation. The lights in the tree are fifteen 18w 4000k neon tubes (640).

We ended up not putting that much light, we were often more than a stop underexposed. This camera holds up underexposure really well, the blacks are really clean and the HDV compression is really good (red petals on dark background is a good test).

We shot in 1080 50i because we had to do many slow-motions in post. We simply converted the 50i to 50p in After Effects, it's an easy and effective method, you do loose some vertical resolution but in a SD finish it's impossible to see the difference (even in HD, you have to check frame by frame to actually see the loss). Color-correction was also done in After Effects. We must say we don't have that much trouble grading HDV especially with this camera. We hear many complains about artefacts and stuff but it all depends of what you actually have to do and which tools you use. If the picture is all red and you want to shift it to blue then you are in trouble (but why shoot it red then) but otherwise it's easier than grading DV in our opinion, you just have to be sublte and find the best "clean" method of doing the modifications. We graded the project in full uncompressed HD at 16bit to avoid creating new artefacts and use some great plugins from DFT (55mm) to tweak saturation, contrast,...

We must say we don't like the end result that much, let's be honest. The shoot was really intense, we didn't have enough time/crew/... to be able to really work the light as much as we wanted to. We lacked of flags to cut the light, not enough diffusion frame,... The crane operator had to leave early on the first night, not enough budget to get him the second night so the whole second night was handheld, heavy back pain at the end. We did learn a lot on this project, we're still happy we made it. Label and production did like the result so it's all good but we had to make many compromises during the editing so we thought we should edit the outtakes and make something out of it just for fun. We do like the outtakes edit more than the music video actually even if it's purely visual (the music video has no narration anyway...).

If you have any questions, please just ask, we'll try our best to answer.


Here are some stills taken from this outtakes edit:

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http://www.theblacks....be/temp/11.jpg

http://www.theblacks....be/temp/12.jpg


Here are some stills from the set

http://www.theblacks...mp/tt_set01.jpg

http://www.theblacks...mp/tt_set02.jpg

http://www.theblacks...mp/tt_set03.jpg

http://www.theblacks...mp/tt_set04.jpg


And some before/after color-correction

http://www.theblacks...t_grading01.jpg

http://www.theblacks...t_grading02.jpg

http://www.theblacks...t_grading03.jpg



Here's a link to the video: milk inc. - tainted love outtakes


We would also to thank the many members of the forum, we did learn a lot of things by reading your posts. Special thanks to M. David Mullen, Adam Frisch, Stephen Williams, Eric Steelberg,... for taking the time and having the patience to answer many many questions. It's really amazing to see such great cinematographers sharing their knowledge, thanks very very much, it's the best film school ever :-)


cheers,

take care

Olivier&Olan
the black sheep
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#2 Marc_Abernathy

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 09:18 PM

hey its cool to see folks with low/no budgets to post up here. it really puts things in perspective. i totally enjoyed your post and the time you took to detail things.. too bad your not in the states.. i would have done Steadicam for ya.. :-)

glad all went well despite the shortcomings and hey.. if the client liked it,, thats all that mattes isnt it? who cares how you get the shot as long as you get it! :-)
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#3 Olivier Vanaschen

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 07:22 AM

Thanks a lot Mark!

we're really used to work with really low to no budget, we know many people have to struggle with those kind of productions, so we hope this will somehow help by showing it's still possible to get things done. We use a lot of DIY equipement (35mm adapters, 4-banks, chinese lanterns,...). We started doing this a while ago on a short film called Marla. Back then, we published a small guide ( http://www.marlathem...s/justfacts.pdf ) where we did explain everything we could. We hope to write another guide really soon.

We recently shot a short film for a UK director using two Sony HDV with two homemade MINI35 adapters. We're currently editing a small reel from it. We're going to post it as soon as possible.

We'd love to have steadycam shots! Who knows, we may move to the States one day or another. Here there's really not much work, especially for young directors/DPs like us.

Yeah, it's all fine if the client did like it :-) They did look at us strangely during the shoot buy they were really happy at the online, it's always like this, we're pretty young so there's always a bit of a lack of trust at the beginning.

Thanks again,

Olivier Vanaschen & Olan Bowland
the black sheep
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#4 Mr. Shannon W. Rawls

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 11:20 AM

Sweet slow motion! I like, I like....
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#5 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 11:44 AM

From these stills I think you guys did a fantastic job with the limited resources you had. I laughed when I saw the flourescents in the tree because it's simple and so effective. Why not!

This is the best looking footage I've seen from that camera and a mini-35. Don't listen to what people complain about and don't make excuses for yourself. People complain about their results most of the time because they don' know how to use the equipment or light in the first place. It looks good and that's all that matters.
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#6 Alex Haspel

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 12:04 PM

congratulations, that looked great.
was that a camera shadow on the girl at the beginning, or something intentional?

how did you do the slow motion? it looked flawless too...


and from my personal experience, i don't really understand the moaning about the xl-h1...
i shot 2 projects with it recently,
one with mini35 and one without it but with lot's of artificial rain, still without any compression artefacts.

haven't seen any of the material yet, but from what i saw on the preview (pal) monitor, i really liked what i saw.

anyways, congratulations on your videoclip.
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#7 rbg

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 02:29 PM

BEAUTIFUL WORK!!
By far the best looking HDV/Mini-35 stuff I've seen.
I think your underlighting, may have actually helped the look???
Anyhow, how much color correction was done?
Again, really nice work!

RBG
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#8 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 04:18 PM

can you compare and contrast the G35, Redrockmicro M2, the PS Technic 35 and your homemade converter. Strengths and weaknesses

Discuss (cause your work looks gorgeous)

:)

Thanks

Rolfe
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#9 Olivier Vanaschen

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 06:46 PM

Thank you all so much for the nice words. It really means a lot to us, it pushes us to work even harder.

The shadow on the girl is a camera shadow, wasn't intentional. We should maybe cut that shot sooner in the outtakes edit. We had like 15min to shoot the scene, the sun was already rising, still had a couple of shots to get. The two dances did completely improvise the choregraphy, we prefered to just let it go, knowing we wouldn't need that much for the music video. We're operating the camera trying not to make it too obvious but still it's there.

For the slow-motion, we started by shooting in 50i (1/50 shutter, we prefered a slower shutter rather than putting gain or underexpose even more). The key to have proper slow motion from 50i or 60i is too avoid using frame-blending and simply deinterlace the 50 "half images" to full progressive images (50p). This is really simple in After Effects. Import the file in AE, check if the properties are right (in "Interpret footage"). DV should lower-field first, HDV upper-field first (check the best quality setting). Put the file in the comp, timestrech it to 200% and deactive frame-blending in the rendering option. If you edit in Premiere, you can even do it there, slow-down to 50%, check the "Field Properties" (right-click). Deactive frame-blending and import the whole project in AE, you're done.

It was the first time we did shoot with the XL-H1 and we just loved it. If we had the money we would probably buy it. For the same budget, we could have shot with a Varicam or HDCAM but we had to shoot in a format we could simply edit at home for budget and schedule reasons, otherwise it would have meant doing an offline in a studio or get a DV dub,... HDV was the best solution for us.

We always underexpose quite frankly when we work on video, it does help the look because what we really don't like about video is the way it handles the highlights. We often put the zebra at 90% and just don't let anything go above it as much as possible. We read in ASC Mag that Ed Lachman did also underexpose by at least a stop while shooting "A Prairie Home Companion" because he did prefer the look.

We do grade video a lot and we always about the same system. We're used to doing it in AE but it could be done in any compositing program, it's not based on a plugin. What we do is we do duplicate the picture's layer and put the copy in black and white. Then we change the transformation mode of the top layer to "soft light". It adds the top layer to the bottom layer. It's a kind of bleach-bypass simulation, that's why we need a low-con underexposed picture to start with. Then we tweak contrast by using curves on the two layers, add color to the top b/w layer,... You can also try to put the b/w layer under the color layer, so the color layer is in "soft light" mode. The effect is much stronger. It's not that we want a bleach-bypass look on every project we shoot but this method also changes the colors gradation,...kind of hard to explain. You can play by testing different b/w layer, choosing the green layer or the red layer as b/w, mixing them,... It affects more than just contrast and saturation.

It's really different than grading just on one layer, takes a bit of time to make it subtle enough. We never go against the original look during the grading, most is done in-camera, if it's blue at the beginning, it will stay blue at the end, maybe a different blue. We had a lot of masks on this project because we had to make the background darker, the sun was already rising is many shots. Also, we wanted to really separate the singer from the extras by the light. We tried to do as much as possible on set but we had to enhance this during the grading, making the space around her darker and less warm.

We tried all we could to get a beta G35 but couldn't manage to get one. We must say we're quite disappointed because we shoot with 35mm adapters for years now and could have tested it in real-life production a lot. We saw the different projects shot by Macgregror and Norm Li using this adapter and we're convinced it's probably the best out there with the Movietube. The ground glass (Microcrytalline Wax) seems superb. The bokeh seems good and basicaly the picture has a nice natural look. It seems to affect contrast a lot more than other adapters, it really has a look to it. Because of it's static GG, it's really close to the movietube. There might be issues with grain but from what I've seen it's not that bad even in HD. I know they are working on a vibrating version of the G35 which should be amazing. For now, this is the adapter we're waiting for, we hope they'll make a relay lens for the Canon XL cameras (shouldn't be too hard to make one from a nikon/canon macro lens on an mount adapter). If it's sells for 1500$ and has PL mount also, it's probably the best choice.

We tested the Micro35 at a rental company here, we're not impressed at all but I must say it might be because we only had the small old macro (55mm) and an old GG. We tested it on a Sony Z1 and the picture was quite good but the bokeh was too soft. For our taste, this adapter has about no look, it looks like basic video with shallow depth of field. The last tests we saw with this adapter and the HVX200 did show a huge improvement, the picture was sharper. They do change the GG quite often so it's hard to judge which one was used in which test,... We didn't found it really solid, the rod system is nice but it's just parts from Bogen/Manfrotto put together and with the system we tested, we tried everything but on a tripod the picture showed a strange waving due to the rotating GG. We should test the latest version to be able to really judge the quality of the system.

The P+S MINI35 is really good, the picture is not perfect (we do prefer the look of the G35 or Movietube, good bokeh but still could be better) but it works flawlessly, really nice handheld with H1 too. It's really solid, relay lens is good, it's pro equipment. Wouldn't recommend the old 300 serie. Too bad it's that expensive.

Haven't tested the Letus, SGPro, Brevis35,... but the Go35 seems really nice, excellent bokeh.

Our adapter is technicaly not that good, we use the Optosigma GG and condenser. It's really simple and cheap (about 200$ to make). For the moment, we cannot afford to buy any adapter and if we could, it would be the G35. Our adapter is static and does show a bit of grain which isn't that bad if you shoot HDV for SD finish. We use it on a FX1/Z1 and do like it's look. The bokeh is soft, there is some vignetting,...but it has a kind of organic look. If the G35 is 35mm then our adapter is more like reg 16mm :-) We'll post pictures of a short we shot with two of these adapters in extreme low-light/underexposure really soon.

Thanks again everybody!!!

Olivier Vanaschen & Olan Bowland
the black sheep

Edited by the black sheep, 30 July 2006 - 06:47 PM.

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#10 Paul Wizikowski

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 11:57 AM

Very intersting. There are a LOT of beautiful shots there. I see what you mean about wishing you had more time/gear to cut and diffuse the light more. That said, you have some great shots. I really like the Kino's in the tree. I would have liked to see more pronounced slow-mo in the music video. (more like outtakes edit) My one criticism, other than that, is that in a few of the wider shots of the group I feel the Lead Singer stands out too much from the group. And not in every wide but there are a few where she just feels too orange. For me what is practically there to motivate that strong color? It's an art piece with leeway for things like that but it stuck out to me.

Back to the praises...I'm gearing up for some night shoots, your stills are a great reference for what I'd like to go for. Thank you for your posting!
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#11 Olivier Vanaschen

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 05:03 PM

Thank you very much Paul! Yes, flags and diffusion often make the difference between good and great, we'll think more about this on the next project (and then probably won't have the time as always :D ).

We may have pushed the color separation a bit too far on some shots during the grading but we did like it when we did it. The editing and grading were a rush, I don't know if it's a normal schedule but we had like 4 1/2 days for the whole post-production (from capturing to digibeta copies). We found it pretty short especially on a desktop computer so there are some grading decisions we'd probably changed our mind about with a second look at it.

Thanks again for taking the time to watch our work and post a comment, it's always a great pleasure to have a feedback.

Olivier&Olan
the black sheep
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