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Establishing a consistent look


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#1 David W Scott

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 08:53 AM

After you have determined the look of a show, what do you prioritize as a "must-do" to maintain that look?

What are the photographic aspects which you find you must control or remain consistent with throughout a production, day-in and day-out, over every shot?

Because in production, every day can be different... weather, actors, blocking, pages needed...

I'm curious to learn from your experiences.
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#2 Bob Hayes

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 10:36 AM

It helps in pre-pro if you develop a book containing photos and other media that inspired your look. Then you can refer to it during the shooting process. Russell Carpenter turned me on to this concept and it works great. Even one photo helps.
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#3 Adam White

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 11:15 AM

It helps in pre-pro if you develop a book containing photos and other media that inspired your look. Then you can refer to it during the shooting process. Russell Carpenter turned me on to this concept and it works great. Even one photo helps.



If you pick up a copy of 'Cinematography' by Peter Ettedgui [Screencraft, 1999] there are several examples of how DoP have pieced these together and how effective they can be. :)
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#4 Dan Goulder

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 11:22 AM

After you have determined the look of a show, what do you prioritize as a "must-do" to maintain that look?

If your acquisition chain is to shoot on film, then transfer to video, newer telecines such as the Spirit can store "frame grabs" of your project in order that the colorist should be able to maintain a consistent look over time.
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#5 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 04:43 AM

Very good points by Bob Hayes. By establishing in-depth references with the director during pre-prod and making a "bible" for the production helps to make sure that everyone id on the same page.
To have a mutual understanding of WHY certain choices are being made is the key.
This is film making on a much higher level.
Also establishing a T stop for the various situations, consistent use of optics, filmstocks, filtration, exposure, lighting, set decoration, etc.
Egg rolls can be excellent but they really do stand out in a Tex-Mex menu.
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#6 David W Scott

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 12:48 PM

Thanks so much for your generous responses. If you'll indulge me a little further... :D

OK, so now you are on set. You've collected a "bible" of references. You've shot tests. Everything from here on "counts".

How rigid do you find you have to be to maintain that look? Do your references have an organic influence on how you work, or do you set very strict rules (i.e. though shalt always use this eyelight, though shalt always remain at T4, etc. etc.)

As a director, in pre-production I break down a script beat-by-beat and develop extensive notes. I continue to work with these references in rehearsal. On set, I (almost) never refer to any of that material, because that work is now an organic part of the result.

Is that comparable to the process for the DoP? Or do you keep the bible right there, in front of everyone (like your gaffer) for the whole shoot?

Edited by David W Scott, 28 September 2006 - 12:53 PM.

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#7 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 04:16 AM

What do you mean by "organic"?
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 05:06 AM

Hi,

I think this is probably why we colour time and grade things - there's simply a limit to the degree of consistency that's realistically achievable. It seems to me that this may be the reason why DI is becoming so popular - you can achieve a much more consistent finish with more powerful tools.

There is a danger that it can get monotonous, though. Films that don't use DI frequently have enormous inconsistency if you take two shots that happen far apart in the narrative; they look OK because the shot to shot changes are small. The temptation to tweak this and make everything consistent against a given standard can lead to blandness.

Phil
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#9 Hal Smith

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 07:27 AM

Am I missing something here? Quality movies had a consistent look long before DI, CGI, etc. were invented. All it took was a Cinematographer who knew his craft; good Art, Makeup, and Costume Departments; and an experienced Timer.
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#10 John Holland

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 10:25 AM

Well said Hal , getting really pissed off with tv engineers , who think they have invented wonderful [ digital] things , most films at cinema that have gone through a D.I. look much worse, than things made 30 years ago . John Holland .
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#11 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 11:02 AM

I agree as well for the most part. While digital and CGI has brought about a "we'll fix it in the mix" mentality that has made quality control slip substantially, it has also increased our pallette.
One big problem is that many "decision makers" ie. the cheque book think that movie history started with "Star Wars".
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#12 Adam White

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 11:44 AM

How rigid do you find you have to be to maintain that look?

Dans suggestions of

establishing a T stop for the various situations, consistent use of optics, filmstocks, filtration, exposure, lighting, set decoration, etc

are all areas that you can work with to attain consistancy. How strictly you adhere to them is up to you and the shots you want to achieve. Like anything else, the more you shoot, the more you learn the limits of what you can do. . .

Can anyone else advise some of the stylistic "rules" they have set themselves on recent work? Ive just done corporate bland stuff. . . :(
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#13 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 11:50 AM

Am I missing something here? Quality movies had a consistent look long before DI, CGI, etc. were invented. All it took was a Cinematographer who knew his craft; good Art, Makeup, and Costume Departments; and an experienced Timer.


Gordon Willis claimed that the first answer print was one light.

He also guarantied that his shots will cut together.

Just because not everyone can achieve his standards doesn't they should just chuck them.
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#14 Sam Wells

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 12:42 PM

Can anyone else advise some of the stylistic "rules" they have set themselves on recent work? Ive just done corporate bland stuff. . . :(


Above all avoid the bland !

-Sam
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