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Digital shots......to enhance film Cinematography!


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#1 Rajavel Olhiveeran

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 11:42 AM

hi all
recently i figured out that some DOPs across the globe have this habit of taking digital photographs for every scene/shot to get an to expose the film. it actually works like a polaroid....we can see the images then and there...with various different exposures and then choose ...at wat exposure to make it as the final.
but how can it work technically.....will the look of the digital shot really help the Cinematography.
forget about the latitude of film vs digital....other wise how can we MAKE USE of the DIGITAL still shots to ENHANCE CINEMATOGRPHY?
cheers!
thanks!
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#2 Matt Irwin

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 12:51 AM

The big advantage for shooting digital stills on set is that doing so provides a method for the DP to visually communicate the look that he wants to the lab/dailies timer/telecine colorist.

When I was a camera trainee, it was part of my job to handle the digital stills. We would take the picture from the camera position (usually of the stand-ins), go back to the truck and load the image into Photoshop, make a print, show it to the DP, then adjust and reprint the image based on the DP's notes. Once the DP approve the print, we would mark the scene number and printing instructions on the back of the print and send it off with the exposed film.
So instead of the timer getting only "print low key and moody" from a camera report as his reference, he sees a visual representation of how the DP wants the shot adjusted. Once we started doing this, all the dailies and tape transfers instantly looked more accurate.
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#3 Rajavel Olhiveeran

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 05:38 AM

So instead of the timer getting only "print low key and moody" from a camera report as his reference, he sees a visual representation of how the DP wants the shot adjusted. [/quote]

hi matt thanx.
little deviating from the topic....but how exactly does the lab......follow instructions like 'print low key and moody' reference. how is it possible printing photochemically.....and esp after photoshop work how can they match that reference.....(its possible for telecine only right?).....how else for the dailies!!
thanks
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#4 Matt Irwin

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 01:08 PM

For film dailies, you have to limit yourself to only using Photoshop's color balance and density adjustments that effect the overall image (NOT only highlights, only shadows, etc). That way, any changes made in Photoshop will translate to what the Hazeltine can do.

Sometimes the DP will establish what certain written printing instructions for the lab mean during testing. So "warm" may be X amount of yellow and X amount of red, etc. But this is still a subjective method. With a still, there's no guesswork.
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#5 janusz sikora

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 12:55 AM

The only time I will take stills is of the location before actual shooting. It helps me contemplating my lighting approach. Stills during the production.... I see no use for it... whats done is done... You can have telecine wizards do many things for you... but then whose job is it anyway...?!
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#6 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 04:27 AM

For film dailies, you have to limit yourself to only using Photoshop's color balance and density adjustments that effect the overall image (NOT only highlights, only shadows, etc). That way, any changes made in Photoshop will translate to what the Hazeltine can do.


how do you handle the fact that digital stills have less latitude / more contrast than a film print? if you light to a ratio that will look low key and contrasty on film won't it look "blown out on black" on a digital still? maybe the more expensive digital slr's do better? i haven't tried them.

/matt
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#7 Will Earl

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 05:46 AM

how do you handle the fact that digital stills have less latitude / more contrast than a film print? if you light to a ratio that will look low key and contrasty on film won't it look "blown out on black" on a digital still? maybe the more expensive digital slr's do better? i haven't tried them.


Think of it as providing a 'look' reference for the lab (timer, colourist), it's a way of communicating an idea in a visual form - similar to concept art or previs.

The technicial differences between film and digital don't (shouldn't) play that much of a factor in communicating a specific idea, like any other type of production art, it doesn't have to be fancy or detailed to get the point across - as long as the point gets across.

That being said you'd probably want a digital SLR to do the job through, not a point-and-click camera which gives you limited control. Although as long as you can get your idea across then it shouldn't really matter.
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#8 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 06:36 AM

yes, i know what you mean. makes perfect sense. it's not quite what i'm talking about though. when i shoot film i like to really use all of that latitude so i often, for example, overexpose the key by two stops, fill 8 stops under, and let the background go another 2 stops under that. if you shoot this with a digital camera you will get a half almost burnt out white face, an almost black half, and all on a pitch black canvas, hopefully crushed but often just noisy. no matter how much photoshop work you do you can never get a look that's even remotely similar to the smooth shadows and subtle detail you'll get on the film. it's just not there. i think the current trend of lighting by monitor and/or digital stills makes people fill way too much and not take advantage of all the film emulsion has to offer.

/matt
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#9 Will Earl

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Posted 28 October 2006 - 03:06 AM

I understand your fear that the differences between a digital still and film may misrepresent your intentions - if that's the case then write down any additional lab notes next to the printouts to help explain yourself or just not include the image reference, if the image reference is going to confuse the lab then don't include it.

Keep in mind that you'll most likely be handing these references over to the lab via printouts or jpegs (depending on your pipeline), are you going to be printing these out as contact sheets or full page photos; photo paper or plain paper? high quality or low quality prints? Do the printouts match what was onscreen? These type of issues are all going to effect you just as much as the latitude difference between film and digital.

This type of workflow isn't even close to foolproof, and you've brought up a very valid concern (one that could be solved by taking HDR images onset). Once you get a decent workflow up and running (disclaimer: which will likely contain a few hickups) for this sort of thing then it becomes more of a hypothetical problem than an actual problem.

Edited by Will Earl, 28 October 2006 - 03:07 AM.

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