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My first experience as a DP with Super-16


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#1 Patrick McGowan

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Posted 31 May 2007 - 07:29 PM

I recently completed a film for my advanced film class last semester. Before this I had done some video jobs as a DP, a few shorts and a documentary, but I had only shot 16mm for class assignments and other tests etc.

We shot mostly on a CP-16 which had been modified for super-16. Some material was shot on an Aaton A-minima including some shots that were done on a Jimmy Jib.

I shot Kodak 7201 (day exteriors), 7205 (day interiors), and 7218 (night interiors). I did one scene on 7217 and I was a little worried about using both 200T and 500T, but they are in different scenes and are not really near each other in the film.

Anyway, here are some stills.

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This was our "grip truck"
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I hope these links actually work there should be 5 pictures. Thanks for reading.

-Patrick
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#2 John Hall

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Posted 01 June 2007 - 09:00 PM

How did you handle focus on the Jib?

Did you have a remote trigger to start the camera, or did you have to start rolling film and then swing the jib into position?
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#3 Patrick McGowan

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 01:27 AM

We were planning on using the electronic lens drive system that the jib has and there was some kind of remote trigger, but both of these devices didn't work for us. The lens drive motor would just turn indefinitely whenever it was activated. The cables that activated the remote start and stop, I can't remember what exact type they were, wouldn't fit the Aaton.

So, the gaffer and I pulled focus by hand on a couple shots, like the in the top photo. A couple were done like you mentioned, by running the camera and then putting it into position. On a couple of the wider shots, the camera was far enough away from the subject that I could set a 12mm lens to infinity. I was also stopped down a bit and the depth of field was pretty deep.
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#4 David Hefner

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 03:08 AM

How was the Anton to shoot with. I'm going to be directing a S16mm feature in the fall and my DP has expresed interest in this camera. Was was your experience?
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#5 Patrick McGowan

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 02:33 PM

Hey sorry, I haven't checked back here in a while. Are you interested in the Aaton A-Minima? I think it's a great little camera, it is surprisingly small and light and beautiful for handheld. Despite it's reputation, it's not really that difficult to load. I only used it for certain scenes because as you may know, it only takes specially made 200ft loads. Having to switch out magazines every 200ft is annoying.

Edited by Patrick McGowan, 24 July 2007 - 02:35 PM.

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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 07:26 PM

Hey sorry, I haven't checked back here in a while. Are you interested in the Aaton A-Minima? I think it's a great little camera, it is surprisingly small and light and beautiful for handheld. Despite it's reputation, it's not really that difficult to load. I only used it for certain scenes because as you may know, it only takes specially made 200ft loads. Having to switch out magazines every 200ft is annoying.


Looks like a good time. My first short was with a CP-16, though mine was R16.

The a-minima is a great little camera. It's very easy to load, can be loaded in daylight, and is tiny. It's a bit tricky to thread, but you get used to it quick. I just use an orange stick to manipulate things and I can change mags in under a minute now.

Congrats, the first one is always important to you.
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#7 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 03:48 AM

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Hey Patrick, just curious about this production still. It seems quite low contrast and overcast for that day of shooting, so I'm wondering what kind of benefit you found in using the silk. Did it help to lighten one side of your actors more so you exposed for that. Or was it basically to just get a big more fill in there.

Just wondering what your strategy was for those conditions. :)
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#8 Patrick McGowan

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 11:11 PM

Hey Patrick, just curious about this production still. It seems quite low contrast and overcast for that day of shooting, so I'm wondering what kind of benefit you found in using the silk. Did it help to lighten one side of your actors more so you exposed for that. Or was it basically to just get a big more fill in there.

Just wondering what your strategy was for those conditions. :)


Hey Jonathan, I wasn't too overjoyed about shooting with overcast skies, but I guess it's my job to deal with whatever conditions I can get. I used the ultra bounce as a fill. I felt like the actors faces were looking a bit shadowy under their eyes. I wanted to fill in their faces and create whatever contrast I could by exposing for the brighter side like you mentioned. One of the benefits of the 6x frame rather than some beadboard was that sound used it to block some extraneous road noise.

In the picture, the bounce wasn't in position yet, and you can see our attention to safety as it wasn't roped down at all. :)

Edited by Patrick McGowan, 25 July 2007 - 11:13 PM.

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#9 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 02:12 AM

Hey Jonathan, I wasn't too overjoyed about shooting with overcast skies, but I guess it's my job to deal with whatever conditions I can get. I used the ultra bounce as a fill. I felt like the actors faces were looking a bit shadowy under their eyes. I wanted to fill in their faces and create whatever contrast I could by exposing for the brighter side like you mentioned.

Most of the time overcast skies are a benefit, not a drawback. With sunny skies you would have had much more trouble with shadowy eyes than you did. A gaffer I used to work with a lot called the clouds "God silk". Direct overhead sunlight is a major pain to control, and you end up flying huge frames of silk or other diffusion overhead. And then the background blows out and you have a whole other set of problems....
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#10 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 03:36 AM

Cool, thanks Patrick! That was my assumption, pretty much.

"God silk", that's brilliant

There's definitely a reason why most DP's (including myself) prefer direct sunlight for a backlight. Sunpath tracking software is a good investment :)
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#11 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 02:32 PM

Cool, thanks Patrick! That was my assumption, pretty much.

"God silk", that's brilliant

There's definitely a reason why most DP's (including myself) prefer direct sunlight for a backlight. Sunpath tracking software is a good investment :)


Certainly there are times when we can't get to scout a location properly, or see it at night
when it's for a day shoot or whatever but I'm curious if you have a location that you are
able to conveniently check out thoroughly, perhaps swinging by at different times of the day,
do you still find the sunpath tracking software helpful? I haven't used it so I'm wondering
how much of a difference it makes to your planning. Thanks.
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#12 ryan_bennett

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 03:05 PM

I recently completed a film for my advanced film class last semester. Before this I had done some video jobs as a DP, a few shorts and a documentary, but I had only shot 16mm for class assignments and other tests etc.


Just curious, which school?
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#13 Patrick McGowan

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 03:28 PM

Just curious, which school?



Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts
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#14 Michael Nash

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 10:25 PM

Most of the time overcast skies are a benefit, not a drawback.


I agree, but I still use reflectors with overcast skies all the time. It's true that the clouds tame the contrast ratio, but I've found that the skylight is usually too "toppy," even if it's mild. A little side/frontal bounce is more friendly on faces, and adds a little eyelight.

With video you sometimes have the problem of the sky just blowing out white when you properly expose for a face, so adding a little fill can help.
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