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#1 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 11:33 AM

First off, I know I should have done a consistent In Production report as I was working on this short. I suck for not doing so.

Sometime during summer last year while I was almost done prepping Swingvote, my friend Keif Henley recommended me to take over as cinematographer for his friend Jake Leister's short film thesis at the College of Santa Fe. It turns out he had lost his cameraman to a feature film. Later I found out that guy took over my job on Swingvote. Funny.

Jake and I met and as I showed him my stuff we realized we shared an affinity for dark, underexposed atmospheric films. So we decided to work together on his short film, which happened after I prepped Game.

Also interesting is that he said he wanted to shoot at night exclusively, which is the thing I said I wouldn't do anymore of for no-budgets, due to the need for big lights and crew necessary to run them. So here I was embarking on the thing I just had swore I wouldn't do! And to round it off, all my usual accomplices were busy working on features, so it was basically just the two of us!

The script was pretty scary in that it contained at least a week and a half's worth of work out doors. The story is about a guy who cannot go through his front door for psychological reasons and seeks counseling about it. The counselor tells him to use the window to climb in and out of his house while he figures out a better way to deal with the situation. But the door itself takes a more direct approach and animates itself to talk to our man about it and convince him to go through the door. The script won me over with its quirky nature, but I was worried about the locations.

We had access to a smallish kit of tungsten Mole fresnel lights: a senior 5k, 2 junior 2ks, 2 baby's, 2 tweenies, 2 in-betweenies and a 1k zip box. We also had two 650w square wave Arri HMI's with lenses. Our grip package consisted of 5 C-stands, sandbags, 2 full 18x24 sets of flags. I though about using some Flos, but decide against it, I wnated to challenge myself to use nothing but hard lighting on this short. We rented a genny for a couple of nights, but otherwise we used only house circuits and never blue a fuse!

We shot on 7217 throughout as Jake was set on it. He feared too much grain should we use 7218. We also were set on shooting on S16 format. Camera packages included Eclair ACL, Aaton LTR and A-Minima. Lenses were Angeineux and Cooke Zooms. Very special thanks to Corey Weintraub for the use of his camera package.

The shoot went on for almost three months of Friday and Saturday all nighters, with the occasional Sunday thrown in as well. The main location was 30 miles out of town in the mountains. Great drive but full of windy curves, dangerous at 5 in the AM after a long night of moving stuff around.

So, we had no help, except our actors and a set carpenter, Mike, who did a great job with construction while working full time on an episodic shoot in town. His wife Robin did set dec for a couple of big scenes and was a great PA throughout the film. I was camera dept, grip, electrician, occasional set dec all rolled into one!
Jake was director, gaffer, grip, set dec and sound man all by himself!

With that said, the shoot was no doubt insane! We almost lost one of our cameras due to high winds knocking stuff down. The drive to and fro the mobile home was insane. The weather turn cold on us up there, and many more things I now forget.

Du Art processed the film and transfered the dailies, but they could never get them right. I got just about any aspect ratio, center extraction, 4x3 anamorphic, etc, but the 1.78 to 1 aspect ratio we shot. Not happy with Du Art's job.

HD transfer was done at Spy Post in SF, Ca by Carey Burens using a 2k Spirit DaVinci system on to 4:2:2 HDCAM and then captured as Pro Res 422 1080 24p in FCP.

The stills below came from a DVCPRO HD 720 24p down conversion. There will be a short clip posted soon I hope and then the entire short when Jake is done with it.

I learned a lot on this short, mostly never to do this kind of stuff again with no personnel, but it was fun and I am pretty happy with the results. The following grabs are some of my fave shots in no particular order:

Posted Image


More stills at:

http://www.flickr.co...57604091065100/
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#2 Billy Furnett

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 08:25 PM

Saul,

Some of the stills (Moonlit1, Sitting at door, Mouth, Smoke door) are very exciting, but wow,
Gunner just beautifully captures the wheels of something you?d rather not have pointing a shotgun at you turning in the actress. It?s great.

I hope you?ll have a clip soon.
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#3 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 09:53 PM

Saul,

Some of the stills (Moonlit1, Sitting at door, Mouth, Smoke door) are very exciting, but wow,
Gunner just beautifully captures the wheels of something you'd rather not have pointing a shotgun at you turning in the actress. It's great.

I hope you'll have a clip soon.


Why, thanks! I am glad someone had something to say about the pictures. There is some footage, but I haven't posted it yet. Will do as soon as I get a break.

Thank you for your (nice) comment.

S
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#4 David Auner aac

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 01:14 AM

Hi Saul,

these look really nice! they are a little on the too dark side on my (sRGB calibrated) monitor, especially against flickers white bg. And I envy you for considering your light package smallish, I'd rate it biggish in comparison to what I usually have on my sets. I've never had a 5k on any own (DP) show! And one more for ya, what are these 650W Arri HMIs? Never heard of these!

Cheers, Dave
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#5 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 09:31 AM

Hi Saul,

these look really nice! they are a little on the too dark side on my (sRGB calibrated) monitor, especially against flickers white bg. And I envy you for considering your light package smallish, I'd rate it biggish in comparison to what I usually have on my sets. I've never had a 5k on any own (DP) show! And one more for ya, what are these 650W Arri HMIs? Never heard of these!

Cheers, Dave


It was brain fart, I meant Arri Sun 575W HMI PARs, sorry.

About the picture darkness, the director and I wanted DARKNESS, that was one of the first things we talked about, so they are not dark enough for me! It may be the monitor difference. On mine they are not dark and I left them uncorrected before I posted them. They are footage grabs, and on my monitor they are close to what we saw when we transfered the footage. The telecine monitor used was a Sony CRT HD 40-something inch monitor.

The stock 7217 (and my smallish light package) kept it fairly bright/ low con despite the fact that I was underexposing down to 2 stops for the exterior stuff to get a night feel for it. The interior material was underexposed 1/3 or 2/3 of a stop depending on the shot, and some of it was overlit. My problem is that I get the blacks milky on most monitors . . . So if your monitor looks a little darker and contrastier, I would probably like that.

About the equipment. You have to remember I am in the US, home of the monster trucks and where bigger is defenitely better. Any self respecting production that doesn't have a couple of 18k's is a LOSER! I am exaggerating, but you get the gist. When I show stuff to producers, they always want to know what light packages I have used. Seemingly, material lit with a copuple of 18K's (and the large crew to man them) and shot on 35mm will give one as a DP a lot more respectability than a small light package and a S16 camera.

I once talked to this woman director/ producer (whom other people in this forum have worked with) who kept on saying "yeah, but have you lit for (non-anamorphic) 35mm?" as if you needed more light going from S16 to 35mm. They are different formats as we know and they differ on critical focus and depth of field, but light is light!

I have done plenty of small productions and while I like small lights, anything resembling an exterior night set, HAS to be powered by bigger lights if you need a wide shot . . .

Thanks for your kind words.

Edited by Saul Rodgar, 27 May 2008 - 09:34 AM.

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