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"The Gladiators"


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#1 Jayson Crothers

Jayson Crothers
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  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 30 May 2008 - 02:51 PM

So I never got to keep a journal going through production, but I figured some thoughts afterwards might not be so bad.

I recently wrapped a feature called ?The Gladiators? ? it?s a feel-good baseball film about a former baseball star who was taken out of the game by a bad injury; a few bad decisions force him (against his will) to coach a failing college team and through him they become a winning team and he learns his place in the world. It was co-directed by 2 people who I?ve worked with in the past; they were executive producers on one of the earlier features I?d shot and we?ve stayed in touch over the years. They called me to shoot this film and were very clear about it being low-budget; it was very much under 6 figures and in many ways it was similar to a student shoot in terms of most of the people involved were volunteers or inexperienced. I?m not stating this in a negative way at all, more as a clarification for what the production was like and the resources (and often lack-there-of) we had. While this was probably one of the smallest features I?ve ever done, I was keen to shoot back in Arizona because I have a family member there who is having health problems and it gave me an opportunity to be able to work and also spend time with them. Additionally, it was a chance to put the RED through a feature and to be able to work with a few of my usual Arizona crew members (who were all wildly gracious by coming out for me for a fraction of their normal rates).

The shoot was my first experience with the RED camera ? I?d done some tests with the camera prior to the film and those tests led us to chose the RED for ?The Gladiators?.

The look of the film is very clean ? day exteriors were all about rich colors and the vibrant ?pop? of playing a game you love outside. We juxtaposed this with darkness and contrast for our night scenes and many interiors ? while the film is pretty light-hearted in terms of drama and conflict, the directors wanted a bolder, more dramatic look, so I tried to strike a balance of not having a film that was bright and cheery all the time, but also not to shoot it too stylized. I avoided fill virtually all of the time, instead preferring to use well placed key lights to wrap around and then using hard light for accents and to increase the overall ambience of a space. A lack of equipment played a large part in the look of the film, but that wasn?t a bad thing ? to a certain extent I enjoyed the challenge of using more hard light than I would have if given the choice and limited equipment forced me to REALLY think about what was important in the frame.

Since I suspect there will be a number of questions about how the camera worked, I?ll address all of my thoughts, compliments, and criticisms of the camera before addressing the shoot.

Overall I liked the camera ? I felt it was very simple to use and the learning curve was very shallow (unlike the first time I picked up an F900 and spent all night teaching myself what all the menus did). I felt the image quality was great ? not 35mm, but then I don?t feel like any digital system is up to 35mm yet. That?s not to say I might not be fooled into thinking I was looking at 35mm footage, but if compared I feel the difference would be apparent ? I also think the camera has many of the similar short-comings of most digital cinema cameras ? troubles with highlights and noise in underexposure. To be fair, it handled these better than any other digital camera I?ve shot a feature with.

PROS
35mm dof without the need for an adapter; this is a big plus in my opinion. The many options for slow-motion shooting and playback were also very useful since we shot A LOT of slow motion baseball stuff. The fact that I could shoot RAW images with a LUT being fed to the monitors meant I could make sure people saw what I wanted them to see, while also giving me the security of knowing if I was pushing it too far (which I tried to do as often as I could) that I?d have some safety net just in case. The camera body is very small, which often was useful. The image quality was great ? much better than an F900 or something similar for the price we paid for the rental.

CONS
Having to re-boot every time we swapped batteries was a headache; I was fortunate that my regular camera crew came out on the show with me and they can reload a 35mm camera in less time than it takes to re-boot the camera ? to be fair, I understand there are now some 3rd party devices that help alleviate this, but without these you?re dead in the water for around 90 seconds. At least twice a day we also had problems with the camera ?freezing? during a re-boot, necessitating us to shut it down again and re-starting the boot-up. This once cost us about 10 minutes while talent was on set waiting. One final curve ball I ran into for the re-boots was that every once in a while the camera would re-boot with a whole new color temperature and a random adjustment to the tint; we had to constantly check all the settings to make sure nothing changed after a re-boot. The camera doesn?t like the heat ? our day exteriors were often around 95 degrees, but even in the shade our camera kept threatening to overheat.

I found the effective asa to be 250 as opposed to 320; I felt, however, that this is really a matter of taste just like any film stock ? the recommended EI for 5218 might be 500 iso, but some feel it looks best at 400 and others at 640; I thought (from my tests) that the RED looked best at 250.

I love the LCD but didn?t care for the viewfinder; the LCD is large and bright and sharp whereas I found the viewfinder to be soft and difficult to judge focus from. In the future, I?ll probably leave the viewfinder at the rental house and take two LCD?s.

The body is an awkward shape for hand-held; admittedly we only had a couple of hand-held shots and because of that I didn?t invest much research into various handheld rigs and mounts, but with just a set of handgrips it was an awkward set-up that I didn?t much care for.

I love the fact that everything is so modular ? any odd configuration I might need was possible with a little time and that proved to be invaluable for a few small sets and odd set-ups.

Being able to essentially time my own dailies every night with RED Alert (I found this to be much faster and easier for my purposes than RED Cine) was also great ? I could time something and then kick out a TIFF and screen-grab (that way I?d have a reference image and an image with all the settings visible should I need to pass that information alone to anyone else down the line).

Since the images are RAW, it also means anyone can muck with them and it makes the need for Cinematographers to be fully involved with post-production all the more important.

I?ve read many complaints about the noisy shadows and I only once ran into this ? for the most part I never saw this, but that may have more to do with the way I lit the film.

The film was composed for 2:39:1 and we shot 4K 2:1 and cropped within that; our slow-motion work was often 72fps, 90fps, or 120 fps and was done at 2K 2:1.

We used no diffusion; our day exteriors almost always used a Polarizer and a variety of ND?s. I typically shot day exteriors at either a T4 or a T11; we all liked the look of the T4, but since we often did raking shots of players in the dugout or a stacked shot of a coach in the foreground and the team in the background, I?d jump to a T11 to maintain focus on everyone. Day interiors were typically shot at a T2.8 and night interiors were usually a T2/2.8.

Our lighting package was very small ? no generator, so everything was based off of house power. We only had 2 1200 HMI?s and then a small tungsten package which went from a couple of Mighty?s down to in-betweenies. A couple of kino flos rounded out the package (although this is now the fourth feature in a row that I?ve tried to avoid using kinos on and I must say I?m not missing them at all). I had a few homemade lights that got extensive use (more on that below). Our day exteriors always had a 12x12 bleached muslin and an 8x8 solid in play.

We used a set of Zeiss Superspeeds (18mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm) and a redzoom (18mm-50mm) for the run of the show. We had a few days with a B camera and on those days we also had an Angenieux 12-1 Optimo. Our rental house for both the camera and G&E was MP&E in Scottsdale, AZ and it was one of the finest experiences I?ve ever had with a rental house ? James Phillips was our contact there and he was instrumental in getting the film done with the equipment and budget we had; we had 100% support from him every second and he was invaluable and a pure joy to work with.

The redzoom was interesting ? I found that it?s actually a nice piece of glass and I preferred it to the superspeeds, but the housing itself feels very cheap and not well made made (my 1st AC disliked the lens a great deal because it pulled focus roughly). Someone commented that it ?felt like a cheap toy?, but a short zoom for that price is pretty incredible.

We had one very odd issue pop up with the camera ? at some point during the shoot we realized there was something wrong with the sensor and if we used a lens wider than 20mm the left 1/4 side of the frame would be soft. We noticed it on our monitor while setting up a wide shot of a baseball game and as soon as we could we set up a test to confirm it ? luckily our rental house was fantastic and 45 minutes after we called them there was another camera body on set. I?m still trying to track down an answer as to what happened or why.

As for the production ? it was often very trying. I have enormous respect for virtually everyone who contributed their time and energy to the film, and I am grateful for all of their help and eagerness. Having said that, it was often very frustrating because we had to move much slower than I?m use to because people were learning and often trying to do too much (one person = one job = most efficient). This was compounded by the professionals on set working very fast to get their work done, only to then have to sit around while everyone else trodded along with their work; some people got it and some didn?t ? I went back and read David?s postings about shooting ?The Quiet? to get some insight as to how he handled shooting an under-budgeted film with primarily inexperienced crew (thanks again for that David ? lots of good advice was found in there). It was a wildly ambitious film (lots of baseball games, many locations, etc) and with virtually no money, we had little equipment and even less crew to tackle the problems with ? still, we pulled off a lot of little miracles and I?m still in awe at what my regular crew members can do with so little.

One big thing I learned is that while baseball is boring to watch on TV, it?s even more tedious to shoot. The bigger thing I learned is that the only way to shoot baseball without it being totally mind-numbing is that the ?players? have to be able to actually play. We quickly discovered that most of our actors playing the various team members couldn?t really play baseball and that had an enormous impact on how we had to block and shoot games ? it meant a LOT of coverage because a simple play now had to be broken down into every single part in order to sell it. Here?s an example taken from a scene in the film:

Shot 1 ? Wide Shot - Camera is behind the pitcher; the ball is thrown and it?s a solid hit; the batter quickly runs out of frame.
Shot 2 ? Wide Shot - The short-stop quickly scoops up the ball and throws it to first base; we whip pan to first base in time to see the runner tagged out.

That?s how a play like that COULD have been shot, but here?s how we had to do it:

Shot 1: Wide Shot - Camera is behind the pitcher; he winds up for the throw.
Shot 2: Medium Shot - The pitcher finishes the wind-up and releases the ball past camera and out of frame (few of the pitchers could accurately pitch the ball).
Shot 3: Medium Shot - The batter hits the ball and runs out of frame (to ensure a hit, we often had the ball being pitched from very close to home plate ? we also would often have to roll take after take until we got a hit).
Shot 4: Close Up ? Ball rolls across ground and into a mitt that scoops it up.
Shot 5: Medium Shot ? The Short Stop scoops up the ball and throws it out of frame to first base.
Shot 6: Close Up ? The first baseman catches the ball.
Shot 7: Wide Shot ? The runner is tagged out at 1st base.

My biggest concern is the games having enough energy because we were able to do so few plays that utilized blocking and scope ? it was all done with pieces and hopefully the edit will be able to make it all seem like it flows.

Since pictures are worth a 1000 words, below are some frame grabs with some descriptions of what we did. To understand what you?re looking at, I brought everything (4k 2:1) into RED Alert and then exported 2K TIFF files (these were each 2048x1024, 12MB files). I created a reference library in IPhoto with these images and would apply the 2:39:1 crop using my framing chart shot during prep ? this would turn the images into 2048 x 857, 5MB files. I?d then export them as jpeg files, resulting in 800x334, 72KB files. Additionally, these have very little correction done to them ? except when noted, these images have the metadata applied and some contrast dialed back into them, but not much else. Production will likely be editing with the QT proxies, so I was concerned about everyone looking at the washed out RAW images for months and months and then getting use to them ? I created these frame grabs so everyone could have reference images to look at to keep in mind how we all originally wanted the film to look. I?d considered applying more of a ?look? to these images (something I know the directors will want to do later on), but then I was concerned they?d get too attached to an extreme version of something, so instead I corrected the images in RED Alert to match the clean look we were going after on set.

In no particular order??

Baseball_Day_Ext_WS_Behind_Pitcher.jpg

High_Angle_Baseball.jpg

Coach_MCU_Dugout_Speech.jpg

I was lucky that most of our day exteriors were shot on one field, and in the morning the sun backlit everything shot towards home-plate and in the afternoon it backlit everything shot towards the outfield. As the sun moved through-out the day it would become more of a side-light; I only had about 45 minutes of really uncooperative top-light every day and I would typically shoot near the dugout, where I was then able to control the light a bit easier. Our big challenge was to find new angles for every part of a play (we had around a dozen different games in the film). For the close-up over-the-shoulder shot we used the 12x12 bleached muslin to mold the light on his right side, but beyond that these are just available light.

Coach_Sunset_Dugout.jpg

This is one of my favorite scenes in the film because it really uses only images to tell the story ? we shot during the last 20 minutes of the day to get the shadows of the team walking past their sleeping coach after losing yet another game (this is at the height of the them losing and him making it obvious he couldn?t care less about the players or the game).

Coach_talks_to_god.jpg

This shot of the coach was done with just the sun as a backlight and an 8x8 bleached muslin for fill (there were a lot of trees around that prevented us from using a 12x12). I?m not thrilled with how his arms blow out, but we also did a wider version of this shot and since it?s a longer tracking shot (about 25?) there was no way for me to get the bounce source any closer to lower the extreme contrast.

Low_Running_Shot.jpg

I included this because I think it demonstrates the modular benefits of the camera ? a pivotal scene in the film has the coach running against the teams best player (the coach has had a terrible knee injury for years, or so he believes) and we chose to shoot the running portions with dialogue first to keep the talent as rested as possible. This meant the rest of the running stuff would be shot after they?d been running for a while and would be tired ? to create a sense of energy and speed, I suggested shooting wider lenses from some more extreme angles to create a sense of speed. For this shot, I was strapped into the side of a gator and the camera was stripped way down so I could handhold it out the side (still safely rigged of course) and get it low to the ground. This is done with the redzoom on approximately a 22mm about 4 inches off the ground. The camera was small enough that I was able to maintain this shot for an entire run around the baseball field.

Nite_Baseball_MS.jpg

Nite_Baseball_WS.jpg

We only had one night exterior game (largely because our schedule wouldn?t allow for many full overnight shoots) ? at 250 asa I found I was getting around a T2.2 across most of the field, so I was able to use almost exclusively available light (a single 1200 HMI was used to bring out the fence behind home-plate). The big problem was that all of those stadium lights are connected, so you can?t turn off selective units, meaning it?s just a wash of light from all directions ? I usually used a 12x12 muslin to flag off one light while simultaneously bouncing another light for some fill to keep it from going too dark ? I discovered this after first throwing up a 12x12 solid and found that there was then NO light on our talent. The wide shot was done about 10 minutes after sunset.

Coach_Fire_MWS.jpg

This was a tough night because there?s a long dialogue scene around a fire with the bulk of our principal cast (about 15 people). I asked production for a flame bar for the fire pit, intending on using the actual flame to light our talent so I could use the few lights I had to tackle the environment around them. In this shot there?s a mighty up high backlighting them and the background is a 1200 HMI with half correction bouncing into a 12x12 muslin. The tough part is that we began shooting and part way into the scene the flame bar stopped working ? it turned out that it wasn?t able to maintain the size of the flame without tripping a safety feature, so the second half of the scene had to be shot with the flame at half the intensity (I was already shooting at a T2, so now I bumped open to a T1.4/2 with the intention of balancing things out in color timing).

Bar_Int_CU.jpg

One thing I virtually always have to face when dealing with low budgets is a lack of production design ? I really believe good photography is 70% location and production design. To hide a lack of set decorating (or often the lack of extras) I shot a number of our night interiors at a T2 to maintain a very shallow depth of field and, in turn, hid everything we DIDN?T have. This scene was at a bar that I thought was really elegant, but without more extras it seemed vacant in a distracting manner. He?s lit with a homemade bat-strip light; it was built by my Chief Lighting Technician. It?s about 4 feet long with 6 sockets and we placed 100 watt frosted globes in each socket and then built an 18? chimera around the whole fixture that we then covered in 1000H ? in the end we had a unit that was about 2 feet wide, 4 ½ long, and less than 2 feet deep that was a very warm but incredibly soft 600 watt source ? at 7? I got around a T2/2.8. The background of this shot is lit with tweenies hitting some glasses and some MR-16 globes we hung overhead that built up the ambience.

Coach_Living_Room_Int.jpg

The bat-strip unit is keying him from frame left while a betweenie is off camera right; the betweenie is on the pin and then the center of the light is panned off of him, so the glow on his shoulder is coming from the fall-off from the center of the light. The background on frame right is just from that practical and the spill from the bat-strip, while the room in the background on frame left is a mighty bouncing up into a 4x8 beadboard up in the corner.

Coach_Nite_CU_Bedroom.jpg

Blown_Out_Coach.jpg

Another favorite sequence is when our coach wakes up from a series of nightmares and goes into the bathroom. This was the only scene where I noticed a little noise, but then again I was knowingly pushing the camera very far. This is lit with a single 4? daylight kino tube (the camera is color-balanced to half correct it) and there?s a 1?x1? mirror rigged high to put the little spot into his eyes. My notes tell me I shot this at a T1.4/2. When the coach goes into the bathroom I wanted to really emphasize his situation by taking the lighting to some extremes ? his greatest fear is being realized and he?s finally understanding that this is his life and he?ll never play ball again. He walks into the bathroom in a very dark silhouette and then turns on the lights to burn out his face while he?s talking to himself in the mirror (in this shot, the mirror being the camera). This is what?s great about having the trust of your director(s) ? we talked about it, they liked the idea, we set it up, they still liked it (even after I voiced a concern that maybe I?d gone too far) and we shot it ? originally even his beard was blown out and all you saw was his eyes, but we all agreed that while it was interesting, it was too much. To get an even wash of light on his face, I placed the bat-strip without any diffusion directly above the matte box and used 4 100 watt globes and shot a T2/2.8.

Jail_WS.jpg

Jail_MS.jpg

Our jail location was a county jail that has been closed for years ? there are no lights, a few filthy windows, and power had to be run up from two stories below. When we scouted the location everyone loved it, but I was adamant that we could only shoot there during a specific window of time when the sun would hit the windows and create enough ambience to get a T1.4; if we missed that window of time, it was a black whole in there. I liked the darker look since this is the characters lowest point in the film, so I was okay with the high contrast we?d get between the interiors and the blown out windows. The wide-shot has a 1200 HMI hitting the pillar on the right foreground and there?s 2 4' daylight kino tubes hidden behind another pillar that?s lighting the back of his head ? everything else is the ambient light from the dirty windows. In the medium-shot I turned on one more kino bulb and added some 250.

Jennifer_Classroom_WS.jpg

We spent a whole day in this classroom, and again it was a head scratching location ? there were no windows and the ceilings were about 25? high, so we couldn?t rig anything from above. The directors agreed that we wouldn?t block anything to require us to shoot towards the left side of the room, so I put up an 8x8 lite grid with a mighty through it and a 6x6 lite grid with a mighty through it as well to create a large soft source from the left side of the room. The beam of sunlight hitting the podium is from a 750 watt leko; I had another leko positioned for another beam of sunlight, but we had problems with the light and ended up not using it. The chairs in the foreground are being hit by a tweenie and the students in the room are being hit by a baby 1K. The stairway at the far left of frame has a tweenie bouncing into a 4?x4? beadbaord and there?s a 12x12 solid just off of frame right to create some negative fill for the teacher (all white walls in here of course).

Jennifer_Coffee_Shop_CU.jpg

This was one of the first things we shot on day 1 and it set the approach in many ways. This was done in a coffee shop that had floor to ceiling windows around 180 degrees of the entire shop ? there?s an awning outside that shaded off ambient light and there was never direct sunlight that came into the place ? to add to the fun, there was the equivalent to ND.45 on the windows. The shop used these very ugly sodium vapor lights to light the interior, so I turned those off and decided to light entirely from the windows. We placed both our 1200 HMI?s outside the windows ? the background HMI is going through a 6x6 lite grid and the HMI on her face is going through an 8x8 lite grid to soften it up on her. The hot spots in the background are created by 1 4?x4? shiny board and 2 1?x1? mirrors that are shooting hard sunlight into the room. There?s no fill being used. The day went slowly because it was windy and the mirrors needed lots of grip gear to keep them stable, which also meant it had to be undone to refocus the mirrors between shots, and then restabilized. I?d told the producers I needed two more HMI?s to make this day go efficiently, but was told there was no money. Then I was asked at lunch why we weren?t going faster and I reminded them that we had to essentially reset everything in between every take, whereas with only about $200.00 we could have set everything up and just plowed through it. As it was, we still wrapped at 12 hours and did our 7 pages, but with how we were shooting we could have been done a bit early or even got a few more angles.

Theatre_MWS.jpg

Johnny_Theatre_CU.jpg

We had 2 large scenes in a theatre and I was reminded that large black environments need massive amounts light because they just soak it all up. The 2-shot is part of a long dolly and it?s lit only by a leko back-lighting them and 2 mighty?s that are far away and cross-lighting the seats behind them (because of the size, the mighty's were essentially glorified room tone to bring the seats up). The curve ball for this day was that we planned to have virtually the whole day in this location, only to be told the day before that we would only have a half day here, so we had to cut some corners to get in and get out. The wide-shot was something the directors were keen on in terms of the way it?s lit, but I got a bit stuck coming in for the close-ups because that hard light wasn?t right for our actress, so I had a fairly big cheat for the lighting on her, which of course necessitated a bit cheat on him too. For this close-up there?s a baby through a 4x4 of 250, then another 4x4 of grid cloth in front of that right outside of frame that?s keying him. There?s a tweenie on the pin a panned off of him that?s providing the edge-light, and the bokeh in the background is provided by some metal chairs I stacked around in the background and then edge-lit with 2 Baby Juniors to create some depth (otherwise it?s just a black hole).

Coach_Office_WS_Day.jpg

Ah yes, our ?day interiors?. For a series of reasons, a great many of our day interior scenes were either shot at night or were shot during the day but the location was tented to maintain consistency (either because of the sunlight we wouldn?t be able to fight or because with only 2 HMI?s at my disposal I elected to use all Tungsten units). I also found that most of our locations had some form of ND gel on the windows. The top image is the first time we see the coaches new office ? there are two small windows off camera right that had ND6 built into them. I turned off the overhead fluorescents (those odd U shaped ones) and started with a mighty coming through a 6x6 silk in front of each window to start with some ambience. There?s a baby lighting the drawers on frame right and a Baby Junior hitting the shelf at the far left side of frame. The coach is being lit with a 1K Par that?s being cut with a 2x3 silk as a topper; the chairs in front of the desk are being hit with a leko.

GM_at_Coach_Office_Door.jpg

The second image is a reverse from the coaches office (although from a different day and a different scene) ? off to the left there?s a floor to ceiling window about 10 feet wide. To light this there?s a mickey through a 4x4 frame of 216 off camera left as a side light for him, another 4x4 of 250 with a mighty through it that?s creating the ambient light in the background, a baby on the pin is creating the hot streak on the background wall, and finally a leko hitting into a 4x4 beadboard off camera right and a little low to light his face.

Coach_Office_MS_2_of_2.jpg

In this third image there?s a leko hitting his arm but being cut off his face by a 2x3 silk. A baby is hitting the water cooler while another leko is creating the hot spot in the left background. A betweenie is hitting into a 4x4 beadboard off camera right to key fill him in a bit, and outside the window is a 4x8 beadboard with a mighty blasting into it to create the ?overexposed exterior? look.

Dad_CU_Flashback.jpg

Ex_Girlfriend_Flashback_CU.jpg

The flashbacks are the only images with some significant post manipulation ? these are also parts of some dreams the coach has through-out the film. The directors wanted a very distinctive look to these that was different from the rest of the film - they have a 50% desaturation applied to them, as well as crunching down the blacks and lifting the highlights (all done in RED Alert) to create a faux bleach bypass look. The part done on set was to tape a clear filter to the front of the matte box and I smeared KY Jelly around the filter to obscure and blur portions of the frame (an idea I got from someone on CML). I purposely kept something very hot in the frame that would flare the lens to create a weird blooming effect ? on the top image you see it clearly on the left of his face ? he?s being lit with 2 4x4 beadboards, one on each side of the camera to fill in his face and compensate against the sun for the large difference in contrast. The second image (his ex-fiancee) is being back-lit by an HMI with ½ yellow (the HMI was in place for an earlier scene and was convenient to shoot this quickly) and she?s being lit with a mighty coming through a 4x4 of 216 almost directly above camera ? again, the bloom on camera right is created by an actual flare we framed for.

GM_CU_Flashback.jpg

GM_Flashback_WS_2_of_2.jpg

GM_Flashback_WS_1_of_2.jpg

These images of the boss were interesting in that I added a moving light to create more distortion in the image. The Close up is lit with a 1K Par rimming his face and a 4x4 beadboard picking up a little spill to fill him in; there?s a 4x8 beadbaord with with a mighty blasting into it that?s creating the blooming flare on the right side of frame, and a leko is hitting the bottom right corner of the frame to create the little kick. The bokeh on frame left is actually a scorpion flashlight I?m pointing toward the KY filter and moving around the mattebox during the shot. The wide-shot is very easy to see the use of the KY for the blurred effects in the corners and the middle of the frame. There?s a 1K Par that?s edge-lighting the man on the right side of frame and then it?s also side-lighting the coach on frame left, a Baby Junior is pinned across the fireplace in the background. In the second wide-shot image (the first is towards the beginning of a dolly move and the second is towards the end) the background behind the coach is being front-lit by another 1K Par.
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#2 Jayson Crothers

Jayson Crothers
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Posted 30 May 2008 - 02:56 PM

Just a few others.

Hospital_Hallway_1_of_2.jpg

Hospital_Hallway_2_of_2.jpg

We lost a key location one day during lunch and had nowhere else to put it on the schedule, so we had a last minute scramble to find a new place to shoot a scene and re-think it. In the scene the coach gets bad news from his doctor that a surgery attempt to fix his knee has failed and it?s the last hope they had. The location we could shoot in was a very ugly hallway, but fortunately the directors were in favor of stretching reality in favor of something more visually interesting. With that in mind, we turned off every light and created a moody day interior ? the back wall is a mighty with a flag creating the hard cut and then there?s a baby into a 4?x8? vertical beadboard in the middle doorway on frame left that?s throwing some indirect light on him. We dolly down the hallway and end on a close up as his doctor gives him the bad news off screen. Considering how little time we had to put this all together, I?m happy with what we came up with and although it feels overly dramatic and now realistic, it works for the story.

Nite_INT_MWS_with_Dad___Baseball.jpg

Nite_Johnny_CU_Dad___Baseball.jpg

Another interior with virtually no production design and bare white walls ? they?re being keyed with the same bat-strip unit (all 6 globes) ? the door in the background is picking up a kick from a tweenie bouncing into a 4x4 beadboard at the end of the hallway and the light on the wall between them is a betweenie on a short stand that?s pinned right onto the wall. The close up is just a lens swap and moving the bat-strip around to get into his face a little more.

Wrigley_Magic_Hour_WS.jpg

Wrigley_Magic_Hour_CU.jpg

Our one magic hour scene and of course the only cloudy day during the whole shoot! Fortuately the overcast sky created all of the beautiful clouds for our wide-shot, but it also meant the ?sunset? aspect of the scene had to be artificially created. In the close-up I used a 1200 HMI with full CTO and ½ Straw. The overcast sky also meant we had about 30 fewer minutes of ambient light, which also hurt because this scene hadn?t been fully rehearsed, so we were racing to get everything shot with less time than expected.
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#3 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 05:37 PM

Great post Jason. The stills look great.
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#4 Max Jacoby

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 06:15 PM

Thanks for the extensive info Jason!

Like the look of the 2nd and 3rd still. Definitely some of the best Red footage I've seen so far, goes to show that the talent behind the camera is more important than the format a film is shot.
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#5 Richard Boddington

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 08:14 PM

goes to show that the talent behind the camera is more important than the format a film is shot.


Sacrilege!! Max go out and give thy self 50 stripes :D

I will say this, I find it quite easy now to pull Red stills out of a line-up, Red has a very unique look all its own.

R,
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#6 Max Jacoby

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 10:09 AM

Yep, you can tell from the way the highlights clip that it was shot on a digital camera.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 11:42 AM

Looks great, I can tell that Jayson is going to go far as a DP with talent like that -- it all looks much bigger in budget than you'd think from Jayson's descriptions. Producers must love him!
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#8 Richard Vialet

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 07:59 PM

Great stuff Jayson! Congrats! I especially love the image of the sleeping coach with his losing team's shadows walking across him, would love to see that in motion! I'm constantly inspired by the production diaries of you and David, keep 'em coming!

Quick question...in many of your posts, you mention "on the pin" sometimes when describing the set-up of a light...what does that mean exactly...i tried to use context clues and I think it just means spotted in but I wanted to make sure...

Anyways, great stuff and thanks for the insight.
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#9 Mike Williamson

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 02:09 AM

Thanks for putting up the great post, Jayson, love the stills. It's interesting to read your impressions of the Red camera and take a look at your shots, as with David's recent posts it gives me a better impression of what the camera can do in capable hands.

It sounds like you're happy with some aspects of the Red camera, what did you think of the camera's color reproduction? Did you feel that it produces a full range of colors? Any comparisons to film or HD?
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#10 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 06:32 PM

Amazing Jayson! The 4th still is very inspiring for me. Were there any other issues when using the RED handheld?
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#11 John Hoffler

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 08:19 AM

Great stuff, Jayson!

I love the shot of the coach in the dugout! And every shot in that second post is very inspirational.

That is probably the one of the most informational posts I've read on this site next to David's.

I've had some interesting discussions regarding the RED over the last two weeks and this was very helpful in getting some more answers and comparisons. (As well as David's shots from "Manure")

Edited by John Hoffler, 05 June 2008 - 08:22 AM.

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#12 Jayson Crothers

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 10:34 AM

Thanks for the feedback everyone (and especially thank you David for the compliment).

Richard - You're correct; "On the pin" means spotted in.

Mike - The color reproduction, overall, was good in my opinion - it seemed like it was always a little oversaturated, but that's a quick fix. As for a comparison to film and HD - it's not film (although it is filmic), but it's (in my opinion) better than standard HD. Dependent on the needs of a production, I believe I'd probably push for the RED over the F900 for low budget indies; that, of course, is presuming they have the resources for post, don't need a tape-based workflow, creatively want the shallow depth of field of 35mm versus HD, etc.

Chayse - No other issues with handheld - but as I said before, I'd never anticipated doing much handheld on the show, so we didn't put much time into testing out different rigs or configurations. I thought it was akin to doing handheld on any small camera like an HVX200 - the last time I did that I had the crew build custom-made hand-held rigs to put the cameras on our shoulders and forward away from our bodies - those small cameras are, in my opinion, tougher for hand-held than a large 35mm camera (or an F900) because of the way they balance on your shoulder and which muscles you have to use to operate them. I think with the right rig the camera would be fine for hand-held; I may have a show this summer using a couple RED's all handheld, so if that happens I'll be sure to report back what I find. I also think the RED LCD is a great tool for handheld in general - for those tough running shots you now have a bright, clear LCD that's VERY light-weight, so now you can get your eye away from the viewfinder and not be worried about poking your eye out. I shot a super fast feature in February in downtown LA on 2 HPX3000's and while I was at Birns & Sawyer they were telling me they wanted to see the RED LCDs going out on non-RED shoots because they were so small, light, and bright.
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#13 Tom Banks

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 12:10 PM

Hey Jayson, thanks for the insight. A few things I'm curious about:

Did the RED offer any guidelines in the viewfinder/monitor for cropping to 2.39? I know you shot a framing chart but I'm just wondering how you maintained your framing while shooting 2:1.

Also, I wasn't aware that you could apply LUTs to the monitors. I'm assuming this is correcting the fact that you are shooting below the recommended ASA, but does that mean you can only use RED's field monitors?
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#14 Jayson Crothers

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 01:07 PM

Hey Tom~

There's a selection of framelines you can choose from with the RED (if you want to get really nit-picky, their widescreen is listed as 2:40:1). One cool thing is that you can actually set two different framelines within your viewfinder and LCD - this is obviously useful for protecting for different deliverables (I set mine to the widescreen and the other to 16x9). The camera can only output these framelines to 2 sources, so the directors monitor was simply masked off with tape by the camera crew - when I removed the viewfinder (or LCD) and only had one or the other, the camera-generated framelines appeared on the directors monitor.

You can use any monitor you want - the image being sent to the monitor accounts for your camera settings in term of ASA, Color Temperature, Contrast, Tint, etc. The camera shoots RAW (so none of your settings affect the recorded image), but what's being sent to the monitor has the LUT applied to it. As I recall, we had a 17" Panasonic LCD - I was actually very unhappy with it because I don't like LCD's at all, but my requests for a 20" CRT (or even a 14") were shot down for cost reasons.
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#15 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 03:41 PM

I may have a show this summer using a couple RED's all handheld, so if that happens I'll be sure to report back what I find.

Jayson,
Here's something to consider for your next show.
Just yesterday I was over at Photosonics trying out the handheld rig they put together for us for the Red feature I start at the end of the month. They combined an Arri handheld bracket with some custom stuff of their own, and I found it to be very comfortable and stable. The shoulder support swivels and is designed to stay loose so that it will fit different shoulders, and also so it will keep contact with your shoulder when you shift position during a shot. The shoulder support also slides fore and aft, and left and right, so combined with the adjustability of the eyepiece bracket it's easy to find good balance and comfort.
I was worried about handheld for this show since we'll be shooting on boats and with dolphins, and handheld for a lot of it, and in those situations many times you don't get a second take. But now I feel great about it and am looking forward to handheld on this show.
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#16 Jayson Crothers

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 09:49 PM

Thanks Brad; I'll look into that if the show gets the go-ahead!
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#17 Bill Klayer

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 11:07 AM

Jason-

Great post. Extremely helpful to me as I am doing research for using Red on an upcoming project.
Was you issue with LCD monitors Red specific or personal taste?

Bill
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#18 Serge Teulon

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 01:04 PM

Hey Jayson,

Fantastic work and great detailed description of each shot!! Congratulations!!

I am interested if would you recommend it to a production that had agreed to shoot film but at last minute had to reduce costs? Even though they hadn't suggested to change format but were looking at other areas....i.e lighting etc...
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#19 Jayson Crothers

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 01:54 PM

Bill - I don't like LCD's in general - my comment was specific to the large monitors we had on set, not the on-board RED LCD; I think the RED on-board LCD is a great tool and one of the best aspects of the RED. I prefer to have CRT monitors on set because they're more accurate and you don't have to be sitting DIRECTLY in front of them to see them clearly.

Serge - Changing from film to RED won't change your costs in terms of lighting or grip equipment or the G&E crew - you'll need the same gear and the same people regardless of format. You'd lose the need for a loader, but would probably end up adding some form a Digital Tech (downloading footage and overseeing back-ups, etc.). Formats won't change a films equipment needs THAT much, but obviously with RED you lose the need for film stock, processing, telecine, etc. You do add a LOT of storage though, and those costs can be higher than you might expect depending on your needs.
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#20 Serge Teulon

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Posted 26 June 2008 - 08:01 AM

....Formats won't change a films equipment needs THAT much, but obviously with RED you lose the need for film stock, processing, telecine, etc. You do add a LOT of storage though, and those costs can be higher than you might expect depending on your needs.


Yeah sure I understand that....but hypothetically if red did provide to be a cheaper option than film would you bring that to the table or just not offer that possibility as an option?

btw just to say that reading your post and seeing your images has had quite an inspiring effect on me.

Thanks for sharing that!
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