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Clips from a short film


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#1 Christopher Cafaro

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 12:00 PM

Hi all,

Just recently shot a short, and compiled a few clips.
Would love some feedback on the lighting/composition etc.
Shot on hvx 720p 24pn

http://anthonycafaro...sden620x360.mov

Thanks!

-Chris
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#2 Gus Sacks

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 08:24 AM

Hey Chris,

Thought I'd give you a little feedback...

So the main issue I have overall is that I have no idea what this story's about. I know this isn't the film; it's just a montage of clips, but in general I should be able to gather the premise from 3 minutes of footage. I think it's about an alcoholic? There's got to be a little more information in the imagery...

There's three other key things I think could really use work:

1. Lensing
2. Controlling Your Light
3. Movement, Blocking

Up-front note: this is going to be a bit harsh, but I know you want feedback so I thought I may as well go for it.

1. Lensing

On the HVX, when you use it in its widest angles, things look like absolute crap. I can only stand using it without a lens adapter that wide while doing cityscapes, etc, because otherwise it just distorts and is pretty grizzly. And at the same time it shows everything. The scene in the kid's childhood home, I'm assuming, just looks very clearly like a set, as does the weird loft (?) space. There's an unlimited amount of depth of field, even on the first few shots you put up. Walking back another 50 feet and dropping in an ND would definitely give you a much nicer image, and give the shot a little character.

There are times when there's ECUs, and that can work, but the one of his mouth in particular didn't really work, from an operational standpoint. I'm sure the focus was supposed to be sloppy, but it can really be nice if you've got a good focus puller working with you.

2. Controlling Your Light

There's light everywhere. And even when it's placed in a particular spot, it's either too hot or too dim. But that's HD. And it sucks; I know. But (and I'm sure you know this) HD's latitude (well, some HD, the HVX is one of them)is quite limited (about 4 stops), so you really have no room to guess when it comes to your levels. That shot of the bar with the girl wiping it down has the foreground with a tremendous amount of light compared to her, or the rest of the bar. It makes it less high-key and more low-con, and makes it look like a MOW. I can see a unit in his sunglasses at the bar, and it looks like you used a chimera, which you might want to re-consider if you're looking for a more selective, low-key unit.

Some shots look intentionally brightened in post (muddy blacks), and you might want to crush them a bit. Like in the bar fight at the end, and the one in the beginning.

The loft (?) situation has 3/4 shadows when he's walking around in that medium shot, and the spotlights are maybe 2/3 stop way over your clipping area. You should have your zebras on and should be checking them consistently. The whites on the checkerboard, his shirt, etc, are prominent, especially when you're shooting an African American or something in the midst of a black floor; it'll definitely pop. So use diffusion, scrims, duvey, nets, to just take all that down a little. You have to protect your highlights even moreso than your blacks. There will more than likely be information there, but not in the blown-out parts.

3. Movement

I noticed sticks, handheld, and a dolly shot. The dolly shot was particularly awkward in the montage, when he's at that guy's loft. The handheld was all a bit fuzzy and disorienting; I'm assuming to show his POV once he's been drinking. But I feel like you could use them a bit better, and to your advantage. (this is all opinion based) But using it in the flashback with the Dad going nuts... I see a little bit of it, but it doesn't seem to have much energy there. In my opinion, the best thing about handheld is the energy it can bring to a scene, not just the way you can cover multiple shots in one or two takes... but even then, you seem to be doing static handheld. I think you could more than likely have run around a bit more in that bar fight and not stayed so profile on them (if you wanted to, again opinion), or in the bathroom with the mirrors, float around a little more, as to not just wait for him to turn the mirror. Considering how each piece of movemen will play into the film as a whole, not just the scene as a whole, can be a good thing.

Either way, I liked a few things, definitely. The use of the mirrors in the bathroom was nice, the use of that lightbulb in the bathroom at the end was great (very pretty rim light and color temp). The opening montage of the streets is nice for us to get to know him, at least as a drunk.

I'm guessing this was an SVA thing?

Best of luck,
Gus
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#3 Christopher Cafaro

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 11:23 PM

Hey Gus, thanks for the reply.

I understand a lot of what your saying. I realized while shooting and while watching the footage
I have a lot to learn about where to put lights and how to use a particular unit in a certain situation.

The scene in the theater where the character is rehearsing for a play, I tried my hardest to keep as much light off his shirt and keep in on his face as much as possible using nets, but the dark skin and white shirt turned out to be bad news. Next time i'll use a smaller fixture so i can control it more.

In terms of the wide angle on the HVX. I agree with you, I hate to use it, especially when photographing people, but the director was dead set on having some distortion in that scene, especially on the medium of the kid. I tried to explain that it would look prettier if we went tighter, but he wouldn't have it so I gave in. By the way, that wasn't a set, it's an actual apartment in Bushwick.

Personally, I like the use of the wide and the unlimited depth of field in the opening shot and the wide of the theater. I was also all the way wide in the end bathroom scene.

The scene in the swanky, bar we're not seeing a chimera in his glasses, it's an inky with some diffusion on it. I caught it and we have most takes without it, I just missed it while assembling the montage.
What kind of unit should I use for more selective low key situations?

I see what your saying about the bar in the foreground being too bright compared to her. I'm glad you brought it to my attention, I should notice those things.

For the bathroom scene, there is a lot more of the floating in and out that you mentioned. It's about a 7 minute scene with a ton of long beats and the camera goes all over the place i assure you, It's just not all in the montage.
Your right that the turn of the mirror takes too long. I could have made it more dynamic.

Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to look at this and offer your critiques. This was exactly what i was looking for.

Not an SVA shoot, New York Film Academy. I was asked to shoot it a couple weeks before and it was a pretty crazy shoot.

Thanks again.
-Chris
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#4 alex m

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 12:14 AM

I think Sacks has some good points definitely, but one piece of advice I would stray from is in part 1. lensing. I think the wide stuff looks nice, and don't mind the distortion. Of course I would have to see a cut of the film before offering this, but I'm just going to assume anyway that since the story seems to be about an alchy, that his life is probably somewhat distorted. So, no it may not look the best, but if the lens distortion communicates something about the character, then it works.

And on 'seeing everything,' it's a choice. Were you going for a play aesthetic, because that's certainly what I got out of it, and I think it's pretty cool. A little surreal, maybe...

And on walking 50ft back. That's not your only solution. It's an easy one, but be creative and think about everything you can do to the shot aside from just zooming in to increase the depth of field.

Anyway, excited to see final piece.

-alex


1. Lensing

On the HVX, when you use it in its widest angles, things look like absolute crap. I can only stand using it without a lens adapter that wide while doing cityscapes, etc, because otherwise it just distorts and is pretty grizzly. And at the same time it shows everything. The scene in the kid's childhood home, I'm assuming, just looks very clearly like a set, as does the weird loft (?) space. There's an unlimited amount of depth of field, even on the first few shots you put up. Walking back another 50 feet and dropping in an ND would definitely give you a much nicer image, and give the shot a little character.

There are times when there's ECUs, and that can work, but the one of his mouth in particular didn't really work, from an operational standpoint. I'm sure the focus was supposed to be sloppy, but it can really be nice if you've got a good focus puller working with you.


Edited by alex m, 06 June 2008 - 12:18 AM.

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#5 anthony derose

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 08:46 PM

I liked it.

I thought the opening wide shots were nice (liked the framing of lead in shade and the not overly but hot background). In the bar the actress looks good but the lead seems to have been brought up in post, I'd darken it show more drama (as long as you have good highlights). The stage stuff is nice except the multiple shadows. It can play because during stage performances you have multiple lights but I'd use flags/nets/different blocking/some stronger dif. next time (I assume you didn't have much of a crew) I liked how the play director was lit and staged in the chair, was really surreal. Even though I haven't seen the film or heard any dialogue the dudes performance looks really good. Liked the movement in the bar fight.

Nice Work.
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