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#1 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 17 August 2008 - 10:32 PM

Last weekend I got to shoot a 10 page short film with the RED. It was my first time shooting the RED camera. We shot 4k 2:1 (1.85:1) and a set of Zeiss Super speeds.

First thing that I noticed was that the RED had a distinct look to it. It?s very sterile and polished. I personally love grain and typically trying and bring that out; this being digital that wasn't an option and I don?t conceder noise to have the same feel that grain does. So I decided not to fight against the lack of texture, but to go with the polished look and build on that for this project.

The short plays out in a very stark surreal narrative, so I built on that. I decided to not motivate the lighting in the most surreal of the settings in the film. Use it in a very stylized manner and placing it in unrealistic places, but if the light a quality that is very naturalistic. I tried to give everything a very clean textured light.

I shot the majority of the film on a 35mm lens to give the viewer a certain subjectivity within the perspective, breaking it a few times to achieve an effect. I mainly used uncorrected tungsten light for the majority of the scenes in which take place in a copy room, going for a warmer look. I also shot the copy room scenes with a 1/8 Black Promist. There is a brief opening to the film in an old abandoned theatre. I shot that scene with a 1/2 Black Promist and the same warm look. To contrast that, the office scenes I lit with white top light with no diffusion filters on the lens. I had the grips and elx make a blanket light with a 6x6 ultra bounce with 8 x 4' daylight Kino tubes tied up to the ultra bounce, and then in front of that we draped an 8 x 8 Muslin. We rigged that over the action.

I used a piece of gear that was new to me on this project. The Cartoni Sigma fluid head. It was great! It was on par with the O'Connor 25/75 but with a digital interface and it felt a bit lighter too. Going to try and keep one around from now on!

We ran into some RED bugs right off the bat. I had done a camera test with the RED the night before and everything in the workflow worked fine. The next day the QT proxies were coming up pure black. After the first night of footage, I took the stuff home and transferred it and went to screen it all? only to see black. I started to think that a whole days work was lost. The next day, Norm Li, the cameras owner and fellow DP came down with his Mac and discovered some error that happened when I changed the viewing color space from REDspace to RAW on set. The footage became viewable in RED alert only after we clicked the default button. After this we couldn't switch the viewing space back to REDspace because all it would show was a black screen. Very odd. Still no explanation for it?
Other then that I love the camera. It was the best digital experience I've ever had. I loved everything about it, the menus, eyepiece, weight, LCD, tapeless workflow, 150min record time on REDDrive, ect. I can't wait to shoot it again. I feel I still have a lot to learn from it.


HERE are some stills:
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#2 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 03:34 AM

Love the close ups with the soft wrapping side light - looks great.
S
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#3 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 01:56 AM

Thanks Stephen!
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#4 Mike Williamson

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 03:00 AM

I'll have to agree with Stephen, the lighting looks great. I think you've gotten a great texture out of the camera, it's got the right amount of sharpness and avoids looking like plastic, the color is nice as well.
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#5 Mikael Gustafsson

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 03:45 AM

I really enjoy the lighting and the colours! What intrigues me most are the photos 4-7. The light is really beautiful. May I ask what you used to achieve that? Some promist thrown in here as well? Did you bounce it back to open up the shadow side or is there some other light there?

Yours,
Mikael Gustafsson

Edited by Mikael Gustafsson, 20 August 2008 - 03:47 AM.

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#6 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 07:46 PM

VERY nice composition and lighting.
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#7 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 10:22 PM

Thanks Mike and Jamie.

I really enjoy the lighting and the colours! What intrigues me most are the photos 4-7. The light is really beautiful. May I ask what you used to achieve that? Some promist thrown in here as well? Did you bounce it back to open up the shadow side or is there some other light there?

Yours,
Mikael Gustafsson


I lit the copy room scenes with 2 x 4light fay's on the ground bouncing off a 6x6 ultra bounce and back through 6x6 unbleach muslin. To control the spill we just pony clipped solids to the outside of the frames as well as did a bit of flopping, but I leave extra solid on the side and top so that I can shape the source depending on the blocking. You can see in the pict I dropped the down the solid to shape the top part of the 6x6. I also used a 6x6 double net that I pony clipped to the 1 half of the frame to bring down the key where it starts to come in at a reflective angle. For shots like pict 4 and and inserts I used 4x8 Muslin flop and bounce a full flood fernel off it, in pict #4's case I had the flop on the floor and a tweenie. On the fill side I taped and hung up solids around the action as negative fill. This picture shows the source and the neg fill draping over head on the left. The copy room scenes all have a black promist 1/8th.

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#8 Mikael Gustafsson

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 05:30 AM

Thank you very much for the detailed answer. I'll try and use some similar ideas on the next project. I'll be extremely happy if we can pull off even half of what you've done there. One additional question though, what exactly is a "light fay"? My guess would be that it's some sort of Ninelight or Maxibrute, but smaller?

Thanks and take care!

Mikael

Edited by Mikael Gustafsson, 22 August 2008 - 05:33 AM.

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#9 Andrew Brinkhaus

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 12:43 PM

Here ya go Mikael.

http://www.austinfil...ortran_fay9.htm
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#10 Norm Li

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Posted 26 August 2008 - 03:09 AM

Chayse this looks fantastic!! I spoke with RED about this issue and they told me to try re-installing Build 16 on there. I have yet to do this but I did some tests after your shoot on this camera and it was a strange bug because I re-created your problem with the black screen (actually, it was the only option on the camera strangely). I will be re-installing Build 16 onto this camera and seeing if that works tomorrow.

Again, love the look and lighting you achieved. What was the lighting ratio of pics 2, 4, 6, and 7?

Norm




Here ya go Mikael.

http://www.austinfil...ortran_fay9.htm


Edited by Norm Li, 26 August 2008 - 03:10 AM.

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#11 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 03:25 AM

Thank you very much for the detailed answer. I'll try and use some similar ideas on the next project. I'll be extremely happy if we can pull off even half of what you've done there. One additional question though, what exactly is a "light fay"? My guess would be that it's some sort of Ninelight or Maxibrute, but smaller?

Thanks and take care!

Mikael


No problem Mikael. Just remember that its more important to ask yourself why the light needs to look a curtain way instead of mimicking something else. Its important to know your technical as much as your theory, it should be 50/50. In fact knowing both it extremely liberating artistically. Watch movies and study the psychological aspects of quality of light, contrast, and the composition of light. Its very subjective, so study yourself and understand what caused you to emote within a story and how the lighting assisted it and why.

The 4 light fays are the same as a Mini 9light. I usually use mini9's but the rental place was out of the ones with AC splays.

Chayse this looks fantastic!! I spoke with RED about this issue and they told me to try re-installing Build 16 on there. I have yet to do this but I did some tests after your shoot on this camera and it was a strange bug because I re-created your problem with the black screen (actually, it was the only option on the camera strangely). I will be re-installing Build 16 onto this camera and seeing if that works tomorrow.

Again, love the look and lighting you achieved. What was the lighting ratio of pics 2, 4, 6, and 7?

Norm


Thanks Norm. How did the reinstall go?

For #2 I pushed the light to as hot as i could before losing detail in his shirt. Then I bounced light off the floor to add texture to the walls behind him.

#4 I keyed the actor to a +1.5 stops. Same for 6 and 7. The neg fill brought that down to a -2.5 to -3.5 under... but its hard to be certain. My memory has faded. But the lighting was brought to a pretty high contrast.
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#12 Matt Workman

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 02:40 PM

Hey,

I really like the side/soft light shots also. This is a similar theory/practice as a book light. I remember seeing that Roger Deakins used a similar technique on the intro scene of No Country for Old Men. Some large bounce being diffused...gotta try this some time. I always just shoot the light straight through the silk, maybe double diffused sometimes.

I imagine its a bit of work to adjust and tweak the angling of the rig though.

Looks great.

Cheers,

Matt
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#13 Mikael Gustafsson

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 03:35 PM

Chayse, thank you again for the insightful points you brought up. I must say I agree, and I'll have to elaborate a bit further on why this particular detail caught my eye. We're working on a really subtle, and slow paced, maybe I daresay beautiful film with a lot of close ups of an old mans expressions and face. Lot of long shots with very few distracting elements. Most of the stuff is going on in the persons mind, we're not being presented with dialogue or blatant action. Because of many reasons the persons situation is two-folded, and I wanted to make that clear even with the visuals.

The other light will always be coming from the overcast sky, a colorless, extremely soft blanket of light. On the other hand we have a pressurized petrol lamp that the person is carrying around, this light will be harsh, warm and fiery. At certain parts the lights take over each others roles depending on what's going on in the story. I had been thinking about the softer light quite a bit, and your screenshots and explanation seemed to fit in like a piece in a puzzle. I'll try not to mimick what you've done, but use the idea of softening bounce and see if that works. No idea why I've never thought about it.

Thank you again, and I'll be sure to keep in mind what you wrote.
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#14 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 04:44 AM

Hey,

I really like the side/soft light shots also. This is a similar theory/practice as a book light. I remember seeing that Roger Deakins used a similar technique on the intro scene of No Country for Old Men. Some large bounce being diffused...gotta try this some time. I always just shoot the light straight through the silk, maybe double diffused sometimes.

I imagine its a bit of work to adjust and tweak the angling of the rig though.

Looks great.

Cheers,

Matt


Its the same as a book light. Its really just another way to fill a frame. I think it feels omniscient and natural. You could get a similar look by throwing a full flood Fresnel light through a few frames like full grid or bouncing a flooded fresnel off muslin. Some muslin can let hard light through, which is an interesting way to mix qualities of light through one source. I've used the book light in a lot of different ways over the years; Like using a light grid on the outside and filling the light on the ultra bounce but spotting in a parcan on one side, then placing that hot spot at a reflective angle. Gives it a little meaner look.

I picked up on the technique while doing my first feature... I knew the quality of light i wanted and how it looked on the characters face by eye, but not how to achieve it. I pestered my Gaffer/Key Grip daily telling him that it didn't look right during a lot of set ups. I had suggested doing double muslin (which gives a similar look... almost identical) but he had refused to listen... I think because its not a typical lighting style here in vancouver and Im young, so he must have seen me as some kid not knowing what I was doing (hehe, something I have learned to deal with in a humble way). For 3 days they were stacking 3 4x4 frames random diffusions and then a 6x6 frame of muslin and still wasn't looking the way I wanted it to look. Finally on the last day in this key location, one of the lamp ops suggested to the gaffer doing a book light and he set one up during the first set up and I was thrilled to finally see what was in my head on the monitor. The Gaffer ended up taking credit and the lamp ops jokingly called it the "Earl Light" after the gaffer for the rest of the show. In fact I often get weird looks from crew when I ask them to build one, sometimes angry looks from the older chaps... but that look fades and soon they are crowding behind monitor.

It is difficult to move and tweak, its time consuming, and requires a lot of light... but I like my photography to feel honest... a book light is just another tool to help me.

Chayse, thank you again for the insightful points you brought up. I must say I agree, and I'll have to elaborate a bit further on why this particular detail caught my eye. We're working on a really subtle, and slow paced, maybe I daresay beautiful film with a lot of close ups of an old mans expressions and face. Lot of long shots with very few distracting elements. Most of the stuff is going on in the persons mind, we're not being presented with dialogue or blatant action. Because of many reasons the persons situation is two-folded, and I wanted to make that clear even with the visuals.

The other light will always be coming from the overcast sky, a colorless, extremely soft blanket of light. On the other hand we have a pressurized petrol lamp that the person is carrying around, this light will be harsh, warm and fiery. At certain parts the lights take over each others roles depending on what's going on in the story. I had been thinking about the softer light quite a bit, and your screenshots and explanation seemed to fit in like a piece in a puzzle. I'll try not to mimick what you've done, but use the idea of softening bounce and see if that works. No idea why I've never thought about it.

Thank you again, and I'll be sure to keep in mind what you wrote.


Sounds great Mikael. Seems like it would be a good technique for what your attempting.


Another note on how i lit #2. I had a 12x12 Silver reflector with a baby, tweenie, and 300w arri along a triple header spud to bounce back and create reflections on the characters skin... you can mainly see it on his lips. But the main light was coming from 3 leko's with 19ยบ barrels about 50ft back.

Edited by Chayse Irvin, 30 August 2008 - 04:45 AM.

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