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Becoming A DI


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#1 Camelbackentertainment

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 04:04 PM

Hello All. I am pretty brand new to this forum and love it. Most of it is over my head, but I try to learn as much as I can.

I have gone to film school and for the last 10 years, dabbled in the video production business in AZ. I have gone from wanting to be a director to producer, to cinematographer, to trailer editor to just an editor to being a writer. :blink: Nothing really tickled my fancy till just recently in the last year. My fiance got me a CoolPix Point and Shoot Camera (P5100) for my birthday (last September) and I haven't put the thing down since. I have been shooting with it almost everyday. I love being able to shoot, then take it home and really fool with editing my pictures.

This led me to my first thought...maybe I'd like to be a cinematographer. That is what led me to this site. But then, I did a little more investigating into schools and equipment rentals/cost, and I realized that I really didn't want to do the production end of film work. I enjoyed shooting pictures (especially models), but realized that what I really loved was coming home and editing my pictures. Fooling with color, contrast, saturation, ect. I ended up building a portfolio on flickr and a lot of people had commented that my photos had a cinematic film look about them...which led me to my second thought...why not be a DI. :rolleyes:

I just started learning more about what they do and it is basically what I have been doing with my photos, except on a movie level. The only thing is...how does one get into it? Do I have to go back to school? What sort of software do they use? Is there a industry standard? What are some companies I could intern at? Is there a big demand for them?

If anyone has thoughts, I would greatly appreciate it.

Oh yeah, do Cinematographers dislike DI's? I would think that basically a DI takes film you shot and then creates a completely different look. I know that there have been photographers in my area that have had some of there photos re-edited and they hate it.

Anyways, thanks for reading.

M.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 05:06 PM

D.I.'s are a useful tool because of the advanced degree of correction they make possible to the image in terms of color, contrast, and controlling select areas of the frame. The main downsides are cost, which affect the quality you can afford to work at, and the time you can spend doing the work. And if the final results were completely indistinguishable from a contact print off of the negative, then I think there wouldn't be much objection other than from purists who only want access to traditional photochemical tools.

But so far, there is some loss of quality in the D.I. process (though doing an optical printer blow-up for a Super-35 project to standard 35mm using dupe elements also entails loss of quality, just of a different sort than digital artifacts) and this is compounded if you don't have the time, money, and skilled facility to do the D.I. properly. With more options, there are also more ways to screw up the image unfortunately.

But I think in principle, a D.I. is a wonderful tool for the cinematographer to further control the image, assuming he is in control of the D.I. process. If not, it also allows more ways in which the cinematographer can lose control to someone else.

Since I don't shoot big-budget projects, I generally am shooting under a tight deadline and as such, mistakes are made or things not fixed on set that should have been. A D.I. allows me to smooth out some of those compromises so that shots intercut better. It also allows a simple way of controlling color and contrast in post that doesn't involve elaborate camera and photochemical tricks.

I think also, for better or worse, D.I.'s have made the Super-35 2.35 process a lot more practical, with less grainy results in the final conversion to anamorphic. The downside is that there is less incentive to shoot anamorphic in the first place, which is too bad since the quality is so nice.

Just two years ago, it was hard to get a producer to get behind using 3-perf Super-35 for features (while 3-perf is commonplace in television) but now, with D.I.'s becoming the norm, it's become so expected that you will shoot 3-perf that simply making the choice to shoot in anamorphic also means that the producer has to budget for 4-perf. So now you are not only arguing to rent the more expensive anamorphic lenses, but to spend more money on film stock.
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#3 Matt Workman

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 10:26 PM

Hey,

I've thought about being coming a colorist at times because I started off and still do color some of the work I've shot. The easiest way to get started as a "DI" is to buy a DVX100/HVX200 and Final Cut Pro. Then shoot and color your own projects. Practice matching shots into one scene and getting different looks for the same "negative."

If you still like it you can always intern/work at a post house. You will most likely be dubbing tapes at odd hours but in return they might let you use their equipment on the off hours or some super generous Flame/DaVinci artist might give you a few tips.

Look into Apple Color, its a pretty amazing piece of software when combined with the HVX200 or RED. There are a few boutique/smaller post houses who just color HD/2k projects in NYC on Color. All the bigger places use the really expensive software.

In my opinion, coloring is fun for you own projects but horribly boring on someone else's project, even if they are paying.

Good luck,

Matt
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#4 Chris Burke

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 05:38 PM

[quote name='David Mullen ASC' date='Sep 6 2008, 02:06 PM' post='249724'

Just two years ago, it was hard to get a producer to get behind using 3-perf Super-35 for features (while 3-perf is commonplace in television) but now, with D.I.'s becoming the norm, it's become so expected that you will shoot 3-perf that simply making the choice to shoot in anamorphic also means that the producer has to budget for 4-perf. So now you are not only arguing to rent the more expensive anamorphic lenses, but to spend more money on film stock.
[/quote]


David,

Does the cost of shooting anamorphic rise above the cost of shooting S35 3perf with a DI? All things equal, doesn't the DI route still cost more? This is assuming that it is a pretty straight forward story that doesn't need all the bells and whistles that a DI offers.


chris
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