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#1 David Regan

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 08:30 PM

Production's begun on a 20 min Super16mm short I'm shooting over the course of the next couple weeks. The film is basically aimed a younger audience, revolving around a fantasy adventure storyline. It's got all the elements of a fun shoot, and so far that's proved to be the case.

Great production design has made my job a pleasure, we started out shooting exteriors at a small hut, that has been made to look as though it is built into the side of a hill. I laid out what I needed as far as making the location shootable for the angles we wanted, and it was great to get to set on the day and find everything looking not only as I had hoped, but perfectly real. It was one of those great moments you just feel the environment has stepped off the page and into your world.

I was fighting a setting sun to get a lot of coverage in this location, so I lost some light for my final few shots, but I think the scene is still ok, it's mostly a montage so it can jump around.

I pushed the stock a stop as well, it was 7205 250D, and doing so gave a really nice saturated contrasty look. It is the last time the main character is at home before leaving on this adventure, so I wanted the location to really stand out. There is a bit of increased grain, especially in the underexposed areas of the negative, but I was willing to live with it.

This site isn't letting me post any files at the moment for for now here is the link to some stills on Flickr. These are actual grabs from the HD transfer, done by Postworks NY.

http://www.flickr.co...57608002195054/

This is the only footage I have back from the lab at the moment, so I'll post the rest of the information when I get the other footage.
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#2 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 14 October 2008 - 04:49 AM

That looks very nice David.
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 08:57 PM

Very nice work! Who's the production designer you speak so highly of? It's nice to see that dept getting some love at RIT these days.

I'll be looking forward to seeing more as the schedule progresses.
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#4 David Regan

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 07:27 AM

Thanks for the complements guys. (Stephen your site looks great by the way)

Yeah, prod. design seems to get overlooked a lot, but fortunately not in this case. I guess there isn't one specific designer so to speak, it's been just mostly a team effort on the part of a bunch of the director's friends, who happen to be very good at this sort of thing. So it's been a lot of relay on my part, but it's certainly been working out so far.

Should have a bunch more footage back early next week, so I'll update the shoot then.

Edited by David Regan, 16 October 2008 - 07:32 AM.

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#5 David Regan

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 01:37 AM

Just got a bunch of footage back from lab, and I'm pretty pleased with the results. I guess I could talk first about the lab situation. As our school is here in Rochester, NY, we are getting our footage processed locally at the Kodak lab in Rochester. I was aprehensive at first, all my test footage had gone through Postworks, NY, and while I knew Kodak would do a good job, it was an unknown factor. But Kodak was great, their lead colorist was a huge help, and put up my test footage on their Spirit while I got to go through it with him on the DaVinci. Very helpful to me, both as a cinematographer on this project, and in general as it helped me learn more about the options in postproduction, as I still feel quite green on the subject. It's great to see what a good colorist can do.

So with that in my mind, I was able to shoot with a lot more confidence. Most of this footage was of a the film's final fight scene, and we were blessed with beautiful sunny weather for the two days it took to film. However due to how it was shot, character's were in strong backlight much of the day, and I had several shots framed against the sky for the intro to the fight. However having seen the 7205 in transfer helped me know just how I could expose it, and could confidently expect detail in both the subjects faces, usually underexposed by 2-3 stops, and the sky. And sure enough the footage came back looking great and as I had hoped.

While I'm on the subject of backlight, which often entails sun shooting down the lens, I encountered a problem that makes perfect sense but I never forsaw or noticed on the day. While I preferred an older set of Cooke S2 primes, for the remote locations such as the one we were at, I stayed on a zoom for practicality sake, an older Zeiss 10:1, T2.2. However the zoom has a serial number painted white around the inside of the barrel in front of the glass, and when I was in backlight situations, the sun would hit that white and reflect the serial number into whatever filter's I was wearing. Very annoying, and I found out this phenomenon the hard way. Well at least I know now, I'm curious if this is a common problem, or if serial numbers are not white very often for that reason. (There is a picture of it on my flickr set for this film)

I had never shot a fight scene before, and was somewhat nervous to do so, not entirely sure what coverage would be needed. The plan I ultimately went with was to just first cover myself with some wide's dollying back and forth, and then the same in CU. Then I would do OTS on the hero character, and some handheld as well. Finally I would do a take slo-motion, because we wanted some of those moments in the fight. Finally, I would shoot specific inserts of actions that really looked cool, i.e. ducking under sword blades, jumping over swords, kicks, punches etc...Looking at the footage I'd say it should cut nicely, but I'll be interested to see what the editor does with it.

We also did some poor-man's aerial photography, using a power parachute, which is essentially a go-kart with a propeller and a parachute. It was a blast to do, and the footage was all great with regards to color and focus, but there was just too much sway in the rig, which led to real steadiness issues. There are a couple usable seconds in a few of the takes, which may or may not make it into the film, but it was a great experience nontheless, and worth doing, if for nothing else than to at least learn some of the logistics and complications of aerial shooting.

Again, sorry my account isn't letting me post stills on this site, more stills have been put up at flickr for you to check out. All of these are actual footage grabs from a DVCPRO HD transfer from Kodak. There is no color correction here on my part, just the colorist's work off the graycard.

http://flickr.com/ph...57608002195054/

I look forward to any thoughts/criticisms, and I'll be posting more as it comes.

Cheers
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#6 David Regan

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 01:56 AM

Also, just for fun, I put some clips together into a sort of fake trailer, just something to build up the film. It's small, but gives you an idea of the some of the stuff we've shot so far. You can check it out here:

http://www.flickr.co...N03/2963918536/

Enjoy!
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 02:02 AM

Looks damned good, even for a compressed web version.
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#8 Matthew Buick

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 03:34 PM

I loved that golden rimlight in that man's hair. That silouette shot of that man in the wood with the polystyrene cup was brilliant as well. I love those types of shot, especially when between two people. :)
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#9 Steve McBride

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 01:57 AM

Looks good. Are you guys shooting in Rochester? I'm a film student at MCC and I'm working for on-set experience in the camera department. I don't have a lot of experience so I'd love to be a PA or anything in the camera department. If you guys need any help, get in contact with me and I'm sure I'll be available!
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#10 David Regan

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 11:09 AM

Hey Steve; yes we are shooting in the Rochester area, the film is being made at RIT, so we're right next door to you. I'd definitely be happy to give you a call about helping out, It's always good to meet fellow filmmakers. We are sort of in a stage of inactivity for the moment, our exteriors being basically wrapped, now we have studio shoots coming up, so sets have to be built etc...It'll probably be a few weeks before we get rolling on those, but I'll let you know. Send me a PM with your contact info and we'll be in touch.

(All the following stills are actual grabs from an HD bestlight transfer of the film)


So as just mentioned, we are pretty much wrapped exteriors. A few pickups to be done, but even if we wanted to shoot a lot more we couldn't really, due to the rapidly changing look of fall, most of the leaves are off the trees. So I'm happy we got done when we did. For our last days of shooting, we started out with a small scene at the base of this waterfall. The funny story about this place was when we scouted it it was a dried up riverbed, leading to this dried up waterfall. When we came to shoot a scene in the riverbed at the top of the falls about 3 weeks ago it looked like this

Dried_up_Riverbed.jpg

As we were shooting that morning however, we heard a noise, and turned to see a river creeping steadily towards us. We rushed the equipment out of the riverbed, and before long the dried up river was a full flowing waterfall.

Waterfall_Wide.jpg

We managed to cope with it, made some minor rewrites to the script, and then this past week picked up our scene at the bottom of the waterfall. It was a beautiful location to shoot at, and the water was great at that time of day, the sun was backlighting the mist in a very pleasing way.
Unfortunately that scene took longer to shoot than was expected, and our next location we moved to was a good distance away. By the time we got there, and got everyone through costuming and makeup, I was really low on light. It was only about 4pm, but we were shooting in a gorge where no direct sunlight was hitting. Plus it was a fairly complex fight scene, and I knew to do it justice I was going to need more time to get the shots we really needed, and the light wasn't going to give us that in this location.
So we had to make a tough call, and decided it was best to come back the next morning. It was a bit of a risk, because our actor had to go back to Oregon the following day, so we knew making our day the following morning would be huge.
But we decided to instead that night shoot a small campfire scene that was also needed, so we headed back, set that up, and made a nice scene out of it. I had never shot a campfire scene before, or any scene really where fire was the primary motivating source. I knew to bring up the level I could use my tungsten units, and was aware something like a flickr box or magic gadget would be usefull. But for budget reasons we didn't rent one, so I ended up just putting a 300W unit from behind the fire, and had it on a dimmer being controlled manually by someone. It wasn't great, because obviously the color temp fluctuated. It looked very nice on the warm end, so I kept it dimmed around there, and was quite pleased when I got the footage back. The fire added the more obvious flicker effect, and then I used a redhead with 1/2 CTB (which ended up being a bit too blue I thought) as a backlight, and to add depth to some of the trees.

WS_Campfire.jpg

A word about the one actor in the BG with the darker face. That face was actually a prosthetic, made of thin latex, to give his face all these bumps and textures, as though he was somewhat made of bark in a way. The mask turned out pretty well considering it was the first time the director or anyone involved had tried doing it, the problem for me was how dark it was. My initial thought had been a sort of dirty drab green, with shades of brown, but we ended up with the darkest green I've ever seen, which did look nice, but made exposure hell for me. You can see in the attached still how his face just falls off to no detail, it's just so dark the mask reflected almost no light. But it was a challenged and I worked with it, although I certainly think I could have done better helping exposure on his face out.

The next morning we returned to our wonderful gorge location, with beautiful weather. I have to say the lighting in this location was some of the best I've ever had outside. because no direct sunlight hit the bridge we were on, it was a sort of cool ambient light to begin with. Then I found, as the sun rose it hit the sides of the cliff face, and then bounced back, creating a huge, warm, shadowless source from one side. It was beautiful light to work with, because we were in such a rush (I think we did nearly 20 setups in about 2 hours) due to our actor availability, I didn't really have time to add fill/shiny, but in this location it didn't really matter.
You can see the sun hitting the cliff-face in this photo:

Slo_Mo_Jump.jpg

And it's soft effect here:

Soft_Light.jpg

Also I had that link to a 'trailer' but now we have a much better version, with more footage, that we are using, you can check it out here to get a feel for it. Give you some idea of the shooting as well, aside from the compression. It's somewhat over the top and corny, but it's more than anything its just to hype it up at school, and give an idea for the film, which it does. It would be great to get any feedback on the shooting as well, like I said, I'm green when it comes to shooting fight/choreography sequences.

All said, it was a good few weekends of shooting, wonderful weather, wonderful locations, and a great cast and crew that made the shoots some of my favorite so far. More than anything I've learned a huge amount, which is always the best thing that can come from a shoot I think. Since we now break for a few weeks to build our studio set, it will be some time before I have more posts.

Cheers everyone
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#11 Tim Terner

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 03:13 PM

Trailer footage looks great David. I've always read that to get fire flames orangey/red (and not white) you need to stop down to at least a T4. Can you remember what you were shooting at during the campfire scene ?
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#12 David Regan

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 05:45 PM

Hey Tim,

I was shooting (unfortunately) all the way open. I had anticipated a larger fire, but it was so small, that even when my additional light was dimmed all the way up, I was only reading a 2.8, so I was a hair closed from a T2.2. In retrospect I shoulda added more light and stopped down, which would have helped the lens out too, but I think at the time I was worried too strong a light would overpower the natural flicker the real fire was creating. Thats interesting though, I'll have to keep that in mind next time, thanks for the time.
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#13 Peter Mosiman

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 04:21 AM

David.

Looks great. Cinematography looks freaking sweet.
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#14 David Regan

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 12:33 PM

Well it's been quite a while, but after some time spend building our studio set, we finally wrapped principal photography on this film. It was a great set to end in, a lot of work went into building it and the production design on the part of the director, and I think it really paid off. It's wonderful to have a nice space to photograph.

Again, this story being a children's coming of age story, the set was meant to look medieval, from a non-specific time and location. When I read the script for this and it had all these scenes, I knew I wanted to establish a certain warmth and familiarity with it, as it is the home of our main character. However I feel that such a look can often become to overbearing and saturated, so I got the idea that the location could actually be somewhat cool and dingy, yet the light itself would bring the warmth in from outside.
As such, the set was constructed using quick-crete and mortar spackled on wood, which, when dried, gave a very nice rough texture. All of the light is motivated during the day scenes through window slits. We didn't want to have to rely on compositing in backgrounds through the windows, so I just opted to blow them out. To vary between afternoon feels and morning/evening, I put straw on the lights for the early or late day scenes, and brought the fill level down. During the day, when the sun bounces around alot more, I just brought that fill level back up a small amount, using hanging spider-lights (a cheap 1k knock off of a space light) skirted with duve and through diffusion.
It was nice to be able to work with the director to design the set, as I could place the windows at advantageous points, which allowed the characters to be lit with relative ease. The windows were simply fitted with Plexiglas, then covered with 250 diffusion and I sent a 2k through from outside, adjusting the angle to be more or less direct on my subjects. It was quite flexible and allowed me to work around a T4 for most of the day, on a set of Cooke S2.
The following are some stills I took with my digital camera on the day, still waiting for the film to come back. The photos are mostly uncorrected, I just added a bit of warmth to a couple.

Wide_Bedroom.jpg

2_Shot_Table.jpg

Morning_Kitchen.jpg
The moonlight shots were pretty simple, I sent a 1.2k HMI into Ultrabounce up high over the set, aimed for backlight. Then I brought a 575 HMI through one of the windows that best suited my purpose, the window still be fitted with diffusion. Finally I would typically keep some of the light off one or two of the walls with 4x flops. For scenes with a candle that was all practical, except the shot with the table, where I had a 250w photoflood bulb dimmed down over the table, with someone riding the dimmer slightly to motivate the lamplight. The HMI's were running around 4800k, so I didn't correct them, as I was shooting on '19, I just let them go blue, and will have that saturation taken down in transfer, as seen in the following stills, to get a much silver/cold feel.

Lamp_CU.jpg

Moonlight2.jpg

Wide_Lamp.jpg

So thats pretty much it, aside from waiting on the film. We have a couple pickups to shoot when the weather improves, but otherwise it's finished. We are planning on going in for a final transfer, which has been done beautifully now on a Spirit from Kodak in Rochester, NY. I learned a huge amount and it was a great experience all around. A big thanks to my crew, several of which are members from this site.

Enjoy, comments/criticism appreciated.

Cheers
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#15 Steve McBride

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 09:52 PM

Thanks again for letting me help out on the shoot. I love the shots of the nighttime with the ultra bounced 1,200 HMI, I love the feel it gave to the set. I also have to say that Dan and everyone else who helped out with the art direction and building the set did an absolutely amazing job, and I think it really reflects well in the shots you posted.

Can't wait to see the final product!
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#16 Toby L Edwards

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 04:59 PM

This looks really good. thanks for posting!
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#17 Chris Keth

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 05:22 PM

Looking pretty sick, man. I wish I was going to be around for screenings this year. I want to see this and the Lauren/Lindsay Production, too.
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#18 Gus Sacks

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 09:04 PM

I was considering using one of those liquid-burning lanterns for a period piece. Or a few of them. I did a test once and shooting tungsten it was awfully hard on the red spectrum. How much color correction was necessary to use them? And exposure wise the use of them looks pretty good. Hmm. Might use them now, seeing them in a practical usage.
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#19 David Regan

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 10:46 AM

Thanks guys, glad to hear you like it.

Gus: It's tricky for me to say exactly how much color correction was done for those lamps, as I didn't oversee the telecine. I had asked the colorist to desaturate the image somewhat, because I didn't want my moonlight to end up garishly blue, I was going for something more silvery, and I can definitely see my warm lamp suffering from the desaturation in the footage, it looked pale and yellow. So I tweaked it a little on my computer with saturation and warmth but it wasn't anything too difficult. You can see the results below. Overall I was pretty pleased with the look.

All the follow images are grabs from the HD transfer, once again, through Kodak NY. Color correction is minimal on my part just messed with saturation a bit where there was too much/little.

A CU of the Grandfather. Not thrilled with some of this footage. The white shirts worn by the two main characters were quite grainy for my taste, a mistake on my part with the lighting, in that the shirts were fine in mindtones, but when the harder window light hit them, (which should have been softened up) the 2+ stops over got really grainy. The hot spot on the hair really bothers me. I wish I'd put some diffusion between the backlight and his hair.
Eli_CU1.jpg
The darker prosthetic looked better in the harder light, and it works better here I think, even though the lighting didn't have to change much.
JurinCU1.jpg
The lamp keying the character's face. Probably could have been amplified a tad, feels a bit too underexposed on the face.
Lamp_CU_Face.jpg
The wide of the room. The hot spot on the sword on the left is annoying. It looks like a light saber. Once again should have been softened. The foreground works however I think.
WS_Night.jpg
Insert of the table. You can see the simulated lamplight coming in frame left. That was the 250w photoflood bulb, blackwrapped, and on a dimmer. Moonlight is a 1200 HMI into an ultrabounce.
CU_Parchment.jpg
The bedroom at night. Works fairly well I think, at least on wall texture. Actors skin tone seems a bit iffy, I'll mess around to see if I can adjust it.
Bed_Moonlight.jpg
Some more lamp illumination, this time on some clothing. Again, same type of setup, but entirely keyed by lamp, no bulb this time.
CU_Lamp_on_Clothing.jpg
Some of my favorite stuff came from this bedroom, supposed to take place at sunrise. A very soft light. I think it was helped immensly and looks much better than the first stuff because I dimmed down the 2ks outside the windows about 30%. Just helped the light fall off enough to not create any of the annoying or blinding hot spots I had in my earlier footage. I was originally dimming just to introduce some more warmth into the light, but it had this added bonus of correctly exposing my scene lol. Oh well lesson learned for next time.
WS_Bedroom.jpg
A random insert I liked. Again very soft light. Could do with a tad more fill on the camera side.
CU_waterbasin.jpg
The main actors CU. Maybe my favorite shot. The mirror was slightly dirty which was a nice happy accident, really softened his face, acted as a diffusion filter really, I think it just had a slight coating of dust from the set. Whatever it was I think it works perfectly.
CU_Mirror.jpg


So that pretty much wraps up this project. I certainly learned a lot, especially from this footage. I'd be curious to explore more, why the dimming of the lights created exactly the effect it did in the bedroom, because there is an undeniable softness to that scene, that the earlier scene in the kitchen didn't posses. It seems odd that just dimming the lights could do this, as that was truly the only difference in the lighting set-ups. I also realized the importance of keeping the highlights under control, especially on wispy hair and white objects, 16mm grain can really bite you if you let it get away from you in the exposure.

Hope you enjoy, comments and/or criticism appreciated.
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#20 Gus Sacks

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 06:03 PM

Gus: It's tricky for me to say exactly how much color correction was done for those lamps, as I didn't oversee the telecine. I had asked the colorist to desaturate the image somewhat, because I didn't want my moonlight to end up garishly blue, I was going for something more silvery, and I can definitely see my warm lamp suffering from the desaturation in the footage, it looked pale and yellow. So I tweaked it a little on my computer with saturation and warmth but it wasn't anything too difficult. You can see the results below. Overall I was pretty pleased with the look.


I see. Okay, very cool. Thanks for the info.
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