Jump to content


Photo

United States of Tara


  • Please log in to reply
26 replies to this topic

#1 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 13 December 2008 - 01:05 AM

Notes on shooting "United States of Tara"

Started shooting on September 2, 2008. Finished November 25, 2008. 11 half-hour episodes for Showtime / Dreamworks (Episodes 2-12), plus 4 days of reshoots on the pilot (Episode 1). Will air in late January. The show is centered around a woman (Toni Collette) named Tara who suffers from multiple personality syndrome, and the effect this has on her family.

Pilot was shot by Uta Briesewicz. 4-perf Super-35 16x9, all on 5218. Panavision cameras. Most of the pilot was shot on a short zoom (I think the 27-68mm T/2.8 Panavision lightweight zoom), no filters. Technicolor did the lab work and telecine (Complete Post). Everything was transferred to HDCAM for dailies and final tape-to-tape.

Showtime mandates digital origination for their series, despite the pilot being shot on film. I convinced the producers to use the Panavision Genesis cameras rather than the Sony F23 (which apparently is cheaper to rent than the Genesis, did not know that). I felt that a 35mm-sensor camera would match the look of the pilot better than a 2/3” 3-CCD camera. Also there was some concern from Dreamworks about the show using digital cameras, in that they didn’t want it to look video-ish… and I felt that getting 35mm depth of field would help minimize this problem.

I got a set of Primo prime lenses for the series, plus two Primo zooms, the 4:1 and 11:1.

Now my only other TV series experience was on “Big Love”, where we shot almost everything on older 20-100mm Cooke zooms, a technique started by Jim Glennon (partly because the softer lens was more flattering to faces), and the common wisdom is that a TV show always uses zooms in order to save time in set-ups. But as I did the reshoots for the pilot in the first four days of production, with director Craig Gillespie, I found no problem in sticking to the prime lenses, except when I needed to zoom. Craig comes out of features and commercials and has a fairly precise, minimalist style… so primes seemed well-suited to this approach, and I didn’t find any time was being lost by lens changes.

As the series progressed, I found the other directors were fine with sticking to primes, some (like John Dahl, who directed Ep. 10 & 11) were pleasantly surprised that we worked with prime lenses instead of zooms. Craig, who set the look of the show on the pilot along with Uta, wanted to keep within a minimal range of focal lengths, primarily the 35mm, which we used for 70% of all shots on the show. We also used a 40mm and 50mm (usually for the close-ups). Some directors were used to using longer lenses, so it was a bit of a struggle to get them to work within the parameters Craig favored – I’d find myself sneaking in more 75mm close-ups on those episodes, for example. When necessary, we’d use a 27mm lens for wide shots, especially when we were stuck for space. Craig didn’t want anything too slick or “movie-ish” – he favored a natural look that didn’t telegraph the intent of the scene, nothing too hyped up visually or emotionally.

The attitude extended into lighting. Probably the main (but subtle) difference between how Uta lit the pilot and how I lit the series was that I kept to a softer, lower-contrast lighting approach more often. I watched Craig’s feature, “Lars and the Real Girl”, and saw that it had a very natural look, sort of wintery, low-key but soft in contrast without resorting to a lot of fill, mainly through the use of soft key lighting. Uta felt that a TV series needed a little more visual punch than that, that contrast and more edge lighting worked better for the small screen, but I decided to not worry so much about that and shoot it like I would a feature for Craig.

This approach in lighting extended itself into how I did most of the night exteriors – generally I avoided a big backlit look in favor an overhead streetlamp approach when motivated (it was harder to do that in backyard scenes and whatnot where I had to resort sometimes to a traditional moonlit look.) Often I had a condor with two Coop lights, diffused and gelled half-orange, hanging straight down for a warm sodium streetlamp effect. Now indoors, I opted more often for a blue-ish moonlight effect when room lights were turned off, even though the night exteriors had that warm sodium look – the reason for the mismatch was simply that I was worried about the show getting excessively warm-looking indoors. When I had warm-lit scenes with practicals on, I didn’t want even warmer orangey streetlamp effect coming through windows, I wanted some feeling of a difference in color and tone when a practical lamp was switched off. Also, with sheers on many of the windows, I was worried that putting orange light on them would get visually confused with daytime scenes.

We also avoided close-ups most of the time, preferring medium shots that followed the action. Craig didn’t want a traditional wide master, medium shots, and close-up sort of coverage and wanted to stage scenes within a medium shot and medium focal length in only one or two angles, the camera moves motivated by the action. If we could avoid using an insert or an establishing shot, he’d be very happy. It was a nice way to work, trying to get the intent of the scene in one shot mainly and not over-emphasizing things dramatically with cuts (or music – Craig favored not having a traditional score for the series.) Now some of this approach was modified over the course of the series because of script needs and different director’s tastes and style. Some episodes required more coverage than others, for different reasons.

Once we switched to the Genesis camera by Day 5 when we started shooting scenes for Episode 2, I used a #1/8 Schneider Black Frost for most shots; occasionally a #1/8 Schneider Classic Black for close-ups. Within a few episodes, however, I switched to a heavier #1/4 Classic Black for close-ups, and used the #1/8 Classic Black for most of the medium and wide shots. Extreme wide shots still used the #1/8 Black Frost (or no filter at all). The Classic Black filter is a #1/8 Black Frost combined with whatever degree of Classic Soft you want – hence why I carried a #1/8 Black Frost as a “base” filter when I didn’t need more softening. The Schneider line of diffusion filters seems more closely spaced in terms of degrees of strength than Tiffen’s.
I once used a #1/4 Tiffen ProMist for a fantasy moment where Tara sees herself as “Alice” (one of her alternative personalities) standing in the kitchen in front of her. I also used a #1/8 ProMist + #1/2 Classic Black for a flashback of Tara as a teenager. Otherwise, I resisted the temptation to make the show look filtered.

As I said, Craig Gillepsie directed the original pilot (now Episode 1), plus the pilot reshoots and Episodes 2, 3, and 12. The other directors came from a mix of backgrounds, some had done cable series work like “Entourage”, “Weeds”, and “The L-Word”, others came from features, or did both TV and features.

I found the Genesis camera to be basically 500 ASA, tungsten-balanced. Used an 85B filter for day scenes, though now I think an 85A would probably have been better – the Genesis seems to have a warm bias in general – for example, pulling the 85 filter in daylight does not cause the image to go as deep blue as it would with tungsten-balanced film. In general, the Genesis tends to have a warm image with sort of a faint “powdery” red noise (at least, that’s my unscientific observation) compared to the “chunkier” blue channel noise of the RED in tungsten light.

Found the 85B/ND1.2 to be rather warm compared to the 85B/ND.9. My AC’s warned me that the 85/ND1.2 combo filters in general tend to be all over the map in terms of warmth. I will have to look further into this – I’m not used to using ND1.2’s because I usually shoot slower-speed film in daylight, but modern trends tend to involve faster film and faster digital cameras having to cope with intense daylight, hence the need for an ND1.2.

Had some problems with patterns in clothing causing aliasing. The Genesis image is almost too sharpened-looking (on an HD monitor at least) despite the lack of edge enhancement being applied; this may be a factor of the strength of the Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF) used, which seems milder than what the RED ONE has inside. Perhaps Bayer-filtered sensors need a heavier OLPF to reduce aliasing artifacts in individual color channels after debayering. Now Panavision tells me that some of the aliasing is a product of viewing the live signal on a 1080i CRT monitor, which seems true, though some of the aliasing problems are clearly in the original recording because they’ve shown up down the chain as well, like in the DVD dailies. For example, when I shoot close-ups of LCD monitors in scenes, I have to have the focus-puller defocus the image slightly to stop the moirĂ© problems.

Though the RED records 4K RAW REDCODE and the Genesis records 1080P (we stuck to the 4:2:2 mode on this show), the Genesis image actually seems sharper – I had to use a stronger Classic Black diffusion for close-ups on the Genesis compared to the RED. I mentioned that to one DP at the Band-Pro HD gathering this week, and he said “The RED OLPF is too heavy and the Genesis OLPF is too light.” Considering some of the aliasing issues I saw with the Genesis, there may be some truth to this. Now of course, the heaviness of the RED OLPF does hide or reduce a lot of possible artifacts, but I wonder if they could have gotten away with a lighter OLPF and lived with some minor aliasing artifacts. I don’t know. Obviously I could sharpen the RED image in post if necessary. Part of me feels that the less-edgy look of the RED seems more “film-like” than the crisp Genesis image, but other times, I wonder if the RED could stand to be a little more “edgy”. But it does make me come to the conclusion that all the current high-end digital cameras are ultimately rather similar, resolution-wise. Of course, that makes the RED all the more impressive being at least a quarter of the cost of these other cameras.

This difference in look recently popped out at me when I saw the trailers for “The Spirit” (which I now hear was shot on the Genesis) and “Knowing” (shot on the RED), both projected in 2K – “Knowing” was not as crisp-looking as “The Spirit”. On the other hand, the color-correction of “The Spirit” is incredibly hi-con, which increases the sense of sharpness.

A “TR Board Error” message occasionally pops up on the Genesis, more often on our B-camera, but Panavision said to ignore this. Seems to be due to some communication interface between the SRW1 deck and the camera processor.

I say that the main practical differences I found between using the Genesis and the RED on a shoot could be covered in two areas: (1) size & weight (the RED is much lighter) and (2) noise and speed in tungsten light (the Genesis is better in this regards.)

Lighting-wise, I ended up using Woodylights a lot more than I thought I would. They are made by my gaffer Keith Morgan. They have a 2’x3’ medium Chimera bank on them, four bulbs (usually 212’s I think), plus one 1K EGT globe, and a dimmer knob. At first, I wondered why they would be any different than sticking a Chimera on a 1K, but the ability to switch on different light bulbs or switch to one 1K globe, and to dim them, made it simple to throw a little soft light anywhere on the set quickly, or put a soft edge on an actor, or even key them. See:

http://www.woodylight.com

I also used the Source-4 light a lot, usually with the 50 degree lens, for a bounce fill or key. Sometimes used a 36 or 27 degree lens for a hot slash on objects, actors. Also would use a bedsheet on a wall or floor and bounce light into it, often a couple of Tweenies. I picked up these tricks from Bill Wages when I worked with him on “Big Love”. I think the actresses liked it when I used the big bedsheet bounce for their close-ups because they knew it was an extremely soft light.

The sets had muslin ceiling pieces with a small spacelight above, or a Cooplight. This was a quick way of adding some ambience to the room when the ceiling was not in the shot.

There was a dimmer board controlling our two soundstages, including practicals, outlets, and wall sconces.

We had an HMI package for location, plus two Joker 800 Source-4’s and two Joker 400 Source-4’s. And Kinoflos of course.

I bought a Micro Litepanel for use on the camera, or as a hidden light. I’m really happy with that purchase. It’s very light, uses four AA batteries, and is quick to set up.

We sometimes pulled the fresnel out of the 2K, 5K, 10K, and 20K to create sharp patterns of moonlight or sunlight (in the case of the 20K). With the fresnel pulled out of the 20K and backed up, I got a nice hard sunlight effect through a window with believable shadow patterns from blinds, etc. but the intensity was not great – for one wide shot of a room, I had to switch the shutter from 180 to 270 degrees and open the lens to T/2.0 just to get the sunlight pattern to be overexposed realistically.

(At Band-Pro event, I just saw a light from K5600 called the BlackJack 400, see:
http://www.k5600.com...j400/index.html
It has a really wide spread, and without any lens, produces a very sharp, clean shadow pattern. May have to get one for my next show…)

Our house sets were built at Occidental Studios near Silver Lake; because of size limitations, I often only had five feet of space outside the windows to create all the daylight effects and create a daytime view. We hung space lights above each window (actually Uta Briesewicz had ordered that for the pilot, but it worked well) and I had various lights crammed in that small space, often Mini 9-Lites. Plus I had to fit trees in that space to break up the view of the day-blue material hung all around. Right outside the kitchen window was a white pillar that was part of the soundstage’s support. We ended up wrapping it in fake bark to make it look like a tree trunk outside, but it was in the way half the time, so it became incredibly annoying.

One trick I have picked up over the years is to blur an unconvincing or unwanted view outside of a window is to cover the window with Half Hampshire Frost diffusion gel. It throws the view out-of-focus, which hides a multitude of sins.

Anyway, here are some photos from the shoot:

This is a night exterior, lit with an overhead effect using Cooplights in a condor. I also had a 1K parcan in the condor providing the spot on the ground under the streetlamp on the left. I hid 2K’s in the trees to add some light deeper on the street and there was a 5K around the corner in the background to rake the far houses:
Posted Image

Here is another location at night with the same rig on the condor:
Posted Image

This is a classroom, lit by bouncing a Source-4 / Joker 800 HMI combo into a white card at the top of the windows:
Posted Image

A-cam 1st AC Dominik Mainl and Operator Chris Squires:
Posted Image

This shows you the narrow space outside the kitchen side of the house set, bordered by the dayblue cyc running along the fire lane (the fire lane is not blocked, it's behind the blue curtain):
Posted Image

Here is the kitchen itself, lit for late afternoon with half-orange light coming straight in through the windows (hence the orange gel frame you can see in the f.g.):
Posted Image

Our stand-in Bridget, with the kitchen window behind her. You can see the effect of the Half Hampshire Frost on the window to blur the trees and blue cyc. Her face is just lit by bounce cards reflecting the light coming from the window:
Posted Image

Our main house exterior was surrounded by big trees, creating a problem of really dark shade with a hot center where the sun came between the two trees, hitting a white garage door. The solution was the build a “flyswatter” – a 20’x20’ silk hanging from the condor we brought to light the night scenes at that location:
Posted Image
  • 0

#2 Stephen Murphy

Stephen Murphy
  • Guests

Posted 13 December 2008 - 05:13 AM

Another great post David thank you!
  • 0

#3 Brian Rose

Brian Rose
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 896 posts
  • Student
  • Kansas City area

Posted 13 December 2008 - 11:45 AM

I think you've got too much gear. I'd be willing to take some of it off your hands...;)

Seriously though, awesome work. You're a great source for good behind the scenes shots...it's tough finding this sort of thing elsewhere, that actually reveals the lighting setup. It's been invaluable for me!

Best,
BR
  • 0

#4 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 13 December 2008 - 12:12 PM

All that gear you see along the street shows a basic problem we had with the location. It was a house in the middle of a long block and whenever you staged scenes in front of the house (which was the main reason we were there, since the interiors were on soundstages) we couldn't park any equipment trucks along the street, so every department had to either have their gear a block away around the corner, or on rolling carts and in stakebed trucks so they could be swept away at a moment's notice depending on the camera angle. So all day there was this constant problem of moving all that crap out of the way for the camera's view, but I could never convince any department, sound, wardrobe, grip, electric, camera, etc. that they didn't need all of their equipment out there within arm's reach.

It's the Catch-22 of large-scale production -- keep the equipment as close as possible so that it is quick to retrieve, or keep it farther away so you don't have to waste time constantly moving it out of shots.

The other problem with that location is that invariably we ended the day with a big night exterior shot or scene, so at some point, we had to start preparing to light the street while we were still shooting our day scenes on the same street.

It's hard to convince departments not to have so much gear at the ready -- I may say "I'm only going to use a 1200w HMI for fill, and some bounce cards, I'm not going to use my zoom lenses, etc." but I get the same worried replies "but... what if you suddenly need the 18K? What if you suddenly need a 20x20 silk? What if you suddenly need the zoom lens or the Steadicam built? And then we'll be running a block away to get the stuff and you'll be mad because it's not there right away..." I had no idea I put the fear of God into crew people, but certainly I do give the impression of being impatient, in a quiet way of course. I like things to move quickly, all the time.

Sometimes having less equipment is a blessing. On the other hand, it also means you live with some things you can't fix, like hot noon sun hitting a white garage door that always seems to end up in the shot because so many scenes are staged on the driveway. While shooting on a digital camera where you'd prefer to not have full sun on a white wall in the background of people standing under the deep shade of a tree...

If I come back for another season, I must remember to see if we can get that garage door painted some darker tone.

And as you can see in the photo, not all of that stuff comes from my departments -- in the foreground are the prop department carts, a bicycle prop for a scene, you've also got sound carts, wardrobe racks, etc. Around the corner are the bathrooms, the generator, etc.
  • 0

#5 Matt Workman

Matt Workman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 421 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • NYC

Posted 13 December 2008 - 01:03 PM

Hi David,

Thanks, that was a very interesting post. I have two questions:

1) When you are lighting for a night exterior with the Condor/scoop-lights/2ks/5k how many degrees are you lighting typically? Do you have to move the Condor rig for the reverse?

2) Why do you favor Joker Source 4s over HMI pars for your daylight interior bounce setups? I'd guess for control and small size?

I saw the Woody Lite featured in one of the past ICG mag issues, seems like a smaller Baglite w/ a dimmer. I didn't really take it too seriously until I saw you commend them.

I can't believe the studio would even think about the F23 seeing that its 2/3", but I guess the price tag was probably a big factor.

Great set photos, how else would I know to put a pirate flag on the Fly Swatter.

I'll have to pickup this DVD set when its out. :lol:

Matt
  • 0

#6 Brian Rose

Brian Rose
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 896 posts
  • Student
  • Kansas City area

Posted 13 December 2008 - 01:14 PM

Sorry about the misunderstanding. I was totally joking. I guess I meant I wish I had some of that stuff! I know you know what you need. I always put my foot in my mouth, which is why I usually keep to myself, and avoid opening my mouth. I just offend people who I really admire.

Sorry again.

Brian
  • 0

#7 Tom Lowe

Tom Lowe
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1211 posts
  • Director
  • somewhere worshipping Terrence Malick

Posted 13 December 2008 - 02:57 PM

Looks like a good, solid project, David. I will watch it in Jan.

You certainly have been putting a lot of the various HD cameras through their paces under differing conditions. That is valuable knowledge and experience.
  • 0

#8 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 13 December 2008 - 03:36 PM

Notes on shooting "United States of Tara"

Started shooting on September 2, 2008. Finished November 25, 2008. 11 half-hour episodes for Showtime / Dreamworks (Episodes 2-12), plus 4 days of reshoots on the pilot (Episode 1). Will air in late January. The show is centered around a woman (Toni Collette) named Tara who suffers from multiple personality syndrome, and the effect this has on her family.

Pilot was shot by Uta Briesewicz. 4-perf Super-35 16x9, all on 5218. Panavision cameras. Most of the pilot was shot on a short zoom (I think the 27-68mm T/2.8 Panavision lightweight zoom), no filters. Technicolor did the lab work and telecine (Complete Post). Everything was transferred to HDCAM for dailies and final tape-to-tape.


David, great post as always. Thank you for the insider look into the fascinating world of TV production.

A couple of questions:

Did you do your re-shoots with the '18 or did the editors have to try to match the Genesis with 35mm for the first episode, and were there any special restrictions because of that?

You shot the whole first season; why did someone else shoot the pilot? Forgive me for never having heard of Uta Briesewicz, but I assume that they try to go with higher-profile DPs for pilots, or was it just a scheduling conflict that prevented your doing the pilot too?

Finally, did the Showtime mandate for digital post-date the shooting of the Pilot, or do they allow their pilots to be shot on film? Besides Showtime, Sci-Fi, and BBC, do any other stations also mandate this policy? Any stations mandate that shows must be shot on 35mm film, or 16mm film? Or Kodak film? I find restrictions of this nature to be silly. You should be able to shoot on VHS-C or Vistavision if it suits the story.

It just seems to be such a paradigm shift from the '60s, when a low budget show, like Star Trek, could manage to get the green light to shoot 35mm color when only 10% of households even had color sets.

(Coversely, there is still a surprising amount of SD only broadcasting on big-budget shows when I'm sure there are at least twice as many HD households now as there were color households back then.)
  • 0

#9 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 13 December 2008 - 08:30 PM

1) When you are lighting for a night exterior with the Condor/scoop-lights/2ks/5k how many degrees are you lighting typically? Do you have to move the Condor rig for the reverse?

2) Why do you favor Joker Source 4s over HMI pars for your daylight interior bounce setups? I'd guess for control and small size?

I saw the Woody Lite featured in one of the past ICG mag issues, seems like a smaller Baglite w/ a dimmer. I didn't really take it too seriously until I saw you commend them.


Since the condor was used to create an overhead down light, I tried to park it in a position where we could shoot in both directions and not see the base, which was nearby the action, not down the road. Sometimes I had to move it around to get it out of a shot. It's both an advantage and a disadvantage since as a toplight, you can shoot more or less in any direction under it (the far background needs its own light) so there is some time savings and some freedom to move the camera around since you aren't trying to maintain a backlit angle... on the other hand, the condor base is fairly close to the action, so it's something to work around.

The HMI Source-4 has the same advantages as the tungsten one, you can precisely hit an area and cut the spread with the internal blades, with hardly any spill that needs flagging, so it's a fast way to do bounce lighting.

Yes, the Woodylight has some similar qualities to the Barger Baglite, just that it is smaller physically. The Barger Baglite would be more appropriate for big soft key lighting; the Woodylight is small enough that I can arm it out on a C-stand for a soft backlight or edgelight, put it at the top of some stairs as a soft rake down the stairwell, hide it in a corridor where a Baglite may be too big.
  • 0

#10 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 13 December 2008 - 08:55 PM

I did the reshoots for the pilot on the same 35mm film stock, on a Panaflex -- after we finished the reshoots, we then switched to the Genesis camera package.

Uta is probably most known for shooting the HBO series "The Wire" but she also shot "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" and years ago, she and I shot separately the first two 24P HD features to be released theatrically in North America, using the (new, then) Sony F900 -- I shot "Jackpot", which was released in August 2001, and two weeks later, "Session 9" was released, which she shot. It's a great little psychological horror film, if you haven't seen it.

I was shooting "Jennifer's Body", written by Diablo Cody ("Juno") in the spring last year when the pilot for "Tara" was being shot by Uta; I was never in the running to shoot the pilot, I didn't even know about the show until Diablo Cody told me about it on the set of "Jennifer's Body" (she wrote the pilot and is a producer on the show) -- she kept flying back to LA while we were making the feature to also deal with the "Tara" pilot shoot.

I believe they even asked Uta to shoot the series when it got picked up, but for whatever reasons, she didn't do it and my name was thrown into the running. I don't know who else was interviewed for the job.

The thing is that the several months that often pass between the shooting of the pilot and then the series often means that the DP of the pilot is not available for the series when it comes up. And some DP's prefer just shooting pilots and not regular series.

Apparently Steven Spielberg, who produces the series, saw clips from "Northfork" on my reel and was impressed. Which is very flattering.

The main concern they had about hiring me was that I was shooting "Stay Cool" right up until three days before the series was about to start shooting. I wrapped "Stay Cool" at 3AM on a Thursday morning, slept, then went to the final production meeting for the series, did the big tech scout the next day, Friday, and was shooting the show that following Tuesday (Monday being Labor Day.) This meant that while I was finishing the last two weeks on "Stay Cool" I was also visiting the sets and locations for the series by getting up extra early and doing prep before my call time, along with my gaffer Keith Morgan and my Key Grip Brad Heiner. We didn't get much sleep those last two weeks...

Showtime has had a digital origination requirement for some time, before other companies were doing it. Most of their shows have used 2/3" 3-CCD cameras like the F900, Viper, now F23, etc. I don't know which pilots were shot on film versus digital. Perhaps most used digital but since this particular pilot was made by Dreamworks and Spielberg, they used film.

HBO is still pretty positive about shooting film except for some of their cheaper shows -- I was just talking to a DP who tested 35mm, Super-16, RED, the Panasonic HPX3000 (they didn't test the F23 or Genesis because they wanted lighter cameras) for an HBO pilot in NYC and they ended up using 35mm.
  • 0

#11 Saul Rodgar

Saul Rodgar
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1682 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 13 December 2008 - 09:24 PM

Sweet! I met Chris Squires on the Wild Hogs set a couple of years ago, nice NY cameraman -who incidentally is a fellow Eclair ACL fan. Good to know he was working with Mr Mullen.

So I gather you are not going to try to match the pilot's unfiltered Kodak '18, more contrasty look to your Genesis footage in post? Or viceversa ? . .
  • 0

#12 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 13 December 2008 - 11:32 PM

The filtration on the Genesis looks pretty mild, so it's not much different than the sharpness of the pilot shot on film. There is a little grain in the pilot though in some dark scenes, but for the most part, there wasn't much of a visible change in look. The look of the timing is more or less consistent through all the episodes in terms of contrast and saturation.
  • 0

#13 Dan Goulder

Dan Goulder
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1259 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 14 December 2008 - 12:24 AM

The filtration on the Genesis looks pretty mild, so it's not much different than the sharpness of the pilot shot on film. There is a little grain in the pilot though in some dark scenes, but for the most part, there wasn't much of a visible change in look. The look of the timing is more or less consistent through all the episodes in terms of contrast and saturation.

Did you find a difference in the look of skin tones and/or overall color saturation between film vs. the Genesis? In more general terms, did you find either medium to be more 'flattering' toward the actors or actresses than the other?
Thanks.
  • 0

#14 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 14 December 2008 - 01:18 AM

I never really saw any side-by-side comparisons -- I was in an HD timing session to match my new 35mm shots to the old ones in the pilot, but so far, I haven't been available to time the Genesis-shot episodes that followed since the first six were timed without me, since I was busy shooting.

So my impressions are based on seeing the 35mm footage in a DaVinci suite versus the Genesis footage on my HD monitor on set. And either I could look at the LOG image or one with a basic LUT I created to restore the contrast. So saturation and contrast level will really be set in post, and they will try to match what was started on the pilot. Craig Gillespie, the director of the pilot and the two episodes after that, did sit in the color correction sessions and supervised the look, so I'm sure it all follows the look he wanted, which is somewhat muted.

The pilot has a somewhat "grittier" quality, maybe due to the grain structure, but that may also just be due to the differences in how the pilot was lit versus my work on the series.

The fact that film is somewhat gentler, softer on faces than the Genesis is the main reason I used the Classic Black filters on the Genesis camera.
  • 0

#15 Alex Wuijts

Alex Wuijts
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 181 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 14 December 2008 - 10:49 AM

That's a very nice idea, putting the spacelights just above the windows. Did it create a soft skylight effect in the kitchen or were they just to light the cyc?
  • 0

#16 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 14 December 2008 - 11:33 AM

Spacelights right above a window was an idea I wanted to try out on "Big Love" but didn't get the chance, but the advantage is that they provide both light for the area outside of the window plus a soft light that spills downwards on the window sill and floor, recreating the effect of a bright sky. Often on a set, you shine light directly through a window to light the room and actors, but you don't have time to rig a high light just to shine downwards and hit the floor. I'd say that turning on the spacelights when I walked into a room did half the lighting for me right away.

Here is a snapshot that my Key Grip Brad Heiner took of me and some Woodylights rigged for a shot of two people watching TV. One is gelled blue and is right above the TV set to create a flickering glow on their faces. The Genesis camera position is opposite from the angle of the snapshot:
Posted Image
  • 0

#17 F Bulgarelli

F Bulgarelli
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 409 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 17 December 2008 - 12:48 PM

Hello David,

11 half hour episodes in less than 3 months, were you guys moving at a super fast pace?

Francisco
  • 0

#18 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 17 December 2008 - 01:00 PM

Hello David,

11 half hour episodes in less than 3 months, were you guys moving at a super fast pace?

Francisco


We shot each episode in five days, which is about five to six pages a day (this is a pay cable show, so no commercial breaks, making each episode truly around a half-hour.)

Five or six pages a day is a similar pace to the "Manure" and "Stay Cool", which both had 26-day schedules (which was insane in the case of "Manure" due to the complexity of that shoot), basically similar to your standard 5-week (5-day weeks) feature schedule more or less.

Which is fast, though truth is that I've never shot a show that wasn't fast-paced. Longer schedules just mean that the scenes and shots are more ambitious, so it always ends up being just as hard to shoot an eight-week feature as it does a four-week feature.
  • 0

#19 Saul Rodgar

Saul Rodgar
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1682 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 17 December 2008 - 01:21 PM

David: Can you please talk about the process you followed to rate the Genesis at 500 ASA, Tungsten balanced? Thank you.
  • 0

#20 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 17 December 2008 - 06:20 PM

David: Can you please talk about the process you followed to rate the Genesis at 500 ASA, Tungsten balanced? Thank you.


I set meter to 500 ASA, read the set-up, set the camera to that f-stop... and it seemed about right most of the time looking at the monitor.

3200K is the base set-up for the camera, like most Sony cameras.
  • 0


Ritter Battery

The Slider

FJS International, LLC

Willys Widgets

Abel Cine

Wooden Camera

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Metropolis Post

Tai Audio

Opal

Rig Wheels Passport

CineLab

CineTape

rebotnix Technologies

Technodolly

Paralinx LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Glidecam

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Visual Products

CineLab

Abel Cine

Ritter Battery

Metropolis Post

Glidecam

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Wooden Camera

Visual Products

The Slider

CineTape

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

Tai Audio

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

Technodolly

FJS International, LLC

Opal

rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks