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"Open Diaries"


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#1 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 12:24 AM

I'm shooting my first RED feature (I've shot 3 music videos with it and a short film before) starting March 2nd. It's shooting in my home town Vancouver, which is kind of ironic that I moved to LA for 3 weeks and the first thing I book is right back home. This film is very low budget and with a minimal crew. I have my gaffer Jesse Keay and his best boy Damon Evens doing both lighting and grip. My focus puller Masayo Takada I've used on all my RED projects and did a fantastic job on each and she's bringing on a volunteer 2nd AC. The story is about a middle aged woman and her affairs with younger men. She eventually falls in love with a 17 years old man and the film is based around 4 years of that relationship. Our locations are fantastic and we are shooting in this beautiful mansion for 10 days of the 20 day shoot.

Yesterday we shot a test. The objective of the test was to test the camera exposures and RED build 18, along with a new monitor I've never used a JVC DT-V20L1DU, which looked fantastic good. After this we sent the footage through the proposed dailies workflow and offline and online to color workflow to figure it all out. One of my requirements was to be able to color grade in 2k DPX in color and not have a stupid Apple Pro res workflow for color correction.

Here are my tests:

http://www.chayseirv...es/opendiaries/

Posted Image

Sasha the Director was my test subject. I also shot these same tests using tungsten lights and then exported tiff's of it balanced to tungsten (the key light) and then with daylight (background). I pull all these tiff's on my iphone and use them as visual references and light with my light meter and eye. I never trust production monitors no mater how good they are. Just the way i prefer to work.

The Dailies Workflow:

I took this footage and brought it into RED ALERT!. The Color Space was set to Camera RGB, and LUT set to RED LOG. I then created a curve that is what you see on the image above. I saved that as a preset (RLX) thats access able via RED ALERT! and can be applied to each shot with a hot key. After this step, a file is placed in the red folder called a RSX file. This is basically as I see it a Custom LUT. To process our dailies we own this software called R3D Data Manager. This program is great. It will check the data on the red drive for any flaws and will copy the files to any number of drives at the same time. It will also create Apple Pro Rez Dailies for us... which I can load in my custom LUT (RSX) file that as it batch compresses to prores. We have 2 new macbook pros, and a last years mac book pro on set to process dailies fast at the end of the day using fast eSATA hard drives.

Post Workflow:

Offline is being edited with Apple Pro Rez and then onlined using Crimson Workflow. Crimson sends the offline to REDCINE and then REDCINE produces that DPX sequence. We will probably have to export the online in 20min reels for color... So we can color time and then render, and color time some more. For Color timing we will be using one of 2 high speed RAIDS. We are building another Mac Pro 8 core to be able to power a 2k DPX color time by upgrading it with capture cards for monitoring and ram. I'm hiring a colorist friend of mine to color time it a the home of the directors with me whenever the film is finished.

Anyone tried this workflow? Any problems with any of the element?
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#2 Gus Sacks

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 02:18 AM

Sounds pretty thorough. Stills look awesome. I'm sure the project's going to turn out great; you'll do an excellent jo as always.
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#3 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 06:48 AM

Awesome, glad you're doing this production journal Chayse. It's great to hear specifics of the Red setup and workflow you've worked out.

A few questions:

- Did you test RC28 vs. RC36? In my tests, RC28 had a bit more noise but I only looked at the exported 1080p pro-res HQ files to confirm this.
- What did you end up rating the camera under tungsten/daylight, and how much latitude do you find that you have?
- How hot was the sky outside the window? Looks like it's holding pretty well.
- I'm kinda surprised that you were able to correct the mixed color temp in your still back to neutral, background and foreground. Where did you end up setting the WB?
- Are you worried at all about using one LUT for all of your scenes, day and night, interior and exterior?
- What lenses are you using? The BPM filtration looks pretty good, it's a nice combo.

Thanks! (Wish I could comment on the workflow, but I've only done shorts with the Red and have not needed to mess with Crimson or DPX files yet).
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#4 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 12:14 AM

Sounds pretty thorough. Stills look awesome. I'm sure the project's going to turn out great; you'll do an excellent jo as always.


Thanks Gus. I'm going to try to keep posting during the shoot. The workflow makes it easy to show some stuff on here.

Awesome, glad you're doing this production journal Chayse. It's great to hear specifics of the Red setup and workflow you've worked out.

A few questions:

- Did you test RC28 vs. RC36? In my tests, RC28 had a bit more noise but I only looked at the exported 1080p pro-res HQ files to confirm this.
- What did you end up rating the camera under tungsten/daylight, and how much latitude do you find that you have?
- How hot was the sky outside the window? Looks like it's holding pretty well.
- I'm kinda surprised that you were able to correct the mixed color temp in your still back to neutral, background and foreground. Where did you end up setting the WB?
- Are you worried at all about using one LUT for all of your scenes, day and night, interior and exterior?
- What lenses are you using? The BPM filtration looks pretty good, it's a nice combo.

Thanks! (Wish I could comment on the workflow, but I've only done shorts with the Red and have not needed to mess with Crimson or DPX files yet).


RC36 only way to go :-). I didn't test the rating of the camera. I rated it at 320asa which I've found is the most dynamic. Right now it seems to be that a "clip" in the highlights is considered bad cinematography. I personally don't care as long as its supposed to feel bright. But I'm always experimenting on ways to make a clip feel right. I use Zebras to know how much clipping is going on and most often try and find a happy place.

I didn't correct tungsten. This still is Daylight BG and Daylight Key. But I also lit it with tungsten. This mixed the color temp. Which is what I was looking for. Then I just made stills balanced to both daylight and tungsten in RED ALERT!. I might have some scenes interior day that I want to feel warm inside with white light outside, meaning I would still be balanced for Day. When it was balanced for tungsten the results weren't very good. The daylight just becomes so over saturated it creates a chromatic aberration and causes the highlights to clip unnaturally because there is so much blue around the areas that aren't clipped.

I prefer using only one custom LUT because I light to that custom LUT. I know what fixtures to use, where to put them, how many to use, ect. and as the shoot goes on, I just get better at mastering lighting for that custom LUT. On another project I could see myself creating more custom LUTs for scenes with different looks. But I want a continuity of image for this entire movie that remains static throughout and most scenes are Day Interiors. In color correction I'll be able to do whatever I want, but changes will be easy to apply to everything because it was lit that way. I've had a lot of problems over the years understanding why some scenes look good lit a certain way and some dont. This makes sure its all lit to a certain way, being the custom LUT and Light Meter via visual reference. I usually decide on a lighting style for a film during prep and stick with it. If there are multi different looks I'll put those in my notes, and when the project requires it I will make a custom LUT for each look. I just can't wait for the feature where your able to import a RLX file (cutsom LUT) into the RED for onset monitoring.

I'm using Zeiss Super Speeds as usual. I love fast lenses... but the choice was strictly budget based. If I had money I would have tested Ultras, Masters, and Cookes before considering Zeiss Super Speeds. I dont have the focal lengths I like to use (27mm, 32mm, 40mm) But I'm using a lot of wider lenses on this project, Probably 18mm and 25mm, and I really like the look of those wide open at T1.3. In the test I used a 35mm. I love my BPM. I typically shoot it when ever using digital. I just love what it does to the highlights.
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#5 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 09:12 AM

I see what you mean about daylight becoming super-blue with the camera tungsten-balanced, never thought about this before but I know exactly what you're talking about and it makes a lot of sense.

I think the BPM is helping the clip render in a more film-like way in your still, acting like an "analog" knee compression. Like I said it looks great. I don't consider clipped highlights bad cinematography at all (this is coming from a Bob Richardson fan, after all!), but I find the way that the Red clips exceptionally ugly, especially when "highlight recovery" is overused in processing stage. I guess I was trying to find out whether the sky was clipping in camera at all, since it looks so smooth.

I guess one analogy to your use of the single LUT is using one filmstock for a whole film. The problem I have with that is that sensors don't behave the same way that filmstock does, not to mention the overall contrast in a low-lit scene would be lower than one lit to a high-key scene given the same lighting ratios. In that case, you may not get an accurate idea of what the scene would eventually look like when the LUT is applied to the image because the physics of light and circuitry have changed the image on you, so to speak. Of course, it's all metadata anyway so maybe this is not relevant at all. And hey, if your system works, then it works - your footage looks consistently amazing, so the proof's in the pudding I guess. Anyway, I'm very curious to see if this method will continue to be reliable for you under varied lighting conditions - if so, I hope you don't mind if I steal it. :)

Hey, the Superspeeds are still good lenses. :) How do you feel about the Cooke S4's? I recently shot a 35mm test with them, projected a contact print and found them to be way too soft for the big screen for my taste. They're perfectly fine for HDTV I suppose, but man was I disappointed. I think the Superspeeds are subjectively sharper.

Anyway, thanks for the insights and good luck!
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#6 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 04:22 PM

I guess one analogy to your use of the single LUT is using one filmstock for a whole film. The problem I have with that is that sensors don't behave the same way that filmstock does, not to mention the overall contrast in a low-lit scene would be lower than one lit to a high-key scene given the same lighting ratios. In that case, you may not get an accurate idea of what the scene would eventually look like when the LUT is applied to the image because the physics of light and circuitry have changed the image on you, so to speak. Of course, it's all metadata anyway so maybe this is not relevant at all. And hey, if your system works, then it works - your footage looks consistently amazing, so the proof's in the pudding I guess. Anyway, I'm very curious to see if this method will continue to be reliable for you under varied lighting conditions - if so, I hope you don't mind if I steal it. :)

Hey, the Superspeeds are still good lenses. :) How do you feel about the Cooke S4's? I recently shot a 35mm test with them, projected a contact print and found them to be way too soft for the big screen for my taste. They're perfectly fine for HDTV I suppose, but man was I disappointed. I think the Superspeeds are subjectively sharper.

Anyway, thanks for the insights and good luck!



I kind of think a single LUT as a one light print process where you set all your printer lights in prep and have the colorist match it for everything on dailies. The negative is still the negative and is left un-manipulated, but what you screen is a print. Your totally right about the contrast... but I mean you have to have that in mind when looking at the test. I've lit this to a relatively high contrast. But thats why it have Key, Backlight, and Fill exposures written on the slate. In all cases I will have a completely different amount of contrast, but I will still be able to judge that from the test.

Did you do a side by side test with the cookes comparing to something else?
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#7 Gus Sacks

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 07:57 PM

I love my BPM. I typically shoot it when ever using digital. I just love what it does to the highlights.


Agreed, man. I always have the 1/8 and 1/4 on-set with HD if at all possible.
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#8 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 04:11 AM

I kind of think a single LUT as a one light print process where you set all your printer lights in prep and have the colorist match it for everything on dailies. The negative is still the negative and is left un-manipulated, but what you screen is a print.

Okay, that makes sense to me. Though, I still think there is a major difference between the two systems, namely that with film you have the option of using different filmstocks of varying EI, so if exposure is consistently landing on the same part of the characteristic curve across all of the stocks then a one light would still produce consistent results. It's much harder to get exposure to land on the same part of the sensor's linear gamma "curve" consistently since it's response can't really be changed, and while we overlook that fact a lot with digital cameras that use in-camera processing, I think with cameras that shoot RAW we have to think differently about how to expose. Maybe that doesn't really change anything, other than that it's lot harder now...

Did you do a side by side test with the cookes comparing to something else?

No. I really should have, I guess. Next time... :)
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#9 Andrew Brinkhaus

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 02:08 AM

Hey man, cool hearing about the project, and meeting you at the ASC open house. Best of luck tomorrow and for the rest of the shoot! I look forward to seeing more footy and grabs. :)

Let me know when your back in town and we can grab drinks!

Edited by Andrew Brinkhaus, 02 March 2009 - 02:08 AM.

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#10 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 09:26 PM

Hello Chayse,

I use my still camera for quick contrast checking, I have a 50mm t1.8 which allows me to see where I'm with the exposure as well.
I try not to get to comfy with the monitor, after all, is just a reference image, trust your eye and in a way treat the RED like film. It's important to pre-visualize the image. I think it all starts from how you see it inside your head.

Just my 2 cents,

Francisco
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#11 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 01:38 AM

Nearing the end of week 2. I was hoping to post some stuff this weekend, but we only had 1 day off and my day was spent location scouting and meetings with the director. I'm hoping to post up a bunch of stills on one of our days off this week. One thing i'd like to say tho is that Gaffer Jesse Keay brought out this light he's been raving about for the last little while... Until now, I haven't been able to have a conversation, with him, without him bringing this light up. Well finally he pulled it off his other truck and brought it to set. It was a Dedolight K400D, and I must say its amazing. Its the most versatile HMI i've worked with. Its bright, lightweight, small, barn doors are extra matted and very strong... yet not stiff and comes with w/ gel clips, the ballast can jump from 400w to 200w and then a Extra dimming stage in which you can dim the light for precision exposure, and the best feature is a 20:1 spot. It's beam angle is insane, much much wider then a fresnel, close to an open face fixtures beam, but this beam is perfectly evenly distributed even when spotted, better than a fresnel at full flood. Apparently it does this with two lenses being in the fixture... one that is unseen near the bulb. Its really an amazing light. I love 400w jokers, but this light replaces it in my arsenal. I just wish I had a bunch because any other light just feels like a waste of time now...
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#12 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 01:57 AM

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#13 Shubham Kasera

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 02:12 AM

hello
i was wondering on what color space is the test shoot shot on?
did u apply any curve on it, and is the image corrected back to its original color space?
thanks
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#14 Richard Vialet

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 04:00 PM

Very great looking stuff as usual man!!! The story sounds interesting and it seems like you're doing a very good job with it.

*Is that Dedolight 400D used in most of these day interior examples?

* Are the deep blacks a product of that LUT you created?

* Screengrabs #6 and 9 seem like almost the same frame but with different lighting...was there like a stylistic lighting or stop change or were these just two different scenes?


I would also like to read some more lighting and camera details on the screengrabs please! :)
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#15 Chris Keth

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 11:44 PM

Hey, Chayse, I'm getting question boxes for all of your images.
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#16 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 02:11 AM

This reminds me of a quote that I don't fully remember:

"making changes to an image on a digital cinema camera, is like arranging the furniture to look nice in the moving truck."

Stu from prolost said that, and I thought it was pretty funny. I would like to play with the Look settings and functions of the camera, but I don't know how practical they are.

Chayse, I'm dying to see what you've shot, but the site you linked to isn't working and none of the images are showing up. They must be linked....
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