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United States of Tara Season 1 DVD


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 January 2010 - 09:35 PM

I'm posting some random frame grabs from the new DVD of Season One of "Tara", to give you an idea of the general look, which is generally straight-forward:

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 January 2010 - 11:44 PM

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#3 John Holland

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 03:25 PM

David love your lighting ! Is this film or HD , what ever it doesnt matter lovely .
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 05:50 PM

David love your lighting ! Is this film or HD , what ever it doesnt matter lovely .


The first frame, with Brie Larson in the red backlight, was from the reshoots of the pilot, in 35mm (5218), the rest were the Genesis. I wasn't involved in the timing of Season One (it was done while I was shooting) so don't take the slight drop in saturation and contrast between the pilot and the rest as indicative of a film vs. Genesis difference, they could have been timed closer but the director preferred a muted, lower-contrast look for the show.

That last shot of Toni as Alice with the hot windows was from a "vision" that Tara was having, so I did something a bit different, I think I added a 1/4 ProMist for that shot. The rest of the show was shot with different degrees of Classic Soft Blacks, which have a built-in 1/8 Black Frost.

Since the house stuff was on stage, I tried to create some variations in time of day by playing with warm highlights and cool shadows, etc.

Season Two will have a similar look, in some ways better (I played more with the lighting, it's more dramatic in some scenes) and some ways not so good (I was asked to shoot Rec 709 instead of PanaLog on the Genesis to save money in making dailies, which I now regret. Clippier highlights and some video-ish color tint to bright areas of skintones near the clip point. You can only get so far with knee controls to emulate what you can get in Log in terms of extended highlight range.)

My favorite aspect of shooting the show, besides the great cast, especially Toni Collette, was the fact that we mostly shot on Primo primes in medium shot, rarely anything closer than chest-up, mostly all in the 27mm to 50mm range, primarily using the 35mm. It's such a relief from all those 2-camera shoots with zooms shooting a million angles and shot sizes for no discernible reason.
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#5 Shaan Aslam

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 10:04 PM

Looks fantastic! Is it all on location? Looks like it.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 11:16 PM

Looks fantastic! Is it all on location? Looks like it.


Half on location, half on stages -- all the house stuff is on stage.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 11:42 PM

Here's a simple trick that may come in handy. The house set mostly just had some dayblue curtains and some fake trees to put outside the windows, and not much space either. In fact, in the kitchen set, there was only 4' of space between the window and the blue backing, into which I had to cram lights and trees together. Plus there was a big white support pipe right outside the window as part of the stage architecture -- I suggested we wrap it in fake bark and make it look like a tree truck. It was always in the way of lights.

Anyway, because the view was not particularly convincing, I used 1/2 Hampshire Frost gel on the glass windows to diffuse the view, throwing it into a blurred focus. Here are some examples (you can see the support beam wrapped in bark):

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Luckily on Season Two, we moved to a new stage and I had a lot more room outside the kitchen window, plus more trees and some fencing, so I didn't need to use the 1/2 Hampshire Frost trick on that window.

All the windows had one or two space lights hung just above the window frame, outside, to create soft light spilling downwards through the window, onto the furniture and countertops in the room. I had them on pulley ropes in case I ever needed to raise them out of the way.
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#8 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 01:57 PM

Hi David,

Just a thought - when you arrived on the house set and started tweaking the windows, etc. to fix the view outside, would it have been too late at that point to ask art department for a different type of glass to be used in the windows, say a rippled glass texture or something?

It just seems like for these shows where you're having to always fight the tight space between stage wall and window, it would be a natural solution, if the art department had thought of it in time.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 02:07 PM

Hi David,

Just a thought - when you arrived on the house set and started tweaking the windows, etc. to fix the view outside, would it have been too late at that point to ask art department for a different type of glass to be used in the windows, say a rippled glass texture or something?

It just seems like for these shows where you're having to always fight the tight space between stage wall and window, it would be a natural solution, if the art department had thought of it in time.


Well, it's not unusual to put pebbled glass in bathroom windows, for example. But the advantage of using the 1/2 Hampshire Frost is that you never know when you'll want to remove it and get clear glass, like to do a shot from outside looking in, or to get a sharp sunlight pattern through the window, etc. So having the art department permanently diffuse the windows can be just as limiting as having the view be too clear.
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#10 Shaan Aslam

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 06:38 PM

WOW! Never would have guessed the house was on stage. Great work David!
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#11 Chris Walters

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 07:04 PM

Beautiful Work David. I found myself enraptured in the lighting! I really enjoyed and learned from just watching a few episodes. I really love how natural everything looks. So much variation in tone from dark to light. I hope I can achieve such looks like this on my future projects! Great work! Can't wait to see more.
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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Opal

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CineLab

Glidecam

The Slider

Aerial Filmworks