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The art of using ND Grads


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#1 Daniel Porto

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 11:56 PM

I have seen many DP's (one being Nigel Bluck - I wish I asked him at the time!) use 2 or 3 ND Grads in the one shot - with a mix of both soft and hard grads and the grad lines resting in different positions.

Can someone please explain why some DOP's shoot like this? Obviously it is to control the brightness of certain parts of the image but is the thinking to make certain parts of an image stand out ever so slightly?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 01:32 AM

Both, to reduce the brightness of one area to de-emphasize it, but also to control it if it was too bright.

Generally though since most movies go through D.I.'s, the main reason to use ND grads is to darken an area that is overexposing too much for the latitude of the film stock or digital camera. For more subtle things like doing a soft vignette to direct the eye, etc. it is easier to do that in the color-correction stage since you can more easily place the grad, move it with the camera and actor, shape it to objects, etc.
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