Jump to content


Photo

Questions about production stills


  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 Patrick Cooper

Patrick Cooper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 868 posts
  • Other

Posted 19 September 2011 - 07:18 AM

I'm keen to get involved in shooting production stills on a film set and I have several questions to ask. I have experience shooting musicians, plays and circuses so hopefully, this can help.

1. Firstly, are production stills taken mainly of the mis-en-scene (eg the actors and the set) or a mixture of the mis-en-scene and the crew in operation?

2. Regarding images of the mis-en-scene, are stills generally taken during or in between takes? I would think that if stills are taken during a take, the sound of the shutter release would not be appreciated by the sound recordist. So that leaves shooting stills to the periods in between takes but that would mean photographing the actors out of character?

3. And when photographing the mis-en-scene, is the aim to attain a similar composition as the movie camera or do you have more creative freedom?

4. I would assume that the photographer supplies their own equipment. Has digital dominated this field now or is film still used on some occasions? Does it vary from production to production? I notice slide film was used on the Australian TV series McLeods Daughters - though I'm not 100% sure whether that was for production stills.

5. When shooting digital production stills, I realise that DSLRs would normally be the accepted standard but are Micro 4/3rds cameras an acceptable substitute? I have a Panasonic Lumix G2 by the way.

6. And if you were at the head of production, what qualities would you be looking for in a stills photographer? Eg. any qualifications, experience - the sort of things that would be in the job description.
  • 0

#2 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5069 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 19 September 2011 - 08:07 AM

Photographers take a mixture of stills for a production, because they'll be needed for various publicity purposes during the marketing.

Still photographs that are used as representing scenes from the film tend to have the same style as the film, the other ones you can be more creative with.

The stills cameras tend to be fitted inside blimps (as used on the old film cameras), so that you can take photographs during the takes as the actors are performing without the sound recordist picking up the shutter.

To get on larger productions you usually need to have some experience, so many people start working on shorts and lower budget films
  • 0

#3 Patrick Cooper

Patrick Cooper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 868 posts
  • Other

Posted 19 September 2011 - 10:02 PM

Still photographs that are used as representing scenes from the film tend to have the same style as the film, the other ones you can be more creative with.


I guess there would be many times where I would need to study the monitor and copy the basic composition. Even so, with the camera crew there, I wouldn't have the same line of sight.

The stills cameras tend to be fitted inside blimps (as used on the old film cameras), so that you can take photographs during the takes as the actors are performing without the sound recordist picking up the shutter.


The still camera inside a blimp? Sounds like an awkward compromise....I'd imagine it would be pretty tricky accessing and operating various camera settings. Especially with a DSLR with all the numerous buttons and dials.
  • 0

#4 Damien Andre

Damien Andre
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 65 posts
  • Student
  • New Joisey

Posted 19 September 2011 - 10:22 PM

The stills cameras tend to be fitted inside blimps (as used on the old film cameras), so that you can take photographs during the takes as the actors are performing without the sound recordist picking up the shutter.

wouldnt it make more sense to lock the mirror up and use live view?
  • 0

#5 Patrick Cooper

Patrick Cooper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 868 posts
  • Other

Posted 19 September 2011 - 10:37 PM

wouldnt it make more sense to lock the mirror up and use live view?


My G2 Micro 4/3rds camera has no mirror of course but the shutter release still makes an audible sound.
  • 0

#6 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5069 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 20 September 2011 - 02:58 AM

I guess there would be many times where I would need to study the monitor and copy the basic composition. Even so, with the camera crew there, I wouldn't have the same line of sight.
The still camera inside a blimp? Sounds like an awkward compromise....I'd imagine it would be pretty tricky accessing and operating various camera settings. Especially with a DSLR with all the numerous buttons and dials.


Very few production stills actually match the framing, they're just similar or close enough. The only ones I can think of that do are those from Barry Lyndon, which were taken from the film camera neg (I assume from unused takes).

I suspect that you won't be making that many changes on a film set, the main production camera usually doesn't really many adjustments during the day. You may pick up some more on the subject here; http://buntyme.wordp...-stills-camera/

Edited by Brian Drysdale, 20 September 2011 - 02:58 AM.

  • 0

#7 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5069 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 20 September 2011 - 03:13 AM

Here's the company that makes the blimps:

http://www.soundblimp.com/
  • 0

#8 Francesco Bonomo

Francesco Bonomo
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 366 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • currently in Rome, Italy

Posted 20 September 2011 - 04:01 AM

You may want to check episode 9 of the "set to screen" podcast, a series of short videos made at the time of Baz Luhrmann's Australia. Episode 9 is dedicated to the still photographer on set:

http://itunes.apple....een/id278396471

I have seen lots of photographers use blimps, especially for dialogue scenes and when close to the talent, and obviously less frequently for action sequences and when using long lenses.
One of the best Italian still photographers (who happens to be a member of Magnum), only uses 2 Leica M most of the times, with black and white film, so it can be literally wherever he wants since those cameras are so silent.
  • 0

#9 Patrick Cooper

Patrick Cooper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 868 posts
  • Other

Posted 21 September 2011 - 07:12 PM

You may want to check episode 9 of the "set to screen" podcast, a series of short videos made at the time of Baz Luhrmann's Australia. Episode 9 is dedicated to the still photographer on set:

http://itunes.apple....een/id278396471


Cool. I'll check it out (Ive never viewed a podcast before!)


One of the best Italian still photographers (who happens to be a member of Magnum), only uses 2 Leica M most of the times, with black and white film, so it can be literally wherever he wants since those cameras are so silent.


Makes me envious of those Leicas! If I was using one of my Canon manual 35mm SLRs inside a blimp, one concern of mine would be winding on the film. And with the Panasonic G2 that I also have, there is a handy feature that allows 5x and 10x magnification in the EVF when focusing with manual lenses. I haven't used that particular feature with manual focus lenses as yet but I think I might need to access the menu to use it, and hopefully only needs to be accessed once otherwise a blimp could prove to be a problem.
  • 0


Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Opal

FJS International, LLC

Ritter Battery

The Slider

rebotnix Technologies

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio

Rig Wheels Passport

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Wooden Camera

Aerial Filmworks

Willys Widgets

Paralinx LLC

Abel Cine

CineTape

Metropolis Post

Technodolly

CineLab

Visual Products

Glidecam

Visual Products

Technodolly

Opal

FJS International, LLC

Metropolis Post

Rig Wheels Passport

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

CineTape

Glidecam

Aerial Filmworks

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

Tai Audio

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Abel Cine

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

The Slider

Paralinx LLC