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Testing your lighting setups using stills


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#1 Johnny Whieldon

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 12:15 PM

I just purchased a Bolex H16 EBM camera. I'm going to shoot my short film using Kodak 50D film. Because I live in the 21st century and am so used to instant gratification I'm very intimidated to start shooting film without having first tested my lighting setups.

I realize that I could ask Kodak for a test roll. But isn't there a down and dirty way to get a reasonable idea of what my setups will look like on 50D by photographing them using an old still camera? If so which camera/film combo would best serve my purpose ?

Edited by Johnny Whieldon, 02 May 2012 - 12:16 PM.

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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:39 PM

I often use a DSLR set to 1/50th or 1/60th of a second exposure, ISO to the closest I can get to my actual ISO of film; and F stop to compensate if needed (example, if my camera only goes to 100ISO and I'm on 50ISO, I would close down by one stop).
Then I can look on set and see how it looks; knowing that on the negative I'll get a bit more informtion (mainly in the highlights).

You could also do it with stills film; but then you still need to wait for processing and scan the stuff-- and even then it wouldn't be a direct representation-- hence why digital just makes more sense. After awhile though, you won't need do to this so much. Normally I just do it for jittery directors/producers/people who want to peek.

Long ago this would've been done on Polariod film too.
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#3 Johnny Whieldon

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 07:35 PM

Thanks Adrian. I remember reading somewhere that Kubrick and is DoP used to walk around on set with polaroid cameras to compare subtle lighting changes. DSLR sounds cheaper and easier.
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#4 Mark Baluk

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 08:47 PM

Why not buy a roll (or get some deal on a test roll) of 35mm and just bulk load it into any SLR camera? that way you have the same exact stock and you can see exactly what you're dealing with.

I'ddouble check with the lab to make sure they'll process your film in short (36 frame?) runs.

Edited by Mark Baluk, 08 May 2012 - 08:47 PM.

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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 07:55 AM

I don't have a bulk loader, so there's that issue. It's incredibly more expensive than just shooting. You need to wait for development and no stills lab would be able to run it so now you're limited to cine labs and often they won't do that short of a run-- though back in the day, they would do this all the time for black and white shooting. They'd cut off a frame of the neg and develop it on set, and look @ it ect.

It would be great if you're able to take that with you on your scout and get your lab to run it for you-- that would be fantastic (but might as well just take out an eyemo at that point.)


The point isn't to get it to look exactly as it will on the film but just a rough approximation. When i did it all the time, It was always an issue of, if the DSLR sees it, the film sees it. It's not about getting exact, as it won't be exact (even shooting a still wont be exact as you're not taking it through the full post path-- e.g. into the color suite with your colorist on the calibrated monitors ect..). So if you can only get an approximation anyway, why go through the extra to bulk load? And, what happens when you're on set and you need to see it right now?
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