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Shooting Chicago downtown/river on 5219 at night


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#1 Mike Tounian

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 03:14 PM

Hi Everyone,

I shot my thesis film this summer, a prohibition-era gangster film, and we need to shoot some exterior plates for VFX in downtown Chicago. We plan to stage on the roof of a 15 story building and a 7 story building, shooting down at the river and State Street Bridge (among others).

The key element we need to capture is the water and the bridges. Everything else our VFX team can matte out and recreate old Chicago around it. Obviously we can't afford to light the whole cityscape in a wide shot, so we are left with available light.

Does anyone on the boards have experience with shooting cityscapes under these circumstances, with a 500T film, and have advice they can offer? Should we push a stop? Two stops? I spoke with Lorette at Kodak who said pushing 19 to 1000iso still produces great results with hardly any perceptible increase in grain, but I would love to hear from folks who have actually done it. Can 19 be pushed more than one stop?

Just for reference, we shot our whole film on 19, rated normally, and will be doing a 2K scan for DI.

Thank you!

MT
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 09:13 AM

You can certainly push 1 stop without too much of a penalty on '19. I'd rate at 800, though, as opposed to 1000. You could also do 2 stops, rated at say 1600 ish (but I'd test this if possible).
How fast are your lenses? I have often shot downtown in Philadelphia on '18, '60, and '30 with just available light around a T2/T1.3 with adequate results.
However, I will say that if you need a lot of low-light sensitivity and don't want to worry about grain too much it may be wise to go with digital capture for these shots. I love film, 100%, but recently I got to play with an Alexa and outside at night it was quite stunning in Log-C to ProRes. This might also make it a lot easier for your VFX house to work with, and you can always add grain to it later on to match the '19 stuff, should you wish. It's also nice to be able to see the image as it's captured in these kinds of situations, for me.
Red would also be a possibility; but I am very "meh," on their cameras on the whole.
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#3 Mike Tounian

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 03:13 PM

Thank you for your advice Adrian!

I'm with you on the distaste for RED, I would rather shoot 16mm (hell, 8mm) than that pile. After speaking with our VFX guys, they claim there is no outright advantage for them to choose an Alexa over a 35mm camera, it would only be the savings in processing and telecine. Since I've already got the film, and Fotokem isn't charging us for processing, I figure it is still worth it to be on 35mm. Plus, the cost for an Alexa, a lens or two, and the support is about five times more expensive than the freight charge to get a Panavision Millennium out there.

We shot the rest of our footage with a set of old Panavision Super Speeds, and if I recall the widest primes were T2, and then once you hit 24mm it went down to 1.3 (or 1.9, can't quite remember).

Do you have any reference stills of your shots of downtown Philly? I would love to see any and all of them (with ISO ratings, lenses, etc.), if they are accessible. Even though Philly and Chicago will be vastly different scenarios, it will give us a good starting point in figuring out how we can get what we need.

Thanks again for your advice!

MT
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 04:08 PM

Hey Mike;
I'll go through the footage which I have, and try to pull out some stils-- Most of it will be off of the older '18 as the '60 and '30 stuff I don't think I have.

Here's something I have quick which, ok, isn't a city street but might give you some idea.
This is from 5219 off of a Cooke S4 @ T2
The lighting is just from the "fire" and that back light is a 2K about 20' or so away full flood down an alley.
The fire is something like 4' maybe 5' from the talent.


I know it's not really what you're looking for, but you can see that '19 does do pretty well into the toe of the curve. And i'll go through my footage tomorrow to see if I can pull any "look t this awesome street" shots

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