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Upcoming short. Questions on Alexa, Lenses, Look and Light


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#1 Jonas Spitzenhuber

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 01:49 PM

Hi everyody,

i am planning a student short film at the moment. Its a coming of age film showing the everyday life of a working class family. The whole short takes place in the early 90ties, playing just in their small flat during one day, from early morning to night.

We will shoot the film in 4:3 on Arri Alexa. I want to achieve a rather rough and dirty look. The film should have a unfiltered, realistic note. So now i am thinking how to realize it.

A couple of questions.

-I get an 16:9 Alexa Standart for free and wanted to crop the image left and right. Do you think it`s worth trying to get a 4:3 Alexa using almost double the sensor size, keeping in mind that i am not after a smooth look anyways...?
-What will be the difference in terms of texture, detail, sharpness ..?
- Most of the scope films shot on alexa are croped too, and sure, they look very sharp..

-A quite general question. The set is built and we are able to control colors. Lighting will be less accurate, we´ll work with children and i can´t say where they are going to run. Do you think for this project and the look i am after it´s worth capturing in raw? We´ll have a professional color grading and so on, but the recorder (gemini 444) and data storage will be hard to finance for us.

-I am looking for a set of Cooke S2 lenses, which are booked out everywhere i asked so far.. i am hoping for a more organic, less technical look (aren`t you too?) .. an experienced dop recommended me not to use them though, since working with children on a 4hours per day limit i wont have the time to clear out all the mistakes that they produce. He said lenses with older coatings need time for you to decide whitch flare and so on to take and witch to eleminate .. Any opinions? I havent had these lenses in my hand so far ...

-How important are lenses for you, when you are after the look, i briefly described?
If i dont get the S2 lenses i could get Zeiss superspeed or Zeiss Standart 2.1 for free, or i could rent a zoom, to save time. The film is handheld so i´d choose a leightweight optimo for example. What would you recommend?

-my approach so far is, to juse hard light and soft lenses. i have a couple of Hmi pars up to 6K and two MoleBeam 4Ks. I plan to rather let them bounce from something inside the frame, a wall, a table ... and have high light contrasts.

Ok, so far. I am happy about any suggestion and review.

Thanks a lot, Jonas!
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#2 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 01:55 PM

Hi everyody,

i am planning a student short film at the moment. Its a coming of age film showing the everyday life of a working class family. The whole short takes place in the early 90ties, playing just in their small flat during one day, from early morning to night.

We will shoot the film in 4:3 on Arri Alexa. I want to achieve a rather rough and dirty look. The film should have a unfiltered, realistic note. So now i am thinking how to realize it.

A couple of questions.

-I get an 16:9 Alexa Standart for free and wanted to crop the image left and right. Do you think it`s worth trying to get a 4:3 Alexa using almost double the sensor size, keeping in mind that i am not after a smooth look anyways...?
-What will be the difference in terms of texture, detail, sharpness ..?
- Most of the scope films shot on alexa are croped too, and sure, they look very sharp..

-A quite general question. The set is built and we are able to control colors. Lighting will be less accurate, we´ll work with children and i can´t say where they are going to run. Do you think for this project and the look i am after it´s worth capturing in raw? We´ll have a professional color grading and so on, but the recorder (gemini 444) and data storage will be hard to finance for us.

-I am looking for a set of Cooke S2 lenses, which are booked out everywhere i asked so far.. i am hoping for a more organic, less technical look (aren`t you too?) .. an experienced dop recommended me not to use them though, since working with children on a 4hours per day limit i wont have the time to clear out all the mistakes that they produce. He said lenses with older coatings need time for you to decide whitch flare and so on to take and witch to eleminate .. Any opinions? I havent had these lenses in my hand so far ...

-How important are lenses for you, when you are after the look, i briefly described?
If i dont get the S2 lenses i could get Zeiss superspeed or Zeiss Standart 2.1 for free, or i could rent a zoom, to save time. The film is handheld so i´d choose a leightweight optimo for example. What would you recommend?

-my approach so far is, to juse hard light and soft lenses. i have a couple of Hmi pars up to 6K and two MoleBeam 4Ks. I plan to rather let them bounce from something inside the frame, a wall, a table ... and have high light contrasts.

Ok, so far. I am happy about any suggestion and review.

Thanks a lot, Jonas!



Between the 4:3 aspect ratio, the "rough look" and "organic look" that you say you want, it seems to me that film (maybe S16) would be a better choice...
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#3 Freya Black

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 05:13 PM

Between the 4:3 aspect ratio, the "rough look" and "organic look" that you say you want, it seems to me that film (maybe S16) would be a better choice...


You mean standard 16 of course and not super!
Have to agree that it does seem like 16mm would be better for this especially as so many of the cameras are natively 4:3. Should be easy to track down such a camera.

Other than that I think you'd be better saving on the lenses and getting a 4:3 alexa instead. Just use the super speeds say, or whatever is free. Super speeds have a nice vintage look anyway. If you are going to hire lenses for more of a vintage feel I'd probably try and track down some super baltars.

love

Freya
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#4 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 06:36 PM

You mean standard 16 of course and not super!
Have to agree that it does seem like 16mm would be better for this especially as so many of the cameras are natively 4:3. Should be easy to track down such a camera.


No, I actually meant Super 16mm because I figured he might be looking for a blow-up somewhere down the road. But if not, yes, regular 16mm would definitely be the right choice.

Edited by Bill DiPietra, 16 October 2012 - 06:37 PM.

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#5 Sam Eilertsen

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 10:19 PM

No, I actually meant Super 16mm because I figured he might be looking for a blow-up somewhere down the road. But if not, yes, regular 16mm would definitely be the right choice.


S16 is only larger than 16mm horizontally so even if you are blowing it up I don't see why there would be a difference.
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#6 Jonas Spitzenhuber

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 05:25 AM

Hello friends, thanks for all the nice replies!

Indeed 16mm was the very first idea. and you are all right, thats exactly the look, we are after.. The idea got lost on the way somehow.. The Producer said it´ll be too expensive (children, improvisation, director comes from documentary and is unexperienced with actors) and getting the alexa for free from the university was tempting.
Sure, standart 16mm equipment is easy to get, but we`d have to pay the lab and hd scanning.. I didnt calculate myself.. i`ll check again.

I am going to test the alexa in two days anyways. A friend recommended me to really try to torture the signal if i want a dirty look. He said use a filter like tobacco.. underexpose up to 3 stops and see what you can get back.. Cause colorists as he said are to afraid of being responsible for decreasing the technical picture quality ... Does this sound clever to you?
Any suggestions on other tests, filters ...?

Thanks so much, Jonas
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#7 Freya Black

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 08:10 AM

Just go with what you can get for free then. I would lean to the superspeeds from what you suggested.
If you are going to compromise you might as well get some good financial benefit and any of the other options are going to give you a minor improvement if any vs shooting on film. The other options aren't worth the extra outlay.

If you are thinking of spending some money then maybe attending the grade might be good but beyond that I'd just get down and try and experiment with whatever you have access to. Cokin filters, old bits of glass, lighting gel, whatever works in the context of what you are doing.

love

Freya
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#8 Joshua Reis

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 07:00 PM

Hi Jonas. Is this distressed look a grainy film quality or is more of an analogue quality from like VHS and a weak broadcast signal? Or is it through digital noise and compression artifacting? It sounds like you and your creative team already know what you guys want. Sounds like it might be a good idea to grab a DSLR like a canon 7D and shoot some experiments and create your own unique post recipe (workflow)? Maybe the look can be accomplished all in camera through selections such as lenses, filters, and underexposure as you suggest? Might be a bit of post such as shooting clean, then laying off to VHS and adding a lot of analog signal enhancements like sharpening edges and increased sharpness? You might even discover that the Alexa may be overkill for what you are looking to do. Also, are you shooting with available light? You might get some interesting aesthetic pushing the digital cameras to 1600-3200 asa and using baltar lenses with heavy chromatic aberration. Its all about experimentation. Best of luck.
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Technodolly

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