Jump to content


Photo

The road to a DIT


  • Please log in to reply
12 replies to this topic

#1 KevinMckendree

KevinMckendree

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 5 posts
  • Student
  • Jacksonville, Fl

Posted 19 January 2013 - 06:46 AM

I am curious on how some of you became DIT, and how one should become one? My mentor have recently started pushing me toward becomming a DIT. I used to work in Television for a while and can work most studio positions if I want too, but I left TV a few years ago to work as a ramp rat and a repair tech for PC's (got to pay the bills). I am looking into getting back into production work, but I always enjoyed the technical side of productions.


What workshops should I look into, and also, what will be a good path to take to gain work experience as a DIT?
  • 1

#2 Dwight Hartnett

Dwight Hartnett
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • Vancouver, BC

Posted 28 March 2013 - 01:55 AM

There is no path to becoming a DIT really. When I consider my background and the backgrounds of other DITs we have overlapping skills and backgrounds but no common path to the position.

Things I would consider important:

-A working understanding of colour theory and grading (some DITs come out of the post/editing/colorist disciplines)

-On set and more specifically camera experience (I am biased but find the best DITs are generally ones who did time as 2nd and 1st ACs who understand the systems and politics of a film set)

-you have to have a good mind for quickly absorbing technical knowledge. This job is always changing. There is always some new piece of software, some new camera system that production will want to use. You need to be able to figure out how to integrate it's function seamlessly in to the workflow you've developed with post.

My advice would be try to get a job at a camera rental house, a post house, or in the camera department on a production that is shooting digitally. If you network (ie don't act like an ass) and get a reputation as a hard worker with sharp technical skills it won't take you long to break in.
  • 0

#3 Ryan Prouty

Ryan Prouty

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • Long Beach, CA

Posted 05 June 2013 - 02:48 PM

I started a s a shooter/editor, doing my own thing for a number of years before a DIT friend mentioned he thought I could handle the work and would enjoy it.  I found quickly I was a good contender - equal knowledge camera and post - as well as a deep INTEREST in all things workflow / digital. I say interest cause if you're not personally motivated to research, test, understand, etc on your own, there's no workshop that will help you out.  

 

I think the key is being FRIENDLY, getting CREATIVE WAY TO EXPLAIN DEEPLY TECHNICAL ISSUES - ie: Producer asks why the image looks like poop (they're seeing the image in LOG), and good NETWORKING skills.  

 

All the above said, it's still Hollywood - 'it's not what you know it's WHO'.... without my Union DIT buddy I had, who luckily I had helped out big in the past, I would have never gotten on set.  


  • 0

#4 Jathavan Sriram

Jathavan Sriram

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 6 posts
  • Digital Image Technician

Posted 11 June 2013 - 04:52 PM

Adding to Dwight and Ryan I think a DIT should also have more than general knowledge about data transfer, checksum creation and comparison (e.g. why is MD5 faster than SHA-2 ? ). Also good communication with the post production facility (or the guys you hand the files over) is very important. Furthermore as a DIT you should be involved in the process of discussing what equipment to be used for saving and backup of files - and what is required by the film insurance company.


  • 0

#5 Chandler Tucker

Chandler Tucker

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 5 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • Atlanta, GA

Posted 17 July 2014 - 11:04 AM

I would agree with everything everyone has said so far. I worked in post for 10 years before moving to be a DIT. I also did VTR for a while. In my opinion the DIT is the middle man between the camera department and post. You have to have an understanding of both if you want to be effective at your job. You need to make sure to communicate with a projects post supervisor to make sure you are providing the requirements for what they need. I showed up halfway through a shoot one time that didn't start with a DIT and the AC's had both camera's shooting at different frame rates and one was shooting in 422 and the other in 444. Your job is to make sure that cameras are consistent and footage comes out right.

 

As Dwight mentioned you should have a good understanding of color theory and have practice as a colorist as well. You need to be able to look at the shot with the DP and given that he isn't a complete ass, work with him to dial in the shot to where it should be. I also do a lot of scene matching to make sure that every time we move the world, that the lighting is consistent from shot to shot. 

 

Outside of that you should have a good understanding of technology, file formats, archiving and data throughput. Your job is the one on set that is constantly evolving and changing, literally day by day. If you don't stay on top of that information you will fall behind everyone else


  • 0

#6 John Miguel King

John Miguel King
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 102 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • London, UK

Posted 13 August 2014 - 09:03 AM

Ideally, as has been mentioned, you'd have a solid background in the camera department. Even though technology is paramount for us as DITs, the most important aspect remains the same. The equipment and/or software that we bring on set and the understanding of it is within reach of most filmmakers in the 21st century. What has not changed, and what gets you the next job and good friends on set, is helping your crew with the two tools you have and nobody else does, the 24" grade one monitor and the waveform monitor with a live feed off the camera. Our eyes are critical here, as we are expected to detect any minor flaws and issues happening in the entire system. It takes a relatively trained eye to see the difference, for example, from a shot that's soft due to human error from a shot that's soft because of a lens issue. In essence, the more you know about light, filtration, lenses and sensors the more of an asset you become.

It all comes down, I think, to the difficulty in defining what a DIT actually does. And this is so because of the different nature of the job depending on both budget and format. Of all the commercials I've done, it's only been once where I was asked to actually bring my live grading and QC tools (monitor and waveform). What they care about here is having the dailies ready for delivery on wrap. On these occasions, what I do is delay all my transcodes until lunch, the moment in which I grab my DP and show her/him the different grade ideas I've done with their input during the filming. I then correct and match with their feedback. Production will rarely ask for this at all, when and if I do it it's because of the personal relationship with the DP and my will to bring them some colourful joy. 

When in longer form, say drama and features, there is a very welcome tendency to separate us from the data management side. In fact, the larger the budget the lesser the odds to actually have to do any data management at all. In my only two very brief adventures to date in these productions, my setup was a big senior magliner in a blackout tent, a 24" grade 1 + waveform + lut box + remote iris per camera, a nice comfy chair for my DP, hd-sdi looms from the cameras, and an ethernet cable to each camera for remote control and metadata management. On some cases there'll be a station back at unit base with an assistant in charge of dailies and backup, yet more and more frequently we just send the mags to whichever post facility is doing the job.

I certainly prefer this very last way to work. No overtime, wrap means wrap, and there's always a couple of assistants running cables. It is much much nicer indeed!


  • 0

#7 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3979 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 13 August 2014 - 10:04 AM

On the Sony F900 cameras and similar, I suspect there may have been a demand for creating a look in camera on the set by the DIT. These days, there seems to be less of a demand for those particular skills now with RAW and Log being available, although you now have LUTs.


  • 0

#8 John Miguel King

John Miguel King
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 102 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • London, UK

Posted 13 August 2014 - 10:15 AM

On the Sony F900 cameras and similar, I suspect there may have been a demand for creating a look in camera on the set by the DIT. These days, there seems to be less of a demand for those particular skills now with RAW and Log being available, although you now have LUTs.

In my experience, it's usually the others (production...) that don't see the need. Most of my DPs are very keen to create looks during prep and on set in the hope the looks will survive post, mainly because of raw and log being just that bit too flexible in post!

 


  • 0

#9 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 9553 posts
  • Other

Posted 13 August 2014 - 10:38 AM

 Most of my DPs are very keen to create looks during prep and on set in the hope the looks will survive post

 

I've always been a bit cautious about this.

 

The problem with "looks" in general is that the pictures don't get finished with the same intent with which they were photographed. OK, fine, that's a very real and legitimate problem.

 

The thing is, adding more complexity on set, which is already a very complex environment with more than enough time-sinks as it is, doesn't actually do anything to address that problem. You can argue that it can help to communicate the cinematographic intent more effectively, and this is true, but in my view that isn't really the problem anyway - the problem is almost always excessively conservative production decisions after the fact, but also colourists who deliberately go off piste, are incompetent, or just don't care.

 

And that's assuming the on-set stuff even gets to the colourist. The very fact that you're talking in terms of prepping looks in the hope that they'll survive post indicates the real problem: an organisational and mismatcha failure of management - not of technology.

 

You may work on a constant diet of ultra-high-end productions where time and money are of no object, and they may be happy to hire people to sit there all day dicking around in Resolve in the forlorn hope that it will mean anything long term, but most of us do not, and I think it's worth being very clear that this sort of thing is a refinement relevant only to the very biggest and best-funded productions. Too often, it's an excessively complicated time sink.

 

Phil


  • 0

#10 Chandler Tucker

Chandler Tucker

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 5 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • Atlanta, GA

Posted 13 August 2014 - 10:49 AM

LUT's created before hand and one lights done on set for dailies should never be used to master the film anyway. LUT's are created so that the signal that is being sent to village isn't raw or log and the client/director/producers aren't complaining about how flat the image looks, that there isn't enough contrast or saturation. Predefined LUT's also don't work for every single shot you are going to have on set. They will inevitable have to be tweaked. 

 

Dailies have a very basic one light on them just for the purpose of dailies. The DIT will take the base LUT used to correct for the Rec 709 look or whatever other stylized look the DP is going for and will then adjust it to make it work for that scene. Dailies are simply a reference tool to make sure coverage, continuity and overall look is there. Again, this is simply to make sure that those looking at dailies aren't complaining about a raw or log image. If your budget is higher, and you are actually paying a post house to create dailies, then a little more might be involved.

 

The colorist should also never just blindly use any looks created on set. Working on set does not provide an optimum environment for ambient light when doing color correction. It's also much harder to scene match while in the moment. It can be done, but as mentioned before, unless you are working on a very large budget film, you don't have all day to sit around and dial it in. If your DP knows what he is doing, he will use the dailies to make his notes for the colorist and keep in touch with them during the coloring to ensure his look makes it into the final film. DIT's main focus should be on making sure that the best image possible is available to post. The DIT shouldn't be concerned with achieving a final look for the film. 


  • 0

#11 John Miguel King

John Miguel King
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 102 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • London, UK

Posted 13 August 2014 - 11:41 AM

Chandler, I said "looks", not final grade. If anything, for no other reason than matching a 3 day ext scene is madness. The show I'm on at the moment has a set of predefined LUTs that sometimes (depends on the DP) we load on the lut box. We are not allowed to depart from this at any time. Yet, on other shows and movies being shot now and whose pipelines I know from my colleagues, colour decisions are made on set and attached to the metadata as CDL. Honestly, you'd be surprised the type of working relationship certain big time DPs have with their pet DITs.

 

Trying to achieve a final look for the film on set is impossible as you have pointed out, but it's perfectly reasonable for a DP to want to see the scene he/she is shooting with the look they have in mind. Because of CDL the DP's input (or, in the olden times, printer lights) reaches the dailies colourist without issue. And it definitely makes communication smoother and faster. Of course the looks are not perfect, and even less final, but the whole livegrading is a very powerful tool that's being used quite intensely. Otherwise, why is every single manufacturer racing to bring 3dl support to their cameras?


Phil, it doesn't take any extra time at all to have a lut box wired to the monitor. It really doesn't. The same way it doesn't take any extra time to load your look or 3dl onto the camera if you don't have time for monitors.


  • 0

#12 Chandler Tucker

Chandler Tucker

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 5 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • Atlanta, GA

Posted 13 August 2014 - 11:54 AM

Sorry John, it wasn't my intention to come across as disagreeing with you. I was more trying to emphasize what Phil was saying. Looks are an invaluable part of production in my opinion, but too many people think what is being done on set is what is going to be done in post. I see LUT boxes and live grade setups being used all the time, but I think people need to be aware that their purpose is to create a better camera original file than by simply trying to film looking at log or raw. The DIT is there to assist the DP and help him dial in the image so he is getting what he wants without being under or overexposed in parts of the image. I've found a lot of times I may also go in with HSL qualifiers or windows to give him a rough idea of what will be possible in post when he is setting up a shot that he simply can't get everything in the image exposed the way he wants due to whatever external factor. I personally don't think that LUT boxes or live grade slows things down unless you get a lazy DP that just wants to sit at your cart and talk about the picture all day. 


  • 0

#13 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 9553 posts
  • Other

Posted 13 August 2014 - 01:26 PM

My most common monitor LUT is what I call "tap look". Black and white and high contrast - prevents anyone being under the impression that this is final!

 

John, you've been talking about "the different grade ideas I've done with their input during the filming" - that's what I'm objecting to. It's not the right place or time, it's no more likely than anything else to actually be adhered to, and it costs people and time and distraction and complexity when our emphasis should be on simplification. I hate to say it, but we never had this stuff on 35mm. 

 

I'm not a big fan of that sort of thing. Yes, I'm familiar with the issues around preparing idiotic production people for a final look that may be very different to that on set, but that can be dealt with using a simple LUT in the monitor. If they want to pay for someone to sit there and make them feel happy all day, fine, but that's big agency commercials, not the real world.

 

P


  • 0


CineLab

K5600 Lighting

Paralinx LLC

Pro 8mm

CineTape

Glidecam

Lemo Connectors

Visual Products

Zylight

Rig Wheels Passport

Cadrage Directors Viewfinder

Robert Starling

The Slider

NIBL

System Associates

Abel Cine

Cinelicious

Ritter Battery

Aerial Filmworks

rebotnix Technologies

Glidecam

Ritter Battery

The Slider

Cinelicious

Rig Wheels Passport

Zylight

Lemo Connectors

CineTape

System Associates

Paralinx LLC

Pro 8mm

Abel Cine

CineLab

rebotnix Technologies

Visual Products

Aerial Filmworks

Cadrage Directors Viewfinder

K5600 Lighting

Robert Starling

NIBL