Can anyone help me understand what TOO much light is for 500T? I wanted to see what my Sekonic 398 analog meter would say if I notched it to 1/3 past 400 ISO (that meter only has 400 and 800 separated by two dots for I guess third stops?). Anyway, I held the meter (set to one dot above 400) under a normal living room lamp containing a basic 3-way 150 watt bulb....the meter showed exposure to be set at F4. I'm pretty amazed at that. Is this stock going to look good if I use limited light, and incidentals? I bought all this 500T, but I have the following to use on this music video, some of which I really WANT to use in order to help shape the lighting design:
800 Watt Red Head
300 Watt Fresnel
1,000 Watt Fresnel
250 Watt 30" China Ball
I'm spending all this time scripting it out, calling people to b in it, following up, making shot lists, organizing the stock, the props, all the stuff to happen correctly, and the last thing I want to do is fudge my lighting so badly that it won't come out right. The band I'm working with is flying themselves in this weekend. I am building sets all the way through until Saturday. But I'm really worried about the actual lighting -> film stock.
It's being shot on 16mm (K3) using Vision 3 500T, 100' spools. Sets are two different rooms in an apartment decorated to look like a psychologists office and a "post-apocalyptic shelter". There will be a lot of like...ambient, candle light stuff....chiaroscuro in places. And also some you know...."psychologists office" lighting. Will this stock handle my lights and/or the latitude configurations I'm going to be throwing at it? Does it blow out if too bright? I really want to shape my light and then add ND filters to bring it down to open stops again....where applicable. Any advice before Saturday on how to approach this...my first real video shoot....would be appreciated. Thanks.
Edited by Matthew B Clark, 21 February 2014 - 12:58 AM.
You'll be amazed how much dynamic range film has. You don't mention which 500T you have.. I am assuming and hoping it's 7219 which is the new Kodak Vision3 which is an amazing stock.
Yes, F4 under a lamp is pretty normal--- depending on how far away you are from it, the lamp shade itself, if it's white may meter at a F64-- it all depends. There is no "right" lighting for the stock.
I would say be bold, just make sure you understand how to interprit your meter readings.
Take the light under the lamp at F4-- that doesn't really mean anything in relation to a scene unless you're just filming the lamp.
So now you have a person.. So you meter the person with the lumisphere pointing towards your lens (and pray you don't block out light yourself) and you get an 1.3. well now we have an under the lamp reading 4 and a face reading 1.3 and now let's take a background which reads "EU" or basically gives you no F stop reading. What do you do?
well you have to decide where you want things to fall and how you want them to look. Assuming the face is important, do you want to expose it @ key? if so, you'd set your lens to a 1.3, and then your under lamp will be 3 stops over exposed-- do you want it 3 stops over exposed? Let's say you don't,you want it also @ key. so now you either need to bring up the face 3 stops or the lamp down 3 stops. This might be a problem... so let's just say, ok, we'll split it an we'll shoot a T2, so now our face is one stop under exposed, and our lamp 2 stops over. This may look good, for the shot, but it's all so very arbitrary and meaningless.
You need to figure what kind of contrast ratio you want to work with, and then you light for that. You have plenty of lights to cover most small scale stuff but without knowing what you want to do, it's hard to tell if it's the right stuff.
Also if you're uncertain, grab a vDSLR and shoot a still at the stop your meter reads when you meter the scene, and 1/50th of a second and as close to 500 on the ISo as you can get.JPEG is fine. it'll give you an idea of the contrast in the scene.
Adrian, that is (no BS) probably the most straight-forward and genuinely helpful explanation of practically figuring exposure and contrast ratios and metering I've ever read, so thanks a TON first off for that. A lot of that I had read up on (in way more convoluted ways) and tried by trial and error, but this totally nails it into my head the right way.
How's the lattitude on 500T though? Pretty decent? I'm trying to judge which direction to push my low-key lighting set-ups....to meter for the highlights, or the shadows. I hear negative should be pushed 1/3 stop, maybe even a full stop. But I'm usually a "dead-on" kind of guy in my thinking with that stuff...and I'd rather control it by lighting ratios....accepting blacks where they fall etc.
The camera tip is key. Thanks for that. K3 has a weird shutter speed of 1/60th at 24fps. So I can't use normal "cine scale" on my meter...I just use the 1/60th mark.
In any case, here's the rub with film. It's not a push, it's a pull. Normally for 500T I would meter it for 320 asa-- overexposing by 2/3rds of a stop on purpose in order to get a tighter grain structure later on when it's corrected in the telecine. You also get ever so slightly better colors out of this in my experience; however it you're looking for some grain in it, and it will be there, then no worries you can certainly meter it at 500 and be ok. Last time I shot '19 I was metering it at 2000 for a 2 stop push and it still held up (director wanted it grainy and even then I was surprised by how little grain there was).
Were I you, I'd just use "cine" on the meter which'll give you a slight over exposure-- though nothing to write home about; just keeps things easier.
They say it's about 14 stops on the film-- I would buy that. But there's a lot more room in the highlights than there is in the shadows, so always get a little light onto anything in the scene you may want to see later on.
A lot will also depend on your TC for the footage and how they correct it. A scan will give you a lot more information and usable latitude than a 1080p transfer on a spiritfor example.
I would probably work off of the faces of the actors/musicians as my main area of interest. I'd give em a good contrast range, maybe an 8:1, letting the highlight side go maybe 2 stops over and the shadows a few stops under-- if you want something a little bit harsh-- and I would make my stop determination probably metering on the shadow side (fill side) since i have less wiggle room in the under exposure than the over.
Also since it's a music video, have some fun. Push it a little too far, perhaps, when you're shooting, try to get surprised (but only for non important shots-- for example parts of the song where you don't necessarily need to see the singer in any specific way. The nice thing about film, overall, is something my dad used to call the Felix Coupa-- which he translated as "happy accident." Whether it means that or not,I don't know; but film so long as you're in the ballpark of scene illuminant, has a way to surprise you happily.
Glad I could be of help and looking forward to seeing how it pans out.
Oh also, still assuming you're on 7219, you might just want to look up some examples of it online-- it really is a plastic stock-- in that it's very malleable to different looks.
Adrian, you are the Explainer in Chief. That's a great dose of clear working knowledge of how to handle the stock. Oh, yes, it's 7219 (Vision 3 500T).
I'll probably set up lights to have a bright overall coverage in order to be safe, but with specifically hot areas for contrast, as you suggested. To keep ratios high.
I'll definitely play with exposures to see what can happen. So, generally...over-exposure reduces grain?
I'm torn between just metering at 320 to build myself in a two stop over-exposure reading every time, or as you said, the cine mode. 14 STOPS of lattitude??? That is massive. I am used to thinking in the mindset of tri-x and other reversal films. Wow.
So when you say "pull" digitally, you are referring to taking the DI or scan and applying correction to it in editing? Lowering down highlights etc? Sorry for this ridiculous question, but I'm really into making this come out right.
Also...I'm looking at a Spirit 2K data scan....I guess DPX files....and also having them make me a ProRes for DI. Then I guess I'd send the DPX files to a "real editor"....that sound about right?
I don't know if you're need DPX-- something like ProRes4444 might be just fine for what you're doing. I would certainly recommend DPX if you're going theatrical--but that is a lot of data and cost. Most of the S16mm I do winds up ProRes.
Normally when you're over like that, they would correct it in the scan, But it's all a bit of a wash-- since the basic idea is to get slightly above the "noise floor," or "grain floor" of the negative so when the blacks are crushed back down that extra noise goes away with it. The same is true on many digital systems-- however then you have a lot less highlit range.
14 stops is about right-- but actually measuring dynamic range has a lot more to do with taste than it does raw numbers (also scene content plays a huge roll in how you will see that range.) So while, yes, the latitude is great, that doesn't mean it'll be acceptable to what you're doing. Much the same as with, say, an Alexa-- sure it has a huge dynamic range, but you still work with your basic contrast ratio and the extra bits there are for the roll in and roll off to keep it looking natural. Impotant information at the extremes of this range probably won't be useable-- but subtle information is what makes it look good.
Only light up what you want people to see.Remember, the eye is going to go to through bright spots. as well as motion.
That's exactly the sort of lighting I'm looking for! Except my set pieces will be brighter and more wild in terms of colors, so where you do see stuff, it is intended to be very vibrant.
Just got off the phone with ye olde scanner...it looks like we're going ProRes 4444. It's really funny..about the noise floor issue...I always watch the show MONK....and I know they shot the whole series on 16mm, but I notice the grain a LOT on some episodes, whereas others look like solid, grainless colors. It's really something I'll have to feel out, because yeah, it's a completely different effect.
PS, our sets are so small, that we are limiting motion and lighting yeah, like this clip, to alleviate any crazy headaches about picking up some unintended "border" of something or another....
Do you have time to do some "lighting tests" that might give you some useful reference points. K3 does single frame yes? You don't need much film to learn a great deal. Even if you just pick a couple of your very small sets, play with the lighting, bracket the exposures. You can gather a lot of info very quickly. But to be useful you need documentation. Each shot (frame?) needs either a card in there with notes or a shot number to attach it to your notes or dictaphone.
You may have to pay for a minimum slot to scan, but it ight be worth it. If you are a good talker, you may get a free camera test and a free scan test to do this.
I've never had the chance to shoot on Vision3 myself (Kodak were still on Vision2 the last time I shot film), but from memory, I remember reading that it holds about 9 stops of overexposure latitude (which is HUGE!) - so I'd definitely recommend overexposing a little and pulling it back in the grade.
I think it's a particularly wise move to make if you're planning a lot of low-key lighting setups - it'll give you a bit of a safety buffer with the underexposed areas of your frame.
Thanks Mark. Whew....shooting this tomorrow. I'll be sure to post it up here in this thread when complete. One quick last question...about the meter (Sekonic 398) - It only has a 400 and an 800 setting, with two dots between them (un-numbered). Does the next dot up from 400 equate to 500? Or is this a rough estimation kind of a thing? Also, if I wanted to go 1/3 a stop up, is that just "400"? This will really help me to make sure I'm dialing the right number for what I want to expose. Thanks again! Really excited for tomorrow and Sunday but gonna be looooong days!
Hey there! So, the shoot went very well (I think - hey, we'll see what the film stock thinks now) and I get the 2K scans back this week. I've re-written a new intro to the video though, and added in a couple of shots I knew I could do without the rest of the folks around. So here's the NEW rub...
I need some advice on setting up one particular shot if you can. Here's the notes from my script:
HANNAH - Frontal-facing silhouette carrying a skull, which has a lit candle on top. BLACK ROOM. Only light should be a rim light behind HANNAH so that her outline is lit only with graphical slits of RED LIGHT rimming her body shape from behind. The candle atop the skull is the only other light, but should NOT reveal the SKULL yet. Must be BLACK inside her body shape, with a little floating yellow flame near her heart. The emphasis is on the movement of slowly passing smoke in the room as it plumes upward, through the red slits of light and back into the black surroundings as it passes. THE ACTION - A SLOW MOTION SHOT...her silhouette steps forward slowly. Smoke moves slowly through the red lines. Suddenly the SKULL APPEARS as the black silhouette steps into a GREEN and BLUE gel'd light (one on each side of the skull focused super tightly)….VERY tight….spotted on the SKULL WITH CANDLE.
So basicaly, it's a SUPER GRAPHICAL black n white....almost woodcut type of an image. A black figure. Rimmed. And with little floating flame on her heart. Suddenly the skull is revealed dramatically.
Ultimately, I need to find the right environment, FILM STOCK, and lights to do this.
I am guessing I need to get a BLACKED OUT room somehow. Start there. And then I have the following to play with:
2 X 800W Red Head
1 X 300 W FRESNEL
1 X 1,000 W FRESNEL
1 X 300 W CHINA BALL
I'm guessing I'd need some VNSP PARS to do this right, but I don't have access and I shoot Monday (model is available then)!!!!! I'm wondering what kinds of tricks I can play if I shoot on SLOW stock, and creatively metering it somehow...so it's ultimately like fooling the stock into NOT catching details, which would be purposely underexposed for a very graphic look. I just want to see detail in the smoke, and in the hard lights where things are purposely hit. Flags? Homemade snoots? Not sure I want a fire hazard though....
Edited by Matthew B Clark, 11 March 2014 - 03:49 PM.
Thank you, Rudy. Hopefully I'll have an edit together by this weekend and post it here. I'm doing a trial-by-fire here. My first real "go" in cinematography, editing and grading (which I'll leave pretty naked in order to not overly process the film).