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Short film Tropico - david devlin


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#1 Salomon Fries

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 03:08 PM

Hi,

I've just seen this colorful short film - "Tropico" with dp david devlin.

I couldnt help but wonder how was lit the scene with the horse @ 2min50sec of the video.

Are those kinos ? par lights ? what about the bright highlight coming from the right side ?

below a link and a capture of the shot.

the link to the video:

Tropico short


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#2 Jimmy DeMarco

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 02:57 AM

Hey Salomon,

 

Let's take a look at the image and break it down a bit.

 

 

When analyzing lighting there's a few things we need to look for.  First, let's notice our highlights and shadows.  This will help us determine light placement and angle.  Next we'll observe the quality of light to best figure what the source may be.  In the above frame the first thing my eye was drawn to was the bushes which our subjects are enclosed between.

 

 

Notice how they appear a bit brighter than the rest of the image.  Look where the light falls on them.  My best judgement would tell me that each bush has it's own source directly overhead.  The quality of light is very hard and very spotty.  It only hits the bushes and does not allow spill to the actors or the unicorn.  My guess is that each bush had a Source 4 overhead, but it could easily have been done with fresnels and snoots.  That's the beauty of lighting, there's infinite ways to get the desired effect.  Also, there appears to be a bit of backlight especially on the frame left bush.  Notice the slight glow around the edges.  The backlight also plays on the unicorn.

 

 

See the highlights on the unicorn's back?  You can pretty easily tell where the light is hitting him from.  The shadows on the left side of the horse tell us that the light is not hitting from the front, and the lack of shadows on the ground around the unicorn indicate that the source is not overhead.  The unicorn is predominantly backlit.

 

Lastly, let's look at the actors.  Look how flat the skin is.  Again, I'd have to say they are lit overhead with the light favoring the front side.  The lack of shadows reveals that the light is not hitting at any kind of an angle.  It actually looks like they exposed for the male and lit the female off his falloff light.  I don't see much of an edge, and his back leg is pretty dark.  Thus, I'd conclude that a single light source illuminates them and there is no backlight.

 

I'd say fresnel lights were used for the majority of this image.  The sources appear hard but easily shaped.  A PAR would be a bit more difficult to control, and kinos are too soft with too low an output.  Hope this helped you!


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#3 Jimmy DeMarco

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 02:58 AM

PS I totally had images in there but I guess it chose not to show them.  Sad day :(


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#4 Ann FotoMirage

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 04:09 AM

thank u  :lol:


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#5 Salomon Fries

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 02:16 PM

Hey Jimmy,

this is very interesting what you said, very nicely detailed input. There's is also 2 lights that caught my attention as well:

This low red light that goes from the 2 actors legs, shining from the bottom right side. that hits the horse's back legs. I guess it's just 1 light ?

And still, the blue light that hits the side of the horse... would that be a gelled fresnel exposed at 4 stops(?) under the backlight ?

 

My other question is more general:

Would you choose those exact color gel on set, or would u rather choose say CTB and Red, knowing u could switch tones towards cyan or fuchsia on post ?

 

Also, Im still cant pinpoint the difference between fresnel, HMI and PAR.

I read somewhere that fresnel creates deep shadows, HMI are good for outdoors, and PAR has a more powerful output. but in wich situation would u use certain types over others ?

 

 

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#6 Jimmy DeMarco

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 03:05 PM

Let me try to go in order here:

 

Yes, there appears to be a softer source edging the actor's (and horse's) legs.  I didn't comment on this before because the whole scene has a magenta tint to it and I figured that edge was created off the background lights.  It could be one huge light source scraping the entire frame, in which case some heavy diffusion was probably used as well; but I think there were probably multiple smaller units.  Notice the separation in the horse's legs.  His back legs are colored and the front are not.

 

The blue you see on the other side of the horse is coming from a completely different source.  My first thought was that maybe they used some negative fill by stretching a large solid on the left side of the frame, and they may have, but that blue color is coming from somewhere.  Whatever it is it's a soft source with some sort of dark blue/violet colored gel.  Could be a kino, could be an LED, or it could be a heavily diffused fresnel.  It could be a million things.  All we really need to know is that it's a soft source hitting from frame left with some colored gel and diffusion.

 

I think it's important as a cinematographer to know the exact look you are going for WHILE SHOOTING.  Sure you can tweak things in a post a bit but the idea is to get it as close to the desired look as you can while in production.  If anything I'll take some contrast and saturation off on camera and adjust levels accordingly while grading; but color should be as close as you can get always.

 

As for differences in light fixtures:

 

Fresnel - A fresnel light is defined by the lens, which is the same as they use in lighthouses.  It's what comes into your head when you think classic film light.  They are balanced at 3200K and allow you to focus the light by using the spot/flood knob located on the back of the fixture which brings the globe closer to of further away from the lens.

 

HMI - Hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide lights are very similar to fresnels except they are daylight balanced (5600K).  There is a spot/flood mechanism as well (on most fixtures) but you can also change the lenses if you want the light to spread wider or to be more narrow.

 

PAR - Parabolic aluminized reflector lights are classic stage lights you might see overhead at a theater.  They're essentially long cylinders which emit intense oval pools of light with unfocused edges.  You can also switch globes in these fixtures depending on how wide or narrow you want the source to be.

 

To clarify a few things you said before, any of these lights has the power to create deep shadows.  It just depends on how close your subject is to the light, what they're standing against (open space, wall, floor), and if you're diffusing light at all.  It's not so much that HMIs are better for outdoor use it's that they are daylight balanced so it's easier to match color temperature when shooting outside.  They're also great for shooting through windows when you want to mimic daylight during an interior scene.  Lastly PARs can have higher output but they also can not.  It all depends on the wattage of the fixture.  A 750w PAR will not have a higher output than a 1.2kw HMI or a 1kw tungsten fresnel.  The major difference is that the light produced by PARs is much harder with more definitive cuts.  This is because there is nothing between the globe and the subject and no lens to focus the light.

 

I really hope all of this helped you get a better understanding of how light works and the differences between fixtures.


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#7 Salomon Fries

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 03:22 PM

Jimmy, 

that's just the best answer I could have asked for. precised, organised and detailed. just what it takes to be a great cinematographer.

thank you so much! 


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#8 devlin

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 01:54 AM

thanks for the interest in the shoot salomon.

when we were prepping this scene it reminded me of a set in AI, when halley steps out of the helicopter after being frozen underground for centuries. we had a similar set in some ways. i emulated what our approach there was but with a major shift in the use of color.

overhead was a 40'x80' ultra bounce geogre guzman installed over the set. brad jameison bounced 5 18k arrimaxxes with h blue into the bounce.  under the bounce george found a way to install a big frame of half soft frost under the ulrabounce with just enough space to allow the lights to be able to reach into the bounce.

the warm backlight is a 100,000 watt soft sun with full cto, along with 2 36 light medium dino lights on a dimmer.

the additional reds and green were added in foreground lights to add color spectrum to the overall feel.

the colorist tom poole completed the look by using tools to heighten the saturation and color contrast.

the cineovision anamorphic lenses help to blend these textures togethers while still appearing sharp.

it was a lot of fun to shoot because everyone was completely enjoying their character.  


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#9 Stuart Allman

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 01:38 PM

David,

 

I saw this short two months ago and thought WOW!  I know that Lana has some beautiful music videos which are more tributes to the early 80's shorts like Michael Jackson's Thriller.  Since she seems to have consistently used great cinematography to complement her songs, does Lana get involved in the photography or does she just hire directors that she admires?  Just curious.

 

That was a lot more power than I would have expected to light the set at first glance.  Were you shooting on film?

 

If your AC ever flakes on you - I'm there!

 

Stuart

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illuma.blogspot.com


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#10 Salomon Fries

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 11:03 PM

Hi David,
Thanks a trillion times for sharing your experience, I coulndt dream to have the input of the DP himself!
I am truely amazed by the look of Tropico.
I understand u lit for the scene, and the tremendous light power is also a narrative element. Maybe u used some bounce on brighten the skin of Lana and reduce the blue tone?
About the gels, did u use specific tones of blue or just regular blue red and green gels ? Thanks again your inspiring work.
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#11 devlin

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 12:39 AM

used mostly negative fill to make the color rich

the director, anthony mandler has an amazing sense of color and contrast, he takes it to the maximum

has a strong grade


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