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A short film noir, made in 48 hours

film noir low budget canon 60d magic lantern 48 hour film contest 48 hour

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#1 Twan Peeters

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 10:28 AM

Last friday I made a new thread in the lightning section to ask for tips an advice on how to shoot a film noir. (http://www.cinematog...showtopic=63816

 

I'll first explain something about the project. I participated in a dutch 48-hour competition this weekend as a cinematographer. 48 Hour is a competition held regularly in The Netherlands in which numeral film-teams compete against each other by creating a short movie from concept to completion in just one weekend. During the kick-off of the event every team get's randomly assigned to a genre. We got Film Noir. I was really excited that we got this genre, because I could do so much with the lighting!

 

All the participating teams get a different genre, but they all have to incorporate the following things into their movie:

 

Prop : a red dress.

Character: Julia or Jules Mendez

Line of text: "Do you always use the same side?" 

 

Unfortunately our edit pc crashed during rendering, causing us to be disqualified for entrance because we didn't make the deadline by 10 minutes.. (I still can't believe it, it sucks so bad.) But nevertheless I am really happy with my results, since this was my first time as a d.o.p. in a crew larger than 3 persons.

 

Man this was a challenge to shoot in so little time. I think I slept a total of 8 hours during the whole weekend, but it was definitely worth it!

 

I am really interested what you think about the movie and I would love to hear feedback from you all to improve my skills in future productions! I was responsible for placing the lights, choosing the angles and movements, operating the camera and doing the colorgrade in the end. So every advice regarding to these aspects is welcome!

 

The film can be watched here: www.vimeo.com/twanpeeters/thedarkestdance (pass: thedarkestdance)

 

screenshot_01.jpg

 

How the scene was set up:

  • I lit the scenes using 3x 350w Laniro redheads, two dimmers and a small dslr led panel.
  • We didn't have the time to find blinds, so instead we carved out a blind pattern in cardboard. 
  • Harsh keylight coming from behind the blinds, fill coming from the practical and the wall. I wanted to place the back-light more behind her, but then the light would get in the shot unfortunately.

2014_05_31_19_12_21.jpg

 

 

I am not completely satisfied with the colorgrade yet, so I will make a better version soon. I was under so much pressure from the deadline that I had to do the whole color grade in 30 minutes. I think in some of the shots the shadows are too crushed and in others the highlights should be more or less bright.

 

The ending shot is made on a bridge, a smoke machine, a car and one redhead. I wetted down the wooden bridge to make it a bit more shiny.

 

screenshot_02.jpg

 

Doesn't look so bad in color either!

 

 screenshot_color.jpg

 

Since we had to incorporate a red dress into a film noir, I thought it would look really cool if I would remove all of the color, except for this bright red dress. We shot it infront of a black bed sheet, with two red-heads lighting our dancer from behind (one from above on the right and one from a lower angle on the left. I wanted to keep the dancer mysterious and not recognizable.

 

As you can see on the original shot on the bottom I had a lot of noise issues with these shots. I was shooting on ISO 1600 since increasing the light intensity would take away the shadows that I wanted. (I need to get a better camera!)

 

screenshot_color_02.jpg

 

screenshot_color_03.jpg


Edited by Twan Peeters, 02 June 2014 - 10:31 AM.

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#2 John E Clark

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 11:47 AM


Unfortunately our edit pc crashed during rendering, causing us to be disqualified for entrance because we didn't make the deadline by 10 minutes.. (I still can't believe it, it sucks so bad.) But nevertheless I am really happy with my results, since this was my first time as a d.o.p. in a crew larger than 3 persons.

 

This happened on the first 48-Hour project I participated in. My participation was 'data wrangler' and the take away 'learning' was this... the group was had about 30 participants... but most of those were only 'writers'. Even so, the 'story' and 'script' that was developed didn't really measure up to having all that 'writing talent' available...

 

The production 'crew' consisted of a number of shooters, and many of the lighting set ups were pretty 'complex'.

 

The net result was shooting scenes was rather slow. As data wrangler, getting all the shooters to just get a clapper mark on their footage was a problem. There was someone performing script supervision duty. She and I did try to come up with a scheme to deal with the footage, make records etc...

 

I handed off the footage and the documentation to the editors. They then tried to use some software to 'align' the sound recoring with the camera audio for several hours... I then worked aligned most of the shots that had marks with their corresponding audio in about 1/2 hour. That still required about 15 shots to be manually aligned to 'gosh I think that's where the actors said that'... needless to say I was unimpressed with the 'auto tools'.

 

And... drum roll... the project was 15 minutes late, despite having all the footage shot by Saturday evening, and ready for editing by about 1 AM Sunday morning.

 

So, what did I learn... small group is good. Mark every shot even if the shot will eventually be 'no sound'. Keep the 'story' simple enough to shoot in one day, with one camera, with simple lighting setups...

 

I think the group leader learned that lesson as well, because the next year his core group was around 5 people, and their film only used 3-4 actors and 2 or 3 locations. (I didn't participate...).

 

Your shots look pretty good for having asked about 'how does one shoot noir' on Friday.

 

Now you have time to review, I'd suggest looking into using Premiere's 'Channel Mixer', or the equivalent in your favorite NLE, to create your monochrome images.

 

For the desk shot, one 'trick' is to have white paper on the surface which bounces a bit of light back up at the actors.


Edited by jeclark2006, 02 June 2014 - 11:49 AM.

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#3 Twan Peeters

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 02:49 PM

 

This happened on the first 48-Hour project I participated in. My participation was 'data wrangler' and the take away 'learning' was this... the group was had about 30 participants... but most of those were only 'writers'. Even so, the 'story' and 'script' that was developed didn't really measure up to having all that 'writing talent' available...

 

You are right that a big crew doesn't  necessarily mean a better crew. We had a relative small crew, but also for some functions it was not really clear what their specific function was. For example we didn't really have an assistant director, which I think played a huge part in the timing of the production..  This summer I am working as a production-assistant on another 48 hour film, the crew will be around 38 people. However, since this production only consists of professionals and everybody has a specific function I expect that this will go well. 

 

If there is one thing I have learned it is that there should be clear rules of who is in charge and who can contribute to add ideas or give suggestions to improve the film. In the production last weekend everybody of the crew was argueing and explaining their point of view, which caused a lot of delay. I guess this happened due to the fact that a lot of the crewmembers were not professionals. 

 

 

 

I handed off the footage and the documentation to the editors. They then tried to use some software to 'align' the sound recoring with the camera audio for several hours... I then worked aligned most of the shots that had marks with their corresponding audio in about 1/2 hour. That still required about 15 shots to be manually aligned to 'gosh I think that's where the actors said that'... needless to say I was unimpressed with the 'auto tools'.

 

Same here, the last 48 hour I worked on we shot on 2 camera's. We did this because this would be 'faster', but I still really doubt it if this is really true. I don't think shooting with one camera takes that much longer.

 

 

Your shots look pretty good for having asked about 'how does one shoot noir' on Friday.

 

Now you have time to review, I'd suggest looking into using Premiere's 'Channel Mixer', or the equivalent in your favorite NLE, to create your monochrome images.

 

For the desk shot, one 'trick' is to have white paper on the surface which bounces a bit of light back up at the actors.

 

Thank you! :)

 

I looked up some information about Premiere's Channel Mixer. Did not know this existed, it looks really helpful.

 

About the desk shot, I did knew this one, although I did forget to use it in the shots. Will probably use this next time!


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