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Are filters used all the time or only for specific occasions?


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#1 scott karos

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 10:26 AM

I've never used filters before and want to experiment with them for the first time. After doing a little research on the internet it seems that they are essential to achieving certain looks.

 

Are they used all the time on professional shoots? Or are they sort of a last resort thing, where we only use them when we need to?


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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 11:21 AM

There are many types of filters, but filters of some sort are used on nearly every professional production. The most common are neutral density filters or ND filters, which are used to reduce the amount of light. Even a production that appears to use no filters may have used these filers to control the exposure, either on the whole frame or part of the frame. ND filters are so important that many cameras have them built into the camera.

 

Filters can also be used for colour correction, especially on film, but digital and video cameras may also use them instead of using a white balance.

 

Filters are a creative tool that can be used to create a particular look. Many of these looks can now be achieved in post, but many cinematographers do like having the control of creating things in the camera.

 

There are so many available it's best to look through a manufacturer's web site:

 

http://tiffen.com/tiffen-filters/

 

https://www.schneide...lay.aspx?CID=56

 

https://www.formatt-.../filters~4.html


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#3 Neal Norton

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 12:19 PM

The short answer is "yes" filters are used on almost all shoots.

 

What filters are used is dependant on the job and the desired 'look'.

 

Pretty standard for digital are:  IRND filters, ND filters, some form of diffusion (not always - some jobs very sharp undiffused is what you want). Polarizer

 

Pretty standard for film are: ND filters, 85 filters, maybe diffusion filters - but less so than for digital and even less so for 16mm.  Polarizer.

 

Many packages would include grads both soft and hard but this is less so now that post can easily introduce a grad effect quite nicely in the post production environment.

 

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Currently working in Wilmington, NC


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#4 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 01:25 PM

Low-grade diffusion filters are often used as well.  I almost always use a Tiffen 1/2 Soft F/X.


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 02:44 PM

I would say though that the contemporary trend for feature work is to shoot clean, no diffusion, just ND's, polas, etc.

 

For television work, diffusion is much more common, partly because of the desire to make the cast look more attractive.


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#6 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 02:53 PM

I would say though that the contemporary trend for feature work is to shoot clean, no diffusion, just ND's, polas, etc.

 

Most of the contemporary films I watch have a look that appears softer than an unfiltered 35mm negative.  So if it's not filtration, I gather it would just be the lighting that creates that?...


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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 06:04 PM

It is also a lot more common to shoot with the lens wide open these days, so there is less contrast and sharpness to the image overall. Some DP's like to use vintage lenses in place of lens diffusion, or even in combination. When you add soft lighting to that, the image often just turns to mush.

The 1st AC's often have trouble seeing sharps on their monitor even with peaking turned all the way up under those conditions because of lack of contrast, so you may see more focus buzzes as well.
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 08:09 PM

I pulled my personal list of new releases I saw in theaters starting in the fall and marked the ones that had visible diffusion filtration for the bulk of the movie:

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

Hercules
The Trip to Italy
Noah
Frank
Gone Girl
The Judge (diffusion)
Birdman
Fury
Interstellar 
The Theory of Everything (diffusion)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt.1
The Imitation Game
Flamenco, Flamenco
The Pyramid
Exodus: Gods and Kings (3D)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (IMAX 3D HFR) (digital diffusion)
Inherent Vice
Mr. Turner
Big Eyes (digital diffusion)
Into The Woods (?)
Selma
Unbroken
 
Now the ones that I didn't notice camera filtration or post diffusion had various degrees of sharpness and may have occasionally slipped something subtle on the lens for a particular close-up, but I think the differences in sharpness are more to do with lens choice, shooting stop, use of smoke, etc.  "Big Eyes" may have also done some optical diffusion now and then, though the DP is well-known for shooting clean and diffusing in post.  And I can't recall whether I saw diffusion effects on "Into the Woods", post or in-camera.  So much of the movie was shot in smoked stages that it is hard to tell.
 
"The Judge" and "The Theory of Everything" were the two where I clearly saw the artifacts of lens diffusion, though in "The Theory of Everything" it varied quite a bit, I suspect the use of diffusion was mainly for the earlier scenes.

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