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Planning an upcoming project


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#1 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 October 2016 - 10:00 AM

Hi folks

 

So it's time to shoot something ambitious again. Just a one-day thing, we'll be rushed.

 

It's a period piece and there are three scenes:

 

- A photographer's studio, for a scene between two people with dialogue:

 

img3719.jpg

 

We don't have a location with the big south-facing picture windows, so we'll have to mock up something approximately correct in here. The radiator and picture at the end will probably be where the backdrop will go. I can control the time of day we choose to shoot, but I'm not sure whether to black it out and pretend it's night anyway. The scene involves one character sat at a desk who notices the other at the opposite end of the room; they meet in the middle and talk, then a photo is taken. We don't have any period lighting equipment, so it'll have to be assumed out of frame.

 

- The photographer's darkroom. One character, no dialogue, really just montage. My concern here is avoiding the red light making it all look demonic, but there's probably not much that can be done about that. Looking for an unfinished brick location for this. We should, time permitting, have a mockup dye-cell safelight.

 

- A woman at her dressing table, again, montage. This I'd like to make look like a fragrance commercial if I possibly can, and I was thinking of some of that distorting-glittery-stuff soft, flarey effect around the edge of frame; I've asked for lots of glassware in the production design to facilitate this. Regrettably the room is cream-walled, but we've a fireplace. Naturally the furniture will be cleared. Big soft light, of course; china ball to simulate gas lamp? Ring light, even, used very subtly?

 

Camera is Ursa Mini 4.6K; I may have the opportunity to monitor it on an Atomos Shogun Inferno in HDR. The Inferno doesn't directly support Blackmagic log, but one of the Red anti-log curves, appears, to the eye, to be a reasonable match for Blackmagic's. Lenses almost certainly old stills primes.

 

Overall I'd like it to look like one of those short films that companies like Chanel produce which get cut down into commercials, but I will of course lack the time and resources to actually do that. Naturally I have some ideas, but I'd appreciate any thoughts.

 

Phil


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 October 2016 - 10:43 AM

It's always hard to get lights closer to eye level when someone is sitting in front of a mirror, which is like facing a wall -- you either end up putting a soft light just above the top of frame (I recall a behind-the-scenes shot from "Titanic" where you can see Kino tubes taped on the wall above the mirror), as low and frontal as possible, or you use the old Hollywood trick of putting a backlight on the head which becomes a key light by bouncing off of the mirror, but that's a bit hard and the back of the head it lit up, or you get a practical lamp near the mirror that is in the shot, which to me works the best.  Of course, this being pre-electricity, it would have to be a candle or oil lamp, etc.  Even if it ends up not being bright enough to be a key and you have to light from above the frame, then at least a little light lower on the table will act as an eye light or fill in the eyes a bit.

 

"Atonement" did that lovely mirror shot where you get a lot of lens flares from the net diffusion, by hitting the actress with a hard backlight that becomes a key by bouncing back, but that was a daytime scene.

 

A photo studio back then would have large windows in it, so I don't see how that space works unless you create a false wall with a large window covered in sheers that you can backlight.  If you can avoid the ceiling, I suppose you can imagine that all the windows are above the frame line.

 

If they didn't take the picture in the daytime, then they would have used a tray with flash powder, which would produce a big flash and a lot of smoke. 


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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 October 2016 - 12:23 PM

Thanks for the response.

 

The saving grace is that the moment of taking the photo ends the scene, so we don't have to deal with the smoky aftermath.

 

Interestingly, I did find a picture of a period carbon arc intended for still photography.

 

6-84b-1 Cromwell Street Hoopers Photographic Studio interior 1910 2.jpg

 

This appears to be near-identical to the type described on page 37 of Cassell's Cyclopeda of Photography of 1911 (the page image is a little large to embed on the forum, so click here to view it.)

 

I'm not sure if I can mock that up, but I guess we could assume one was offscreen. Strikes me that even with the umbrella and the bounce, it'd have been fairly hard - and still fairly smoky.

 

And lethal given all that carbon monoxide, indoors. But I digress.

 

P

 


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#4 John E Clark

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 11:34 AM

Thanks for the response.

 

The saving grace is that the moment of taking the photo ends the scene, so we don't have to deal with the smoky aftermath.

 

Interestingly, I did find a picture of a period carbon arc intended for still photography.

 

attachicon.gif6-84b-1 Cromwell Street Hoopers Photographic Studio interior 1910 2.jpg

 

This appears to be near-identical to the type described on page 37 of Cassell's Cyclopeda of Photography of 1911 (the page image is a little large to embed on the forum, so click here to view it.)

 

I'm not sure if I can mock that up, but I guess we could assume one was offscreen. Strikes me that even with the umbrella and the bounce, it'd have been fairly hard - and still fairly smoky.

 

And lethal given all that carbon monoxide, indoors. But I digress.

 

P

 

 

Yes, in keeping with 'modern realism'... you could have as your final scene, the crew knocked out by the fumes... or heck, perhaps even a fire...

 

The 'flash' power consisting of magnesium will probably get you on the no fly list if you buy 'online'...


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 07:39 PM

Maybe the safelight doesn't have to be red -- I found this online:

 

From "A Popular Treatise on Photography" by Désiré van Monckhoven, 1863 :

 
"The dark chamber ought to be, on the contrary, very simple. Two or three tables are sufficient, and the light should either be entirely excluded by pasting black paper over the windows, and the operations conducted by the light of a candle or a gas jet, surrounded by a square lantern of yellow glass, or else, as often preferred, the dark room is so arranged that the light comes exclusively through a frame of yellow glass about 10 inches by 8 inches, and this covered with a sheet of very thin white paper, in order to impede the passage of the direct solar rays. A hinged frame is fitted in front of this square of yellow glass in such a way as to admit of its being totally or partially covered, in order to diminish or increase the amount of illumination at pleasure."
 
This is an illustration of a red glass housing for a candle in a darkroom:
 

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#6 Bill Totolo

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 03:24 AM

So, how did the shoot go, can you post any results?


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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 04:59 AM

It went... meh.

 

I ended up having to use some very low-cost anamorphic lenses with which there were some quite noticeable technical problems (they arrived the evening before, so I had very little time to work that out). I won't throw them under the bus here, but it isn't stuff I'm particularly anxious to put my name to. It's a shame because the production design ended up looking reasonably nice.

 

P


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#8 JD Hartman

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 06:30 AM

Sounds like a re-shoot is in order.  Not posting any screen shots at all Phil?


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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 07:59 AM

Ha. Nobody's funding that. Welcome to short filmmaking. We'll live with it. There's some stuff I shot with a better lens, but it's all macro, and macro is cheating. I'll put some of it up when I get back!
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#10 Richard Boddington

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 11:44 AM

So Phil…I have to ask, if another UK filmmaker posted this, your normal reaction would to be to tell them what a waste of time it is, as there are no opportunities in the UK, etc etc etc.  You know the drill.

 

And yet, here YOU are, making something, why bother?

 

R,


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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 12:36 PM

Because it's a laugh, mainly.

 

Actually it looks sort of acceptable at forum resolution!

 

Still, get a load of that barrel distortion.

 

photo_4_small.jpg photo_2_small.jpg photo_3_small.jpg


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#12 Richard Boddington

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 04:17 PM

Ok well for a laugh, looks very nice.

 

R,


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#13 Keith Walters

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 04:36 PM

When I was at Panavision Sydney they occasionally  had  "Garage Sales"  where I once picked up  a Japanese  anamorphic adaptor for 16mm projectors for next to nothing. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but the price was right.
Next thing they were asking if they could have it back because it turned  out they occasionally had clients who actually wanted that barrel distortion "look"!
Obviously there was a lack of communication somewhere....


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#14 AJ Young

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 06:18 PM

These look pretty good. You're too harsh on yourself, Phil!

 

I almost didn't see the barrel distortion until I looked at the door in the wide shot.

 

Will the short be posted online in the near future? I would love to watch it.


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#15 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 09:28 PM

Yeah... you should see it at 1080.


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#16 Keith Walters

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 06:33 PM

On the subject of simulating an arc light, I've often wondered whether you could use a cheap electric welder and carbon rods.

 

Ironically when I was recently testing a grid-tied inverter fed  from  roof-mounted solar panels with a 110V DC output, I found the output current from the solar panels had precisely the right characteristic to produce lovely long arcs between the connecting wires. With a pair of carbon rods from AAA cells I could actually produce an arc "flashlight" that drew only about 20 Watts!

 

A more practical approach might be to use a high-intensity LED flashlight with its lens removed with some arrangement to make the light flicker. Because it's a point source, it produces the hard shadows characteristic of an arc light. A bit of smoke machine fluid of a portable hotplate set low would probably suffice for the smoke. (In an emergency you can use car brake fluid which has almost the same composition and is easier to get).

 

One method I've used to simulate lightning  is to run the current through  a coarse (metal-working) file and drag a piece of bare wire along the rough surface to make an intermittent contact. Technically you need a blue LED, but white from a cheap flashlight still looks pretty convincing. You could always put blue gel on it of course, but if you're working under tungsten balanced lighting it's going to look blue anyway. To produce the softer pulsating effect of an arc light you could try replacing the bare wire with a carbon rod from a discarded dry cell.

 

Ideally if you're using a CMOS camera. you'd want some method of partially smoothing out the flashes to avoid rolling shutter effects. If I'm ever asked to do that again (and am given sufficient notice) I'll try  make up some sort of random electronic modulator.


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#17 Keith Walters

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 06:54 PM

 

Maybe the safelight doesn't have to be red -- I found this online:

 

From "A Popular Treatise on Photography" by Désiré van Monckhoven, 1863 :

 

In those days the film speed was so slow that all you needed was subdued lighting. In fact most photographers would simply wait until night time and do the processing under the light off a single candle. Until the 20th century most film emulsions only responded to blue light which is notably lacking in candle flames (and 19th century carbon-filament lamps). The early films were, however, much more sensitive to ultraviolet. which is why you had to keep them away from sunlight.

I used to use Fuji Orthofilm  which is an orthochromatic film (no response to red) for making printed circuit board negatives. I  worked under a red safe light (just an ordinary compact fluorescent wrapped in red gel) but if somebody blundered into the darkroom at the wrong moment, it didn't seem to affect the negatives if they closed the door immediately.


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#18 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 07:38 PM

Looks really nice, Phil!  I especially like the way you lit that second shot.


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#19 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 10:03 PM

It was supposed to look like the sunlight bouncing off the carpet and uplighting everyone, but it's fluorescent. It was just a way to get some light under that hat.


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#20 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 11:41 PM

Looks nice, and I've seen barrel distortion almost that strong in some mainstream movies.


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