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Shooting LCD screens and DCP images on film

any advice?

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#1 Frank Barrera

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 04:35 PM

Hi all,

 

I am prepping a S16mm feature where we will be photographing some laptop computers and also some images projected by a digital projector. We do plan on shooting some tests with the hero computers and projectors with an Aaton XTR Prod. But-

 

Just wondering if there's anything else we can do besides simply adjusting to a 144 degree shutter.

 

Any thoughts?

 

Thanks

 

Frank  


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#2 Stephen Baldassarre

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 06:46 AM

Adjusting the shutter won't help and can actually make it worse.  The camera shutter still only opens 24 times per second but it spends more time being closed at 144 degrees.  Shooting LCDs is pretty easy as long as you can deal with the color balance and you don't have to worry about flicker.  Daylight film does well for that, orange gels are OK but the shadows tend to take on a orange cast and you lose a lot of output.  Not many screens have enough adjustment to match tungsten lighting, so probably the best thing to do is use daylight film and 5,600K lighting.

DLPs can be another matter.  I've never tried to reshoot DLP video off of a screen but they DO flicker a bit.  I'd use a spot meter to make sure the contrast is OK.  Projection especially has a tendency to look murky and washed-out when reshot.  Rear projection usually looks better because you can put an ND filter over the screen.  The projection may be two stops darker but the wash from ambient light is four stops darker because it passes through the filter twice.


Edited by Stephen Baldassarre, 17 March 2017 - 06:48 AM.

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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 06:55 AM

If you can do the projection with LED video walls, do so. They're much (much, much) brighter, much higher in contrast, and have massively more adjustment range before they become unacceptably dim. Depending on the combination of distance, pixel pitch and focus, you may need to layer diffusion over the front so you don't see the dots.

 

As Stephen says, LCDs are more benign than DLP projectors, and since you mention DCPs, I suspect you will be in a digital cinema environment which implies a DLP projector. Regardless, things get more difficult if you're going for a photorealistic back projection effect, since you really need to ensure that the camera and the projector are synchronised to avoid double frames and unpleasant problems with motion blur. If not, you can get away with more. Which is it?

 

P


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#4 Frank Barrera

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 11:56 AM

Thanks for the responses fellows. 

 

Here's the situation: The projector will be used as a practical element in a few movie theater scenes. i.e.: the scenes take place in a movie theater while a movie is being projected in a standard way. Think of Cinema Paradiso as a general visual reference. Our projector is an LCD. Its the NEC PA571W 720P. I will be rating the film (7219) anywhere from 400 to 800 ASA depending upon what seems right for these scenes. I spoke with a digital rear screen projectionist who I've worked with in the past and he feels that we should be ok regarding flicker. I am sort of less concerned about color and or contrast as the film being projected is an experimental film so there is wiggle room in terms of faithfulness in representing the original content.

 

The big challenge for our very small budget is that I can only shoot a test on the first day of production which does not give us enough turn around time before we are scheduled to see the projector on set. The turn around time for "dailies" is 3 days. Insane but true. We are in upstate NY. The film gets driven down to NYC then shipped to Color Lab in Maryland to be processed. Then shipped back to NYC for scanning then back up to us. 3 loooooong days. Kodak is allegedly opening up a new lab in NY but they most likely will not be up and running in time for us.

 

I was able to shoot a quick test of our hero laptop (Macbook Pro w/ Retina display from 2015). We are a single stock show. 7219 so we'll see how the color temp renders itself. And yes flicker would be bad. I will see that today, i hope. 

 

We start shooting April 1st. Yes, I know. Fool's Day and all.

 

Thanks for any more thoughts

 

f


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#5 Stephen Baldassarre

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 01:02 PM

Yeah, LCDs don't flicker like DLPs, plasma screens etc. so no worries.  Getting the exposure and color right will be tricky.  I suggest doing some test shoots with a video camera rated at your target EI to get an idea of what to expect in terms of lighting etc.  Of course, keep spill off the screen as much as possible.


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#6 Frank Barrera

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 10:52 AM

Ok, so the results are in. As we thought, shooting the LCD monitor was not a problem at all in terms of flicker. We were shooting 7219 so we had to color correct in post to decrease the blue to achieve proper white.  For exposure we had a few seconds of 18% grey put at the head of the video clip meant for playback and I took a reflective reading at 500ASA then opened up a half stop from there. Shooting the screen was a success.

 

Also when we shot our actor walking through the projected image of the LCD projector there was also no flicker. The color was heavy in the magenta but as the projected material was experimental in nature we didn't mind the odd colors. But yes, some testing would have been good to control the color.

 

Over all we rolled the dice and didn't lose.

 

thanks all

 

f


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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 05:39 PM

Nice! Thanks for the update Frank. What's the feature's title?
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#8 Frank Barrera

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 12:32 PM

Satsuki, 

 

Hi. The name of the film is A Bread Factory. The director, Patrick Wang, and I have made a couple of features together. These are not highly commercial films but they are beautiful and surprising. Unfortunately, our U.S. distribution path has been slow and complicated. But the French love us. Our last film premiered at Cannes 2015. And A Bread Factory  already has a French distribution  deal set up. So, if your in France in 2018 look for us. Otherwise, we will wait and see about future U.S. 

 

Its a dynamic business this.

 

f


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