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D.E.B.S.


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#1 Christopher Wedding

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 03:18 AM

Mr. Mullen,

I got a chance to rent DEBS and also read the other posts on here about it. A few unanswered questions come to mind.

1. I know you were on a tight shooting schedule, but how many days did you have to shoot this picture and do you remember what sort of page count that equated?

2. Also, I'm curious to hear the reasoning behind one of the last shots in the movie where the main characters are desaturated and everything is blue. I can only assume it was directorial and I'm wondering whether you shot it with that in mind or if they decided to change it in post?

3. What are the tricks of shooting bald subjects?


Overall, I'd say I learned a good lesson in what it is like to do your job and give your director what he/she wants, even if it isn't your taste.

Thanks,
Chris
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#2 Christopher Wedding

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 03:21 AM

PS. I'd shoot anything a director wanted if it meant hanging out with Jordana Brewster!!
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 12:19 PM

It was a 28-day shoot and we probably had to average 4-5 pages a day.

Well, that last shot of them in the car was sort of shot day-for-night against a greenscreen. I probably used too much blue light on the faces (5500K light / 3200K color preset on the camera) but the problem was that the composite came back from NYC too desaturated and even bluer, at which point, I couldn't pull any color back into the faces even with Power Windows in the DaVinci. Our choices were either desaturated faces or bright blue faces.

We had no time to redo the composite to see if the faces could have been timed warmer before they were composited into the background. I'm sure that using the original camera tapes, I could have pulled more fleshtones back to a more reasonable cold look.

Bald people? Well, just have a make-up person standing by to powder them down a lot and watch out for hot spots.
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#4 Christopher Wedding

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 01:05 PM

Makes sense. Thanks.
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#5 Frank Barrera

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 10:25 PM

Just saw D.E.B.S. Now, I knew it was some type of teen-age bad ass chick flick BUT David I had no idea the plot revolved around such a scandelous concept. I am shock. Simply shocked!

Just a couple of questions:

Is it my imagingation or does the lighting get a lot softer towards the end? What filter did you use on Holand Taylor? It didn't look like it but did you use any on the girls? How was the slow motion done? At what shutter?

I assume you cropped for the 2.35. How did this hold up on the film out?

Could you comment on some of the earlier shots where you let the HD blow out ie: on the gym floor during the SAT test. Or on lots of the back lights blowing out skin on the girls. I mean I thought this was all just a big no-no. But there you were doing it at will. And it totally works. It's refreshing. And most of the deep focus stuff also makes sense and works.

Regardless of anyone's film tastes this is an excellent movie to see interms of an example of someone embracing HD and not just trying to desperately make it look like film. It is a video camera afterall.


Thanks again for any info.

f
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 01:13 AM

The director and the producers saw a diffusion filter / lighting test I shot, which was filmed-out to 2.35 anamorphic 35mm by EFILM, and they decided:

(1) they didn't like lens diffusion;
(2) they didn't like soft lighting (looked too "natural and realistic" for this movie)

So the look was supposed to be hard frontal glamour lighting with no lens diffusion, with comic book colors (but they didn't want a cartoony color-gelled lighting look). However, I just found it hard to light every scene like that, even though that's what they wanted me to do.

As far as the bright edgelights, backlights, etc. it was part of the glamour look. In fact, one day as I was turning on one of those frontal spotlights on an actress, it was immediately several stops over and the girl's face went a burned-out white and the director said "THAT'S what I want!" But I really couldn't do that, clip everyone's facial features on video -- it could have been a disaster in post because we would have been stuck with it. So I exposed "correctly" more or less for the faces, let the back & edgelights clip, and promised everyone that if they really wanted to make the faces clippy in post later, they could. But even then, all the post people, the colorist, etc. were hesistant to time the images that way and we backed-off in the end. Personally, I think burned-out white faces are fine for a music video or commercial, but for a feature it would have been annoying. It also might have gotten the movie rejected by some QC people in the TV markets.

But as for backlighting, etc. I find that avoiding clipping altogether just makes video look flat and lifeless. Just like with film, you need some hot highlights. Plus by the time you dim a backlight so that it doesn't clip in video, it starts to look like an ordinary hair light.

I did end up lighting some scenes with softer lights, just for some variety.

As far as Holland Taylor's close-ups, after I shot the movie, the director, producers, etc. thought she looked too sharp and thus digitally softened her close-ups.

There were a few rare shots, in some of the most romantic moments, that I did slip in the lightest grade of Soft-FX filter.

I filmed out tests to 35mm that were cropped and converted to anamorphic, and to normal 1.85, and projected them at the lab. I didn't feel the loss of resolution was that noticeable from the cropping. If anything, sharpness wasn't really the problem so much as increased visibility of noise. The 1.85 version looked slightly cleaner.

I didn't supervise all of the digital timing of the movie because I was busy on some other movie; I just came in at the end and tweaked what the colorist and director had done. But the director was somewhat disappointed that she couldn't push the color saturation as much as she wanted to, because HDCAM basically craps-out when you did that -- we got all sorts of noise artifacts. So we pushed the color and contrast as much as we could but not as much as the director really wanted for that bubble-gum comic book look she imagined.

Slow-motion was all 60i capture converted to 60 fps. The only mistake I made was not switching to a shorter shutter speed to reduce the motion blur. I was sort of stuck because I had lit the big sets where the action scenes happened in to the widest-open lens aperture, so I couldn't shorten the shutter speed.

One lesson I learned is that with film, you have a certain amount of "hidden" color information. For example, if you shoot in daylight on tungsten stock without the 85 filter, there is enough red information on the negative to time the image back to normal more or less, with just some loss of red saturation. But on video, what you see is what you get. A really blue image is basically really blue, with almost no red information, and it's very hard to time it back to normal. So for that reason, now when I shoot HD and want a blue-ish dusk or moonlight scene, I go for a half-blue effect at the most -- for example, instead of switching from the D to the B filter on the wheel for a day-for-night effect, I switch to the C filter, which is halfway.
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#7 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 02:45 AM

I haven't seen the film, but I've seen the stills. It looks like a good puff piece for you to have worked on David...something basically just for fun (and money ;) )

But I can see that you really got creative and had fun with the comic book colors and backlighting.

:)
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