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Dean Semler


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#1 Ben Schwartz

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 09:45 PM

In reading AC, I've noted Dean Semler's tendency to shoot 5218 at 64 ISO, rated at 400 with an ND.6 on the lens. The most recent example of this is Stealth, which is featured in the latest issue of AC. Does anyone know specifically why he does this? Consistency? Contrast? Ease of communication with the lab?
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#2 Mike Panczenko

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 10:03 PM

I read that he does this due to his early training in documentaries. Shooting everything with 64 ASA stock, his eyes are just kind of attuned to that level. By having his ACs ND everything down to 64 ASA, he can light with his eyes, and rely less on his meter and more on instinct.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 11:38 PM

I think someone is misreading him...

I'm sure he isn't shooting the entire movie with an ND.90 on the lens at 64 ASA! Considering he usually shoots anamorphic, that would be nuts for interiors because you want enough light to stop down a little.

He likes to shoot an entire movie on one stock, usually 500 ASA. For "The Bone Collector", it was Fuji F-500T. Lately it's been 5218, like for "The Alamo." For the night scenes in "The Alamo" he pushed the film one stop to 1000 ASA.

So I'm sure he's using an ND.90 filter for day exterior scenes to get 500 ASA down to a 64 ASA. But for interiors and sets, night scenes, etc. he's shooting at 500 ASA levels, if not sometimes pushing to 1000 ASA.

No one with a documentary background would force himself to light big interior and night scenes to 64 ASA for anamorphic lenses -- that would be the opposite of a documentarian mindset.

He's only saying that he likes to ND the lens to get to 64 ASA for day exteriors because he knows what those light levels will then be like and what stop he'll be shooting at (usually an f/16 in direct sunlight.)

If he's rating the stock at 500 ASA, then an ND.90 gets you 64 ASA - but if he's rating the stock at 400 ASA, then an ND.90 gets you 50 ASA.
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#4 Ben Schwartz

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 06:58 AM

He's only saying that he likes to ND the lens to get to 64 ASA for day exteriors because he knows what those light levels will then be like and what stop he'll be shooting at (usually an f/16 in direct sunlight.)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I guess that's the answer I was looking for. BTW, I didn't mean to imply that he ALWAYS shoots this way. He says in the current AC that he rated 5218 normally for interiors...
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#5 Lav Bodnaruk

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 10:34 PM

Off topic a bit,

but since you mentioning Dean, on the off chance someone that worked with him back in the days of the doco shoots or himself reading this, id like to ask if he owned an Arri 16BL whilst working at ABC Sydney.

I bought it from there and was told it used to belong to Dean personaly. I guess its just one of those things id like to get to the bottom of, one day. Thanks.
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#6 Dominic Case

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 02:30 AM

As far as I know, if you worked at the ABC then, you used ABC kit.

If it was Dean's personal camera, then what was it doing at the ABC for you to buy it from them?

It's always possible that, while the ABC physically owned the camera, it was the one that Dean always put his hand on to take out. That seems to be a perfectly reasonable way to want to work: every camera has its own personality.
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#7 Lav Bodnaruk

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 05:55 AM

It's always possible that, while the ABC physically owned the camera, it was the one that Dean always put his hand on to take out.  That seems to be a perfectly reasonable way to want to work: every camera has its own personality.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hi Domic,

I kind of imagined it to be that way... The seller wasn't ABC TV direct but rather a former worker form ABC that addded this story behind it (Terry Miller). Now it all seems too cliche, much like Seinfeld episode - George buying a car that he thinks was owned by celebrity John Voight... B)

On the end I didn't get the camera because of it, so its not really relevant - just trivia. I have a film to shoot with it :blink: and much cleaning ahead of me...

Thanks mate.
PS. Set of NDs was included in the package <_<
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#8 Greg Gross

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 11:58 AM

Sunny day rule for shooting in direct sunlight. David what is your take on shooting
500T at 1000 for low light interiors? I have not done it with movie film so I have no
base of experience. I would be sincerely interested as to how you would use it in
certain interiors.

Greg Gross
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 11:00 PM

Sunny day rule for shooting in direct sunlight. David what is your take on shooting
500T at 1000 for low light interiors? I have not done it with movie film so I have no
base of experience. I would be sincerely interested as to how you would use it in
certain interiors.

Greg Gross

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Test, test, test.

I've found that 5218 and Fuji Eterna 8573 both push by one stop well, but that was rating them at 640 or 800 ASA. And that's 35mm.

You have to shoot tests and decide for yourself if you like the look.
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#10 Greg Gross

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 11:03 PM

Okay, thanks and understood. I felt testing would be needed with the selected
film.

Greg Gross
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#11 Paul Brenno

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 11:20 PM

I'm a Cinematographer/Videographer here in Denver. I first saw Dean's work on the epic " Dances with Wolves ". That film blew me away photographically. I knew being a DP was my dream ever since high school, then that film cemented it. In my senior yr in film school, I got to meet Dean while he was directing a feature in Montana. DWW is one of my inspirations in my work still to this day.
I not only loved his photography, but mostly the story of DWW.

I'm thankful to all the DP's in the ASC or their con't inspiration and many other well-known DP's out there...
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#12 Matthew Buick

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 04:12 PM

Does anyone know what he did for Dances With Wolves. 5247 was 125 ASA by 1989, so exposing at 64 ASA would be a full stop over wouldn't it? Wouldn't that burn out the highlight slightly, or would he just stick a one stop ND on the camera? Also does anyone know which apetures he would have used. I was thinking, considering an anamorphic cuts two stop of light he would have had to have the film pushed one stop to rech 64 ASA wouldn't he?

Thanks, I'm rather confused.
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#13 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 04:29 PM

As far as I know, if you worked at the ABC then, you used ABC kit.

If it was Dean's personal camera, then what was it doing at the ABC for you to buy it from them?

It's always possible that, while the ABC physically owned the camera, it was the one that Dean always put his hand on to take out. That seems to be a perfectly reasonable way to want to work: every camera has its own personality.



I know RTE used to do this with their film cameras and in at least one BBC region the cameramen more or less used their "own" film camera.
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#14 Lav Bodnaruk

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 09:10 PM

I know RTE used to do this with their film cameras and in at least one BBC region the cameramen more or less used their "own" film camera.


howdy, all of it is very likely - I was just told this when buying the camera. the funny thing about it is that I wasn't told this to make me buy it, i had already gotten it, and was told that on delivery... regardless, I am going to put this camera up for sale, as I am not shooting with it, and whilst I think this camera looks fantastic in the corner of my 'studio' room, I think it is best I let it go for someone to make some films with ;)

Cheers,
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#15 Paul Brenno

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 03:12 PM

Does anyone know what he did for Dances With Wolves. 5247 was 125 ASA by 1989, so exposing at 64 ASA would be a full stop over wouldn't it? Wouldn't that burn out the highlight slightly, or would he just stick a one stop ND on the camera? Also does anyone know which apetures he would have used. I was thinking, considering an anamorphic cuts two stop of light he would have had to have the film pushed one stop to rech 64 ASA wouldn't he?

Thanks, I'm rather confused.


If you watch the DVD commentary #2 Disc, there are some shots of the camera magazine and I think he used 5246 for ext's...int/nights not sure....he actually did a Lighting Class in Australia for
the AFRTS of DWW, he used Agfa, ASA 320 for all interior TP's
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#16 Paul Brenno

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 03:03 PM

If you watch the DVD commentary #2 Disc, there are some shots of the camera magazine and I think he used 5246 for ext's...int/nights not sure....he actually did a Lighting Class in Australia for
the AFRTS of DWW, he used Agfa, ASA 320 for all interior TP's


Actually the film stock for ext's Dean used on DWW was 5296...this was back in '89. Not sure what he used for Daylight film, though...I can only guess 5247
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#17 Matthew Buick

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 04:42 PM

If you watch the DVD commentary #2 Disc, there are some shots of the camera magazine and I think he used 5246 for ext's...int/nights not sure....he actually did a Lighting Class in Australia for
the AFRTS of DWW, he used Agfa, ASA 320 for all interior TP's



Thanks mate! I guessed he may have used faster stocks in snippets as they were available back then, but I could only comment on the '47.
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