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shooting mobile phone screens


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#1 Jody Lipes

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 09:45 AM

i am shooting a spec spot for verizon picture phones on film. i am not sure if there is anything special that i have to do (frame rate, shutter angle, etc.) to make sure the image on the phone screen comes out normally. also, not sure if there is a special way to meter the screen. any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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#2 Gordon Highland

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 11:05 AM

This what I do for a living, albeit for the competition. :P None of those screenshots are real, they're all simulated, and you'll be disappointed if you shoot it that way. You CAN get a decent image (I shoot them naturally for training and stuff), and they expose about right as-is but are too blue. The brightness of the phone can be adjusted, and you'll want to extend the backlight time. But for commercial use, you'll need to track the screen corners and put the video in later in post. Use tracking dots if you feel it's necessary.
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#3 Stephen Williams

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 01:02 PM

This what I do for a living, albeit for the competition.  :P  None of those screenshots are real, they're all simulated, and you'll be disappointed if you shoot it that way.  You CAN get a decent image (I shoot them naturally for training and stuff), and they expose about right as-is but are too blue.  The brightness of the phone can be adjusted, and you'll want to extend the backlight time.  But for commercial use, you'll need to track the screen corners and put the video in later in post.  Use tracking dots if you feel it's necessary.

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Hi,

I have shot many phones and thats basically correct.
For commercial's we always tracke them in, but in the lower budget point of sale I was able to use DaVinci in telecine to get a fairly good result. I judged the screen brightness through the eyepiece relative to the rest of the scene by eye.

Stephen
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#4 Jody Lipes

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 11:15 PM

spot metering the screen is not an option?

and when you say tracke them, you mean put pink tape dots in the four corners of the phone screen?

if things do come out blue, couldn't i shoot the whole sceen a little blue and than telecine it out?

Hi,

I have shot many phones and thats basically correct.
For commercial's we always tracke them in,  but in the lower budget point of sale I was able to use DaVinci in telecine to get a fairly good result. I judged the screen brightness through the eyepiece relative to the rest of the scene by eye.

Stephen

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#5 Jody Lipes

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 11:17 PM

what does extend the backlight time mean? do i have to green the screen aswell?

spot metering the screen is not an option?

and when you say tracke them, you mean put pink tape dots in the four corners of the phone screen?

if things do come out blue, couldn't i shoot the whole sceen a little blue and than telecine it out?

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#6 Gordon Highland

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 12:29 AM

They could put a "power window" over the blue part to correct it, I suppose. Or yeah, just make everything a little blue and time it out. Or you could cut an orange gel and stick it to the screen. :)

Yes, put dots on the corners for tracking. And yes, you could spot meter the screen if you wanted to, but I do it by eye (on video, obviously).

What I meant about the "backlight time" is on the phone itself. You usually only get a few seconds of a bright (backlit) screen, and then the phone goes dimmer to conserve battery power. This can get very frustrating when shooting because it's hard to get set fast enough, so change this is the phone menu, usually under "Display" or something. Then again, on some phones the dimmed screen might be better for overall exposure anyway, but if it's going back and forth that's annoying (if they're pushing buttons for instance). Of course, all of this is only if you're shooting the phone naturally without tracking or replacing the screen.

If you're going to track the screen, obviously you also need a source video clip to put on top of it later, which poses another challenge. Most of the commercials I've seen just fill the whole screen with video (I think the Jerry Jones V-Cast commercial does this) so that's no big deal, just use whatever you want (keep in mind the aspect ratio might be taller than it is wide), but in real life, there's still a "wrapper" around this video with things like the signal strength bars, battery meter, player progress bar, etc. You could have someone recreate these graphics at higher quality, or try getting the original graphics from the phone manufacturer (ha! good luck).

I'm actually on the team that is working on delivering our company training videos directly to the phones for employees in the field. It's pretty exciting (with major limitations of course), because with the right programming I can actually set this up so that I can put a video or other content on any web site (not just ours), and just text message the URL to anyone I want to see it.
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#7 Stephen Williams

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 01:43 AM

spot metering the screen is not an option?

and when you say tracke them, you mean put pink tape dots in the four corners of the phone screen?

if things do come out blue, couldn't i shoot the whole sceen a little blue and than telecine it out?

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Hi,

I started out by spot reading, but my gut feeling was to do it by eye. With a spot meter I assumed the white screen was 1 stop brighter than mid grey. The screen white is far below real white.

If you put tracking points on then you HAVE to finish the shot in post. With many phones the edge of the phone is easy to see and the corners can be tracked alone. If the phone is turning then you won't see the points throughout the shot in any case!

If the whole scene is a little blue that would be OK, but with power windows and a good operator its quick to select the screen!

Have fun

Stephen
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 28 September 2005 - 06:26 AM

Hi,

They're blue because they're backlit with "white" LEDs, which are really blue LEDs with a wideband phosphor spot on the front. They get bluer with age.

Phil
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