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Vectorscope and WFM levels for day for night

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Richard Swearinger
Vectorscope and WFM levels for day for night
on Oct 16, 2018 at 1:52:34 am

Color gurus!!
In a day-for-night exterior sequence what levels should I aim for in Resolve when I adjust my highlights, mids and shadows?
The goal is make the scene read as nighttime while at the same time ensuring that the audience will be able to see the actors. There will be some light on their faces from simulated flashlights or campfires, I believe, but the majority of the frame will be day for night.
The plan is to lay down the foundation for the effect in the camera with underexposure and white balance changes and then finish in Resolve.

And I hope I'm not stepping over any lines here, my intention is not to find out your secret day-for-night formula, I just want to be confident that my luminance levels are where experienced professionals would put them.
Thank you


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Tero Ahlfors
Re: Vectorscope and WFM levels for day for night
on Oct 16, 2018 at 3:25:19 am

There is no One True Level for day for night scope readings because there are a lot of variables to take care of. You'll need to grade the picture so it looks like it should.


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Marc Wielage
Re: Vectorscope and WFM levels for day for night
on Oct 16, 2018 at 3:44:41 am

Yes, I agree with Tero: you have to just make judgements with the picture monitor. The scopes are not enough. So much depends on fill light, shadows, and how much sky is visible, it's tough to make general observations.

The American Cinamatographer Manual has a great chapter on how DPs have to light day-for-night, but sadly, not enough of today's crews have read that book. The same lessons that applied to film 50-60 years ago still apply to digital today.

One thing I can and will do in some cases is to grab a key from the sky (if I can get it clean) and darken that to a point, then add a tracking window on top of that to darken it more in an additional node. That will generally take the curse off it. But shadows on the ground and excessive fill light... lighting problems like those are very hard to work around. And then there are people who shoot day-for-night with cars and forget to turn the car headlights on...


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Michael Gissing
Re: Vectorscope and WFM levels for day for night
on Oct 17, 2018 at 3:00:57 am
Last Edited By Michael Gissing on Oct 17, 2018 at 3:06:38 am

In a presentation to the ACS society (Australia), experienced DP John Seale tells of his experience shooting day for night on Mad Max Fury Road. On the advice from his DIT, he overexposed shooting with an Alexa 2-3 stops then graded down. As a film trained DP he had always underexposed but was told this did not hold true with digital cameras and modern grading software.

So shoot a test and see what works best, but do not assume underexposing is the right approach. I have only limited day for night experience and certainly prefer the shot is not underexposed. I want to experiment with 2-3 stops over. It makes sense to preserve shadow detail and just play with grade luma, saturation and cast.


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Robert Olding
Re: Vectorscope and WFM levels for day for night
on Oct 17, 2018 at 2:11:01 pm

DP Matthew Scott has video that shows a quick overview of a scene that was shot in the day and was processed in post with Resolve to appear as if it took place in the evening. It's not a how-to video, it quickly shows what they went through to achieve the look.







Robert Olding

Studio Eight | Director of Photography
http://www.studioeightmn.com
Minneapolis, MN


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Marc Wielage
Re: Vectorscope and WFM levels for day for night
on Oct 17, 2018 at 4:57:49 pm

This is an example where I think if you pulled a carefully-qualified luma key on the highlights and tracked it, you could knock the sky down another 20%, which would help sell the look better. I run into this all the time. The key is to avoid artifacts with transitions like the leaf edges.


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Richard Swearinger
Why add a lighted window?
on Oct 20, 2018 at 5:57:08 pm

I notice in the posted example, and some shots by other master cinematographers that they usually include a smallish light source—usually tungsten or a campfire.

Is it safe to assume they're doing it for simultaneous contrast: the warm tungsten light makes the blueish moonlight look more blue and the lighted window makes the dark areas look darker?


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Robert Olding
Re: Why add a lighted window?
on Oct 20, 2018 at 10:17:59 pm

"Is it safe to assume they're doing it for simultaneous contrast: the warm tungsten light makes the blueish moonlight look more blue and the lighted window makes the dark areas look darker?"

I think it's very safe assumption.

Robert Olding

Studio Eight | Director of Photography
http://www.studioeightmn.com
Minneapolis, MN


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