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Evening restaurant shoot: Iso settings

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Ali Quintana
Evening restaurant shoot: Iso settings
on Oct 7, 2013 at 5:21:15 pm

I know native iso for bmcc is 800. what exactly does this term mean for the bmcc? and..... Does this count for RAW as well?

I am preparing an night shoot in a restaurant. What would be the best iso for that? I am using Tokina 11-16 mm and a canon 50mm.

I have heard that 1600 iso becomes very grainy, does this count for RAW as well?

Problem is I can not do a test shoot because we dont have the lenses yet,
we will rent them that day. We are also renting lights for that shoot.


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Matthew Sonnenfeld
Re: Evening restaurant shoot: Iso settings
on Oct 7, 2013 at 9:57:17 pm

The native ISO rating refers to the sensitivity at which the sensor and camera hardware is optimized for. It's sort of a difficult thing to explain but in general you will see peak performance at the native ISO. Basically it's the setting which require the least processing by the camera.

The rule that I strive to go by in video/cinema is to always use the native ISO of the camera and to light for that ISO and your desired exposure. This is why people still need light meters IMO. If you use a meter and set the ISO/ASA to 800, then you light to the exposure that you want, which for the the Tokina you need to meet or exceed an F2.8/T2.8. In the case of the Tokina 11-16, the F stop and T stop are roughly equal. If you don't have a light meter, a basic incidence meter and a grey card is a worthwhile investment and will change the way you shoot.

Even if you can't/don't want to get a light meter, I still say to use native ISO whenever availability of lighting, practicality, and of course time, allow. It is always easier to add light, than to try to grade an underexposed image or to try and handle image noise.

Co-President at fourB Productions, Inc.
Blackmagic Cinema Camera, RED Scarlet-X, Panasonic HPX170, Canon 7D
2011 Macbook Pro 17", 2.3 Ghz Quad Core, 16GB RAM
2008 Mac Pro 2.6 Ghz 8 Core, 10GB RAM
AJA IoXT, Blackmagic Intensity Pro, Blackmagic Mini Monitor
Adobe Production Premium CC, Avid Media Composer 7, Final Cut Pro Studio 3


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Ali Quintana
Re: Evening restaurant shoot: Iso settings
on Oct 8, 2013 at 5:41:25 pm

Thank you for the valuable info.

So that will mean a whole lot of lights for an establishing rest night shot where we need almost everything or a lot in focus and film at 800 iso.

Also eveytime we change lens for a close up, like canon 50 ml 1.8 and get
nice blurry background we need to change light settings.... I am thinking
about using ND filter... any other tips will be very welcome.

any experience with night shot like these with the BMCC ef?


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Matthew Sonnenfeld
Re: Evening restaurant shoot: Iso settings
on Oct 8, 2013 at 5:52:40 pm

That's correct. Something that you will see the more you shoot this way is that you will find yourself using light and shadow to create darkness instead of using little or no light at all. It really is a different way of thinking but it completely opens up cinematography once you do. Remember that darkness is relative. Something does not need to be actually dark to give the illusion of darkness.

I think that you will find this article enlightening (pun intended);
http://library.creativecow.net/nakamura_stephen/Prometheus-DI-IMAX/1

But yes, when you change your lens and the f stop, it will change your exposure so you will need to relight. But instead of NDing the camera, which may cause problems with regards to IR or even image quality depending on the quality of your ND filter, look into the use of scrims and other light modifiers before changing your camera setup. You also may find that you want to relight entirely for the new focal length or give a certain highlight/shadow in the closeup, etc.

Co-President at fourB Productions, Inc.
Blackmagic Cinema Camera, RED Scarlet-X, Panasonic HPX170, Canon 7D
2011 Macbook Pro 17", 2.3 Ghz Quad Core, 16GB RAM
2008 Mac Pro 2.6 Ghz 8 Core, 10GB RAM
AJA IoXT, Blackmagic Intensity Pro, Blackmagic Mini Monitor
Adobe Production Premium CC, Avid Media Composer 7, Final Cut Pro Studio 3


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Ali Quintana
Re: Evening restaurant shoot: Iso settings
on Oct 10, 2013 at 1:49:46 pm

Prometheus very interesting, no pressed blacks at all can see into all shadows which makes the dark movie actually not that dark at all.

I will use light meters and the ultra scopes in my rest night shoot.

My tokina 11-16 (becomes 24-35 or so), but has a fixed aperture so I dont think i have to relight when changing the MM zoom for different shots. Do I?

For the canon 50mm then we will have to change lightsetup... So basically we need to do two different shoots as far as lights is concerned because of two different lenses.

I will have lights set up for Tokina. Will run the actors through the script and film the whole shoot, then have the redo the whole shoot with the close up lens Canon 50mm at a low aperture with new light setup.

Would this be a suggestible workflow?

I want my first BMCC commercial to come out super great.... So good preparation and info is really needed.

Much appreciated.


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Matthew Sonnenfeld
Re: Evening restaurant shoot: Iso settings
on Oct 10, 2013 at 7:03:53 pm

Glad you enjoyed the article! Yeah it really does give a lot of insight on the concept of "perceived" and relative darkness.

You're correct about your Tokina. As the aperture is constant, you will have constant exposure throughout your zoom range. In addition to the obvious light advantage, this is one of the reasons why constant aperture zooms are so important and helpful. When you switch to the Canon, you will only have to relight if you intend to shoot wider that 2.8. If you do want the closeups wide open at 1.4 then yes, you will need to relight.

As per your workflow, try to map out your shots and see physically where you will be moving on set, what directions you will be shooting in, and if you have to flip at all. As I said, I would try and settle on a light plot that you can adjust by using light modification other than switching out lights etc. Scrims and flags could help you a lot here. Don't use dimmers as they will turn your lights towards an amber color. Always go brighter and knock it down than trying to push the levels in camera. If you can do that easily, then switch lenses when you are in the best angle for that shot with that lens so that you need to completely do everything twice.

I would seriously sit down and draw out your space and your light plot. Then make a shot list and map out where the camera will be for each shot and find where things may overlap then make the best order based on that. This will also give you the most consistency in your lighting as it will be essentially the same lighting setup with a few modifications from all similar angles.

Co-President at fourB Productions, Inc.
Blackmagic Cinema Camera, RED Scarlet-X, Panasonic HPX170, Canon 7D
2011 Macbook Pro 17", 2.3 Ghz Quad Core, 16GB RAM
2008 Mac Pro 2.6 Ghz 8 Core, 10GB RAM
AJA IoXT, Blackmagic Intensity Pro, Blackmagic Mini Monitor
Adobe Production Premium CC, Avid Media Composer 7, Final Cut Pro Studio 3


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Ali Quintana
Re: Evening restaurant shoot: Iso settings
on Oct 13, 2013 at 5:55:49 pm

Thank you for the great info. Very educational. So even in RAW I will always try to keep 800 iso with bmcc.

Do you have any experience with the TOKINA lens? I plan to use it for establishing shot as well as some wide shots.


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