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New DP,looking for advice on flos, scrims, and tips on set ettequite for DPs

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Grant Carter-Brown
New DP,looking for advice on flos, scrims, and tips on set ettequite for DPs
on May 3, 2009 at 11:29:47 am

Greetings from far off New Zealand
I've recently been asked by a indie director to be a DP for a HDV based "film" here in NZ, and, well, I'm starting to feel a little out of my depth. SHort story is I joined some old school friends to shoot a short film for a competition last year (48 hours film festival, has to be written, shot, edited and finsihed in 48 hours).

WHen I came to film, like everyone I wanted to be a actor or director.. but very quickly learnt 2 things, A. there are wayy to many wannabe directors around. and B. way to many wanna be actors around.. but after a few months I found my real interest was lighting.
so I light theese 2 sequences (sorry, theres some awful shots in them.. the director had a bit of a lack of attention to detail)-

and our festival entry

Annnyway I'm rambling on
I got recruited buy a small studio recently, and am working curently pre-production on a reimanining of Franz Kafka's "The Trial"

What I need to know is..
T5 Flos, Is there anywhere I can get some high CRI T5 2 foot Flos in 3400K and 5600K?
I need to put in my lighting order soon, we currently have 3 redheads, I was thinking of picking up a Lowell Super Ambi kit.. but I'd realy like some 150W Dedolights (I've used them before, Love em, but boy do they cost a arm and a leg)

anyone have a good recomendation for scrims for windows(when shooting indoor to stop overexposure blowouts)

and, third, I've never worked with a professional crew before now, so I'm a bit shy on the do's and dont's on set.f

SOrry, I know I've rambled on, but I'd relay appreciate any advice you can offer me.

Thanks for your time
Grant Carter-Brown
DP - Estrata Productions

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Richard Herd
Re: New DP,looking for advice on flos, scrims, and tips on set ettequite for DPs
on May 3, 2009 at 4:43:04 pm

A "professional crew" comes in many flavors. It's really hard to say there is a single hard and fast rule, except the golden one: "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you." It sounds a bit trite, but it's absolutely true. You'll have 10 things that need to all get done simultaneously, and you can't do them all yourself, so the production has hired pros to help -- not slaves to be commanded -- to help.

"Anticipate what comes next" is another important concept/rule to abide by and instill in the work ethic. When the shot wraps, you need to be able to say, "Okay, now we need to set up scene X shot y. Camera will be here, and we'll need this light and that light there." Anticipation also means knowing where the sun will be when you get further along. Anticipation also means knowing the script.

"Move the lights once" is another important concept/rule because people get tired. Sometimes first ADs are a bit stupid (no offense intended), they want to move lights before the next shot is known. They're more than likely worried about the budget and the time. But moving the lights before you know camera means everything gets moved twice--or more!--and hey, people get really tired and annoyed plus it adds costs. For example, we anticipate scene x, shot y, and so we set up the lights, but the director doesn't like what's in the background so we need to swing it all around. All the lights get moved.

"Never shout and rarely talk" is another important concept (not really a rule) because the idea is, if the crew is so in tune with the first few rules, there's really nothing else to discuss.

"Know your point of contact" is important because everyone has an opinion, like the First AD mentioned above. But only the director's opinion matters. After a shot wraps, you need to be sure to tell the director something like "I'm planning to shoot scene x shot y, but we need the frame from you so we can string lights." Then grab the camera (since its HDV it's easy) and have the director frame it up, lock the camera down. Then the director can go do what he or she needs to do--actors, wardrobe, makeup, sound (so many things!)--and you and your crew can get to work on lighting. You really can't light if you don't know where the camera is and where the subject will be.

"Keep track of time." Why? Because arguments can get started regarding who caused the production to run behind. This is real. To cover your butt, write down the moment the previous shot ended, the time you spoke with the director, and the time you informed the director "the camera is ready."

That's about all I can think of, hope it helps.

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Richard Herd
Re:omitted other questions
on May 3, 2009 at 5:05:12 pm

Sorry, forgot your other questions: You'll need to find local contacts for the equipment. That means phone calls, web searches, and visits.

Couple of other quick points:

1. Whoever operated the camera in the two videos you posted, needs to use a tripod and stop using the zoom mechanism.

2. HDV is not film. It's a point I have to make, on a "techy/pro" site such as the cow. The word "film" is used for film. The word "capture" and or "shoot" are used for video. Calling an HDV shoot "filmmaking" is a bit awkward. Further--and this is totally pedantic, I know--yet I can't stand it when folks call digital video productions films. If the producer, director, and First AD want to call it "filmmaking," then I can let that slide because they aren't as familiar with the gadgetry, but a DP making the slip...ouch!

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Rick Wise
Re: Re:omitted other questions
on May 3, 2009 at 6:52:18 pm

Window scrims: Rosco makes a couple of versions. Rosco 3421 and 3423. Reduces transmission 2 stops. As long as you are not too close to see the shape of the holes, these work pretty well, and are easier to use than ND gels because the NDs tend to pick up reflections. The Black Scrim and Cinescreen are matt and so do not reflect. (I have not used either in many, many years. I've been sing HMIs inside to bring up the light level sufficiently to balance the exterior. However, your kit is all tungsten and does not have enough fire power to get into the outside ball park.)

Note that you do NOT want to make the outside the same T/stop as the inside. Overexpose the outside by two stops or more. Otherwise, the outside looks fake.

You also do not want to fully correct the outside color temperature. If you are shooting tungsten lights inside, a 1/2 CTO gel on the windows is plenty. That will leave the outside cooler than the inside, which usually works well. (There might be a reason, however, to want the insides to be cool too. It all depends on the story and the look you are after. In that case you would white balance with a pinkish or orangish gel over the camera lens to trick the camera into adding more blue. That takes care of the inside. Then you need to figure out how much you want to make the true daylight appear blue, or warm, and dose it with gels on the windows accordingly.)

If you gel the windows with a color-correction gel (which will cut down some light) and then add the Rosco Cinescreen on top of that gel, you will probably remove almost all the reflections on the gel.

Rosco has a new pola system for windows called Rosco View. The gel polarizes the light coming in the windows, and you apply their pola filter to the front of the lens. Then you rotate the pola to dose the amount of light cut from 0% to 90%. This looks like a terrific but expensive solution. When the outside light drops near the end of the day, you can increase light transmission by a simple rotation of the filter on the camera.

Rick Wise
director of photography
and custom lighting design
Oakland, CA

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Dennis Size
Re: Re:omitted other questions
on May 11, 2009 at 12:29:34 am

"Rosco has a new pola system for windows called Rosco View. The gel polarizes the light coming in the windows, and you apply their pola filter to the front of the lens."

I hate to quibble semantics, but that's what we often do here! :-)

I've used polarizing filters (one on window/one rotating on camera) for over a decade.
The gimmick is great but it's "tragic flaw" is that it does nothing for the light coming IN the windows. It allows you to control the light outside the window as perceived by the camera -- not the actual light. Unfortunately if God is focusing 2000fc of sunlight through your windows the polarizing filters do nothing to control the "burn out" you will be trying to control. Only nd, net, or scrim applied to the windows will help you out in controlling the exterior source polluting your lighting design -- and rendering your subject "nuclear"!.


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Grant Carter-Brown
Re: Re:omitted other questions
on May 10, 2009 at 7:49:59 am

Fair enough mate, you're quite right, I should know better :D

Thanks for thr rest of your answers too, very helpful :)

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