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Achieving low light and dark colours in the desert

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mara adina
Achieving low light and dark colours in the desert
on Mar 27, 2008 at 8:51:10 am

Hello everybody

I'm in the middle east at the moment in pre-production with a film that is to be shoot entirely in the desert, daylight-magic hour. The camera is never on sticks, we're hand-held for the whole shoot.

We are firstly torn between which camera to go with to better achieve our goals. We've got the choice between the Cannon XL1, hdv Cannon XL H1 and full HD... the red camera which we've never used before.

My primary issue is light and color. The film requires a somber, dark mood. My question hence is what ideas you guys have about achieving this dark mood. I'm going for dark browns and grays, very high contrast. Keep in mind that we don't have access to a generator so pretty much everything has to be done in camera.

Any suggestions would be highly appreciated!!!
Thank you

Mara Adina
director/cinematographer
Edinburgh, Scotland


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jon agnew
Re: Achieving low light and dark colours in the desert
on Mar 27, 2008 at 4:39:22 pm

Shooting in the desert...I'm having flashbacks of sand clogging everything. Not going to lie and say I envy you. Hope you have a good AC. Ha!

As far as which camera to use, I would opt for true HD. I would certainly avoid shooting on RED for this one. The desert in the middle east is probably not the place to start having workflow issues...plus, the sand is an issue again.

I would also consider shooting this with post-production color correction in mind. You're going to be able to have much better control of your images later than trying to perfect the look in-camera. YOu might also want to look into graduated ND or Orange filters to balance the sky and sand. Also, remember that video loses all color and luminance in the white, so if you're ever concerned about proper exposure, its better to be slightly under-exposed than over-exposed.

Good Luck.



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Jim Tuchschmidt
Re: Achieving low light and dark colours in the desert
on Mar 30, 2008 at 3:28:42 am

While there is no substitution for knowing your equipment, and this would be my first consideration, the advantage of tghe RED camera is that the images are all captured in uncompressed RAW. So, all the color correction is done in post and you have a huge amount of data to do that. I have only seen demo's of RED and never used it, but the images are awesome. I do use the XL-H1 regularly and it also captures great images. As Jon points out, you have a fair amount of latitude over image processing in post.

Jim


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Leo Ticheli
Re: Achieving low light and dark colours in the desert
on Mar 30, 2008 at 1:08:01 pm

Actually, the Red camera is already in use in the Middle East with good results. Do a search at the Red User forum.

Good shooting and best regards,

Leo



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Peter Rummel
Re: Achieving low light and dark colours in the desert
on Apr 4, 2008 at 4:34:37 pm

I would avoid using grad filters if the camera is to be constantly handheld. The effect would be pretty noticeable in a randomly moving shot. A polarizing filter would be good choice for a desert shoot, but again you have to deal with the camera movement. The strength of the polarizing effect depends on the angle to the sun. So if, say, you're doing dutch moves with the polarized camera the sky will go dramatically lighter/darker. Not good. Even panning the camera would change the brightness of the sky.





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