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Night time Scenario for Court appearance

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John Craven
Night time Scenario for Court appearance
on Apr 30, 2008 at 11:10:17 pm

Hey guys,
I need to shoot 2 shots @ night. Both are from the POV of a driver of an 18 wheel semi-truck (tractor trailer). It will be presented in a court of law, so the conditions have be exactly what happened the night that the actual event happened. There is no moonlight and the only light is coming from the Semi-truck's headlights and a car's tail-lights. So my question is what camera works really good under low-light conditions? What format? You think I should use any specific equipment/lights? That kind of deal. I have an XL2, so my plan was to bring it up to 12db and shoot it as is. But I think that might be too grainy. I am going to do some test shots before I shoot the actual event, but I want to see what you all have to say.
Thanks.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Night time Scenario for Court appearance
on May 2, 2008 at 5:22:32 pm

Not a lawyer, but I think the other side will get your video thrown out of court because the camera shooting at night just isn't going to be comparable to a human eye. Becasue of how rods and cones work and their distribution in the eye, human night vision is better at the peripheral edges of the visual field than it is dead-center, for one thing: how are you going to model that, by defocusing the center of your image? Just my own opinion, but I think a lawyer could raise enough questions about how well the camera models human night vision that a hudge would disallow it.


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John Craven
Re: Night time Scenario for Court appearance
on May 2, 2008 at 5:41:11 pm

ah,
That's good to know. By the way, how did you know that? Is there somewhere I can read all about that? Thanks for your help.


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Rick Amundson
Re: Night time Scenario for Court appearance
on May 4, 2008 at 7:12:01 pm

If you shoot this scene your biggest issue will be the contrast between the headlights and the darkness around the vehicles. If you expose for the headlights everything else goes black. Expose for the darkness and the headlights will overexpose.

A few options could be to shoot before the sky goes completely dark so there is enough ambient light to help expose the scene. Set your camera on the 3200 setting to take advantage of what blue will be left in the sky. Another option (more expensive and time consuming) is mounting some lights to the semi that point off the road on either side. You'll need a small generator and some fairly big lights (i.e. 5k tungstens or maybe 2.5 k HMIs) and you should of course test one night and shoot another. Lastly, just ND the headlights so you can open your iris to get a good ratio between the ambient light and the head lights.

My only other advice, don't use 12db gain. +6 would be the max but only if you really need it. To keep rich blacks, use less gain and more lights.

Best of luck!

Rick Amundson
Producer/Director/DP
Screenscape Studios
Bravo Romeo Entertainment
http://www.screenscapestudios.com
http://www.bravoromeo.com
http://www.indeliblemovie.com


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Steve Wargo
Re: Night time Scenario for Court appearance
on May 5, 2008 at 3:57:42 am

We did almost this identical shot for a feature film and rick hit it all on the nose.

You will need a camera that is very good in low light. I believe that the Sony PD-10 has been the all time leader till the EX-1 came along. Try one of those two.




Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Rennie Klymyk
Re: Night time Scenario for Court appearance
on May 6, 2008 at 8:02:47 am

I think Mark makes some strong points but then that is up to the lawyers to decide. If your client wants it then you need to provide what they ask for as best you can.

Another consideration is the angle of view. Humans have binocular vision so we see things slightly different from a camera which is a type of cyclops (having only one eye). It is pretty well accepted that a 50 - 55mm lens on a 35mm camera has about the same degree of perspective, angle and depth perception as a person. You will need to keep your camera fixed at an equivalent perspective (focal length) in order to maintain the proper distance relationship of physical things and their relationship to the speed you are traveling. A truck driver looks from side to side and into his mirrors too so you will need to do some of that. A helmut cam may be in order or the judge may be asking you how you filmed the video and you may find yourself at two trials.

As well as what Mark already covered, when we humans concentrate on one thing like the tail lights of the car ahead of us or a license #, we "zoom in" differently than a camera. A camera or telephoto compresses distance and makes things appear closer together but our eyes don't do that yet we can still select a license plate and read it out of the middle of a larger scene. IE: if you zoom a lens on the tail lights the gas station a 1/2 mile ahead suddenly looks like it is 100 yards ahead through the telephoto lens. When we concentrate our vision on the tail lights the gas station remains 1/2 mile ahead still. Try this from where you are sitting. Try reading the title of a book or the Sony logo on a deck paying attention to the background and then try it through a camera.

You need to concentrate on the lawyer and the truck driver and listen carefully what they have to say (particularly the truck driver) and try to re-create what he says he saw and experienced. You could accompany him in the passenger seat even in the day time while he re-iterated his recollection of things on the said night. This may help him remember more details.

Whether or not it is thrown out of court or if it is admissible is another question but not really your concern.

"everything is broken" ......Bob Dylan


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Steve Wargo
Oops
on May 7, 2008 at 5:59:21 am

I meant to say PD-150, not PD-10.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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