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first time DP needs some help

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Jensen Yancey
first time DP needs some help
on Jan 4, 2010 at 11:28:54 pm

I've directed a few shorts before but have never done the photography myself, I mostly need help with how to light it, but any input on how you would shoot it would be GREATLY appreciated. The best way I can think to describe the short is it's somewhat similar to Shaun of the dead except it isnt played for laughs. It's just one guy who thinks hes just getting sick but is in fact turning into a zombie and is unaware of the fact that theres a zombie outbreak going on around him. I want it to all have a green tint to it (except for one shot outside). The whole thing will last about 2 minutes or so, and I want it to start out a little slow, and then for it to gradually become more and more chaotic until the main character finally passes out on the floor and the final shot will be his eye opening but all black (also, how would I make someone's eye all black?) thanks!


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Rick Wise
Re: first time DP needs some help
on Jan 5, 2010 at 12:57:51 am

It would be helpful if you would good us some more information. Is this a night scene? Are you asking for lighting help? Camera angles? Describe where you plan to shoot. Post a few pictures of the look you want.

As always, keep it simple.

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: first time DP needs some help
on Jan 5, 2010 at 1:38:32 am

Rick's right, as he usually is... we'd need a fair bit more info on the particulars of what you want to shoot to give decent advice.

I haven't seen it in ages, but if I recall, a lot of the shooting in Shaun of the Dead (other than the night scenes or those in the Winchester) were either available light, or looked like they were mostly available light. Undoubtedly a lot more to them than that, though.

Early in the movie there is a long Steadicam shot that follows Shaun down the street and into and then back out of a store. That shot in particular had some nice exposure-riding work in it. It wasn't seamless (watch closely and you can see where they ramp the iris up and down), but it wasn't obtrusive and executed pretty well.

For the black eyes, there are probably a number of ways you could do that in post... but the easiest and cheapest way might be just to do it practically, with contact lenses.... http://02a5349.netsolstores.com/blacksclera.aspx


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Jensen Yancey
Re: first time DP needs some help
on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:19:34 am

I really only referenced shaun of the dead for the premise, I don't want it to look anything like that. I really need help with both what kind of angles to use and how to light the scenes. Other than one shot, all of the scene will be indoors and at night, and I want the whole thing to have a really grungy and dirty look, and have a very urgent and panicked feel to it (I really like the idea of the whole thing having a green tint). I can't really think of any particular movie or scene that has exactly what I'm going for, but I'll post the closest one I can find. as far as what I have available to work with I can get: an HV20 with a 35mm adapter, wide angle lens, and fisheye lens, a light kit+some extra worklights, a steadicam, and I THINK that I can get a hold of a 7D if I wanted one. I can make some reflectors or anything I would need that doesnt require much money or technical skill.


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Jensen Yancey
Re: first time DP needs some help
on Jan 5, 2010 at 8:25:05 am

I guess to be more specific, I want the lights to be somewhat dim (its supposed to look like a crappy apartment) with plenty of shadows, but nothing should be completely dark, if that makes any sense. Sorry, one of the reasons I really want to start filming shorts myself is to be able to do a better job of putting what I want a scene to look like into words better.


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Alan Lloyd
Re: first time DP needs some help
on Jan 5, 2010 at 4:06:03 pm

Expect to do a lot of the darkening after the fact. Shoot closer to normal and color-correct for your dark look. Reason? You can take information away after recording, but you can't put something back that wasn't there at the start.

And hazing the room with a fog machine may well give you a look you like for something sort of odd like this.


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Richard Herd
Re: first time DP needs some help
on Jan 5, 2010 at 7:56:15 pm

I think you're right on track aiming at the 2 minute mark. Believe it or not, that's still an ambitious story.

How do you light it? You light it so it is properly exposed. What is a proper exposure? Whatever the story, scene, and face demand.

I use that camera you mention quite a bit. First thing to do is turn it to full manual mode. There's a few flip switches and a few soft switches in the menu items. Now, you control the camera.

Next, turn on the zebras and set them to 80%--again, the how-to is in the manual and the switches are in the menus. That means the camera will examine the light in the frame and measure it on a scale from 0 - 100% and anything that is "at or above" 80% will have a nifty little zebra pattern across it. Put a human being's face in the frame, and that's what you want 80% to be--unless you don't like it, then adjust the iris and adjust the zebras, until you get a match for what you're looking for. Then Write down that f/stop.

Next, turn on the zebras and set them to 100% -- anything at or above 100% will have a nifty little zebra across it. 100% has the dubious distinction of being clipped. That is, you cannot recover the image. It is gone. No data has been captured. So you want very little 100%, if any--a few highlights here and there, no problem.

You can mess with that zebra all the way down to a very small number, say 0% -- all on the same f/stop, mind you, the one you wrote down above. 0% has the dubios distinction of nothing being there, no data. You cannot recover it from post. Opinions differ on how much black should be in a frame. My opinion is: I don't like it. I like to put my black point in via post production and I like to add a little color to the black. If there's no data, it can't be manipulated. So what do you do? Answer: experiment.

So!!! When you light, be sure to set your frame, and check the zebras all through the range, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 100%. Roughly speaking these will correspond to the straight line of the luminance curve in Apple Color (or other color correcting programs).

If you are careful to capture picture data (and that's the way to think about it, as data) all through this range, then you will have a nicely exposed image, and you will have enough data throughout the exposure to adjust it in post.

I mention using the zebras on your camera because they are built in, and you do not have to pay for additional equipment, but there is other equipment available (a wave form monitor, a light meter, for example) that are more accurate and a bit faster.

In my opinion, and this is my free advice, your money would be better spent on renting a wave form monitor than on a 35mm depth of field adapter, because the DOF adapter requires that you understand exposure in order to control the DOF. This little post is about exposure, so once you get that down, you can move on to Depth of Field. (Make sense?)

What lights do you need to achieve precision? In my opinion, the bare minimum light bulb you need is a 500 watt photoflood -- you need three or more of those, along with china lanterns and a ceramic shop light from a hardware store with its tin reflector cut off. I assume your budget is limited, because, obviously, there are more expensive lights. A 500w photoflood is a great choice because you get an even globe of light at tungsten color balance. That light can be bounced, flagged, diffused with any number of cheap items: poster board, shower curtains, silk, You would then need to experiment by moving the light closer-to and further-from the subject, and to the sides and behind, until you see something you like. Write that down, too. Maybe draw a little diagram.

As far as pacing, you might consider selecting specific coverage: opening with long slow tilts/pans and dollies. Then as the drama unfolds evolve the camera to swish pans and swish-tilts. Quick static shots, crossing the 180. Be sure to stick to your 2 minute time frame. One big big big problem I've seen with newbies shooting shorts is they overshoot. It's easy to understand how it happens: when you get the shot that feels you good you stick with it. Be strong and move on after 3 takes. Never say, "That was perfect. Let's do it again." Instead be disciplined and say, "That was perfect. Let's move on." If you're movie is 2 minutes long, then you should have about 6 minutes of total footage to wade through during editing. If you have more than 6 minutes, be sure to evaluate why you have so much footage.


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