Beached Whale Camera Tests

 

Hannah and I spent the afternoon in Prime doing a few camera tests for the BnB scene of the script. The elderly couple will be lying on the bed for the entire scene and it is one of the only scenes using lighting. We measured out the size of the space we were going to have to work with. i set up the F5 while Hannah put up various nets to funnel the light more on to the face of the subjects and less on the body.

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The  settings for the F5 were: 1/50, 25 fps, 3200, slog 3, 1920x1080p, 2.8 t stop – with a lovely chunky wave form.

As well as using the nests to direct the light Hannah also experimented with ‘skirts’ of black wrap around one half of the china ball.

Latitude test for the F5 to find the best conditions for the camera to shoot in

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Link to rushes from test:

We also looked at alternatives for the steadicam such as the Easyrig for use in the final scene on the beach. We looked at the final scene of Submarine but decided that it movement is too jarring and distracts the audience from the story too much.

The Easyrig is a happy medium between handheld and Steadicam. We are going to visit Provision soon to test one out and see exactly what type of shots we could achieve.

Steadicam Training

On Monday Laurence and I spent a whole day practicing our basics. Although training with Joe Bullen was great, there simply wasn’t enough time for one-on-one teaching. So I decided to ask Laurence to come in to Prime with me and help me with my technique as he has already done quite a bit of Steadicam operating on the MA shoot Leo.

I have edited together a small compilation of some of my best shots and have written a little about what I did to improve these shots from the last time I practiced

Move 1: Follow and Turn

I wanted to practise my basic follow shots and turns, so I spent a whole day just walking up and down with the subject perfecting my use of horizontal and vertical lines in the background. I kept experiencing a sort of sea sickness type motion from the horizon line moving. (For example 00:13 seconds in)

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I also wanted to improve the movement’s created with my left hand such as for turning corners and panning. Before I was attempting to shift the entire camera but Laurence taught me to only use my finger tips to turn the post of the Steadicam. I think I improved here massively after a few attempts. 

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(00:21 in)

I then wanted to work on regaining my framing and keeping the horizontal and vertical lines correct after turning the corner (00:55):

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Move 2: Follow, Turn and Tilt

I really struggled as lifting up with the subject from sitting to standing – I found it difficult to keep him in frame and keep the camera steady. (01:23)

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I started ECU but then realised that I needed to pull back very quickly but smoothly to keep his head fully in frame (02:04)

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This is definitely something I need to work of next week – perhaps part of the reason for this is that I am quite a lot shorter than the subject which means I really have to lift the camera up to reach head height – but that means taking the weight off the arm of the steadicam which in itself is incorrect. In my next session I am going to attempt to raise the post so I can reach eye line as well as trying Low-mode.
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(02:10) I was able to re-gain my framing after the previous shot at least.

One aspect that I think works fairly well is when the subject raises the camera to take a photo and I push in and tilt down fairly smoothly (01:51)

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(02:28) This attempt its smoother but I do loose the top of the frame slightly for a moment but when it is re-gained it is nice and stable.

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Move 3: Backwards track and transition to Don Jan 

(03:22)

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There is a kick out towards the end that I haven’t quite mastered and I found it really quite hard to control – I actually decided it that it is due the the way my right arm is angled rather than the grip on my left hand.

Move 4: 360° Turn around subject

(04:10)

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Works fairly well and is actually a very powerful shot – however I think my main issue here is the fact I am too close to the subject – just one step back would be much more effective and would also mean I dont cut in to the head or chin at all.

I find that the longer I practise the better my technique but also the more worn out I get. My energy and strength levels rapidly degrees after a few hours work so In a way short but frequent bursts are probably better than long drawn out sessions. 

Here are some photographs from the training day:

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Camerimage- French cinematographers seminar

French cinematographers Michel Abramowicz, Nathalie Durand and Romain Lacourbas gave an insight in to their world as DOPs.

Nathalie Durand, who was incidentally the only female cinematographer I could find at Camerimage, spoke about how she prepares for shooting from script to the first day of filming. She introduced us to her movie Sky and said she begins by creating a visual look book, identifying different moods per scene, making sure she has one clear mood per scene.

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She says that this is her way of evoking ideas about lighting, framing and emotions. Herself and Director Fabienne Berthaud worked with two camera throughout, as if they are alos partaking in the action. Almost used as POV which would constantly be changed in order to keep the fresh, meaning no two shots were framed the same. She created a sort of dance around the actors and action – making the actors and cameras involved in the scene as one creating an intimacy.

Lighting techniques

  • Depron foam sheet for bounce
  • Difficulties of using single source lighting when the source becomes a  practical weapon in a  rape scene
  • Socket dimmers
  • Using shadows and silhouettes to add to the eeriness of the rape scene without being to explicit
  • Working around 360° shooting by using top source lighting and attaching dados to ceiling
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Romain Lacourbas – Marco Polo

Roamin spoke about using just three sources for lighting with this Netflix series: the Sun, moon and fire. He said these lights sources, particularly the fire, increases darkness and contrast. He chose the colour scheme of moonlight blues and fiery oranges. Using haze to help the camera catch the jade of the light /fire in the darkness.

Lighting Techniques
  • He said that in a tv series you need a look.
  • Contrast your colours but only have three colours in the frame, no more, otherwise becomes too hectic.
  • A means of exaggerating Saturated colours is by using gels.
  • Colour separation. Complimentary moonlight colour with fire. Almost surreal blues. Pushing them to their limit for an interesting shot. Playing with colour temp of camera. Higher one. 4300
  • Darkness of face
  • Used f55 for its high dynamic range. But felt it would have been too clinical. So instead went for more vintage lenses
  • Finding the balance. To keep I cinematic.

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This is a behind the scenes clip showing how they shot the horses in flames – using light up strips for the vfx team

A conversation with Michael Serisin

 http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0785029/

Michael Serisin spoke a bit about his style of lighting. Single source lighting is something he says has become too cosmetic these days, he says the purpose, beauty and shapes within these dark shadows are being totally dismissed. For him, the best way to capture the essence of single source lighting is by using the three key light sources; sun, moon and fire.

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He spoke about the importance of going to galleries and looking at oil paintings and seeing how artists like Caravagio captured light and dark within their paintings. He said to look at still lives in particular to see how the light and shadow will blanket over certain objects and textures.

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I love how low angle lighting creates  beautiful long, dramatic shadows and found a few images that I felt capture this well:

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A key thing I have come to learn, since hearing cinematographers such as Michael Serisin talk, is that it is ok to make things dark. Throughout film school I have been told by people there is a set ISO for certain situations and my colleagues have often been quick in saying that something I have lit is too dark. However as Serisin spoke I recollected my tutor saying to me “don’t create unnecessary light sources, if it’s a dark night interior, make it so.” In the lecture with Michael Serisin, he spoke about how much he likes dark shadows in a scene. It suddenly made me realise it is all a choice and down to personal preferences (to an extent) and decided to visit a few exhibitions and research artists like Rembrandt and Caravagio who have influenced this darker style of light and shadow within their own paintings.

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Rembrandt
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Caravagio

I actually found an amazing photographer, Mashashi Wakui, who captured some incredibly cinematic night shots of eery Tokyo which I feel capture an eery beauty within darkness:

http://www.konbini.com/en/inspiration/tokyo-by-night-photos/

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Here is my own example of single source photography. I took this during Leeds light night in the market.

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The Anatomy of a Motion Lens

Dan Sasaki of Panavision delivered a very interesting seminar about the  anatomy of lenses. I was worried It was going to be an incredibly technical lecture that would just fly straight over my head but Dan spoke so clearly about, not only how different motion lenses work and a the maths behind them, but also about the importance of picking the right lens for the right story and how best do this.

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https://britishcinematographer.co.uk/dan-sasaki/

Dan spoke about lenses being like the human eye, and said that a lens is made to program depth markers in the same way our eyes do; in regards to texture, size, occlusion e.g. perspective optical, illusion, contrast and geometrical perspective.

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He discussed laws of physics such as relative motion and how perspectives can be changed e.g. a flat image can be changed and given dimension with movement.

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Aberration of a lens

 

 

“Different lenses tell different stories” 

 

 

 

 

Modulation Transfer Function or MTF is the commonly accepted measure of lens performance. Dan spoke a lot about how the combination of new digital cameras and new lenses can create a very clinical and synthetic look, which lacks in depth and detracts from the story. He said film naturally has a lower MTF so using new cameras and lenses works really well on film but now we find that a sharper image and lower MTF lens can actually balance out an image. Which is why so many people are using vintage lenses with new cameras and sensors. Finding the perfect balance is essential for finding the correct look of a story.

Dan spoke about the customisation of Panavision lenses to fit your story perfectly, an example of why cinematographers may choose to customise their lenses is to increase vignette without increasing distortion

 

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