Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Camera Tests

So after the less the optimal outcome of the 48 hour project as noted in the previous post, I decided we needed to recheck our findings on the Benito’s Camera. Mark, Benito and I met on Sunday to do just that.
First thing we had to do was establish the relative ASA value of the camera. We spent a bit more time on it this time around. We set up a Baby and lit a color chart mounted on a bounce card placed about 10 feet from the camera. The chart read about 65 Foot candles and then with a monitor, we adjusted the aperture until we could see the differences between the two white values without them bleeding over. This was a stop of 4.0. Then we did the math and came up with something between 200 and 220 ASA.
We then lit the room for a lighting test to and had the kid walk in to the scene, sit in the chair read for a bit and then get up and walk out of the shot. The look we were going for was that of the Beach house scenes in Reds. We found that these scenes had a natural feel to them where the DP lit the walls and if there were a practical used that for key. The actors would walk in and out of light. I really liked it and that is the look I am going for.
Se we set a Baby to light the far wall with a double net to add a bit of top shadow. In the practical we placed a 250 watt photo flood. Note the lame was way hot so we cut it down with two pieces of 251 diffusion and a piece of half straw. When we shoot I think we will use nd3 and trim it back so we get a bit of a rim off the spill from the practical. Finally we hung a China Ball with a 250 on a C stand just to the left of the camera to add a bit of volume to the room. She exits between the camera and the china ball. There is also a Bounce card to the right of the chair to fill her face.
We shot these using different Aperture settings from 2.8-8 as noted on the slate.
Here is the test footage. I think the focus is a bit soft, something Benito has to work on before we shoot, particularly in the wider shots. I prefer the look in the 5.6 take. The meters were reading about 2.8 on the Baby, and practical and about 2.0 for the fill

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Some Days The Bear Gets You

I finally got to see the entry we did for the 48 Hour Film Project on the 14th. I was the gaffer and Mark Schapiro came along to help out. The team was Matograph, which is derived from the middle of the word Cinematographer. I vaguely recall coming up with that name about 20 years ago but I could be mistaken. Anyway this is the first time that I have seen footage coming out of Benito’s camera. Ever. And I was not happy with the result. It is not awful but to quote the spouse, ‘Here’s the thing.’
When shooting film you know the sensitivity of the film and you adjust your light meter accordingly. It has an ASA rating of 125 then you put on a 10X slide or set the digital to 125, along with the shutter speed. Then you can light with some confidence that you can give a decent F stop to the camera operator or fudge it if need be,

A month or so ago Mark, Benito and I were looking over the camera with the mind to establish the camera’s sensitivity. To do this we put the camera on Auto Aperture, and focused on a grey area. I took my light meter (A Spectra) and with all the slides out took a Foot candle reading. It was something like 65 Foot candles. Then we checked the camera for what it thought the F Stop should be and it read something like 2.4. (If you are at home doing the math please do not take these numbers as gospel since they are for demo purposes only. Anyway, if I am reading 65 FC and my shutter speed is 1/60th second (Roughly 30 FPS) and the camera tells me the F stop is 2.4 I can plug those values into a little mechanical computer on the back of the meter and viola, this camera is relatively X ASA. Now I know what slide to put into the light meter or in the case of my Digital meter, what values to set it to. We did this and determined that the camera was about 125 ASA.

Only later did I discover that my Spectra needed to be recalibrated as comparing it to Marks FC meter and his Spectra, it was not reading correctly. This of course changes the actual value. Further not having seen any of the footage, I was unaware there was an issue until just this moment. I take pride in my work and I want it to be the best I can make it for those that trust me to light for them so this is kind of embarrassing. The show came out overall overexposed by about a stop or two. If there had been time, the editor could have dropped the luminance values to get what I was hoping for but that is not the case here. So This weekend we go through the exercise again, this time shooting examples at different F Stops to see if that is what we really want.
You will notice in the attached video shadows coming off the key lights. I like a bit of shadow, really I do but in this case it is bad. The heads were as high as I could get em and I was shooting to have the shadows minimalized useing the exposure.

Here is the Video, 'Trippen'. Careful for those with sensitive ears, there is language in it.
[EDIT]There are also some really crappy cuts in this show. Especially since there was plenty of time to polish it up. They had two hours to spare when they turned it in.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Weekend Lites

I think that is what I will call it.
Here is a picture of the package in all its glory

Lots of new toys to play with

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