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David Mullen ASC

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I've used Defocus with Power Windows with the DaVinci, once to create a soft vignette and another time to try and hide some bad join lines on some prosthetic make-up, so it's a useful tool. 


However, diffusion is not the same as soft focus.  Diffusion, whether digital or optical, is achieved by overlaying an out-of-focus image over a sharp image.  This is the principle behind the bubbles or "lenslets" in filters like Classic Soft or Soft-FX; it's also the principle behind nets.  To create this type of diffusion in post requires something like a Flame or Inferno, or editing software with this sort of efx software. Phil has demo'd the effect here, by creating a layer effect (unsharp image over sharp image), sort of a Gaussian Blur I guess.


A color-corrector like a DaVinci currently does not offer this.


You could use Defocus to soften a close-up, but I'd suggest using Power Windows to at least leave the area around the eyes sharp. Otherwise the image just looks blurry.


Thank you David,


Food for thought, ofcourse it can only be done when you shoot film, and I'm sure you already know but just thought I'd mention it. Is to use an optical filter in the telecine gate. It's interesting, but your highlights look different vs. in camera. I prefer the look of in camera filtering. Another thing I've read about but have not witnessed is da vinci's tool box. Anyone try this yet?


Colorist Toolbox


Forgive me if am going over old ground.


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I once got a few minutes to play on an Ursa/Da Vinci combo, which is a flying spot telecine and therefore able to use gate filtering as it's doing an area scan. Line-array types like a Spirit can't.


Naturally, all the stuff about wide dynamic range and zero quantisation still apply if you're doing optical filtering, although you can still make it seem more grainy if you're filtering after the fact then pumping up the gain in various channels to compensate.


The ultimate way to do colour balance is naturally to vary the colour of the light that' you're using to expose the sensor. Most telecines can do this to some extent to tweak out the orange mask, but I think only the Vialta actually had variable light valves on RGB sources. On something like an Ursa with single photoelectric pickups, part of the primary correction tends to be the ability to vary their gain directly, which is a slightly different approach to either light valves or digital processing, and possibly cleaner if it's done in the analogue electronics.



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  • 2 weeks later...
?could you tell if the camera accidentally saw that she is wearing pink underwear in that last shot??? geez, they are looking at a 20? HD color monitor and I?m looking at a 1? b&w monitor!


During a DV short I shot for a fellow director, I had to request the monitor to be removed from the set because I was sweating behind a PD150 while lining up the shot and lighting and watching for flags and stands in the frame on an almost thumbnail picture, the crew on the other hand got carried away and began discussing my lighting, I was patient because they were all friends and didn't mean to tell me how to do my job. It just happens so that when 5 or 6 people sit infront of a monitor they naturally begin to talk about what's on it.


A film set isn't a democratic environment and nor should it be, so I removed the monitor and had the director look through the camera. Everything moved smoothly from then on. This also helped the isolation problem of the director. Instead of yelling from behind the monitor, she interacted closely with the actors and I.


The size of the monitor is proportional to the amount of people around and of comment about the picture. A 20" monitor can be great for checking unwanted elements in frame etc. but I think If I ever shoot HD I'll have a smaller one.

Besides, irrational though it may be, a big monitor seems unnatural and looks out of place. It's as if someone brought in a TV and turned on the news or something.


A question comes to mind. How would it change the way one makes a film if ones reference picture were the size of a theatrical screen? It would obviously slow you down but on the other hand one might decide against an ECU of a character or perhaps having this kind of a sense of a scale "during" the making would impose a very unique style. It would be a fun experiment at the least.

Edited by Ali
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I just finished a feature about a kid in highschool that gets superpowers and saves the world from the evil history teacher who plans to pick up where Hitler left off. Interesting subject for a film with virtually no budget, but the director has a lot of helpful friends.


"Looked sort of moody for a cafeteria, but I just couldn?t bring myself to shoot another overhead fluorescent-lit scene!"


We weren't shooting HD (we shot super 16), but I struggled with that every day of the shoot. Eighty percent of the film was shot in a highschool and I didn't have a generator, so I had to use the overhead fluorescent most of the time while still trying to keep some contrast.


I used the overheads alone for the wide shots, but made sure to frame them in every shot. If it was going to be flat, at least there would be some hot spots. For the mediums and CU's, I flagged off the overheads and lit the actors with cool white kinos. Sometimes I went too contrasty on the actors, which looked a bit contrived.


The lunchroom had four 12x ceiling windows that provided plenty of stop and allowed me to turn off the overheads. There was direct sunlight coming through them for only about 2 hours, so we would shoot around that in order to keep the ambient light fairly consistent. I used a 1200 par to backlight the actors (and as many extras in the background as possible) and used daylight kinos with negative fill for mediums and CU's. Similar to the rest of the school, but I was happy to finally get to use some hard light.


This is the most interesting thread I?ve read in a long time. Having shot something with such similar locations (highschool hallways, classrooms, the gym, the lunchroom), it?s interesting to hear how someone else would approach this. I understand Mr. Mullen had bigger lights and more equipment, but, in the end, we?re all just lighting the scene. That said... I?m not going to pretend I didn?t imagine what I would do if I had more to work with. I enjoy hearing how someone would light these situations with a decent amount of gear.


The photography turned out fine. When I balance the good and the bad, it turned out, well...fine. It was my first feature and I learned a lot. Mostly things I absolutely won?t do again.



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