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Why I decided to go to Uni to become a Cinematographer - and quit a full time job to do so!

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I wanted to start a series of posts where I could keep track of what is going to University to study film studies or cinematography.


Not so many years ago when I was struggling to understand the little words I knew in English I found this forums and I started reading (with a dictionary) every single thing I could.


Thanks to the knowledge of a lot of people who were and are on this website I got better as a camera intern and then as a second assistant camera so I hope this post and consecutive posts that I am thinking about writing will help people in the future when they think about: "Should I go to a film school or not?" because they will see all the process that took me from being a non - student to a full time student.


So, a little bit about me!


As of today, October 6th, 2014, I'm a 33 years old Spanish second camera assistant who left Spain in 2010 after spending a lot of years working on American commercials, American movies, English movies and second units of different things.


At that time I was starting to shoot short - films as a cinematographer and probably, hadn't I left Spain, I would be shooting commercials now as a cinematographer.. with very bad quality.


The reason why I left Spain is because I wanted to improve my English (which in a 0 to 10 scale was 1) in order to go to study a Cinematography masters in AFI in L.A.. and I almost got there!


I applied to AFI for the 2012 / 2013 cinematography course and as they were asking for a minimum of 100 in the TOEFL exam I couldn't get in because my score was 99, yeah! 1 point, but their rules are their rules :) and although I had the recommendations, the support of the Fulbright Scholarship and some other things, they said no.


And I'm super happy I didn't get there because I started working for Apple in Cork (Ireland) and I discovered that "the office environment" was kind of interesting (and Apple was paying really really really well for the job I was doing).


Also I started to focus a bit more on still photography, which is something I adore and love, and I found out that the more I was shooting, the more I was going towards darkness and colours.


But I was missing something while working at Apple and it was the set life :) so I decided to start shooting short - films in Ireland.. and by doing that, I knew that I couldn't work in Apple anymore because I needed to follow my passion, cinematography.


While trying to decide what to do I came across the National Film School in Ireland, home to cinematographers like Robbie Ryan, James Maher (member of the forum if I don't remember badly), Piers Mc Grail and so many other interesting ones.


I went to the open day and what I saw was a place where I could spend time to create and learn things that I wanted, something that you miss when you are working full time, either in movies or Amazon or Apple.. sure you see loads of lighting setups while working on sets but if you are a 2nd AC, you better be focused on your job unless you don't want to work anymore.


So, this National Film School was offering a 4 years Bachelors Degree (Honours) in Film & Production, being the 4th year the one where people choose a specialization.


Probably the same kind of course as it is offered in America, Europe and etc so nothing fancy!


And I said: Ok! If I can get in 4th year that would be awesome! I will spend 1 year doing what I love, learning things that I don't know, polishing my skills and they will give me a Bachelors Degree even! Plus they got two Alexas and a super new big studio!


The decision wasn't that easy, although I had no commitments in life at the moment (no mortgage, no children, nothing at all) the money that I was getting from Apple was a very serious thing and you all know how the world spins!


However, after a lot of months of thinking about it I decided to quit my job at Apple and become a student of the university (which accepted me with no problems) because I knew that I needed to pursue my dream.


My reasons to go to uni were the following ones:


- In University you have all the equipment you need to learn the craft.


- You learn! I can't write it any bigger but it is an important point, you learn!


- You also make friends and get to shoot a lot so you can try things that you couldn't try in a working environment when money is involved.


- You also experiment with film / video if you want to.


- You will be focused on YOU and that's THE POINT because nobody else is going to teach you what you don't know that you don't know!


- They will teach you how to find your voice and apply it in different projects.


- My uni is absolutely empty in the evening (something that I don't understand tho) and our classes have 2K projectors, dolby sound system and a big screen so from 6 to 8.30 I watch and analyze movies when I'm not shooting.


- I have access to lecturers to talk about things that I can't talk about with anybody else (like the cinematography of Dersu Uzala for example!) and their point of views are always interesting even if they are not the same as mine.


- I have to write a thesis!!!! something that I haven't done ever (it's my very first time in Uni). I find the process absolutely beautiful because I'm learning a lot about things that I didn't know.


- In some unis or schools you have super top lecturers and that is fantastic! you can learn from them a lot! Some other unis don't have those lecturers but still they have very good teachers and they can address things that you hadn't thought about on your own.


- If you go to AFI or NFTS you probably will end up as a top cinematographer / director / scriptwriter shooting commercials, features and such. While other unis won't give you that visibility you choose what you want to get out of uni and if you are passionate, driven about what you do, you should get the most out of your school!


- Usually, Film schools have a sort of grading suite that you can use, so learn how to grade and use it!


- You will have a library with a lot of books and you can wander around the shelves looking for Film Lighting by Malkiewicz and end up with a book with photos of the architecture of Tadao Ando! You won't have that at home because we search for what we know that we need and Google won't give you results on other things if you are looking for Film Lighting.


- You will get a degree at the end of it and then you can choose to go for a Masters on any other thing vaguely related if you want to.


- I really know that I won't become a cinematographer ever, and it doesn't bother me at all at all, I'm doing it because I needed to do it. My goal is to become a cinematographer, a good one with something interesting and different to say, but if I don't get there, I won't regret it because I will have done the trip :)




I can only say: Go to film school!!! even if it is not one of the top ones, because it will give you a lot of knowledge (cinema wise) and you will find there if cinema is what you want to do for the rest of your life or you better get something else.


And probably, if you are reading this and still are in your early 20s.. go go go! finish it and then try getting a degree in something else that you might like or is related (communications, marketing, advertisement..) because that will give you a backup plan in case your filmmaking career doesn't go as planned.


Or you can go to the backup plan course first and then going to film school :) it doesn't matter! Learning is always great great fun and playing and toying around with cameras is even better.


I will be posting how uni goes on here and what I learn as the weeks fade.


Last week we had the first cinematography class, in a black studio with nothing else, just a monitor and the black curtains).

Everybody was not very interested in the lecture and the testings we were running and were out of the class smoking or chatting, so I asked for a couple of 1K and asked for permission to play with them during the lunch break... and the image below is what I got.





What I really miss is a light in the background to create colour contrast and if I could ask for something else.. what about a window to create a sense of darkness outside with a cyanish night or a green steelish night or even orange!? :D


I will be shooting the image above with the Alexa very soon and we will see what I get!!! :)


If you have gotten here, congratulations! :D I hope it solved some of your questions! :) and if you want to post some of your thoughts, you're more than welcome! :)



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Thanks Miguel,


You really said it all about the value of a film school. It allows you to experiment and play and learn from others. Not all film programs are equal and one does need to do their research and be selective. But there is no better way to begin to learn the craft, find your voice, network and open your eyes to the what has worked in the past and wht the future may hold anew.


The producer/director of the low budget feature I just shot this summer just fired her editor. He was a nice guy, easy to work with, but uncreative. He was self taught and was proud of it. But he was unable to do some very basic things the director wanted - because no one had taught him how to get around certain continuity problems. They weren't hard things to do, but he said it couldn't be done. She showed the footage to an experienced feature editor who said of course it can be done - and easily. If this young editor had gone to film schoool and learned from experienced editors he would have that job still today.

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David, you are all right!


Last week has been an interesting one in uni.


After two weeks of working on Penny Dreadful I really wanted to go back to college and start shooting very short things for myself and as I had missed two cinematography classes due to work, the teacher, Matt Skinner, agreed on creating a "photography product" class for the three people who were not able to attend the other two classes, myself included.


Hence, as a cinematographer, I am so much into commercials and I decided that it could be a good opportunity to get some interesting shots of a product that you see on TV all the time, perfume!


And so I went to buy a perfume to the local drugstore and I spent ages trying to decide what bottle I liked the most.


I ended up buying "The One" from Dolce & Gabanna, a black and rectangular bottle which is similar to the 2001's monolith, and as its surface is very reflective I thought that I was going to have a lot of fun trying to place the reflections in the right position for the bottle to be lit as I wanted.


And the day came and we had 7 hours for three people to light and shoot our products.


I was lucky enough to help the first person light her product and operate the camera but it took us 3 hours until the person was happy enough, and then we went for lunch and when we came back I decided I was going to be the last person lighting the product as I knew what I wanted to get and I thought I was going to have 1 hour to do so.


However, the second person spent around 3 hours to light the product and shoot it, and again I was lucky enough to operate the camera on that shot.


And then my turn came and the teacher told me: Miguel, you have around 15 / 20 minutes to get your product done, I looked at him and I told him: Ok, then I'll test some diffusion filters that I have brought with me because I want to see how diffusion affects the high - lights.


I put my bottle on the table and I knew that I wanted to have the side towards camera totally lit and the rest of the bottle lit with a line on the edges (if it makes sense!) so I placed two kinoflos totally wrapped on 216 to the sides of the bottle and when I saw that I was missing the top I placed a Miniflo to create the line on the edge (it was not enough and I am going to do it again with something different to create a brighter line, probably a normal Kinoflo) and I started putting different diffusion filters on camera.


I tried black nets, classic softs, pro - mist, black pro - mist and fog and I will be putting different frames from all of them so if somebody wants to know the effect of them on the high - lights, they will have them here.


I think the frame I came up with in those 15 minutes is very tight and as I am going to repeat this class on my own, I will get a wider frame and I will do a slow dolly in.

Also, I reckon I missed the lower part of the bottle and I am going to try to put a light there to create the line (I do not know if I am going to be successful or not tho ha) because I might like the line there (or not!)


And I am going to try to light the front a bit more as I do not see the words "The One" right now, in fact, I'm going to have a lot of fun for 7 hours ha.


Just for you to see, this is a jpeg from the shot (a very bad one tho!)





85mm Sony CineXenar



At the very beginning of the week I was offered to photograph a 3 weeks Irish feature film, the mail sounded promising and I said: Yeah, I am interested in knowing a bit more.

Then, when the answer came back, the producer told me that everybody was going to do it for free because they believed in the project and also because the budget was between €15.000 and €20.000

I told them straight away that it was very unlikely that I could make the movie for free as I make a living out of this and if I were to be working for them for three weeks, that meant that I was going to be with no payment for 3 weeks, so I asked them for €3.000.


After meeting them and talk with them about the project for a couple of hours, they agreed to think about it and in a couple of days they told me that they had been trying to stretch their budget to pay for me but they could not do so, and I said: Ok, thank you very much for taking the time to do so but I still cannot make the movie either for less or for free so I hope you find somebody else.


A pity though because the script was kind of interesting.


So my plan for next week is as follow:


- Monday, Tuesday, start writing the first chapters of my Thesis!

- Thursday, Shoot a car in, again, a kind of 10 seconds commercial (I have the idea formed already :D)

- Friday, shoot the bottle in a kind of 10 seconds commercial (Ideas are welcome!)


I will be posting more and, please, if you have anything to say about the bottle, do so! I love feedback and I would love to know what you would do with it!




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I wish I could tell you that's unusual. I've had three this year which went the same way - do it for nothing, often including bringing equipment, or don't do it.



Well done for refusing to do it for nothing. Everyone should take that position.



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I know it is not unusual, I have seen so many discussions on here regarding that topic and also jobs listed on mandy asking for that.


And my position is very clear, do you want to make money out of the movie? if the answer is yes, then pay for my services :)

Also, I like shooting movies but as a cinematographer I would love to shoot 2nd units (that's what I do as a 2nd AC), commercials and short stories / experiments with friends.

I am a bit like Alexander Witt in the sense that, for me, the best things happen in 2nd units! while shooting 2nd units you usually have access to things that you don't have while shooting actors and that's something that I love! and you don't have all the pressure that the main unit has.

In fact, if I could ask for a wish in terms of "where do you want to end up with your cinematography?" I would say: Let me follow Alexander Witt's path :D.. maybe it is a bit unusual but it is enjoyable too!


Probably that's the reason why the NFTS didn't want me there haha.


Kindest regards!

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Great week in uni so far!


Lecture on cinematography last week was "eyelight" and thanks to that I learnt one thing that I wanted to learn since I started watching movies: how to create gradients on faces and I am very happy I found out how to do so because I think it is a very important and subtle part of a cinematographer's job.


As usual, the teacher started by talking to us how to create different kind of eyelights and then, while going from one set to another I asked him if I could take 5 minutes to try something that I had wanted to try by listening to him, he allowed me do that and I come up with colours.


You might know by now that I love colours and it is something that I pay attention to in a great way as they can help reflect people's moods on the screen.


I wanted to know what could happen if I were mixing different colours with different contrasts and here is the result:





My classmate with a Blonde 800W + 216 on the left side and a 650W + Peacock Blue as a rim light.



Same setup but Yellow 101 on the left side.


And then I thought: What if we add a very subtle fill light by the camera so I see "the point" in his eyes?







My classmate with a Blonde 800W + 216 on the left side, a 300W bounced off a 1m x 1m white polyboard as a fill and a 650W + Peacock Blue as a rim light.


And as I wanted to play with colours, I decided to do the same with the Yellow 101 (which might not be the best colour to mix with the Blue ha)







Same setup as above but with Peacock Blue on the fill light.


You can see the gradient between the yellow and the blue and how the colours get mixed, when I saw that I could not believe it and I turn off and on the 300W several times to see the reaction.. I was absolutely ecstatic I had found a key part of what I wanted to learn!!


I like the contrasty image the most but I think the other one is equally powerful and how to use one or the other is a matter of the script.


As I said before, IADT is equipped with a couple of Alexas, Cinexenar and Zeiss lenses and it has a couple of studios where a cinematographer student can spend the whole day if interested.


I am, and I booked the full Alexa kit with some lights to create a "fake" commercial of the bottle mentioned in a post above so I could learn how to use reflections and how to place them.


And this is a frame of what I got.




I had so much fun putting lights up and down, turning them on and off, wrapping them with 216, without it, bouncing them, etc.

It seems to me that I could spend two whole days in the studio with that bottle trying to get the lines in the perfect position but it is really hard to have them right! How do you do it guys?


The "fake" commercial will be edited and graded in a couple of weeks so I will be posting it for you to see it!


I brought a RC car I bought a couple of weeks ago to do exactly the same but the car did not turn out that well and it can be because of three reasons:

- The shape of the car, which is very curvy.

- The size of the lights, I thought that the biggest the better but then I found myself using miniflos wrapped in 216 together with the normal kinoflos.

- My lack of experience lighting cars, which can be the right reason! :D


I have no access to the car frame right now but I will post it in a couple of days and see if you can give me some input on it if it is ok because it was a very tough one!? :)


And that's all for the week!
Hopefully this coming week will bring more joy! :)


Have a lovely day all!




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As promised, a frame of the wide shot of the car as it should appear on the "fake" commercial, which turned out to be very very bad.


It is going to be my personal challenge to light the wide shot of this car perfectly by the end of the year.




And with some notes.




I am going to post the frame on the Lighting forum so I can get some advice on how to lighting it properly because I really want to nail it down! :)


Thank you!!!

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Last week wasn't very exciting in terms of Cinematography classes, we had a wide shot exercise and the class itself wasn't as good as the previous ones.

As I was busy working on commercials most of the week I couldn't do anything on my own either.


After working for four days I decided that I needed to get more things done with my little car (at the end of the day I want to shoot car commercials :D) and I had to know how to use reflections properly and exactly, hence I decided to book the studio, the camera and the lights for today, Monday and Thursday.


Then I wanted to use reflections as if it were an actual car commercial and thanks to a 2 x 1 meters frame that was in the studio I think it looks much better than the previous one.


Mainly because of three things:

1 - The size of the light.

2 - I used reflections rather than direct light.

3 - I created the full line.


Although it looks 100% better than the other frame (probably because I was able to put the line wherever I wanted to) , I am still annoyed with one reflection that I can't get rid of and the tires.

There are 5mm between the tires and the under side part of the car, I can't put light behind the car because I will see it, I can't put light above the car because I would notice it.

I've been thinking about two things:

1) Placing tinfoil on the table so I can use little LEDS put in the under side part of the car and use them to bounce some lights to the tires.

2) Creating a composition with the picture below and another one with light behind the car so I can erase parts of the car that I don't like (easy option and not the one I like)

3) Throwing direct light under the car and problem solved.


It seems to me that the frame has to be bigger so I'll be using 2 2.5x2.5 frames next time :)


Anyway, please find attached the frames from the car commercial








Have a great day!

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Hi Alexander,


No worries!


I was allowed to skip all the three years that's right.

I don't know if it was the right decision or not but that's what I asked for.


The reason why I was allowed to do so is because of my previous experience as a 2nd AC and my work as a cinematographer (not that much but I showed them a period drama short - film that I shot, the second short - film that I had photographed and they were very impressed).

They told me that they saw potential on me and that was the reason why they were going to allow that (probably because they saw that I was very determined too, and old, ha)


I highly recommend that you go to the open days and if you have worked in the industry before, let them know and asked them for different possibilities.


Have a good evening!



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Hi Miguel,


thanks a lot for sharing your experiences and personal thoughts. Helps me a lot :) ... I started out directing music videos for a couple of big labels, but eventually I realised that the art of cinematography interests me the most. So now I'm planning to attend cinematography classes/certificates as well as getting more set experiences before applying to a "proper" film school.


Thanks again Miguel :)

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Looks like your having fun Miguel! Having the tools at your disposal really helps a lot experimentation wise. It allows you to test concepts and ideas without a crew hanging over your shoulder, rushing to get that next shot. A lot of this trade is making mistakes and learning from them, which is why most people start at the ground level, being a production assistant and eventually find their way into a bottom end position in whatever department they wish to end up. A lot of people rush into it, trying to learn a lot in a little bit of time. However, the most successful and talented DP's have spent years in the doldrums of being 2nd and 3rd AC's, moving up to operator and eventually getting a job as a cinematographer. It takes time and I fret, rushing it through schooling, may not get you much further up the food chain job or education wise. Simply having equipment at your disposal and getting feedback from someone in the know, is sometimes the most important thing.


Good Luck!

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Hi Alex!


Definitely getting more "set experiences" is something that I recommend a lot because it will help you have a clearer path in school.

I know what I want to get out of NFS and I'm doing everything I can to achieve it, and that's because of my previous set experience.


Maybe we'll see each other soon! If you're in Ireland, pop up during the Open Days and ask them loads of things, and come to see me!



Thanks for the comment!

I'm having loads of fun indeed.


It's exactly what you say, having a couple of lights, a camera and a studio to experiment with things, lights, moods, etc is the best thing about being in school :)


I personally think that starting at the bottom end of the camera department or the electrical department helps a lot as you get to know how to behave on set, what to do, what not to do, which are the expected times for something to be done and all those little things that are very important (for me as a 2nd AC :D), at least it has helped me and it still helps loads.



I'm studying in the National Film School in Ireland not the National Film and Television School in UK, they are completely different!




On the other hand, last week was very strange.


We were going to have a good cinematography class - exterior day / night and the college was going to rent a couple of HMI's for us to play with them, however we couldn't have the class because of the weather as a big storm came out of the blue the day before and the class had to be suspended :(.


However, I had offered myself to help a student from the Design for Cinema and Stage course shoot her minor grad on Friday - basically shooting a 2 or 3 minutes piece -


At the beginning I thought it wasn't going to be interesting enough because we only had a black space, the cinematography studio, and the girl wanted to achieve a "soft and light" light coming through a window in daylight.


So, first things first: Where can we get a window in college? how do we make the shots interesting if we have no flats and no place to put anything? and more important, how the hell do I get a "soft light light coming through a window in daylight" when I'm used to work with 18Ks, 24Ks, Maxibrutes and etc and I only have blondes and redheads? Oh, and we were going to be just three people on set, the girl, the actress and myself.


I have learnt an important thing in college and it is that you have to be really creative to overcome all the difficulties of a "school production" and we started to think that way.


First thing, window

Creating a light coming through a window is no problem at all, but it is a little problem when you want to see the window :D, hence, we went through all the school trying to get a window and we finally got one! A very heavy and old window which was absolutely perfect.


Second thing, set.

As part of the lighting kit that IADT has there are some autopoles so I asked for two of them with two tripods to hung or suspend wallpaper from them and create a "sense" of space with the wallpaper.


It didn't turn out well because we were able to see the gaps between the wallpapers.

Again, we started to think about what we could do to make the wallpaper stay straight.. and we walked through the college and we luckily found three pieces of wood which we put on one of the autopoles.


We needed to put the paper in a higher position and we decided to hung it from the second autopole so we could put the rest of the wallpaper in each piece of wood.. and it worked better than having no pieces of wood :)


Third thing, light

I want to become a cinematographer and each time I have to shoot something I have little butterflies in my stomach because I think I won't be able to do what the director is asking me to do.


I am a great fan of soft light but I know that to create an interesting soft light you need a big surface of light, I also like shooting at T5.6 hence the necessity of having big lights to create soft light.


However, we don't have 12ks / 18Ks / etc in IADT (we don't even have a 5K!), but we have 3 2K blondes which I thought could help achieve the mood that the director was looking for with a smaller number, T2.


We also have that great frame with 216 that I have mentioned before! :) and I said: Let's bounce the blondes off the frame! even if it is made of 216, it has to give me something. and it does, it is not as great as a white sheet but hey! it worked.


Finding your artistic voice and your vision is what all the teachers are looking for and I love mixing color temperatures and using colors to enhance feelings if possible, I can't help! if I have a chance, I will mix color temperatures so I asked the girl if she could bring a little lamp that we could use as a practical.


She brought a fabulous lamp, and all the bulbs we had to make the light dimmer didn't fit, so we used the old ND trick, we dimmered the light all we could (not too much tho) and I put depron on top and on the bottom part of the lamp, that way, the light was going to be softer.


As I wanted the light a bit warmer I placed an Amber Bastard gel in it and I loved it! It's such an amazing filter, ain't it? :o


When we started to frame I fell that we needed something else within the frame to make the composition a bit more interesting and I placed a table with a cloth and some candles on it.
I don't know if I did the right thing but it helped me a bit with the background and I had the perfect excuse to place a light for her in the back! a 300W with a single net, flagged and with Amber Bastard again :D.


I wanted to place a practical on one of the wooden pieces for it to light the background but we didn't have either more practicals or the way to hold it!


Fourth thing, shooting time

The director and I agreed on moving the camera slowly to create a sense of dynamism and liberation which is very difficult when you are operating, moving the camera on the little rails and pulling focus at the same time! I had a great time tho!


I am usually not happy with the results I get, however, with what he had and seeing the result we got, I'm quite ecstatic!


Things I would have loved to try (but I couldn't because of time constrains)


1) I would have loved to light the background a bit, just a bit.

The face was reading T1.4 2/3 and the background was reading T 1.0 so maybe half stop would have been enough because I think it looks very dull?


2) Maybe a warm kick light for her?


3) Definitely next time I will try to create soft light as an ambience and then throwing "a ray of light" through the window so we really see that it is daylight and we have the harsh ray of light there.


Regarding the grading, this is what I wanted and what I shot for



The director said that the tone of the piece asked for a lighter version of it which I don't know if it's ok or not but it is the one that you can see on the following link:




Take into account that it is a very low resolution video!

And it is very likely that I'll be grading some parts of the piece as I want it to be for my reel.. whenever I start creating one ha! and probably I'll grade the piece as the image above for that Vimeo link in the next couple of days.


What do you think? Do you think it is better to have a neutral face as in the frame above or with a blue tint as in the graded version?


Anyway, thanks for reading again! I hope you don't get bored at all! :)



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I personally like the graded shot over the vimeo. However, nothing I've been able to produce out of my DaVinci coloring tool, looks even close on Vimeo. SO don't sweat it! Looked good though, I would have not gone as white with her key light, maybe something a tiny bit softer and less bright. But that was the only thing that stood out to me.

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I like the graded frame over the Vimeo too Tyler and I was in college today re - grading the entire piece (not too much to do though!) and I graded it almost as in the frame above, with a little bit less of contrast and a little bit less saturated so I think that it will be as you said! :)


I will upload it during the weekend so maybe you can take a look at it again and see what you think if it's ok?


Kemalettin, I read your posts here and I don't know what to say, I love changes! and usually going out of a comfort zone takes a while but at the end of the day it's very rewarding.

As for me, I don't know what I'm going to do after finishing school, probably I'll have to go back to Cork to work in a call center! But I don't care as I know I'll have acquired the knowledge I needed and I'll have improved my life by studying and learning :)


Have a lovely day all!


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I'm always here, send me what ya got! I've been very unlucky at grading stuff and making it look good on Vimeo. I have a beautiful 2k cinema projector which is color calibrated and if it looks good there, it usually looks like poop on Vimeo. So, I've given up trying to make things look good online. :shrug:

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Hello Miguel,


Love the work you have done on that film.


Love the difference between a blue face and a wormer background.


The Only thing I would have to say is (the same as Tyler) maybe the light is a bit hard (just with the white hair) But beside that nothing to say.


Yes and Honestly don't loose time and energy to grading something for Vimeo everything will disappear in the compression.


A film I've done (as a DP) look nothing between the Vimeo Version and the "proper version". ;(


But Keep it up look really cool!



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Thanks guys! :)

All the feedback is really really appreciated!

I have been super quiet lately because there has not been a lot of things going on in school, in fact, we haven't had a class in 4 weeks! which is really bad and I already complained about it.


They have been talking about bringing lecturers to the school to do daily workshops and I pointed out a 1 week car commercial lighting workshop and an interior day workshop too, mainly because I think that creating interesting moods for interior days while in a budget can be quite complicated.


On the other hand I bought an old Redone MX just to practice at home.

The reason behind the purchase is that I have always wanted to know how to achieve darkness (being Jeff Cronenweth one of my favourite contemporary cinematographers you can understand my obsession with nights and darkness)


For me to practice I need a real scenario where I can put lights, where I can't pull out walls so I have the constrains of an actual location (I like working "on location") and where I can go anytime, surprisingly, my house allows all of that as it is really well built in terms of set designing :D


The living room is a rectangle with a big glass sliding door facing west and nothing but the back garden and some trees behind it, there is a small window on a wall which faces north and allows light in and the entrance door faces east and it leads to an aisle with the main door in the house (which, as every single main door in Ireland has some glass) hence there is that little aisle to play with.


It also has two lamps which are dimmable! and I placed them long time ago in two of the corners (in diagonal), I can put autopoles or tubes at any time and I can place lights outside the house whenever I want to.. so it is the perfect place to practice!


Last night I was playing with the Redone and a very cheap Tamron zoom (Nikon mount and F3.5, I couldn't wait to get my PL lenses from the States ha!) while my girlfriend was watching a series called "Lost Girl" (interestingly lit by David Greene) and I shot a video just to see how the Redone saw at night, you can take a look at a jpg frame below.

I wish I had had three lights at home! 2 rifa lights to create a lateral light with diffusion on the lateral light and maybe a kick light and a 2K with depron for the window outside with cyan or green steel to mark a bit of colour in the window, but I didn't have any so I'm going to rent them from the local rental house next week and see what I can get with them, although I love how dark it is at the moment.


She is separated from the background through the light coming from the lamp and we take a glimpse at her face by using the glasses (I have noticed that glasses are amazing when shooting in the dark because they are shiny!)


However, I would love to see how the image feels with a kick light and also with a rim light with different colours and as Irish people say I want to walk the walk rather than talk the talk! :)


Oh, and I'm rather sure that if you keep coming to this thread you will see every single angle of my house at some stage ha!


Redone Mx test - Living Room



Anyway! I think this is going to be my last post of the year on this thread so have a happy Xmas, a lovely new year and hopefully you will find the coming year full of projects and work!


Have a good one.


Nayda Moreca!

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New year, new classes!


Had a very exciting week last week because I was able to take the Alexa out of college to shoot some camera tests for a short - film I am going to shoot in 2015, I will be posting some frames tomorrow when I get the footage back from college (which owns 33% of every single short - film that is made in college which is very interesting and fair enough!)


Also very happy because I got to test some lighting setups for my Minor Grad or as the university calls it: Advanced Content Development.


The Advanced Content Development is a way for the teachers to let the person explore his / her world as well as the craft that person has chosen for the year, in my case, cinematography.


It is my opinion that I have a tendency to create darkness, play with colors and control lights rather than creating really bright images and let everything blow.

There is also the point that I love practicals and I think that practicals are a fantastic way to create your base light and if you need to augment them it is really easy to do so if you want to.


Movies like Gone Girl, The Social Network, Joe, Blue Ruin, Cold Day In July or A Single Shot to name a few are the type of movies with a cinematography that I like and the type of cinematography that I would like to be able to achieve in a project in a future.


They rely on practicals as much as they can and their cinematographers use colors to express emotions, something that I have been doing for such a long time in my still photography.


So, the mix between practical lights and colors is what I am going to look for in my Minor Grad.


The person shooting the Minor Grad has to write, direct, edit and shoot a 2 or 3 minutes short - film by himself / herself, of course, if the person is lucky enough to get help directing it or editing it, the better!


In my case, as I am "the new" and I have not been very enthusiastic about parties in college I will have to do all by myself but 1 person from the 2nd year and my cinema friends who will give me a hand in the camera, grip and sound department.


The story I wrote is a really bad story (I will upload it later ha), it is the typical "horror" story inside a house with "a ghost / intruder" and as I told you before I am going to shoot it in my own house.


I am going to shoot it on the Redone MX with anamorphic Lomo lenses and the tests you are about to see were shot on the Redone MX with the Zeiss T2.1 and graded on Redcine.


The sitting room is where everything happens but one sequence in the bedroom which will be lit almost in the same way.








The only light I used was a Blonde outside the window pointing towards my girlfriend (a saint she is! :D)


The lens is a 40mm and the T - stop is T4 with 800ASA.


I don't know if I got really dark or not because I like the rim light and not being able to see her face properly and it looks really dark to me although if you look outside the frame in the real world it is not that dark, you would be able to read a book in my sitting room for hours with that light.


I will try to move the lamp to the right so I can have her a little bit more in silhouette and maybe I will create an ambient light by using a 300W with red on it, I will try to light her laterally as well with a Rifa Light very dimmed and flagged, however, if I do that, I think I will be losing the rim light.


What do you think? are the frames any good? would you go that dark?


By the way, I can say that today (January 12th) we have had the best cinematography class in college ever! we got to light exterior days and exterior nights, with lights!! :)


Have a lovely day all!

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If I wanted a very graphic look with large areas of black in the frame, then the rim-lit shot is very nice, but some very soft dim ambience from one side or above would probably look more natural. I'd also probably let the practical lamp go a bit brighter to make it feel more like the main source in the room.

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That is exceptionally dark. Beyond the point-of-no-return dark.


Personally, for similarly dark setups I prefer to use a bit of fill bounced off the ceiling, floor or a distant wall to lift the shadows on actors faces up to at least 4-5 stops below key, so that when the image is crushed down on the grade, you have to option of retaining some minute amount of shadow detail on their faces if you choose (when you're that far under, crushing them down to a complete silhouette is always an option if you want to).

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