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M Joel W

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  1. Thanks. That's good advice about looking to specific references and considering more than lighting. I sort of assumed the sources I have wouldn't be bright enough to put out a window, but hadn't considered that light coming through the window would be something I could deal with just by waiting for the right time of day. I assume backlit afternoon light is usually best? Looking to specific references is an even better call because I'm trying to mimic something pretty specific, but also just curious about how to approach things generally (if I'm in a rush I'll shoot a tighter frame so I can fill brighter/softer, etc. but want to have the right principles). Anyhow, thanks again.
  2. Thanks so much, that's really really helpful. "Bland" is the wrong word, I just meant whatever the conventional high key look is. I really like that look, actually. Good point about natural light, that will be something I look more for when choosing a location. I'll also look for off-white walls, which generally I avoid. I could probably get my hands on a couple 575w HMI pars. Is the fastest "book light" I could make with them bouncing into a 4x4 bead board and then hanging my own 8X8 of 250 from a c-stand? Or would I do better just handing heavier diffusion and punching straight through with the widest lens? These are basically "sketches" sort of like SNL or something (but a little more meta) where it's meant to mimic the look in an identifiable without requiring the actual level of polish you'd get on a "real ad." But obviously aspiring to get close. Thanks again! I'm kind of impressed how good the production value is on some of the new fake SNL ads. And makes sense about the cyc. I assume the space lights are also working as fill on the talent, though?
  3. This stuff is so interesting. I was about to mention that I tried their upscaling software and it inadvertently took some out of focus areas and brought them into focus. Really bizarre. There's a tree in the foreground that machine learning somehow brought partially into focus. Not really a desirable result, but pretty interesting. I've had to do this in post from time to time and there really is no good solution for video. But the best solution I've found is using (carefully) a good Neat Video profile to denoise the footage, then a wide radius unsharp mask (possibly masked over just the areas you want to target), and then regraining. I've actually gotten pretty far with this approach, but mostly on focus pulls that dip out because the motion masks that it's just added contrast, not added detail. There are also deconvolution plug ins, but I'm not sure they work that well or are compatible with video software. But yeah, no good solution available yet. With machine learning I expect there will be soon... that's going to change the vfx industry in a huge way I suspect...
  4. How is the lighting style achieved that I see in most sort of blandly high key (tastefully so, not too flat) ads that take place in say a living room or kitchen. Maybe like a prescription drug ad? I imagine it's a huge soft source as the key and then filled at a high key ratio but are there any other tricks to getting this look. Now the tricky party... any ways to get this look on a budget? If I just have an astra or two and a 200w HMI through a soft box, let's say, am I hopeless to even get close? I don't mind if the windows blow out a bit. Would the best approach then to be bouncing the astra or heavily diffusing it? Is this easier than I think? Also, any tricks for lighting on cycs? Just turn the space lights on to light the cyc and add fill and then add a soft key?
  5. I'm relatively inexperienced compared with many here, but I believe the Alexa changes its ISO such that the gain isn't really changing, it's more like it's baking in a different curve. Hence the over/under changes (unlike Canon and Sony) between 800 ISO and 3200 ISO to increase the highlight detail at the expense of shadow detail: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-S2PefWOPeWo/TzuvhYONf9I/AAAAAAAAAhU/-cqjtNT-3hs/s1600/427243_10150575080764065_592699064_8940257_1181583253_n.jpg So I don't understand why someone shooting Alexa/Amira would rate at 1250 ISO and underexpose and monitor with an on-set LUT pushing it further rather than just rating at 3200 ISO and previewing with a normal LUT. With a different camera it would make sense to me, but the Alexa already pushes the image in software rather than with gain, I believe. (Or something similar.) There's probably a reason that's over my head or I'm misinterpreting what you've written, but I suspect you can achieve the same thing simply by rating the camera at 3200 ISO and metering at 3200 ISO with no custom LUTs. I worked on an Alexa show shot on 3200 ISO and part of the reason was an attempt to get more "film grain" and it worked beautifully. The over/under was closer to film, too. Just be sure to shoot like film–you don't want to underexpose further or it gets muddy fast. I didn't notice a "softening" effect so much as the over/under changing and the shadows getting grainy (with great texture; the Alexa's noise is quite nice). The Panchros and K35s have significantly different rendering; the Cookes imo have a stronger vintage feel with nisen bokeh whereas the Canons are better-controlled with the only weird quality being onion-ring bokeh from the aspherical elements. Manchester by the Sea I think is K35. I love Super Speeds and B Speeds, which also have a vintage look, but that look is a little colder imo in comparison. Standard Speeds are pretty nice, too, and seem more affordable and easily available. I haven't worked with the Kowas so I have no idea what they're closest to. Just a disclaimer, I'm not very experienced in this area, but have worked on shows where DPs were making similar choices. The feature I worked on where the DP rated at 1600 or 3200 ISO on the Alexa was shot on rehoused Leica primes from Panavision. I'd run your own tests because the Alexa does get noisy fast and it might not be desirable. Its over/under even at 800 ISO favors highlights more than most cameras do. In my experience, tungsten white balance also makes it noisier.
  6. I can strongly relate to this. I'm selling a lot of equipment now and losing a lot of money. But I find the more I sell, the less obligated I feel to pursue whatever project it is for which I bought the gear and that I wasn't really committed to or have moved on from or changed my mind about since. And it's liberating. I sometimes find myself spending more and more time or money in order to justify a purchase, or inventing a project so I can justify a purchase. And it's really stupid, it's just the sunk cost fallacy snowballing. I envy friends who only rent; it seems they live in the moment creatively, but I like to have a camera around, whether or not it does me much good to have one. Perhaps a very cheap one. On the other hand, I used to shoot 4x5 slide film and sold my view camera and picked up a digital camera to replace it. It wasn't the same. The colors weren't close and tilt/shift lenses perform poorly in my experience compared with view camera lenses and now I'm selling the digital camera, too, and I miss the view camera. So don't pick up a digital replacement just to have something if what you truly want to do is to shoot film. But film cameras are affordable to rent now anyway, so maybe sell and rent whatever it is you want at the time. I can't say, I like shooting digitally. (Perhaps what I really want is a 645 digital tech camera for stills, I just can't afford one.) But you're making me wonder if I should sell my Lite Panel that I have yet to use, and which I bought simply because it was very cheap. I think you're mourning the dreams you conflated with the gear through the promise you saw in its purchase. And selling it is letting go of the person you were when you bought it. Hmm do I sell my Lite Panel...
  7. Seems we agree on that, at least. All I meant to say was I didn't like SLOG 2 but I found later settings I used better. I just don't remember those settings well, it seems. I'm not sure if the Kodak LUT was a preview LUT or something in-camera now, so that was dumb of me. I spent some time on other forums that are more amateur-oriented and picked up some bad posting habits. I'll stick mostly to asking questions here from now on, and I do value the expertise on this forum.
  8. I forgot to add that this was from before SLOG 3 and the Arri LUT were available. All I was trying to say was that I found SLOG 2 didn't look great and was difficult to grade (based on my experience using an F5 shortly after launch), but that settings Sony introduced later look much better to me.
  9. My apologies. I'll do more research before posting in the future. However, I think the bigger issue is I was inarticulate, and posted in a hurry, because you're significantly misreading the intent, though perhaps not the letter of my post. All the same, I apologize for both. I attempted to do my research first, and always do when posting online, but wrote in a hurry and perhaps conflated a number of my talking points. I will work to write more clearly and do more research in the future. I was referring separately to a Kodak Vision LUT (which may have just been a preview LUT, so I could be totally wrong about that), F55 RAW, and Sony's Arri LUT, but citing all three as examples of settings that I think look good on the F5 and F55 because they handle highlight saturation differently from the default SLOG 2 setting. I could be totally wrong about the Kodak LUT–the DP loaded it and I forget if it was a recording or preview setting on top of the Alexa LUT now that I think back, and I apologize for the mistake. One area where I thought was clear was in citing my specific issue with SLOG 2 (at least in its original incarnation in the F5–I haven't used that camera in years), that the highlights clip to saturated colors, whereas with the Alexa, saturation rolls off around 30 IRE and clips to white. I was referring to the Kodak LUT, Arri LUT, and default raw F55 settings (I believe, I could be wrong there) as examples of settings where blown colors clip gradually to white like the Alexa and like color negative film, and imo look better and are easier to work with than with SLOG 2. I forget the exact article where I first read about this, and I'm sure I'm getting the semantics wrong, but I think it was here: https://www.provideocoalition.com/hack-alexa-lut-into-sony-f-cameras/ "Several years ago, at an NAB focus group, I showed Sony the difference in how Alexa saturates color with overexposure vs. an F55. Or, maybe I should say I showed them how Alexa desaturates color with overexposure: once a hue passes a point at or near middle gray in brightness, its saturation locks and it only gets brighter. Traditional video cameras continue to saturate color as exposure increases until color channels clip, at which point they focus on damage control to prevent highlights from shifting hues. Arri emulates film, a subtractive color process where maximum color saturation is found in shadows and mid-tones. Sony works with video’s inherent additive color properties and allows saturation to increase with brightness until a color channel fails." Chroma clipping is an issue I've heard discussed as a particular bugaboo by some of the top colorists in the industry, so it's not just journeyman colorists who struggle with that aspect of SLOG 2. Filming a red torch in SLOG 2 (at least as implemented in the F5 when I used it) would result in increasingly saturated and bright shades of red, ending in hard clipping from deeply saturated red to white; with an Alexa (or the three other FX5 settings I mentioned above), the saturation rolloff would be smooth and go more from pink to white. My friend worked with Stephen Sonnenfeld on a project shot on prosumer video cameras, and even he cited chroma clipping as an issue with certain video cameras that can be particularly troublesome for colorists, so I think it's not just amateurs who struggle with it. Or perhaps I'm misunderstanding something, in which case I apologize but I would appreciate any helpful knowledge, particularly advice with grading clipped color channels in the highlights. I'm sure I'm just doubling down on incorrect terminology in trying to articulate my point, but I was referring specifically to the relationship between saturation and luminance in SLOG 2 versus certain other settings. (If those are the right terms.) Anyhow, I apologize. I'm ashamed to admit I'm no longer a student, simply an amateur shooter who works in another area in the industry entirely. I've had a lot of experience working with F55 footage on Netflix shows in post and shooting with the F5 so I wanted to chime in with my experience, but that was years back and I should have done more research first. I might have mentioned the wrong LUT with the Kodak Emulation thing. When I posted I thought it was a LUT that handled highlight saturation like the Arri LUT, but it's totally possible it was just a preview LUT on top of that. And then I went and conflated three unrelated formats, making things even less clear. I hadn't posted here in years and forgot the seriousness of the website and am ashamed to have lowered the level of discourse. So my bad, I will stop posting opinions or advice and stick to questions. I'm still a student at heart, at least.
  10. I, too, like the F35's look a lot. On CML there are some camera tests and the Venice looks great to me, but I haven't worked with it. I wasn't enamored with the FX5 image, either. The first time I used an F5 I struggled a lot with the chroma clipping in SLOG 2, which looked very "video" to me, and I found the noise texture unpleasant (blue/yellow/blotchy) to the extent that it all-but required overexposing by a stop. It didn't feel like true 2000 ISO to me. In subsequent F55 shows I've worked on (generally in post) I've noticed some similar issues with the image, but with the Kodak emulation LUT for the F5 and with F55 raw it's not nearly as bad; the color rolls off more like the Alexa than it did with the original SLOG 2, saturation looks good again. I think they've gotten better... the studio tests Sony posts online sure look a lot like the Alexa. I couldn't them apart: Of course, the lighting is suspiciously high key but it still looks good to me. Imo, if you don't like it, don't shoot with it. There's no use arguing, just use what you like. I loved how Girl with the Dragon Tattoo looked, but around that time I was not so happy with the Red MX, preferring the Alexa significantly. But Dragon Tattoo looked better to me than most contemporaneous Alexa shows, so what do I know.
  11. I mostly agree, at least about form factor and specs. And at $7000 the FS7 is a great deal. There's a lot of disappointment in the C200 and C300 Mk II's ergonomics, at least from what I can tell, and I share in it. I've only used the F3 and F5 and not the FS7, but I do remember the F5 being much more ergonomic for shoulder mounting than any of Canon's cameras. But I'm actually happy with everything other than the handheld configuration (and yes, the 8 bit is not very good). I don't mind just cradling the camera for quick handheld shoots, and most of my paid work is short form or shooting vfx inserts. But it really is a bear to get working over the shoulder and that's one area I wish I could address better. I think I figured out a mess of accessories (lightweight baseplate, no matte box, no handlebars, offset, 8lbs of counterweight, 5" rosette extender and other hand on a lightweight follow focus) that will serve my needs and let me shoot through the EVF, but if I shot professionally more often than I do, I would probably be looking at different cameras and certainly a different shoulder mount. It's not a good solution, but probably good enough for me. And I'm still finding I pull focus a lot better off a follow focus than off the barrel. Maybe the stiff lenses are causing me to torque the camera? :/
  12. Fair enough re: XAVC. I didn't spend much time with it. And thanks for the feedback on shooting the Canon form factor handheld. Everything you've written makes sense. Yeah, I can't figure out a shoulder rig that is in any way manageable for what I'm doing. So far, of everything, this approach makes the most sense to me: https://www.newsshooter.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/C300-mkII-1-600x389.jpg Doesn't look that steady, though. But seriously this is the best option I've found so far, just handholding the camera like a camcorder without building it out. Is there any reasonable way to make this work and add a third point of contact? I'm very seriously considering just using something like this: https://www.amazon.com/CowboyStudio-Shoulder-Support-Camcorder-Camera/dp/B0036NMQ7S/ref=asc_df_B0036NMQ7S/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312111900416&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6169804421546769952&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9001876&hvtargid=pla-594116984634&psc=1 I want to avoid one of those big shoulder rigs that turns this small camera into a large awkward rig, just as you mentioned is probably inevitable. There are offset shoulder mounts that put the camera in the above position (for use with the EVF), but they're extremely front-heavy. My heaviest lenses are just under 2lbs and most much lighter, so I'm hoping for some kind of compromise where I can hold the camera by its handle (and either by the focus ring or a follow focus) rather than handlebars and maybe put 5-8lbs of counterweight on the back, but it doesn't seem that promising, either. How critical is it that a shoulder rig be balanced? (I would operate without the LCD, but it's very lightweight...) I assume very. Something like this but with no handlebars: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1357841-REG/shape_c200_of_canon_c200_offset_rig.html/?ap=y&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIuMOYwLq64AIVxAOGCh09dQb2EAYYASABEgK1d_D_BwE&lsft=BI%3A514&smp=Y Still seems... not good. And yeah, this is the one use case where I'm not entirely thrilled with the ergonomics.
  13. This make a lot of sense to me... I thought the Alexa Mini was so cool and preferable to the Amira until I saw one rigged up. At that point, it's more awkward ergonomically imo. So I still see the appeal of it, but for smaller crews I think the Amira is nicer. I've operated a full size Alexa once and I couldn't get a feel for it, but again, I don't operate that often. I think I would like the Amira a lot. I bought myself a C200 for small shoots and noticed that it's either incredibly front-heavy if you use the EVF on a shoulder rig (requiring perhaps 12 pounds of counterweight) or you need to build it out as though it were an Alexa Mini, at which point.... I would much rather have an Alexa Mini. But the EVF is good and it cradles pretty well, just isn't as steady. I'm debating between putting together an Alexa Mini-style rig for a couple thousand dollars with an external EVF and Arri dovetail or just handholding it on a much cheaper dSLR rig without the follow focus and handlebars. These would be shoots with crews between two and ten people I'm guessing and this thread sort of inspired me to reconsider my need for new gear. But I shoot handheld a lot. What's so bad about XAVC? I found the codec surprisingly thin but transcoding to ProRes was fast and the file sizes were manageable. Raw is another story. I can't handhold a 135mm lens to save my life. :/ Maybe that's normal?
  14. Anyone have any comments on pulling off a FF vs pulling off the barrel and if pulling off the barrel can "torque" the camera or camera move and ruin the take? I work mostly in post but am getting into shooting stuff again, mostly the type of thing with just me behind the camera or maybe one assistant. Working with Nikon MF lenses and some EF mount lenses. I got pretty good some years back pulling focus (on Angeniuex zooms with an o'Connor FF on a shoulder-mounted cinema camera, even wide open) and operating at the same time, but I've never really tried pulling off the barrel before. I'm not as good as a legit AC and can't pull focus as well for others, but have gotten pretty good at pulling my own focus. Any advice? The above videos have sort of convinced me this might be possible given that I don't mind a slightly buzzed take here or there. And it would allow me to lose a massive shoulder rig and instead use a small handheld camera.
  15. Thanks for the clarification and transparency. I'd read elsewhere that Arri might use a diffusion filter in the Alexa and I'll make a note not to repeat it.
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