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Phil Connolly

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Everything posted by Phil Connolly

  1. You can only try your best, you have no control how it looks out in the wild. Even if you nail the settings, and create the perfect looking file. People are going to watch it on screens with out of wack colour settings. My TV had noise reduction and frame interpolation turned on as standard when I brought it. Most TV's have the brightness and contrast cranked so they look good in the TV showroom - most users aren't going to sit down and carefully collaborate their screens to resolve that
  2. Unfortunately its always going to be a compromise and streaming platforms have to strike a balance. The BBC's approach for years was to ban 16mm acquisition because the compression rates on HD transmission were to high to cope. In comparison Vimeo looks pretty good. Platforms are built to use data efficiently, most content is shot digitally and platform's are sensibly optimised for that. We are moving in a positive direction - Netflix 4K for instance looks pretty decent. Another thing you could try is upressing to 4K, then you automatically benefit from a higher bit rate that most platforms allow cate for 4K streams. I've done it a few times with HD content for youtube as a way to squeeze extra quality For instance the Netflix 4k stream of "Breaking Bad" looks quite a lot better then the HD version even though its sourced from a HD master and up-converted, more film grain survives.
  3. If its for client approval, surly the current vimeo version is good enough though. Its more about content. Or just put a higher quality version on dropbox or wetransfer. Personally I don't send "best quality" versions for client approval, particularly if they might want further changes, it just needs to be good enough to aid discussion. I also put burn't in timecode on the video - that helps the client reference a specific shot. If you are waiting on a final payment on delivery, you don't want the client having access to clean hi-res version before then.
  4. Isn't this pretty standard across the board. The high end dramas are going away, so you have comic book movies and Disney remakes at the top. Interesting dramas have moved to Netflix or are being made on indie budgets. We are back to the cinema of attractions, audiences are mostly seeking spectacle from their cinema visits. Mr Deakins has options though, he at least could get work on big franchise movies that would give him freedom to take on the lower budget passion projects.
  5. I just directed a short and we leaned quiet heavily on the 14mm. In the past I usually shoot on longer lenses. Shooting on wider lenses was a conscious effort to push myself out of my comfort zone and embrace a stronger look. Hopefully I won't be cursing myself when I start the edit
  6. Personally, I think good art happens when your truthful to yourself and drugs take you further away from yourself. So if anything they get in the way of creativity. A lot of drugs take away the urge to create, e.g alcohol, opioids, weed - they blunt the pain. Me personally my good writing comes from the pain, so masking it with drugs blunts the pain and blunts the work. Ultimately, I don't think theres a chemical crutch that replaces doing the work on the creative front. Sure there are stimulants (coffee included), they may help you physically "do" the work - but again, its not going to change your creative ability. Yes more energy, but can it be applied to the creative process. We've all encountered people on Coke - they may have more energy, but everything coming out their mouth is bullsh1t. Drugs may help you be productive, but whats the point of creating a lot of crap. I have had friend's that tried Modafinil, with the idea that it increases focus and devotion to a task. The problem is it doesn't inspire actually creativity, just obsession about completing tasks. So instead of completing the script your just as likely to get stuck alphabetising your DVD collection. Apparently you can get stuck in some obsessive brain loops, which sound more scary then productive. This is second hand info, I've not tried it and based on the experiences I've heard about, it sounds terrible and I wouldn't attempt it. I know microdosing LSD etc.. is popular in some creative circles. But I'm not sure its worth the risk as LSD is properly illegal and you could get into actual trouble with it. Also micro dosing is so close to not dosing, there is a bit amount of placebo involved in the process and no evidence it actually makes you more creative. I'm not puritanical about drugs and have tried chemical routes to improve my creativity. I don't think the results ever helped and in many cases the outcome was more damaging. Personally my best work has happened when I'm stone cold sober and properly honest with myself. Drugs have only been a barrier to that. Procrastination has been a problem for me in the past. What helped me get past it was Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (I know this isn't for everyone, but it worked for me). In my case a lot of my procrastination was around fear of failure. I'd start a project and abandon it because I was convinced it was terrible. Being self critical is important in creative work, but if your too self critical it can be paralysing. For me the CBT helped me recognise some of those problems and helped me find a way to push through. Its not perfect, but I'm doing much better and I'm making things again. In my case the drugs didn't work, but the therapy did
  7. Hmm colourists and sunlight... better pack the spf 50
  8. Talk to the Hotel owners and ask them. You need owner permissions not staff. Its tricky to get locations for free but it is doable, here are some things you could try: - Play the numbers game, lots of places will say no. But a small percentage may say yes, there are lots of hotels - keep calling till you get one. I needed a record store, I was prepared to call every single one in a 30 mile radius till I got a yes. (fortunately the first one said yes) - Don't worry about following up emails/calls. Sometimes you need to be a little persistent. People can be slow to respond or forget, so a little gentle pressure is ok. Nagging or being annoying is not good. I normally ask once and if I haven't heard, follow up about 5 days later. If they don't respond to the second enquiry, move on. - Use social media, people may respond quicker to twitter/facebook requests. - Get peoples names and use them. Find out the name of the owner and then you can write "Dear Ms Smith", rather then Dear Sir... the personal touch works better. - Be flattering, "I want to use your location because its stunning". Say something nice about their business, explain why it would be great for the film. Its harder for people to say no to the nice positive person saying nice things about their gaff. - Plead poverty, if this is uncommercial or student work say so, maybe that will help. Play the student card hard, get your uni's public liability insurance doc's etc.. - Use your network, do you have family or friends that work in/own/contacts at a hotel? The chances are you know someone that works at a location you could use. Maybe they could put in a good word for you so its not a cold call. If you are student, you probably have friends that work in Hospitality. Network, Network. - Pitch the project - get them excited about it. I got a location last week because they liked the script and wanted to get involved. At that point they had "brought in" to the project and didn't mind when we overran (a little) - Visit the location, meet the manager/owner in person, then you can explain why the project is important to you and explain how unobtrusive you'd be. - Be flexible on dates and times, avoid trying to shoot when they are busy, if you can work round their schedule maybe they can help. -Be creative with your location choice, do you need a whole hotel or just a bedroom, or just a hallway etc... Maybe the "hotel" in your film could be a composite of several buildings. If your at a Uni, some Halls of Residence have a Hotel vibe. E.g any bedroom could be used, then you just need a hotel exterior or generic reception. Little bits of art direction could help sell the idea. Air BnB can be a good way to find cheap locations. What locations can you get easily and can they be adapted to your script? - Offer something, even if small - either some money, walk-on-extra role, or publicity, credit or free labour (e.g I'll shoot a promo video for you etc) - Pick your location carefully, a busy central London Hotel will probably say no, but a quieter branch out in the sticks maybe... I've just finished shooting a shot with some amazing locations that I got for free. My approach was to be friendly and honest about my resources and upfront about the size of the crew etc.. Some of the locations that said yes were a real surprise. Aim high, you never know you might get it. Also follow up with these rules on shooting in a free location: - Explain clearly to the location what you are shooting in advance, I had students that secured a location for a scene but didn't tell them the scene was a bank heist (armoured police we called) - Turn up to the location on time and try to finish your shoot on time, be realistic about your schedule - Don't damage the location or make a mess, if its a domestic location have the crew take their shoes off. - If the schedule changes or gets cancelled - don't forget to tell the location. Keep them in the loop, remind then a couple days ahead etc.. - If the location is a business, be sensitive to that, don't make their life more difficult (having a film crew around is annoying enough) - Send a thank you note/present/wine after the shoot, credit the location, send a copy of the film/screening invite. Its important to look after the location and be grateful, if you have to reshoot any elements you don't want to have burned any bridges with the location. Also by giving the location owner a good experience, your paying that forward to future filmmakers. E.g if they had a bad experience letting a film happen, that means no more film crews will be allowed to shoot their. If they enjoyed it, future filmmakers may get similar offers of help. Good luck - play the numbers and don't be disheartened when people say no, just jump on the next one.
  9. If you don't know what your doing, either hire someone that does know what they are doing. Or keep it simple and shape available light. Nothing wrong with grabbing a reflector and diving in and see what you get. You'll probably learn a lot and if you lucky with the weather it may turn out nice This forum isn't the time and the place to debate lighting a whole film from scratch, when your effectively starting from zero. Tell me how to improve XXXX, is fine Tell me how to do my job... not so much Not trying to be mean but this website is more useful for specific questions after you have done your homework. Otherwise there are ton of books etc... that you can read to cover the basics
  10. Looks great, there is a need for a book that fills that gap. I'll see if Bloomsbury will send me a desk copy (I am a cheap academic) and I'll get it on the reading list/library for my cinematography modules.
  11. Woods/Jungle lighting is difficult, both for controlling contrast and dealing with lighting continuity. Not trying to be negative, but... I'm not sure you can really learn what to do on this forum, the questions are a bit "tell me how to do my job". The questions you ask should be something a "cinematographer" should know. Since we don't know the location, shot size, action etc... its next to impossible to suggest what lighting instruments you need. Same with power requirements, generator, budgets, crew level etc... In this situation I would recommend you hire a DOP with experience of shooting in these conditions. If you plan to go ahead yourself, I would recommend you shoot some tests and practise. Another thing you could try is see if you could shadow a local DOP and watch how they work. Or just shoot with available light and use a little bounced light and work with what you have. That would be simpler/safer then plowing into the Jungle with a load of HMI's and no clear plan.
  12. I do miss commentaries, with streaming content being so convenient, I rarely buy optical media. I learn't so much from commentaries over the years. I wish a commentary track was included on Amazon/Netflix et al. Or at a pinch release a podcast that runs alongside. The Chernobyl podcast that produced for the HBO show was an excellent resource.
  13. It was very exciting we had people literally hiding behind trees taking photos of our set and posting on Facebook. I guess the public also gets a bit star-struck in the presence of actual real C-stands
  14. Rare UK C-stand sighting. Finally directing some fiction in sunny Eastbourne Day one 'The Fruit Fix' Photo Credit: Thomas Shawcroft
  15. Yep its all fun times dealing with the public in open locations. Its even worse if your actors a recognisable. Everyone is trying to sneak photos, in the least subtle way possible Then you find shots of your shoot all over social media.
  16. In the UK it all depends where you are. For instance if you want to shoot the Beach, the Eastbourne and Hasting film office are loverly and will help you with permits for anything you need and its free. Brighton on the other hand, less friendly and will charge you £50 just to look at the application form, which is extortion - since you don't need a permit to shoot in public handheld. They will ask for public liability insurance, if you want to get official permission from any council to shoot you will have to have this. Its possible to get short term single day cover quiet cheaply. I was shooting on the beach yesterday (in Eastbourne) I had permits and insurance. The Police came over to say hello, they didn't ask to see any of the permits. If you are going to do a non permit shoot, just be respectful, its usually fine. Little trick make the whole crew wear high viz tabards. Makes you look more official, the more official you look, people just assume you have permits. London is much harder and the "authorities" often throw their weight around. But if your shooting in a sleepy seaside town, people will usually be very nice, because film production is a novelty. The worse you get is the pensioners standing in shot staring at the camera.
  17. or this: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Model24--tascam-model-24-mixer-interface-recorder
  18. I used to QC the master tapes for UK broadcast, the footage always looked clean, similar to any other multi-cam sitcom on video. General high key light. The focus is very deep its clear they are smashing in a lot of light. Unless later seasons have been experimenting with "film look" grain processes I suspect is the distribution chain. Its quite a thing to watch the high bitrate image coming off server or HDCAM-SR tape in the transmission suite at the same time as the live off air return. What the viewers see at home is horrible compared to the masters. Its really shocking when you side by side them. Netflix is inconsistent in quality, their 4K orginals look pretty decent on the 15mbs stream. But there are quite a few shows, particually things mastered to Digi-Beta that look awful on Netflix and much worse the the source tape. Quite a lot of shows I QC'ed at C4 are on Netflix and they don't always look great - they seem to dump PAL video to 480 lines for some reason as well.
  19. If the peoples are sitting at a table it doesn't need to be wireless Lav's since they aren't moving around. Wired lavs would be much cheaper and risk less interference, for a static position cable managment wouldn't be too hard. If you are mic'ing each person individually you need to record each one to a separate track, or you would have no way to isolate coughs and mic rubbing. So you'd need at least 20 record channels. I wouldn't use separate recorders - you risk phase issues if the sync isn't bang on. I would use a 24 channel audio interface: https://motu.com/products/avb/24ai-24ao A simple live 24 channel mixer could be used to level the mics and feed the interface Record on a laptop running ProTools or Logic...simpler that buying stack of field recorders - would sound better too. There are lots of 24 track recorder options, since they are standard in music production If it were me you probably do just as well with a few boom swingers. The more live mics you have in a room the more noise and reflections they record. If you have a 24 track mix to do, thats going to be time consuming. 20 people aren't going to be able to talk at once, so it could perhaps be covered by a few excellent TV studio style boom ops. Simpler audio edit...
  20. One way to think of it is how much the market has come on. The BM pocket shoots better looking footage then the Red One, ineasier to work with codecs, on cheaper media for 1/10 the price of that camera. Its exciting to get these options. Its not really a camera that you'd need timecode for, in the lowend industrial, personal project etc sector its fine. Even when I have used timecode in the edit it can cause as many problems as it solves. Clapperboards also work. I've never used the BM pocket with an external monitor, because I use on the one man band shoots where I need a light and simple camera that allows me to move around quickly. The 5" screen is good enough. I'm shooting a corporate today on the FS7 and to be honest I should have grabbed the pocket. I don't need the extra quality and I'm on my own (the larger camera is slowing me down) Once your stepping to bigger projects, dramas and want to bring proper monitoring etc.. I agree HDMI isn't ideal for monitoring, the cable runs are too shot, and too delicate etc.. Adding converters messes things up further... at that point there are better choices for not much more money. But the simple stuff on your own, with camera, lens, sticks - the BM's are lighter and good enough quality for a lot of stuff. After all if the client won't pay for a camera assistant they don't deserve a big camera, I'd rather save my back.
  21. As Phil 1 points out Ravensbourne is a bit more focused in the direction of live multi-camera TV. If you want to do a BA in narrative film check out: https://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/study/courses/ba-hons-film-production-cinematography The course is based in Salisbury so not great on the social front. But I was the external examiner for the course for the last 5 years and some of the student production work is truly exceptional. They should def be on your radar. However i also agree with on the financial side (this is from someone that works in Higher Education). A degree is now expensive to get and in the field won't guarantee you a job its very tough. A lot of great music video directors didn't go to film school e.g Garth Jennings and Dougle Wilson they just learn't on the job doing bigger and bigger videos. A course can be a great way to focus the mind and give you creative space to develop (if you pick the right course) but its more of a risk then it was 5 years ago. The other thing you could consider with education is you don't have to it straight away. I didn't go to and do a film or media degree initially. My first job was as a camera assistant at a corporate company and I worked my way up through "job" Jobs till I got to assistant editor at a large London post house, doing freelance work in my space time. My career stalled a bit in my mid to late 20's. So thats when I enrolled in film school to do an MA at the NFTS - as a freelancer it also made it easier for me to get a scholarship to help with my fee's and it did help refocus my career. I do find students that come to education a bit later e.g with a few years work under their belt make much better students, they are more focused and have a clearer idea of what they are trying to achieve.
  22. I think of it as one of the most "pro" level camera at its price point. Its limitations are frustrating in general production, particularly run and gun doco's. Its not a camera you would want if you can afford something better e.g FS7 or Ursa Mini. But if you have minimal funds and have to compromise on the camera, the nice thing about the BM pockets is you only have to compromise on ergonomics not image quality (it really holds up). So for the entry level filmmakers that are cash poor but time rich, the BM's are good fit because you get nice image quality if you don't mind working round the limitations. On professional productions where speed and reliability are a priority then the BM is not a great choice. In its niche its perfect. I teach film/cinematography and we have just brought 5 BM pocket 4K's - they are the perfect starter camera. You can demo RAW and Log workflows etc... and they are simple to use and small and light weight. Not all students have cars, so having a small lightweight camera kit they can transport easily to shoots is also important.
  23. Sure the small sony's codecs aren't as robust as either ProRes HQ or BM RAW. You can improve the Sony's by using an external recorder to get a higher bit rate - but then your making it unwieldy and defeating the point of small mirrorless. I've shot projects I'm happy with on sony's that I've been happy with, the do give a nice image out the box. But more recently I've some some run and gun jobs under really difficult lighting with no time to fix. It was a bit more fixable in post on the BM then the Sony. It seems are the small Sony's are compromised by weak codecs, maybe to protect sales of the FS7 - which does allow proper 4K 4:2:2 at 10 bit. I do like the FS7 though. My next upcoming short will be a chance to see how it performs under careful lighting and a good DOP (I'm directing not shooting) curious to see how nice we can make it look
  24. My experiences with Sony mirrorless is it looks great if you nail the look in camera - but it has less room to push around in post. Under perfect lighting conditions the results are quite similar. But in harsh sunlight the BM has a little more latitude to hold the highlights and manage the contrast a little better. I have shot with the Ursa Mini Pro but only in the studio under controlled lighting, I was impressed with it but didn't really push it
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