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Phil Rhodes

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Phil Rhodes last won the day on March 19

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  1. You're absolutely right, of course. I think it's worth getting into why this happens. Personally, what I find impressive is not the ability to light a single of someone sitting at a table having a conversation. Anyone can do that. What's tricky is consistency, holding that look over a huge area as a number of people move around. This was discussed not so long ago on this forum where Bridge of Spies was cited. You can light one of the guys sitting at that table with a Litepanel and a redhead and a bit of black tat. Getting that to look right over the twenty foot distance from the leftmost guy at the table all the way to Tom Hanks is where it gets difficult, or, if not difficult, at least demanding of gear and time and people, and probably of a set that has a flyaway wall. Setting things up so that Tom can walk in from the door and approach that desk in a single take and having it all look nice is very difficult. Most people don't twig that until they've actually tried to light a scene that big and realised you can't do it with battery-powered lights. As a result it's about skill, but also about gear and time and people and opportunity. Most people would quickly realise that if they'd seen it done, which most of them haven't. It's the Dunning-Kruger effect, and I think what we're complaining about here is that people don't realise they are suffering from it. It's one of those things that really doesn't look tricky until you try to do it. I've had a lot of conversations with people who laugh at the idea of multi-kilowatt HMIs because they have very sensitive DSLRs and battery-powered LEDs. I think there's a middle ground here. Could that shot have been done, to a cinematically viewable standard, on a Sony A7s DSLR, and would that have required a lot less power and expensive gear? Er, probably, yes. But most of the people who talk about doing that have never tried to do so, and don't understand why their foot-square LED won't work there. P
  2. I sit partway between these points of view. On one hand, the techniques of people whose work we like are of course useful. On the other hand, these are just people, and to some extent their popularity can be put down to a learned response: we like what they do because we have been told that what they do is desirable, not because of any particular absolute characteristic of it. In any case, I'm very suspicious of the idea that a set of colours somehow encapsulated some sort of genius. Humans are terribly bad at remembering exactly what colour something was. A study was published recently in which people were shown a coloured patch on a computer screen; the swatch was then removed, and after a delay the system showed a selection of several new patches of similar but not identical colours, including one which matched the first. The challenge was to identify which of the new patches precisely matched the old one. How long was it before most people became completely unable to do this reliably? Four seconds. So, you could take Storaro Orange and replace it with something similar, and four seconds later, almost nobody, including Vittorio, would probably have any idea. Going by my monitor, I suspect you could swap "Storaro Blue" and "Storaro Azure" without anyone noticing. P
  3. If you just need something to last you the shoot, and if you have a few weeks to order them, there are a lot of low-cost options on places like aliexpress. Bear in mind that many flashlights will be LED and will look cold and cyan on screen. Often this is OK, but it naturally depends what you want. P
  4. I looked at making a little fog machine using e-cigarette technology and that's clearly what's been done here. My concerns would be two: First, how have they done the fluid reservoir? Usually, that sort of thing relies on a wick effect with cotton wool drawing fluid from a small tank in which it is immersed. If it's run (sucked on) for too long, the wick can dry out and take a while to resaturate with fluid. Some other approach would seem better but it's hard to figure out how to install, say, a pump without risking flooding the thing and making a mess. Second, how long can it continuously run for? The electronics and heating elements used in e-cigarettes are not generally continuously rated and long term use would quickly discharge the battery. In short I think it's fine for small local effects as demonstrated and I think this sort of thing must already have been used for small movie props that need to smoke without being connected to anything. For fogging a space with some degree of portability, you want something like a Le Maitre Mini Mist. They run from aerosol cans of fluid and can operate for a few minutes after being disconnected from the mains. Unfortunately they're not $102. I'd like to see someone make one that uses a can of butane (as for blow torches) and the aerosol cans of fluid, so it can be completely off-mains. That's one DIY project I'm not going near, though. I have only a limited appetite for huge flames and the risk of explosions. P
  5. This is an interesting one. It's long been talked about as "blue light hazard" and would also apply to discharge lamps including fluorescent and HMI. Before we get into this, though, it's worth pointing out that many articles which discuss this, including the one you linked, tend to conflate actual retina damage (phototoxicity) with disturbed circadian cycles and headaches potentially caused by flicker, which are presumably not medically related issues. If you look into the background of this the damage is usually only done with fairly unrealistic levels of exposure. A normal human aversion response will save most people in most circumstances. This may mean that the film industry needs to take at least some care, because we quite frequently ask actors not to look like they're squinting into the light. It's probably not a good idea to do that, but then it was never a good idea to do that, even with older style lighting. Personally I think the evidence doesn't really suggest that the additional exposure of film and TV work is likely to cause problems assuming reasonable precautions are taken. Don't make people stare into uncomfortably bright lights, especially those with a high shortwave output. I suspect HMI is worse than LED, as most LEDs don't have output below about 450nm whereas HMIs go all the way down to the near UV.
  6. The thing is, I don't find that Trek shot in the slightest bit believable. Partly because of the red sky, of course, and partly because that skirt is supposed to be part of a paramilitary uniform, but it just looks like a studio shot. It's been done better, I'm sure, but is that really your example?
  7. I'm not even really a cameraman anymore 😞 It's too easy to sit here banging on the keyboard like a chimpanzee.
  8. That sort of thing is pretty available at quite low prices. https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/223483095118 Search for "LED panel" followed by the size. 600x600 is common, 300x300 is common, I've also seen 300x1200 which approximates the size and shape of a four-foot fluorescent tube. I think the Ikea one has remote control if you value it. They're generally a lot cheaper than the Ikea price; they're just LED ceiling panels for offices and shops. They were used quite heavily in a drama I wrote about called Critical (click for article based on interview with DP Tim Palmer, BSC, click here for trailer; look at the top of the walls behind people for a cyanish light panel.) Here they used the "cool white" option which tends to read cyan. The same show also used a movie-lighting LED panel called VersaTile, which is basically the same thing, just driven with better LEDs, and which reads correctly. The problem, as ever, is that the colour quality isn't likely to be great. This is something that they used for effect on Critical, where they were after a sort of cool clinical blue glow, but you might want to be a bit careful. Happily modern LEDs are getting better and better, but most of these panels will not be great. They may also flicker, especially when dimmed. P
  9. Sounds like I should throw all this sound gear I have in a backpack and start charging more.
  10. I assume we all know what that really is..
  11. As so often, it depends what you're doing. I like having things in kit form, so I have a 13" monitor in a case with its mains power supply, a mains extension, the 12V power plate, and two long BNC cables. I have Source Four PARs, and one case with power cables, barn doors, gel frames with a selection of precut gels, and replacement short-arc bulbs of various colour temperatures. Lenses (cheap ones, nothing special) go in a case with all the mount adaptors, cleaning tissues and canned air. One function, one case, first-order retrievability of all associated equipment. Some gear, such as batteries, doesn't really lend itself to that sort of approach. I made up a case to take Sony NP-F series batteries (properly called L-mount) with four chargers and power supplies prewired to four plates bolted to the bottom of the case. It can carry up to twelve batteries of various capacities and is extremely fast to set up, simply requiring a nearby power socket. Open the top, plug in, and go. I have some old PAG batteries and chargers that I'd like to set up in the same way. It's high density, much higher than carrying a few big camera bricks around in a massive peli case, which always strikes me as way too much case for too little gear. I find this arrangement quite convenient. Click to embiggen.
  12. There are a few problems with doing it practically, but I'd still do it practically. Problems include: Lens focus marks will be slightly off. Technically speaking, different wavelengths of light refract at slightly different angles (which is how a prism works.) This means that a focus mark on a lens will only be correct for a specific wavelength, but practically speaking the calibration is done with white light and the result is a sort of average, meaning somewhere in the green, which is in the middle of the visual spectrum. Lenses are ideally corrected for chromatic aberration but this may still show up. Bayer cameras have poorer resolution in red and blue than in green. All cameras (at least, all cameras with sensors based on the silicon photovoltaic effect, which is all digital cameras) have poorer sensitivity in red than green, though blue tends to be even worse. Many recording formats use component (often called YUV) recording which has poorer resolution in red and blue than in desaturated colours or green. All of these things conspire to make red-lit scenes appear soft, mushy, noisy and underexposed. To combat this: - Use at least some hard light, to create contrast that reveals sharpness. - Avoid the use of smoke, atmos, haze etc. - Consider removing any contrast-reduction or softening filters you might otherwise use - Use sharp lenses - Light sufficiently to use your lenses in the middle of the stop range, to improve their performance and make focus less critical. - Select the lowest camera sensitivity consistent with reasonable dynamic range. - Do not underexpose with the intent of grading up. Expose fully. - Use a recording format described as 4:4:4, or consider shooting raw, or shoot 4K for an HD finish. Did I miss anything? P
  13. Years ago, I built a small PC system into a Pelican 1650 case for doing on-set VFX previsualisation and video assist work. It's completely obsolete now, of course, but it was extremely convenient to roll up, throw it on a magliner, and run one cable (two if you want to run it from mains) and go. A similar arrangement could be done now for DITting. They make panel frames for peli cases so you can fit a panel inside without having to cut holes in the case and spoil the waterproofing. I had the panel cut by a local engineering firm, and they made a folded aluminium chassis that drops inside with the hardware in it for easy access and removal. The trickiest part of it was finding a monitor that would fit inside the lid, which is a very shallow space. I had to find one where the mains power supply wasn't attached to the back of it. I'm not sure how common such things are now. I stuck it in there with two strips of two-inch sticky velcro and it effectively became a huge laptop with a lot of custom configured internal widgetry. It survived many intercontinental plane flights and was generally a useful and worthy piece of gear. This conversation makes me want to haul it out and refit it with more modern components. P
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