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David Mullen ASC

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David Mullen ASC last won the day on May 26

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About David Mullen ASC

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  • Birthday June 26

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  • Occupation
    Cinematographer
  • Location
    Los Angeles

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    http://www.davidmullenasc.com

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  1. We're getting into left-brain/right-brain sort of territory here, the difference between becoming a successful independent filmmaker in terms of career versus becoming a good director artistically. I have no advice on the former, I can only give advice on the later.
  2. Right now, I’m on a shoot where the director wants me to explain how some shots in “I Am Cuba” were done...
  3. I highly recommend Mackendrick’s book — his analysis of storytelling goes back to Ancient Greek drama so the intent is to look at what could be considered classical notions of story structure. And a lot of his basic rules don’t really date, things like “end a scene on a question, not an answer” to drive the narrative forward, catering to human nature to find out “what happens next?” What difference does it make if he directed a movie in the 1950’s? A photographer can’t be inspired by Robert Frank’s “The Americans” because that’s from the 1950’s? A painter can’t learn anything from Van Gogh? A writer shouldn’t know anything about Dickens or Joyce?
  4. All the modern T1.4 cinema glass is expensive or similar in cost: Zeiss Master Primes, Cooke S5i, Leica Summilux C...
  5. I carry a 1/8 Black Frost along with my HBM set because I consider it to be the next lighter strength below 1/8 HBM.
  6. HD Classic Soft was developed for the same reason the Digital Diffusion/FX was — when 2/3” HD video arrived on the market, the larger pattern of lens dimples in the Classic Soft, and the black dot pattern in the Black Diffusion/FX, came into focus too much due to the deeper depth of field of 2/3” video compared to 35mm. So the HD Classic Soft has smaller and more random dimples (lenslets) in the surface. Digital Diffusion/FX just removed the black dot pattern from Black Diffusion/FX.
  7. A 1/8 Hollywood Black Magic combines two filters, a 1/8 Black Frost (similar to a 1/8 Black ProMist) and a 1/8 HD Classic Soft. So the short answer is that the 1/8 HBM softens the image more because of the addition of the HD Classic Soft. The Black Frost provides the slight misty halation and the HD Classic Soft softens the image and creates a sort of blurry-edge type of halation, a more subtle version of a regular Classic Soft. Each strength of HBM has the same 1/8 Black Frost base but changes the strength of the HD Classic Soft.
  8. https://www.localeastanglianbooks.com/shop Works from this page.
  9. (1) If I have a favorite cinematographer, I study EVERYTHING I can find about them -- their work, of course, but also biographies, interviews, articles, any BTS videos... and if they talk about influential movies and cinematographers, I look at what influenced them. And when they talk about a particular scene, I rewatch that scene. I sometimes pull frames off of a DVD and/or blu-ray just to study the frame in more detail later. I also try to learn about the filmmaking tools available to them at the time, and general popular styles, to put it in context. (2) I think if you have a favorite cinematographer, or a favorite work of cinematography, it's because something about the image appeals to you so part of the process is understanding and recognizing your own tastes. You don't have to figure out what to look at, you start with what excites you from the start. (Now of course there is another tract, which is when you are studying something like "how to light daytime interiors" or "how to light the woods at night" where perhaps you are analyzing multiple movies by different cinematographers.) So perhaps what appeals to you is the framing and use of lenses of a particular shot, or the lighting effect, or maybe something as simple as how the daytime window glows in the background. The HOW of it all matters less in many ways because there are many ways to approach something -- what matters more is the WHY of it all and having the IDEA in the first place. The visual concepts matter the most because they then lead you to the necessary technique (and techniques change over time so you have to operate from a base that is outside of technology). (3) I used to take notes when I was a film student but I didn't keep that up, most of my notes had information like you'd see in a magazine article (stocks, filters, etc.) I did use to print off or Xerox a lot of articles that I ran across and keep a file but today that is less necessary because it's online or you have the original in possession. A lot of it came down to memory and re-reading things, repetition. I still remember big chunks of a Gordon Willis interview with an AFI class about "Godfather Part II" in American Cinematographer. I figured if it were important to me, I'd remember it so I didn't need to take notes. (4) I read a lot, anything I can find in print about the subject. I can now also search discussion groups because often there is some other expert or amateur historian or person who actually has first-hand knowledge on the topic. And I can ask people online or people I know if I have a question. Sometimes you can figure out something, if there seems to be no information available, by studying another movie made by the same person around the same time, hoping that they repeated a technique and mentioned it in an article, or by studying another movie made around the same time in similar circumstances but by another cinematographer. (5) The range of questions is very wide, depends on what I can't figure out on my own.
  10. You basically set the lens focus on the far subject that gets the clear area of the split-diopter and then try different strengths of diopters until the near subject comes into focus, and then when you get as close as possible to getting the near object into focus, you adjust things to help get both subjects to fall into focus -- perhaps you shift the lens focus for the near object covered by the diopter and then move the far object until it comes back into focus, or you leave the focus on the far object and push/pull the near object further or closer until it is sharp, or you shift the camera position, etc. Generally though you want to make sure the near object is sharp because it tends to be bigger in frame than the far object.
  11. Even with reflex viewfinders most of the time the focus puller is using measurements since they aren’t the one looking through the viewfinder during the take.
  12. You need to rent a set, though most of the time it’s a +1 or +2. There is always some trial and error unless you already know the distances involved. But usually it’s situational.
  13. If you’re talking about focusing, the focus puller worked from tape measurements of distances to subject combined with experience at estimating distances.
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