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Neal Norton

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About Neal Norton

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    Tampa, Florida
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    Commercial Photography

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  1. Hi Sean: It seems to me that you are attempting to quantify a question that is entirely qualitative. What is "normal" in a skin tone? What is representative? As a formula, (3 lights) + (Camera type) + (% grey skin tone) = N is a bit silly. I have spent a lot of thought during my time behind a camera thinking about how mediocre the craft becomes when formulas for composition and lighting are applied regularly (far too many of us learn a 'method' and creativity ends right there). The one formula I know of that almost always works is to examine what it is that I and my director hope to accomplish and then use whatever experience and empathy I have to then craft a shot that is more than just OK. With the pressure of schedules and budgets and egos it can be really hard to stay focused and work toward a creative result . . . It is way easier and mighty lazy to apply a formula and just accept the acceptable. When the fantastically smart and creative Cinematographer John Schwartzman turned me loose as 2nd unit DP on a big Warner Bros 2nd unit for him he made me promise to "**(obscenity removed)** it up". When I laughed and joked that I wouldn't have any problem doing that he got a little serious and told me he meant that he would much prefer an interesting mess rather than a super polished mediocrity. Best of luck in your studies. Neal Norton DP - Florida
  2. My experience is that in Episodic TV production the producer/show runner has the authority to determine the look of the product even down to a shot by shot basis. The DP lights the set but the producer/show runner accepts or rejects the results and the Director pretty much has to accept the situation. This does not apply to Pilots which shoot much like feature films. On a feature film the DP is usually the strong ally of the Director and the Director decides how much license the DP is allowed in designing the look of the product. The studio (if there is one) is very cautious in approving the hiring of a strong DP as once the production is shooting the Director and DP team are hard to move from the course they set in the look of the show. The very strong DP's at the top of the A-list of course are hired for what they bring to the table and are allowed a long leash in building a look for the product - and that is in both TV and Theatrical productions. Kind regards, Neal Norton DP
  3. If enough paint is thrown upon the wall, there might be something cool eventually. It is not likely to be a masterpiece but if it works then who cares if careful thought was part of the recipe? Single camera set ups are a luxury in my experience in that it requires a director who really knows what she wants and actors that can duplicate a performance take after take. But when careful thought is given to a scene and the DP can light for a single camera angle the results can be uncompromisingly good. Improv, comedy and unskilled actors go together very well with multiple cameras. Neal Norton DP
  4. The vignette will be dependent on both the aperture, the focal length and the focal distance. Each zoom (even the same make and model) might have a slightly different "ramp" in the zoom and focus that could have an effect. You will need to test with the lens at a range of stops and frame sizes and distances. Often a wide open lens at a midpoint on the zoom will looks good with a mild maybe even pleasing fall-off and a deeper stop like maybe an 8 or 11 will make for a pretty hard vignette. Best of luck, Neal Norton DP
  5. "Tokyo Story" directed by Yasujiro Ozu. Camera blocking as art. Magnificent. Neal Norton DP
  6. Maintenance especially on sound cameras is very important. A good shop like Keslow, Ottos or Panavision can be a big asset even if you can rent cheaper. Panavision has a long history of supporting young film makers that don't have a big budget. . . maybe give them a chance to help. Thanks for keeping film alive! Neal Norton DP
  7. What Mr. Mullen said. I have been very impressed with the professionalism shown by top camera crews when doing less than exciting work. I have been assigned 2nd unit DP work where the camera assistants working for me are routinely working for top DP's on major studio films and then they treat me as if I were the most important DP they have ever worked for. I will always try to provide that kind of attitude to the people I am working for. Truly caring about the work you are doing right now is what makes this work more than a paycheck. Neal Norton
  8. Shooting film or video is as complex as you choose to make it. While I agree we tend to get bogged down in technical details it is pretty important to understand the syntax of the technology we are using in order to consistently produce good results. You can learn to make pictures with a modern digital camera in an hour or two. . . producing really good results shot after shot might require more time... or hiring assistants who are expert with that equipment. In my opinion the biggest challenge applies to both video and film and that is understanding lenses. If you take the time to master the technology of optics you will be far ahead of your peers who are excited by the picture-making-computers we are using. For me the study of optics is the most challenging area of cinematography and ultimately the most rewarding. Neal Norton Cinematographer
  9. For good or ill the video tap introduced a great deal of 'noise' to the film set. Once any eye from the costume designer to the script supervisor could see the frame, the DP had a new level of input to contend with. Color video taps amplified the noise. The level of noise (opinion) on the set grew to an epic level with WYSIWYG monitoring of video cameras. Some very powerful cinematographers may be able to keep the noise level down but not many. With the expansion of voices making their input heard on the set I think a couple of very important things happen: Fewer mistakes are made and many eyes can point out problems or failures. Maybe more importantly the set has become a committee with the director filtering out the noise as best she can. The committee approach has produced a very high level of technical excellence AND in my opinion a terrible mediocrity. My happy fantasy is to shoot anamorphic film. Interesting discussion folks. Neal Norton DP
  10. Neal Norton


    A film I worked on will be arriving with a limited release May 3rd. Here is a link to the trailer: Hope you like it. Neal Norton Cinematographer
  11. The camera package rental would depend on the length of rental and the relationships between the Director and DP and the rental agency. A director with a 3 picture deal with a studio would be able to ask favors. A DP with an Academy Award might do so as well. A six week rental would be much more expensive per week than a six month rental (per week). A 2 or 3 camera package would find a better discount than a one camera package. In the case of Alexa 65 the post production costs would dwarf the camera rental. I would guess that a 2 camera package with primes, zooms and lots of support would be around 25,000/week less discount based on duration of shoot. From 40% to 75% discount. Neal Norton DP
  12. Hi Dominik: The Arri Master Anamorphics in my opinion are superb lenses by almost any measure. They also offer flair attachments that can be added if you want to mess up the image in camera. If I could not shoot Panavision anamorphic I would choose the Master anamorphics for primes and I also really like the Angenieux Optimo 30-72 T4 and the 56-152 T4 for lightweight zooms. The other lenses you mention are not very good in my opinion unless you really want to create a distorted or stylized effect. As to the investment idea. . . if you cannot put these lenses to work right away and have a secure avenue for continued rentals then I would do something more conservative with my money. Neal Norton DP
  13. Hi Sanji: I have one for sale. Includes custom case. 2,500 Neal
  14. Ummmm, maybe these hipster dudes are really good? With enough enthusiasm and native talent they might produce something a whole lot more interesting than the perfectly exposed video mediocrity predominant today - just by not knowing any "better". As a fine DP friend of mine directed me when I was shooting a second unit for him: "Just F*** it Up!" ie., don't do boring normal stuff. And. . . . it was a Red Camera. Silhouette (or close to it) might be the best thing a Red Camera can do. Neal Norton DP
  15. Good work. The older lenses do help to "humanize" the sterile emptiness of the video image. Anything we can do to vandalize the oh so sharp high definition computer boxes seem like a good thing to me. I have a set of TLS speed panchros. They are pretty much my favorite spherical lenses on the Alexa. Thanks for sharing your work.
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