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Jean Dodge

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About Jean Dodge

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    Director
  1. The effect you are probably looking for is the reflection of the moving light across the audience's face, glowing and dimming alternately. The best way to do that realistically is to really do it. Don't use a dimmer. If you have full access to the facility, bring a few 12" or smaller mirrors taped to a baby nail-on plate so you can set some mirrors up to bounce the projector light where you want it when you are shooting away from the screen. That way you can set a 4x4 silk up close to the actors and project a bit of the image onto it at a closer distance to enhance the moving bounce light effect. Often the effect is too diffuse if your actors are far from the screen. Or you can bring a few still camera lenses to interject into the projector beam and sent the image where you want it to go. You can vary the angle a bit that way, and it's easier than trying to tilt a huge projector. You can also use some gels or filters or nets to cut down the intensity of the beam if you need to balance the lighting to that of faces of the actors. Just be ready for some tweaking. Also give some thought to making up a few 35mm film loops to set into the projector so you don't have to keep changing reels as you work. No one smokes in movie theaters in the USA now but audiences expect to see the CITIZEN KANE style haze outlining the projector beam so bring some fog. A certain amount of cheating usually allowed - for instance if the projector is working as a backlight them one has to assume the actors heads would throw big annoying shadows on the screen, but people cheat.... audiences buy it. Bring some black/white showcard in case you want to make a mask or snoot to make the projector beam more narrow as it passes over your principal actor's heads in low angle upshots. A sliver that crosses the frame is preferable to a too wide beam that cant be read as such. Remember you can move your actors around for each angle so long as you keep it believable - if you see their faces in profile don't be afraid to scoot them all the way to one side to make the theater look bigger behind them, etc. Put them in the front row for the upshot so you have room for the camera, then move them back to row 12 for the two shot with extras behind them, etc. Don't shoot a higher ISO than you have to. Use a 50mm lens that is fast instead and try to keep the ISO below 1250 or 1600 if possible with the 5D mk2. You risk gain and grain otherwise. As always, test before the day of your shoot and make your own determinations. House lights might help for some wide shots and remember it's easier to darken in post than it is to lighten a scene, but with HDSLRS the best bet is to shoot the way you want it to look on your best monitor. Another reason to test, test test. What you cannot control will be the wide shot where you see audience, projected image and the whole theater so that is is your baseline in some regards. If your closeups don't seem to match the wide shot then you have to adjust the close work. DOn't get caught having to shoot one without knowing what the other is like first. have fun
  2. Looks like no one really read your problem, much less had a good answer. What firmware was the camera running? In standby mode you should have been able to see an HD image in the monitor. Yes, the resolution drops to SD when the camera records... but it should send a better picture in preview mode. If you ever figured it all out, please let us know. This sounds like a frustrating problem.
  3. Thanks for the link to the informative technical article. I think anyone who ever picked up a motion picture camera is going to enjoy seeing this movie, if only for the historical elements. In the story of HUGO we find a character from real life, that weaves in a lot of true facts about Georges Milies, the inventor of much of what we enjoy about cinema today. He made over 500 film in less than twenty years and retired into near obscurity and destitution as the economics and aesthetics of the art solidified into an industry. He invented / discovered the substitution shot, the horror film and sci-fi genres, and was among the first to employ time lapse, dissolves, multiple exposures and other seemingly "magical" techniques, bending his knowledge of stage magic into the new medium. His most famous existing film is known in English a "A Trip to The Moon," and includes the shot of a capsule impacting with the face of "the man in the moon," which has become a staple of early cinema compilations. The majority of his life's work, his films, were melted down to make boot heels for the French Army during World War One. Like D.W. Griffith after him, the parade passed him by as studios emerged to make a newer, modern cinema on the backs of his early and un-replacable achievements, leaving him to a life of poverty until, in Milies' case, fellow film makers acted to intervene. Griffith simply died in a one room rental on Gower Street, a forgotten man in the city he put on the world's maps - Hollywood. No doubt Scorsese will weave these ironies and the importance for film preservation into the plot of the film. On top of all that, we have an award winning children's book as the source material, the work of cinematographer Robert Richardson and production designer Dante Ferretti, along with editor Thelma Schoonmaker and the assembled team they lead in bringing this material to the screen in 3D. Me? I'll be there on opening day with my entire family.
  4. Check canonrumors.com. Looks like canon is set to release SOMETHING in order to try and keep their place in the universe after introducing the 5Dmk2. That was in november of 2008, and since that time the landscape has changed a lot. They are in need of a course correction, where they can keep stills and motion picture aka HD video production separate from one another. Professionals want the features and accessories to work in a production environment, and no one wants to go back to a small sensor now that we have seen how well skin tones and low light work can look. Canon wants to stay the sales leader in prosumer DSLRs. This next move/ announcement will be their response to these and other concerns.
  5. Canon HDSLRs have a "picture style editor" to create custom picture styles that can be loaded - cinestyle from Technicolor being one of them - and various early adapters and experienced users have come up with settings to supposedly emulate the look of various film stocks, including T-Max B+W. One advantage to shooting with a monochrome picture style would be that you could use red filters to darken the sky and draw out the skin tones on Caucasions and Asians, for example. Of course, you could use a red filter with a color style too, and go monochrome in post... but it makes the monitor harder to judge. Again, the best answer is almost always the same; do extensive tests and judge for yourself.
  6. The real "trick" to shooting retro-looking b+w is to light it like they used to back when b+w was the dominant medium. Kino flo and softbox looks were not around. Use fresnels and very little diffusion, and you will get a look that sells the material. Do your research and shoot tests of lighting styles. As for the menu setting and post work, as always, do careful tests and judge for yourself. My money is on finding a "flat" shooting style and doing extensive work in post. It all depends on what sort of b+w look you want. It's not like there is just one "b+w look," just as there is not one "color" look. PLEASANTVILLE and RUMBLEFISH used different methods but are interesting to see, as modern takes on B+W, as is SHADOWS AND FOG (woody allen) and ZENTROPA. Don't expect to get SIN CITY with a menu button on a HDSLR. RAGING BULL is a must-see exercise in B+W virtuosity. German Expressionist cinema is great - from Cabinet of Dr Calgari to M, by Fritz Lang, these films had a huge influence on Hollywood, culminating in films like SUNRISE and THE INFORMER, for example. CITIZEN KANE is of course a textbook of camera techniques. What are you trying to do?
  7. Those remote helicopters are sweet. I recently attended a demo with a pilot who has a canon 7D with a small remote helicopter - a traditional looking one, and it was impressive. But not "easy" by any means. There are dozens of factors to consider and very important safety issues as well. Hire an experienced professional and work closely with a full crew to get it right. Don't try this at home, people.
  8. You are missing a f/16 on the lens. Anamorphic lenses are not easy to build, and they don't just screw on to any old zoom and perform well. Google over to DVXuser to things like Iscorama and Kowa and Singer for long, long discussions. This forum is relatively new and not the best place to repeat what has already been written about extensively elsewhere. good luck.
  9. Jean Dodge

    Tripod

    Try to get something used. Miller, vinten, oconnor, sachtler are all good. A tripod is not the same thing as a fluid head.. by the way. You will get what you pay for. $250 isn't going to buy you much when it comes to trying to pan a 400mm lens smoothly. Go to your local camera store and try some equipment from Manfrotto and compare price ranges. Again, go name brand and expect to get what you pay for.
  10. The Liliput and Ikans are popular over at cinema5D forum - look there for better advice. Many many issues arise about splitting an HDMI signal, so dont expect to have a director's monitor or client monitor for cheap.
  11. HDSLRs are a tool in the toolbox. For SOME low light shooting, they can currently perform in a zone where you couldn't get a usable image any other way. Last year at Venice there was a feature film lensed on canon 5dmk2 that was beautiful. It screened digitally, by the way. But I know the DoP and it wasn't easy. The window that was opened up by the 5Dmk2 is about to close, I predict with some more cinematographer-friendly tools. We all saw SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and while that wasn't a DSLR, the effect was similar - using it as a stealth camera in a crowded foreign market is a good trick... this is the zone these cameras occupy - a novelty and specialty niche for the professional. For amateurs they are tough - no auto focus and the files are large, etc. What's left is the semi-pro and the pro-sumer, by which I mean those with money to throw away on shiny objects. But your mileage may vary. I love them, and think there are creative ways to do near impossible things if you are willing to be creative and work HARD to get around all the flaws. But the moment there is something better, and that moment is coming soon - I will RUN away from them. THey are difficult to operate and easy to break, and have many many flaws.
  12. Getting back to the topic of infrared, one thing that is interesting is to do stop-motion or time lapse with early generation digital cameras that were more sensitive to IR light, such as the Olympus and nikon Coolpix that shared the same sensor. Good IR response, but no motion picture, sorry. Maybe a time lapse without people in it could substitute for an establishing shot... But yeah, the major reason besides cost to ever fool with HDSLRs is that right now, the canon is king when it comes to low light shooting. There is a zone around 1600 iso with f/1.4 lenses that hasn't existed before. Other than that, they are annoying things that break and annoy. Another thing that is annoying is horror films - if people are going to all this trouble to make a film, please try to make a good one. The economics of the genre dont make sense anymore. The finished film will be lost in a sea of unoriginal dreck, languish on a shelf and all that effort will have been for nothing. The planet deserves better. My two cents, sorry.
  13. The tests we did were with a well known lab in Los Angeles, and the film-out was around 400 feet, a short test but enough to make a lot of judgments from. It was done with an Arri film recorder, the same process as a film-out for CGI work, etc. There is a lot of discussion on this thread about "home solutions" and experimental syncing of monitors and 35 IIC cameras... I can't speak to those issues. In a professional lab, the color is manipulated in a Digital Intermediate so that the known color response of the film will reproduce faithfully a look you have chosen with your colorist, using "look up tables," ie, known shifts of color that the film has. What's added when you get to the film version is a bit of grain and a bit of contrast... the grain helps to enhance the "film look" and "sell" the illusion, but the contrast is usually unwanted - but only slight when done on an Arri Film recorder with a professional lab handling the processing, etc. Keep in mind our test benefitted from YEARS of experience the lab has had, whereas any "in house" experimentation will be starting at zero, and reqiure extensive trial and error. The advice we got from the techs and colorists at the lab were that the abaility to manipulate colors was limited compared to most digital compression signals, which we are all familiar with now. Shooting HDSLR is somewhat akin to shooting reversal - you don't have as much room for errors and corrections so shooting on set is very critical compared to shooting 35mm negative, where overexposure and underexposure can be corrected a little better. My advice to anyone here is, don't try to reinvent the wheel. THe trouble you will have to go to in order to complete this process is not worth the imagined savings for a single production. There are only a few things that an HDSLR can do that is different than what you can do with other camera systems, (stealth, low light, small size) and so a good DP and a good producer would work HARD to convince a director/ameteur film maker to take a different path. And you would be wise to heed their advice. Other camera systems are much more ergonomic, user friendly, and veritile, reliable, robust, proven, etc etc - aka PROFESSIONAL. Yes, HDSLRs have been used to shoot X, Y and Z that screened at festivals and on netework televison but to my knowledge none of these were a film-out. It's not that it can't be done, it is just that the economics make it unbalanced and foolish to take that path. In the parlance of our times, we say "there goes a dollar, chasing a dime."
  14. This topic is veering off course. I've done tests of HDSLR footage to 35mm and the results are.... intriguing. When projected, some of the obvious faults of the camera are magnified and others are mitigated somewhat. The obvious challenge is FOCUS. Sure, you think the focus looks "cinematic" when you see it on a laptop, but when it gets 30 feet tall even the best stuff can just look buzzy... unless you are spot-on all the time with an ace focus puller. Aliasing is unpleasant when it is magnified as well. Rolling shutter is pretty much as-is... which is not good if you like to wave the camera rapidly at picket fences, and semi-easy to hide if you are familiar with the problem. Color, contrast and exposure are rendered well enough, and if you had a good colorist and the time to experiment you would be pleased with the results, just like almost any HD to 35mm xfer work, such as Red One lensed films, which is to say that overall the tonal range is less but with the right treatment in lighting and art direction there is a lot of good work that can be done, considering the myriad variables. But let's not kid ourselves... the majority of indie feature work never goes to 35mm these days. And the films that do are made with more professional cameras. These are generalizations, and all things are possible but GET REAL. When you have the budget to try all this, do some tests and make your own judgments.
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