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Zahi Farah

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Everything posted by Zahi Farah

  1. Hey Karen, I did end up taking the Global Cinematography courses. As a beginner/aspiring cinematographer I found the workshop to be, on average, solid and helpful. Teaching places emphasis on learning how to see, being specific and having a gameplan when walking onto a set; all of which sounds great to me. Not all classes are the same, I took every class in both the beginner and advanced programs, which I do not recommend in doing. Pick your classes carefully and make sure there's enough time left in the week for you to take a breather should you decide to enroll. Furthermore, it was my first time in LA. Basically LA has no equal when it comes to the film industry, everyone and everything is there so if you want to get familiar with the film industry, that's the best place to be in my opinion. Overall I would recommend GCI if you have the money (it's quite costly), the time and are a beginner. If you have somewhat solid technical knowledge, understand sensors, dynamic range, lenses, workflow etc. Then perhaps this workshop is not for you. Perhaps your money would be better invested in the more important part of the craft (again, just my opinion), which is sculpting with light, elevating emotions etc. Point being that I believe GCI to be more of a technical school than anything else, although they do have some classes that work on your artistic sensibilities. Can't speak for Maine Media. I did have a call with Juan Fernandez, AEC, of Afilm -- he seems like a cool guy and definitely quite knowledgeable. The program is customizable as there's only a couple of students admitted per year, so that's a plus. You'd get to be in Europe as well which in itself is an experience. Hope this helps a bit.
  2. David, Bruce, thanks for taking the time to answering my concerns. In a nutshell, I shouldn't obsess over the absolute accuracy of my meter as long as it's somewhat accurate -- up to 2/10ths of a stop -- and the best way to make sure of that is by comparing it to other light meters. Sounds about right?
  3. Hello everyone, As I consider buying my first light meter and delve deeper into the world of cinematography, there are a few questions I can't seem to find (satisfying) answers for, at least online. I'd really appreciate any help in these matters. Question 1 Why is it so important to define a camera's true native ISO. Not the marketed one but the actual real one. I've learned how to do it it but I still don't understand why I'd do it. As an example (hypothetical), let's say I'm using an Alexa and I come to the conclusion that its real ISO is 400 instead of the proclaimed 800. What am I supposed to do with that? Should I question the way the stops are supposedly distributed between shadows and highlights? Supposedly at ISO800 it's -7/+7 stops of range, did that range now move to 400? Like what's happening here? Also, does it differ from camera to camera, even if it's the same model? Or can I trust the results from tests done from people I know I trust; whether online or otherwise, for that specific model? I understand we must test, test and test. As a novice I can assure you this notion is drilled into our minds by almost every self respecting cinematographer, gaffer, DIT etc. And I am thankful for it. However can't we trust these manufacturers at least a little bit? Question 2 I took a cinematography workshop not too long ago, my first, and was introduced to light meters and how useful they are. Now that I'm about to work on my first couple of projects I can't imagine myself not using one. However. During that workshop several people had the same light meter (mostly Sekonic 858) and, surprise, not all readings were the same. From the same position on the same spot, whether reading incident light or spotting, people were getting (slightly to not-so-slightly) different readings. So here's my question, how can I tell if I can trust my light meter? I live in a country where most people don't use light meters and we don't have any kind of support to send them off to calibration. Any suggestions? In case it's essential to make sure that the light meter is reading accurately, does anyone know of someone or of a service center that does this anywhere not in the Americas? Also, has anyone ever dealt with Sekonic's service center, the one in Oman? Many thanks. Don't judge me too harshly on my trust issues :)
  4. Hey folks, Got a commercial coming up which I'm shooting and I'm wondering if there's a way to get this stop motion effect out of a digital film camera, either in camera or through post-production, instead of the more typical stills camera method. Assuming this is possible via digital film camera and that my concern is to get a sharp image every time, would the mean a narrow/low shutter angle and a normal frame rate (24 or more)? Or is my reasoning completely skewed here? When I think about it though it seems silly not to shoot this on a stills camera.
  5. What a wonderfully informative post this has been to read through! Would be great to see how the shots turned out following post work. Great planning and production shots!
  6. Hey Macks, thanks. I work in collaboration with the DP for sure, we engage in long conversations about a bunch of stuff before shooting anything. To answer your question though, I call and design my own shots. As to 'what I know' in terms of cinematography, technically I'm not that knowledgable. I've never worked in the camera department. As a director I understand the importance of light but I wouldn't know how to shape it myself. I've got a good grasp on composition and movement however I have little to no hands-on, practical experience with cameras or lights. I'd like to take a cinematography class that would fill that technical gap and at the same time train my eyes. At heart I believe that every director is in some way a cinematographer, a music composer, an editor, a colorist etc. Now I feel that it's time for me to actually get in there and try things out with my own hands. It just seems like the right thing to do at the moment.
  7. Hey everyone, I've been looking for a solid, hands-on introductory class for a while now and I'm looking for some advice, recommendations, tips, things to look (out) for. The program should give me a foundation on which I can build for the coming years. I want to learn the tools and craft, not how to use a particular camera. I've found three solid options so far, and they are: 1- Maine Media Workshops (Maine, USA): 10 week intensive cinematography workshop. PROS: Asked around and this program is definitely solid with some world class instructors. CONS: Extremely expensive. (16k) 2- Global Institute (LA, USA): The foundational programs. PROS: World class program and instructors, located in L.A. CONS: Asked a friend, apparently even the foundational programs are a bit too advanced for someone who's never worked in the camera department. Pretty expensive (expensive at about 10k for a bunch of classes). 3- Afilms (Barcelona, Spain): 3 month Feature Film Cinematography. PROS: Solid program, but not as good as the other two though significantly cheaper. CONS: Starts in a year, that's in quite a long time. I feel like doing this in a couple of months. I don't mind studying anywhere in the world, as long as I can justify it to myself. The class should be technical. I've been curating and improving my eyes for a while now and I'm pretty familiar with filmmaking at many levels, but I want to demystify light (or at least start the process), as I feel it will benefit me greatly as a director. I also feel like shaping light, so being able to DP my own little projects, explore studio photography etc. is something I'm interested in. I'm not under the illusion that I will become a DP after this workshop, I just want to be able to think like one at a basic level, so I can improve myself in the future. Director's showreel if anyone's curious. Thanks in advance.
  8. Seems like I posted this under the wrong section. Sorry about that.
  9. Hey everyone, I've been looking for a solid, hands-on introductory class for a while now and I'm looking for some advice, recommendations, tips, things to look (out) for. The program should give me a foundation on which I can build for the coming years. I want to learn the tools and craft, not how to use a particular camera. I've found three solid options so far, and they are: 1- Maine Media Workshops (Maine, USA): 10 week intensive cinematography workshop. PROS: Asked around and this program is definitely solid with some world class instructors. CONS: Extremely expensive. (16k) 2- Global Institute (LA, USA): The foundational programs. PROS: World class program and instructors, located in L.A. CONS: Asked a friend, apparently even the foundational programs are a bit too advanced for someone who's never worked in the camera department. Pretty expensive (expensive at about 10k for a bunch of classes). 3- Afilms (Barcelona, Spain): 3 month Feature Film Cinematography. PROS: Solid program, but not as good as the other two though significantly cheaper. CONS: Starts in a year, that's in quite a long time. I feel like doing this in a couple of months. I don't mind studying anywhere in the world, as long as I can justify it to myself. The class should be technical. I've been curating and improving my eyes for a while now and I'm pretty familiar with filmmaking at many levels, but I want to demystify light (or at least start the process), as I feel it will benefit me greatly as a director. I also feel like shaping light, so being able to DP my own little projects, explore studio photography etc. is something I'm interested in. I'm not under the illusion that I will become a DP after this workshop, I just want to be able to think like one at a basic level, so I can improve myself in the future. Director's showreel if anyone's curious. Thanks in advance.
  10. Hi, We're working on a film and part of it is going to be shot in 3D (we hope). We've never done this before and I was wondering if anyone could give us some advice/info/tips about where to start? Whether its that much more expensive than 2D? Should we shoot it in 3D or convert in post-production? Thanks, Zahi.
  11. Heya, I've got some material transferred from the SD-cards to my external hard drives and am now stuck at post-production. Can anyone point me out in the right direction? Shot on Panasonic AF-101 and using FCP, got some MTS and CPI folders but don't really know what to do with it. Thanks, Zahi.
  12. Btw, I forgot to mention, There's a new shooting block now available. Its purpose is solely for the cinematography modules. Its a two floor shooting studio, with like four different half sets that you can somewhat dress up. Its cool, its a different building. Its also new and we're trying it out. Exciting times. Peace.
  13. Hey Petros, Sorry it took so long for me to reply, but I've been rather busy. Met Film School is a practical filmmaking school - meaning it favors actual filmmaking than theoretical courses. You do get some theoretical courses though, which are extremely beneficial. I've only been there for what, 2 months? Its my first year of what was supposed to be a two year degree program but I've decided to switch to the one year practical filmmaking certificate and go shoot a movie the second year and get field experience. I've heard that the Cinematography course is very good though, the main tutor is this person; http://www.paulwheelerbsc.com/ which I havent met so far, I will next week though. He's very experienced it seems and apparently his courses are really efficient. The aim of the module/course/diploma is to make of you a skilled, thinking person confident enough to take on any project given to you. All of this is the official information. Personally, I think its a good school. Its strongest point being the "administration" - they are nice people, passionate and willing to help out. They do pitch forums, give advice and answer all of your questions. Their weak point, in my opinion, is lack of organization, its still a new school but its had a lot of success and they're trying to keep up with the amount of students they're accepting. Sometimes it shows that they're trying to keep up, but its not so bad. There are 200 students currently unrolled at the MFS. (unless I'm wrong). There you have it, my two cents, You can do with it what you want ! Hope it helps a bit, Peace, Zahi.
  14. Cool! Sounds like a good investment. I wonder where I can get one from? I live in the UK. Thanks !
  15. Hi, I was watching "Tarkovsky in Nostalgia" by Donatella Baglivo and noticed some sort of a lens attached to Tarkovsky's neck... just a lens he used to look through from time to time, it had what appeared to be normal lens markings on it... So I was wondering, what is that? I mean, what's it for? Distance measurement? Light meter? I tried taking a screenshot of it but Apple doesn't let you use the screenshot function when the "dvd player is active". Sigh. Thanks in advance, Zahi.
  16. Hey guys :), I hope everybody's in a good mood today ! Well, lets hear it folks! What is the most basic, vital gear you would need for a simple shooting day? (IE: interior with no exterior light sources). So you all you've got is a 5d mk2 (or a 7d) and you can only get so much gear - what would you get? Think of this in term of a small list of "most important" items on set. Thanks ! Zahi. PS: if you could include a list of firmware that would be cool.
  17. Yeah... So I just finished watching Nostalgia (by Andrey Tarkovsky) - the final scene is so poignant. This is the kind of movies I aspire to make. Not imitate, but I aspire to be as developed in their meaning and personality. I complete one year of intensive filmmaking, a year that should teach me the basics. I do more research and work during my time at home and weekends. I need to be physically ready - as in be ready to manage a crew and plan a shoot. It should be enough no? After this I need to develop. Yes. I will do a year and leave. Thanks guys.
  18. Yes. But do u need to study to become a filmmaker? This is the question thats been slowly chewing through my brains for the past several months. I need to know.
  19. Godamn it! I've been checking my wrong email address! Thats why I didn't reply to all of this earlier since I wasn't getting the notifications! Wow. Look at the replies and the heat :rolleyes:. Alrighty then, onwards! So as expected Phil did a massacre of film schools, Tom and Micheal are for it. Now I would like, first, to thank you guys for your replies. Phil said something in the likes of: "don't waste your money here, it doesn't meet the American standards" - but Mr. Rhodes, are you saying its not worth anything? I mean, Andrey Tarkovsky graduated from a Russian filmschool and they only had 35mm's camera and what I imagine was very little equipment. What about Godart and Truffaut? What abt Eric Rohmer? These guys didn't use lots of gear. So my question would be, is the standard set by the equipment available or by the teachers? You understand I my goal is to leave and shoot a movie in my country (Lebanon)? You also understand that it doesn't meet the "American standard" nor do I want it to? What do you think of that Phil? Your reply to this would be much, much appreciated. Tom, your reply was indeed helpful, and I've heard great things about NFTS - some of my teachers have taught there and still occasionally do. I might consider someday going to complete my masters degree, but really, is it even necessary? I'm not sure. I don't know why I feel I can develop my own aesthetic voice and tone if I just invest the time needed to do so. To think things over and develop my Art principles. I guess I'll to have find out. Thanks everyone for your replies, I'm sorry it took so long for me to answer! I need to change my account's setup. I'll do that right away. Thanks again, Peace, Zahi.
  20. Wow, Evan, I cannot thank you enough for this. Really, I was just refreshing this page one last time before going to bed (I've got an awful flu and its 2h20 in the morning, I'm about to faint) - but really, thank you so much for taking the time to reply in such an in-depth manner. I really, really appreciate it. I've got a few questions on my own now in reply to that, mind you after posting this I will have to sleep I am literally falling asleep on my keyboard! (I will check this first thing in the morning though). So my questions are as follow: 1- First of all, have you uploaded your movie on the web? If so I would love to watch it. 2- How important is a degree? Also, I will have a one year practical filmmaking certificate, is that helpful or negligible? 3- When you moved to California and started working, how was it? I mean, what job did you get and how was the adaptation process from film school to film set? 4- Did you always want to be a director? And if so, are you a director today? (I seem to understand that this is a work in process, if it is the case just ignore this question :)) 5- What about exposure? Did the festivals help or not? I can probably come up with more questions, but honestly I can't think straight at the moment. Also, you don't really have to answer to these questions, I am much obliged as is! It would be awesome if you did though! Peace and many thanks again, Zahi.
  21. Hello everyone, I have been an avid reader of this forum for quite some time and this question has been raised several times in different ways; my case is rather peculiar and this is why I've come - once more - for your advice/opinions on the matter. Currently I am enrolled at the Met Film School (based inside the Ealing Studios campus in the United Kingdom), doing my first year of what is supposed to be a two year degree intensive practical filmmaking program. Basically its a practical filmmaking degree that you get in two years instead of three because its very intense. The school, so far (a month in), has taught me quite some things and I am sure I will learn a lot more in the coming months. Reading through several different forums though (not only Cinematography.com), I have come to the conclusion that a film degree isn't that valuable. Sure, its credit but its not a necessary step into the industry. So this is what I'm thinking of doing, switch to the one year certificate program and understand the ropes/basics of filmmaking and then go back to my home country (Lebanon) and use the tuition I was supposed to spend on the second year to shoot a short-film. That's 20.000£ or roughly 30.000$ - its not bad considering, I also think I could get some extra funding if I really put my heart and soul into it (I will). I already own a Canon 5d mk2 (yes, I know, you guys aren't fond of it but I firmly believe that its a very useful and viable tool for semi-pro work + I'm into photography) and I have an idea for a script. Several ideas actually, most of them are doable. Bear in mind that I could ultimately (its the plan so far) apply to NFTS (National Film and Television School) for my MA. I have talked to several tutors who have graduated from there and sometimes teach there and they told me its a good plan. They say - without hesitation - that having shot a short-film shows boldness and if shot well, is a great addition to my reel/portfolio and would definitely increase my chances of getting through the very harsh admission filter of the school. (PS: NFTS doesn't require you to own a BA to study there, having a strong reel/portfolio and proving you're dedicated enough will get you through). So, long post I know, what do you guys think? I mean, some of you are already working out there, what do you think of people that approach with only a film diploma (BA) in their hands and a student reel? What do you think of people that have directed a short-film and own some sort of certificate? What would be more relevant? Ultimately my goal is to direct movies (and later on to open a film school, but that's another topic ;)), I know that. I am also aware that a lot of people change their minds while they go through the education process, but I know what I want to do. I want to become a director and honestly, I really have this urge to shoot a movie. You're feedback is very important to me and this is why I am here, if you need to be harsh by all means do. What I need is the truth, don't worry about my "feelings". Thanks in advance, and again, sorry about the length of this post. I just had to be clear. Peace, Zahi.
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