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Marcos Cooper

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  1. The danger of sacrificing consistency in trying to get perfect exposure is a real danger. Bearing that in mind, here's what Gerald Hirschfeld, A.S.C. has this to say in his article on Exposure Meters and The Cinematographer. Using a Spot Meter, the Final Exposure Check Hirschfeldonmeters.pdf
  2. Inset shots make editors and audiences very happy but they seem to drive directors, actors abd everyone else crazy. I try to group them so that I’m shooting A bunch of them at one time but I always feel like I’m ruining the party.. Is there a better or worst time in the day to shoot them? Is it better to shoot them in the morning when people are in good moods? Or wait until the end of the day when everyone is too exhausted to fight with you about it? Does someone have an optimal strategy for this?
  3. The purpose of light in motion pictures is to create and sustain the illusion that the audience is looking into a three-dimensional world. Any use of lighting instruments, shadow, and color that contributes to that illusion is good lighting. Unless it is intentional, any use of light that shatters the illusion is bad lighting
  4. Reflected meters are like kangaroos with ADHD, powerful but all over the place and hard to work with. Incident meters are like an old friend who will always tell you the truth even if it hurts. An incident meter cannot be fooled by extra dark or extra bright objects in the scene. With reflective meters it happens all the time and you have to learn to work around that weakness which takes time and experience. The classic example is a Caucasian bride in a white dress standing next to a Black groom in a black tuxedo. If use a reflected meter neither will be correctly exposed. Scenes with big areas of white sky also fool reflected meters. The problem with spot meters is that you’re depending on the easily fooled human eye to choose what to point the meter at. It works well if, like Ansel Adams, you shoot outdoors in locations you’re familiar with or in studios. Incident meters just tell you what is happening without any interpretation. Then it’s up to you to adjust the lights, prop colors, makeup tones, and scenery colors to create the tonal relationships you want.
  5. If I understand correctly, you send out color bars from the camera so you can adjust your monitor to show a fairly accurate representation of what the camera is seeing. Yes? Or is there more to it? The next question becomes: do the color bars being output from my camera reflect the adjustments I've made to settings like knee and pedestal. And how about custom picture profiles or LUTs in use, will those be reflected in the color bar output? Or are bars generated entirely separately from the sensor?
  6. Fantastic info. And thanks for sharing the shot from "The Love Witch." Beautiful work. Given that it was the 80s, what lighting instruments would they have used as key lights for their stars? (And what was used on "Love Witch"?) A closeup of Michelle Pfeiffer, for instance. Would she be with something like a single fresnel? For reference, "Scarface" was shot on Eastman 250T 5293, according to IMDB. And can we assume that the makeup was chosen to eliminate shine?
  7. How do you make women look beautiful with hard light in the Steve Burum/John Alonzo/Brian DePalma style? Watching movies like Scarface, the shadows are incredibly hard when they appear but the women look like goddesses. What technique is being used. On the Alec Baldwin podcast Brian DePalma was complaining that no one lights women properly and then he said this: "What I think is terrible now with all these streaming movies where they all shoot digitally where it's all with this bounced light and everybody looks like, excuse the expression, (a word that rhymes with quit), it's very dispiriting." So I'm tossing all my silks and muslin and scrimmery but what do I do now?
  8. The CineMeter II app for iPhone will give you a fairly accurate reading of the color temp of lights. Maybe not accurate enough to use for setting your camera but it can definitely tell you the color of the lights.
  9. The Parallax View is an extraordinary film, of course, but a lot of the shots are stately, grand, geometric, still, and long in a way that seems very different from what we see today. So the question is: If someone were to remake The Parallax View with new actors and updated costumes, sets, and lighting but followed Gordon Willis shot list, would audiences would enjoy or understand the extraordinarily wide shots, long takes, and mostly static camera? And would a studio release it? The wides look like this. The semiotics are all about tiny human figures being overwhelmed by the immense buildings and natural world that holds them prisoner.
  10. In the thrift stores and garage sales of the United States you can usually find discarded dish antennas from the satellite TV companies. They are definitely parabolic and usually still have the bracket. The big users of parabolics are the solar cooking enthusiasts... if I recall correctly they sell fairly inexpensive dishes. The other shape you might try is the giant plastic salad bowl; they come in a variety of shapes and if you're really into it you could put one in the oven at a temp that's just hot enough to make it pliable again and shape it over a true parabola.
  11. How did Roger Deakins keep the scene and the characters so organized and easy to follow during the chase scene in the last act of 1917? The chase begins just after George MacKay strangles the German soldier (about page 91 in the script). It seems like an impossible cinematographic challenge—low, shadowy lighting, constantly moving camera, all the characters about the same size and shape; yet it's clear the whole time who is doing what. Were there any particular techniques used? You can watch the sequence here: https://www.youtube.com/embed/wlbJZQQJ528
  12. Mel and David: "Polished" is a much better word. I was watching the show on Amazon so the quality is what it is, but even so the images had a much more elegant look than a lot of current fare. The specular highlights are nicely defined and edges are sharp yet the actors look sensational, the light isn't highlighting their skin texture or lines. So when you say "lit in a polished way" are you saying that the show (and others like it) are created with complicated lighting plots? Or are there some techniques used by Mr. Burgess that might work for those of us shooting on smaller budgets?
  13. Watching "What Lies Beneath" I was struck by how clean the image is. I'm wondering what this look is called and how to achieve it. Is it all just in the lighting? What is going on here? Cinematographer Don Burgess shot the film on shot on 35 mm (Kodak Vision 500T 5279, Eastman EXR 200T 5293, SFX 200T) with a Panavision Panaflex Platinum and Panavision C-Series Lenses. It was a popular style in the late 1990s, I believe but I also think of it as the Blake Edwards/Mike Nichols/Nora Ephron look. The stills are definitely not as clean as the moving picture, but here they are. w
  14. I hope you realize from these stories that there are lots of ways to get where you want to go. An undergraduate degree is a great achievement for a lot of reasons—it means you are a person who values knowledge, isn't afraid of difficult subjects, and is capable of pursuing a long-term goal. You also have a head full of information which is always valuable on a film set. This is also an opportunity to learn the lesson that you can't compare your path to anyone else. Yes, a few kids from your school are going to MFA programs but the reasons they're going probably has little to do with career success. Yes, some of them have a clear idea of how they'll make an MFA into a stepping stone. But instead they might be going because their parents want the social prestige of a kid in grad school. They could be going because they really love school and plan to teach some day. They could be going because they just don't know what else to do or they feel they need a little more time in the oven before they're fully cooked.
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