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John E Clark

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Everything posted by John E Clark

  1. Oops... "The Post"(2017)... too many films in 2 days...
  2. This topic has a still photography counter part. For me, I'm in the 'deep focus' camp. Mushy backgrounds drive me insane. I looked at the kick off post on this thread, and was astonished to see it was in regard to the film "Dunkirk"(2017). I just saw this film a few days ago as part of the Best Picture series at a local theater. Throughout the film, all I could think of was, 'why is the background so blurry?" No of the original (few though they may be) images of the Dunkirk evacuation had such blur... The other thought was the somewhat modern looking buildings in some of the shots... but the blurred background was everywhere... There is only one condition in my mind where 'blurring the background' works... and that's when the background is so crappy that it would seriously interfere with the subjects. Wedding/Event coverage or News reporting come to mind on situations where there can be little time for arranging the background in an artful way... and one has to take what one can get. Otherwise there should be no excuse, and 'artistic style' isn't enough for me... speaking of which... Kaminski's 'mushfog' look was apparent in "The Shape of Water"(2017)... However, because I was able to get into the story more than "Dunkirk", it was not as objectionable to me, as the movie played. During "Dunkirk" all I could think about was 'How would Mel Gibson have made this film?..."
  3. My experience in Dubai/Abu Dhabi did not involved filming. But did have a lot of equipment. That was handled by the host company, however Lufthansa lost displaced my luggage. A week later it showed up at the hotel. Very expensive hotel, mind. Since my visit was to industrial places, I didn't 'see' the beach, or other tourist attractions. Ok... the indoor ski slope... Abu Dhabi is different. A bit more conservative. The host would drive like a maniac, but the driver that was assigned to us for most of our travel around Dubai was 'very careful'. He was from India. The only nightlife I saw was the hotel bar/restaurant. Again differences can be found between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. These days I'd tend to find out and get appropriate permits. Can one get away with not doing that... sure you did it. But then, I wouldn't recommend doing that in LA these days... despite people getting away with it.
  4. The Wife and I have a couple of guilty pleasures of the various comic books/graphic novels adaptations to TV. For the both of us: Gotham Flash Arrow For me: Super Girl DC Legends of Tomorrow And not from a comic book/graphic novel The 100. I can safely say that all these shows have far better photography than any of the shows of my youth. 'fake' flying of Super Girl... doesn't hold a candle to the fakery of getting George Reeves to look like he was flying... then there's Adam West/Burt Ward dynamic duo in the mid 60s Batman. Ok, it was intended to be a bit camp... Even in the case of say Super Girl which is shot in a lighter more flatter, more TV style, I can't really fault the production too much. There has been a trend in TV shows to use more feature film lighting and in so far as budget is available better CGI/FX. I attribute this to finally moving away from NTSC/PAL limitations, and adopting the capabilities of the higher definition as well as wider range of intensity that is now commonly available on display screens in the home.
  5. Well, in the typical commute time from my house to the New Beverly I can watch both on a mobile device, provided I'm not driving (ok perhaps 1 and 1/2 of the next...). Last week it took me 3 hours to get from Glendale to my office, leaving Glendale about 5 pm. At each technological advancement of motion pictures, there have been a set of viewers who have claimed 'film is dead'. Sound ended not only local employment for sound effects, some acting careers(*), but was also targeted as a degradation of the 'art'. Color, widescreen, etc. all were killing off the previous 'art' quality. I don't see the transition from a physical medium to an electronic on to be any different and somehow going to 'kill off' artistic expression even when using the term 'film' to describe the digital medium. *In the silent era there was quite a bit of cross pollination between say German Film and Hollywood, since the intertitles 'said it all', and the actors need not have any form of English or German correspondingly, speaking capability. (and for that matter, the deaf had no problem with silent film either in any audience... well provided they did learn to read.)
  6. I do not believe in the least that digital has 'killed/ruined/degraded/etc' movies. What digital has done is allowed me to view pristine images, in a crappy theater, in the middle of nowhere, or, absent a actual theater, given LTE coverate... on my iPhone. The first film I ever saw in a theater was "The Ten Commandments"(1956) (when it was new in theaters...), but most of my 'movie viewing' was by means of a crappy very old/used/donated to us 12 inch B&W TV (so I never saw most of the films films that were broadcastd in full blazing color until the BETA/VHS era) The point being, I have never fetishized the in-theater experience. The digital age has allowed for the potential of many more individual's visions, as well as high quality images being delivered everywhere, not just to a few luxury theaters in the LA area or NYC. I even disagree with Tarantino about the 'olden days' of the Video store. Tarantino during his prefame days was an exception of being film savy while working in such a store. Again outside of the LA area, most video rental stores were staffed by people who had almost zero interest in film as an art form, and would just sound out the lead movies that were being promoted at the moment. I did still photography for a number of years, and the wife maintained a wedding business. We did Film film and our own B&W processing, until about 2000-2001. At that point we switched to digital 35mm for the 'candids' and Film film, and 3 years later, we realized we had not used the Hasselblad for over a year, with digital 35mm covering all aspects of the wedding. The switch also allowed my wife to do destination wedding and not need to pay extra for a container full of film and camera equipment. The customers did not complain about the change in the least. I think this is true for the film making world. The customers do not complain, and given that the image seen in places were in older times, they would be viewing well worn physical prints, digital, scratchless, no pops in the sound track, no breaks and a blinding flash of blank screen, and in my wife's case, almost always closed captioned for mega released films(*)... it would be hard to find a complaint. *We recently ran into a low budget art film that was not captioned and the wife had been anticipating seeing the film for over a year. "Loving Vincent", needless to say, she was disappointed in a major way. Of course if one is wealthy enough, one can afford a film vault, perhaps even buy an aging theater in a major metro area, and show Film film movies. As for 'sameness' of films. In each era there have been styles. The fuzzy look of the late 70s/80s was replicated everywhere, whether it made thematic sense or not, using areal haze, fuzzy lenses, or lighting, etc. Personally I hated most of it. The 'realism' of the late 60's/70's often due to shooting with minimal light, and increasing development to compensate. It was everywhere... again whether the material required or not. More recent over used techniques include bleach by pass, or similar. The problem of the sentimental looking back, is one remembers the 'great' films, and not the 100s churned out Drive-in fodder that used similar techniques, on top of a crappy story, with less than star quality talent. Some of those cheap quick productions turned into industry classics, such as Sergio Leone's The Man With No Name series... Those were shown to the point of shredding in their initial release, in crappy theaters, filled with drunks, hookers, and the homeless looking for a place out of the rain (even in rainless So. Cal...) and not in the big ticket theaters. Image quality was not a particularly valued attribute of the audience in general.
  7. From what I read from Roger Deakins is that he attempts to get 'very close' to his final look in camera, whether film or digital. He then 'tweaks' the color balance when color grading. In the case of "Oh, Brother Where Art Thou"(2000) he was one (if not the one...) of the first to use massive color grading via digital means, to make the 'dusty/warm' cast, especially taking 'green' fields of whatever and turning them in to a golden yellow... In any case, the main message is start with a color scheme, light to as best as can be expected for the circumstances of filming, and tweak later in post. I would also note that often for the DVD/BD disk releases he has not been intimately involved in the color correction of the released product, and so, there could be variations depending on who did it, and their 'color aesthetics'.
  8. Well, I guess I break that law... I'm sort of in the F/64 camp for stills... diffraction be damned... and use swings and tilts to adjust the plane of focus for 'infinity' sharpness... rectangular lines be damned... or for motion pictures, the Greg Toland camp.. use a split diopter to get the impression of infinite DoF. On the other hand, if one uses shallow DoF... at least get the actor's/actress's eyelashes sharp... and a head brace for said talent to render their head immobile for close up shots...
  9. Select H.264 and select either "match source", or set the parameters custom. I have no idea why Adobe puts up the MPEG4, then only has 3GPP as the two options. Could be some sort of stupid licensing issue. In any case, when I File->Export->Media and then in the setup dialog select H.264, there's a pull down of a number of options, select the "Match Source High Bitrate" if it is not selected, or "Match Source Low Bitrate" or click on the check box for those parameters you want to change.
  10. It is my observation that 'pitches' are far more extensive than in the past. In the past, perhaps a script, perhaps a name, perhaps a art board presentations. These days it appears one needs to have something like a short, a presentation, executive package for financials, etc. And of course someone with a name always helps... While I'm not in contact with Blomkamp... I suspect he's doing some self promotion, for some types of projects. "Chappie"(2015) wasn't absolutely phenomenally successful... and the industry seems to ask... 'what have you done lately'... regardless of past achievements... doing self promotion seems to be a popular way to get one's name out... again...
  11. Speaking of handsigns... Gene Simmons, of Kiss fame, apparently was thinking about trademarking a handsign which he claimed to have first used in the 1970s, as meaning 'rock on'. Unfortunately it is also the ASL sign for 'Love(love you, etc.)'...
  12. ARRI has an app for the iPhone for their various models of lights. There may be something similar for name brand light suppliers, or perhaps they just have that as part of the light specs on the web. But for many of the 'cheap' lights, all they offer is either the wattage, or perhaps 'total lumens', which could be just from general principles rather than actual measured output, and further does not take into account the shape of the light out, given the lens/reflector configuration.
  13. One of my favorite 'historical' films was "Caligula"(1979). Of course with all the 'porn' added in by Bob Guccioni, the received professionals all disowned the film, ranging from Gore Vidal who wrote the book and script, to major actors, etc. But in a way, it stuck fairly closely to Seutonius' account of Caligula found in his "Twelve Caesars", written in 121 CE. Vidal sort of expanded and modernized the story found in Seutonius... who expects any one to study Latin these days to read Seutonius directly.
  14. I beg to differ. While Mozart was one of the first musical artists to 'go without patronage', at least to some extent, he did not have the luxury to put off composing, as his pay check was dependent on getting work out. Prior to that artists were usually patronized, and required to put out music for any occasion the patron wanted... regardless of the inclinations of the artist... of course if someone was 'brilliant' perhaps the patron would give some slack but not much. The demise of the patronage system, led to individuals competing with others for clients, and unless one was wealthy by other means, that meant composing, painting, sculpting, despite any disinclination. Some composers were notorious for reusing their previous works, perhaps altered in key, perhaps tone, etc. but done to get work out, without reinventing the world.
  15. This phenomenon is not limited to motion picture capture... but also stills. The Wife and I use to shoot about 1000 still negs at a wedding... we went digital... typcally number of shots went up to 2000-2500... and one wedding was over 3000... ok, that one was a destination wedding in Israel that included about 4 days worth of the wedding party seeing the sights in Jerusalem and a field trip to Masada and the Dead Sea... Then she would complain that going through the 'proofs' was arduous... I use to put a bunch of the pictures into After Effects and make a stop motion like 'movie'...
  16. I use a combination of a incident meter for measuring the amount of light falling on the scene, in terms of footcandles. Since motion pictures requires more light in general, than one can 'get away with' for stills (like set the shutter for 1/2 second if need be...) I like to make sure I have enough light for a basic exposure. I use my spot meter for detailed scene contrast ratios, especially the faces of the talent, or various hot or 'dark' spots in the scene, to see if the range will fit, or at least to expect blown highlights or dark shadows, as I don't have too much in the way of artificial lights to compensate. I did try to come up with some formulaic transformation from 'grey card' relectance -> EV -> footcandles... but it was just easier to get a meter that read out footcandles directly.
  17. I use a combination of 18% grey card, Black 'velvety' cloth, white lacy cloth, and a color chart.
  18. Set Extensions, either via 'glass/canvass/board' mattes, or later optical processing, have been done for years before the modern era. At any time, it has been far more expensive to build the full 'real' set, unless one has a large set of unemployed tradesmen. For example, From the 1930s. In many cases the seam between the real set, and the extension, was 'obvious', in some cases not so obvious, but in most cases it would become 'visible' to the trained eye. We don't have films that list 'cast of 1000's' in the promo ads... as it is quite expensive to have such casts... Many were shot in places where one could have 'cheap casts of thousands'... as well had cheap but quality craftworkers, Italy being one popular place for such things. This ranged from actual matte paintings on glass, placed in the field of view, while the live action took place, or later, optically. I don't know that in those days, seeing vast vistas of hill lines, ever made the actors more 'connected' to the matte painted castle or other elements, than the current CGI added elements. Like most things, the use of multiple prints, eventually culminating in the projected image on the local theater screen, 'mushed' the image such that the lines between matte and real were 'blurred', helped in the past. But in the modern digital age, the effect requires more care, just as 'make up' on the talent needs more care to avoid unseemly 'lines' or shortcuts.
  19. For me the last 50 years of 'film' has been one of shooting more in more realistic lighting conditions for some types of genres. One still has the big block buster films, with massive sets (just watched the 4 Pirates of the Caribbean films in prep to watch the newest installment, and of course the lighting on such films is almost anything by realistic... except for clear 'day shots'...) But a lot of human interest drama is shot 'naturally' for some definition of that word. On the other hand there is a lot of work done where color casts are part of the look, whether an overall 'green/cyan' twinge... 'warm yellow/orange/red', etc. or used in certain scenes for some effect. In terms of B&W 'classic hollywood', there was dramatic lighting, perhaps sets that had shadows painted so that the lighting on the talent could be 'lower', but still give the visual effect of 'drama'. There was also the use of global soft focus filtering, or 'region specific' filtering, especially on women. But B&W did have the limitation of lack of 'color'... enter in Technicolor, and the style changed to show saturated, almost hyperreal color... As mentioned the 1960s ushered in a more 'you are there' look, and the gritty film stile of locations, low light, pushed film stock, etc. gave a sense of 'realism' that a film on a sound stage did not yield. Styles and tastes change, as does the technology. The Digital era has had a certain amount of experimentation using most of the history of visual presentation. I personally don't have some fond nostalgic view of Film Film presentations, as most of my experiences of 'movies' as a youth were at cheap theaters where the films were shown had been 'on the circuit' for perhaps years, and showed it. (back before the block buster era, films would travel around the country, first to premiere theaters in big cities, and finally perhaps a year or so later, end up in Bugtussel for a showing in front a bunch of farmers, who may get into a fight during the show, or at a 25 cent theater, and anyone knows would could happen in the back areas of the theater...) And of course there was late night TV... B&W TV... so, for many 1950s/1960s films my earliest recollection of these films was in B&W, having seen them on some movie night or late night movie fodder.
  20. I would not recommend shooting in B&W with the manufacturer's preset. The reason for this, is the camera will still be shooting RBG, but the the transformation to B&W will be whatever Nikon engineers 'thought good enough'. Perhaps that's good enough for you as well... I'd recommend shooting in RGB mode, then use an NLE/ColorCorrection program to transform to B&W. In Premiere there is a filter called 'channel mixer', and one can 'weight' the contribution of R, G, and B, to give different effects, and simulate to some degree B&W filters, by decreasing 'blue', resulting in deeper sky 'grey', for example. I think there's something similar in Davinci Resolve as well. With B&W photography, one is looking for contrast in shades of grey. The 'color' of the light is not as important as it is for color photography, but... if it has a high red content, such as tungsten, that may affect the resulting image, due to saturating the 'red' sensors. The same was true for Film film, but one would buy 'tungsten' balanced film for that lighting, and use 'Daylight' balanced for outdoors... unless one wanted some 'interesting' results. There is one 'reason' for setting the camera to record in B&W while learning to see in shades of grey, is that color contrast may result in no B&W contrast, as the values of the objects are the same, and only differ in their color. Or, sometimes things in weird color look better as B&W than if one used 'real' color. My usual example of that is the 1950s TV show "Superman".
  21. Did the lab indicate what the problem was... like a light leak in the processing equipment, and only when someone opened a door, and 'flashed' the leak, that would cause the effect?
  22. Since I've not seen the film, my initial guess of the sample image, is the guy is 'pushing his way' into the off camera person's space. A person staring out a window, with could be interpreted two ways depending on the 'space'... no space... perhaps 'blocked' person... much space... perhaps many options... it is of course hard to tell post facto what was on the mind of the filmmaker/director/dop that lead to that specific composition.
  23. Re: Sound. For indoors, and to some limited degree outdoors, a mic+boom will work. But for 'long shots', where the boom would be obvious, wireless mics would be in order. In applying the wireless mic, some skill is involved in getting the mic close to the mouth of the talent, without being seen by the camera, given the framing, and position of the talent. Some of the audio sounded 'really processed', as in trying to extract something from heavy ambient interference. Re: Pacing. For me, for a short, there is a need to for quick movement, story wise, into the story. Having a number of seconds or minutes on a shot, wastes time. Many 10 minute 'short' films could be 5 minute short films and tell the same essential story, and keep the viewer's interest. Re: Voice Over. Film is a visual medium. The quality of sound and dialog can enhance a film, perhaps be required for making 'story sense', but if sound is relied upon too heavily, it becomes 'radio with visual aids'. I watched a French 'short' film on my Facebook Feed... I don't understand French so the dialog was lost, and even with the captions on (in French) I only got a little bit of the 'issue'... ok I did take 2 years of College French... nearly 1/2 century ago... anyway, I was able to keep in the story, because the visuals were telling the story.
  24. Well, it's this weekend now... but here's a PDF of the ISO 12233 resolution chart. http://www.f20c.com/stuff/canon/ISO_12233-reschart.pdf The problem with printing it out, is one will also have the resolution of the printer yielding certain subsampling artifacts... But if you get it big enough, you can perhaps use it to get an idea of the lens+camera quality.
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