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Michael Hammond

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Posts posted by Michael Hammond

  1. On 3/10/2021 at 11:40 AM, Hannes Famira said:Your camera package has to be massive to make it jiggle. 

    Hi Hanes thx for the suggestion. The issue I’m finding with the products I’m trying is that they’re inherently jiggly due to the construction no matter the kind of camera or weight I use. And they’re also poorly built in a way that as I rotate/pan/crane up and down they go out of level regardless of how level the tripod head is. 

    How do you find the ProAim to be in these situations?

    • Like 1
  2. Thanks everyone for the suggestions! That intel-a-jib is pretty far out of my budget zone but I make take a closer look at the Seven.

    I do wish all these companies had better video examples of shots taken with their gear. I find the available examples pretty lacking in professionalism and info.

    But I've ordered a couple of lower cost jibs to try out...and most likely return. My gut and brain is telling me the ones I've ordered are just not anywhere near good enough. If and when I send them both back I'll dive into the Seven and see about that.

  3. Hi there,


    I want to buy a jib to upscale my productions. I'm in that spot where I don't want to spend thousands, but I also don't need a top line, ultra-professional piece of gear that I'm going to go into debt for. If I ever need something like that I'll rent. For now, I want something I can set up as a solo shooter or maybe with an assistant.

    My main "asks" are these:

    • Under $1000
    • Something I can set up as a solo shooter or maybe with an assistant
    • Doesn't shake or shimmy as it moves (a lot of review videos I watch leave me a little underwhelmed in the stabilization of the shots)
    • Weight capacity of 12lbs or less

    Does anyone have any experience with a brand that they've use to good effect? I'm looking at CobraCrane for now because it gets good ratings on B&H.

    Maybe the right jib doesn't exist in my price point?

    Any input would be very appreciated. Thanks!

  4. There's a lot of talk in this thread about technical expertise (or the lack of it) in this new democratized world.

    How about interpersonal expertise? One of the most important things a great DP needs to know how to do is communicate, interpret and strategize with a director or producer, think quickly on their feet. I wonder what thoughts people have around those things?



    • Like 2
  5. 1 hour ago, Satsuki Murashige said:I used to take a Super8 or 16mm camera around on walkabouts (or later a 7D and a 5D), looking for interesting light, or trying out different compositions and exposure or filter effects. But after years of this, as my storage space filled up with film rolls and hard drives that I rarely re-visited, I started to wonder what the point was. I learned a lot early on from experimenting this way, but eventually the process became aimless and unrewarding. 

    I hear you. After the experimentation phase it does feel like you’re just shooting more of the same. I feel like if I take a (video)camera out of the house it needs to be for something ‘real’ whether it’s a passion project or a job. That being said, with COVID slowing things down I can start getting a little stir crazy. Trains give me something enjoyable to film. Gets me out of the house to somewhere quiet and/or private, and there’s even the thrill of getting it right in one shot since I can’t call “reset” and back a freight train up to a mark. Then there’s hoping to nail it before a cloud comes along. And trying to make each train scene unique in framing and movement. 

  6. COVID has kind of forced me to slow down in my professional shooting of corporate and commercial work. Just like a lot of other people. And totally against my will for sure, but I've actually started taking an interest again in filming freight trains here on the East Coast of the US.  Filming trains is something I used to love doing and I actually had a business many years ago of filming them, creating and packaging DVDs for other 'railfans' to watch. Then things got too busy with my 'real' work and I couldn't find time to go out and just sit next to an active line and watch them come and go while reading a book.

    It's interesting to me to see the differences in how I approach filming them now (2020) as opposed to the time before I started studying cinematography (2006-2010-ish). For starters, I spend a lot more time figuring out framing and panning, planning each shot rather than just setting up a camera and hitting record, my exposure expertise is so much better now (using a meter or false color instead of winging it), shooting with a cinema camera and Zoom as opposed to a handheld and onboard mic, carrying a slider or dolly in and out of the woods to add some dynamism to shots, no zooming in and out vs. always zooming in and out in the old days.

    For others who work professionally, what do you shoot for fun? Vacation videos, family, short films, flowers, sunrises? How do you approach it? With a DP eye or do you just wing it to relax and have some fun?

    To make this more fun - no 'photography' answers. Has to be film or video.

  7. A recent post by Karim G. about the use of underexposure in more modern films, and the ensuing discussion about whether it is planned or just a crutch for some filmmakers, got me thinking about something that's been bothering me for the last 6 months or so and wanted to get others' opinions.

    Haze has been used for a long time in cinema and it adds dimension, mood, story, etc. Actors walk into an old unused house and there's haze in the air to make it feel old. Actors are in a huge building and there's haze to give a feeling of depth and dimension. It's another tool in the tool box.

    But does anyone else notice newer content where haze just seems to be thrown into a scene for no reason at all? I mean, sure it looks cool to see light beams in the air, but when the scene takes place in a new house in the middle of the day and no one is smoking and no food is burning in an oven somewhere? I can see a littttttle bit of haze to add a little something-something to a scene but, man, it seems like some shows are going overkill with it.

    And then there's the use of haze where it hasn't been diffused enough and you can see wisps of it floating around. That works when talent is smoking but not when someone is walking down a flight of stairs to get breakfast on a nice sunny day.

    Don't mean to rant really, just want to get others' opinions. And I don't have any ready examples. These are just shows and scenes I come across and make a mental "hmmm" but I don't write them down.

    • Like 1
  8. Just watched this for the first time on Amazon Prime last night. I was struck by some of the framing that was used. In addition to the scene shown by the OP, there is scene that takes place at a dam and the framing really gave me a sense of doom in that you could feel the power and speed of the water as it's release into the river behind the actors. No green screen here - just (I think) a long lens compressing the space between the actors as the cascading waters rush towards them.

    I enjoy a movie that takes its time with well-developed shots. Something I think is missing a little bit in most blockbusters today.

  9. 4 hours ago, Nicolas POISSON said:

    On close-ups that would be very easy to add a little light on your face. On wide shots, not so. Fresnels usually have wide beams. Using a Fresnel several meters away, you might not be able to close the beam enough to have just the face to pop up. "Pinspot" PAR36 might help. It is cheap.

    It seems that your problem is similar to the "per shot" vs. "environment" lighting debate :

    lighting per shot vs. environment


    Thanks Nicolas I'll check that out. And I'll be working on getting some extra light on a face in a wide scene. 

    One question I have has to do with the addition of haze. How do you get a light off set to key a face in a wide shot without the haze giving away that light? I'll be trying to figure that out soon. 

  10. 5 hours ago, AJ Young said:

    You're definitely right, the light on the bottles is too hot. They're also dead center of the frame and my eyes go right to it. (Stop me if I'm stating something you know) Generally, I try to utilize visual contrast to guide the viewer's attention. As is, this set up regardless of lighting brings my attention to the bottles. If their exposure is darker than your subject, then my attention goes to the subject.

    Absolutely. I was running the art dept, the prop dept, the gaffer dept. as well as acting DOP so those details definitely fell to the side as I paid more attention to the lighting. I did do a version with a lite panel lighting the bottles from above that looked a lot better. The brightness of that light was lower so the eyes weren't drawn to the bottles as much. But in that version I also didn't have a good bit of light on my far side. It's truly been a practice in just moving things and saying "what does that do to the look" with each change. I don't think any of the setups were perfect but they were all a learning moment in and of themselves.  


    The second scene looks great. Practicals are excellent to use in a scene, but they can sometimes look too bright. It's best to imply the lighting from the practicals so you can control how bright the practicals are. I've also discovered that if you're using the practicals to get an exposure, that they're best positioned behind the subject (like in your scene). I would express caution relying in practicals for lighting because they are quite limiting when it comes to shaping.

    Guy Holt has an excellent section about this topic here. I recommend taking a read!

    Thanks - I'll check that out. 

  11. Hi Nicolas, 


    Thanks very much for replying. I agree on all your points for sure. 

    Props, wardrobe, setting and set decoration were all just thrown together so I could light a room. 

    In the first series: I'm trying to figure out how to give an edge/top light to make a person "pop" a little more. It's easy to do in interviews, but in this setting I couldn't figure out how to place a light. Maybe it was a limitation of the space, maybe it was a limitation of my experience. But I couldn't mount anything up high, and as you can see the walls were pretty close so I couldn't figure out how to hide any lights on stands to hit me. I'm going to keep working on that. 

    Second series: I'm OK with the practical behind me giving me an edge and the iPad on my face. I agree the color temp could be warmer. But it's the same problem for me here in that I don't know, yet, how to get light on a face that is so deep in a scene. Do I shoot a frensel toward it from outside frame? But then it's a hard light with a nasty hard shadow somewhere in the background of the scene. Do I mount something overhead (although I couldn't do that here in the house)? I need to keep practicing things like that in this low-pressure environment of working in the house during quarantine.


  12. The last setup I did was very simple. Two practicals behind me, an iPad to light my face, and a light thrown up at the top of stairs for a little extra something. I would have gelled the stair light but didn't have access to them at the time. Excuse the quarantine hair haha. 

    As an exercise in using practicals, what do you think of this?

    Couch iPad 2 sm.jpg

    Couch iPad sm.jpg

  13. So here's my "scene" made up of available stuff in the house.

    I was going for a speak-easy type of thing in the first pic. The cookie pattern splashing on the back wall. The booze bottle with some gelled light hitting them. The bottles are overlit for my tastes. I didn't have access to an ND gel and the spot was turned down as low as possible. Daylight is sneaking in from the right side due to a big window I closed the blinds over, but didn't black out. 

    In the first pic there are hard shadows behind me. I don't think there's a way to get that pattern without the hard shadows because of the space I had to work in? Anyway, I was unhappy with the shadows until I decided to decide that I was going for a partial noir look. Why not?

    The second pic is more of a loungy type of thing. No hard light on me or the wall. Relying on the practical and a small overhead light panel to light my far side. 

    What do you think?

    Dark Space sm.jpg

    Top Light Issue sm.jpg

  14. Hi everyone. Part of my quarantine time is spent practicing lighting setups right here in my home. In normal times I do corporate stuff so my interview lighting and b-roll acquisition get plenty of exercise. With this down time in the industry I'm taking time to try and get better at narrative settings and lighting wider shots. It's a great opportunity to take the time to learn new things that can only be learned from doing.

    I'm posting some pics and details about the space I had to work with for them, my assumptions and questions, and would love any feedback. Any constructive criticism is welcome. 

    The space I had available is about 10x18' with an 8' ceiling. The actual "scene" space was about 10x12'  - so not a lot of space.

    First two pics - my spur of the moment cookie, and a 1K behind a bed sheet for ambient light and one of the spots for some booze bottles.

    Cookie sm.jpg

    Spotlight sm.jpg

  15. OK if we're talking about railfan stuff...my first foray into filmmaking was shooting trains on a little sonycam and making DVDs to sell to other railfans. Was kind of lucrative for a while and helped me learn a ton of stuff about lighting, framing.  

    My go-to for railfan videos is the ol' Canon XH-A1s. Pop it on a tripod and fire away. This thing must be 15 years old at this point. It's not good for anything else I do these days but it suits these trackside trips just fine. I do see some fans are out photographing the lines in the NYC area during the pandemic, but I'm content with sitting inside and working on building up some more cinematography skills. 

    And just to ensure this post stay on topic, some of what I'm doing in this down time is learning more about exposing with false color, setting up little scenes to film myself in different types of lighting, playing with DaVinci Resolve trying to get better at it. 



  16. For me, it's a two-fold answer. I'm terrified of being unprepared for a job - not having enough lights, not having the right lights, not being able to humanly cover, combat and overcome every challenge that is going to arise from the moment I arrive at a location to the moment we wrap (client liasing, power issues, equipment problems, etc.) 

    On the other hand, I've come to realize from forums like this, from ASC magazine, etc. that I can only prepare as much as I can to be ready. And once we're on set, things WILL inevitable happen that aren't expected. And half of my job seems like it's about dealing with those things as they come up. I guess that's the fun of it. 

    • Upvote 1
  17. 1 minute ago, Uli Meyer said:

    As it happens I just drew these Sherlock and Watson designs. Always wanted to do an animated comedy Sherlock Holmes version.I find that drawing is a great way to relax and forget the lock down for a few minutes.



    Very nice! I have a feeling these are going to stick with me as I read on and I will be imagining the characters looking like this. 

    • Reading the complete Sherlock Holmes collection. I don't usually have time for reading. 
    • Making healthy dinners at home with the wife. We don't usually have time for that. 
    • Calling friends and family to say hi and check in with them. 
    • Relearning how to composting and grow herbs. Don't usually have the time for that. 
    • Listening to as much music as I can. Don't usually have time for that. 
    • Meditating often to let go of the stress, anxiety, sadness
    • Upvote 1
  18. I'm currently testing out the UMP 4.6K G2 and it looks like I can only record to one CF card or one SD card at a time. No backup, no mirrored recording. 

    And I'm also reading (haven't had a chance to test it myself yet) that if recording to a CF card I can't also record to something like an Atomos via the 12g SDI?

    Are these things correct? I feel like I don't get a clearly concise answer anywhere but I'm not looking hard enough?

    I'm loving the picture quality of this camera but in a professional setting I need backup recordings to cover my butt should something go wrong with an in-camera card. 

    If I can't have backup recording in this camera I'll probably go to the C300mk2 whose image I don't like nearly as much as the UMP.

    Thanks for any input on this!

  19. 2 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

    OP, your sample is flat, no deep black's or even half ass blacks. See what you can do in post. 


    Hi Daniel, can you tell me what you mean by "flat?" To me, there are areas of light (where I'm sitting and where the practicals are) and some shadow (walls to the right and left of me, artwork above bed. Plus there are a couple different colors here.

    To be honest, I do often think my shots are flat and I'm trying to get better at that, but I think this one has a little depth. 

  20. 1 minute ago, David Mullen ASC said:

    When digital cameras have problems with reproduction of shadow detail, the artifacts you see are due to compression. 

    Absolutely understand that. In fact, I'm just now moving from an 8-bit 4:2:0 highly compressed AVCHD camera to a new camera that gives me 10-bit 4:2:2 prores. I think in the past I've run into exactly this problem of compression which, I think, is more amplified in shadows. That's the way it seemed to me. 

    So with this new camera I find that I can expand my opnion about light and shadow in the same scene. 

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