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Everything posted by Nicolas POISSON

  1. There are plenty of free software console that will be OK for controlling a few fixtures. Film lighting does not require the same level of direct access to controls as live performance since you usually do not fire 100+ cues in a single hour. Personally, I like MagicQ, although the learning curve is a bit steep.
  2. It is a bit like asking for a "good brand" of camera. Many brands have products that cover various ranges, for different user needs and budgets. Usually one define needs and budget first, then look what could match.
  3. Different skin tones are expected to be at different "gray levels". You would not want a deep black skin tone talent to be exposed at middle gray. You can expose using skin tone as reference, correcting with a personal scale inherited from your experience. Something like: "if the talent has typical Caucasian or Asian tone, expose at middle gray. If she is Afro-American, expose one stop under middle gray. If he is Ethiopian, expose two stops under middle gray. If she is particularly white skin with red hair, expose one stop above middle gray,". That is very similar to using a gray card. It is less reproducible, but it still works if you do not have a gray card.
  4. Hello, Here are two pictures taken from The Queen's Gambit. To me, the upper image is fine, the lower one not so much. The skin of the actress looks like if it were a colourized black and white image. What could make that ? And, more important, how to avoid it ?
  5. The 50mm is claimed to be close to human eye for full frame. For "super35", the equivalent is 35mm. But... The human eye is not a simple lens. And another question is to know what criteria one use to estimate the eye focal length. If this is the angle of vision, well... The angle covered by either one eye or the other is over 180°. The angle covered by both eyes simultaneously is like 120° (+/-60° around centre). But one do not really "see" in the surrounding angles, only suspicious movements are detected, and then one turn our eyes to check for any danger. The angle in which one see colours is around 60° (+/-30°). The angle were accuracy is high enough to read text is only 20° (+/-10). And the maximum accuracy is within a pinspot 3-5° angle. Which one of these angles should be used to estimate an equivalent focal length of the human eye ? Moreover, one cannot isolate the information given by the eyes from the processing performed by the brain. When looking around you, the brain concatenates images from different focus distances and directions, a bit like the panorama mode of some cameras. And it uses the long term memory for object recognition. That way, you know that Macmini on the desk has a power button at the rear, although you do not even see it. You know you should not sit on that aluminium chair that has been taking sun for hours at the café terrace. Another argument for the 50mm is not angle of vision, but the fact that an image shot with a 50mm lens projected on a screen of typical size will look "real size" for a member of the audience seated at a typical distance. Or, for still photography, a picture printed in a typical format size, seen at a typical distance, will also look "real size". There is a lot of undefined "typical" here. The claim of the 50mm should not be taken too strictly. It just tells that the image will appear more or less "natural". But a 35mm, 85mm or 135mm will also look rather "natural".
  6. I am no expert, but I do not see how low bit depth is responsible for noise. My understanding is that noise comes from the randomness of electronic reading circuit, but as well from the inherent random nature of light. When light is low, its randomness becomes more obvious, even with the perfect noise-free sensor and 1-zillion bit AD converter. Hence the best solution is to add more light. I would think that low bit depth could even reduce noise: with levels more distant from one another, there is less digital levels to choose from. Analogue levels slightly varying due to noise will lead to the same rough digital level. But this could create banding. In the audio domain, "dithering" is the art of adding noise to reduce low bit depth artifacts.
  7. Well, some fundamental parameters are missing here. A RAW file cannot be seen by the eye, it cannot be displayed. So it cannot “look good” or “look bad”. It has to be processed in some ways : de-bayering, white balance, and so on. Indeed, there is not such thing as a "RAW image", even if everybody uses this term. There is only "Raw data", that can be processed immediately in the camera or stored as RAW data to be processed later. You cannot compare the quality of a RAW and a Jpeg image. You can only compare RAW data processed by a user and the same RAW data processed automatically by a device. And YES, automatic algorithms can do a better job than an inexperienced user. Algorithms may even do as good as an experienced user. What’s more, in most imaging devices, the automatic algorithm generating the Jpeg will be tweaked by the user. White balance is a tweak. Offsetting green/magenta in the white balance is a tweak. Adjusting ISO is a tweak. Choosing what “picture profile” / ”film simulation” / ”whatever the manufacturer named its tone shaping algorithm” is a tweak. Depending on the camera, adjusting the ISO might change the Jpeg only or both raw data and jpeg image. On the other hand, the user might process the RAW file externally in LightRoom/CaptureOne/otherApp using the same algorithms as in the camera because the manufacturer made them available. It could even be that the user performs in an external software the exact same processing as in the device, getting exactly the same jpeg image eventually. Using Jpeg compression-decompression 31 times in a row does not prove anything. What is important is the compression ratio. Compress an image only once with a very high compression ratio and artifacts will already be obvious. This is exactly the same for video, audio, as soon as one use lossy compression. Again, the compression ratio is usually tweakable in a camera, but even the highest ratio is still conservative compared to what will be used to post an image on the internet. I really do not see the point of a “RAW vs. Jpeg” battle. These are just tools you choose according to your needs, work, motivation… I am a jpeg shooter. I do not want to spend my Sunday afternoon processing family portraits. If I were a pro selling pictures, I would probably shoot Jpeg+RAW: I could then use the RAW data for highest quality work, heavy correction and so on, and I could use the jpeg version to show the client what the picture looks like on the rear screen of the camera.
  8. Very interesting ! My feeling is: - I do not find the soft-box too powerful. Indeed, the problem is mainly a question of direction. If it was at a lower height and slightly upward, it might work better at selling the book as a reflective source. - yes you could cut a hole in the lampshade, or hide a light behind. But in such a scene, I would not put the lamp in front of the character. I would rather put it on its side. Then this kind of trick would no longer work. - I am not at all annoyed by the lampshade being too thick. A slight hot spot would be good too (slight variations are great), but I think that is really a question of taste. - the HMIs are too powerful. I really like the idea of creating a geometric flat pattern in the background, but with that power it kills the intimacy. Are these HMIs creating the back light on the head ? You might cheat with this too: having lower power HMis to light the window outside, and another cold white source for the rear of the head.
  9. I do not understand what you mean by "dominate". The pen is just a stuff an actor can play with, no more.
  10. The shadow on the upper third is due to the bulb with a silver cap on its top. Now I use aluminium gaffer tape instead. LED bulbs do not heat much, and this allows to shape the cap as desired.
  11. I start to understand where I mistook. What please me in picture #8 is that one can better see the folds of the lampshade, whereas in picture #6 we see more the mesh of the fabric, folds being more "shadowy silhouette" (do we say that ?). From what you all say, if I want the lamp to look like in picture #8, I should accept it to be purely decorative, and have the key light motivated by something else. The lamp could still justify a bit more light here and there, but not be the key light. By the way, is there a benefit to have the (fake) source from that other key light in the frame at some moment, to make it clear in the viewer's mind what the whole place looks like ? Or can we skip this because any viewer knows and accept a modern room is lit somehow ?
  12. Sure! This is the goal. Thank you both of you for your remarks. By the way, anybody willing to share its own experiments or tricks is welcomed. I am a bit surprised, and thus interested, by what I understand as a question of “realistic” look. I thought, maybe naively, that one could cheat a lot with lighting. Even in movies that are supposed to be somewhat realistic. One cheat with white balance. Characters are rich spoiled brats that leave lamps on during daytime. The moonlight is deep blue. There are smoky atmospheres in bars where nobody actually smokes. I spend a lot of time googling pictures from movies. Here is an example by the Coen brothers: The brightness of the lampshade is slightly below the character’s left part of the face. I currently have this kind of winter soft horizontal lighting in my living room, and I have a lampshade similar to this one (it appears in every other movie indeed). I checked: even with a low wattage bulb, even at noon, the lampshade is several stops above every other object in the room. Here is the lamp I modified, in context: When I saw this afterwards, I was still wondering if the lampshade was not too bright. When looking at this image, do you tell yourself “oh, there is something weird with the lighting” ? Is there some kind of secret rule that tells “the audience may not notice, but unconsciously, it does matter much more than one would think” ?
  13. Picture 3 We go back to initial exposure. We replace the bulb with a 0,5W (yes, half a watt) LED bulb. The intensity through the lampshade is better, but the bulb still appears as a hot spot. The top no longer clips. This is better. Picture 4 We place a roll of diffusion (Lee 400) right around the bulb. We are rather happy: the lampshade brightness is adequate, it is rather homogeneous, and the top is not clipping. We really like the lampshade now. But the table now receives hardly any light. We did try to light it using a projector outside the frame, but the lamp creates shades that look unnatural (no picture of this, just believe me). Picture 5 The bulb in the lamp shall be strong enough to light the table top. We use another bulb, a 2,5W LED, with a silver cap at the top of it. It prevents the light to hit directly the upper part of the inner white fabric, which avoids it to clip. Great. But since we removed the diffusion, the lower part of the lampshade is washed out again. Picture 6 We know we cannot put the diffusion directly around the bulb, since it would lower the light hitting the table. So we put the diffusion right against the inner white fabric (we needed to remind some geometry to create the shape at this point). The light through the lampshade is more homogeneous, but still too bright and washed out. Picture 7 We inserted a layer of ND0.3 filter between the diffusion and the lampshade. It is better, but still a bit too bright. Picture 8 We could have used a stronger ND. But we would also like the lampshade colour to pop. We add a layer of red filter Lee 106 between the ND the lampshade (this is the third layer: Lee400 + ND 0.3 + Lee106), which will also cut off some light as a stronger ND would have done. Yeah! Look at that wonderful red lampshade! No need to play with Resolve’s Colour page later. Our mission is complete. Champagne! (for those old enough: think about the victory theme of Dune II game)
  14. I am looking forward to improve my lighting know-how. I did experiments a few weeks ago for a short film. Two people are talking around a table in the house of a theater. There is a lamp on that table that will be in the frame. It will be the fake source to light the characters. Our mission, if we accept it, is to have the dynamic range of that lamp to fit in what the camera can accept, without catching the eye too much. We are enthusiast (read “we have no money”). We do not have plenty of devices to balance the overall lighting. So we go the cheap other way: lower the hot spots, raise the ISO. The photos below were made on purpose later after the shooting. These are taken in my living-room. Here we go! First picture: The lamp with a conventional 4W LED bulb. The lampshade does not lower the light enough, it is way too bright, and washed out. The top allows to see the inner white fabric that reflects too much light and clips. Picture 2: Same setup, we just lower the exposure. The whole scene is very dark, the bulb create a hot spot through the lampshade, and the top is still clipping. That is exactly what we do not want: YES, we could make the whole scene dynamic range to fit going that way, but the lamp would be by far the hottest object in the frame. Changing exposure will not allow to change the order of brightness of the objects. Wrong, try again.
  15. Wider or... lower height. When shooting with the full sensor width, 16:9 uses a greater surface than "17:9" or "DCI" (other ways to say 1.85:1). However, on mirrorless cameras with high pixel count, the "1.85" ratio, although smaller in surface, might be less downsized than the 16:9, resulting in a "wider" image (4096/2048 vs 3840/1920).
  16. There are a few pictures of the set-up of " Portrait of a Lady on Fire" here: https://www.red.com/news/claire-mathon-afc Given the size of the windows, half the surface of the wall can be considered as a large source, the other half being a large reflector.
  17. I vote for theatrical "moving heads" as well. There are three kind of these: beam, wash, spot. "Beam" type has a very narrow beam. "Wash" is similar to a PAR64 lamp, rather wide angle, with soft edges. "Spot" is similar to a profile projector, with sharp edges, homogeneous light within the beam, and the ability to be shaped with a gobo. Since the beams in the video appear rather sharp, I'd say these are "spot moving heads". These used to be of HMI technology or similar, with a rather high colour temperature (7000K or so). LED is becoming more and more common, although not as powerful, but still in the 6-7000K range.
  18. I would not categorize all DSLR in a single set and make generic conclusions based on two models that are 6 years old. All I can say is that the 645Z delivering lower quality video than a BMPCC is not really surprising. Concerning the images you posted, well I cannot tell which camera has better skin tones since there is only one sample. But I would not link skin tones to any debate like pixel binning vs line skipping. I do not understand what you mean. Whatever video device you use, there is always a compromise between the amount of data, image size, frame rate, compression ratio, and image quality. That is true for a smartphone as well as an Alexa. But this is a different story than the algorithm used to create a 2K stream from a high resolution sensor.
  19. Reading reviews here and there, it seems that the 645Z was already not that great for video when it was released in 2014. It has a medium format sensor and crops only a little. So the area used for video remains very wide. But there is much more to image quality than the algorithm used to output 2K video from a high resolution sensor. Video on DSLR and mirror-less has improved a lot in the recent years. So it is not really surprising that an "old" dedicated video camera delivers better image than an "old" medium format camera.
  20. Some cameras even use different strategies depending on the frame rate, e.g. using the full sensor width with a high quality downsizing algorithm at lower frame rates (24-60P), then switching to a mix of lower quality or sensor cropping algorithm to reduce CPU workload at higher frame rates (120P and above). It really depends on the model. With the increase of embedded horsepower, using the full width of the sensor seems to become more and more common amongst recent DSLR and mirror-less. Well, "best" in terms of what ?
  21. Blackmagic provides a tutorial in its beginner's guide to DaVinci Resolve. It contains both "correction of obviously wrong colours" and "define your own aesthetic" examples, with sample videos. It is very basic but it is a good introduction.
  22. Although not a pro, I have made a lot of research about dynamic range, ISO, and all that stuff. Here is a summary of what I understood. Basically, ISO is gain. But this gain is the multiplication of analog gain at the sensor output – and before ADC – and digital gain. If analog gain is fixed, then ISO is simply digital gain and the camera is ISO-less. It means ISO setting changes absolutely nothing when shooting RAW still images in a DSLR. It just increases the brightness of the image displayed in the electronic viewfinder or on the rear screen of the camera. However, even if the camera is ISO-less, ISO setting does affect jpeg and H264 video. Some cameras have variable analog gain. Changing the analog gain does affect RAW. I am not aware of any consumer camera that allows to explicitly configure analog gain and digital gain. Some cameras allow this indirectly. This is what the “DR” setting does on Fuji X cameras. Compared to “DR100”, DR200 halves the analog gain, and doubles digital gain. The overall gain is the same (hence same ISO), but it is less before ADC and more in “post processing”. It is useful in the situation where the sensor is not clipped but the ADC is. Why not simply setting a lower fixed analog gain? I guess it is a question of image quality. If one want to increase the gain, it could be better to first raise the analog gain a bit, and then raise the digital amplification. It suggests that there is no clear winner in the battle between analog vs. digital gain. It seems analog gain is better if applied first, but in a small amount. If one want to go further, it is better to switch to digital. https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/58627880 There is another technique called “dual native iso”. I am not an expert of sensors. My understanding is that a sensor integrates onboard components to read the signal. Driving these components at higher or lower voltages modify both the sensor noise and its ability to accept a lot of photons. The dynamic range does not change. If one reduce the noise (better low light performance), one reduce the sensor clip threshold by the same amount. This is useful in low light + low contrast conditions, where no pixel receives much photons anyway. Concerning “high end cameras”, ARRI uses another technique, reading each pixel of the sensor with two different circuits in parallel (simultaneously), with different analog gain, combining the two images to produce a single higher dynamic range image. Canon does the same in some cameras. https://www.arri.com/en/learn-help/technology/alev-sensors https://www.newsshooter.com/2020/06/05/canons-dual-gain-output-sensor-explained/ “dual native ISO” does not increase dynamic range, while “dual gain” does. A “dual native iso” camera either use one or the other ISO, not both at the same time. ARRI’s technique is closer to some kind of “exposure bracketing”, like if you were taking two shots of the same scene, at the same time, using one shot with the sensor optimized for low light, the other for high light. A camera with dual native ISO is not ISO-less, while, if I understand correctly, the Alexa or the C300 are. http://neiloseman.com/alexa-iso-tests/ Thus, for your question, of whether setting ISO is important, I’d say : 1- it is definitely important on non ISO-less cameras, and not all cameras are ISO-less. 2- even on an ISO-less camera, you would set your exposure (time, aperture) according to what you see on your monitor. If your monitor is off because of weird ISO settings, you may record poor footage choosing wrong aperture or exposure time. Setting the ISO will not change the dynamic range, but it will dictate how much you open the aperture, which in return dictate how much stops you allow over and under “middle gray”. What highlight you keep, what noise you get.
  23. I did not thought to use it directly on bulbs either! But the housing can become pretty hot. Standard gaffer tape will melt, it will loose its fixing properties and leave glue everywhere as soon as the temperature becomes only "a little warm". If you do never plan to tape something directly to your projectors, standard gaffer tape is fine. But if you wand to create barndoors with the blackwarp and fix it directly to the projector, I would rather use aluminium tape (even for LED projectors). Aluminium tape is expensive, that's why one use it only where required. Black aluminium tape is very expensive, standard aluminium tape is much cheaper and is OK for most situations. It is good idea to have both aluminium and standard gaffer tape in your toolbox. Do not buy the cheapest gaffer tape, they also leave glue. The "Gerband 258 Bk" you listed is great.
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