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Richard Swearinger

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Everything posted by Richard Swearinger

  1. Comparing me to Kurosawa? Wow, I'm a genius and I didn't even know it. But I've been watching Tokyo Story and some of his other work and the natural way Ozu uses the camera is breathtaking.
  2. The muses rarely come down from the heavens and lay out your image for you; generally you have to wrestle with the problem on your own and having terms to describe what you do or don't like about what's in the frame is very helpful in getting to a composition that tells the story. Composition theory is not a set of rules or society's straightjacket, it's just a tool you can pull out when necessary to make your work better. No different from c-stands or apple boxes. As a novice in one field—visual composition—and an expert in a couple of others—writing and flavors—I would say that knowing the rules of composition is extremely valuable especially when you have to work in a decisive, efficient manner, it cuts down the time you spend with "what ifs." It's not reductionist, it's assessing the elements in the scene and coming up with a strategy to fix what you don't like and emphasize what you do. Also knowing these rules helps you keep your eye open to compositional possibilities you might miss if you weren't paying attention.
  3. For a neutral angle, I would usually pull the camera back, set it for dead level, use a slightly long lens (70-90mm) to help minimize differences in the size of the actors, and set the camera height to split the difference between the two heads. To me, a longer lens also gives a sense of remove—the camera isn't judging, it's just observing. The exact height of the camera is going to depend on what's in the background, obviously you don't want any distracting lines sticking out of anyone's head or face.
  4. Toplight is always the killer in these scenes because it robs objects of their shape amd gives people death eyes. people I know who shoot supermarkets (same fluorescent problem) put flags over the head of the talent and light them as if the fluorescents were just a really dim fill. Or for hero shots kill the fluorescents and only light the section of the background that the camera sees.
  5. Reading books is great but you need to practice and the best advice I got was to practice with miniatures. Buy one of those clamp-on desk lamps with the long swiveling articulated arm, then go to the thrift store and buy yourself 10 to 15 small objects including toy people and spray paint them white. (You can also use a small spot on a light stand but I assume youre broke after paying for college). When its dark out arrange your objects into little scenes and use your one desk lamp plus one hunk of foam core as a reflector to replicate the lighting patterns in your books. It is permissible to use black foil to cut the light. Take photos and keep notes. Under no circumstances use two lights until you can do the all the basic one-light patterns in your sleep. Its all about learning to see the light and where it is coming from and where it goes.
  6. Sounds like you need to dig deeper with the trainer herself and find what exactly she meant. Most people do t know enough lighting terminology to ask for what they want She might have been trying to ask you to use LED panels but didnt know the correct term. Animals have long memories and I bet there was an incident that caused a bad reaction from her animals something like a lamp cracking or a ballast buzzing rather than the color temp itself. Or maybe they really are that sensitive to Kelvin. Fascinating mystery.
  7. I think I can imagine why, but would you mind sharing your reasons? And is that only location interiors or studio too?
  8. In filmmaking you'll be working with lots of very, very smart and literate people and one of the ways they bond with each other and communicate their ideas is by talking about plays, novels, and non-fiction. So, you need to get a grounding in that world. If you're a student, go see every play, author, candidate, and filmmaker who appears on campus or in your city no matter who they are or what they're talking about. School is a time to expose yourself to ideas—especially ideas you may disagree with. That's part of becoming an artist: the ability to work with differing points of view simultaneously. Your first goal should be to attend or watch films of at least half of Shakespeare's 37 plays plus some Chekhov, Eugene O'Neill, and Edward Albee (even if it's bad community theater, you need to see these works). In your car always have either a classic novel or current best-seller going. Try and get in a political book once in a while, but never express your political leanings on set—it's OK however, to talk about the cinematic and commercial possibilities of a political book, who owns the rights, and who you might cast in the roles. The only other thing I would recommend is to memorize the f/stops in 1/3 intervals between f/.09 and f/64.
  9. The one piece of wisdom I can share is that video RAM is becoming more important for some editing and compositing programs so make sure the video card has enough. The minimum used to be 2GB but lately i've seen suggestions that you need at least 4GB of video ram. Start by checking the recommended specs from whichever software you plan to use—they will get you to the right ballpark at least. This is only my experience but I followed Blackmagic's recommendations when I bought a computer to run Resolve and it really narrowed down the number of decisions I had to make. As for Mac vs. PC, I've always just used whatever my clients use. They're the ones who pay me. Hopefully others will have more logical reasons for picking one over the other, but that's my reasoning.
  10. Maybe I missed them, but I didn't see these two on any of the lists, "The Emigrants" Liv Ulman recalled that director/cinematographer Jan Troell moved "like a ballet dancer" with his handheld camera as he shot this masterpiece. "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" The most beautiful of all the gritty, location-focused crime dramas of the 1970s. Victor J. Kemper shoots the raw underside of Boston with almost hallucinogenic realism. A fairly recent movie that deserved more attention for its cinematography was "The Purge" (2013) by cinematographer Jacques Jouffret—his fluid, disciplined camera work gives this sci-fi thriller an organic, elegant look.
  11. Couple of other things, and this is true with anything involving cameras but especially the C100: If you find yourself saying "it's fine for now, we'll fix it in post" that is a red flag that means something is horribly wrong and you need to fix it before you roll one frame of film. Also, since the image won't take a huge amount of grading, I find I get better results if I set a custom white balance with a calibrated gray card for every scene. Either Kodak or WhiBal work for me.
  12. I own that camera and I get nice footage out of it but it definitely takes some work and you have to be very careful with contrast ratios and exposure. And you only get out what you put in front of the lens. Like if you want colorful images, you have to make sure that your actors are wearing colorful costumes. You can't really punch it up in post. But what are you seeing that you don't like?
  13. Amazing. Who would have thought that gate build up would have still been a problem. Thanks to both of you.
  14. I was reading the year 2000 edition of the Kodak cinematography field guide and among the essential supplies for a ditty bag it listed orange sticks, which I believe are thin, 4- or 5-inch long sticks used by manicurists. They have tapered ends. Is that what Kodak is talking about? If so, does anyone know how camera operators and cinematographers used them? Do they have any relevance today?
  15. I'm from the stills world where photographers love to light the subject with tungsten but use daylight instruments for the background and set the camera white balance to tungsten. The result is that the background and some of the shadows go a lonesome shade of blue while your subject, lit with the Arris, will be is rendered naturally. It's a beautiful effect with still cameras, but I would definitely test to see how the color science would work with a Red. You can vary the effect by adding 1/8 or 1/4 CTB to the tungsten lights to narrow the difference between the two sources. Obviously, the main issue is that it would be a pain to grade out if the client decided he or she didn't like the look.
  16. I need it for the same reason Lucien Ballard created it, to eliminate imperfections and make an actress more alluring. I would have never thought of putting it under the lens, so thank you.
  17. I just want to doublecheck that that an Obie goes directly over the center of the lens and it should be as close to the top of the lens as possible. None of the usual offsetting it to get proper 11 oclock catchlights, right? And what is a good starting place in terms of the number of stops above or below the key light? Thank you for your help.
  18. Bleach bypass is one of those processing strategies that seems to be loved by every generation of filmmakers, but I'm wondering what it can be used for beyond making the audience feel a character's sadness and/or fear? What unexpected emotions can it be used to convey—what reaction can it evoke from the audience? How have you used it to create other moods? Would there be a humorous use of bleach bypass? And finally, is it best used for the whole picture or is it more effective when used in just a few scenes?
  19. The 18% gray card is so abused and misused, I feel bad for it....The Kodak instructions that come with the card explain that you have to position the card at 1/3 of the angle between the camera and the main light both horizontally and vertically (by angling it, less light hits the card so that it is not at 18 percent reflectance anymore). Then you open up by 1/2 a stop over that. If you like olden days film lore, you were supposed to include a few frames of a gray card in all of your shots as a neutral reference for the color timer. Kodak also suggested using a gray card to tell your timer exactly what you had in mind for exposure. If you wanted your film to be printed darker, you were suppose to expose your film as normal, but include a shot of the gray card overexposed, for printing lighter you underexpose the card. That way, when the film was printed, the timer would use the image of the card to set the exposure of the print and your image would look just the way you wanted it (theoretically).
  20. I was looking for something else in the forums, but found this comment from Phil Rhodes in 2013: "Focus pulling HD video on 2/3" video cameras is difficult. Focus pulling on 16mm film, micro four-thirds video, or something like a Blackmagic cinema camera, is very difficult. On 35mm, APS-C or similar sensors, it's so hard they usually employ someone whose sole job it is, and give him a lot of time and technology to get it right, and still expect to blow one take in three when it gets particularly taxing. On full-frame DSLRs, Vistavision, 65mm, or equivalent, focus pulling is a sort of Zen meditative pursuit that's been known to drive people completely underside pumpernickel intrinsic caboose caboose rumplestiltskin."
  21. Don't you people ever go to Costco? Pretty much all they sell is 4K tvs and the sample footage they show on them is amazing. And if you stop by the DirectTV kiosk in the store, you will learn that they stream in 4K and that some sports are starting to be streamed in 4K (I think it's mainly golf at the moment). The NFL is already shooting 4k though I don't think they're broadcasting it yet and Sony has some kind of hypnowheel that they're using on production companies to get them to buy 4K equipment: https://www.sony.fi/pro/article/broadcast-sony-equips-mediapro So it's out there but as for when it will make it into the average American home? Probably 5 to 15 years.
  22. Lots of discussion on the why of shooting with an iPhone, but I'm wondering about how. As in how do you create lighting that will let you get a good meaty picture and lots of subject separation using an iPhone. Expressiveness is a topic for another day. Specifically where would you start with light levels, ratios, color temps, and the rest? I presume you would set light levels so the camera could be shot at its native ISO value, but beyond that: Would you go very hard source light? Ultra diffused? Religiously keep your ratios at 2:1 or eliminate the fill and let the shadows fall where they may? How about colors? With the limitations of the iPhone sensor would it be best to define shapes with contrasting colors (solid-colored costumes against relatively plain cool backgrounds) or would it be better to keep everything homogeneous (beige on beige on beige).
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