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Mateusz Czopek

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    Cinematographer
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    Boise, ID

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  1. Here's that setup I showed from the lighting sketch. This is just a photo from my phone. We ended up having to switch the first two light domes because the first one didn't fit the 4ft quasar tubes. To the right of the image is the gaffer getting the litemats ready and the very left person is one of the directors who acted in this scene.
  2. Hi all, I thought I would share some notes and thoughts from a feature I recently shot back in April for those that are interested. What started out as a 25 page short ended up becoming a 65 page feature when the two directors had a change of heart! 3 days before shooting, the lead actress (who had the main location for the film) dropped out of the film, and rather than recasting her, the two directors decided to pivot and completely change the story with the remaining actors and locations they had. So, a well planned and shot-listed film got thrown out the window as we all turned to improvising what to do every day. I should note that this is truly a low budget feature with most people working on it (including me) coming fresh out of film school working for very little or no money. The budget mostly went towards camera, lighting, food, and smaller expenses. We shot on the Arri Amira with Zeiss Ultra Primes. Red Finch Rental in Salt Lake City gave us a great deal on the camera package and were super accommodating towards us. Their 50mm was out for repairs so they offered a different lens set to me, but instead I decided to keep the Ultra Primes and they shipped the 50mm out once they got it. Our lighting package consisted of 2 1.2k HMIs, 2 litemats, 2 quasar rainbows (RGB was needed and played a big part later on in the film), a 12x12 frame and an 8x8 frame, as well as some bounce cards and other grip equipment. I also had some tungsten units on hand including a 2k open face and some 1k fresnels, but unfortunately never had an opportunity to use it which I regret. This is the first feature I've ever shot, and have worked on some as AC and in Grip and Electric before, as well as DPing some shorts in and out of film school. There are definitely some moments I wish I had lit differently or had thought of some trick on the day, but those are the lessons you learn! Production was a bit rough as we had to pivot and change all of our plans and often I was not made aware where to be or what we were shooting until the day of when I got on set. This made it hard for me to light things properly as I typically am a big planner and big believer in pre production work for lighting. However, there were some locations that had similar scenes to the original feature which I could light according to my original plans. Here is a lighting "sketch" I sent to my gaffer when we were scouting the location for this bar. The directors and I wanted a slightly surrealist 70s feeling to the film, with color playing an important part in various locations. We ended up turning off the middle pool table light for more contrast and shooting mostly around the end table with a litemat set to warm light to match some practical bulbs that were hanging from the ceiling and to have a neutral color on the actors. The 2 1.2k HMIs were my bread and butter for most of the shoot, playing for both daylight and moonlight in a lot of scenes, typically using the litemats or quasars as fill. I didn't end up using the 12x12 frame or 8x8 as much as I would have liked as most of the outside locations were either remote, rocky, or it ended up being a cloudy day. Overall, I made a lot of mistakes but I think I did some things right as well. I wish I had been able to slow down and think more about lighting than I had, but often we were rushing to get out of a location in time or get done with the day. I don't have any stills or videos to show yet, but hopefully soon in the coming months! We're doing some reshoots and additional shooting at the end of August, so I can share more stories from that. The shoot was 2 weeks long which of course is never enough time for a feature. Hopefully I can take what I learned to the next one. I would love to hear from anyone about your first feature experience!
  3. Hey all, I'm wanting to find a book about the history of cinema - the progression of films and important films that came out over the years. Ideally something that covers more than just American films and the typical surface films that everyone knows - something that's a bit more in depth. Any good recommendations or suggestions? Thank you!
  4. Greig Fraser did a Clubhouse Conversation about Dune and he talks more about how he achieved his night looks. He does say some of it was on stage, with painted backgrounds. Here's a link to it, he begins talking about nighttime shots around 22 minutes in. https://vimeo.com/647609522
  5. Not certain because I haven't seen the film or even seen much behind the scenes, but I know Greig Fraiser, the DP, is a big fan of LED Volumes, which can replicate sunset/blue hour for as long as they want and provide realistic backgrounds. Because they're LEDs, they also provide lighting that's accurate to the image being displayed. Again, not sure if that's what they did, but that would be my guess on what you've said and on the DPs preferences. Here's more information about Volumes: https://www.xrstage.com
  6. Thanks everyone for the responses, unfortunately our production got cancelled for the time being, but I'll be sure to keep all of this in mind next time!
  7. Hey all, I'm shooting a short film coming up in September, and one scene involves two of the characters fighting roughly in a river. The river that we'll be at is fairly still, next to a dam. The director wants to do most of the fight handheld and close to the action. I planned on having a covering over the camera and having a spotter with me in the river to make sure I don't fall over, but was wondering if anyone had any other advice for shooting close to water with handheld? I'm mainly worried about taking a stumble and dropping everything into the water...
  8. I'm not super experienced, but looks to me that in the reference photo the windows with the curtains are blown out - they're just hidden behind the curtains. Maybe getting longer curtains in that location would help cover up the overexposed windows? Otherwise, I would recommend either gelling the window(s) that you need to see through. The nice thing about lights is that they can be scrimmed or dimmed (if LEDs). The reference photo also looks like it's slightly underexposed, which will probably help to counteract the light. It also depends what time of day you're shooting and which way the windows are facing, this almost seems like a setup that could be done night for day if you have enough lights. Knowing what time of day you're going to be shooting and planning it as best as you can to shoot the scene when the sun is in your favor will help a lot.
  9. What time of day are you shooting outside? Are you shooting with actual noon sunlight or at some other part of the day? Noon sunlight is very harsh and top down on people, so you'd need a big light like the 20k that David mentioned in order to replicate sunlight. Often times silks and other diffusions are used to soften the sunlight at noon, but if you're going for the harsh sunlight look, probably the best thing you can do is shoot at noon if you can and perhaps bring some light control like bounces or nets to help shape the light the best you can. At least from my experience this would be best if you can't afford a bigger light.
  10. Thanks David and all for your help. Still wrapping my head around it, but I appreciate all the wisdom!
  11. Thanks for the explanation, Stephen. So the lower ISO is more for me to "overexpose" the image and thereby utilize more of the higher end of the dynamic range rather than actually changing exposure with it? I would think that the cleaner image would come from the lower ISO, and have less noise in the shadows because of that, but if I'm shooting in LOG, changing the ISO won't matter? So then I have to overexpose by a stop or so in order to get a cleaner image? I wasn't aware that changing the ISO didn't matter in LOG, thanks for sharing your knowledge!
  12. Sorry for the ignorance, but trying to wrap my brain around this still. Do you mean overexpose by a stop based on your lower ISO (400 for example) or for your 800 ISO? So overexpose the 400 so it's essentially the same as your 800, but with cleaner shadows because of the lower ISO? So say you're shooting a scene with a single light, and want clean shadows. The light reads a T/8 at 800, so a T/4 at 400, so you would want to be at a T/2? Have I got that right?
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